Doses of Hope

Dose of Hope: Conquerors

God's Word Says We are More Than Conquerors {praylivecreate.com} #Bible #scripture #faith
I’m not really going to do this one justice by saying anything that isn’t said in the verse below, so I’ll leave it at that. But it’s a powerful one, and this is one of those verses that I need to read slowly and with intention, usually a couple times – because it’s deep and it’s amazing and it says so much about what God has done for us through Christ. It’s a serious amen.

Romans 8:31-39 (NIV) More Than Conquerors

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Dose of Hope: Secure

God's Word tells us we don't have to worry about our own security, because we're secure in Him {praylivecreate.com} #Bible #faith #scripture

As Heshan and I are following Jesus this year – not just being “Jesus followers” but asking how we can actually follow Him – a couple things are becoming pretty obvious. First, we’re not so good at this thing. We move slowly and we ask questions and we doubt and freak out. And second, we can’t do this if we’re worried about our own security.

But you guys – Heshan and I can be big worriers. We don’t worry about the same things, but when our personalities combine, there are all sorts of situations that cause one of us stress. Like where Heshan is going to work (his job changes annually right now while he’s finishing up his PhD), how we’re going to pay the bills, how we’re going to budget our energy in a city that takes everything we have. We’ll worry about our dreams and our fears, and honestly there are entire months when I worry about how obnoxiously loud it is all night long when all I want to do is sleep.

Would it be crazy if I told you that I’m aggressively praying that God would shake up our lives right now? I’m asking Him to come in and take control and bring His best, even if it doesn’t look best to me or Heshan or anyone else around us. And I’m asking that because I don’t know what else to specifically ask for, but I do know we need a change, a renewing of our minds, and a re-setting of our focus like our lives depend on it.

Which brings us to this place where Jesus is challenging us to let go. To give up our thoughts and fears about our own security and recognize it’s always been in His hands. Which is just so like God it’s not even funny. I know this stuff in my head and I even love this stuff in my heart, but I’ve found it’s way harder for me to live this stuff out with my hands, even on the days when I’m ready to run away, move to Idaho, build a yurt, and live off the land.

As we’re walking through the names God has for us, He’s emboldening my heart and asking me to live with truths that I sometimes know but really need to know. I believe that God is calling each of us into deeper relationship with Him and into fuller life, and that it all starts with knowing who we are in Him. He calls us loved, chosen, blessed, gifted, known, forgiven, and He says we belong. And inherent in all that, plus spelled out like crazy throughout His love letter to us, is the promise that we are secure.

All of our worries and our fears can’t hold a candle to what God has in store and to His love for us. So I have no idea what that looks like for Heshan and me, but I know I can pray for His best and I can pray for the strength to let go of whatever I’m holding onto to make me feel secure. And this week I want to think about security together and talk with God about how our security is in Him.

Our Lord, we belong to you. We tell you what worries us, and you won’t let us fall.- Psalms‬ ‭55‬:‭22‬ (CEV)

The LORD replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.” – Exodus‬ ‭33‬:‭14‬ (NLT)

For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you. – Isaiah‬ ‭41‬:‭13‬ (NLT)

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” – ‭Joshua‬ ‭1‬:‭9‬ (NLT)

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, Lord,
    make me dwell in safety. – Psalm 4:8 (NIV)

#follow - kissing yes-itis and the ways of the world goodbye and following Jesus into fuller life {praylivecreate.com}

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Dose of Hope: Known

God says He loves us and knows us by name {praylivecreate.com} #Bible #scripture #quotes

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. – 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NLT)

We already know that Jesus chose us, but I rarely think about the fact that God says He knows us. Yesterday morning I was reading Greg Laurie’s daily devotional, and the verse above stood out to me for that reason. Paul said that God knew him inside and out. He was completely known.

It kind of blows my mind when I think about it. The Bible says God knows us. But how often do we struggle even with knowing ourselves?

When we think about all of the ways God loves us, it can be easy to think He loves us most when we’re at our best. But He’s so emphatically clear that that’s just not the case. He knows us – He knew us before we were born – and He loved us and chose us as we are. The real us. The real version of you and the real version of me.

He knows when we’re scared but pretending to be brave. When we’re tired or anxious or just in need of a long nap and some serious TLC. He knows when we’re hiding dreams way down in our hearts. When we’re thrilled. When we’re feeling alone. When we’re struggling with doubts or depression or whatever burdens we may be carrying.

He knows which of us need rest and which of us need adventure. He knows exactly where we are and who we are.

We’re known by God. Inside and out. He looks deep into the heart of who we are and knows us, and He calls us His own.

When I think about that, it makes me realize how important it is that we’re known. How awesome it is that God can say, “I formed you and I made you and you are completely mine.” We’re known with all our quirks, all our hang ups, all the things we’re afraid to admit to ourselves or show to others, and knowing that in light of the fact that Jesus calls us chosen, loved, forgiven, blessed, gifted, and belonging, gives us a better picture as to who God says we are.

(We’re known and still we were chosen. We’re known and still we belong. We’re known and God calls us gifted. We’re known and He says, “you’re blessed.” He knows everything about us, and we’re forgiven. We’re known through and through and we’re loved.)

God’s ways are way higher than mine, and I can’t comprehend them. But I know that His gospel is true, that Jesus laid down His life for me, and that I’m called to lay down my life and pick up the freedom He has for me. As we walk through the names that God has for us, I’m overwhelmed with how liberating they are. Because we’re known and loved for who we are, we can be truly loved by others. We don’t have to settle for less. And because we’re known and loved as we are, we can forgive others imperfections and love them as they are too. (I know this is complicated. I’m speaking in generalities here.)

We can get to know ourselves, even if the real us is different than the person other people want us to be. And we can lay down at night knowing we’re known and loved. We’re exactly who God picked out when He said, “You, yep, you. You’re mine.” And He’s perfecting us all the time.

And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.  – 1 Corinthians 8:2-3 (NKJV)

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
    Before you were born I set you apart
    and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5 (NLT)

Here’s to living life to the full and being known…

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Dose of Hope: Forgiven

One of the many names that God has for us is "forgiven."  He is not mad at you. {praylivecreate.com} #Bible #scripture #faith

For the past couple of weeks we’ve been using our Doses of Hope to talk about the names that God has for us – the things that He says are true about us – so we can let that truth sink in. And while God repeatedly calls us chosen, loved, blessed, and gifted (and that we belong), there’s a huge truth He says about us that can sometimes be hard to fathom: we’re forgiven.

I think most of us know that on an intellectual level. But as easy as it is to know that God says we’re forgiven, how difficult is it sometimes to truly forgive ourselves? I’m talking about loving ourselves as God loves us. Last year I shared that we can’t love our neighbor as ourselves until we learn to love ourselves.

And loving ourselves sometimes starts with forgiving ourselves… of all the things we don’t do perfectly, all the things we fall short at compared to others, all the things we mess up, our limitations and the dreams that haven’t come true yet, and all the things other people have to say about us, too. If God Himself washes us in forgiveness and looks at us with love, then why don’t we forgive ourselves? 

So this week let’s accept the forgiveness we have through Christ and let’s speak forgiveness to ourselves. Let’s not withhold from ourselves the very thing our Creator died for us to have. And let’s continue to let the love of Christ change us from the inside out.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the richesof God’s grace… – Ephesians 1:7 (NIV)

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with youin my Father’s kingdom.” – Matthew 26:27-29 (NIV)

All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”- Acts 10:43 (NIV)

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Dose of Hope: Gifted

God calls us gifted. Looking at what His Word says about who He made us to be. {praylivecreate.com} #Bible #faith #quotes

Doses of Hope have a way of sneaking up on me and surprising me every single time. When we started out digging into the names that God has for us, I didn’t know where it was going, just that myself and a whole lot of women I know could stand to let those names sink in and know how much He loves us. This week, I was sure that I was going to write about “rescued,” until Hebrews 2 snuck up on me.

“This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” – Hebrews 2:3b-4 (NIV)

And not-so-hidden in there is a truth that I often overlook: God calls us gifted.

How many of us really believe it’s true? And how free would we be if we did?

Here’s the thing about gifts: they don’t come from us, they have nothing to do with how much God loves us, we don’t get to choose them, and (on the same token) we don’t use them to earn God’s love either. 

Our gifts are just that – presents from our Lord and Savior. Made alive in us by the Holy Spirit. Given to us because God loves us and given to us to be used.

As I read through Scripture this week I was overwhelmed with just how much God wants us to know we’re gifted and how much our gifts bring glory to Him.

And as we use our gifts, I believe it matters way less to God that enough people notice or applaud, and way more to Him that we are boldly, confidently, unabashedly entering into community with our gifts, finding out who He made us to be, and that in the process we are learning who He is as well. 

Which brings us back full circle.

If we don’t know we’re chosen, we don’t know we belong, we don’t know that we’re loved, and we don’t know that we’re blessed, then we’ll find ourselves trying to earn other’s love and probably trying to earn God’s as well (or at least feeling like it’s always hanging by a thread).

We will hide our light under a basket, and in doing so, we’ll miss the deep fellowship with others and communion with God that comes from just being real. We’ll have no idea we’re gifted.

(Jesus speaking) “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” – Matthew 5:14-16

(Paul writing to the church at Corinth) “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ… Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it… This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12, 14-18, 25-27 (NLT)

Our gifts, no matter how big or how small, bring glory to God when we use them with the confidence that we are exactly who He says we are: chosen, loved, blessed, and people who belong.

“The only requirement of an artist is this: You must try to love and forgive yourself completely before you create. If you are ashamed of any part of yourself, you will hide the one thing from us we most need to see… Only the forgiven and loved can help others be forgiven and loved. Only the free can free others. Don’t be talented, be free.” – Glennon Doyle Melton, You Don’t Need More Time or Talent

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Dose of Hope: Blessed

I love what God's word show us about His definition of blessed. Sometimes the things He calls blessed don't feel like blessings on the surface. Sometimes they just feel hard. Digging into why God calls us blessed. {praylivecreate.com}
I’m not going to wax poetic on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, because others do that better than me. But I love what His words show us about God’s definition of blessed.

Blessed are those who depend on Him for everything, because they can’t make it on their own; blessed are those who mourn, who are humble, who want to obey Him more than anything else. Blessed are those who are merciful and have pure hearts. Those who are treated badly for doing what’s right. The ones who are insulted, mistreated, and persecuted.

Very few of those feel like blessings on the surface. Sometimes they just feel hard.

If we look further in Scripture, we see God doing the same thing over and over again. We see His Word weaving a common thread. God gives good gifts. He loves to bless us. But our blessings extend deeper than our material things and our comfort. Ultimately, God says the most blessed among us are the ones who know they need Him and who cling to Him for dear life.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus took the scum of the earth – the ones important people of His day said didn’t matter – and He called them the salt of the earth.

He said they were blessed.

He seemed to seek them out. The Samaritan woman with 5 ex-husbands, the sick and the disabled, the poor, the messed up, the ones who lost their way, and the ones who we’re pushed away by the spiritually or materially elite. And He loved them as only God can. He gave them new life.

They were the ones desperate for a Savior. The ones who wouldn’t turn down His invitation. They were the ones who would understand His gift of grace when it was given and the ones who would want to make sure everyone else had a chance at it, too.

The ones willing to shout from the rooftops, “Hey, did you hear that? God loves us. Jesus died for us. And now we can be with Him forever, and so can you!”

The Parable of the Great Banquet

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” – Luke 14:15-24 (NIV)

I love how when God chooses to call us names, they’re names that build us up and fill us with hope. They’re not just empty promises, they’re assurances of what’s ahead. Blessed are those who seek Him, love Him, and hold into Him, even when the world is unfair. They will see the kingdom of heaven, be comforted, find peace, spend their days in the presence of Jesus.

He sees our situations, our good days and our bad, He walks through them with us even when it’s hard, and He calls us blessed.

Linking up with Jack of All Trades at Harvest of Blessing

Kim from praylivecreate.com

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Dose of Hope: Loved

God's Word straight up says we are loved more than we can comprehend. {praylivecreate.com} #scripture #Bible #quotes

It might sound like we’ve heard this before, but bear with me for a second. When it comes to talking about how much God loves us, do we really let it sink in? I’ll be the first to admit in this space that as I inch into my 32nd year of living, I’m just starting to believe it as fully as I wish I would have for every second of my life up to this point. And I know I still have a long way to go.

As Scripture straight up says, I don’t even know if I’m able to comprehend. But letting it sink deep into our hearts and souls and skin and bones is definitely the best thing we could ever do for ourselves. We are chosen. We belong. And we’re loved with an everlasting love.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. – Ephesians 3:18-19 (NLT)

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

Long ago the Lord said to Israel:
“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
    With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. – Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)

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