Ellie Holcomb – “Anchor of Hope”

…read and listen…

Hebrews 6:

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement.  And this we will do if God permits.

For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.  For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated receives a blessing from God.  But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things–things that belong to salvation.  For God is not so unjust to overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.  And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.  For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.  We have this as a sure and steadfast ANCHOR of the soul, a HOPE that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where JESUS has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

HEBREWS 6 (ESV)

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Word of the Week: Obedience

WEDNESDAY

-Word of the Week-

.obedience.

Early this morning, a dear friend of mine sent me a special text.  Here’s what it said:

“And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.” 1 John 3:22

Simple, right?  After all, it was just a text message of one Bible verse.  But in the moments after reading those words, I was certain the Lord had a purpose for prompting Dan to send me the text: to get me to examine the word obedience.

So what does it mean to obey?  What is obedience?  Below I have definitions from both the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and the Holman Bible Dictionary.  Here’s what they have to say…

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary:

  • “[Obedience is] an act or instance of obeying”
  • “[To obey is] to follow the commands or guidance of; to conform to or comply with”
Holman Bible Dictionary:
  • “[Obedience is] to hear God’s Word and act accordingly”
  • “[Obedience is] to hear or to listen in a state of submission”
  • “[Obedience is] essential for worship”
  • “[Obedience is] motivated by our love for God
  • “[Obedience] springs from gratitude for grace received”
  • “[Obedience] means imitating God in holiness, humility, and love”
  • “[Obedience] comes from a heart that trusts God”
Even all of those bullet points cannot express the full significance of that single word “obedience.”  As I sit here though, reading God’s word and reflecting on how the Lord has worked in my life, I have another meaning for this word:
[Obedience is]
living connected to the Father through submission to His Spirit.
***
Although this is a single statement, it’s very loaded!  Let me break it down to explain it more fully.
  1. Since sin distances us from God, we cannot live connected to God while living in disobedience (1 John 1:6).
  2. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-8).
  3. We cannot please God in our flesh, but if the Spirit lives within us, we can put the deeds of the flesh to death and live by the Spirit (Romans 8:8-13)
  4. Living by the Spirit is evidenced by our actions as we “walk by” or live in submission to the Spirit (Galatians 5:25)
  5. We experience the fulness of His love–by becoming children of God through living in submission to the Spirit (Romans 8:14)–that enjoying and keeping his commandments is the only response that can attempt to reflect our love and thankfulness for Him (1 John 5:3).
***
The truth is, I know that there is nothing good in me that deserves even a second glance from God.  And yet, God cannot even give me a second glance because His gaze never left me in the first place.  His love is even warmer than the greatest embrace, all-consuming that it leaves every fiber of my being enflamed.  Like wood thrown on a fire, my knowledge of Him and His goodness increases, and the size and the warmth of the flame grows even more.  A living sacrifice, I lay myself before Him and sing, “I lay me down. I’m not my own. I belong to you alone. Lay me down… Lay me down… Hand on my heart, this much is true.  There’s no life apart from you.  Lay me down.  Lay me down…” (“Lay Me Down” Passion).
If this is what living connected to the Lover of Souls is like, how could we ever want anything else?  Why would we ever want to live  in disobedience apart from our Heavenly Father?
Praying your day is filled with SONshine,
Sarah 🙂

Ramblings before my last, first day of school

I can hardly believe the next few words that I’m about to write… Tomorrow is the first day of my senior year in college.

Yesterday while in the bookstore, I realized my (relative) age.  Two guys–obviously Freshman by their wide-eyed staring at the textbook section–waited in line to receive the books they had ordered online.  I recognized the look on their faces because I too had stood in their shoes.  Going on four years now, I have walked in them from class to class, meeting to meeting, meal to meal.  Is it really almost time to trade in these aging shoes for a new pair?  And if so, what will they be?

As a tour guide/student worker for the University, just about everyday I am asked the exact same question, “What are you going to do when you graduate?”  Since there are about three things that I can honestly see myself doing once May rolls around, I tell them one of those three options.  Deep down though, I know that this is a question that I cannot answer exactly, at least not yet.  After all, so much can change in the answering of a phone call, the opening of a letter, or even the shaking of a hand.

———————-

With all of my heart, I truly believe that we experience different seasons in our lives to show us more and more the character of the God we serve.  Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us that there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.  Romans 8:28 also says that all things work together for the good of those that love God and are called according to His purpose.

In a time of need, we could learn that God will DAILY provide for His children, just like He did for Moses while wandering through the desert (Exodus 16:4).  In a time of distress, we could call on the Lord and hear Him whisper to us as He whispered to Elijah (1 Kings 19:12).  In a time when we fail, we could see that His grace is always greater just like He explained to Paul (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Even in a time that we realize just how great He is, we could witness that even still, the heavens cannot contain Him; this was the realization of Solomon when dedicating the temple (1 Kings 8:27).

We could experience all of these things, but FIRST, we must open ourselves up to Him.  Trust Him and be moved as His Spirit leads.  Always, He will work everything out for the good of those that love Him, even if it may seem painful or difficult at first.

Thanks for reading my ramblings today, and I hope and pray that somehow, God will speak to you in whatever season of life you are going through now!

Praying your day is filled with Sonshine,

Sarah 🙂

“…and I will draw near to you.”


In the last post, I shared some verses to show what Scripture says about prayer.  Now with those characteristics of prayer in mind, I want to share with you what I learned through evaluating my prayer life…

For the past couple of months, I had this nagging feeling in my stomach.  Over and over, I would try to pinpoint what exactly it was and finally came up with the answer, “I need to pray more.”  While trying to pray more was good, a well-intentioned effort, why did the nagging feeling still persist?

“In return and in rest, you shall be saved…” Isaiah 30:15

“Draw near to me…” James 4:8

Before, I looked around and saw who or what needed prayer.  Now, I look within myself, and I can feel it… These situations or those people, they don’t just need words strung together and breathed out in a sentence deemed as “prayer.”  They, us, you, me, it: we all need our hearts turned to the Lord, seeking Him above all things.  That, in my humble opinion, is the highest purpose of prayer.

When prayer is constant, sincere, focused on others as well as ourselves, Spirit-filled, and done to us closer to God, well… I don’t have the words to describe the amazing workings of that kind of prayer, but I can certainly attest to its power.  Maybe it’s the emotions that are chocking me up right now, but I’m beginning to see prayer differently now than I ever have before…

On behalf of Gerry–my Mammaw–and our family, thank you so much for continuing to keep all of us in your thoughts and prayers.  I’m going to create a category named “Mammaw’s Updates” where all of the posts about her will be posted. Thank you again, and God is good.  He is always good…

“In the path of your judgements,

O Lord, we wait for you;

your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul.

My soul yearns for you in the night;

my spirit within me earnestly seeks you…”

Isaiah 26:8-9

Blue and the Spirit Within You

 

 

 

In the last post, I briefly mentioned that my favorite color is blue.  Here’s why…

1. The sky is blue.

2. My favorite water bottle–the one that I carry with me, literally, everywhere–is blue.

3.  Most of all though, the color blue is my favorite because of the picture below

the Chapel of Memories at

Mississippi State University

If blue wasn’t one of your favorite colors before, I hope it is now after seeing this picture.  Isn’t that stained glass so beautiful?

As a student at Mississippi State, I’m blessed to have this chapel on campus and find refuge in it often.  Whether in between class, during the once-in-a-blue-moon skipped class (oops! 😉 ), or as my pit stop on an early morning run, this chapel with its beautifully-blue, stained glass always seems to bring me into the deepest place of myself… where the Spirit resides.

Within each of us, there is a place that we cannot even express with words, a place where we are touched by the simple beauty or, regretfully, the harsh heartbreak of life.  Only in this place though can One Thing, One Person ever interpret how we truly feel: the Holy Spirit.

“God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.

If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter.

He does our praying IN and FOR us, making prayer out of our 

wordless sighs,

our aching groans.

He knows us far better than we know ourselves…and he keeps us present before God.

That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in

our lives of love for God

is worked into something good.”

Romans 8:26-28

(The Message)

Whether or not your favorite color is blue, I pray today that this passage will touch you in that deepest place today.  God knows you better than you even know your own self.  Instead of running from Him because of the frankness of this truth, run to Him.  Let His Spirit move within you, praying for you with “groanings too deep for words” (ESV translation of Romans 8:26).

Praying your day is filled with Sonshine,

Sarah 🙂