fully known

Isn’t it amazing how the memory works?  I was sitting outside this morning for coffee and Bible study, and it felt as though fall was already in the air.  Now for those of you that do not live in Mississippi or have never been here and experienced the heat and humidity… let me tell you… a cool morning in August is RARE!  But all of a sudden, I found myself going back to my freshman year of college and that feeling of  walking to class on sidewalks covered with colorful leaves.  I remembered that exciting and scary place of self-discovery, desiring to find myself in that new place among those new people.

And that’s when it hit me this morning: even then in the midst of trying to get to know myself fully, I was already fully known…

1 Corinthians 13.12

Isn’t the thought of being fully known so incredible?  Imagine someone knowing and understanding all of your thoughts, motives, desires, actions, strengths, weaknesses, dreams, ambitions, struggles, insecurities, pet peeves, joys, accomplishments, secrets.  Let’s go even further though… someone that knows every freckle on your skin, every hair on your head, every cell in your body, every fiber of your being…

That someone is God.

If you are reading this post now and are skeptical about what I have just written, my questions for you are, “Why not?” and “How not?”  Even after the seeking and searching to find yourself, know that there is hope.  Amidst the uncertainty, there is certainty; there is a blessed assurance.  There is an Almighty God that gave us our abilities and proved our worth through the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ.

If you’re a believer reading this post, my questions for you are also, “Why not?” and “How not?”  Why not live even more freely through faith and trust in the forgiveness that we have received through Jesus.  Why not eagerly confess our sins and share our truest emotions with God?  After all, He already knows them anyways!  It’s just an exercise of trust and a measure taken in order to fall deeper and deeper in love with Him.  With this all in mind, how could we not draw closer to the God that has called us sons and daughters in His kingdom?

 

Proverbs 16:20-21 says,

“Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,

and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.”

Consider God’s word this morning.  Discover good, and receive his blessing through trusting him!  He knows us fully because HE is the one that designed every bit of who we are.  Isn’t the sweetness of His words persuasive?

Today I will leave you with these questions to think about… If we truly believe and trust that God has forgiven us because of Jesus dying for our sins, then why not confess all of our sins to our just and merciful Father?  Why try to find our identity in anything other than the One that already knows exactly who we are and who He has called us to be?

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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)

Word of the Week: Hope

WEDNESDAY

Word of the Week-

.hope.

 We use this word often, don’t we?  I really hope that ___. You fill in the blank!  In this way, the word actually seems like a synonym for wish.  After all, there is a possibility in this usage of the word “hope” that whatever we’re hoping for will not happen.  There is doubt present within this popular usage of hope.

But this is not the same meaning of “hope” that is present in the Bible.  In my Holman Bible dictionary, it states that hope is, “a trustful expectation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of God’s promises.”  Isn’t this incredible?  When we have hope in God’s promises, there is absolutely no doubt about whether or not He will fulfill it!  It’s God that has promised, and He doesn’t lie like man (Numbers 23:19).

13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchangingnature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.                    Hebrews 6:13-20

 I hope this new look at the word “hope” and the previous passage will bring you encouragement and revolutionize the way you trust in God’s promises on this wonderful Wednesday!

Praying your day is filled with Sonshine,

Sarah 🙂

More than a rose from the casket.

On Sunday, we celebrated the beautiful life of my Mammaw, Gerry Harden.  And even though there are thousands of words in the dictionary that I could choose, there is one word that best describes that tear-filled day: hopeful.

If thinking only about the secular meaning of the word, you might wonder why I would choose hopeful as the best description for that sad day.  Even for me, in the majority of the time since Thursday morning at 10:07 am, I would have scoffed at the thought of being hopeful during this time of grief.  The temptation to focus on her absence, the lifeless body that lay in the casket, and the constant reminders of life with her before: this temptation was overwhelming.  With force, it ruled over my body, my mind, my heart, my soul.  I didn’t want to eat, sleep, talk, or carry on in life without her.  I loved her at a depth that I couldn’t even fathom.  I still do. She was my Mammaw, the mother of my very own mom, the feeder of our family, the unifying force that brought our extended family together year after year.  And in that phone call on Thursday morning at 10:58 am, she was gone…

You see, in order for there to be hope, there must be something in life that causes us to need hope in the first place.  Something has to happen that robs us of our joy, steals our passion, or even makes the journey of our life seem to have reached an end.  As the contrast to total despair, that is the only way that we can see that hope shines, cutting brilliantly through the darkness.

There is no doubt in my mind that many more tears will be shed.  Grieving is part of the healing process.  As a co-worker told me yesterday after my SECOND breakdown of the day by only 9:30 am (I had only been there for 30 minutes), “You just have to get it out before you can get it together.”

I look back now on all the tears that I’ve shed, and while I don’t regret a single one, there comes a point when we cannot continue to live in the darkness of mourning.  If we truly believe that Christ died for the sins of the world, to be the living sacrifice that would one day bring God’s children back to Himself, we cannot cling to suffering.  We must reach out in faith; we must continue on in hope.

What is difference between secular hope and hope that the Gospel offers?  Hope in this world is merely the wishing that things would be different, that things would get better, and it is marked by the possibility  that what is hoped for WILL NOT or CANNOT happen.

But this is not the same hope that we have through Jesus.

The hope that Jesus offers is based on God’s promise, the Truth.  This hope is the blessed assurance that God’s promise WILL be fulfilled!  That Jesus WILL come back and that he WILL abolish the darkness and all that’s in it, that one day we WILL sit in the lap of our Father, and He will wipe away every single tear: this is the hope that we have.  He will tell us, “Shhh, my child, death is overcome.  Mourning is no more.  Heaven has come to this new earth, and I am here.  I am here.”

On Sunday, October 16, 2011, we may have laid Mammaw’s earthly body in the ground, but we did not bury her spirit.  The life that she lived and the legacy carrying her memory forward: forever, these will always live inside of me and inside of those that knew her.  She was and still is a remarkable woman of God.  Never will I use only the past tense to talk about her because this is the hope that I have in Jesus: the spirit of my Mammaw, Gerry Harden, is still alive and well.  Right now, she is smiling down on me and on all of her family and friends.  Free from the devastation of ALS, I can hear her saying to me,”If only you knew what it feels like to be in the presence of Jesus…”  If only we could experience it on this side of heaven…

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;

you have loosened the sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,

that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.

O Lord my God, 

I will give thanks to you forever!”

Psalm 30:11-12

And so here I am, learning now to praise the Lord even in the midst of this hard time.  He is the giver of real hope, the kind that, through faith, will give me the strength to keep on going and rejoice in the promise of Heaven.  Deep down, I know that I have more to cling to than a single rose that I pulled from the cover of flowers on Mammaw’s casket.  I have even more than the memories of our past together…

…I have the promise of our future together.

——

Hope that comes from the Lord: what a beautiful promise this is.

——

“Do I really have hope?”

My first meal in heaven…. : You may be wondering why I wrote that post.  After all, it seems pretty random compared to all of my other posts.  I wrote it, though, because it segues into one of my favorite words of the Bible.  Hope.

Throughout the course of a day, we say hope quite a bit: “I hope we win the game,”  “I hope that I didn’t fail that test,” or “I hope we can hang out this weekend!”

In each of those exclamations, we use the word hope, but what do you notice?  Each time that we use that word, we are in a situation where oppositions–an team with a better record, a hard test, or a conflict of plans for the weekend–make whatever we are hoping for very unlikely to happen.  Doubt is present, so we say, “I hope.”  We know that it is unlikely, so we hope and wish for it to happen anyways.

But, this is not what the Bible means when it says hope

My Bible dictionary says defines hope as,

“Trustful expectation particularly with reference to the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Biblical hope is the anticipation of a favorable outcome under God’s Guidance….

This contrasts to the world’s definition of hope as ‘a feeling that what is wanted will happen.’ “

Holman Bible Dictionary, pg 780

Notice that the Bible uses hope when speaking of a TRUSTFUL EXPECTATION and the ANTICIPATION OF A FAVORABLE OUTCOME.  The word’s definition, though, is used only in regards to a feeling in the presence of doubt.

I say all of this to really say one thing about my last blog post.  We all have different ideas about Heaven and our first meal with God.  No matter what we imagine or wish it would be like, though, we all have one hope, one trustful expectation that compels us each day.  Romans 5:2 says, “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”  In other words, we live with joy because we TRUST that He will be glorified there.

We only have one hope in our life.  This hope IS NOT for how much money we’ll make, what car we’ll drive, or what team will win the game.  If we truly have the Holy Spirit and God’s love in our hearts, that one hope–the glorification of our Heavenly Father in every area of our lives–will not disappoint us.  Trusting in that one favorable outcome will even allow us to rejoice in our own suffering (Romans 5:3-5; see also 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Now it’s time to ask yourself one question.  Do I really have hope?