Freedom in Hope lived loud

Name one word that describes your emotional state at this moment?

 

Depending where you are at in life, your burdens, your zeal for this day, you may be feeling happy, sad, lonely, excited, or frustrated.

I have no idea what you wrote down, but I’d love to hear it in the comments! I can imagine that if we put all our words together we would have a wide and varied list of descriptions. Our emotions change day to day, moment to moment, even when some seem persistent enough to poke at us for a season.

My word would be filled or freaking out depending on the attitudes in my house, the schedule on my phone, and the news on the screen.

Hope is different. Romans 5:5 tells us that Hope doesn’t disappoint us.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

It does not shame us.

It does not disgrace us.

It does not confuse us.

Can you imagine what it would be like to live without hope?

I pray you do not know. Without it our emotions and life itself feel so confusing, so broken beyond repair, so disgraceful.

Paul’s heart screamed out to the Galatians that hope was in front of them despite life’s confusion and doubts. Hope was worth gripping onto with all their might, even as someone tried to drag it away. Hope does not disgrace.

Let’s read Galatians 5:2-6 to hear more:

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

The false brothers, the Jewish believers that insisted on circumcision for the Galatians, were trying to sever their relationship with Jesus, sever their relationship with salvation. Their method of dispensing the law was confusion, so Paul uses straightforward language. Earlier in Galatians we saw his linear arguments about the place of the law in life after Christ Jesus. We saw the place of sonship in Abraham, sonship in Christ, and the technical differences between the two. Now Paul just says it like it is:

Circumcision, not necessary. It doesn’t matter. End of story. (Galatians 2:2)

So often in this confusing world we need someone to do that for us.

And Paul does:

We cannot keep the whole law. (Galatians 2:3)

There is sin in us, sin in the world, and we cannot make it better. We can’t wish it away. We can’t ignore it or it will choke us. It will push us off the cliff, and we will find ourselves watching as grace slips away from our line of sight.

Obviously, this is not freedom.

Satan’s breed of confusing us – whispering in our ears we’re not enough and we’re just fine on our own, all at the same time – it scratches to try to sever us from God and His goodness, His mercy. (Galatians 2:4)

Paul wants better for the Galatians and he wants better for us.

“For through the Spirit…”

The Spirit brings something new into the confusion that literally makes things right. Makes us righteous and changes our lives with hope.

Hope shines Christ into confusion.

Circumcision, uncircumcision – none of it matters. That is hope. Letting Christ be the center is where freedom is.

Just letting Him live out and live loud in our life;

letting Him, through the Spirit already in us by His grace, infiltrate all of our life, all of our heart, our soul, our mind, our strength,

that is freedom.

We aren’t free falling. We are held tightly in His righteousness, in freedom won for us.

We have hope.

Hope speaks over the voices that create all the confusion. Life might look or feel confusing now, or at least some days, but we eagerly wait, Paul says, for that moment, that time when all things will be new before our eyes. We pass on that hope to our children and to our families, to our friends, because who wants to live without hope, without freedom?

Today might be confusing, but Christ lives loud. The Spirit lives loud constantly reminding us…

“Oh yeah, hope.”

Hope deals with the big stuff, so we can bring it into the little stuff. Hope walks into your life shaped like grace and works into the fabric of everything around you.

Hope is loud like that too.

And hope does not disappoint, does not shame, does not disgrace.

Hope frees.

#lifetogether – Connect and send someone this week’s free downloadable Dear 52 card or order the whole set here

Discussion questions:

What things in life feel confusing or produce anxiety for you? (Like wars, family arguments, etc.)

What emotion is your least favorite to deal with? (anger, fear, excitement, etc.)

What difference does hope make in the day-to-day in your home or work, as you make dinner, talk to your family, do work projects, etc.? Where do you see Jesus living loud in the everyday?

There are a lot of etc.’s in my examples. 😉 What hope is there in the fact that Jesus holds all the etc.’s?

Jesus in Everything: Pringles and Faith

There once was a boy who loved Pringles.

He loved them so much he would save up money to buy them, alongside his hot wheel cars.

When he got married his wife failed to understand his obsession with Pringles, but out of love and care, she faithfully bought him cans of stacked potato chips for his stocking every Christmas and his easter basket every Easter.

But this isn’t a blog about love and marriage, it’s a blog about disappointment, and more than that about faith and genuineness.

I shattered Dave’s world one day when I checked out a series called “How It’s Made” from our local library. In one episode, they show the making of Pringles from start to finish. I remember Dave jumping up from the couch…

“They’re powdered potatoes???!!!”

Dave’s whole life he thought Pringles were the world’s most carefully cut potatoes. Then one day he learned, they’re kind of fake…artificial…not what he thought at all.

We laugh about it. It’s a funny story and you’ll really want to hear Dave talk about his chip struggles in the podcast, but what matters more than the humor of it all is that small things, like this in life, teach us about a bigger picture.

There are so many everyday things that can point us to something bigger if we just let them, if we let our minds wander to the eternal, rather than settle for the here and now.

In John 3, a man named Nicodemus asks Jesus a very complicated question about belief and faith. Jesus answers about being born again. Nicodemus asks another question, based on his limited perceptions and biases-

Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Like you and I, Nicodemus thinks about things in a very narrow way. Birth means one thing to him in this story until Jesus reveals to him the bigger picture.

Jesus says “new life” and we think “isn’t there only one life?”

Jesus says “family” and we think “people we live with.”

Jesus says “taco” and we think “Mexican.”

Ok, so Jesus never said taco or Mexican, but the idea for chips and salsa came from somewhere, and I’m pretty sure that’s why God makes tomatoes grow on a vine. 😉

There is a myriad of things in everyday life that can point us, and others, to Christ, if we let them.

At I Love My Shepherd one of our core values is Jesus in Everything. We believe that all things in creation, all of life’s relationships, all of life’s challenges, are best when we let them give us a little more perspective and understanding into who He is.

So, welcome to our new podcast series, Jesus in Everything –

Grounded in the Word, found in the everyday.

Today’s episode is indeed about Pringles and genuineness – how Dave learned that being the most genuine form of ourselves is important and showing people the most genuine and truthful version of Jesus is important too, all through a potato chip.

Where do you see Jesus in your everyday life? Tell us more! We’d love to hear your suggestions for future episodes! Send them to us in the comments below or on social media:

YouTube – I Love My Shepherd

Facebook – @ilovemyshepherd

Twitter – @ilovemyshepherd

Instagram – @ilovemyshepherdministries

Jesus in Everything: Pringles

PS This is not a op-ed about Pringles as a product. They are, and continue to remain, delicious. Dave simply prefers kettle cooked chips with the skins clearly visible, at this point in his potato chip journey.

As mentioned in the podcast – Christ is the Unseen Guest art by Pure Joy Creative

What did God really promise me?


We are so much like little children when it comes to God.

We want what we want, how we want it, when we want it.

No? No? It’s just me?

I sincerely doubt it. I’m old enough, with enough grey hair, to look out at our culture and see our expectations of God are out of control. We don’t want a fire-and-brimstone God, one who judges our thoughts and actions, but we also don’t want a God who lets the sins of the murderer slide. We want Him to intervene, but we also want Him to leave well enough alone. We want Him to fix things in our lives, but we want to be absolutely in charge of our own lives. Can you see these ideas play out in the culture around you?

James, again, wants us to have a congruent picture of God, as well as a congruent walk of faith. He’s very concerned with who God really is, according to Scripture, not our changing pictures of Him.

In James chapter 5, he addresses the subject of promises – the things we hold God to, what we want from Him, what we expect from Him. In just two short verses, James turns our God-in-a-box ideas upside down and inside out.

Instead of looking inward at our own ideas and suggestions, James reminds us that our eyes, thoughts, ideas, and trust are firmly fixed on eternity in Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit living in us.

Read James 5:7-8 –

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

So, what does God promise? Let’s sit on that for a minute. What promises does He make to us? List some in your head or on paper.

He promises us – He values us (Luke 12:6-7).

He promises us – He loves us (Romans 8:38-39).

He promises us – He is patient with us (2 Peter 3:9).

He promises us hope, a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

James 5 in my Bible begins with the subheading, “Warning to the Rich” and then another subheading “Patience in Suffering” before James 5:7-8. Subheadings are helpful, but remember, they are uninspired. They can play mental mind tricks and cause us to see the passage as two separate pieces instead of one letter. For our purposes today read through James 5:1-10 as one segment, forgetting the subheadings, and answer the questions that follow for yourself:

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you. Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

What does richness or wealth have to do with patience or impatience?

What grumbling may come against our brother because of wealth of any kind?

What did the prophets fight for in the name of the Lord and what does that have to do with patience? What does it have to do with wealth?

I can’t say it enough- in this world we like stuff. We value stuff. Because of that, even if we’re not really “stuff” people, we want stuff from God and we inadvertently hold Him to promises He never made. 

We look at our neighbors’ house and think – “Well, God, they have nicer things. Why, God? What’s wrong with me, God? I’m faithful.”

We look at our neighbors’ family and think – “Well, God, their children are well behaved. Why, God? What’s wrong with me, God? I follow You.”

We look at our neighbors’ lives and think, “They have it so much easier. Where’s the burden, Lord? Where’s the struggle? Why me, God? You are giving me less.”

These sound harsh, but the internal dialogue down deep helps us to understand our need for Jesus.

God promised Jesus.

End of sentence. All His promises (and there are many) could be wrapped up into that one sentence.

God promised Jesus.

No matter what else we want from Him, this is the promise that everything else clings to.

If we look deep down at what we want from God and don’t come up with Jesus, or something related to Jesus, it was never really promised to begin with.

James 5:8 tells us simply and eloquently –

Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Jesus is the promise.

In the struggle, I see Jesus tend to me. He is at hand.

In the abundance, I see Jesus’ overflowing love. He is at hand.

In the early rains, I see Jesus’ plans spring up. He is at hand.

In the late rains, I see Jesus’ perseverance and pursuit of me. He is at hand.

What promises are you asking of God today? Hold them out before Him. Ask yourself, ask God in prayer,

Is this about Jesus?

If not, it’s secondary. It wasn’t promised to begin with. It’s not eternity; it’s just now. It may happen, but it doesn’t have to happen, and our awareness of eternity brings patience.

I’m holding God to His promises with you, friends!

Lord, in Your Spirit, give us forgiveness, and always, always give us Jesus. Amen.




Discussion:

What promises of God can you recall from Scripture?

What promises do people hold God to that are not about Jesus?

What prayer requests do you have and how can you apply the question, “Is this about Jesus?” in those?