Daily Hope for July 4 – Blessing of a Nation

Scripture:  Psalms 33:12-19, Jeremiah 18:7-10

This being the birthday of the United States of America we need to be reminded that to be a genuinely happy and blessed nation we must remain under God, the one who created heaven and earth and everything in them. We must follow God and do what is right and good in His sight.  This is true for any nation on earth.  This passage teaches us that it is not our wealth or the size or our military that will save us in the end, but our seeking to do right in God’s sight that will bring us life, joy, and prosperity.  To reject God and do what is evil in His sight is to invite disaster upon ourselves.

Prayer:  Creator God, so often the nations of the world have rebelled against You.  Yet in Your mercy You have been patient.  Forgive us of the sins we have committed against You.  Pour out Your Holy Spirit to show us our sins and to bring us to repentance that we may be truly righteous and blessed in Your sight.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Daily Hope for July 3 – God’s Record Keeping

Scripture:  Matthew 10:40-42

One of the things that should amaze us is that God keeps track of everything we say or do.  The reception of others in Christ whether they be a prophet or a righteous person, entitles us to the same kind of reward they will receive in the great day of the resurrection.  Even more astounding, is that if we give such a simple thing as a cup of water to a fellow believer in Christ, we will be rewarded for it.  The record keeping of heaven must be beyond anything we can think or imagine.  That God cares about the smallest of actions that we do, absolutely boggles my mind.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, the fact that You keep such detailed records of our lives and care so deeply about our actions is an amazing testimony of Your great love and concern for each one of us.  Help us to do and say, all the good that we can, for all the people we can, for however long You give us strength and ability to do it.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Daily Hope for July 2 – Body, Mind and Soul

Scripture:  Romans 6:12-14

To be fully human we have a body, a soul, and a spirit or another way to put it is body, mind, and spirit.  The body is like a tent we inhabit guided by the thoughts of our soul and the strength on our spirit.  When we are converted to faith in Christ, our spirits are given eternal life and strength.  Our souls or our minds are being renewed every single day as we grow in Christ and learn to make our thoughts more like the thoughts of God our heavenly Father.  The image of God is being restored in us.  That leaves us with the physical body we possess, which will be fully restored in the day of resurrection.  We are to use our body like an instrument to do what is good and right in the sight of God.  Our body is the vehicle we use to do good things for one another, to bless one another, and to worship God.  We can use our physical actions to help and serve one another.  We can use the words of our mouths to build one another up in Christ and to praise and thank God our Creator.  We also use our words and actions to testify of our faith in Christ, which is the best gift we can give to those who are still lost in the sins of this world.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help me to use my body to bring glory and honor to Your name by the words I say, the activities I engage in, and the work I do for others.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Daily Hope for July 1 – Faith in God’s Control

Scripture:  Psalms 13

Sometimes when we go through trials, we feel like they just came to an end, then they seem to come back.  Or we get one problem under control and another one springs up in our lives, often totally unexpected.  In these times we can feel like God has forgotten us and we can feel like He isn’t watching over us.  It is times like these that test our faith.  It is the place where our faith in Christ must overcome our feelings and our fears.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, I trust in Your unfailing love and Your unseen hand.  I know that whatever trials I am facing in my life You have not turned Your face away from me but will help me to face them with victory and my joy will never end as I trust in You.  Amen.

Daily Hope for June 30 Nothing Can Separate Us

Scripture:  Romans 8:31-39

One thing God is abundantly clear about in His Word, is that if we choose to follow Christ, we will experience troubles and persecution in this world.  That’s because we are caught in the middle of the ancient battle between Good and Evil, between God and the devil.  A few Christians were led to believe that when they came to Christ all of their troubles would be over.  That won’t happen until Christ returns and the Kingdom of God is fully established on the earth.  For the present time the Kingdom of God has come to earth in Christ and is present through those of us who believe in Him by the Holy Spirit that is given to us.  The Kingdom of God is advancing and liberating souls around the world as we spread the message of Christ to all people.  The battlefield is not where we will finally be at peace. Lasting peace and prosperity will only come when the King returns in all His glory.  For now in the midst of our trials we must trust God and know that nothing can ever separate you from His love in Christ.

Prayer:  Father, when I am discouraged, remind me of Your love for me and that You are always with me wherever I am and in the middle of whatever trials I may face.  In Jesus’ name I ask, amen.

Living the New Life in Christ

Sermon notes and questions from my message based on Colossians 3:1-17. Delivered June 28, 2020 at Forsyth UMC in Forsyth, IL.

We are called as Christians to live a new life in Christ that does not follow the pattern of this world.  Remember the Goal of Paul’s work “I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.” – Colossians 2: 2 NLT.  Chapter two discussed our freedom in Christ, now chapter 3 of Colossians tells us how we should be living as Christians.

1. Focus on the things of heaven.  Colossians 3:1-4 NLT

In this passage we are told to focus on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. (vv. 1-2). Our salvation is a gift from God, this wonderful salvation gives us new life in Christ and hope that goes beyond death with the assurance that because Christ rose from the dead, I too will rise from the dead never to die again.

If we focus on the things of this life, we are likely to be discouraged and disillusioned.  In the end we will definitely be disappointed because we leave it all behind when we die.  When my mother was in her final months in a nursing home, she received a Publisher’s Clearing House ad that said, “Imagine Betty Maxwell what you could do with $5,000,000!”  I thought, “Yeah, she could buy the nursing home she’s living in.”  At some point all of the wealth and power we can accumulate in this life will become meaningless.  But if our true treasure, what we hope for, what we desire, is in heaven as we approach that time when the things of this world become meaningless, it won’t matter because we know we have far greater things in Christ.

The reason for this is simple.  When we came into Christ, we “died to this life” but we have a new life hidden in Christ that is independent of our wealth or lack of wealth in this world.  A multimillionaire in Florida who came to Christ in his 50s stated, “all of my millions I would have gladly given up to know Christ,” a poor widow in North Dakota had tremendous power in prayer and great joy in the Lord.  Both of these people the millionaire and the poor widow had the same joy because their focus was on the things of heaven where they had true riches.

2.  Get Rid of the Bad Stuff  vv. 5-11

In response to this wonderful gift God has given us in Christ we are instructed to “put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” ­ – Colossians 3:5 NLT.  This does not mean we cannot enjoy the material blessings God gives us in this world.  All of our wealth and the power to gain wealth should be seen as gifts from God.  The same is true of the joys we share within marriage. 

Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:4 “Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.” – NLT.

Paul warns us that the anger of God is coming upon the world because of these sins, then he gives a list of the kinds of things we should not have in our lives: anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. – Colossians 3:8 NLT.

3.  Put on the Good Stuff  vv. 12-15

Next Paul tells us to put in good stuff into our lives.  V. 10 says, 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.  – Col. 3:10 NLT.  In vv. 12-15 we are given a list of things to put on like clothes.  Our clothes are what people see and they say a lot about us.  These are the things we should clothe ourselves with:

  • Tenderhearted mercy – another word for this is compassion.  If we are true Christians, we must have compassion for all people, especially those of the household of faith.
  • Kindness – who would you rather spend your time with, someone who is kind, or someone is not kind in either words or actions?
  • Humility – freedom from pride or arrogance.  The Bible does teach us that we can take pride in our own work, but not by exalting ourselves over another, but we should feel satisfaction in our work for Christ and our families.  Most people do not like to be around arrogant people, boastful people.
  • Gentleness, patience, tolerance – these are all things we try to practice and to teach our children. 
  • Forgiving one another.  Sometimes this one is hard, but remember Christ forgave you.
  • Add love.  The term for love has little to do with emotion, it is acting and speaking with the highest good of another in mind.  The emotions tend to follow when you intentionally seek the highest good of others.  The absolute highest good for any person is to know Christ and grow in Him.

It is this kind of love that makes the mercy, kindness and other positive elements God wants us to add to our lives, work together in perfect harmony.

  • Finally he says, we are to let the peace of Christ rule our hearts.  This is a peace that is unshakeable in the face of danger.  John Wesley when crossing the Atlantic Ocean noticed that the Moravian Christians gathered and sang hymns in the middle of a violent storm.  He feared for his life, but they sang praises to God unafraid of what could happen.  They had a peace he did not yet know.  Though he came to know it soon afterwards.

One of the reasons sinners came freely to Christ, was the presence of all of these qualities in Him.  The ones who had trouble with Him were either confident in their own righteousness or seeking to hold on to their positions of power in this world.

4.  Fill Your Life with God’s Riches  vv. 16-17

Finally he tells us, 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.  – Colossians 3:16-17 NLT.

Sadly, many Christians never explore deeply the riches we have in the message of Christ.  There are so many promises given to us if we will simply trust and follow Him or like the old song says, “Trust and Obey.”

We are to teach and counsel each other.  Not for the purpose of being critical or condemning, but for building each other up in Christ for our mutual benefit and joy in Christ.

Conclusion

As Christians we have chosen to believe in Christ and follow His ways.  We have chosen to not to follow the ways of this world and the evil that is within it.  If you have not yet chosen to follow Christ, I invite you to do so.  If you are trusting Christ, I invite you to explore more deeply the riches of the wonderful salvation Christ has given you.  I guarantee you will never run out of discovering the wonderful benefits Christ has given you out of His love for all of us.

Questions to Consider

1. As the Bible tells us to focus on the realities of heaven it is important to ask questions like:

  • Where is my focus? 
  • What is most important in my life?
  • What determines how I think and act? The realities of my new life in Christ or this world?

2.  What are the things Paul tells us we need to rid from our lives?  We are some of the behaviors I personally need to remove from my life?  How do I see Christ working in my to remove the bad things in my life?

3.  Make a list of the good things Colossians 3:12-15 tells us we should have in our lives?  How have I seen Christ developing these things in me?  What can I do to continue to be more like Jesus?

4.  What does it mean to let the message of Christ fill our lives?  What are some of the easy and practical things Paul tells us we can do to fill our lives with Christ’s message and its richness? (v. 16 b).  How does this not only help me but also helps other Christians?

Daily Hope for June 29 Help in Our Weakness

Scripture:  Romans 8:26-30

Our human weakness in this world even brings us to the point of not knowing what we should pray for or how we should pray it.  The beautiful thing is that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us even when we don’t know what to pray.  Sometimes the hurt or pain in our own life is greater than the words we have to express it.  Sometimes the confusion created by the turmoil in our world leaves us not knowing what to say.  Yet God understands our weakness and has given us His Holy Spirit to be our intercessor so that our prayers are brought into line with the will of God our Father.  He helps us and works in all things for our good.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to help me pray when I don’t know what to pray, to strengthen me when I am weak, and to guide me into the best paths for my life.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Daily Hope for June 28 – A Wonderful Hope

Scripture:     Romans 8:18-25

Many Christians around the world have been waiting patiently for this current pandemic to come to an end.  We also hope and pray for an end to the current unrest that has spread across our nation.  Perhaps this pandemic has come to show us how bad things really are in human nature.  Pressure either breaks a person or makes them stronger and this pandemic has greatly increased many kinds of pressure for people around the world.

When we have come to know Christ, we begin to understand that God has something wonderful planned for this world at a future time when Paradise will be restored on the earth.  All of Creation looks forward to that time and groans under the trials of our current situation.  We’ve only tasted a little foretaste in Christ, but when He returns the wonder of the liberation of all Creation from death and decay will be more wonderful than we can imagine.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, when I get discouraged by the trials in this life, remind me that we have not yet received what You have fully promised to us.  We have not received the fullness of our salvation that You purchased for us by shedding Your own blood.  Keep us strong; keep us faithful to the end.  Amen.

Daily Hope for June 27 Heirs to Glory

Scripture:  Romans 8:12-17

One of the beautiful things about being a Christian is we have received the Spirit of God into our lives not a spirit that makes us slaves.  In some translations of this passage call this the “spirit of sonship” which is not meant to be exclusive of female believers, rather in ancient times and cultures it was the sons that had the rights of inheritance.  God is holding an inheritance for each person who has put their trust in Jesus Christ.  This is a glorious inheritance that is more wonderful than anything we can imagine, but since we are co-heirs with Christ, we must also share in the sufferings of Christ in this life.  But what we suffer now is temporary, what we will inherit then will last forever.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank You for preparing a wonderful inheritance and a place for me.  Give me the strength and courage to go through whatever part of the suffering of Christ You call me to share.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Daily Hope for June 26 – Who Controls Us?

Scripture:  Romans 8:5-11

One of the things that perplex many of us is how people can do the things they do and say the things they say.  This passage of Scripture tells us why.  Since we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we all possess a sin nature.  That sin nature controls the way people think and act so that they do things that should not be done and say things that should not be said.

Those of us who have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior are no longer controlled by our sin nature.  The Bible uses several word pictures to describe the separation of the sin nature from us:  we have died to the old nature, the sinful nature has been crucified, it has been cut away, and we have been cleansed from all unrighteousness.  So the Apostle Paul tells us that we are NOT controlled by the sinful nature but by the Spirit of God.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, forgive me when I fall back into the old patterns of life.  I yield my life to Your gracious control.  Open the eyes of those who do not know You that they may see their own need and come to You for forgiveness and a new birth, and experience new life under the control of Your Holy Spirit.  Amen.