Friday, September 28, 2007

The Beauty of Hope

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Welcome to this week's carnival of beauty. I hope you are inspired and encouraged by our three essays today revealing the beauty of hope.

Michal writes about the hope she and her family found when God took them down a path that no one would want to go, in Hope is a Journey.

Susanna writes that the sure and living hope of a believer is a thing of beauty and noy something known to this world.

And I chime in with a post on our reason for hope: Jesus Christ and His love for us.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

My Hope is in the Lord

In this century, probably more than any other, there are a lot of things we can put our hope in. And, we regularly do. Many people put their hope in their career, their sports team, their stock account, even their children. However, there is really only one thing we can put our hope in and know that it is well-placed, and it is this: Jesus Christ died for our sins and gives us access to God, and an eternal future. My hope is built on nothing less.

Indeed, when Jesus lived on Earth, He made it clear that He is our only hope. He is our only way to God.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6

We certainly know that we can hope in Christ, for He gave Himself for us by dying a criminal’s death in our place. He paid the price for our sin. He bought us with His blood.

You were bought with a price. I Cor. 7:23

There is nothing we can do to earn this gift or to save ourselves from the wrath of God. Apart from Christ, we cannot suppress God’s anger. Our only hope is Jesus’ righteousness.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. II Cor. 5:21

We also have hope because we know that Jesus now stands at the right hand of the Father – he is in heaven, preparing a place for us, and interceding for us.

This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. Acts 2:32-33

Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Romans 8:34

He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD. Hebrews 10:12

Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

As this hymn says, we must believe, recognize His work on our behalf, and receive Christ as our Savior. It is only then that your hope will be grounded in the Lord of all hopefulness, the One who will not disappoint you, as other earthly vessels can.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2

Words by Norman J. Clayton

My hope is in the Lord
Who gave Himself for me
And paid the price
Of all my sin at Calvary.

For me He died;
For me He lives,
And everlasting life
And light He freely gives.

No merit of my own
His anger to suppress
My only hope is found
In Jesus' righteousness.

And now for me He stands
Before the Father's throne
He shows His wounded hands
And names me as His own.

His grace has planned it all
Tis mine but to believe
And recognize His work of love
And Christ receive.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Carnival of Beauty

I am hosting the Carnival of Beauty this week. Our topic is the beauty of hope.

To participate, send an email to with the following information:

1. Your first name
2. The name of your blog with the link
3. The name of your piece with the link
4. A brief one or two sentence description of your piece that will be in the listing of the Carnival submissions.

Please submit your entry by midnight your time on Thursday, September 27.

Monday, September 24, 2007

O Let Your Soul now be Filled with Gladness

And the ransomed of the LORD will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion, with everlasting joy upon their heads they will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Isaiah 35:10

O Let Your Soul now be Filled with Gladness
Words by Peter Aschan

O let your soul now be filled with gladness,
Your heart redeemed, rejoice indeed!
O may the thought banish all your sadness,
That in His blood you have been freed,
That God's unfailing love is yours,
That you the only Son were given,
That by His death He has opened heaven,
That you are ransomed as you are.

If you seem empty of any feeling,
Rejoice, you are His ransomed bride!
If those you cherish seem not to love you,
And dark assails from every side;
Still yours the promise, come what may,
In loss and triumph, in laughter, crying;
In want and riches, in living dying,
That you are purchased as you are.

It is a good, every good transcending,
That Christ has died for you and me!
It is a gladness that has no ending
There in God's wondrous love to see!
Praise be to Him the spotless Lamb,
Who through the desert my soul is leading
To that fair city of joy exceeding,
For which He bought me as I am!

I love this wonderful hymn, set to a Swedish folk song. I wish I could play the music for you, because I’m sure you would sing it in your head all day long, as the music is so beautiful and lilting, and the text is so encouraging.

I love the point this hymn makes in every verse: We are ransomed, purchased, bought AS WE ARE. There’s nothing we can do to make ourselves better, Christ forgives us and makes us His, in exactly the state we are in right now. And most of us don’t need reminding – the state we are in right now is sin.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

That’s God’s unfailing love – that He gave His only son to die for our sins, and that by His death, heaven is opened to us and we are ransomed. Christ paid the price!

He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. I John 2:2

Many of us would do well to remember what this hymn reminds us of: that come what may, good bad, and everything in between, we have been purchased as we are. That is good news no matter what you are facing today. Verse 2 pretty much sums up a lot of what any human may be up against: those you love don’t love you back, darkness is evident everywhere, loss, triumph, laughter, crying, want, riches, living, dying. We still hold fast to the promise that He has redeemed us and we are His.

But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1-3

Christ died for you and me – that is a good that transcends every other good that we could possibly imagine. If we have no other reason to be glad, that alone should keep us singing until He calls us home to Him. Praise be to the Spotless Lamb.

Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Discipline of God

Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. Job 5:17

Many of us, when growing up, would hear from our parents that they disciplined us because they loved us. As a kid, that’s hard to take. And, frankly, hard to believe. But as an adult, I can appreciate the truth in that statement. Out of their love for us, our parents wanted us to learn, and we learned (among other ways) through discipline. (Some of us learned faster than others, but I digress!)

The same is true with our Heavenly Father. He disciplines us because He loves us.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. Rev. 3:19

God disciplines us out of love, in order to conform us to the image of His son. Although it’s not pleasant, we can be assured of God’s love for us in a time of discipline. As this hymn so eloquently says

The Father's love is sometimes found in troubles and hard circumstance, and in the rough uneven ground.

This hymn also encourages us to not lose heart when we are disciplined. It is for discipline that we endure, as the writer to the Hebrews reminds us.

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Hebrews 12:7-8

The writer draws the parallel here that without discipline, we cannot be considered God’s children. And, just as we were disciplined by earthly parents, we should be subject even more do God’s discipline, because His discipline leads to sharing in His holiness.

Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. Hebrews 12:9-10

So don’t lose heart, no matter how hot the flame. As I wrote here, God knows exactly how hot to make the flame, and how long to leave you in it. He is perfecting us through the fire. His love works in us to break us of our stubbornness – and look what happens after we’re disciplined:

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Hebrews 12:11

I know I want the peaceful fruit of righteousness in my life. That requires that I be trained by discipline, trained by the One who loves me.

Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days. Prov. 19:20

God’s discipline, when recognized, understood and learned from, is a beautiful gift of love to us from the One who knows us best, and knows what’s best for us.

He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding. Proverbs 15:32

The Discipline of God is Strong
Words by Jim Elliff

The discipline of God is strong
To make the sinning Christian bend,
Until affection, thoughts, and ways
Are each conformed to God's own end.
The selfish child must not forget
The Father's love is sometimes found
In troubles and hard circumstance,
And in the rough uneven ground.

Do not lose heart when you're reproved,
No matter how extreme the flame.
He turns the ground and burns the roots
Of suffocating weeds of shame.
We must not faint, nor are we free
To treat His love without concern,
When God takes love's severest course,
For lessons to be soundly learned.

Not all that's hard is discipline,
For we must train our minds to know,
That testing also from His hand
Is His design to make us grow.
We quickly should discern its source.
If sin, repentance is the cure.
If trials for obedience,
They only make the Christian sure.

Rejoice, my pilgrim, in His ways,
And do not doubt His providence.
He's never let a sparrow fall
Without divine intelligence.
Rejoice, His love works by design
To break our willful stubbornness.
No one could tame our raging lusts,
But God in His omnipotence.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine!

I’ve been doing some pretty deep reading in the last day or two about different theological “camps” and have been thinking about what it all means. Many things that I’ve read have led me to think and ponder what I believe and why. It’s all a bit mind-boggling, honestly. As I was sitting here thinking about it, I suddenly thought “Jesus is mine.” That’s what matters. These are the beautiful truths that I am convinced of:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. I Cor. 15:3-5

He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1:13-14

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Eph. 2:8

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
I John 1:6-7

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? I Cor. 3:16

I have the blessed assurance that Jesus is mine – I have been purchased by Him, washed in His blood, filled with His spirit.

That’s my story. That’s my song.

And for that, I will definitely praise the Savior all the day long!

Blessed Assurance
Words by Fannie Crosby

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I Have Settled the Question

I am drawn to this hymn because of the last line in every verse: I have settled the question forever. As Christians, we have made a decision to follow Christ, and live as He has commanded. Once you make that decision, there is no turning back: you are now dead to the flesh but alive through the spirit.

If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. Romans 8:10

As the refrain here says “I will never turn back from the narrow way.” Jesus tells us that there are very few that find the way to life – it is narrow, and the gate is small.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 17:13-14

When we come to Jesus through faith, and make the decision to follow Him, we don’t walk in sinfulness. We reject sin’s pleasures that do not last, and hold fast to the holy truth. Here again, we lay aside our old self, and put on the new self.

But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Ephesians 4:20-24

The way is narrow and few find it. It is not easy. Christ is our example, and He was a sinless man: that is impossible to live up to – for those of us (all of us!) who are sinful. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, God will sanctify us and transform us to the image of the Son. We are in a race – and it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. So, brothers and sisters, if you have settled the question, then press on!

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:13-14

I Have Settled the Question
Words by Haldor Lillenas

I remember when the Lord spoke to my soul,
I could feel the heavy burden from me roll
When He spoke the gracious words, “Wilt thou be whole?”
Then I settled the question forever.

I have settled the question, hallelujah!
I will never turn back from the narrow way.
I am going through with Jesus, hallelujah!
Till I reach the gates of glory some sweet day.

I no longer walk the ways of sinfulness,
But I daily tread the paths of righteousness
Since the day the Lord has come my life to bless
I have settled the question forever.

I will choose the holy joys that always last,
And reject sin’s pleasures that will soon be past,
To the treasures of true worth I’m holding fast,
I have settled the question forever.

Others may deny the Lord and live in sin,
But the race that I have entered I must win,
Through the pearly gates I mean to enter in,
I have settled the question forever.