April 23, 2017

Romans 15:4 ~ Hope

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{This final week of 2015 we will be re-visiting some of my personal favorite themes on which our wonderful writers have shared with us throughout this past year.  I hope that you (as I was, too!) will be encouraged and reminded of God’s faithfulness and loving care through their inspired words.}

For whatever was written in former days
was written for our instruction,
that through endurance
and through the encouragement of the Scriptures
we might have hope.
Romans 15:4 ESV

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This week, here on the Seeking Him devotional blog, we have begun a mini-series on the subject of HOPE.  Our devotional writers have brought light to the verse highlighted above truly bringing us ‘the encouragement of the Scriptures.’  Here are a few of their thoughts….

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In Positive Attitude, Tina wrote about a woman in the Old Testament who had great hope…

“God gave hope to Hannah.  Hannah was barren.  She went to the temple and prayed for God to take away her shame.  When the prophet, Eli saw her praying, he thought that she was drunk instead and questioned to her. When she explained she was praying for what she requested of the Lord yearly, Eli sent her on her way, asking God to grant her request.  And God did.  She gave birth to a son, Samuel, whom she dedicated to the Lord.  She was also blessed with other sons and daughters for her faithfulness. (Click here to read this account.)

God still shows up in this way today…There is power in prayer and belief.  Within these lies our hope.”

In Hope Waits, Ahmee shared that having hope means we wait…

“Waiting goes hand in hand with hope.

Sometimes it’s a matter of seconds…sometimes it’s a matter of years.  Hope can be lost.  Hope can be found.  We can temporarily lose sight of the hope that we hold.  Hope is something that we have to focus on; something that is actually intentional.  Hope helps you keep a smile on your face when it’s raining.  Hope is a matter of perspective, but also, knowing that we are loved by the Creator of the world who only wants good for us.  With God, the hope we have has a real chance of actualizing.  Otherwise, we are just wishing for good things to happen.

God has promised us many things in His Word, and because of this it is possible for us to have hope.”

In Spiritual Hope, Ann reminded us of the hope that the Word of God gives us…

“The Word of God always gives comfort and strength.
The Word of God is an oasis of hope.

Believing the Word of God and living by it takes us from the arena of hope into faith.

And hope maketh not ashamed
because the love of God
is shed abroad in our hearts
by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Romans 5:5

That means hope never disappoints. The reason it does not disappoint is that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  Hope is one of the three creative principles of the human spirit. They are also abiding principles.

And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

Meaning that when all else fails, these three principles will remain and not pass away.  They are given to us and are in our spirits.  We are to choose to act on faith, to always be hopeful towards God, and to walk in love.”

In Circle of Hope, Cynda gave us a great example of how biblical hope works…

Scripture
Purpose = Instruction
Result = Hope

“The purpose of Scripture is our instruction.  The Scriptures encourage us to persevere, to endure.  They offer us comfort and give us hope. Psalm 119 reiterates how closely hope is tied to the instruction of Scripture. Look at the following verses:

Do not snatch Your Word of truth from me,
for Your regulations are my only hope.
verse 43 NLT

You are my Refuge and my Shield;
Your Word is my source of hope.
verse 114 NLT

This is the circle of hope—the more we seek God through His Word…the stronger our hope becomes; the stronger our hope…the more we seek God.  This serves us well in times of trouble.  Instead of being filled with despair, we can remember the nature of God and be filled with hope.”

Hebrews 13:15 ~ A Sacrifice of Praise

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{This final week of 2015 we will be re-visiting some of my personal favorite themes on which our wonderful writers have shared with us throughout this past year.  I hope that you (as I was, too!) will be encouraged and reminded of God’s faithfulness and loving care through their inspired words.}

Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times
offer up to God a sacrifice of praise,
which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge
and confess and glorify His name.

Hebrews 13:15

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Oh, what encouragement I have received this week as I’ve read daily through the Seeking Him devotional!  (You, too?)  Ann, Ahmee, Clella, Cynda, and Tina have each written devotionals reminding me of the importance of offering my praise—a sacrifice of praise—to our wonderful Father God and drawing me closer to the One Who I do seek to praise and glorify!

In The Fruit Of Lips, Cynda took a good in-depth look at just what a ‘sacrifice of praise’ is and asked a really good question…along with a few answers she found.

“But why are we compelled (Hebrews 13:15) to do it ‘constantly and at all times’?  Here are just a few of the reasons I found:

  • it glorifies God and pleases Him
  • (because of) His enduring love and goodness
  • because Jesus did
  • it is our shared inheritance

But, I think my favorite reason for giving thanks is to tell others and remind myself of all He has done in my life.“

Then, Ann gave us some great reasons in Praise At All Times just WHY we praise God—

  • for what He has done (Psalm 9:11)
  • a four-fold reason— because we are “…a chosen people, a loyal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God….” (1 Peter 2:9)
  • and, as a commandment (Psalm 63:7)

She wrote, “So we are all to praise God; let us make a choice of doing so in the morning …in the afternoon …and in the evening time!”

Clella shared a wonderful translation of Hebrews 13:15 with us in Proclaim Allegiance To His Name.  She wrote,

“The New Living Translation says it this way:

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus
a continual sacrifice of praise to God,
proclaiming our allegiance to His Name.

The phase ‘proclaiming our allegiance to His Name’ popped out at me.  It sounded so different than the other translations that refer to ‘the fruit of lips that confess His Name.’  I just had to do a little research to understand what this verse is really saying.

– to “confess” God’s Name is to declare, state, acknowledge His Name
– to “proclaim allegiance” is to announce publicly, or to declare something one considers important with due emphasis, which in this case would be one’s loyalty or commitment of a subordinate to a superior.”

In Verbal Sacrifice, Ahmee brought us back to the central element in Hebrews 13:15 of ‘sacrifice.’  She reminded us of reasons we have to offer our sacrifice of praise.

“Those days when you don’t feel like giving praise are the days when praise is a sacrifice. When we praise God even in our less-than-favorable moments we are saying to Him — and those around us —

  • God is our God
  • we trust Him with our lives
  • we trust in Someone bigger than us
  • we have the Almighty on our side to fight for us”

And in Giving Thanks, Tina encouraged us to remember how abundantly blessed we are here in the USA.

“The Pilgrims were so grateful to have a land to call their own and the freedom to worship God. After such a hard crossing and a hard harvest, they decided to celebrate and praise God for what they had. Let us do the same. Continuous praise should be on our lips and in our thoughts.

Philippians 4:6 ~ Do Not Be Anxious

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{This final week of 2015 we will be re-visiting some of my personal favorite themes on which our wonderful writers have shared with us throughout this past year.  I hope that you (as I was, too!) will be encouraged and reminded of God’s faithfulness and loving care through their inspired words.}

Do not be anxious or worried about anything,
but in everything [every circumstance and situation]
by prayer and petition with thanksgiving,
continue to make your [specific] requests known to God.
Philippians 4:6 AMP 

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Here on the Seeking Him devotional blog, we have been focusing our thoughts for the past few weeks on giving thanks, gratitude, and being thankful.  This week our devotional writers have encouraged us to remember that it is possible to bring all our cares and concerns…and worries and anxieties…to God through prayers of thankfulness.  Please click on the indivdual links to read each complete devotional; here are a few excerpts from their thoughts.

In Worry versus Thankfulness, Clella gave us truth and promises to hold onto…

“These Scriptures in Philippians and 1 Timothy tell us to pray about everything-–every circumstance, every situation, every person in our life.  We are to tell God about everything we need (and even the things we perceive we need.)  Why? Because He cares about you (each of us.)

Give all your worries and cares to God,
for He cares about you.
1 Peter 5:7….”

In Trust and Thank God, Tina asked a really good question…

“What are we saying to God when we choose to worry and fret over a situation? Are we saying we do not trust Him to care? Are we saying this situation is too small for You to handle, I do not want to bother you with it? Yes, my friend we are. Just as you would go to a friend, or mentor, or mom, and tell them what is going one, God wants us to go to Him and cast our problems and lay them down at His feet….”

In Anxiety, Ann enumerated five different ways in which prayer is ‘the essential cure for worry’, and reminded us that…

“Therefore, I urge each one of us not to murmur and worry when we face the  adversaries of this life.  Take it to God in prayer.  He is the Author and Finisher of our faith.  And there is nothing hard for him.  All things are possible…”.

In Thankful for the Blessing, Ahmee warned us of how easy path is to treat the Scriptures with a ‘mundane’ or familiar attitude…

“So, we are to tell God what we need (or want) and then we are to thank Him for what He has already done. I feel that we are told to do this, because it is to help us remember that God is faithful and has shown us that He is faithful, but to also keep us grateful for all the Lord has helped us with and provided for us, AND it’s to help us keep a thankful heart…”

Psalm 18:30 ~ God is a Shield and a Refuge

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{This final week of 2015 we will be re-visiting some of my personal favorite themes on which our wonderful writers have shared with us throughout this past year.  I hope that you (as I was, too!) will be encouraged and reminded of God’s faithfulness and loving care through their inspired words.}

As for God, His way is blameless.
The Word of the Lord is tested [it is perfect, it is faultless];
He is a Shield to all who take refuge in Him.
Psalm 18:30

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During this week, our devotional writers have greatly encouraged us as they shared their belief and trust that God is our Shield, protecting us and providing refuge for us.  My own heart was encouraged to remember that the Scriptures are God’s own words that bring us His promises.  Please click on each link to read each complete devotional; here are a few excerpts from their thoughts….

In Take Heed, Clella reminded us that we need to know and heed to God and His promises…

“…Because God’s way is perfect, and His word is flawless, and He has promised to protect His children, we need to take heed.  Yes, like David, we have enemies—whether in the physical or in the spiritual—who try to “entangle us with cords of death” (Psalms 18:4-5).  But if we take heed of God and His Word, He will ”avenge us, and save us from our enemies” (Psalms 18:47-48).  When we are faithfully in God’s Word, then we will know God and experience His deliverance….”

In Daddy’s Protection, Tina gave us the example of God’s love has protected us….

“Remember, as a child, how our dad was our hero?  How he could not do any wrong in our eyes?  Well, God wants us to love and trust Him like that…As we grew older our dads made mistakes, because they are human. They maybe did not show up at a ballgame, dance recital or have time to listen.  But I know Who does—God our Father.  He has time to listen to all of our issues.  He is always there….”

In God’s Pure Word, Ann shared the blessings and benefits of God’s Word…

“There are benefits and value to God’s Law and Word.

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
Psalm 19:8

The ‘precepts of the Lord’ are definite rules concerning righteous living that are a joy to the godly.  The ‘commands of the Lord’ are the authoritative source of guiding light for the faithful who seek His way…”

In There is Refuge in God’s Word, Ahmee pointed us to some important reminders of the refuge and warnings that God’s words can be for us…

“I know our verse (Psalm 18:30) is most likely referring to physical refuge—as in keeping you safe from bodily harm. But when I read it the first refuge I thought of was emotional refuge.  Life can be rough and it has this way of wearing you down, if you let it.  God’s Word does have a way of warning us about certain situations. However, whether we listen, or not, is up to us.  I think Proverbs is a really great book that lets us know “If this…then that”.  We can find refuge in the Lord’s words by avoiding these situations….”

This Week…Luke 2:8-14

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In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. but the angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. for this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah).

And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.”  Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying, “glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.

Luke 2:8-14

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From Ann, Ahmee, Clella, Cynda, Tina, and myself…
we wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas!  
God bless you and keep you!

This week, here on the Seeking Him devotional blog, we have been encouraged by our writers to praise God and bring Him honor and glory… just as the angels did when they came to the shepherds to announce the Good News of the birth of the Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

In When the Glory of the Lord is Shown Upon You, Ann reminded us of our privilege and joy to testify of God’s glory…

“I therefore request us, brethren, to cry unto God to show us His glory in all aspects of life so that we can be able to testify to others.  How can we testify of His glory if we ourselves have not experienced it?  The shepherds experienced the glory.  (And, yes, they were terrified…just as the shepherds!)  But the angel said to them “do not be afraid” for he came with good news.  The testimony they had was “God brings good news.”  Trust me, God is bringing His glory in different ways and we will testify.  But I pray we will testify as we have experienced it and perceive it in Jesus’ Name.”

In God Draws Near, Clella encouraged us—through many examples—to take the opportunity we’ve been given to ‘go tell!’ others about our God and Lord Jesus…

“We may be small and insignificant from the world’s perspective, yet to God we are like the lowly shepherds–we are very important to Him. He is personal. He has drawn near to us by sending His Light, Jesus, to dwell in our hearts. During this Christmas, we have the wonderful opportunity to show others just what a personal God we love and serve by sharing Jesus—Emmanuel—with anyone who will listen.”

In Great Joy, Tina shared about recognizing the joy that we can have as we submit to God’s will…

“The fear of the Lord can also lead to great joy.  Just as Mary submitted to God’s will for her life to have His Son, we can submit to His authority for His will in our life.  Angels live among us today.  There are many examples of situations where people were suddenly moved away from a possible accident, or have been miraculously healed of a disease.  I have heard of these in my own church and from friends. God is alive and very active in our lives! (We just have to be willing to see.)”

Great Joy

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In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.  For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah).  And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: You will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.”  Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.”

Luke 2:8-14

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Do you recall the anticipation you felt before your child(ren) were born? Or before the birth of a niece or nephew?  I remember well.  I was concerned and expectant all at once!  I wondered if I would be a good mom, would I make the right choices as a new mom, am I ready to have some little person that I am responsible for.  Then I remembered…God has given me a gift.  Someone He is entrusting to me and my husband to rear in the fear of the Lord.

The fear of the Lord can also lead to great joy.  Just as Mary submitted to God’s will for her life to have His Son, we can submit to His authority for His will in our life.  Angels live among us today.  There are many examples of situations where people were suddenly moved away from a possible accident, or have been miraculously healed of a disease.  I have heard of these in my own church and from friends. God is alive and very active in our lives! (We just have to be willing to see.)

When my son passed his driving test and received his license to drive, he felt great joy.  When he graduated from college he was relieved he had completed this part of his journey.  I pray he will be able to find that mate God has reserved for him. A mate to help him be more complete, a mate who will encourage him to do his best and he do the  same for her. I want my son to experience the joy of being a parent. To not feel the burden, but to see the child(ren) as gifts from his heavenly Father to nurture and grow in the ways of God.  Just as Mary and Joseph did.

Despite the whispers, looks, and misunderstandings, Mary and Joseph knew whose this Child was. They knew they had done nothing wrong and had obeyed God in all of the laws. These poor parents gave their all for God’s Child.  Yet their joy was in receiving from God the huge responsibility in raising His Son.  Joseph received more instruction from God in order to keep His son safe from Herod (Matthew 2:13-14; 19-23).  Then when called to return from Egypt, Mary and Joseph chose Nazareth to raise their family there.  Not too far from the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus would perform many of His miracles.

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Father, I thank You for sending Your Son to such humble beginnings. When we reflect on Jesus’ life and upbringing, we see You in every area.  You were there and You are present now, through your Holy Spirit, to guide and watch over us in ways we cannot begin to imagine. You are the great organizer of our lives.  I pray asking for Your favor and blessing upon our nation and our people.  I ask for a revival to begin in us as we help spread Your love to others.  In Jesus’ name, I praise You and thank You, amen!

The True Meaning of Christmas…by Linus

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In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. but the angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. for this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah).

And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.”  Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying, “glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.

Luke 2:8-14

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A Charlie Brown Christmas
Just Like New Kids Productions

When the Glory of the Lord is Shown Upon You

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And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby,
keeping watch over their flocks at night.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were terrified.

Luke 2:8-9

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What happens when the glory of the Lord is shown on you?  Scripture makes clear that it’s possible for every true follower of Jesus to see and understand the glory of God.  Indeed, our Lord reveals His glory to all who ask and seek it diligently.

Moreover, I believe the revelation of God’s glory will equip His people for the perilous days ahead.  Paul states that this revelation “…is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).  Therefore, as we pray, “Lord, show me your glory,” we’re actually praying, “Father, reveal to me who You are.”  And if/when the Lord does give us a revelation of His glory, it’s a revelation of how He wants to be known by us.

How many of us have prayed a prayer such as this?  This type of prayer is normally prayed when faced with adversaries we feel are beyond our control.   At a time when we are at zero, we always ask for His glory.  Why can’t we also ask for His glory when we are in our highest spirits?  I believe there we can experience more of His glory, too.  Moses’ experience with the glory of God demonstrates this truth.

The Lord sent Moses to deliver Israel without giving him a full revelation of who the God of Israel truly was. The Lord merely told him, “Go, and say I AM sent you.” But He gave no explanation of who “I AM” was.  I believe this is why Moses cried, “[Lord]…I beseech Thee, shew me Thy glory” (Exodus 33:18).  Moses had a gnawing hunger and thirst to know WHO the great I AM was—to know what His nature and character were all about.  I therefore request us, brethren, to cry unto God to show us His glory in all aspects of life so that we can be able to testify to others.  How can we testify of His glory if we ourselves have not experienced it?  The shepherds experienced the glory.  (And, yes, they were terrified…just as the shepherds!)  But the angel said to them “do not be afraid” for he came with good news.  The testimony they had was “God brings good news.”  Trust me, God is bringing His glory in different ways and we will testify.  But I pray we will testify as we have experienced it and perceive it in Jesus’ Name.

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Dear Lord, thank You for being willing to show us Your glory forever more.  And I pray, asking You to open our eyes and ears to see and to hear You when You come in Your glory.  In Jesus’ name, I pray,  Amen.

Oh, Holy Night

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In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. but the angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. for this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah).

And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.” Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying, “glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.

Luke 2:8-14

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Through Him

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In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
all things were made through Him,
and without Him was not any thing made that was made.
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
The Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1-5

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If you have children you may know this song, “In the beginning, God created …”  It is sung by a character, Miss Patty Cake. Toddlers love her! She has an amazing ability to keep the children motivated and moving. She also shares her love of God with them.  She retells the stories of the Bible in ways they understand and come to know who God is to them, even at their young ages.  Our children need to be secure in knowing God loves them completely. They need to see it modeled in how we react to life and how we approach God.

Even when we get it wrong the children understand and they know. We can rest on the assurance of God for His forgiveness when we let life get in the way and speak harshly to our spouse or to our children. We are to repent and ask God to help take away our pain and show us how to turn away from our wrongs. God is faithful to do what is right.

When we do this, the children learn forgiveness. They know that it is acceptable to forgive and to love unconditionally. When we let God’s light shine in and through us, our children learn.

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Father, I thank You for Your gift of our children and grandchildren. You have entrusted their lives to us and we do not take the responsibility lightly. Help us to forgive the wrong done to us by those in authority.  Help us to demonstrate the right way to live, love, and to be a light to our children and grandchildren. Help us let Your light shine through, no matter what the situation is. In Jesus’ name, amen.