We Have Hope

The most precious day of Christian remembrance has arrived, and may we rejoice in it. Christ paid such a price. It was such a gift (Ephesians 2:8). Our God is so worthy of our eternal praise! It was an event of betrayal, cruelty, sacrifice, innocence, and suffering, –all for our redemption. What a plan, and it was executed perfectly. 

There would be no redemption without the crucifixion. An amazing part of the story was Jesus’ betrayal by Judas. Judas sat under Jesus’ teaching with the eleven, but Judas received Satan’s temptation to betray Jesus. He acted upon what he should have rejected.

After the betrayal, it continued downhill. “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:3-5). 

Judas’ worldly sorrow led to his earthly and eternal death/destruction. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). 

Imagine, if Judas, after being rejected by the chief priests and elders, had gone to the crucifixion exhibiting godly sorrow. What if he had fallen face down at the bloody feet of the dying Lord Jesus and begged forgiveness for his betrayal? Jesus would have forgiven him, and Judas would not be in hell at this moment. (BTW, I’m not suggesting an improvement on the account.) 

May we learn from Judas. First, reject sinful promptings. Second, when you fail, choose godly sorrow. When you wrong someone, go to them in a spirit of repentance, not justifying yourself. Seek their forgiveness and the Lord’s. Also, if you are trusting in your works for salvation (being a good person), repent and place your faith in the One Who died to redeem you. 

Understatement 

Have you noticed that often one word doesn’t tell the story? Especially, I’m thinking of the word “birth” or “death.” One is the beginning of life on earth and the other is the end of it. But each one has a story that goes with it, and usually, we want to know more. That is why after a baby is born, moms want to hear the birth story. 

Often when I am inquiring into someone’s spiritual life—whether they are truly saved—I hear the words “I believe in Jesus.” Think about it. When someone asks about your salvation, what do you say? Do you reply in a monotone? Is the story of your birth and resulting life in Christ, ho-hum? Maybe your “birth” so to speak was merely a formality that your church required. Perhaps it is like the woman who said that after her divorce, she was baptized again. She wanted to make sure things were all good with God. After a child is born, there are signs of life such as pulse and breathing Do you exhibit signs of real spiritual life? Don’t wait until you die to find out. We will not have a church representative standing next to us at the judgment to answer for us. 

Brothers, be sure you are saved, then live it, proclaim it, rejoice in what the Lord Jesus did for you. He rose from the dead to show the world that He has power over death and can give new life. 

“Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people. For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods” (Psalms 96:2-4).

Simple Actually

I have not understood how a dad who loves his children would not be very concerned about protecting and guarding their hearts from as much of the world as he could. Frankly, I have been totally at a loss to figure this out. I now believe I have an explanation. 

Proverbs 4:23 is foundational to this discussion. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” As you study and meditate on this verse, I believe you will see that everything coming from a man in a natural sense–his actions, his words, and thoughts–are from his heart. That is why it is critically important that good things are taken in, and things that will lead to bad fruit are avoided. 

Likely, the dad mentioned earlier has an inflated self-confidence in his ability not to be affected by negative worldly things to which he exposes himself (contrary to Proverbs 4:23). He believes he is spiritually mature and will not be pulled down by things that weak believers will be. Furthermore, he might have little concern for the command for holiness and a host of other verses I share regularly. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy”  (1 Peter 1:15-16).

I imagine that if a man isn’t keeping his own heart, likely he won’t be concerned about his children’s hearts either. After reading this, if you have another explanation please write me back. “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matthew 12:35).

Just an Hour

Imagine that tomorrow you wake up with a strange pain. It is not a muscle ache or something you have ever had before, but something totally different. As the morning passes, it is growing massively in intensity. Regardless of what was planned for your day, you head to Urgent Care. The day is spent running tests. Finally, you are told you have a terminal disease and will die very, very soon. 

You return home with the pain lessened due to medication, but you are thinking of end-of-life details that must be attended to quickly. You have an awareness of every minute passing and things to be done. High on the list are people you want to say goodbye to before your disease renders you unconscious. Then there are those you know who have rejected Jesus, both family and friends. The list is long, and time is short. 

Then the regrets begin of all the time that you wasted. It wasn’t sinful, or you wouldn’t have done it. You justified it because of being tired, bored, or wanting something pleasurable. But there was no profit in how the time was spent. That time is now gone for eternity and can’t be reclaimed. Oh, how foolish you were. “Oh God forgive me.” You fall asleep in a drug-induced coma with a heavy, heavy heart. 

 “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalms 90:12).

Prayer

As Christian women, I believe we know the value of prayer, and most, if not all of us,  pray. Through the years walking with Christ, learning to pray, and putting prayer into practice, I discovered some holes in my prayer life. Thankfully the Lord has given me tweaks and tools to fill those holes and make my prayer life more effective.

Hit and miss praying, sometimes called flare prayers, makes it too easy to miss rather than hit or to only hit a couple of targets. Critical to my prayer life was, and still is, a scheduled time completely dedicated to praying – no more missing, just hit, hit, hit. For me, scheduled prayer time is attached to my morning Bible reading time. It happens at a specific time each morning and for a specific length of time. Then through out the day, I can pray, but I know those aspects that are my prayer priorities have been addressed. I don’t go to bed at night remembering all I didn’t pray about and wishing I had been more faithful in prayer.

Perhaps one of my biggest prayer holes was consistency in praying for things that were important to me. Sporadically as they surfaced in importance, I prayed about them. Often I got in ruts of who and what I prayed for, totally forgetting ones that I still desired to invest in praying for. With the utilization of a prayer list, however, all of that changed. Now prayer priorities were on the list and prayer attention given to them. I started out with a prayer notebook, but then moved to a prayer app.

With my prayer list that I could organize, I also left behind the overwhelmed feelings I had of not having time to pray for everything I wanted to pray about. With my prayer list, I assigned some items for everyday, others for several times a week, and still others for once a week. With a prayer app, I could record answers to prayer, and if it was a short term prayer, mark it as completed. If it was a specific request for someone I continually prayed for, I could write each answer in the notes associated with that person. It keeps my list concise, and I am not flipping all over in a prayer notebook like I was before.

With a prioritized and scheduled prayer time and a list of prayer targets, I did not miss praying for those important things. That also spared me the embarrassing moments when someone thanked me for praying about their need while I realized I hadn’t thought of their request again after it was made. I certainly hadn’t prayed for it. Now I get those requests on my prayer list and also, if they are for a specific day and time, I put them on my calendar with a reminder set. I want to be a faithful friend by praying when asked. When it is put on the prayer list, it is prayed for. 

The final tool to share with you is praying Scripture. Look at this passage, for example: 

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Col 1:9-12

What powerful, specific things to pray for someone. If and when we are stuck in the routine of what we always pray for, Scripture gives us new words and ideas. Paul’s prayers are wonderful examples, but there are many more throughout our Bible. Note them as you are reading and make lists of them. Memorize them to have them even easily available when you pray.

May I encourage you to evaluate your prayer life to see if it could use revitalization? Might you be helped by scheduling a prayer time, by using a prayer list, or even prayer Scripture?