Who does God say you are…when you feel like giving up?
Some days it is easy to want to give in to emotions and give up on dreams, or goals, or just survival. We read about Hagar in Genesis 16. She was an Egyptian maidservant to Sarai, Abram’s wife. When she became pregnant with Abram’s son, at Sarai’s suggestion, there developed bitterness between the two. Sarai mistreated Hagar and the pregnant servant ran away into the desert. An angel of the Lord told Hagar to return to Sarai and Abram where she gave birth to Abram’s son, Ishmael.
Hagar probably felt secure in Abram’s household while Ishmael was his only son. But when the elderly Sarai finally became pregnant with the child God had promised, Hagar and Ishmael was banished. Hagar again found herself in the wilderness with little water and food, only now she had a child to watch die of thirst. She separated herself from him to avoid hearing his cries and prepared to die from her circumstances.
God had not abandoned her during her first ordeal and He heard her cries again. An angel of the Lord told her to take the boy by the hand because “God will make him into a great nation.” (vs. 18) God then showed her a well and they survived to fulfill God’s promise.
When I was young I won’t allow myself to dream about my desires of wanting a loving family. I gave up on life because I thought my dream was unattainable. God gave me a vision of that dream in my future. Like Sarai, I laughed. But still I wondered; what if I give up just before the dream becomes possible. What if I gave up and God showed me what could have been mine if only I had trusted Him. That well of refreshing water may be just beyond my vision. Nothing is beyond God’s vision or care. Don’t give up on God because you can’t see the answer.
Have you ever felt like giving up on a dream or a goal that you thought God had given you? How did you keep your trust during discouraging circumstances?
When I was a child, Easter was represented by a new outfit, including a fancy dress, shoes and hat. My sisters and I would get dressed up and pose for pictures out in our yard. The sun was usually shinning, though the air still brisk. After the dutiful snapshots, we would run around the yard looking for the colorful eggs we had died the night before.
Today, Easter has a deeper meaning. Instead of sitting in church in pretty new clothes, I see myself kneeling and broken at the foot of the cross. My heart aches to remember the cruelty heaped on Jesus that day. My heart rejoices at the love He displayed. In excruciating pain, He looked at those who mutilated His body and said, “Forgive them.” Imagine, if He could forgive them, He can forgive us.
Easter is about forgiveness, a clean slate and a blessed future. My vision of Easter enhances the traditional image of new birth and hope. Because Jesus died and rose again, we have a fresh start. We can choose to be a forgiven Child of God and leave the lies of the World behind. That’s why I see Easter in bright colors; crisp and fresh with excitement.
I know I am forgiven no matter what I look like but I still like to dress up for Easter services. After all, God gave His best.
What traditions do you value at Easter? Are there any traditions you had as a child that you see differently today?
In the last weeks, I have talked about three of the riches we receive when we inherit the Kingdom of God by believing in Christ Jesus. The first one was hope. We have an expectation that God will fulfill our desires when we place our trust in Him. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19 NIV) I like this analogy of our hope holding us in place so that we are not tossed into danger but is keeping us solid in rough times.
Forgiveness was the second riches I mentioned. “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared.” (Psalm 130:3-4 NIV) I think of fear as awe or honor. God tears up any evidence of our sins; He deserves our highest respect.
Joy was the next treasure. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit that become ours when we choose to follow God. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) All are available to us as part of our inheritance. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, they are within our reach.
We don’t have to wait until we reach heaven to enjoy the inheritance that is ours. God has provided many good things for us to experience while we are alive. Claiming our inheritance doesn’t mean we will never see hard times. It means we have the tools available to help us navigate the challenges. And we are never alone. The Holy Spirit is in us and should be the one at the helm, directing our position.
Are you claiming the riches that your position as an heir gives you?
Last week I talked about being an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus. While we live in this world what is it we possess from our Heavenly Father’s estate? There are many things we can claim as our own, starting with hope.
Hope is a desire accompanied by the expectation of fulfillment, according to Webster’s dictionary. Psalm 62:5 tells us, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.”
As Christians, we have faith that our desires will come to pass when they are aligned with God’s will. We can rest assured that whatever befalls us God is with us. That hope is not something we have to earn or wait for, it is within our grasp at this moment.
The hope God gives us is different than mans hope. In man, I may want to win the lottery, but with God my soul rests in the expectation that He will help me through all hardships. My selfish longing may be to write a best-seller, but peace fills me when I write for God’s glory.
When we place our hope in God, we have more than an expectation; we have an assurance of fulfillment. Claim your rightful inheritance by resting in God alone.
Has there been a time when your hope in God helped you through tough times? How did you claim your inheritance?