Tag Archives: Spirit

Unmet Expectations: Don’t Let Them Chase Hope Away.

My house used to have a closet with a locked door. I know this because I locked it. Prior to closing off this part of my house I used it for the storage of vibrant and wonderful things. The most radiant thing I used to hang in this closet was hope. When hope was in the closet of my house the door was never closed. Each day I welcomed hope with open arms and open mind. I felt such comfort and peace having hope in my house. Then one day hope packed its bags and left. Why did hope leave? Where did it go? Upon noticing hope was gone, I ran frantically through my house looking for hope. I burst through the front door and feverishly combed my property looking for hope, but hope wasn’t to be found. I sat for a moment to collect my thoughts, all the while wondering, where did hope go? Finally, I resigned myself to thinking hope may never return. I became angry and that is when I shut and locked the closet door. I, and no one else closed the door to hope.

Now, years later, I discovered what happened to hope. You see, hope got tired, tired of watching me in agony. “What agony,” you ask? Well it seems, year after year unmet expectations kept piling up in the living room of my house. Every day, when hope was in my house I insisted on taking it for a walk past the living room. Hope noticed the sadness in my eyes as I obsessed about the ever growing pile of my unmet expectations. Finally, hope could stand it no longer, it packed up its belongings and left.

After being without hope for a while, I began to think, maybe I should unlock the closet within my house just in case hope desires to return. I really wanted to make hope feel like it was welcomed to return. I unlocked the door and pushed it open. When the closed door was opened light cast itself across the floor, and in the light I noticed a handwritten note. Here is what the note said:

“I hated to leave but you left me no choice. I truly loved the days when you would greet me and embrace me each and every day. But, when you started obsessing about unmet expectations, and forgetting about me I had no choice. I’m hope, and I can’t stay where I am not the center of your attention. I promise, one day, I will return. When you want and desire me more than your unmet expectations, then, I will return. Sincerely Yours – HOPE!”

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Remembering the Benefits of God

I remember the multiple times in my life I sought employment. Each time the most important factor for accepting a job offer was the amount of quality benefits. Benefits like health insurance, sick leave, vacation time, education, promotion potential, and a good working environment. I was raised to focus more on benefits, than on the hourly wage. Why? Because the lack of substantial benefits consumes a large portion of the hourly wage. I truly appreciate the lesson my parents taught me concerning a need for quality benefits.

Until recently, I really never stopped to realize how the “benefits” lesson related to my spiritual life. Specifically, how it affected the efficacy of my prayers. I often prayed to my Father (God) without first considering the multitude of His quality benefits. Benefits like, to name a few, the sacrifice of His Son for my salvation, His Grace, His Mercy, The Gift of His Spirit, His Truth, His Word, His Forgiveness, His Redemption, and most important His Love. I used to always open my prayers with “God, I need this” and “God, I need that.” Or “Please, God change this” and “Change him or her.” It wasn’t until I walked with King David through his Psalms that I began to pray to God with first, his gracious benefits in mind. Now, I do my best to preface my prayers with; “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” (Psalm 103:2) Opening prayer with true praise and a thankful heart helps me focus fully on God’s gratuitous nature. From there He willingly fulfills my needs, as well as my heart’s desires.

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Free Will

One day, after an extremely poor choice on my part I asked God a question. I asked, God, why did you give me free will? Immediately God said, “No real conscious choice can be made without free will.” James, he said, “Like it or not, “love” is a free will choice. Take away free will and “love” becomes a mechanical notion. I don’t want my children to love me because they have to; I want them to love me because they have chosen freely to do so. It’s all in the choice.”

Upon hearing this I thought: God’s gift of free will isn’t a curse, it’s a cure. Free will is actually a blessing, it gives me the power to choose. Sure, it introduces a dilemma between spirit and flesh. It has too, without this dilemma there would be no sacrifice. God modeled free will choice when he decided to send His Son to the cross for my sake. Ok, I’ve got it – God gave humanity free will for one reason and one reason only: To Choose Him!

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Who’s Kidding Who?

Someone asked me this question: “Jim, what’s wrong with the Church these days?” I said, “The Church is the same “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, and so are the people. Yes, I said “so are the people.” Don’t be discouraged by the actions of others, keep you mind focused on Christ. The truth is: “If we walk barefoot into a room full of broken glass chances are we will experience some lacerations. How deep, how wide, or how infected the wound gets is up to us. Let us not blame the Church.”

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Had I Known

Jesus said, “The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63)…

Had I Known
Had I know my words were spiteful
A better song I’d sung
Had I known my words were hurtful
I would have changed the theme
Had I known my words were vengeful
I would have damned the stream
Had I known my words were wistful
In mind they would have hung
Had I known my words were lifeless
I would have held my tongue

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Isn’t it grand to be a “Chip off the Old Block?”

Have you ever heard the phrase; “You’re a chip off the old block?” This phrase is normally used to relay parent to child lineage.  For example, a parent says, “you are a chip off the old block” the parent means, you are my offspring, and in you I delight. Typically, this phrase is used of someone who exhibits multiple similarities and mannerisms of their parent.  I find Peter’s comments in (1 Peter 2:4-5) brings the phrase “Chip off the old block” to life.  He says, “As you come to Him (Jesus), the living stone (Jesus)—rejected by men but chose by God and precious to him (God)—you (Christians) also, like living stones (chips off the old block), are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood.”  When, I view myself as a “chip off the Living Stone” I realize I am but an imperfect chipped shard from the perfect Living Stone.  A Stone that was hand selected by our Father in Heaven, and just as the Living Stone is precious to His Father, because of my privileged lineage In-Christ I too am precious to my Father in heaven. 

 

Peter’s reference to Christians being “living stones” identify us as being like Christ.  Therefore, we must see our self as individual living spiritual temples; each filled with the presence of God stacked one upon the other to form the Church of the Living Stone.  And within both the congregation of living stones and the individual living stone exists – Christ – “the precious rock.”  In Isaiah 28:16 “the Lord God says:  I will put a stone in the ground in Jerusalem, a tested stone.  Everything will be built on this important and precious rock.  Anyone who trusts in it will never be disappointed.” 

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