Finding Joy

Psalm 42: 5        NIV

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

This week we are continuing our journey through the psalms with this passage from Psalm 42. Since you seem to be enjoying the psalms, we will continue to do one every Monday.

This psalm is one sad lament and yet, is there one amongst us who has not felt equally forlorn at some point in life? The psalmist had a revelation, though, one which buoyed him even at his lowest points. He knew that a time of praise was coming, a time to thank God for rescuing him from this desperate place and time. Though the shadows darkened his doorway, he knew that light was coming and that the light would overshadow even the darkest dread. From that point of knowing we can shout, “Hallelujah!” Even when situations seem threatening, even in the midst of turmoil, we shout praises to the Father knowing that He is present and will lift us and set us high on a mountaintop.

God is worthy of the praise but what is thrilling about offering praise even when your soul is downcast is that the praise itself has power. It begins to lift your soul and brighten the horizon. Sometimes it is all we need to break the binding darkness. When we lift our eyes and fix them on Jesus, the flood of light fills the space. Darkness must flee in the presence of the light. It is the easiest and most natural thing in the world to keep looking at the trouble which is oppressing your soul. However, we are not of the world. You are of God little children and it is upon Him that you should cast your gaze. Looking at the glory of the Father who loves you more than life, shines joy and hope into our innermost being. We only need become as accomplished as this dear psalmist at recognizing the loving kindness and radiant power of a Lord who is always willing to be our rescuer.

Let not your heart be troubled. Do not give into the worry and fear. Sing your praise to the Father confident that He has your back and is with you always. Sing your way clear of trouble. Shout away your sorrows. Give thanks knowing your savior is near. Put your hope in God and let your joy be renewed.

Dry Those Eyes

Jeremiah 31: 16 – 17

Thus says the Lord, “Restrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded,” declares the Lord, . . . “and there is hope for your future,” declares the Lord.

God is speaking to us today. He is speaking from His heart. Let’s listen to His words of encouragement and faith. You did know that God is a person of faith, didn’t you? He began everything by calling those things which be not into being, but that is a message for another day. This day, He wants to tell you to dry your eyes. He has promised you a hope and a future.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope,” (Jeremiah 29: 11). He didn’t change His mind from chapter 29 to chapter 31. In fact, He reinforced His statement by repeating it so that we would be sure to understand that He has good plans for our futures. Now you can listen to the world or you can listen to God. Personally, I am more interested in what God has to say. The world will try to convince you that tomorrow holds calamity and that the world is falling apart. Well, we are not of this world. Isn’t that what the Bible says? So who are you going to believe?

Your Father, your real Father, the one who conceived you before the dawn of time saw this day and you in it. He saw your hopes, dreams, victories and disappointments. He saw the tears you cry today before the earth was every formed and He speaks into that very moment telling you, “Fear not. Have no worries. I, the Lord, am your guard and refuge and I will turn your sorrow to shouts of joy, your mourning to laughter.” He has a plan for tomorrow and it is a good plan.

Hear the good news of the Lord. Your work will be rewarded. Have you toiled but have yet to reap the harvest? Don’t give up; don’t give in. Take this promise of the Lord. Take it and hold on to it. Paint it on your bathroom mirror. Put a sticker on your cell phone. You are sure to see it there. Remind yourself; remind your Father. You have a promise from El Shaddai, a promise from the Holy One of Israel. Hold onto that and believe.

Hope and Trust

Romans 15: 13             NIV

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Most of us are attracted to this prayer and the idea that we may be filled with joy and peace. There are a couple of interesting nuances, though, that we should look at.

First, Paul calls God the God of hope. Then at the end of the verse his prayer is for us to overflow with hope. Third, this overflowing hope comes to us by the power of the Holy Spirit. So, let’s just think about hope for a moment.

Hope is the precursor of faith. Faith is believing that what you once hoped for is a spiritual reality and will manifest physically. Faith is knowing that what you hoped for and then prayed for is yours in Christ Jesus. Many of our prayers begin with that simple hope though. So, hope is the beginning point and our Father is the God of hope. He is the source of hope. Without Him, there is no hope and that is so true. Hope, joy and peace are in Him and the Holy Spirit brings all three to us through his power. He is the actuator, Father is the supply.

Lastly, there is a key element in this prayer. Paul indicates that we have a role too. We are initiators. This is a grand machine with you, your father and the Holy Spirit all as parts. The initiator must begin the process and as the initiator you do that through trust. Paul understood, and thus teaches, that God is able to fill you with all joy and peace but only as you trust Him. I wonder, too, if we are filled to the depth of our trust, almost as if our level of trust establishes the size of our tank. God will give us all we can hold, all we want but it is in relationship to our ability, or willingness perhaps, to put our trust in Him. Whatever your trust God for, whatever you believe Him for, that is the requisition form which is filled by the Holy Spirit. You place the order. Tell the Divine Trinity what you want, what you are believing for by placing your trust in God to bring it to you. Trust plus the God of Hope and the power of the Holy Spirit equals the blessing of God flowing through you and on you in abundance. Be blessed!

Hope Alive

Romans 5: 5

[A]nd 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.

I feel real sorrow for the unsaved because they have no hope. I think it a horrible thing to live life without hope. When something bad happens in the life of a believer, we can always turn to our father for help in a time of need, and He is always there to render assistance or even a rescue if necessary. To whom do the unsaved turn? What hope have they?

No matter your problem or difficulty; no matter the challenge, you have a constant helper in the Holy Spirit, who was sent into this earth specifically for that reason. No matter how steep the mountain, the Holy Spirit is here to not only help you scale it, if need be, but also to move that mountain completely out of your way. Whatever you are facing today, let hope well up in your heart because God’s love has been poured out into your heart and His love brings hope. Grasp the fact that you have a way out of your most trying problems. You have a way to win. Then also take a moment to pray for all the lost. Even as you thank God that He has given you hope, ask that He send hope and salvation to the needy. Let the world receive hope through the love that was given to us through the Holy Spirit of God.

God is . . . hopeful

1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 7

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things.

Love has an indomitable spirit. Synonyms for indomitable are: invincible, unconquerable, unbeatable, unassailable, invulnerable, unshakable, unsinkable; indefatigable and the list goes on. This is the quality of God’s staying power. Hope never dies in His heart. The flame of hope does not ever even flicker. His hope is unassailable. This hope is so strong that it very closely allies itself with faith. Love, and hence God, trusts. Our Father actually trusts us. He also knows about the effectiveness of His son and His Spirit who are at work in our lives. That alone is enough for Him to never give up hope.

The question is, is that enough for us to never give up hope. One would think it should be. If God will never stop hoping and we are intertwined with Him then maybe we can hold on to our hope even in the dark hours. That hope is really vital to our well-being. It is stronger than a wish. Hope leans forward. It has expectation in its wings. It has confidence in tomorrow, every day. No disappointment rises above hope. We may have to catch our breath at times but hope picks us up even if we fall. Hope always refocuses our eyes on the horizon, not on the ground.

Maybe yesterday was a challenge. Maybe this morning was without sunshine. Not to worry. Our God is right there in the very next breath you take and each subsequent breath. He will renew our hope and encourage us with each breath, if we allow Him. You can turn around your day in a breath. Stop. Breath. Expect God to fill you with hope and encouragement. Remind yourself of His words and wonders. Let the God of hope, the God of love restore you, right now!

Beyond Imagining

1 Corinthians 2: 9                God’s Word Version

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.

A friend reminded me of this verse recently. I had let it slip my mind. What a huge passage this is, what an enormous unveiling of the Father. Our God and Father has already prepared great things for us, things beyond our imagination. The NIV Bible says, “What no human mind has conceived.” God has prepared for us things which no human mind has ever conceived of. Jeremiah 29: 11 tells us God has good plans for us, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” He has good plans for our future and has already prepared for us the things which will usher in those good plans. We should have hope then.

Today’s verse is a restatement of a verse from Isaiah, “For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him (Isaiah 64: 4). We saw last week what the word “waits” really means. It means to be intertwined with. So, God has prepared these good things, these things which are beyond your wildest imagination for you who wrap yourself around Him, who wrap yourself up in Him. So this is great news, yes? Well, not to the casual Christian it is not. It won’t do much for a pew sitter. However, for those of you who love God, which I know is everyone who bothers to read devotionals, this is the gospel of good news. Eye has not seen, neither ear heard the glorious things God has already prepared for those who love Him.

Yahweh has plans for your year. His plans are beyond what have been seen before, heard before or ever conceived of. Meditate on that. Let your mind ponder what you can have and do this year. If you so choose, this can be your greatest year ever. Bigger, better, farther and higher are the plans God has for you. Your cup is designed to overflow. Receive His abundance.

Intertwined with Jesus

Isaiah 40: 31

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

When you go to our webpage (www.iveyministries.org) you will see this verse on the leading banner. One might question why we have chosen this verse when there are others which seemingly fit the logo better. Of course, one thinks of John 15: 5, “ I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” Yes, I love that verse. It is rich, but so is today’s verse.

To really appreciated today’s verse one needs to look a bit deeper. If you stopped reading this and looked at our website, you undoubtedly noticed a difference. Above reads, “those you wait for the Lord.” The website verse reads, “those who hope in the Lord.” That is the NIV reading whereas for the Word of the Day I used the New American Standard Bible. Which is right? Well, they both are. The God’s Word version deals with this verse well. It says, Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in the Lord will be renewed.” Certainly that adds clarity between the various readings but still, I have not answered why this verse in any version would be appropriate for Ivey Ministries other than it is just a great verse and inspiration from the Lord. In order to reveal the very essence of this verse we must look in the concordance.

When you look up the word “wait” in Strong’s Concordance (Strong’s no. 6960) you find it is the Hebrew word “qavah”. It is a root word which means to bind together perhaps specifically or particularly by twisting. So let’s look at today’s verse in this light, “Those who are ‘twisted together with the Lord’ will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Now, that makes sense, doesn’t it? Let me restate it, “Those whose lives are twisted together, intertwined, with the Lord, shall have great strength.”  One would expect nothing less. The word qavah also implies a sense of expectation. Truly, if we each had a revelation of being inextricably intertwined with Jesus wouldn’t we have enormous expectations of goodness, power, strength and blessing flowing in and through our lives?

That is what I want for you, a life so full of the indwelling presence of the Lord that when you breath, he breathes; when you speak, he speaks. I want the blessing of the Lord to fill you to overflowing. The overflowing grace of the Lord will bless all people you come in contact with. You have the right to walk in the power of the Lord, yes, but also in his majesty. I want you so full that you have the answers, authority, words and power for every situation. I envision each one of you so full of Jesus that he literally overflows from you. All victory, all glory is yours in Christ and that is what you are entitled to. Do you want to talk about entitlement? This is your inheritance in Christ, full victory and glory of the Father. Everything that Jesus is belongs to you through him. He so desired to give you full access to all the glory of God that he chose to go to the cross. Let us not stop short of everything. Let us not settle for anything less than Jesus’ absolute best. This is the Kingdom of God, that we should be intertwined with the Beloved and behold His face. Glory to God and to His children.