As I awake this morning, I am struck with the radical idea of taking a firm stand to live a life of constant thankfulness to God and to encourage everyone I possibly can to do the same. This is not a means of denying or ignoring the pain and perplexities of our world and its people. Rather, it is a prophetic posture and act that courageously testifies to the goodness of God square in the face of the hatred, resentment, vengeance, folly, fear, greed, lust, pride, bigotry, self-righteousness and man-made religion swirling within human hearts and breaking out in so many ways to disrupt our relationships and whole cultures. Despite the sometimes overwhelming bad news of our days, God is yet absolutely good and great and He is always doing good things...great things...in our world.
He is transforming the lives of multiplied thousands of men, women and children by the power and presence of Jesus each and every day all over the planet. I have personally experienced and witnessed this power of the Holy Spirit at work again and again through many years. This good news is the hope of our world. Yes...God is good and miracles of forgiveness of sins, heart transformation, reconciliation, love for neighbor, love for enemies, humility, deliverance from evil, practical provision, physical healing, answers to prayer and the like are occurring all about us. One of the greatest things we can personally do to rectify the problems of human existence is to live in a radical counter-intuitive way by not accusing God regarding the realities of evil in our world, but to trust in and celebrate His goodness through a child-like thanksgiving. May our eyes be made wide by the wonder, awe and delight of the greater reality of the Divine.
Everyone longs to be known by and to know a few others deeply and well without the fear of rejection getting in the way. This value is a vital building block of family and community and it actually implies our need for Christ's love to make it really happen. Listen to someone's story today and you'll get your chance to tell yours too!
Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double. I have bent Judah as my bow; I have made Ephraim its arrow. I will stir up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and wield you like a warrior's sword. (Zech. 9:12-13)
As followers of Jesus we have experienced a miraculous second birth from above that has changed the very core of our nature. Embedded in this new operating system is a energy tank that is designed to run on the fuel of hope that is provided by the Holy Spirit Himself. If our tank of hope runs dry, we get stuck and are unable to truly advance in our highest purpose for being on the earth. In our immaturity and panic, we often try to refill our tank with the inferior fuel of our self-strength. As a result, we become moved and motivated by lesser things, sometimes without even being aware that we have constructed another kind of prison for ourselves. We are unable to be true to ourselves and we feel obligated to put on a false persona...a characturization of who we really are meant to be. Divine hope is not irrational, but it is trans-rational. Our Hebrew heart is built for and able to contain this hope. The Greek mind stumbles over it and the vulnerability that is required to embrace and consistently walk in it. Bob Hartley has taught me that God graciously "turns our prisons into classrooms", but ultimately, the only way we can fulfill our God-given destiny and calling is to return to the only prison in which we can thrive...the prison of hope...trusting God to make the inaudible, audible; the incredible, credible; the invisible, visible; the intangible, tangible and the impossible, possible.
As a pastor for about 40 years now, I have noticed that most believers...when they really get gut-level honest...tend to believe, think and feel that our Heavenly Father is basically disappointed in them for their various past and present failures, shortcomings, foibles, quirks, imperfections and the like. However, the terrible irony that I have come to see is that if the Father is disappointed in us at all, it it primarily that we wrongly accuse Him of viewing us this way! Now I am committed more than ever to helping this viewpoint to shift radically. I venture to say that we generally struggle longer and harder with putting off the sinful and immature expressions of our self when we hold this unhelpful and distorted view of our Papa's attitude of us.
What if He is basically pleased with us that we have opened our hearts to receive the gift of His Son and Spirit into our lives that He has sacrificed so much to freely lavish upon us? What if He is daring us to believe that we have a new basic nature and a new and purified heart through Jesus? What if He is longing for us to simply accept that He is smiling and dancing over us as we grow progressively into this new life? I have found that overcoming my old self has become a much easier yoke and lighter burden as I have gotten more in touch with His joy over me as His dear child, friend and junior partner.
A VOICE OF HOPE
Michael Sullivant's Blog
I am a child of God, husband, father, grandfather, spiritual father, author, speaker and hope coach.