Hope plays a bigger role in life than we may realize; in fact, it even impacts entire nations. If you remove hope, you remove restraint. It creates a vacuum which people try to fill in a variety of ways. They range from the minuscule to the outrageous. This is especially true if you remove true biblical hope. Even Paul eludes to it in his letter to the Corinthians: “If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die”(1 Corinthians 15:32). True hope is attached to God, which is why the fear of the Lord plays a role in our hope. If you have no hope, neither do you have God; much less, the sense of accountability to Him. As believers we have it and the fear of the Lord, and yet, our primary restraint is love.
Just as faith works by love, hope is also attached to it. Those who reject God, reject His love. And when you eliminate love, you eliminate faith and hope. Which, in turn, creates turmoil or an internal uproar, and in some cases rage. Scripture points out that hope calms those storms. Psalm 42:5Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance (see also Psalms 42:11; 43:5). Hope lifts up the heavy-hearted!
When the prophet, Jeremiah, was sent to speak to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem in order to bring them to repentance, they rebelled. Look at what they said: “There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart” (Jeremiah 18:12 [see also Isaiah 57:10; Jeremiah 2:25]). Their despondency led to rebellion. And of course, rebellion will also lead to hopelessness. Have you ever blown it, and felt an initial sense of gloom? “What have I done?” You know, you had a moment after you did something you knew better than, but did it anyway. Perhaps, there was a certain foreboding. Fortunately for us, God has given us a place of repentance.
1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 2:1-2My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
When someone is lost in sin, he or she is without hope. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we have the words of eternal life -the Message of Hope. It’s not only for individuals, but entire nations. Think about this: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). Jesus is our righteousness (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). A nation does not need more social programs, it needs Jesus! And that is not a cliché. Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20). We are to make disciples of individuals, but notice what else He said: “Teach all nations,” which means He intended for us to influence entire countries.
What you believe about yourself will anchor you to your past, or it will allow you to be free to be whom the Lord intended. Everyone talks about letting go of the past, and to various degrees, some experience success. They have forgiven others and even themselves, which is monumental. And yet, for some, the anchor holds. What gives? They’re still attached to their old identity. They haven’t fully embraced who they are in Jesus Christ. There are two elements involved with that identity. Let’s take a look at them.
Romans 6:6-8Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.
Briefly, to be baptized means to identify with, which means when you were baptized into Jesus Christ, you began to identify with Him. As we just read, we were baptized into His death, which means the old man was crucified with Him. God never intended to preserve or save your old nature; He intended to kill it -dead! Too many are giving their old selves mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. With whatever you identify will be what you believe about yourself. For instance, “I’ve always had a short temper, I can’t help it.” That short temper belongs with the old nature; it’s not part of the new one. Nonetheless, if that is what someone believes, that’s exactly the way they will continue. Moreover, they are using old weapons: anger and wrath, which are carnal and manipulative. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
What in your old nature do you want to keep? Because, what you fight for is yours for the keeping. Whatever it may be will continue to control you. The old triggers are attached to the old identity. That’s why some sabotage any progress they make. For example, the one who believes he is impoverished or is only worthy of a certain income level, will find a way to set himself back if he goes over that level. Someone who believes he will always be at the $18,000 income level, will find ways to get rid of $17,000, if he should make $25,000. As long as he is hardwired into that belief, he’ll either find ways to stay there, or be very uncomfortable with having more. Why? He only knows lack, and understands the rules of that paradigm. The latter is unknown territory, and that is something with which humans are uncomfortable -even when it’s for the better. This is not about a person’s income, we know godliness with contentment is great gain (see 1 Timothy 6:6). This is about getting rid of the limitations which God removed from us. Here is another example: those who lived stressful lives, find it difficult to be peaceful. Hence, some will look for ways to stress themselves out. Even their physical bodies are addicted to stress. They need to detox by allowing His peace to rule in their hearts. We could make this list even longer, but you get the point. It would be beneficial to stop saying something about yourself that contradicts what God says about you.
Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
Since your old nature is considered dead in God’s eyes, you should too. In our opening passage, we also read we are freed from sin, which means we don’t have to serve it. Another lesson to consider. The second part of our identity is being Christ-like. Instead of the garbage found in the carnal nature, our new one is loaded with God’s best. With Holy Spirit living in you, the fruit of the Spirit is now part of you. All of it!
Galatians 5:22-25But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Grace gives you the freedom to fully follow Jesus. In Him, you are completely new. It’s not a “do-over,” neither is it some renovation of something old -it’s a prototype. This is something that never before existed, or should we say, someone who never before existed. Anchor to the new man (see Ephesians 4:24), and you’ll be free to be exactly who God intended. You are new, the Bible says so!
2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Your perspective can be a friend or a foe. The great thing about it, is you can change it if it’s been working against you. But if that’s going to happen, you have to be willing to get outside of your comfort zone. It requires work and deep thinking. Moreover, it’s important to address your imagination and how you use it. The imagination is the place of vision and creativity. One thing that’s been laced into the fabric of this blog series is the need to embrace truth. Not just any truth, God’s truth, the way He intended us to know it. Two components that will help in changing your viewpoint are questions, and the realization not everything is black and white. There are more explanations available than what we might assign to a given set of circumstances, or even human behavior, including our own. Jesus gave us some steps to help us along the way.
Matthew 16:14-25If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.
While you are important, it is necessary to put away self-importance. The kind in which everything evolves around you. This perspective can be very destructive. Being self-absorbed creates untold blind spots, since it’s a major component of self-deception. It makes numerous things more personal than they ever should. For instance, when someone cuts you off in traffic, he meant to do that to you; no one else. In fact, you were his target. He calculated every move he made during the day, just so he could time things just right. The perpetrator knew exactly when you would be at the location of the incident. That sounds ridiculous, but in the heat of the moment, it can feel that way. This is where questions come into play. One might ask, did this guy really intend to cut me off personally, or was it happenstance? “Maybe, he’s just a jerk and he does that to people all the time!” What makes you so sure, especially if you never met him before? Perhaps, there were other possibilities: he didn’t see you; he was stressed out and preoccupied, and totally unaware of your presence. Options!
Let’s take this to another level, something actually more personal as it relates to self-importance and the manner we use our imaginations. Part of it is connected with the way we see ourselves. If we properly love ourselves, we can envision things on the plus side, which lends itself to more healthy relationships. If we were to believe we hold no value, we would tend to visualize constant rejection. For example, you invite some friends over for dinner, but they are unable to make it due to a previous engagement. Someone with a healthy perspective would tend to take the explanation at face value. If you were the latter, you might believe it was an excuse, so they wouldn’t have to spend time with you. “They don’t really like me.” A reasonable explanation was turned into a false narrative based on insecurity. This is where questions are advantageous. Is that really true, or does it simply feel that way? Would they be available on a different day? Perhaps, they have a loaded schedule. What have they said or done to make you believe they don’t like you? Is the belief founded on truth or the way you filter it?
What you believe about God in relation to yourself will influence whether you receive a God-given vision, or one of hopelessness. If you believe He loves you, you will be better positioned to receive His blessings; if you don’t, you will be less able to receive. Here’s where questions come into play: what does the Bible say about God’s love? It would really behoove some of you to let the Bible contradict what you’ve heard all your life. You are worthy of love. Jesus made that clear at the Cross. Do you really believe God created you, just so He could despise you? How does that fit His nature? Dare to go against the grain! Be willing to change your perspective!
As mentioned in part four, our words we use can work for or against us. The source of your words are big deal. For instance, words from above are spirit, life and truth; those that come from the flesh or a carnal mind, not so much. Romans 8:5-6For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Moreover, as also already stated, the thing with which we fill our hearts will proceed from out mouths. A number of you are already aware that even our words can affect our own personal health. They may even create unwanted triggers. And of course, they can change your course in life in a positive direction. Your words have weight. Proverbs 18:21Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. So, let’s open this package and examine its contents.
Again, in the abbreviated form, we consist of spirit, soul and body. With that in mind, we’ll address how each area is affected by what we say. We’ll start in the physical realm. Thoughts and words are experienced in our bodies. As we know, our brain has a subconscious part which never sleeps. It’s the part of the brain that regulates the functioning of the body (heartbeat, digestive and limbic system, etc.). It’s neutral in that it doesn’t care what you say, or anyone else for that matter. It simply receives what’s spoken, and uses them in relation to those functions. Obviously, if you want a more concise understanding, do some research. One thing you would find, is neural science actually confirms what the Bible has been telling us for thousands of years.
One brief example of the mind/brain system affecting our body is how some feel after a confrontation. How many have lost their appetite after such an encounter? The body didn’t lose its appetite on it’s own. The chemicals released by the brain into the digestive system, told them they weren’t hungry. In some instances, it’s been known to make people feel nauseous. Question: are words usually involved in confrontations? Of course, the emotions were also be affected, and they also play into the signaling process of the brain, which correlates to the soul.
Likewise, what we speak over ourselves can affect our wellness. We’ve all heard people say something like, “I get sick every time the weather changes,” and sure enough, when it changes they get sicker than a dog. Was it the weather, or did they program their brain to make their body sick? The weather became the trigger, which was installed by their words. These words were from the heart, and were spoken often. Of course, experience simply helped reinforce the belief. Why do you suppose some drug companies use phrases like, “When you get sick during cold and flu season, you can count on us to make you feel better,” in their advertisement? The power of suggestion!
On the other side of the spectrum, there are others who typically never get sick during cold and flu season, not to mention when the weather changes. One part of this is due to the fact they feed on the Word of God, and speak it over themselves. God’s Word is spirit and life. Their words are attached to belief, and the abundance of their hearts. This is not to say they will never get sick, because there are other elements involved, such as mercy.
While this is a different subject, mercy is attached to health and healing. Bitterness and envy, for example, can be linked to arthritis. Proverbs 12:30A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.
The question is, whose report will you believe: a drug company, or God? Do you believe healing is part of the Gospel? 1 Peter 2:24 (Jesus) Who his own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (see also Isaiah 53:1-5). In relation to our example, if you happen to be one who finds certain events (such as weather) trigger sickness, try quoting Scripture instead of the old mantra, and see what happens. It would be easy to go down a rabbit hole in this area, so as a suggestion: with Holy Spirit’s assistance, study what the Bible has to say about it. 3 John 1:1Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
Certainly, words affect our emotions, which means we can trigger them on our own. Of course, it’s easier to blame others for negative ones, but let’s get real. For instance, we’ve all heard, “If (fill in the blank) happens, I’m going to be angry!” Maybe some of us have said it ourselves. What happen when the “if” happens? Boom! Anger strikes as predicted. There are a few things at play in this example. Thing one, anger is being used as a weapon, or means of manipulation in some cases. That is, someone is attempting to stop someone from performing a certain way by using anger to instill fear. Thing two, it gives the person a sense of empowerment. And thing three, it placed a trigger in the subconscious. Our focus here is thing three. Anger is only one emotion, but there are others which can be similarly triggered. Whether it’s euphoria or sadness, boldness or anxiety, peace or fearfulness, and so on. We can set our emotions up by what we say. Moreover, it can mean the difference between response or reaction. Somethings with which people struggle can be reinforced by their words. Likewise, words can also be used to realize their victory. Clearly, words are not the only triggers. Life experiences use other things, such as music, sounds, smells, and etc..
For brevity sake, we’ll stop here and continue next blog, Lord willing. To round this out, ask God for the wisdom you need in relation to those things of which you’re not sure.