One Way to Restore Hope

Bible

And the Scriptures were written to teach and encourage us by giving us hope.

Romans 15:4 (CEV)

One way to restore hope is to get into the Word. If you turn your back on the Bible, you turn your back on hope. Here are some other verses on accessing hope through the Word of God:

  • Psalm 119:81
  • Psalm 119:114
  • Psalm 119:147
  • Colossian 1:5
  • Titus 1:2

Want to know more about how to study the Bible? Click here.

A Solid Sequel (Review: Restless – Because You Were Made For More)

Restless

Restless: Because You Were Made for More

Restless serves as a sequel to Anything. And it is meant to answer the question: “I am all surrendered to God. But now what?” To answer this question Jennie Allen has provided “a framework within the commandments of Scripture…to create lives reflecting God and his passions…” This framework is provided through worksheet pages that follow most chapters in the book. The worksheet pages help readers identify five unique threads, which Jennie Allen believes are interwoven in every woman’s life.  Discovering these threads is necessary for uncovering one’s ultimate purpose. The five threads are:

  1. Gifts
  2. Suffering
  3. Places
  4. People
  5. Passions

As was the case with Anything, Restless has a flow-of-consciousness style with Jennie Allen’s personal stories and experiences interspersed throughout the book. If you’re familiar with her work, then you know these stories are mainly about her close friends and children, including her son adopted from Rwanda. These stories are all inspirational, but sometimes their meaning seems as if it would be clearer if the reader knew her personally. The personal anecdotes are also repetitive of what she’s written in previous works.

Overall, however, Restless delivers a solid framework for discovering one’s purpose. It does, however, read similarly, at times, to Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life.

Restless is the latest book by Jennie Allen. Allen is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, author of the Bible studies Stuck (2011), Chase (2012) and the book, Anything (2012). She is also the wife of the pastor at Austin Stone Community Church, where she also serves in ministry. Groups as large as Good Morning Girls, an international, online Bible study group for women, as well as smaller women’s groups have studied Allen’s books and Bible studies.

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have provided.

Note: The link(s) in this post may contain my referral link. Read my disclosure policy here.

Restless: Because You Were Made For More
Jennie Allen
Paperback: $12.96 & Kindle/Nook: $9.99

Kingdom Love [Repost]

Scripture

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.
Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you.
Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.

Luke 6:37 (NLT)

Observation

This verse doesn’t forbid recognizing sin as sin. But it’s aim is to never treat sinners as if they are beyond being changed by the power of Christ. It’s about never stepping into a place that should only be occupied by God – the place of condemning and saving people.

This entire chapter, and all of the Bible truthfully, encourages kingdom love. Loving in a way that makes the gospel believable, tangible and provable to a sinner.

If we start focusing on who has hurt us or judge someone as evil, we turn our minds off  to evangelizing that person. We lose sight of our purpose in the Kingdom and our opportunity to add to the kingdom.

Application

The very next time someone in a big pickup truck cuts you off in the parking lot don’t say, “What’s really going on? Some people are so evil, rude…” Rather, slow up and lovingly let them plow ahead. Even try to offer them a shopping cart. I’m going to try this too. THIS is going to be hard!  But I know we can do it if we surrender to the power of Christ.

Prayer

Lord, never again let us be so self-righteous that we judge and condemn others.  But let us rely on you to love with kingdom love. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Did you know Cents of Direction will be relaunching later this summer? After the relaunch CoD is getting a new focus and new look! Until then, I’m reposting entries that will no longer be available on the site. For more info, read here.

3 Promises [Repost]

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Scripture

Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said,

“God blesses you who are poor,
    for the Kingdom of God is yours.
21 God blesses you who are hungry now,
    for you will be satisfied.
God blesses you who weep now,
    for in due time you will laugh.

22 What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. 23 When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.

Luke 6:20-23 (NLT)

Observation

To be blessed means that it will be well with you; a state of wellbeing; receiving God’s favor.

The poverty, hunger, and weeping are a result of being extremely dissatisfied with what the world has to offer. And to experience heartache of sin. It also hints at a dissatisfaction with the limited relationship we have with Christ, and the deep desire for more in him and to go deeper in our relationship with him.

Application

Are you feeling a little empty today in your walk with Christ? Have you been hungering for him? Or have you been being satisfied with a life outside of him? The Word promises to us if we are poor, if we hunger, and if we weep. Anchor yourself in Christ’s promises. You will be blessed. You will share in his kingdom. You will be satisfied. And you will laugh.

Prayer

Lord, please anchor our faith in your promises. Let us remember them no matter what is going on in our lives. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Did you know Cents of Direction will be relaunching later this summer? After the relaunch CoD is getting a new focus and new look! Until then, I’m reposting entries that will no longer be available on the site. For more info, read here.

Remember the Sabbath??? [Repost]

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Scripture

1-2 On a certain Sabbath Jesus was walking through a field of ripe grain. His disciples were pulling off heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands to get rid of the chaff, and eating them. Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing that, breaking a Sabbath rule?”

3-4 But Jesus stood up for them. “Have you never read what David and those with him did when they were hungry? How he entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat? He also handed it out to his companions.”

Then he said, “The Son of Man is no slave to the Sabbath; he’s in charge.”

6-8 On another Sabbath he went to the meeting place and taught. There was a man there with a crippled right hand. The religion scholars and Pharisees had their eye on Jesus to see if he would heal the man, hoping to catch him in a Sabbath infraction. He knew what they were up to and spoke to the man with the crippled hand: “Get up and stand here before us.” He did.

Then Jesus addressed them, “Let me ask you something: What kind of action suits the Sabbath best? Doing good or doing evil? Helping people or leaving them helpless?”

10-11 He looked around, looked each one in the eye. He said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” He held it out—it was as good as new! They were beside themselves with anger, and started plotting how they might get even with him.

Luke 6:1-11 (MSG)

Observation

The purpose of the Sabbath is to imitate God after he created the earth. He worked 6 days. And on the seventh day, he rested. Rest is important. But rest should not be prioritized over doing good, and not evil.

Application

I remember my grandfather would wake up really early on Saturdays to cut over 3 acres of land. And if he so much as heard a lawn mower whirring on a Sunday, he would shake his head with disapproval. Jesus here shows there are no hard and fast rules for respecting the Sabbath, but he doesn’t say we should do away with it. We need time to recharge and reflect on the Lord as our source. That’s the point. There’s a balance here. The Sabbath shouldn’t rule over us, making us turn a blind eye to doing good for others because it doesn’t fit into a certain time constraint. But it shouldn’t be completely ignored as if we don’t need rest or time to refocus.

How often to do you take time to steal away with Jesus? Today, as you take time on this July 4th to relax with family and friends, don’t forget time with our Savior, who has given us independence from sin.

Prayer

Lord, please let us strike the right balance of doing good for your glory while taking time to rest and refocus on You! In Jesus’ name, amen.

New Wineskins [Repost]

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Scripture

33 Then they said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?”

34 And He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days.”

36 Then He spoke a parable to them: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. 39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’”

Luke 5:33-39 (NKJV)

Observation

Here, again, Jesus offers another claim to be the Messiah, the Christ, the bridegroom, and the fulfillment of the OT and it’s requirements, which includes ceremonial fasting. Christ isn’t completely doing away with fasting because He says his followers will fast when He is taken away from them. Jesus even fasted back in Luke 4 right before he was tested in the wilderness by Satan. But it was private, and for communion with the Father; not ceremonial and public like the Pharisees & John’s disciples had been doing.  Constraining fasting to the requirements by the  Pharisees, now that the bridegroom has come, is like putting the new wine in the old wineskins.

Application

How and when should we fast?  Fasting should be private. Fasting is about communing with the Father, not about impressing an audience with how much we sacrifice for the Father. And fasting doesn’t have to only be about abstaining from food, but from television, or the Internet, or any activity to which we give time that could be used for prayer. Lastly, we should fast whenever we need to recommit ourselves to the Lord, and to become more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  This, of course, is not a requirement. Remember: that would be drinking old wine, and calling it better than the new wine. But, whenever we can, we should.

Prayer

I pray I’m not so tied to the comforts of this world that I fail to fast and pray.

Did you know Cents of Direction will be relaunching later this summer? After the relaunch CoD is getting a new focus and new look! Until then, I’m reposting entries that will no longer be available on the site. For more info, read here.

One Way to Commune with Jesus [Repost]

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Scripture

27 After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” 28 So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.

29 Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. 30 And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

31 Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Luke 5:27-32 (NKJV)

Observation

Repentance is such a repeated theme throughout the book of Luke. Unless we know, acknowledge, that we are sinners, Jesus will not dine, commune or come near us. Easton’s Bible Dictionary say this about repentance:

Evangelical repentance consists of (1) a true sense of one’s own guilt and sinfulness; (2) an apprehension of God’s mercy in Christ; (3) an actual hatred of sin (Ps. 119:128; Job 42:5, 6; 2 Cor. 7:10) and turning from it to God; and (4) a persistent endeavour after a holy life in a walking with God in the way of his commandments.

Application

Sometimes, especially after we have been saved for a while and have a few hundred church services under our belts, we have a tendency to feel important, to look down on those who haven’t done what we’ve done, and most devastatingly, to ignore the terrible things we’ve done. At this moment, it’s about us, and about our efforts, and not about Jesus and his power in our lives. I know I’ve been there. When I’m most prideful, I explain away my own sin. As a result, I can feel God’s power seeping from my life like air from a balloon that’s been pierced with a straight pin. Not to mention, God seems so distant.

Do you ever feel distant from God? Maybe it’s because you no longer have your repentant spirit. Start today by recognizing your own sin. Turn away from it and to God. Don’t be discouraged if this is a day-by-day or minute-by-minute experience.

Prayer

Lord, help us to never overestimate or underestimate ourselves so much that we neglect the importance of repentance in our everyday lives. Give us a hatred for sin and a love of your righteousness. In Jesus’ name, amen.

2 Different Kinds of Healing [Repost]

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Scripture

18-20 Some men arrived carrying a paraplegic on a stretcher. They were looking for a way to get into the house and set him before Jesus. When they couldn’t find a way in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus. Impressed by their bold belief, he said, “Friend, I forgive your sins.”

22-26 Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking and said, “Why all this gossipy whispering? Which is simpler: to say ‘I forgive your sins,’ or to say ‘Get up and start walking’? Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both. . . .” He now spoke directly to the paraplegic: “Get up. Take your bedroll and go home.” Without a moment’s hesitation, he did it—got up, took his blanket, and left for home, giving glory to God all the way. The people rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then also gave glory to God. Awestruck, they said, “We’ve never seen anything like that!”

Luke 5:18-20, 22-26 (MSG)

Observation

I’m encouraged by Jesus’ response to the men because it shows He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. These men recognized their friend’s need and recognized Jesus as the source of healing. Jesus proved to not only be the source of physical healing, but spiritual healing as well. “Man, your sins are forgiven,” he says in verse 20. Only the Son of Man, the one who is perfectly both God and man, can forgive sins. Only the Son of Man can grant 2 kinds of healing! Physical and spiritual!

Application

These are the riches available to us as Christians. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, NKJV). We have a savior who can personally relate to living a real human life, yet has divine power over sin. Now that power is available to us, first, for forgiveness, then, for living a life with power over sin.

Is there something you need to turn over to the Jesus, the Son of Man, our Healer?

2 Ways to Understand Repentance [Repost]

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Scripture

16 John answered their questions by saying, “I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” Luke 3:16-17 (NLT)

Observation

Water

For the past two days, we’ve been reading through John’s answers to the people’s questions about repentance. In the verses we focus on today, John uses imagery to help the people understand repentance. The first image he uses is baptism. Like being baptized with water, those who repent of their sins and receive Christ will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. But those who reject Him will be baptized with fire. This fire is hell because in verse 17, John says it is a “never-ending fire.” This fire is also judgment for rejecting Christ.

Wheat & Chaff

Then John uses another image – chaff and wheat. Chaff are the seed coverings and other debris separated from wheat seeds in threshing grain. It is, in comparison to the wheat, worthless. To separate the two, farmers used a winnowing fork to toss the wheat or grain into the air. The air would separate the chaff from the wheat. For some, Christ means salvation; for others, damnation.

Application

So the question today is: are you chaff or wheat? Have you repented of your sins and received the free gift of salvation that only Christ can give? It’s an important question! If you have not, please go here. If you have, is your life evidence of repentance? It should because those who have accepted Christ are baptized with the Holy Spirit. Once we have made the choice, let’s look at our loved ones, at our co-workers, at our neighbors. Do they know whether they are chaff or wheat? How can they know if we don’t tell them?

Prayer

Lord, thank You for this message. Thank Your for giving us the opportunity and time to choose to accept or reject Your message. Please let us as believers not be ashamed to share this message with others. Please soften the hearts of those who have not accepted the message that they would be more receptive.

4 Things To Do After Repenting [Repost]

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Scripture

10 The crowds asked, “What should we do?”
11 John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”
12 Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13 He replied, “Collect no more taxes than the government requires.”
14 “What should we do?” asked some soldiers.
John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.”
Luke 3:10-14 (NLT)

Observation

This chapter begins with John the Baptist encouraging the people to repent and produce good fruit. True repentance has fruit. It has evidence. That evidence includes love, sharing, fairness, justice & forgiveness. Giving to the poor and hungry requires love and sharing. Being fair and just is required when we find ourselves in authority over others or are working with others who may be in a vulnerable position.

Application

I don’t know about you, but these verses cut me because sometimes I’m not so quick to love, share, be fair, or forgive. Sad to say, but it’s because my pride has a tendency to make me forget that I have, do, and will need to repent. I’m not perfect. And that won’t change on this side of heaven. Oh, but pride. Think about it. Sometimes our pride makes us so outdone that someone would dare offend us.  Sometimes our pride makes us surprised that someone would let themselves be poor or be hungry. But the humbling truth is we are all sinners. We all offend and hurt others. We all are mere moments away from poverty or hunger. After all, every good and perfect gift comes from Him. Our attitudes and actions must reflect the reality that we need to repent. Only then will we love, share, be fair, and forgive. Only then will we produce good fruit.

Prayer

Lord I pray our lives evidence repentance. Lord I pray we never take Your forgiveness for granted. Please let us produce good fruit in Your name by loving, sharing, being fair, being just and forgiving. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.