Real Hope for 2021
Are you freaked out by 2021 yet? Are you scared, angry, or outraged…while having a faith that is supposed to be peaceful? Are you hopeless and discouraged? Are you done with a life filled with division, drudgery, despair?
We are 8 days into the new year and it is already reminding me of the start of last year. Remember all of the sermons and posts about the year of 20/20 vision or 20/20 faith? Yeah, no one saw that year coming. It rocked many to the core of their faith. It knocked many more off their game. I have never seen the family of God act like it did in many ways. The last 8 days have set a bleak tone for so many…but it doesn’t have to be you. You cannot change what the world does. You can live 2021 with hope and pure joy filling you, if you choose to.
Are you willing to dig deep in yourself to find out why your life does not look like you want it to? Do you want all of the good things you read about in the Bible but don’t seem to experience yourself?
Are you ready to stop playing around in your Christian life?
Please tell me you are! There is no time to waste! You are desperately needed in the lost and dying world. You are essential to reviving and strengthening the church. It may seem impossible. For you, it is just that. But it is not even challenging for God.
If you think you know where this is going, please hold on and keep reading. This is NOT going to be another motivational system put out around New Year’s Day. I am specifically not putting more burdens on you. That is not my intent. I have no interest in whether you are exercising, eating less, or waking up on time. They are all good things but not what my area. I also don’t have the secret to get you a promotion or to get a guy to notice you. These are not within my calling.
My job is to speak to you about your walk with Jesus and I am concerned…very much so. From what I see in Christian communities, there are so many Christians who are struggling mightily. Too many of God’s people seem to be fighting to keep their heads above the waters of life….or just fighting. Many more are suffering where there is no need. There are whole denominations stranded in spiritual deserts. God did not save you to allow you flounder. But like a swimmer caught in a rip current, the worst thing you can do is tire yourself out anymore trying to fight yourself out of it. A list of more “To Do’s” added by me would be like throwing that swimmer an anvil rather than a life line. .
I respect you more than that. Jesus loves you more than that.
Have Hope and Don’t Give Up
You are saved through a miracle of Jesus. You started your walk with peace, excitement, and joy. Yet, as time passed you found these all slipping away. The zeal that came at salvation seems long in the past. The joy of Christ that was like seeing color for the first time is a distant memory. All these great things of God were slowly replaced with anger, fear, drudgery, and pain. The Christian life once so hopeful no longer seems possible. It was like a long ago dream.
A Christian themed factory sprung up in its place. You show up each day, clock in, do the works expected, and hope the Boss is happy with you. You put on a good face and put out product but it is for a paycheck only. You return to bed each night beaten yet set to do it all over tomorrow. The fading hope is in someday being noticed or the far off reward at death. It is a dry and dusty faith life. You may not have even noticed the difference as it all faded away slowly.
Is this you? Honestly, no one is there to hear your answer other than you and God. Are you stuck in a joyless Christian life? Do you feel like a hamster running like mad on a wheel but never getting anywhere? Are you exhausted spiritually?
You will not hear any judgment from me if you are. You belong to Jesus, not me or any other Christian. Your relationship with Him is yours alone.
People’s burdens on you is part of the problem. But take heart….
You Will Find Rest
Jesus promised you rest. The hungry and thirsty were offered the Bread of Life and Living Water. Life abundantly was the expectation. God is not a liar. Yet, you feel like you haven’t stopped toiling in years. The work seems bitter rather than abundant. You feel like the guy from Greek mythology pushing the giant rock up the hill only to have it roll down.
You know the Word of Jesus and yet you feel starved and dehydrated. You know the armor of God. You feel defenseless. You love Jesus. You are feeling alone. There is a crushing weight of life and loss threatening to overwhelm you. The slings and arrows seem to be scoring more hits every day. What is the deal?
Please hear me very clearly:
Jesus still loves you.
He did not abandon you or revoke your salvation. He is not sitting on His throne shaking a divine finger at you in disappointment. Those are your feelings. They are not truth. His love is pure and perfect. It does not fail. The Good Shepherd does not abandon His sheep when they are in trouble. He goes after them. Jesus is calling to you. He died for you.
This is not the life Jesus wants for you.
He promised rest, love, joy, peace, patience, and all the good things, right? He is waiting for you to accept them. Jesus still loves you and wants you fired up for Him. God wants you to filled with all of the things you read about in the Bible. Since this is true, God does not allow you to be comfortable in the dryness. Living water should be flowing in you and through you. God loves you too much to leave you there. Discontentment and misery is likely a good thing. It is evidence the Holy Spirit is working in you summoning you to something so much better. You are not satisfied with your Christian life? Great, God is not either if you are not a daily living sacrifice to Him. He wants you to open the gifts He prepared for you. He will prod you until you do. Not for His sake but for yours.
What if I told you there is a straight forward way you could have the good things of Jesus in your life this year?
What if there are simple things you can do to make your life in 2021 more joyful, peaceful, more loving, more Jesus filled?
Would you be willing? Really, how much is it worth to you?
I am not selling anything. I don’t want anything from you. Rather, I am referring to the giant questions to answer if you want more Christ in your life:
What do you value more: Jesus or Everything else?
What are you willing to let go of from that everything else to have more Jesus?
I want nothing from you. Jesus, on the other hard, wants everything. Have you let go of all the things preventing you from giving all of you to Jesus? Simple in concept, right?
Yet, the things that you need to let go are the ones you value more than Jesus. They are often what you hold onto most strongly. Read the following statements and fill in the blanks.
What things that are not commanded in the Bible come to mind?
It would be unthinkable to stop ________!
That is just not me, I have always been _______!
I love my ___________!
Did you fill in the blanks? Anything there that is not God or His specific directions to you? If they are things like “going to church” or “loving my kids”, put those aside as they are part of our roles as Christians. Things that are opinions, cultural expectations, and relationship based. Anything? They may be the problem. These are strongholds – heavily defended forts – that compete with Jesus. They lead you away from the promised rest because they take attention from Jesus. Are you willing to tear them down? When answering, remember, they are fortresses that are strongly guarded by you.
Jesus loves you. He also calls you to follow Him and trust in HIM…and not yourself.
Not Your Ordinary New Years Resolution List
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? Galatians 3
The Galatians were Christians. They were attending church. They were singing worship songs and giving money. They were trying really hard to be good. They did their best to look and sound holy. They were following the rules and fitting into the culture of “church”. They completely lost their way in the process.
They lost sight of Jesus and were in great danger. Their Christian lives that started so amazingly well was crashing down. They were tearing their houses down with their own hands and did Why?
They were “bewitched” a word that means under the evil eye cast by another person. This might sound strange but hang with me. It meant their gaze was caught by a person with a spell. They were unable to look away from the evil eye as a result. This “evil eye” was not actually magic. It was the things that captured the attention and admiration of these Christians. They were the things that they felt they “needed to do” to prove themselves to God. They were the expressions of Galatian logic, common sense, and opinion outside of simply following Jesus. They were the person’s own choices and they were leading them from Jesus.
Jesus told His disciples to follow Him. Hebrews tells you to fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. The Galatians could do neither. Their eyes were so firmly fixed on other things they lost sight of Jesus. They worked so hard doing, fixing, fighting, and justifying they were too exhausted for Jesus.
Can you relate? Does it feel like Jesus is so far away you have lost sight of Him? Do you feel so defeated by life you don’t feel worthy to be in His sight? Are you so tired from Christian life you can’t serve Jesus?
Jesus still loves you. He still died for you. He just doesn’t want you to live like this. Abundant life was His promise, after all. You cannot be abundant and bitterly jaded about Christian life. He set out a simple path back to abundant joy, peace, and certainty in Him. You can get off the assembly line of faith but here is the huge question again?
Do you want to? What are you willing to let go of? It might hurt you in sensitive areas – your pride, your allegiances, your opinions, your attempts to prove yourself to God.
So this is not going to be a typical process for your New Year. I will not give you a list of tasks that you will try to do over the next month or two before stopping. There will be no schedules, spiritual disciplines, or gym memberships. The Christian life is not about you making you a better you. Lifting barbells does not make you a better Christian. It is about submission. Dropping crushing burdens you were never meant to carry sure does give you rest in Christ!
We will first identify things you may need to let go of to allow Jesus to be in charge of your life. We will then talk about how to do that and why it is important.
Are you ready for 5 Days of dropping weights and stopping work in order to rest completely in your Lord and Savior Jesus? I might make you mad. It will likely hurt in the short term. Your flesh will rebel as you try to let it go. I will ask you to say “No” to everything other than Jesus…no matter how strongly you feel about it. It will possibly involve admitting you are wrong, but trusting the One who is perfect to love you anyway.
Are you willing to come along? Even if it costs you things you hold dear...but Jesus doesn’t? I was planning on posting this later on in the month but the first 8 days of 2021 moved up my schedule. You are so much more needed to be that light for Jesus now than ever before.
The 5 posts that follow will set out the journey.
I sure hope you join me.
I cannot fix your Christian life. You cannot either. Jesus can.
Are you ready to surrender to Him? Move on to Day One!