Hiding the Word:
This morning, grace is on my mind. And I just can’t possibly pick one verse on grace to meditate on this week because two are nudging at my heart.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Somehow, I’ve always quoted Hebrews 4:16 as a verse about why we can go before God’s throne and ask Him for anything. It’s why we don’t have to filter our prayers or be afraid to share with Him what’s on our heart.
But, I’m noticing today that the verse is really all about grace. Because we need it. Because He gives it in abundance.
It reminds me of Esther as she prepared to go before King Xerxes without being summoned. She knew that he could lower his scepter and accept her presence. Or he could be filled with anger at her presumption and have her killed on the spot. Fortunately, he extended mercy and heard her petition with favor.
We don’t live with the uncertainty Esther did. It’s not, “Maybe God will be angry with me for approaching Him or maybe He’ll extend the scepter to me and welcome my presence.” For us, the throne we approach is always a throne of grace and in our times of need, we can always find mercy there.
May the God of Hope, originally published 03/18/2011
With fall in the air on this first day of October, I thought it would be fun to remember another beautiful day at the start of spring
“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 “
Romans 15:13, NIV
Today, I walked close enough to my front garden to catch the strong perfume of hyacinth carried by the wind. It was delicious and relaxing and full of hope. Those early spring flowers remind me that spring and new life are coming and maybe even here! That after months of dormancy, a seed buried deep within the frozen ground is now beautiful, colorful, fragrant and abundant. They remind me that our God is the Creator—able to make something truly wonderful out of nothingness.
It means that I am never trapped or stuck in the relentlessness of my everyday because God brings abundant new life and seasons of blessing. His mercies “are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23, NIV).
It means all of my time in the wildernesses of my faith when I saw no visible evidence of God’s plan for me were not wasted. He has cultivated my heart and brought to life a beautiful “planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:3b, NIV).
It means that even when I am in an impossible situation, God, who created everything out of nothing, can create a rescue for me.
All day today, I’ve been meditating on and unpacking the truths in a verse that similarly brings me hope: “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” (Romans 15:13, NIV).
May the God of Hope: Our God is a God of hope. Even when we feel that there is no rescue for us and no way out, we can trust in Him to save us. We are never stuck, abandoned, lost or beyond His reach because our God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV). When circumstances are at their most impossible, we have hope because “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37, NIV).
Fill you with all joy and peace: Because we have hope, we can walk through disaster with joy and peace. In the book of Nehemiah, Ezra reads the book of the law to the people for the first time in years. They had returned from exile away from their temple and homeland and now faced the long process of rebuilding. The people wept with remorse over lost time and out of true regret for turning away from God, but Nehemiah and Ezra reminded them that “the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV).
As you trust in Him: My joy and peace come from my connection to God. They aren’t fake or self-motivated. I can’t wake up in the morning and determine in and of myself that “I’m going to be at peace today” or “today, I’m going to be joyful.” Instead, I ask God to please fill me with joy and peace and to help me stay connected with Him every moment of that day, so that I don’t begin to replace joy and peace with discontent, worry, or shame. God can keep me filled up only as I trust in Him. When I trust in others, in circumstances or in myself, I will be disappointed and my faith shaken. Instead, we must “trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
So that you may overflow with hope: God doesn’t just fill us up for our benefit, but so that we can overflow for others. He places us in community with other Christians so that we can journey together, encouraging one another and bringing hope to others when they need it. He places us in the world so that we can offer hope to those who are hopeless.
Like the hyacinth in my garden, we are to let Christ manifest “through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15, NASB). We are like Christ in a perfume bottle!
By the power of the Holy Spirit: It is the Holy Spirit at work deep within us that allows us to be filled up to overflowing. As Christians, the Holy Spirit is within us, constantly at work in our heart, and present as we face every life circumstance. There is nothing in this life that we ever face alone and so we have hope, joy and peace.
I am always amazed by Paul and his prayers for others. Most of the time when I pray for people, I ask God to meet their need, give them a job, heal their sickness, provide for their finances, direct their steps . . . it is always specific and practical. These prayers are important and necessary, but I shouldn’t stop there. The vast majority of Paul’s prayers for the churches in his letters were for spiritual blessings. This verse in Romans 15:13 is just one example, in which he prays for hope, joy and peace and the power of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives.
So, today, I am taking my cue from Paul and praying for you:
Father God, I pray now for those reading this devotional. Please let your Holy Spirit be at work in their lives, filling them to the point of overflowing with hope, joy and peace. Help them know that whatever they are facing in life can be entrusted to You and that nothing at all is impossible with You, our Creator God. You bring beauty and life out of darkness and dormancy. Give them an excitement about Your work in their lives. Help them live in joyful anticipation of what You are going to do next.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King