New Births & New Beginnings

skipping

On January 25, 1969, I experienced the miracle of the new birth when I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life.

If you’ve never been born again, the experience Jesus described to the religious leader Nicodemus in John 3:1-8, you’re really missing out—not just in this life, but in eternity as well. There’s no other way to become a “new creation,” where “old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

However, lately I’ve been meeting lots of people who’ve already experienced the new birth, yet now they need something else: a new beginning.

You’ve probably met these folks too. They tell you something like, “I got saved back in 1995, and everything changed.” However, the more you get to know these well-meaning believers, the more apparent it becomes that something’s drastically missing. Maybe Jesus forgave their sins and stamped their ticket to heaven many years ago, but now they seem stuck in a dreary, unappealing religiosity.

Other religious folks eagerly tell you about the day they got “filled with the Holy Ghost.” But although that may have been a glorious day, now you can’t help but wonder if their filling with the Holy Ghost somehow leaked over the years. The love, joy, peace, and other fruit that’s evidence of being filled with the Spirit is nowhere to be found in their life anymore (see Galatians 5:22-23). Perhaps it’s time for a Holy Spirit “refill.”

I’m not trying to be mean. But these observations are unmistakable and troubling.

The reality is that we all need new beginnings at various points in our lives. The Bible is filled with stories of mighty heroes of the faith who needed a fresh start at one point or another:

  • Abraham was 100 and Sarah 90 when everything changed for them at the birth of their child Isaac (Genesis 21:5, 17:17).
  • Jacob experienced a new beginning when he saw a ladder reaching to an open heaven (Genesis 28:10-22), and then his life was transformed even more when he wrestled all night with God (Genesis 32:24-32).
  • Joseph suddenly went from the prison to the palace and became the Prime Minister over all of Egypt (Genesis 41:14).
  • Moses’ life was radically changed at age 80 when God spoke to him from the burning bush in the backside of the desert (Exodus 3:1-22).
  • Gideon was living in fear and self-preservation right before the Angel of the Lord appeared and commissioned him as a “mighty man of valor” to defeat the Midianites (Judges 6:11:24).
  • David desperately needed a new beginning after his adultery and murder were exposed (2 Samuel 12, Psalm 51).
  • Elijah was weary, depressed, and practically suicidal before God gave him a new purpose in life: mentoring the next generation (1 Kings 19:1-21).
  • Paul’s experience on the Damascus Road would surely be considered a new birth. But he later experienced several new beginnings too: when Barnabas got him involved in the church at Antioch (Acts 11:25-26) and when the Holy Spirit commissioned him and Barnabas to plant churches across the Roman Empire (Acts 13:1-4).

This is just a small sampling of the Bible’s stories about people who experienced a new beginning. If the Lord was willing to give these people a fresh start, don’t you think He’s able to give YOU one as well?

In the Gospels, Jesus triggered new beginnings everywhere He went. The list includes the woman at the well (John 4:1-30), the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:3-11), Lazarus raised from the dead (John 11:1-44), Jesus’ discouraged disciples receiving new hope after cowering behind locked doors in the wake of His cross (John 20:19-23)—and many more.

Do you see the message here? Even though I’m thrilled if you’ve experienced the new birth, it may be time for a new beginning as well. The good news is that God gladly offers to provide one when we ask Him (Isaiah 42:9, 43:19).

That means you don’t need to live a purposeless life or remain stuck in quicksand. Nor do you have to flounder in a sea of frustration and hopelessness.

But let me be clear: New beginnings aren’t always easy and pain-free. You could be required to make a geographical relocation and leave friends and loved ones behind (Genesis 12:1-4). You may need to wrestle with God until your hip is out of joint, or He could totally reroute your life by speaking to you from a burning bush.

You shouldn’t t be surprised if you have to strip off some graveclothes, as happened with Lazarus (John 11:44). And don’t forget about Elijah if your new beginning starts in a cloud of depression while you’re having a “personal retreat” in a dark, damp cave.

Finally, let me ask: Has God already given you some instructions for launching your new beginning? If so, this is no time to procrastinate or be bound by fear.

You see… the best way to get a fresh start is to get started!  Even if you don’t know where the path will lead, today you could take a step of faith that dramatically impacts your future.

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Escaping from Your Personal Groundhog Day

groundhog-day 3

Lately I’ve met lots of people who seem to be perpetually stuck in Groundhog Day. You’ve probably seen the classic 1993 movie starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. Murray plays a weatherman named Phil who’s assigned to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He finds himself stuck in a time loop, forcing him to reexamine his life and priorities.

Day after day, Phil wakes up to the same Groundhog Day reality, with a chance to make better choices this time. It soon becomes clear that he won’t escape until he gets things right.

When I first saw the film, I didn’t realize how significant its message was. Just another mindless comedy, it seemed to me. Yet in 2006 the movie was added to the United States National Film Registry, deemed to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Now that I look back, my perspective on the movie has changed. I think it became popular because many of us can relate to the experiences faced by Bill Murray’s character. Even though we may not be caught in a time loop, we find ourselves stuck in some area of our life.

What about you? Do you currently find yourself trapped in some kind of Groundhog Day experience? Perhaps you are…

  • Having the same relationship struggles over and over.
  • Repeatedly making the same financial mistakes.
  • Dealing with recurring health problems that you’re unable to shake.
  • Battling cyclical addictions.
  • Experiencing periodic bouts of negative emotions, such as depression, loneliness, or anger.

Many people in the Bible experienced Groundhog Day of one kind or another. Jacob frequently had a problem with lying. Joseph faced recurring episodes of injustice. The Israelites spent 40 years traveling in circles in the desert. David and many of the prophets had some pretty severe mood swings at times.

Thankfully, though, the Bible provides numerous tips for escaping from Groundhog Day. Someday I’m going to write an entire book on how to get UNSTUCK…but for now I’ll just share a few brief insights. It’s interesting that many of these were eventually discovered by Bill Murray’s character in the movie.

  1. Face the truth about your present condition. Jesus promised that the truth will set us free if we’re willing to fully embrace it (John 8:32). But this means we must drop our excuses and rationalizations. You see, it’s not just a coincidence that we find ourselves dealing with the same problems again and again.
  2. Quit blaming others. We all have a tendency to blame-shift, but that’s a sure way to remain stuck. It’s time to stop saying all your failed relationships are simply because the other people are so dysfunctional. And if you’ve never been able to keep a job for more than a few months, it’s probably not the fault of all your employers.
  3. Get some help. Perhaps this means you should hire a good counselor, but that’s not necessarily what I mean here. It’s often even better to have at least one or two real friends who will love you enough to tell you the truth and hold you accountable for the needed changes.
  4. Don’t give up. When you’re stuck in Groundhog Day, it’s tempting to give up hope. You feel like simply resigning yourself to the belief that things will never  change. But take some time to let these words from the apostle Paul change your perspective: Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). Look at what this is saying…

Now… You must have a sense of urgency if you truly want to change. Don’t procrastinate!

…the God of hope… Unless God is involved, difficult circumstances frequently look hopeless. But when you recognize that He’s with you and is available to help, there’s always hope.

…all joy and peace in believing. Your joy and peace will return as soon as you put your eyes back on the Lord and begin to believe His promises again.

…abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. You may have already tried 1,000 times to escape Groundhog Day in your own strength. But everything changes when you allow yourself to be filled with the power of God’s Spirit. The secret is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27), and that’s the only way lasting change will come.

You don’t have to wait for me to complete my book on how to get unstuck. Today can be the day you face the truth about your circumstances and believe God’s promises for better days ahead. Then you can wake up tomorrow morning with fresh appreciation for the One who is able to make ALL things new (Revelation 21:5).

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4 Reasons You May Be Feeling Stuck

Stuck

The longer I live, the more convinced I am that most people are paralyzed or imprisoned in some way. No wonder the Bible tells so many stories about those who got healed of paralysis or set free from bondage and imprisonment.

When we read such Bible stories today, it’s easy to miss how these events apply to our lives. If we’ve never been physically paralyzed or lame, we can struggle to relate to the paralyzed man in Mark 2:1-12 or the lame man in Acts 3:1-12. And if we’ve never done jail time, we can assume there’s not much we can learn from Joseph’s release from an Egyptian dungeon (Genesis 39-40) or the supernatural prison breaks of Peter (Acts 12:1-19) and Paul and Silas (Acts 16:16-40).

But, you see, the imprisonment most people face today is emotional and spiritual rather than physical. They’ve been traumatized by their journey through life, whether through the consequences of their own bad decisions or through the unkind actions of others.

In John 20:19-29 Jesus’ disciples were locked in a self-imposed prison after experiencing the trauma of their Master’s unjust arrest, brutal beating, and horrific crucifixion. Today we sometimes call those events “Good Friday,” but there seemed nothing “good” about the cross of Calvary at the time. The disciples were understandably devastated, gathered together behind locked doors because of fear of the Jewish leaders.

Suddenly Jesus appeared to these shell-shocked men. Although preachers sometimes say, based on Revelation 3:20, that Jesus always knocks before entering our situation, that’s simply not true. This time He just came right on in, bypassing every defense mechanism in order to release these traumatized followers from their emotional bondage.

This is one of the most pivotal scenes in the entire Bible. It’s not an overstatement to say that the whole fate of the church and the expansion of God’s kingdom rested on what would happen in the lives of these shattered men.

The disciples had left everything to follow Jesus, believing that their lives would ultimately change the world. Now their dreams seemed to have reached a cruel dead end. Dazed and confused, they were very unlikely candidates for any kind of heroic, world-changing mission.

So how did Jesus turn the worst of times into the best of times for these emotionally damaged followers? He addressed four different snares that were holding these men in spiritual captivity:

  1. FEAR – Not just once, but twice, Jesus told them, “Peace be with you.” And when they “saw the Lord,” their fear and anguish were replaced with great joy. If you are feeling “stuck” in some area of your life today, it’s likely that fear is one of the things holding you back. Just as He did for the disciples, Jesus wants to penetrate your closed doors and replace your fear with faith, and your anxiety with His peace and joy.
  2. PURPOSELESSNESS – These men who had taken such bold steps to leave their careers and families in order to change the world with Jesus were now left without a purpose or a vision. They had abandoned and denied their Savior in His hour of need, and now their traumatized condition seemed to disqualify them from any significant usefulness in His plan. Nevertheless, Jesus re-commissioned and affirmed them with fresh vision and purpose: As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”What an encouraging story for us today. Even when we feel like failures, unusable by God, He can reaffirm our calling and give us a new commission to impact the world.
  3. WEAKNESS – In addition to a lack of purpose, Jesus’ disciples were suffering from a lack of power. A new commission would have fallen on deaf ears unless they also received new empowerment. Recognizing their need, Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In their own strength, they never would have been able to fulfill His majestic plan for their lives—nor can you or I. But, empowered by the Spirit, we can transform the world (Acts 1:8, Philippians 4:13).
  4. FORGIVENESS ISSUES – Jesus showed them His wounds, proof that they had been forgiven by His shed blood. But then He talked to them about their calling to extend His forgiveness to OTHERS. If you are in some kind of spiritual prison today, there’s a good chance that forgiveness is one of the keys needed to set you free. Perhaps you need to RECEIVE God’s full forgiveness of your past, releasing you from any guilt, shame, or condemnation. Or maybe you are still locked in emotional bondage because you’ve not yet forgiven someone who has hurt you. Either way, forgiveness is an indispensable key to your spiritual and emotional freedom.

I encourage you to read this list again, asking God to show you which of these four keys are needed to help you get unstuck and ready to fulfill your destiny as a follower of Christ.

Perhaps you’ve been hiding out behind closed doors for a long time now, traumatized by some experience that has been hard to shake. But if Jesus could take these distraught men from the shadow of the cross to the glory of resurrection life, surely He can transform your life and give you a new beginning.

Like Jesus’ disciples, you may seem like an unlikely world-changer today. But once He has freed you from fear, given you fresh vision, empowered you by His Spirit, and dealt with your forgiveness issues, your life can be amazing. You don’t have to wait any longer!

 

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Luggage or Baggage — Do You Know the Difference?

Luggage-225x300

While preparing to fly to New Zealand next week, I’ve reflected on my visit last year to a local flea market in search of new luggage. Perhaps that sounds like an insignificant event, but it was an exhilarating experience for me. Why? Because new luggage was a declaration of my intention to go someplace!

You see, if you’re stuck and immobilized, there’s no need for luggage. The only reason you need luggage is if you have a vision to travel and advance!

When I was shopping for new luggage, I didn’t really know where I would be going. But the exact destination wasn’t the issue at the time. It’s all about mobility, fresh vision, and getting unstuck.

I was beginning to sense God stirring a vision I first had in my mid-twenties—to play a role in filling the earth with the glory of the Lord (Habakkuk 2:14). Pursuant to that vision, purchasing new luggage was a step of faith and a prophetic declaration. It was a statement of my renewed desire to fulfill God’s purposes in my life.

However, I’ve also been thinking of another word, baggage, which often is used as a synonym for luggage. Although the two words can mean the same, baggage has some very negative connotations: “things that impede or encumber one’s freedom, progress, development, or adaptability.”

While luggage is all about vision for the future, baggage is focused on our failures and frustrations in the past. We’ve all been encumbered by unwanted baggage at one time or another. The baggage may be from past sins or failures, broken relationships or shattered dreams—or anything else we allow to weigh us down and impede or progress.

Luggage is symbol of our availability to go where God sends us. Baggage, in contrast, involves whatever “stuff” is slowing us down from running the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1-2).

If you’re like me, you probably have some baggage you’re not even aware of. Ask God to search your heart, my friend. Lay aside the baggage, and go shopping for some new luggage.

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Leaving Limbo

One of the most powerful sermons I’ve ever heard was based on an obscure passage where we’re told that Abraham settled down between Kadesh and Shur” (Genesis 22:1). After reading this verse, the preacher spent nearly an hour describing the challenges and frustrations of living in-between two different places.

Have you ever found yourself in a place like that—stuck in limbo between where you’ve been and where you’re going? Perhaps you were awaiting graduation from college or grad school…a promotion at work…the sale of your home…the diagnosis of a troubling medical condition…or the finalization of a bankruptcy or divorce.

It’s no fun to live in-between. And this is especially true when your limbo experience comes through no fault of your own.

Abraham and Sarah had a long wait for their promised son. They spent years in limbo between the promise and the fulfillment. Their wait wasn’t because of any lack of faith, but simply part of God’s preparation for the blessings ahead.

In contrast, the Israelites’ 40-year delay in reaching the Promised Land was totally preventable. They could have reached their destination in less than 40 days if they had been willing to trust and obey the Lord.

So what can you do if you find yourself stuck in limbo today? Sometimes all you can do is trust the Lord and wait! But in the meantime you should follow God’s instructions the best you can, and keep sowing seeds of love and kindness to the people around you. In “due season” you will reap!  (Galatians 6:9)

It’s not an exaggeration to say that our entire earthly existence is “limbo” in comparison to our future life in eternity. Even if God has blessed us with a great life today, we surely haven’t arrived at our ultimate destination yet.

Hopefully we’ve left our life of sin and rebellion behind, but that doesn’t mean we’re near perfection. Even the great apostle Paul knew he was still on a journey in-between his old life and his heavenly one:

One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).

No matter how long we live or how mature we become in Christ, this uncomfortable reality will not change until we reach our heavenly home. Limbo experiences are bound to come from time to time.

But notice that Paul wasn’t resigned to passively living in a bleak, unchanging limbo during his lifetime. Yearning for ever-increasing intimacy with the Lord, he was committed to pressing on until he reached life’s finish line.

Recently I worked on an article describing the breakthroughs God gave many of His people in the Scriptures. These inspiring stories demonstrate that we must never lose hope, for the Lord can find us even we’ve been residing in limbo.

How long does it take to exit limbo? Although it sometimes can take months or years, at other times the breakthrough just requires a simple decision or step of faith.

The Bible is full of examples of God SUDDENLY intervening in people’s health, finances, relationships, or emotions—totally changing their circumstances in a mere moment. Often our exit from limbo takes much longer than that, of course, but it’s good to know that God still can work miracles when we give Him the opportunity.

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Starting Over…at Any Age

I’ve been thinking a lot about the book of Ruth lately and the subject of “starting over.” The story describes two women, one old and one young, and both of them needed a new beginning.

Naomi and Ruth had experienced traumatic losses when their husbands died, and sometimes traumas like that can leave people “stuck” and emotionally paralyzed.

But Naomi makes a radical decision—she will return to Bethlehem, the place she and her husband originally lived before a famine led them to relocate to Moab. Ruth made a radical decision too—she would accompany her mother-in-law Naomi back to Bethlehem.

One of the intriguing things about this story is that Naomi received a fresh start by returning to her roots, but Ruth received a fresh start by going somewhere she had never been before.

I encourage you to take a moment and ask yourself what kind of new beginning you need today, whether in your health, your finances, your family, or perhaps even your relationship with God.

The next question is whether your fresh start will come from returning to your roots or through taking a bold new venture to do something you’ve never done before. Are you willing to listen to God’s instructions on this?

After Naomi lost her husband and sons, she would have thought you’re crazy to suggest that the rest of her life could truly be the best of her life—but it was. Not just for Naomi, but for Ruth as well.

Read the story for yourself sometime. You’re never too old or too young to get a fresh start.

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4 Steps to Getting Unstuck

The longer I live, the more convinced I am that most people are paralyzed or imprisoned in some way. No wonder the Bible tells so many stories about those who got healed of paralysis or set free from bondage and imprisonment.

When we read such Bible stories today, it’s easy to miss how these events apply to our lives. If we’ve never been physically paralyzed or lame, we can struggle to relate to the paralyzed man in Mark 2:1-12 or the lame man in Acts 3:1-12. And if we’ve never done jail time, we can assume there’s not much we can learn from Joseph’s release from an Egyptian dungeon (Genesis 39-40) or the supernatural prison breaks of Peter (Acts 12:1-19) and Paul and Silas (Acts 16:16-40).

But, you see, the imprisonment most people face today is emotional and spiritual rather than physical. They’ve been traumatized by their journey through life, whether through the consequences of their own bad decisions or through the unkind actions of others.

In John 20:19-29 Jesus’ disciples were locked in a self-imposed prison after experiencing the trauma of their Master’s unjust arrest, brutal beating, and horrific crucifixion. Today we sometimes call those events “Good Friday,” but there seemed nothing “good” about the cross of Calvary at the time. The disciples were understandably devastated, gathered together behind locked doors because of fear of the Jewish leaders.

Suddenly Jesus appeared to these shell-shocked men. Although preachers sometimes say, based on Revelation 3:20, that Jesus always knocks before entering our situation, that’s simply not true. This time He just came right on in, bypassing every defense mechanism in order to release these traumatized followers from their emotional bondage.

This is one of the most pivotal scenes in the entire Bible. It’s not an overstatement to say that the whole fate of the church and the expansion of God’s kingdom rested on what would happen in the lives of these shattered men.

The disciples had left everything to follow Jesus, believing that their lives would ultimately change the world. Now their dreams seemed to have reached a cruel dead end. Dazed and confused, they were very unlikely candidates for any kind of heroic, world-changing mission.

So how did Jesus turn the worst of times into the best of times for these emotionally damaged followers? He addressed four different snares that were holding these men in spiritual captivity:

  1. FEAR – Not just once, but twice, Jesus told them, “Peace be with you.” And when they “saw the Lord,” their fear and anguish were replaced with great joy. If you are feeling “stuck” in some area of your life today, it’s likely that fear is one of the things holding you back. Just as He did for the disciples, Jesus wants to penetrate your closed doors and replace your fear with faith, and your anxiety with His peace and joy.
  2. PURPOSELESSNESS – These men who had taken such bold steps to leave their careers and families in order to change the world with Jesus were now left without a purpose or a vision. They had abandoned and denied their Savior in His hour of need, and now their traumatized condition seemed to disqualify them from any significant usefulness in His plan. Nevertheless, Jesus re-commissioned and affirmed them with fresh vision and purpose: As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”What an encouraging story for us today. Even when we feel like failures, unusable by God, He can reaffirm our calling and give us a new commission to impact the world.
  3. WEAKNESS – In addition to a lack of purpose, Jesus’ disciples were suffering from a lack of power. A new commission would have fallen on deaf ears unless they also received new empowerment. Recognizing their need, Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In their own strength, they never would have been able to fulfill His majestic plan for their lives—nor can you or I. But, empowered by the Spirit, we can transform the world (Acts 1:8, Philippians 4:13).
  4. FORGIVENESS ISSUES – Jesus showed them His wounds, proof that they had been forgiven by His shed blood. But then He talked to them about their calling to extend His forgiveness to OTHERS. If you are in some kind of spiritual prison today, there’s a good chance that forgiveness is one of the keys needed to set you free. Perhaps you need to RECEIVE God’s full forgiveness of your past, releasing you from any guilt, shame, or condemnation. Or maybe you are still locked in emotional bondage because you’ve not yet forgiven someone who has hurt you. Either way, forgiveness is an indispensable key to your spiritual and emotional freedom.

I encourage you to read this list again, asking God to show you which of these four keys are needed to help you get unstuck and ready to fulfill your destiny as a follower of Christ.

Perhaps you’ve been hiding out behind closed doors for a long time now, traumatized by some experience that has been hard to shake. But if Jesus could take these distraught men from the shadow of the cross to the glory of resurrection life, surely He can transform your life and give you a new beginning.

Like Jesus’ disciples, you may seem like an unlikely world-changer today. But once He has freed you from fear, given you fresh vision, empowered you by His Spirit, and dealt with your forgiveness issues, your life can be amazing. You don’t have to wait any longer!


OHIO FRIENDS: I would love to have you join me at Judah Christian Community in Columbus as I preach there Sunday, May 31, at 10 a.m. The church is located at 972 Beechwood Road, and we will meet for lunch at the Whitehall MCL Cafeteria afterward for lunch. Don’t miss it! My message will help you see your past, present, and future in a whole new light!

 

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A Strange Kind of Anchor

If you’re like me, the word “anchor” has some negative connotations. For example, dictionaries say an anchor is a device for preventing or restricting a ship’s motion. I certainly don’t relish the thought of having my motion prevented or restricted, do you?

Another undesirable connotation of “anchor” is that it either ties you to where you ARE (your present circumstances) or where you’ve BEEN (your past). In either case, that kind of anchor sounds very dreary to me. Who wants to remain stuck to their present circumstances or their past?

However, the Bible describes a very different  kind of anchor, one that connects us to a hope-filled future instead of to our present or our past:

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf (Hebrews 6:19-20).

While faith is a “now” kind of reality (Hebrews 11:1), hope is an optimistic attitude about our future. The writer here says God wants us to have His supernatural hope as “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

Look at how revolutionary this is. While maritime anchors lock a ship in place and prevent progress, this spiritual kind of anchor is tethered to the positive future God has promised us (Jeremiah 29:11).

How do we know this? Because we’re told the anchor goes before us, tied to “our forerunner, Jesus.” It’s not an anchor that settles for our present circumstances. Quite the contrary, it’s an anchor that’s pulling us toward a whole new realm of living.

Also notice that our spiritual hope isn’t supposed to be based on anything we see around us. Just as a ship’s anchor disappears below the water line, the hope described here “enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.”  This hope isn’t locked in to any kind of earthly circumstances or events, but rather to God’s destiny for us in the unseen realm (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Just as an earthly anchor will prevent a ship from drifting, an anchor of hope serves the same purpose. Yet there’s a key difference. If you pull on a maritime anchor, you will go nowhere. But when you pull on your anchor of hope, you’re propelled forward  into more intimacy with Jesus and greater fulfillment of His plan for your life.

Even on cloudy days when your circumstances look bleak, you can count on this anchor to hold. Your Forerunner has already overcome death and defeat, and He’s the One your hope must be constantly anchored to.

May your soul find rest in Him today as He draws you forward into His presence and His purpose.

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