Pictures From The Psalms

by Carolyn Hope

One of the most beloved books of the Bible is the book of Psalms. Composed by several different authors, Psalms is a collection of songs to the Lord. Often, these descriptive, honest works give us a peek into the emotions of those who follow after the Lord. They can bring much comfort and solace to hurting hearts, and also offer an appropriate outlet for our joy. No matter what you’re going through in life, there is something in Psalms that can speak to you.

This week, instead of bringing my thoughts on a particular chapter or verse, I’d like to provide you with mental pictures – short stories – to help you imagine what the author could have been feeling or walking through. The Hebraic Psalms in their original form were written with emotion, beautiful poetry, and captivating imagery. These characteristics are, unfortunately, hard to maintain when translated into the English language.

My hope is that this week, I can help you stop and ponder, and picture, what the Psalmists were saying. I’d like to, if I can, take you back to a place of beauty and powerful, emotional, truth. There are indeed truths in the principles we find in the Psalms, and those are not to be forgotten. For now however, I’d like to highlight the storytelling nature of this prose, which should be remembered.

As you read each of these snippets, I encourage you to also read through the respective Psalm. See for yourself what the author wrote, and let its words permeate your heart. Even in dim, dark, painful times, you have a God, a King, and a Father who will give you victory.

Like what you've read? Receive free email updates from The Voice Online: Subscribe
logowithpencil
Keep up to date with CFN The Voice. Fill out this form to receive updates directly to your inbox!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The Faith of a Child

by Carolyn Hope

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16)

Children are fantastic and beautiful blessings. Though certainly not perfect, they bring much light and joy to their families, their friends, and the world. There are many admirable qualities that children possess.

Not everyone values children. Some view them as nuisances, in the way, annoying, or unimportant. Jesus did not hold such a view; He loves children, and He thinks most highly of them. These verses from Mark clearly display that.

While there are plenty of points one could dwell on in this passage, the phrase I’d like to key in on is, “for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Children, of all people, are the ones Jesus said God’s kingdom will go to. Not the rich, nor the influential, nor the powerful. Not the well-behaved, the righteous, or the perfect. Children.

How fitting it is then when the New Testament epistles describe Christians as children of God. He is a loving Father who adopted us into His family. As His child, there are new realities given to you, such as access, revelation, and victory. This week, I hope you will be encouraged to have the faith of a child and to walk in confidence of your identity.

Like what you've read? Receive free email updates from The Voice Online: Subscribe
logowithpencil
Keep up to date with CFN The Voice. Fill out this form to receive updates directly to your inbox!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Resolved

by Carolyn Hope

Happy New Year! Welcome to a new calendar, a new day, and perhaps a new season. 2017 has ended and 2018 begins.

At the start of every year, many people draft up their New Year’s Resolutions. Some will keep them; others will not. New Year’s Resolutions are great in theory, but in practice can be very difficult. Nevertheless, there are those who keep such resolutions, and the reason they do so is that they are resolved.

To resolve can be defined as, “to settle” or “to determine.” It means making a decision and not turning back from it. This week, I’d like to show you part of what it means to live in such a way. There are many characters in Scripture who exhibited great resolve in their lives. Through a few of them, I want to highlight some different angles and aspects of what resolve is. Resolve is undying, defiant, and diligent. It refuses to give up or back down, no matter the cost.

You may have struggled with keeping a New Year’s Resolution (I certainly have), but I want to encourage you that you can live resolved. If there is one thing you should be resolved to, it is following wholeheartedly after Jesus. He will never lead you astray, and He will empower you to live determined all the days of your life.

Like what you've read? Receive free email updates from The Voice Online: Subscribe
logowithpencil
Keep up to date with CFN The Voice. Fill out this form to receive updates directly to your inbox!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Lead Role: Jesus

by Carolyn Hope

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11-12)

Have you ever seen a play or movie in which the main character doesn’t have any lines? Yet this is what we find in the Nativity. Jesus is the star, the main event, the reason for the season. Throughout this story, however, he never says a word. Amazing.

We tend to treat Mary as the main character, or perhaps Joseph, or the wise men, or the shepherds. The truth is, Jesus is the one the story’s all about. In his sweet way, he quietly appears and doesn’t promote himself or draw attention to himself. He just is … and that is enough.

The greatest part of this story is the moment that Jesus is born. It’s what everyone’s been waiting for, eagerly anticipating, dreaming for, and hoping for. And when he is born … well, he’s born. The attendees to his birth are some dirty animals, some hay and straw, and a few rag-tag shepherd boys. When you think about it, it’s not what we would consider special. It’s not the type of phenomenal entrance that we would imagine. Still, it was supernatural. It was holy. It was beautiful. Jesus came, and He was. It’s simply astonishing.

That God would come down to earth as a human, and the weakest kind of humanity at that. That He would take on the position of a helpless baby. Protector and Provider humbled Himself to be protected and provided for. He could have come with an army of angels, descending from the clouds on a white horse, sword in hand and a crown on his head. He could have come as a fearsome, warrior king. That’s certainly what everyone expected. No. No, he came the way the rest of us come. We enter this world cold, naked, and more vulnerable than any other creature. Jesus did too. What a beautiful heart He has!

Jesus saw no need to seek attention. His humility shone brighter than the most glorious, majestic arrival we could imagine. I want to encourage you that there is great power in simple humility. Be who you are. You don’t have to promote yourself. There is no need for you to seek attention or affection. You don’t have to make everything work. Your responsibility is to be who the Lord made you to be and to do what He has told you to do. That’s it. Humble yourself, dear one, and your King will lift you up (see James 4:10 and 1 Peter 5:6). Be who you are; that is enough.

Like what you've read? Receive free email updates from The Voice Online: Subscribe
logowithpencil
Keep up to date with CFN The Voice. Fill out this form to receive updates directly to your inbox!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Director: God

by Carolyn Hope

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:22-23)

A play, production, movie, or show would be nothing without its director. The director is the one who makes everything come together. The director has the vision that carries the project. It is he or she who leads all the various roles to create something greater than any one of them could do on its own.

God is an excellent Director. He cast the vision for the story of this world. The dream that came to life in Jesus’ time on earth was birthed in the heart of the Father. He had planned this divine entrance long ago, and He knew exactly what He was doing. Before the foundations of the earth were laid, He named His son. Immanuel, a name full of purpose. Immanuel, which means, “God with us.” For this is God’s heart: to be with us.

Every single character, every single role, was particularly picked by the Lord’s hand. He chose the Magi and the shepherds. He chose Mary. He even chose Joseph. When God chose Mary, He factored in the fact that Joseph was her betrothed, and that he was a righteous man who would take good care of her. Mary needed a strong man, and Jesus needed a good earthly father. The Lord provided that with Joseph even before He sent His son into the world.

In all the divine plans, there was not a single afterthought. From start to finish, every moment was precisely and perfectly produced.

This same Director, who left no detail out, is the one who directs your life. Your story too has been personally and passionately prepared by your Father. He is excited about the plans He has for you! You can rest in His promises and be at peace, knowing that He who began this good work in you will finish it (see Philippians 1:6). Your story is important, it is impactful, and it is beautiful. Let the Director of your heart lead you and guide you on a path of adventure.

Like what you've read? Receive free email updates from The Voice Online: Subscribe
logowithpencil
Keep up to date with CFN The Voice. Fill out this form to receive updates directly to your inbox!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The Christmas Story

by Carolyn Hope

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about … (Matthew 1:18)

In any good play, there are many people putting the production together. There are major roles and there are minor roles. There are those who get the spotlight, and then there are those who are ‘merely extras.’ There are sound teams, lighting teams, stagehands, and script-writers.

In the story of Jesus’ birth, there are no minor roles. Every person, from the shepherd boy to Mary, was specifically chosen for an incredible purpose. God, the Great Director of this once-in-an-eternity performance, believed each character was important and even necessary in the way He brought His son to earth. Nothing and no one was an accident. All of it was meticulously crafted well before any human ever walked the earth.

As we are in the midst of the Christmas season, I’d like to explore some of the different roles that were played in what is perhaps the most glorious production the world has ever seen. Now, two thousand years later, you are a part of the ongoing legacy of God’s story. You have a role to play, too, and it is great, unique, and needed.

Like what you've read? Receive free email updates from The Voice Online: Subscribe
logowithpencil
Keep up to date with CFN The Voice. Fill out this form to receive updates directly to your inbox!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Hope Amidst Darkness

by Carolyn Hope

We live in a world that is sadly full of darkness. It seems that everywhere we turn, there are a plethora of reasons to despair. In times like these, it can feel impossible to have any sense of hope.

Perhaps you feel this way. I want you to know that there is a hope that prevails amidst the chaos of a lost world. There is a hope that satisfies, lasts, and dares. This hope comes from Jesus, and it’s a hope that will not fail you.

Hold onto hope. The promises of God are on their way to you. As you wait for them, believe and trust in your Father, who will never let you down. He is the reason we have hope, and what a great reason He is.

Like what you've read? Receive free email updates from The Voice Online: Subscribe
logowithpencil
Keep up to date with CFN The Voice. Fill out this form to receive updates directly to your inbox!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The Fruit of The Spirit

by Carolyn Hope

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23)

Galatians is an incredible book which speaks of our freedom in Christ. In chapter 5 of Galatians, Paul gives us a description of what a Spirit-filled believer will live like. Specifically, there are nine main types of ‘fruit’ that Holy Spirit brings. These are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Over the next two weeks, I’d like to take a look at each individual ‘fruit.’ As a son or daughter of the Most High King, you have the power within you to produce each of these. Holy Spirit inside of you will teach you how to walk in them. These are not unattainable attributes that you’ll never be able to live up to; rather, they are who God made you to be. When Jesus made you a new creation, He saw you as becoming these characteristics. He believed that you could be defined by these qualities; I believe you can too.

Like what you've read? Receive free email updates from The Voice Online: Subscribe
logowithpencil
Keep up to date with CFN The Voice. Fill out this form to receive updates directly to your inbox!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Reasons to be Grateful

by Carolyn Brucks

Thanksgiving week is an excellent time to remind ourselves what we are thankful for. In the busyness and hardships of life, it can often be a challenge to walk in gratefulness and joy. However, this week I’d like to give you five Biblical reasons to be grateful. There are many more reasons, as I’m sure you know, but it is my hope that you will remember these principles throughout every season of life.

Regardless of who you are or where you are in life, there is always something to be thankful for. The breath you breathe, the eyes with which you see, and your beating heart are some things often taken for granted. The ultimate reason to be grateful, however, is Jesus and His love for you. There is no amount of thanks that is too great for Him and all He’s done. Wherever you are and whatever you do, let your heart and mouth be full of thanksgiving to your King.

Like what you've read? Receive free email updates from The Voice Online: Subscribe
logowithpencil
Keep up to date with CFN The Voice. Fill out this form to receive updates directly to your inbox!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Getting to the Glory (John 2:1-11)

by Carolyn Hope

The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. (John 2:1-2)

John chapter 2 describes the first miracle of Jesus’ ministry. In this passage, we see the first time Jesus revealed His glory; and it was at a person’s request.

This week, I’d like to take you through this event verse by verse and pull out some of the main themes found in this Scripture. I want to show you the process of this particular situation, starting with a request, and leading to glorious revelation.

Jesus’ revelation and glory are for today in your life, not just two thousand years ago. Be encouraged this week that when you come before God in bold faith and expectancy, you will see miracles and revelation in your own life.

Like what you've read? Receive free email updates from The Voice Online: Subscribe
logowithpencil
Keep up to date with CFN The Voice. Fill out this form to receive updates directly to your inbox!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.