Revelation

by Carolyn Hope

Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” (John 2:6-10)

Here we see that Jesus performed the miracle even though he had just said he wouldn’t. The miracle wasn’t really about the wine; it was about revealing Jesus for who He truly was. According to the timeline that was in place, He should not have yet shown Himself. He made that clear.

What was it, then, that changed His mind? It was Mary’s faith. When Mary acted in faith that He would do what she asked, it stirred Him to do it. Jesus loves it when we ask Him to do big things and then believe that He will do them. He responds and reacts to faith. In this instance, because of Mary’s faith, Jesus did something new, something that had never been done before. No one had ever taken water and instantly turned it into wine.

When you act in faith, it will lead to a new revelation of Jesus in your life. As you ask and believe for miracles, He’ll do the impossible and the unheard of. He delights in showing Himself to you. Keep asking and seeking for His revelation. When you taste of Jesus, all else fades away. He will satisfy you in a way that nothing else can.

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Refusal

by Carolyn Hope

“Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” (John 2:4)

Jesus’ first response was to brush off his mother’s prompting. He had no obligation to fix the wine deficiency of the wedding party; besides, it wasn’t time for Him to reveal Himself.

Sometimes Jesus says no. Other times, He says not yet. His refusal of an idea doesn’t equate to rejection of a person. In telling His mother it wasn’t time yet, Jesus was not rejecting her or pushing her away. As we’ll see later this week, Jesus actually did end up doing what Mary requested; however, He didn’t do it right away.

If God says no or not yet to your request, don’t be discouraged. He knows the right actions to take, and the right times to do them. He isn’t closed to you. Even when He says no to something you present, He does not reject you. He always welcomes you.

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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.

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Strengthening Seasons

by Carolyn Hope

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

Sometimes in life, you’ll find certain themes popping up again and again. Maybe you’ll keep getting opportunities to speak in front of people, something that terrifies you or used to cause you anxiety. Perhaps you’re good at managing finances, so your boss keeps giving you extra assignments to utilize your skills in that area. It could be that everywhere you go, people seem to be conveying the same message.

These are seasons where God wants to strengthen you in a particular area. Like an athlete training for the Olympics or a warrior training for battle, you are being built up into a greater capacity of your skills. God wants to make a stronger version of you.

If you find yourself in a place where you see recurring themes and messages, don’t brush them off or get frustrated. It can be easy to feel as if you’re being boxed in. Instead, recognize these times as a honing of your abilities, a workout for you in a specific area. Jesus is building up more strength in you so that you can run farther and longer in your race. As Paul said, “run with purpose in every step.” Let Jesus train you to enter into greater and deeper levels of strength.

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Stormy Seasons

by Carolyn Hope

Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me … I am suffering and in pain. Rescue me, O God, by your saving power. (Psalm 69:1-3, 29)

Stormy seasons are some of the most tiring times of life. It’s here that everything seems to be against you, and you can’t see a way out. As David expressed in Psalm 69, you may feel like you’re sinking more and more to the point of drowning.

The challenge that comes from a storm is that it’s never one issue that arises. It’s always several. Your mom gets sick and has to go to the hospital; your boss quits his job, and you have to take on more work until a replacement is found; your car breaks down. The list goes on. Every time you feel like you have the situation somewhat handled, something else gets added, and you eventually get to a point where you don’t know if you can take any more.

In these seasons, there’s often a lot of stress and much pain. If you find yourself in this place, turn to Jesus and let Him bring peace to your chaos. Give Him your pain, and let Him heal you. He is enough for you, even now. You will make it through this time, because He who is in you is greater than all you’re facing (see 1 John 4:4). He sees you. He hears you, and He’s with you in the pit. You won’t drown. You will be victorious. Keep pressing forward. The peace will come.

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The Promise of Pursuit (Psalm 23:6)

by Carolyn Hope

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23:6)

The word ‘pursue’ in this verse is often translated as ‘follow.’ I used to picture this verse as Jesus leisurely strolling behind me. The picture of pursuit is actually more fitting from the Hebrew word in this phrase. It literally means “to run after, chase, put to flight … hunt.” It’s much more intense than I had interpreted it.

Jesus is a pursuing person. We often accept this truth as regarding our salvation, but this verse isn’t even talking about that. It’s talking about goodness and unfailing love. Jesus’ pursuit goes beyond saving you from sin. He wants to come after you with good things! He wants to catch your heart and lavish love on it! He will chase you down wherever you go, and He won’t stop running until He finds you. He seeks to overwhelm you each and every day with blessings.

Jesus has set His eyes on you, and He will always pursue your heart. God’s love for you is unstoppable and inescapable. He says you’re worth chasing. He says you’re worth pursuing. You are worth seeking after. Enjoy the pursuit of your Shepherd. He is enthralled with you.

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Unfailing Love

by Carolyn Hope

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

There are different levels of love. The love you have for your best friend is different than the love you have for your brother or sister. The love you have for your parents is not the same as the love you have for your spouse. There are different depths of love, and each relationship reflects that.

Jesus talked about the greatest level, the deepest depth, of love. There is a love that is stronger than all the others, and that is the kind of love that will lead you to give up your very life for another. This love is relentless, reckless, and willing to do whatever it takes to give someone what they need. It’s willing to give up everything for another person. When you think about it, there are prices and costs for everything in this world. Life, however, is priceless. It’s worth more than money can buy. The most expensive gift, therefore, is your life.

This is the kind of love that Jesus gave us. He surrendered His perfect, priceless life for you. The cross, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is a picture of God saying, I will do whatever it takes. His love for you was so deep that there was NOTHING He would hold back from you. The Lord’s love for you is incomparable. It is trustworthy (1 John 4:16), and it never, ever, ever fails (1 Cor. 13:8). He gave it all for you. He loves you far too much to let you go.

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Unfailing Pursuit

by Carolyn Hope

Then the man of God went to the king of Israel and said, “This is what the LORD says: The Arameans have said, ‘The LORD is a god of the hills and not of the plains.’ So I will defeat this vast army for you. Then you will know that I am the LORD.” (1 Kings 20:28)

Earlier this week, I mentioned how King Ahab was perhaps the wickedest of the kings of Israel. Even he, however, received help from the Lord. The Arameans had demanded King Ahab give them everything, or else there would be war. Ahab chose war, and because of the Lord, the Israelites defeated the Arameans, not once but twice. Before each of these battles, God sent a prophet to King Ahab to tell him that they would be victorious by the Lord’s hand. Both times, the prophet closed with this final statement: “Then you will know that I am the LORD.” The whole purpose of God’s victory for the Israelites was for King Ahab to know Him as Lord.

We look at King Ahab as a hopeless case, too twisted and evil for redemption. God looked at him and said, Ahab, you’re worth pursuing. I haven’t quit on you yet. Ahab had his back completely turned to God, and still, He reached out to him. God repeatedly came after the man who had forsaken Him and His ways.

Jesus’ pursuit of you is unending. Indeed, His greatest act of pursuit for you was the cross, but His pursuit did not finish there. Every single day, He keeps pursuing your heart. You are never too far away for His hand to reach you. You are never in too dark of a place that He doesn’t see you. His heart is always for you. He will pursue you for the rest of your life, and He will do whatever it takes to get your attention. Forget what everyone else sees or says about you; God says you are worth chasing after.

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Unfailing Peace

by Carolyn Hope

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Imagine a lake surrounded by a forest. The water is still and calm, steadily quiet. As the wind moves the trees, the reflection on the water changes, but the water itself is as still as ever. Even though storms come, bringing a disruption to the quietness of the waters, when the storm is over, the lake returns to its tranquil state. This is peace. Regardless of circumstances, a peaceful heart remains steady and unshaken.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, which means He rules over it. Jesus not only has the power to consistently be at peace, but He is a Peace-Maker and a Peace-Bringer. When the disciples were caught in a storm, Jesus spoke peace into the situation, and the waters stilled. When we were lost in our sin and at war with God, Jesus came to earth and sacrificed Himself for us, so that we might be at peace with God. Jesus creates peace wherever He goes.

The Prince of Peace lives inside of you. Therefore, you can have peace in every situation, and in fact, you can bring peace into chaos! You are a peace-carrier and a peace-maker. The same power of Jesus to calm storms and raise the dead lives within you. Walk in peace today. Let your heart be still and steady. Receive Jesus’ words to His disciples before His crucifixion: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). You have a peace that is greater than what you’re going through. Let this peace rule in your heart (Col. 3:15). It will not fail you.

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The Humility of a Savior: Selflessness

by Carolyn Hope

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross …” (Philippians 2:3-8)

Perhaps the strongest facet of humility is selflessness. Humility is not thinking little of yourself; it is, however, thinking greater of others. Jesus exemplified this when He forsook His place in heaven to become a servant for all mankind. He cared much more for humanity than He did for His position. He made Himself nothing, that we might have everything. Jesus’ humility led Him in obedience, even to the cross.

Take a second and think of the power that comes from selfless humility. Jesus’ sacrifice resulted in your salvation! That would not have happened without humility. It was the humility of God’s heart that said, “I’m willing to pay whatever it takes if it means people can be set free.” You are a living, breathing product of the greatest humility the world has ever seen.

What can your humility do for others? What kind of effect can your sacrifice have? I believe that selfless humility can change hearts and lives, and even the world. If you want to do something great, go low. Serve your family, your friends, and your coworkers. Humble yourself in selflessness toward them, and see what happens. There’s no limit to what two humble hearts can do. When you join your humble heart to God’s, nothing is impossible.

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