Psalm 3: A Certainty of Victory

by Carolyn Hope

You are standing in a valley, sword in one hand, shield in another. You’re out of breath from running; you’ve stopped because there’s nowhere left to turn. Utterly surrounded, you stare at all the enemy forces; thousands upon thousands are waiting to attack. There is no escape, for every direction and every side are filled with foes.

You hear a whisper ripple through the soldiers, Where is your God? Who can save you now? This whisper is repeated in a rising scale, until it becomes a deafening shout, a unified lie that nearly drowns out all thought.

You look at your sword, then your shield. You look up to the sky. A defiant glimmer shines in your eyes. With your jaw clenched and your muscles tight, you throw your sword and shield to the ground. Ignoring the shouts, the cheers, the taunts, and the jeers of your enemies, you spread your empty arms wide and yell into the air, GOD IS MY SHIELD! HE IS MY SWORD! THE LORD IS MY DEFENDER!

A hush comes over the crowd of attackers. You turn and view them all, and you begin to laugh. I am not afraid of you, you declare, for My King will defeat you! You are nothing against Him! He will have the victory!

Then you watch, as the light rises in the sky and your adversaries fall to the ground. He listened; He answered; He came. And the victory was won.

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.

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.

Access

by Carolyn Hope

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:15-17)

In the first portion of Romans 8, Paul discusses the difference between living according to the Spirit and living according to our sinful nature. Those who live by the Spirit, he says, are children of God. He then tells us some of what being a child of God means for us in the verses above. As children, we call God our Abba, our Father. In addition, being God’s children makes us His heirs who will share in the glory of Jesus.

Something happens when we transition from slave to son. Not only are we given freedom and an inheritance, but we enter into a newfound intimacy with our Father. We can approach Him with confidence, knowing that He loves us, and we can go deeper into our love for Him each day.

In one of my college classes, I experienced such a shift in relationship with my professor. Throughout the class, I could feel him watching me and I didn’t know why. We had very little interaction, though I much respected him and gratefully learned from him. Our final test was an in-person lab in which we had to put into practice all we had learned. My test date came, and it went extremely well, better than I had even hoped. After that day, something changed in my relationship with that teacher. From that point on, when he looked at me, it was with pride. It was as if he knew all along I would do well, and I had proved him right. A door had been opened, and I could freely approach him knowing that he would fully accept me. I began attending the church he pastors, and he has become a father figure to me that I am very grateful for. My relationship with him has touched my heart in ways I never expected.

When you believed on Jesus, you became the son or daughter God created you to be. You are His child, and nothing can change that. He views you with great love, joy, and pride. He has deep confidence in you and in all that you will do. You have access to your Father, a freedom to approach Him without hesitation, and an intimacy that is unprecedented and incredible. Draw close to your Father today; His arms and His heart are wide open to you.

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.

Undying Resolve

by Carolyn Hope

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me,  I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’” (Luke 18:1-5)

In this passage from Luke, Jesus relays a story of a widow who had been wronged. Widows in Jesus’ time were typically poor and lonely, with no guarantee of outside support. Consequently, this widow most likely did not have the funds or means to provide for herself, much less pay for a fair hearing or sway the judge’s decision. All she had was her persistence. All she had was her resolve.

Day after day after day, this woman pursued her cause. She did not give up and she did not lose hope. I believe that in order to be so ardently persistent, she must have woken up each morning thinking, ‘Today will be the day he gives me justice.’

It was, in essence, a battle of the will. Who would give out first? We see that the widow won her case because the judge got tired of seeing her face. As stubborn as he was, he was no match for her undying resolve. He knew that she would not stop coming until he relented.

When you have nothing else to give, you have resolve. When it feels like you have no choice, you can still choose persistence. No matter how long it takes or how impossible it seems, don’t stop fighting. Your cause, your call, and your life are worth a continual pursuit. Be persistent in your resolve. Don’t let go and don’t back down. You will be victorious. If what you’re facing comes down to a battle of the will, be the one whose will doesn’t die. Be a person of undying resolve. You will succeed when you refuse to take no for an answer.

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.

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.

Fruit #5: Kindness

by Carolyn Brucks

“I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.” (Ruth 2:13)

The short book of Ruth, comprised of only 4 chapters, is full of many instances of kindness. Ruth herself was a character of kindness, taking good care of her mother-in-law, Naomi, even after Naomi’s husband and two sons (one of whom was Ruth’s husband) died. When Naomi took Ruth with her to Israel, God brought Boaz, a very kind man, to watch out for them. He provided for them both, and he protected Ruth. The relationship between Ruth and Boaz was very beautiful, a tender exchange of kindnesses.

There is a gentleness to kindness. In a world of screams, kindness is a whisper, soft and sweet. Like a pleasant breeze, kindness is often unseen, but still effective. Yes, it’s true that kindness can be unappreciated many times. Do not, however, underestimate the power of kindness. Titus 3:4-5 says, “When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” Your very salvation is a revelation, a revealing, of God’s kindness toward you. Kindness will move people to do outrageous things and give what is undeserved.

Dare to be kind today. Let your heart be caring and considerate of others. When you see someone has a need, quietly fill it. What you do may seem simple or small, but remember, your kindness is powerful. How can you help someone today?

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.