Determined Resolve

by Carolyn Hope

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:22-24)

Paul was a man of resolve. He lived, breathed, and died for the Gospel of God. Again and again, he found himself in life-threatening situations; yet he was never dissuaded from his course.

Toward the end of Paul’s work, he was making his way to Jerusalem. Holy Spirit warned him on several occasions that going there would mean chains and persecution. While others assumed these warnings meant Paul should turn back, he took them as a reason to press forward. He was willing to do whatever it took to bring the Gospel to the people he was called to. “If only I may finish the race …” was the cry of his heart. Paul ran his race focused on the finish line. It didn’t matter what hurdles he had to jump over or what obstacles he had to go around. He was determined to finish with excellence and strength, and he did. He died for the sake of the Gospel, and today, his writings and influence live on.

If you’re going to live a life of resolve, you must be determined. You must be undaunted by the opposition that comes against you. Decide now that you will not settle for anything less than God’s plan for your life. Be convinced in your heart of who you are and what God has told you to do so that nothing in the world can sway you.

Take heart, dear one. It will not be easy, but Jesus is with you. Holy Spirit will teach you, and your Father will be your guide. You are not alone, and your resolve will lead to His glory.

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Reasons to be Grateful: People

by Carolyn Hope

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. (Philippians 1:3)

As Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, he was overflowing with joy. He opens his letter by saying that he thanks the Lord every time he thinks of them. Throughout the whole book of Philippians, Paul writes with a tangible love and joy for this group of people.

There are some people who bring us great joy and pleasure. Whenever we think of them, we can’t keep from smiling. These people are very dear to our hearts, and we long to see them do well and receive all that God has for them.

Who are the people in your life that your heart swells for? Maybe you have many, or perhaps just a few. Whoever they are, thank God for them and pray for them to receive all His blessings, in this life and the next. If you already do that, tell them personally how you feel. Sharing the gratitude in your heart with them can be very powerful in their lives, and will certainly be encouraging. As we celebrate a Day of Thanksgiving today, remind yourself of the people who mean the most to you, and let them know how they’ve impacted you.

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Unfailing Grace

by Carolyn Hope

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (1 Corinthians 15:9-10)

“By the grace of God I am what I am.” This is such a powerful statement, especially when you consider that it came from Paul. The man who had once been such a strong antagonist against the church became one of its greatest apostles. Only the grace of God can cause such a total transformation.

What is grace, though?

Many times, we look at grace like an eraser. We think its sole purpose is to remove our sin. If you look at the original Hebrew, however, you’ll find that grace means a gift or favor. Grace then, is God’s gift to us and favor toward us. We cannot earn or deserve grace, but God freely gives it to us anyway. The full purpose of grace isn’t simply to take the trash out of our lives so we don’t stink anymore – it’s actually to impart into our lives to make us new and right.

Grace is an empowerment to live the way God calls you to live. The beauty of His grace is that it is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9). It is always more than enough. God’s grace is a source of power inside you that will never run out or die. This power is what pushes you to become better and more than you’ve ever been before. Live gracefully (full of grace) today. You have what it takes.

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Chosen Ones: The Hostile

by Carolyn Hope

Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning. (Ephesians 3:8-9)

Paul is one of the most influential Christians that have ever lived. He wrote nearly two-thirds of our New Testament, and he started many churches on his missionary journeys, but before his conversion, Paul was the church’s most fervent of enemies. He persecuted the early Christians with zeal, hunting them down to throw in prison and even execute. Absolutely convinced that Christianity was a cult, he was determined to put an end to it.

This was the man that Jesus chose to be the apostle to the Gentiles. Of all people, Paul! That would be like choosing an ex-abortion clinic owner to be the head of the Pro-Life movement. A more similar situation would be an ISIS leader getting radically saved and then becoming a prominent leader in today’s church. It contradicts both our reasoning and our feelings.

God chooses even His enemies for His work. He doesn’t look at them with hatred, but with love and a heart to bring them into His family.

Paul recognized that he was undeserving of his calling. God’s choosing you is not a consequence of your behavior. You can’t earn a calling; it’s a gift that Holy Spirit has handed you, and He won’t take it back. Your only responsibility is to respond to the call. You are worthy. God said you were so when He chose you – and He did indeed choose you. Do not let your feelings of unworthiness hold you back from the dream in God’s heart for you.

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