Posts Tagged ‘confidence’

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — Henry S. Haskins —

History is rife with the periodic destruction of accumulated human erudition. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, for instance, much of the Egyptian-Greco-Roman knowledge base was scattered or lost. The great archives at Alexandria were burned, pillaged and destroyed. And then, during the Middle-Ages, when Baghdad was considered a major intellectual center of the ancient world, the Mongols devastated their library. Scholars at the “House of Wisdom” (as it was called) had by then translated vast amounts of salvaged Greek and Roman scholarship into Arabic. This malicious destruction resulted in another major loss of written material. There are many more examples, of course.

Today, I find myself thinking about the profound impact that the world-wide web has had upon the storage and distribution of human knowledge. Some say that the modern information superhighway may even one day rival the great historical repositories of the past – if it survives.

When I was a growing up, a reliable source for quickly referencing trustworthy information on a wide variety of subjects was an encyclopedia. Some of my younger readers just said to themselves “encyclo…what?”

Basically, an encyclopedia was (and still is) a comprehensive collection of texts, photographs, illustrations, etc. This assemblage of knowledge was usually arranged in alphabetized printed volumes. If you wanted to research the Brazilian Amazon Rain Forrest, for example, you simply opened the “A”, “B” or “R” volume of the encyclopedia and referenced that subject. Today, of course, we have electronic versions of these classic works, including certain avant-garde varieties like Wikipedia.

With the advent of the internet and “search engines” it is now possible to explore practically any subject and read a bazillion differing viewpoints on that topic. However, I have found that many of the articles readily available online are filled with unsubstantiated rubbish. In preparing to write this composition on the subject of confidence, I decided to do a “search” of that word. The result? Contradictory information and sometimes laughable recommendations that could easily lead simple readers down the road to overwhelming confusion. The internet data base of “knowledge” seems to span the ridicules to the sublime.

So my friends, I shall now add my thoughts to this tangled electronic web of information. My subject today is CONFIDENCE.

Successful people have fear, successful people have doubts, and successful people have worries. But they also have confidence and that is why they do not let these feelings stop them.” – Unknown

From a secular perspective, Confidence has been described by some as comfortable certainty. From what I have read, if we feel good about ourselves, have an appropriate level of self-esteem and believe in our own proficiencies, we are confident people. Okay. That sounds plausible.

Sometimes, confidence can be misinterpreted for arrogance and visa-versa. But, arrogance usually involves a condescending attitude toward others. Pompous, patronizing, superior, a legend in your own mind? You’re considered arrogant. Certain about the truth of what you know and who you are? That’s called Confidence.

And let’s not forget good old hubris which is typically a personality flaw found mostly in the rich and/or powerful who overestimate their individual capabilities or significance. The hubristic suffer, to some extent, a disconnection from reality; “thinking of themselves more highly than they should”. These folks are generally delusional. Hubris is also known as politician’s disease. Okay, I made that last one up.

A genuinely confident person is neither arrogant nor delusional (full of hubris). Confident people are however – decisive. They will, as the sayings go, put their money where their mouth is because, actions speak louder than words. Confidence can help us to convert our thoughts and ideas into actions in ways that far exceed the superficial of the daily grind.

You must not lose confidence in God because you lost confidence in a minister or religion.  If our confidence in God had to depend upon our confidence in any human person or institution we would be standing on shifting sand.” – Francis A Schaeffer

What about spiritual confidence? Now, don’t tune me out. I am a Christian, but I am not that stereotypical Bible thumper with the bad hair and dimples. I don’t sell Jordan River water, Holy Land prayer cloths or any other “Jesus Junk” on my website and I am not asking you for any financial support. Conversely, I have studied the Bible for 35+ years and I do have a PH.D in Theology (although I am not asking you to consider that as anything special either).

In my world view, confidence hinges more upon a deep and abiding faith in someone far greater than me and the inner freedom that comes from a clear conscience than it does on just trusting in myself. What has amazed me as a follower of the Liberator Jesus is not only the profound peace that comes from knowing I am free from any form of inner guilt and shame through my acceptance of His redemptive work, but also the tremendous confidence that I have developed because of the empowering message He came to spread while visiting this lost and slowly dying planet.

Listen to this quote from the Bible’s Newer Testament,

19 “Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 And even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. 22 And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him. 23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us.” (1 John 3:19-23 – New Living Translation)

Let that first line sink in: our actions will reveal if we know the truth. I believe that means our actions do indeed speak louder than words. If we look at “truth” as being absolute – black is indeed black – than to know the truth would certainly help one find confidence. It really is that simple.

Anyone can claim “I believe”. But it will always be our actions that prove the legitimacy of such an assertion. Telling you that I can fly like a bird is meaningless if I won’t prove it by jumping off the roof.

I have so much confidence in the reality of Jesus that I feel no pressure to try to make people act or be a certain way. I’m banking everything on the fact that God actually changes people.” – Erwin McManus

I have put my absolute trust in the supremacy of the Almighty (God) who lives outside of the limitations of this (His) created world. As a result, my faith along with a clear conscience yields a confidence that sustains me in this life and it will carry me into that next dimension (with God) when my mortality has run its course. So again, real confidence is a product of a deep and abiding faith (or trust) in the Creator and a conscience that has been made free from guilt and shame.

Our conscience (which is also known as the voice of our human spirit) acts like a validation filter. It is what keeps us honest before God and with ourselves,

21 And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God.” (1 John 3:21- AMP)

It is this combination of faith and a clear conscience that produces the genuine confidence we all need. Faith says “God, I know you will keep your word to me and you will fulfill every promises you have ever made concerning me”. In a way, faith in itself is CONFIDENCE. Whenever there is an absence of genuine faith (trust in God) there is also an absence of true confidence.

Turning again to the Bible’s Newer Testament.

18-20 “Timothy my son, I give you the following charge. And may I say, before I give it to you, that it is in full accord with those prophecies made at your ordination which sent you out to battle for the right armed only with your faith and a clear conscience. Some, alas, have laid these simple weapons contemptuously aside (faith and a clear conscience) and, as far as their faith is concerned, have run their ships on the rocks. Hymenaeus and Alexander are men of this sort, and as a matter of fact I had to expel them from the Church to teach them not to blaspheme.” (1 Timothy 1:18-20 – Phillips)

The writer, Paul, was about to give instructions to a Christian Minister named Timothy. But first, he reminded him of his heritage. “You were sent out to do battle on the side of what is right armed only with a clear conscience and your faith”, he told him. Next came this warning: some who have laid aside these simple weapons (faith and a clear conscience) and done so with contempt, end up a shipwreck. Here’s the take away: our confidence in the Almighty will run aground (become a shipwreck) when we fail to listen to the voice of our own human spirit (i.e. our conscience). But, if our heart (our conscience) does not accuse us – in other words, when our conscience is clear – we are full of confidence in both our relationship with the Almighty and in our human existence as we live out each day in accordance with His plan and purpose for our lives. To put it another way; keeping your little life boat afloat requires faith and a clear conscience.

Acquire the habit of speaking to God as if you were alone with Him, familiarly and with confidence and love, as to the dearest and most loving of friends.” – Alphonsus Liguori

Now, here is the best part: when you have placed your absolute trust in that Spirit entity whom we simply refer to as God, and your conscience has been wiped clean of all guilt and shame by Him, prayer is natural and simple. And remember, prayer is nothing more than talking with the one who is able to do extremely and profusely more than we could ever ask of Him or even dream possible. Listen to this:

14-15 “We have such confidence in him that we are certain that he hears every request that is made in accord with his own plan. And since we know that he invariably gives his attention to our prayers, whatever they are about, we can be quite sure that our prayers will be answered.” (1 John 5:14 – Phillips)

That excites me; we can be quite sure that our prayers will be answered as long as they line up with His plan!

Have you had a heart to heart talk with the Divine Spirit today? Have you ever? Forget religion. This is not about the Church, the Mosque, the Synagogue, the Miao, Gong, or Tan. The Liberator Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). His visitation to our planet had but one purpose, “to seek and save that which has been lost” (Luke 19:10). The Creator wants to know you. Go ahead, ask Him about it. He will answer.  He has promised to answer.  We’ve got His word on it:

‘Call to Me, and I will answer you. And I will show you great and wonderful things which you do not know.’ (Jeremiah 33:3 – NLV)

May God bless you and show you just how much he loves you.

Είθε ο Θεός να σας ευλογεί και να σας δείξει πόσο πολύ σας αγαπά .

Eíthe o Theós na sas evlogeí kai na sas deíxei póso polý sas agapá.

Que Deus abençoe você e lhe mostre  o quanto ele te ama.

Che Dio vi benedica e vi mostrerà quanto ti ama .

Que Dios los bendiga y le mostrará lo mucho que te ama.

Que Dieu vous bénisse et vous montrer combien il vous aime.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher. © 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta,
all rights reserved. For more information write to: Insight Today, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656
“And you tell me over and over and over again my friend, ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction… no, no, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction” – P.F. Sloan –

 Confidence in a Crisis

If you harbor dreams of a world filled with peace, harmony and goodwill toward men, your chances of finding such a Shangri-La here on spaceship earth are slim to none.  Sometimes it can appear like the whole planet is a combat zone. Is the world teetering on the eve of destruction? Let’s see, racial unrest, economic chaos, proliferating global terrorism, widespread natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, etc., and, well…, is it any wonder that many believe things are only going to get worse from here? Let’s just say that I wouldn’t look to the daily news for confidence building.

The ancient scriptures predict the eventual demise of mankind here on spaceship earth. We do not know exactly when that will happen. Even the Liberator Jesus on his visit to this planet said that he did not know the precise moment:  But about that actual day and time no one knows—not even the angels of Heaven, nor the Son, only the Father. (Matthew 24:36) There are a few clues scattered among the words of the prophets, but only the Ancient of Days (God, the father of all spirits) knows for sure. In the interim, we only have this one life to live, so let’s enjoy it as best we can and make the most of our time.

Have you ever considered that God may allow all of this bedlam for a reason? Through crisis, we often learn to have confidence in Him and not in human resourcefulness alone.  In the face of situations that seem hopeless, I find this quote from the Newer Testament scriptures to be a persuasive reminder:

18 “So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys… which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

On earth, we live a transitory life. The visible things happening all around us are only temporary. The invisible realm that exists beyond the laughter and tears of this momentary existence is everlasting. As a Christian, I am always learning to look beyond what I can touch and see. It is from within that eternal dimension – the dwelling place of our unseen Creator – that I draw my confidence and my strength every day.

Paul, knew this better than most.  A great leader of the early New Testament era, he traveled extensively sowing the seeds of “The Way” that would eventually be called Christianity.  His journeys traversing the ancient world are nothing short of extraordinary.  More than once he faced the possibility of imminent death.  In a letter to the Christian community at ancient Corinth (a city-state located about midway between Athens and Sparta), he wrote:

8-10 “We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.”  2 Corinthians 1:8-10 – New Living Translation –

Looking back on the difficulties that his missionary team faced, Paul concedes that at one point they all expected to die.  Out of options and overwhelmed by extreme anxiety, he told the Corinthian Christians “…we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God…”  Paul believed that the extreme adversity they endured served to demonstrate that our trust must always be in God.  “We have placed our confidence in him”, he said, “and he will continue to rescue us.”

In times of crisis, people reach for meaning. Meaning is strength. Our survival may depend on our seeking and finding it.” Dawna Markova

The Liberator Jesus – God within You

Think about this, the Divine Spirit (God) is both above all things and at the same time living within all things.  When the Liberator Jesus came to the earth, he was called Emanuel (which means God-with-us). God with us is now God within us. Paul told the ancient Galatian Christians,

20As far as religion is concerned; I may consider that I died on the cross with Christ. And my present life is not that of the old “I”, but the living Christ within me. The bodily life I now live, I live believing in the Son of God, who loved me and sacrificed himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20

The scriptures teach us that Jesus himself was the payment for the recovery of the human race – he swapped his life for our lives. Paul told the Galatians that he was vicariously put to death on that Roman cross “with Christ”. In theological terms, it is known as the substitutionary death. Every true believer (genuine Christian) goes through this same process. Our metaphorical death triggers an internal makeover (also known as being Born Again).  We then inherit the nature and the power of the Divine Spirit who comes to live within our human spirit.   Yea, I know, all of this can sounds pretty wild. But not too long ago, so did space travel.

Paul put it this way when he wrote to the Christians at ancient Colossae,

27For I am a minister of the Church by divine commission, a commission granted to me for your benefit and for a special purpose: that I might fully declare God’s word—that sacred mystery which up to now has been hidden in every age and every generation, but which is now as clear as daylight to those who love God. They are those to whom God has planned to give a vision of the full wonder and splendor of his secret plan for the sons of men. And the secret is simply this: Jesus Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you bringing with him the hope of all glorious things to come.” Colossians 1:27 – J. B. Philips –

It’s no longer a secret: the Creator of the universe actually lives in us!  Thus, his indwelling Divine Spirit provides the confidence we need to move forward assertively in life. Sure, we will face some obstacles and threatening circumstances.  But, like Paul, we can boldly declare, “God will continue to rescue us”.  Our creator wants us to learn to operate in the faith that Jesus demonstrated when He visited this planet. If His Spirit and power are truly in us, His confidence is also in us. It all comes back to TRUST. Do YOU trust God?  In hopelessness, helplessness or extreme anxiety – absolute trust in the Almighty (God) is essential. As the creator and sustainer of the Universe, He is NOT worried about anything!

Faith without work is dead and work without Faith is dead. For those who aren’t familiar with Faith, it’s simply to have absolute confidence in God.” —Author Unknown

Confidence in God has Benefits

Confidence in God makes things possible.  It relieves us of worry and mental torment and it brings healing into our lives.  It enables us to move in the spiritual gifts, to hear the voice of God and to fulfill our calling. Confidence in God opens the door for all of His promises to be made clear and visible.  The benefits of confidence in the divine, supernatural, unseen Almighty One are incalculable.

But first, you must trust in the completed mission of Jesus for the cleansing of all your past failures. Through the substitutionary atonement, God legally exchanged your imperfect record for the perfect blamelessness of Jesus. It’s a gift you receive by placing your confidence in the one “who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20 – J. B. Phillips)

The Creator of all things can and does speak to his creation in our day. You must learn to listen for His voice and to be obedient when He speaks to you.  Your confidence will grow as you see how God works in and through your life.

The next time you are overcome by worry, fear and doubt, try this; take a walk outside on a cloudless night and gaze at the splendor of the visible universe above.  Now, consider the wisdom, understanding and omnipotent power of the architect of it all. Could that magnificent and unequaled master builder possibly look after your every need? Could He work supernatural power in your life to fulfill the purposes He has given to you? Could He make you a conduit of the gifts and power of His Holy Spirit?

I believe that He can. Indeed, I do.

May we pray?

God, it is easy to feel overwhelmed living in this dangerous world of darkness. Sometimes we feel trapped. Helplessly hopeless. When we forget who really is in control, remind us to put our absolute trust in you. And if we should have to face the gales of life head on, we are confident that you will either calm the storm or calm your child – but you will always be there to rescue us. In the name of the Liberator Jesus we pray. Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  For more information write to:
InsightToday, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656

 

The secret of making dreams come true can be summarized in four C’s.  They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy; and the greatest of these is Confidence.” Walt Disney —

How important is Confidence?

The year was 1987. I was in the Florida Keys aboard a dive boat leaving the canal on Old Highway, MM 90.5 in Tavernier. My stomach was churning.  Seated to my right was a 747 commercial airline pilot. To my left (oddly enough) was his girlfriend, an attractive stewardess. Having just completed scuba training school, we were heading out to the reef for our final check out dives. It was January and the water was quite choppy. The tiny ship was tossed. So were my cookies – thankfully over the side. There I was; grasping the starboard rail (like the horns of the ancient alter) and watching the “professional” airline pilot joining me in the mal de mar (seasickness). I prayed, “Oh God, have mercy on me and please never let me be aboard one of this pilots flights when the plane hits heavy turbulence.”

So, (aside from the nausea) how did I really feel that day? I was definitely enthusiastic about the dive. But, I was also full of doubt, fear, hesitation and uncertainty. After all, I had never done this before.

Did I have the basic skill-set necessary to function as a scuba diver? Yes. Was I ready to move from the theoretical to the practical? Again, yes. So, why the agita? (Italian-American slang derived from the Italian “agitare” meaning “to agitate.”) Because, I was suffering from a lack of confidence.

Have you ever felt that a lack of confidence was holding you back from living up to your true potential? Are you afraid to take a “step of faith” because you don’t believe that you have “what it takes”?

Welcome aboard wayfarer. You are not alone.

Okay, in the scuba example, my lack of confidence could be blamed on a want of experience. But it seems to me that from the cradle to the grave, we are taught to embrace external sources for validation. As a result, we often hang our self-worth on the approval of other people. The resulting “confidence crisis” can stifle our true potential.

There once was a child who did not speak until he was four years old and he did not read until he was seven. His teachers were convinced that he was mentally handicapped, and anti-social (he had extraordinary temper tantrums.) In the end, he was expelled from school. When he took the entrance examination for a polytechnic school in Zurich, Switzerland, he flunked everything but the math. He did eventually win admittance to the University only to graduate and not get a teaching position because no professor would recommend him. In fact, the only job he was able to get after graduation was an entry-level position with the government. (Uh, no comment.)

Who was this poor child and whatever become of him? His name was Albert Einstein. Need I say more? It seems that no one recognized all the potential within him. Einstein could have given up, but thankfully he had the confidence necessary to persevere.

People who live without confidence will always fall short of their potential. When you do not believe that something is possible, you will seldom take the steps required to attain it. For example, you may dream of being a great musician one day.  But, if you don’t believe it is possible, you will never be willing to pay the price (lessons and endless hours of practice) to master an instrument.  Or, you may desire to succeed in your own business.  If you don’t believe in that possibility, you will never take the steps (and suffer the many sacrifices) required to build a prosperous enterprise.

People who go thru life without a healthy dose of confidence are often discouraged, perhaps a bit cynical and definitely unmotivated. Confidence affects our outlook on life and the way that we approach our work.  When we suffer from an acute lack of confidence, we often need someone else to encourage us.  The “encourager” may even need to prod, push and, ultimately show us the way past our fears into success.

Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.”  Martin Luther —

How does this apply to my Christian life?

Spiritual growth and fruitful Christianity develops as we gain confidence in the wisdom of the Liberator Jesus for our strength.  In the process, his indwelling Spirit shows us the way to overcome our fears and doubts as we grow toward spiritual boldness.

You may desire to live a life that is acceptable to our creator, but if you have no confidence in his ability to help you “live holy as He is holy” (1 Peter 1:16), you won’t press on toward that goal. Remember this: Your (spiritual) state of affairs is always limited by what you truly believe.  Put another way, you will only do what you believe (are confident) you can do.

God wants us to place absolute trust in Him for a reason.  Trust builds our confidence in Him.  When we have a strong faith in God, we have an assurance that enables us to move outside of our comfort zones.  Our faith relationship with God helps to clarify what He wants from us (also known as being led by the Spirit).

We are learning to walk with God.  Think about that.  If we are walking with God, that means He also walks with us – every day of our lives.  He is our “ever present help in time of need.” (Psalm 46:1)  And, by the power of His Holy Spirit, God also wants to work through us as we walk together – especially when we are quick to respond to His instructions.

Oh, how great peace and quietness would he possess who should cut off all vain anxiety and place all his confidence in God….” — Thomas Kempis —

Confidence Rightly Placed

Secular culture credits a life of success to an abundance of self-confidence. The gurus of secularism say, You can do it if you believe you can”. There is some limited truth to this, but it is not gospel truth, and sometimes that view point fails. Granted, humanity can and does achieve many amazing things here on spaceship earth aided by self-confidence and a positive self-image.  The Bible however, does not tell us to simply believe in ourselves. It teaches us to believe in Almighty God and the Liberator Jesus – the one he sent to the earth. His Divine Spirit is our source of life itself. Look at this statement that Jesus made to his pupils,

“You must go on growing in me and I will grow in you. For just as the branch cannot bear any fruit unless it shares the life of the vine, so you can produce nothing unless you go on growing in me. I am the vine itself, you are the branches. It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful. For the plain fact is that apart from me you can do nothing at all.” (John 15:4-5 – J.B. Phillips New Testament).

Christians believe this to be the absolute truth.  According to the sacred texts of scripture, the incarnate one (Jesus) was, is, and ever shall be the sustainer of all things by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). Remember: Apart from an intimate relationship with the Liberator Jesus, where you draw on His life force, you can do nothing of TRUE (eternal) value with your allotted life time.

What good is it if, armed with a positive self-image and great self-confidence, you achieve some measure of worldly success but MISS the purpose for which you were born into this temporary existence? Neither achieving great riches nor living in deep poverty has any bearing upon your eternal destiny. What will matter is how obedient you were to the otherworldly calling on your life. No one is going to come to the end of time as we know it, stand before the Almighty Creator and regret that he is calling them “a good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21) – No one.

When it comes to following Jesus, self-confidence alone will ultimately fail us. Peter was so self-assured of his loyalty to Jesus that he said on the night our Redeemer was betrayed:

“Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not!” and “If I have to die with You, I will not deny you!” (Mark 14:29, 31).

Peter spoke with great confidence – in himself that is – perhaps even boasting just a bit.   When push came to shove, and Jesus was put on trial, Peter denied (with profanity) THREE TIMES that he even knew him at all. When the cock crowed, Peter went out and wept bitterly, utterly ashamed of his failure.  His self-confident boasting vanished in the mists of fear and self-preservation.

Self-confidence alone will always fail us where it counts most – in the integrity of our walk with God. Verily, God will allow things to come up in your life which will shatter your self-confidence so that you will learn to put your absolute trust (confidence) in HIM first and never in yourself alone.

(TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK)

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  For more information write to:
InsightToday, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656
To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton

Whatever happened to HOPE? Surveying the populous landscape, I see so many people living in a tormenting spiral of futility. When someone feels hopeless, it is difficult and often impossible for them to find the way out of challenging circumstances. This leads to a great sense of emptiness and even helplessness. I confess, there are days when I too have felt the talons of hopelessness griping me, trying to become a stronghold in my life.

12 “Hopes deferred make the heart sick; but when dreams come true at last, there is life and joy” (alt: “it is a tree of life.”) Proverbs 13:12 (The Living Bible)

Unrelenting disappointment can make us feel sick inside. You could interpret Proverbs 13:12 as “Hope deferred is spiritual heart disease.” On the other hand, when our hopes become a reality we are full of joy. A dream come true fuels the life force within us.

Hope is like a circus high-wire. Faith walks the tightrope of hope, bridging the gap between the unseen world and the world which our conciseness can perceive. Without hope, our faith is insufficient and unproductive. Hopeless people often become faithless people. On the other hand, hopeful people are more likely to be faith-filled people.

1”Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. 3By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible.” Hebrews 11:1, 3 (Amplified Bible)

Faith can only reassure us of “the things we Hope for.” It serves as proof of what we cannot see. By our faith we recognize as real fact what is not yet revealed to the senses. For example, faith enables our minds to accept as an absolute fact that the whole construct of time and space (the world which we perceive as reality) was set in motion by God through principles which are invisible to us right now. Wow!

When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.” – Charles A Allen

There is no shortage of hurts, sicknesses, troubles, and financial woes in our world today. Family problems, challenging marriages, catastrophic issues and geopolitical concerns abound. As a result, people everywhere are losing their hope and ability to trust. It is my opinion that our society suffers greatly as a result of silent desperation.

So what exactly is hope?  According to the dictionary, HOPE is to desire something with an expectation of obtainment. Hopeful people live with anticipation not disenchantment.  When we have hope, we have an expectancy that the things we hope for (and dream of) will one day be a reality.  Hope enables us to find purpose and meaning in life. And when we add faith to our expectations (by putting our trust in God) our hopes gain substance (Hebrews 11:1).

Trusting in the Almighty unseen Spirit is more than just a blind leap.  Because we have hope, we intentionally place our faith (absolute trust) in God expecting an answer from Him.  Look at what happened to a miserable crippled man as recorded in the New Testament Book of Acts,

1-4”One afternoon Peter and John were on their way to the Temple for the three o’clock hour of prayer. A man who had been lame from birth was being carried along in the crowd, for it was the daily practice to put him down at what was known as the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, so that he could beg from the people as they went in. As this man saw Peter and John just about to enter he asked them to give him something. Peter looked intently at the man and so did John. Then Peter said, “Look straight at us!” The man looked at them expectantly, hoping that they would give him something. “If you are expecting silver or gold,” Peter said to him, “I have neither, but what I have I will certainly give you; In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” 7-11 Then he took him by the right hand and helped him up. At once his feet and ankle bones were strengthened, and he positively jumped to his feet, stood, and then walked. Then he went with them into the Temple, where he walked about, leaping and thanking God.” (Acts 3:1-11 Phillips)

Peter and John had a supernatural ability working through them. Because of the Liberator Jesus, they believed in Almighty God without question. They also knew that His authority was with them and his power would flow through them.  Peter made sure that the lame man was paying attention. He said, “Look straight at us!” For his part, the lame man did two things. First, “he asked them to give him something.” Second, he looked at them “expectantly.”

It’s amazing what can happen when we focus our attention in the right place and ask with expectancy! Clearly the lame man was imagining he’d get a few coins for his troubles. But God doesn’t offer just momentary relief from our distresses. He delivers remedies for them as well – not always as quickly as we would like and sometimes the “fix” may not be what we want. Have you had a rise up and walk moment lately?

What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.” – Rick Warren

The bible also records details about the extraordinary life of a man named David. Through many difficulties and adversities, David would often remind himself not to lose hope.

Here are a few of David’s prayers to God:

  • “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” (Psalm 39: 7 NIV)
  • “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42: 11 NIV)
  • “Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” (Psalm 25: 4, 5 NLT)
  • “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame,” Psalm 33: 18 NIV
  • “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,” (Psalm 25: 3 NIV)
  • “Remember your promise to me, for it is my only hope.” (Psalm 119: 49 NLT)

Israel’s legendary King David expected God to keep His promises. That hope is what empowered him to trust God completely. Today, our hope is built upon the trust we place in the Divine Spirit (God) as a result of the teachings of the Liberator Jesus. His mission was to reveal the truth about God and to implement the plan of redemption for mankind. Getting to know who Jesus really was (and is) and why he visited this little water world, brings hope into your life and it keeps that hope alive.

And PLEASE, don’t go by your feelings. Your emotional state changes like the weather. People who live by their emotions are much more prone to instability. No matter how miserable your existence may seem, there is ALWAYS hope. You may not be able to see or feel anything that causes you to believe this right now, but hope is there for you notwithstanding. “Hope is the anchor of your soul” (Hebrews 6:19)

Never let go of hope. One day you will see that it all has finally come together. What you have always wished for has finally come to be. You will look back and laugh at what has passed and you will ask yourself… ‘How did I get through all of that?” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

God really wants you to be acquainted with the Liberator Jesus – not as a religious figure – as a person. Jesus not only knew the only way to the one true God – He IS the way. He alone can show you the truth and give you an amazing hope filled life! When you die, he is the road that will lead you home!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29: 11 NLT)

What do you really need right now? Whatever it is, talk to God about it. Close your eyes and pour your heart out to the Divine Spirit – the creator of all things. No matter how fanciful, foolish or bizarre this may seem to you, just do it! The Liberator Jesus said,

22-23“If you only have faith in God—this is the absolute truth—you can say to this Mount of Olives, ‘Rise up and fall into the Mediterranean,’ and your command will be obeyed. All that’s required is that you really believe and have no doubt! 24 Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you have it; it’s yours!” (Mark 11:22-24 – Living Bible)

Are you a Christian? If so, this promise fell from the lips of your Liberator. Do you doubt his word? Is he a liar? A fraud? A lunatic? Maybe it’s time you stopped second guessing the God who made you and simply do what he asks – look to him with expectant trust. Or else, just walk away.

Here is my prayer for you,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) And with a heart full of hope, may you put your absolute faith (trust) in the God who is able to do whatever he wills whenever he wills it! AMEN!

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
and the founder of Living faith Christian Fellowship, Inc. and the Coastal JunkieTM, LLC.
The intellectual property published above is © 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
For additional information write to: Coastal Junkie, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Check us out at http://www.coastaljunkie.com
The more decadent a culture gets, the more they have a need for what they don’t have at all, which is innocence, so you end up with kiddie porn and a perverse obsession with youth. – Joni Mitchell

Decadence is a process; a slow and sometimes barely perceived decline in the moral fiber of a society. Like hidden decay, the deterioration can often go unnoticed for a very long time; eventually reaching a point where the damage produced is well beyond mending. Words like honesty, decency, honor and ethics have already lost much of their significance in these post-modern times. It appears that our culture operates in such a state of delusion that people believe society is moving forward in progress when in truth it is crumbling at its very foundations. Have you heard this Proverb?

When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan. – Proverbs 29:2 (NLT)
Groan…

Whatever happened to individual responsibility; the notion that we are each accountable for our own actions and outcomes?   There was a time when achievement came from hard work and authenticity. People once took delight in genuine education; they acquired skills and self-sufficiency. Today these qualities are being replaced by self-indulgence often funded by unsustainable public assistance as the general population becomes ever more dependent on various forms of handouts.

Promises of freedom through economic equality, and a quasi-fascist approach to government (so often championed by liberal reformists) are regularly advanced through refined subterfuge. As a result, religious beliefs are attacked, and the once cherished traditions of faith, family and community are quietly eradicated. Modern progressives call this “fundamentally transforming the United States of America”.

Some would argue that we are simply discovering new ways to look at life. In this Cultural Revolution, our society is progressing for the furtherance of the collective through diversity. But others see a new way of life emerging where the people are being methodically stripped of real self-determination. Weighed down by confused logic and inconsistent morality, we are losing sight of the higher purpose in human existence.

Next to God we are nothing.  To God we are everything. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

The United States of America is rooted in Judeo-Christian belief. Our traditional way of life (born of faith) is central to our well-being as individuals and as a nation. It was a shared moral code which allowed our founding fathers to find mutual cooperation. The “great experiment” cannot survive the dying of the very system of belief that brought it into being. When we lose the divine order, the culture will decay precipitously.

Nearly 2000 years ago, a man named Saul of Tarsus (who become known as Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ) waxed eloquent as he prophetically wrote these words,

18-21 Now the holy anger of God is disclosed from Heaven against the godlessness and evil of those men who render truth dumb and inoperative by their wickedness. It is not that they do not know the truth about God; indeed he has made it quite plain to them. For since the beginning of the world the invisible attributes of God, e.g. his eternal power and divinity have been plainly discernible through things which he has made and which are commonly seen and known, thus leaving these men without a rag of excuse. They knew all the time that there is a God, yet they refused to acknowledge him as such, or to thank him for what he is or does. Thus they became irrational in their arguments, and plunge their silly minds still further into the dark.

22-23 Behind a facade of “wisdom” they became just fools, fools who would exchange the glory of the eternal God for an imitation image of a mortal man, or of creatures that run or fly or crawl.

24 They gave up God: and therefore God gave them up—to be the playthings of their own foul desires in dishonoring their own bodies.

28-32 Moreover, since they considered themselves too high and mighty to acknowledge God, he allowed them to become the slaves of their degenerate minds, and to perform unmentionable deeds. They became filled with wickedness, rottenness, greed and malice; their minds became steeped in envy, murder, quarrelsomeness, deceitfulness and spite. They became whisperers-behind-doors, stabbers-in-the-back, God-haters; they overflowed with insolent pride and boastfulness, and their minds teemed with diabolical invention. They scoffed at duty to parents; they mocked at learning, recognized no obligations of honor, lost all natural affection, and had no use for mercy. More than this—being well aware of God’s pronouncement that all who do these things deserve to die, they not only continued their own practices, but did not hesitate to give their thorough approval to others who did the same.  Romans 1:18-24, 28-32 – J.B. Phillips New Testament

The morality and justice of God set against the sinfulness of man is nothing new. God will eventually put a stop to this stupidity. He alone can and will Judge. In the meantime we’ll cling to our cherished traditions of faith, family and community as best as we can.

Paul wrote a word of instruction to his friend and fellow believer, Pastor Timothy,

2“Everything that you have heard me preach in public you should in turn entrust to reliable men (and women), who will be able to pass it on to others.”2 Timothy 2:2 (PHILLIPS)

That is an assignment we can all embrace!

Faith, Hope and Love – Pass it on!

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, popular Bible teacher,
and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

“So take care how you listen—more will be given to the man who has something already, but the man who has nothing will lose even what he thinks he has.” – Jesus –

They call them Buzzwords. Trendy phrases that have come into vogue in popular culture. We hear them every day. Among the many I frequently encounter are: Believe! Have Faith! Keep the Faith! And of course the nebulous, Believe God!

In a world where people will believe (and repeat) just about anything, few seem to know exactly why they accept something as the truth and even fewer can pinpoint who decided it was truth to begin with. For many, if it sounds good than it must be true. Modern belief, it seems, has become just another cheap commodity.

Where does that leave the teachings of Jesus Christ? After all, He said, “Only believe” (Mark 5:36), and “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)  If we claim to believe in God then we should have a proper understanding of what it is to have faith (trust) in Him. Otherwise, we just might be speaking buzzwords too.

Here is a portion from the New Testament letter called Hebrews,

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” (Heb.11:1 & 3 – KKJV).

FAITH is SUBSTANCE

By definition, the word translated FAITH In Hebrews 11:1 could also have been rendered trust, firm persuasion, belief, confidence or conviction. This helps us to grasp the significance of the proclamation – I believe.

However, there is something infinitely more important than grasping a simple explanation of the word faith itself. With reference to our absolute trust (faith) in God, the writer of Hebrews declares two very significant facts. First he says that faith is the substance of things that we hope for. Secondly he says that faith is the evidence of things we do not yet see.

The word Substance literally means “to under-gird and support”. Faith stands under and supports our hopes and validates our dreams. Faith assures us that we are never hopeless. If we are strong in Faith we will be confident in hope. But weak Faith results in uncertainty. Our hope is only as secure as our faith is strong.

FAITH is EVIDENCE

Faith is also the evidence of the things that are not yet visible; the proof that our hopes and dreams will one day appear. When we put our absolute trust in God, our faith persuades us that every promise He has made will be fulfilled. As a Christian, our Faith is neither an emotional response nor a vision-less acceptance of the unknown (aka: The Blind Leap). Our trust in God is based on the integrity of His word and every assurance He has made. Of course, if you don’t read His book then you are ignorant as to the exceeding great and precious promises that it contains.

Some months ago, I reserved a room at a vacation resort. They sent me a confirmation letter promising that I would be thrilled with all that awaits me there. Until I actually arrive at my destination, I have to trust their word. The New Testament is God’s confirmation letter. It guarantees that you will be thrilled with all He has promises to you. It’s never too late to start reading it.

FAITH is NEVER BLIND

6 And without faith it is impossible to please God. The man who approaches Him must have faith in two things, first that He exists and secondly that it is worth a man’s while to try to find God.” (Hebrews 11:6 – Phillips)

God always responds to our faith. But unbelief (a lack of trust) does not please Him. The author of Hebrews stresses that if we desire to approach God we must believe these two facts:

  • God is real – Therefore, we “believe that He exists.”
  • God will reward our effort – Therefore, it is worth a man’s while to try to find God “

When you are convinced that God is, you will accept His word without question. When you put your trust in the God who is, you will obey Him without reservations. This is a far cry from Blind Faith.

Our faith may not be blind but it does operates in the realm of the unseen. As the New Testament writer of the letter to the Hebrews put it,

“It is only by faith that our minds accept as fact that the whole scheme of time and space was created by God’s command—that the world which we can see has come into being through principles which are invisible. (Heb. 11:3).

The New Testament writer Paul said it this way,

5-8“Now the power that has planned this experience for us is God, and he has given us his Spirit as a guarantee of its truth. This makes us confident, whatever happens. We realize that being “at home” in the body means that to some extent we are “away” from the Lord, for we have to live by trusting him without seeing him. We are so sure of this that we would really rather be “away” from the body (in death) and be “at home” with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:7-8 – Phillips)

Trusting without seeing? Is faith irrational? No more irrational than believing men visited the Moon.

Think about it. We accept as true that astronauts have walked upon the surface of the moon. But, we can neither duplicate that experience for ourselves nor empirically prove that the event actually took place. We simply believe that the lunar landings happened based upon the evidence presented to us by the eyewitness of others. There are many things in life that we cannot know through direct experience (like our past human history), but they are nonetheless accepted as true.

The evidence that supports the Christian faith is found in the Bible. It too is based upon the proof presented to us by the eyewitness of others. But, the God inspired origin of scripture makes it infinitely more trustworthy than the words of secular historians.

FAITH: The Journey of a Lifetime.

Biblical faith always begins with the saving grace of God; the redemption of the Human spirit through the atonement of Jesus Christ our liberator and mediator. This is how we initiate our great journey of faith. Paul wrote in his letter to the Christians living in Rome,

“I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I see it as the very power of God working for the salvation of everyone who believes it, both Jew and Gentile. I see in it God’s plan for imparting righteousness to men, a process begun and continued by their faith. For, as the scripture says: ‘the just shall live by faith’. (Romans 1:16-17 – Phillips)

FAITH gives essential support and provides a comprehensive foundation for every hope and every dream in our lives. It is what persuades us to put our absolute trust in an unseen God. Faith is our title deed to every promise made to us by God. Above all, Faith is meant to be the guiding force in our lives.

From the moment we take that first step of faith and put our trust in God thru a lifetime of faith adventures that culminate on the day when we depart this world to enter a new life — every step taken in obedience to God is a step we take by faith. Likewise. But, every step taken in doubt of or disobedience to God is no less than the rebellion of unbelief.

It isn’t easy, this life of faith. There will be dark nights of the soul; minutes that turn into desperate hours. Never forget these words from the New Testament letter to the Hebrew Christians,

23“In this confidence let us hold on to the hope that we profess without the slightest hesitation—for God is utterly dependable— 24and let us think of one another and how we can encourage each other to love and do good deeds. 25And let us not hold aloof from (skip) our church meetings, as some do. Let us do all we can to help one another’s faith and this the more earnestly as we see the final day drawing ever nearer.” (Hebrews 10:23-25 – Phillips)

Hey, you really can believe that too!

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD, is an author, broadcaster, popular Bible teacher,
and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

“It matters not how straight the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”  ― William Ernest Henley

I have always been prone to self-reliance. To me, such autonomy was the fourth virtue (right behind the three theological virtues – faith, hope, and love – from the letters of Saint Paul).   I cherish my personal sovereignty (or independence, if you prefer). And, in some respects, I still struggle with the foolish idea that I am the lone master of my own fate.

I suppose my journey of discovery began when the 127th Psalm became entrenched in my mind. I pondered these words,

1 Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Here are two verses that declare the pointlessness of self-reliance. As I studied more on the subject, I came to understand the vanity of believing that I could ever accomplish anything of eternal value without God’s help, empowerment and approval. Even imagining that I could was… well, arrogance.

Mankind in the hands of God

I truly believe in the absolute sovereignty of God over all our human endeavors. So, If God has the last word, why would we expect that anything attempted without Him would achieve lasting success?

Now, my detractors will say that there are many examples of those who attain much success and prosperity without ever once acknowledging God. They are of course correct. Many do achieve a measure of earthly success in spite of their godlessness. But from a Christian perspective, any success lacking God’s blessing is pointless. I like what Jesus said,

36”And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” – Mark 8:36 (NLT)

Remember the biblical story about the self-absorbed man with great wealth?

16“A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 17To himself he said, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ 18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. 19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ 21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” – Luke 12:16-21 (NLT)

You can amass a tremendous fortune in this life and be a very good and generous person. But die without God and you will be weighed in the balances and found wanting. That principal is taught in the Bible. Life is just empty existence and our hard work pointlessness without Him. Genuine success has its roots in God.

18”Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.” – Deuteronomy 8:18 (NLT)

Even if you have never recognized the authority of God in your life, He still may allow you to succeed and drink from the cup of human achievement. There is a reason for this: Divine kindness is intended to be the pathway that leads to Him.

4”Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” – Romans 2:4 (NLT)

God thru the hands of Mankind

The absolute authority of God does not, however, eliminate human responsibility altogether. Christianity is lived out in a partnership with the Almighty. “We are laborers together with God.” – I Corinthians 3:9

God uses people as His tools. He accomplishes His purpose on planet earth through the labor of the redeemed. Recall what Jesus had to say about the source of both His power and our abilities as His messengers,

10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in Me? What I say to you, I do not say by My own power. The Father Who lives in Me does His work through Me. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and that the Father is in Me. Or else believe Me because of the things I do. 12 For sure, I tell you, whoever puts his trust in Me can do the things I am doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.”  – John 14:10-12 (NLT)

It is our absolute trust in Jesus that empowers us to continue in His work and accomplish even greater things. This “ability” is put within us by His Spirit. We must not evade that duty.

Freedom and Rest in God

Understanding God’s sovereignty is also therapeutic. When we maintain a proper balance between the divine authority of God and our human accountability to God, worry will begin to evaporate. If God is in control, I am not! No more chains of oppressive anxiety.

Once again, Psalm 127:2,

2 “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

How’s your diet? Eating the bread of fear and anxiety? Washing it down with the wine of cheerless drudgery? If God has the power to influence behavior and direct the course of human events, why would you find reasons to hold on to worry anyway?

The New Testament writer, Paul said,

6-7”Don’t worry over anything whatsoever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.”  – Philippians 4:6-7 (Phillips)

I admit, in the heat of life’s battles and trials, it’s easy to forget that God is in control. When that happens, we need to stop for a moment and ask ourselves a fundamental question, “What am I doing?” You just might be surprised to discover that you have taken on encumbrances that God never asked you to carry.

God has promised that we would find rest in Him.

28-30 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! Put on my yoke and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  – Matthew 11:28-30 (Phillips)

Jesus offers us liberty. We trade the burden of guilt, anxiety, fear, failures and regrets for the yoke of rest. That is the best part of being His Child. And remember, children don’t worry! The very essence of salvation is learning to rest in His everlasting arms. Stop over analyzing every moment of your life.

“Oh, but you don’t understand, what if I haven’t done enough to please God. What if I’m not good enough?”

You haven’t done enough and you’re NOT good enough. That’s the point. His redemptive love doesn’t depend on what you do. It depends on what Jesus Christ has already done for you. The only relevant question you need to ask is this: “Have I truly put my absolute trust in Him alone for my reclamation?” If your answer is YES, He promises that you will now find rest for your soul.

Your move. He’s calling. Why not answer?

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD, is an author, broadcaster, popular Bible teacher,
and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

12 “Hopes deferred make the heart sick; but when dreams come true at last, there is life and joy” (alt: “it is a tree of life.”) Proverbs 13:12 (The Living Bible)

Unfulfilled hopes make us feel sick inside. You could interpret Proverbs 13:12 as “Hope deferred is spiritual heart disease.” On the other hand, when our hopes become a reality we are full of joy. A dream come true fuels the life force within us.

Our Faith is inadequate without Hope. Hope is like a high-wire. Faith walks the high-wire of hope, bridging the gap between the unseen world of the spirit and the world which we can see.

1”Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. 3By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible.” Hebrews 11:1, 3 (Amplified Bible)

Faith can only reassure us of “the things we Hope for.” It serves as proof of what we cannot see. By our faith we recognize as real fact what is not yet revealed to the senses. For example, faith enables our minds to accept as an absolute fact that the whole structure of time and space (the world which we can see) was set in motion by God through principles which are invisible to us. Wow!

Hope for the Hopeless

There is no shortage of hurts, sicknesses, troubles, financial woes, family problems, catastrophic issues and geopolitical concerns in our world today. People everywhere are losing hope and trust.

It is my opinion that our society suffers greatly as a result of misplaced trust and hopelessness.

Lost hope is frequently accompanied by a feeling of being on your own. When someone feels that they are all alone, it is difficult (if not often impossible) for them to find the way out of challenging situation. This leads to a flood of helplessness.

So what exactly is hope?  HOPE is looking forward to a desire with confidence.  When we have hope, we have an expectation that the things we hope for (and dream of) will one day be a reality.  Hope enables us to find purpose and meaning in life. And when we add faith to our hopes (by putting our trust in God) our hopes gain substance.

Trusting in God is more than just asking blindly.  Because we have hope, we place our faith in God expecting an answer from Him.  Look at what happened to a miserable crippled man as recorded in the New Testament Book of Acts,

1-4”One afternoon Peter and John were on their way to the Temple for the three o’clock hour of prayer. A man who had been lame from birth was being carried along in the crowd, for it was the daily practice to put him down at what was known as the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, so that he could beg from the people as they went in. As this man saw Peter and John just about to enter he asked them to give him something. Peter looked intently at the man and so did John. Then Peter said, “Look straight at us!” The man looked at them expectantly, hoping that they would give him something. “If you are expecting silver or gold,” Peter said to him, “I have neither, but what I have I will certainly give you; In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” 7-11 Then he took him by the right hand and helped him up. At once his feet and ankle bones were strengthened, and he positively jumped to his feet, stood, and then walked. Then he went with them into the Temple, where he walked about, leaping and thanking God.” (Acts 3:1-11 Phillips)

Peter and John had supernatural ability working through them. They believed in the power of Almighty God without question. They also knew that His authority was with them.

Peter made sure that the lame man was paying attention. He said, “Look straight at us!” For his part, the lame man did two things. First, “he asked them to give him something.” Second, he looked at them “expectantly.”

It’s amazing what can happen when we look in the right place and ask with expectation! Clearly the lame man was imagining he’d get a few coins. But God doesn’t offer momentary relief for our sufferings. He remedies them!

The bible also records details about the extraordinary life of a man named David. Throughout many difficulties and adversities, David would often remind himself not to lose hope.

Here are a few of David’s prayers to God:

  • “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” (Psalm 39: 7 NIV)
  • “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42: 11 NIV)
  • “Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” (Psalm 25: 4, 5 NLT)
  • “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame,” Psalm 33: 18 NIV
  • “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,” (Psalm 25: 3 NIV)
  • “Remember your promise to me, for it is my only hope.” (Psalm 119: 49 NLT)

Israel’s legendary King David expected God to keep His promises. That hope is what empowered him to trust God completely. Today, our hope is built upon the trust that we have in the one who came to reveal the truth about God and His plan of Salvation for mankind. He is called Jesus.

Knowing who Jesus really was when he visited this little water world – and who He is today – brings hope into your life and it keeps hope alive. Don’t go by your feelings. Your emotional state changes like the weather. People who live by their emotions are more prone to instability. No matter how miserable your existence may seem, there is hope. You may not be able to see or feel anything that causes you to believe this right now, but hope is there for you notwithstanding. “Hope is the anchor of your soul” (Hebrews 6:19)

God really wants you to be acquainted with Jesus – not as a religious figure – as a person. Jesus knows the way to God because He IS the way. He will show you truth and give you an amazing life! A life filled with HOPE!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29: 11 NLT)

What do you really need right now? Whatever it is, talk to God about it. You have direct access to Him because of and in the Name of Jesus.

Here is my prayer for you,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

© 2014 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD is an author,
broadcaster, popular Bible teacher, and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian
Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  – Ephesians. 2:10

I was sitting around a table at an outdoor restaurant with a group of acquaintances. There was this one guy in particular who frequently made negative comments about himself. I knew him to be compassionate and helpful. He had a good reputation and everyone liked him. But in listening to his numerous self-abasing remarks, what I heard was a man who seemed to be obsessed with his own shortcomings and failures.

When he finally said something about God being let down by all of his screw-ups, I could not contain myself any further. I looked at him and said, “Every human being starts out in this life as a copy of God’s master blueprint. God doesn’t make junk!” Sin is what has tainted us.

Have you ever felt like this man. Stuck in a funk of disappoint. Look, I have made plenty of mistakes. Regrets? I’ve had a few. Missed opportunities? You bet! But I decided that wallowing in self-pity was not pleasing to God at all. When I mess up, I ask Him to forgive me. I gather my wits, take a deep breath and I move on.

And why not? Look at what the bible says about us:

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
you know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
the days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day. – Psalm 139:14 (The Message)

As we grow older, it’s easy to look at our cumulative mistakes and think that we’ve diminished our usefulness to God. But no life is so messed up, so broken, so imperfect that He can’t fix it.

The next time that you look at someone and think, “they seem to have it all together”, remember this: we all struggle with our own brokenness, mistakes, and hurts.  There is not one person on this planet who isn’t struggling in some way.

God loves each and every one of His children the same. He may hate our sin but he loves the sinner. He may allow the consequences of sin to manifest, but he still loves the sinner. He may even have to allow eternal damnation to one day lay claim to everyone who refuses the gift of His grace, but he still loves the sinner notwithstanding.

There are several examples of broken people in the Bible for whom God had a plan – even when they seemed to be “hopeless cases.”

Esther was an orphan girl living with her cousin.  In the culture of her day, she had two things working against her; she was a women and an orphan girl. Hopeless?  God used Esther to save the Jewish nation.

Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery.  Later he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into jail.  At that moment, his life sure seemed hopeless and useless.  God eventually used him to save the people from a 7 year-long famine.

Job lost his children and all of his wealth.  His body became covered with boils and oozing soars. His wife walked out on him when he needed her the most.  Hopeless?  Sounds like a lost cause to me. But without knowing it, Job was proving the accusations Satan made about him to God were wrong.  Eventually Job was restored and blessed abundantly.  His life and actions have provided comfort and encouragement to people who are struggling, even to this day.

The Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well was a real piece of work.  She had been married 5 times and then didn’t bother to marry the 6th man in her life.  She was a social outcast and appeared to be a hopeless loser.  Jesus spoke with her, exposed her true condition and offered her His living water. As a result, God used her to bring the Samaritans the Gospel and many in her town were converted.

Peter denied Jesus three times.  The shame he felt must have been overwhelming.  When Jesus saw Peter after the resurrection, He didn’t scold him.  He asked Peter to spread the Good News of salvation to others.  Jesus knew the real Peter.

Paul had a reputation for killing people that followed Christ. He actually thought he was doing God a favor. So, Jesus confronted him as “an extraordinary light” on the road to Damascus. The incident left him shaken and temporarily blind. Paul later became a hand-picked convert and was responsible for setting up the early churches. His writings make up nearly two thirds of the New Testament.

Every one of us has a purpose. God formed us; He knows every hair on our head (Luke 12:7). Our faces and personalities are well-known to Him.  It doesn’t matter how far away we wander, He never forgets who we are.  His love for us reaches to the far corners of this earth and to the depths of the ocean.  He does all He can to bring us back home to Himself whenever we go astray.  And if we ask for His forgiveness, He doesn’t keep a record of our failures.   In His great mercy He sees the beautiful person He created.   God doesn’t see the mess we’ve made; He sees the potential for good in our restored righteous state.

“I alone am the one who is going to wipe away your rebellious actions for my own sake. I will not remember your sins anymore.” Isaiah 43:25 (God’s Word translation)

Broken lives and broken bodies are not junk to God.  Whatever the circumstance, God loves us.  He sees the value in each of us.  He knows the gifts he has placed within us.  As His workmanship, we are shaped into a new and a beautiful design.  We are His children, created in His image, by His hands.

 “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God!” 1John 3:2

GOD DOES NOT MAKE JUNK…

© 2014 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD is an author,
broadcaster, popular Bible teacher, and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian
Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.

 

What? God let you down?

Some of you just got so uptight. Performing intellectual cartwheels through all of your theological platitudes.

“Why dear brother, God can never let us down.” “God’s ways are simply not our ways.” “We must never question God.” “Just keep believing.” “God always answers prayer.” Miracles are just around the corner, etc., etc.”

Well done. You’ve memorized some good Biblical principles. Line upon line they have been written upon the tablets of your human spirit. And for the record, I agree.   27 “…Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10:27b)

But tell me, what happens when you meet someone who says,

I love God. I go to church and I practice tithing. I talk to the Lord regularly about the things that weigh heavy on me. In my prayers, I ask… I seek… I knock. Then I wait and wait and wait some more. In the end, God remains silent. He takes no action that I can see. Instead, the awful often happens. I am hurt and angry. I don’t understand why he chooses not do things that seem so clearly right to me. Why doesn’t God keep His word like the preacher said He would? What happened to all those exceeding great and precious promises that I read about in His book?” I’m confused and empty inside. God has let me down.

This person is clearly dejected. And there are many more just like him.

“Why did I pray so intently for a healing… and that person died?”

“Why did I ask God for a child for twenty years… but I never conceived?”

“Why didn’t the Lord help me raise the money to save my home?

“If God is so good, why is His world so miserable and unhappy?”

There are no easy answers for these questions. But this is certainly not the time to start quoting all of those well-ordered one liners from the promise box.

The raw concerns of real life are painful to confront. It’s easier to carry the burden of pretending everything is going to be just fine. So we tell ourselves, “God is going to make all this crummy stuff disappear one day soon and everything will be much better”.

What happens when “someday soon” never seems to come?

Hiding your hurt, anger, and disappointment behind facades of God-speak and mechanical Christianity is poison to the soul. Your spirit slowly fills with a contagion that destroys your faith in God.

If perception is your reality, then I might as well just say it; from where some of you sit right now, it sure appears that God has let you down.

But here is what I believe; it’s your expectations that have been dashed upon the rocks of disappointment. And now, it’s hard to navigate the waves of this life with a faith that has run aground.

Inadvertently, we absorbed many erroneous and unconfirmed “facts” about God in the course of a lifetime. We read books about what He has promised to do for us when we pray. All of the sermons, seminars and a million casual conversations have molded our interpretation of what we can expect from Him. Some of these expectations are spot-on. Some are not. The trouble begins when things don’t go the way we expect. We begin to feel deceived. And over time, our faith grows weaker.

Unfulfilled expectations are worse than low expectations.  It is okay if you sometimes feel like God has grown silent and even turned away. In reality, He has not. I know this because He plainly said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).

But that is not how you feel right now.

Take a deep breath. Cry if it helps. But please, do me this favor, listen carefully as I retell some important spiritual realities.

  • Prayer isn’t an extraordinary process for getting things to go your way.
  • Prayer isn’t a guarantee of satisfaction.
  • Pain and struggle cannot be removed with simple requests.
  • As a rule, God doesn’t wave supernatural wands and instantly change things.
  • God exists outside of our time dimension and, because we are chained to the ticking of the clock, He will often seem to move agonizingly slow.
  • Life isn’t fair and you cannot change that.

Welcome to the Ragamuffins. We are the waifs and strays who follow that marvelous incarnate man from heaven who once visited this planet by way of the Galilee. Daily we struggle to “work out the salvation that God has given us with a proper sense of awe and responsibility” (Philippians 2:12). As one among us, it will always be safe for you to share your individual fears, disappointments and pressing concerns. We will laugh and cry with you as we patiently await His return. And I promise you, one day all will be understood.

© 2014 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD is an author,
broadcaster, popular Bible teacher, and the founding Pastor of Living Faith Christian
Fellowship in Holiday, Florida.