November 4 – What Do You Hope For

For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. (Hebrews 6:10-11)

Read: Ezekiel 10:1-11:25, Hebrews 6:1-20, Psalm 105:16-36, Proverbs 27:1-2 

Relate: What do you hope for? What are your goals? What is your dream? What is your vision?

I was fresh out of Bible College in my first position as a youth pastor. Honestly, I wasn’t at that time a very good youth pastor. I was more than a little bit lazy. I had a solid group of kids but there was very little growth either in their lives or numerically. The worst thing about it, I didn’t even recognize that we were stagnant and that something needed to change. My cousin was in the car with me as we were talking about the group when he asked me some version of the question above.

he had caught me like a deer in the headlights. I had absolutely no answer to him. I had been going through the motions of being a good youth pastor but I had no vision for where we were going. I had no way to measure if we were headed in the right direction. I wish I could say that I had immediately learned from this and put in place a great vision and plan and have never looked back since. Not so. A few months after this I was resigning as youth pastor and moving to another city to restart a flailing college ministry. Unfortunately, I was taking my vision-less lazy habits with me. It wasn’t until about four years later when I wasn’t resigning but rather getting fired from another failure that I was shocked and shamed enough to truly begin to learn.

React: In Proverbs it says, “Where there is no vision the people cast off restraint.” Let my put a more casual translation to it: “Where there is no plan for the future, the people flail about in any direction.” That is the negative to the writer of Hebrews positive: “You have been working hard. Keep it up so you can get what you are hoping for.” I have learned the hard way that my self discipline and diligence are directly tied to how closely I am working toward a vision of the future. I wish it was as easy as setting a vision and a plan down and then going for it. No. I need to regularly and consistently remind myself of that vision and even to break it down into smaller more achievable chunks for the immediate future. It is great that I desire to see that every single person in my city will hear an adequate presentation of the gospel, but who am I going to share with today? What do I hope for right now?

Respond:

Dear God,
Give me Your vision. Don’t let me go one more day just muddling my way through this life. Don’t let me walk one more minute without direction. Give me purpose. Give me a plan. And then give me the diligence to keep it before me until the time You see fit to change it or to bring me home. I want to work. I want to work hard. I want to work hard for the things that stir Your heart.
Amen

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17 thoughts on “November 4 – What Do You Hope For

  1. I’m curious to base your spiritual success as a leader on the number of people in your church or the quality in terms of maturity and biblical knowledge of your congregation?
    I agree that the church needs a vision. What is our priority corporeally and individually. Did you know that most likely nearly all Christians and congregations get the answer wrong when asked this? I will give you a clue what it is not and I don’t apologise. It isn’t about being purpose driven, people centred, feel good,user friendly, post modern, chatty chat, bells and whistle, rock concert type meeting with over 1000 members doing what they did in Judges or Corinth.
    Honestly the church is resembling Laodicea more and more in our age. Would you agree with my assessment?

      • Rev 2:1  “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: 
        Rev 2:2  ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 
        Rev 2:3  and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. 
        Rev 2:4  ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 
        Rev 2:5  ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. 
        Rev 2:6  ‘Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 
        Rev 2:7  ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ 

        • You are using a lot of buzz words that would make it seem obvious that everyone who loves God rather than the world should agree with you. But what do those buzz words really mean?

          –It isn’t about being purpose driven,–

          Well, actually it is. Jesus was purpose driven. Even at twelve he knew his purpose when he said, “Didn’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business.” When standing before Pilate right before his crucifixion he said, “It is for this purpose that I have come into the world.” He was purpose driven and I am saved because he was.
          But perhaps you are talking specifically about Rick Warren’s famous books “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life”. In each he highlights five things that every believer and church should be about: 1) Worship 2) Servanthood 3) Evangelism 4) Discipleship 5) Fellowship/Community. Which of these purposes is so ungodly?

          –It isn’t about… people centred,–

          The two greatest commandments are 1) Love God and 2) Love people. Then, in case there’s any confusion Jesus explicitly said the second one is just like the first. His closest disciple said that if we don’t love people, we are incapable of loving God. God is not willing that any people perish but that all people come to repentance. So yes, it is about people.

          –It isn’t about… feel good,–

          What does this even mean to you? Isn’t it the joy of the Lord that is our strength? Didn’t he promise us peace that would transcend all understanding? I understand that emotions aren’t the be-all and end-all of our faith, but if we are to love God with all of our being doesn’t that include the emotions? Is there truly any greater feeling than knowing and living in the center of His will? Is there any rush so awesome as when you take a horrifying step of faith and then find Him once again faithful? Emotions are not a bad thing.

          –It isn’t about… user friendly,–

          Salvation is supposed to be a hard thing? Confess and believe. Romans 10:9-10. It doesn’t get much more simple than that. Follow me. Easy? No. User friendly? It is so simple and obvious what we are called to do that even a childlike faith can figure it out. In fact, only a childlike faith can figure it out. Any urge to make our walk with God complicated rather than user friendly is unbiblical.

          –It isn’t about… post modern,–

          Again, this two word cliche` is so vague and overused that it has come to mean nothing… or anything. The facts are, we are living in a postmodern culture. Personally, while both modern and post modern ideologies have their upsides and downsides, I am glad we have moved beyond an era that has made things like Hitler, Stalin, a few genocides, and Vietnam the norm rather than the exception.
          What is so great about the gospel is that it is supra-cultural. It transcends culture. That means that each generation and each culture needs through the guiding of the Spirit to learn for themselves how to take the eternal unchanging truths of scripture and apply them effectively to their generation. Churches and Christians that are truly about the Father’s business in our postmodern world won’t waste valuable time and resources trying to hold on to modernist phraseology and methodologies when reaching our to a post modern world.

          –It isn’t about… chatty chat, bells and whistle,–

          More vague, demeaning generalizations. Should we not be wasting time in meaningless conversation? Of course not. But is that what you mean by that? I know some pastors who will preach as though they are sitting down for coffee with their congregation. Is that what you mean? Do you prefer the jump up and down hell-fire and brimstone type of preaching? Each have their place and each will effectively reach certain audiences.
          Bells and whistle? I agree that sometimes many churches spend too much on themselves and not enough on the mission field. I’m obligated to believe that, I’m on the mission field. 😉 But is there truly something wrong with having quality equipment run by talented individuals so that church can be a distraction free environment? Would you rather a sound system that occasionally works or a projector that doesn’t ever seem to be in focus? I’ve seen that too. Perhaps we can agree on a healthier balance between being cheap and slipshod and having too many bells and whistles?

          –It isn’t about… rock concert type meeting with over 1000 members–

          I think this is very demeaning to the Christian musicians who have been called to serve God in that way. I have blessed to meet more then a few over the course of my days and I honestly can’t think of one I’ve met who aren’t humble and down to earth people. Take that back, the crew from Switchfoot were a little off putting but I chalk that up to a rough day. Otherwise, whether it is rock (guys from the early Newsboys) rap (Michael Peace, DOC) pop (Rebecca St James, Nicole Nordeman who is tiny, Sara Groves) or worship (some from Hillsongs, Salvadore, Jason Upton) they are all humble and passionately love God from what I have seen.
          From my limited perspective I have found that the “look at me” attitude is just as, if not more prevalent among worship leaders and pastors from small churches as it is in the big. I am assuming this is what you mean by rock concert services… all showmanship rather than hiding behind the cross.
          I think 99% of the time large churches are no more or less spiritual than small churches. They don’t love God any more or less. They aren’t any more or less passionate about missions, or… whatever. In both small and large churches you will find some that do well in some areas and others that do well in other areas. The biggest difference between small and large churches… by definition, the large churches are reaching more people.

          So that’s my assessment of your assessment. I was just going to say “no” and leave it alone. I’m not here to argue I am here to reach the lost and encourage and equip other believers to do the same. But since it seemed you were insistent on a reply, here it is.

        • thanks for your reply I will respond in kind once I have digested it. I wasn’t picking an argument I actually enjoy your little devotional. I think we can discuss this like adults without being hostile but if you would rather not I will leave it alone here but I will blog my answer without reference to you for discretion

  2. I also had undergone similar situations in my life. When our Lord saved me I had prepared myself to go all the way with Him. Yet to my shame I missed it. Started giving up, yet our Lord ever remains faithful. When and where others wrote me off, our Lord had not once done so.
    Instead He says, ” I’ll ne’er leave you nor shall I forsake yo. I am with you always; e’en till the end of the age. ” ’tis so easy to write someone off if they do not meet your standards. But our Lord ne’er did. He could of destroyed Israel long ago, yet He is God of Covenant! He made His Covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! (later Israel)!
    Our Lord e’en today still keeps and honours His Word above His Name. Giving everyone an equal opportunity, for Repentance, Deliverance and Salvation!
    He could’ve written off Simon (later changing his name from Simon which means reed to Peter [Cephas]; meaning small rock or stone). Yet once more , though Peter denied Him thrice, our Lord restored him back to his full title authority and position.
    Remember Scripture clearly says our Lord would not break a bruised reed. neither put out a smoking flax. What do we mean? Do I hear one ask.
    Our Lord came to heal, find and save that which is lost. He always Loves us, yet hates the sin, wickedness, evil we allow in our lives. He gives every person, man or woman an equal chance for repentance, Forgiveness and Salvation It is His will that none should perish, but that all may be saved, repented, restored , forgiven. He paid for us with His Life. Crucified, sacrificed for us to have life, and life abundant (more of this later).
    A medical practitioner (doctor, nurse, sister or matron) are placed there through legislation, to heal, care, watch the sick, despite what their patients background may be. Even so our Lord came to die on our behalf, rising again to heal and restore peoples and nations! He wishes to restore all mankind to their original state and relationship with their (our ) Creator. Hearken, heed, hear, listen for His calling for us to return to Him. His ear is always open to hear. (His arm not to short to save).
    Call unto Him while He still can be found. He came to seek and save that which is lost (as mentioned earlier). ” The hour is near! The time short! Return to me o faithless people. My arm is not to short, to heal, to save to deliver. The sick need a doctor!”
    As sinners we need to repent; return to the Lord before the Great and Awesome day which lies ahead. “Return to Me o backsliding children! Return afore it is too late! When you call, or when you cry unto Me I shall hear.”
    “Those called by My Name; when you repent, humble yourselves, pray; confess your sin, seek My Face, turn from your wicked ways, Then I shall hear from Heaven, Forgive your sin and Heal your land!” (See 2 Chron 7:14).

  3. I can appreciate the vulnerable position you have put yourself in by opening up about a not so successful time in your journey. I am sure we have all felt this way when we have truly self reflected. Thanks for sharing and God Bless you and your works!

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