Getting Our Hopes Up

Ephesians 1: 11-12 (the message)
It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

Do you really know what you are living for?  Do you know who you really are…who you were meant to be?

Most of my life I would have to say I was living for the approval of others and to feel good.  I had God in the mix with me, but He wasn’t the frontrunner…not really.  I can say that now because I realized once “getting real” with God rises to the forefront of your life, things change! 

It’s not about perfection, it’s about the impossible!  See, I was led by my emotions.  I couldn’t stand for someone to be less than proud and pleased with me.  The Bible refers to our human nature as the “flesh.”  So, if you ever hear Christians talk about living in “the flesh” they are talking about a person who may be a Christian but is not living in the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in them.  If we have not surrendered our life to Christ and invited Him into our heart then the Holy Spirit is not yet residing in us and we live every moment in the flesh.  I think so many of us live that way and we don’t even realize that is what we are doing.  Everyone makes decisions based on how they “feel,” right?  If we don’t “feel” like keeping a commitment then we find a way out.  If we don’t “feel” like going to church we don’t go.  If we don’t “feel” like forgiving or reaching out, then we don’t.  On the flip side…if it feels good to gossip, we do it.  If it feels good to be in a relationship that is sinful or does not honor God, we stay in it.  If it feels good to yell and scream, manipulate people, we give ourselves permission.  Okay, maybe you don’t!  But I will go ahead and be real…I have lived this way!  And I know what it’s like to be unstable and insecure.  I know what it’s like to have my family falling apart.  I know what it’s like to wonder how on earth I got to be such a mess!

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.  Does that resonate with you?  When I read that it just touches me so deeply because I know what it’s like to live your life with no real idea of who you are.  Now here I am hanging all my laundry out for you to read…because I have found out who I am.  Once you begin to realize and accept that it’s in Jesus you find your worth and purpose…it’s in a “get real” relationship with God that you learn who He created you to be, you will be free.  We don’t have to live under the tyranny of our emotions.  We don’t have to live the roller coaster life style that comes with defining ourselves through other people, positions or material things.  We don’t have to live in our “flesh” every day of our lives.

I like what the scripture above says…long  before we got our hopes up, He had His eye on us.  Most certainly!  He has had His eye on you for your whole life.  God has designs on you for “glorious living.”  Personally, I am discovering that glorious living is all about what is happening on the inside of me.  God is glorious!  He is powerful and good.  He outshines the brightest sun.  The darkness in my heart…in my marriage…in the skewed way I thought about myself has been chased out by the sunlight-bright love of God.  Glorious living is all about Jesus living out His love and power through you.  And our glorious living is always in line with greater purposes…to reach out to others with the extravagant love and mercy we have received.

God has a purpose for you.  He wants to heal you and fill you and light up your life.  First, we have to take a deep breath and choose to trust Him.  Finding out who you are and what you are living for starts with Jesus.  No one else can tell you.  No one else can convince you.  No one else can do it for you.  It’s so much more than a nice idea or a platitude.  We are so driven in our lives by outward forces that we have no idea what we are missing.  We think it’s normal to be an emotional yo-yo as we strive and hope for peaceful circumstances and elusive happiness.  Yet, the God of all we see wants to be our anchor.  His presence in our lives settles us, stabilizes us, in the midst of the storm! 

If your heart is hungry for stability, if you long for security and heart-rest, if you want to find out who you really are and what makes life worth living then step out.  One step toward Jesus.  You are custom-designed by the Creator of the galaxy…the same God who crafted the fragile yet color-splashed wings of a butterfly…the same God who built the highest mountain ranges…the same One who paints the sky at dusk…the One who gives the birds their song to sing and cools your face with a gentle breeze in summer…the One who planned for your life.  The Bible says He knows the number of hairs on your head.  Perhaps we cannot grasp or understand with our minds that God loves us so much, but our hearts long for it. 

It’s okay to have your hopes up!  People and circumstances may try to tell us who we are but the only one with the truth is Jesus.  We don’t have to live tangled in emotions and insecurity.  Knowing Jesus personally reveals who He made us to be and nothing in life tops that.  Go ahead…let hope rise.

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