Preparation isn't as sexy as planning, but it's a lot more effective.
How's your hope?
That's not something we ask very often. It's something that we should ask daily.
Hope is a good indicator of something super important.
Hope is like the fuel gauge in your car. The fuel gauge just tells you how much or how little gas is in the tank. It's not the actual tank. The hope in your life is a gauge.
What can our hope tell us we are full or empty of? Check out what Paul says in Romans 5.
"We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."
The end result is hope; a hope beyond our circumstances. Where does it begin? Rejoicing.
Your hope gauge will tell you how much you're actually rejoicing in the good things and the bad things. Your hope gauge will indicate whether or not you're choosing joy in every circumstance.
It's a cycle. No rejoicing; no perseverance; no character; no hope. Rejoicing leads to perseverance, because true rejoicing comes regardless of circumstance. When we continually find joy in Christ regardless of the storms of life, our character is made strong. Not because it's built on a good day or a good attitude, but because it's built on a good God. That kind of character leads to a hope that looks forward to what God can do; even in the worst of what life brings.
So, again, how's your hope? So, what happens when we find ourselves looking at life with little hope? Trace it back to the beginning.
Maybe, just maybe, you need to fill your tank with joy before your hope gauge is on full.
"Then all the people of Judah, from the least to the greatest, as well as the army commanders, fled in panic to Egypt, for they were afraid of what the Babylonians would do to them." 2 Kings 25:26 NLT
They irony in this Scripture is boggling.
You may or may not know this, but the ancestors of the people of Judah were led AWAY from Egypt. Now they are running TO Egypt.
They're running away from the new bad guy, and simultaneously running towards the old bad guy. They are literally between a rock and a hard place.
How many times have you or I ran away from a new problem in our life to a problem from our past? The Israelites did this a bunch of times with Moses. They repeatedly asked why he took them away from Egypt because of their lack of resources.
We have a tendency from time to time to look at problems linearly. "Well, I'm gonna have problems. Let's go with the lesser of the two." You may have used that logic in the last election. But I digress.
We should be looking at our problems differently. We will have problems. God never issues a Get Out of Jail Free card for your problems, but he has issued peace for your problem.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
If you're caught between a rock and a hard place, there's probably only one thing to do: sit down. We need to learn to sit down in the midst of our problems.
Next time you're caught between a couple of problems or you're running from one problem to another, do what the people of Judah should have done: sit with God. Sit down, and give the problems on your left and right to the one above. Present your problems, and God will provide the peace.
Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to preach on comparison. You can watch the sermon here. But I missed something huge that I want to share.
My wife is a woman of promise.
I mean that in the best way possible. If she makes a promise, she keeps it. On the other hand, if you make a promise to her, you better keep it. If you say, "Yes, babe, we can go to dinner tonight. I promise." You better take her to dinner that night. That may or may not be a real case scenario. For tonight...
Humanity loves a promise keeper. That's why we keep track of every single promise made by potential presidential candidates.
What is in a promise? What makes us love promises so much, and hate when they aren't kept? Security. Comfort. Rest. These are all by-products of promises. The RNC pushes for Donald Trump to promise not to run as an Independent candidate in 2016. Why? Security. Comfort. Rest.
What happens when a promise is made? Security, comfort, and rest are given. What about when a promise is broken? Trust is broken, and insecurity slowly returns. The next promise given will have less power than the first. So on and so forth. The power of your promise diminishes and rarely reverses course.
The power of a promise is in the personal preparation.
Whether you're running for president of the United States of America, you're a new husband, or you're an Amazon Prime delivery man, the power of your promise is going to be determined by your personal preparation.
When you make a promise, the power of your promise is found in how well you're prepared to keep that promise. When you don't prepare, it's likely you won't keep it. When you don't keep your promise, the power of your next promise will diminish. The greatest example of this is the promise of a Savior. In Genesis 3, God promised to save the world from sin in His first promise. Thousands of years later, he sent his only Son to come through on that promise. When God made that promise, He was prepared to give His Son. The power of that promise is seen through the preparation of God. The same is true for you and I. The power of our promises will be seen in our personal preparation.
Are you promising and preparing to be a better father? Are you promising and preparing to be a better student? Are you promising and preparing to be a better husband? Are you promising and preparing to be a better _______?
The power of a promise is in the personal preparation.