The Seed of Hope

A gift for tomorrow

Viewing by month: March 2012

Power and Unfailing Love

What comes to mind when you think of power?

 

Strength? Control? Dominance? Authority? Command? Reign?

 

How would you define unfailing love?

 

A love that knows no limits? A love that withstands the tests of time? A love that’s as solid as a rock? A love that only grows stronger? A love that has no weaknesses? A love that never ceases?

 

How do you “see” God? Who is He? What is He? What are some of His attributes? Do you know Him?

 

There are times when we need to be reminded of what David knew about God because, well, because sometimes we forget…

 

One thing God has spoken,

   Two things I have heard:

“Power belongs to you, God,

   and with you Lord, is unfailing love”;

and, “You reward everyone

   according to what they have done.” Psalm 62:11-12

 

God is powerful.

Have you ever stopped long enough to really consider the scope of God’s power? He has authority over everything. He reigns over all things living, all creatures great and small. He controls the universe; the earth the moon, and the planets dance around the sun because of Him. Trees grow, flowers bloom, and clouds bring rain because He bids them to. Satan trembles at His voice. Yes, God is powerful indeed.

 

God’s love is unfailing.

Can you imagine loving someone as hard as you can, regardless of how many times they may have hurt your feelings or let you down time and time again? Would you still love that individual if the only time that you heard from him was when he needed something? Better yet, can you entertain the notion of loving someone who doesn’t even know you at all? Yes, God’s love is unfailing.

 

God rewards us according to what we’ve done.

 

Perhaps the “reward” to which David was referring had nothing to do with our salvation, or going to heaven. It could be that David is reminding us that God shows favor to those who love Him and serve Him while we’re here on earth. These “rewards” may not be tangible, as in money and possessions, but in intangible ones, such as happiness, love, joy, contentment, and peace.

 

It all comes down to this. Our God is a powerful God who loves us without question, and is always ready to shower His affections on us. Always.

 

Never underestimate His awesome power. Never forget His unfailing love. Never think that the things that you do for Him and His Kingdom go unnoticed. Never take your eyes off of Him; He never takes His eyes off of you. Never.

 

Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 03/30/2012 at 1:26 PM | Categories: Faith -

Remembering

Can you imagine forgetting your family’s traditions during the holidays, like Christmas, Thanksgiving, or July Fourth? How about if you remembered them, except that you couldn’t remember what you did to celebrate them? What if you forgot them altogether?

 

Let’s take this “forgetfulness” a step further. What if you forgot?

 

·         How to do pretty much everything that deals with daily life?

·         Moral standards.

·         Guidelines for relationships.

·         What to eat and how to prepare it.

·         How you should dress.

·         How to practice basic hygiene, including bathing regularly.

 

No, I’m not talking about Alzheimer’s disease, at least not in the traditional context….

 

Okay, before I continue I have a couple of things to share with you.

 

Three years ago my wife Jackie and I began reading the One Year Bible, which isn’t really a Bible so much as it is an on-line guideline for reading the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, in one year. There are actually two different versions available. The first is The One Year Chronological Bible, which lists biblical events in the order in which they occurred. The other version, the one that Jackie and I follow, is The One Year Bible, which offers a daily reading from passages in the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. Again, the ultimate goal of both is to offer a reading plan to cover the entire Bible in one year. Another feature that appeals to me is the ability to easily switch from one version of the Bible to the other. For instance, my preferred version is the NIV Bible, because I don’t have to spend my entire morning trying to discern its meaning. If I am having a hard time with a particular passage, I’ll switch to The Message, which quite frankly is more akin to a friend offering advice to another friend during a conversation, and much easier to understand.

 

All that being said, if you’ve had it in your heart to read the entire Bible from cover to cover but found it to be a little overwhelming because of the seeming enormity of the task, you might want to check the site out at www.oneyearbibleonline.com.

 

The other thing that I wanted to share with you is to admit that I don’t really enjoy reading enjoy reading the Old Testament. I’ve always found a lot of it to be boring. There are lists upon lists of names that are hard for me to pronounce, events that I’m sure were important in the development of God’s Kingdom, and so many instructions on the most minute of details that just didn’t make sense to me. Still, I figured that if it was in the Bible, it was there for a reason. And you know, each time I read through it I see something new. Oh the words are still the same, to be sure, but I’ve changed. I see them with a new set of eyes, because my walk with God has changed, and so has my perspective.

 

Why?

 

Have you ever wondered why God gave so many instructions to the Israelites when they fled from Egypt? For the longest time I did. The Old Testament is filled with God’s instructions for atonement, sacrifice, and even building a temple. Oh yeah. He also gave them Ten Commandments.

 

But God wasn’t done there; He included instructions for all of the “forgots” that I listed above, and more. So why do you think that He went so far as to instruct the Israelites on even the smallest of things?

 

They forgot how to be Israelites.

 

Okay, you can stop chuckling now. They really forgot how to be Israelites!

 

Let’s take a closer look at this. By varying accounts, the Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians for somewhere between four hundred and four hundred and thirty years!  Many historians and students of scripture have estimated the average lifespan of an Israeli slave to be around fifty years. If you’re doing the math, you realize that the Israelites were held in captivity for a minimum of seven generations, and quite possibly more than that!

 

For arguments sake, let’s say that the memories of living a life of freedom survived the first three or four generations of Israelites. Beyond that, any life other than that of being an Egyptian slave was long forgotten. There were no books, no photos, and no recordings to draw on as a remembrance. There was just a life of slavery; day after day, year after year, and generation after generation.

 

I’m asking you to take a few minutes to reflect on what the Israelites endured. Of course, the greatest injustice was their loss of freedom. Factor in the loss of knowing how to do the simplest things in life and the tragedy becomes even greater. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, and reflecting on my family’s traditions at Christmas and Easter and the Fourth of July when I was a child. Through the years ours traditions may have changed a bit because technological advances have changed our world, but many of those traditions are still in place. Those traditions, past and present, are a part of me, and I can’t imagine losing either the memories of those that have passed or my expectations for those yet to come.

 

From scratch…

God had to teach the Israelites how to be, well, how to be Israelites, starting from scratch. Everything, including the smallest of things, had to be “remembered.” Everything, including His love for His chosen people and their love for Him.

 

Can you even imagine?

 

 

Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 03/20/2012 at 3:38 PM | Categories: Life - Faith -

Rockin' and Rollin'

As best as you can remember, life has never been better. You’ve been rockin’ and rollin’ through life at full stride with a smile on your face and the world at your feet. Everything is just right.

 

Either you have no worries and no cares at all, or the ones that you do have are so trivial that they’re nothing more than mild irritants. Your relationships with other people are great. Everything seems to be going your way. God is smilin’ on you, you’re obviously in His favor, and you’re just walkin’ it out with Him every day. Yes sir, you’ve got the bull by the horns. No doubt about it. Life is good. No, it’s better than that; life is awesome! One night, and as you’re nodding off to sleep, you’re thinking “Man, my life is so good. Today was just a great day. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow is gonna bring!”

 

It comes unexpectedly, like a tornado dropping out of the sky.

 

The next day proves to be the exact opposite of the days leading up to it. The morning begins innocently enough, but you have a slight inkling that some-thing is just not right. Shrugging it off, you begin your day with high expectations.

 

By mid-morning you know that things have changed. The world seems to be crashing in on you. It all starts with that one thing. But that one thing leads to something else, which leads to something else, ad nauseam. Before you know it, the “domino theory,” (if one upright domino falls, then all adjacent dominoes will tumble as well) has kicked in, and everything in your life has suddenly taken a turn for the worse.

 

What follows is a downward spiral that can last for days, weeks, and even months. You just know that the world is against you. Worse still is that you believe that God is against you too! You don’t know what you’ve done, or when you did it, but you know that for whatever reason, God has turned His back on you. He’s allowing the world to pummel you. He doesn’t see what you’re going through, because He’s not even looking!

 

What are you supposed to do now? Where do you turn?

 

You follow David’s lead. Check out these excerpts from Psalm 43 in The Message:

   

 I counted on you, God. 
      Why did you walk out on me?
2

 Fix my eyes on God— 
      soon I'll be praising again. 
   He puts a smile on my face. 
      He's my God.
5

 

You have to realize, just as David did, that God is never against you. Never. He always loves you. He’s always for you. When it seems as if the world is against you, and your situation seems bleak, and you’ve lost hope, and you’re ready to throw in the towel…

 

Keep your eyes on God. Praise Him. Worship Him. Exalt His name. What you receive in life may not change, but with Him, your perspective of it will change. And while you may not be wearing a smile, you’ll know that you’re not alone. He’s there with you.

Posted by Sam Maniscalco on 03/12/2012 at 7:42 AM | Categories: Life -

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