From Hopelessness to HOPE

Lord, You are all that we need. To You belongs all that we have. Thank You for being our God
by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro (c) 2012   www.holyspiritpress.org   www.eaglesnestfoundation.org  

The past week or so, I have been quiet, reflective and thankful.  I have been overcome with thanksgiving for what He has done and is doing (both visible and invisible), in awe of magnificent signs the Lord has given me which I do not yet understand and yet simultaneously depressed in some way.  I have been filled with contentment in all He has provided, realizing the need for nothing beyond His provision and yet looking at everything with uncomfortably dulled senses.

There has been no reason for depression or discouragement and it has been discouraging to feel this way when there is no reason!  Certainly this is the nemesis of depression.  It does not always have a clear cause. And certainly it has increased once again my compassion for those who live under depression’s temporary cloud because this has reminded me personally of its overall numbing effect and how the heaviness of it tempts one to simply stop – everything.  Depression seeks to suck all the potential joy out of life no matter circumstances. And so quietly, reflectively, inwardly I have continued to make the choice to worship my King regardless, purposely thanking Him for where I have been because I know that in and through all things He has great purpose.

This morning came the breakthrough and the lifting of the cloud – for which I am utterly thankful, for He did not have to allow the breakthrough so soon.  He revealed to me the source of my discouragement.  I have been weighed down by a sense of hopelessness.

This is interesting because consciously I know and seek to live daily that my hope is in the LORD and nothing else.  And let’s be clear.  Hopelessness is NEVER from God.  Through God we always have hope, because He is in control and in Him we always have a beautiful future through eternity because of Jesus!!!  I know this.  You know this.  We all seek to live it.  And yet this morning, I needed His reminder.  Unwittingly I had slipped into the pit of hopelessness and did not even know what it was.

Why?  I know my assignments from Him.  I know that I am part of a remnant army called to help others understand Him and His way enough to be called themselves to be part of the group who will live lives for Him according to His way, rising up one by one to be His love and represent the righteousness of His way on earth as in heaven, permeating our culture with the attractive fragrance of Him until many, many seek and find Him!!!  When I speak of living His way I am not speaking of a legalism which will manifest in perfect lives, for none of us will ever be perfect.  Meant here is a love for God which finds its expression in hearts which want to do everything and live every moment for Him.  These are lives where we seek to mirror the values of His Kingdom in heaven on earth.

Integral to this is the increasing understanding of the value and dignity of every human being: the born, the as-yet-unborn, the ill, the aged, the executive, the laborer, the homeless, the prisoner, the invalid,…..every human being.  Foundational is the understanding that we are either under God, or we are not and that if we say we want His blessing and His help, then we need to understand what living “under God” means.  We need to respect and follow what He says about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, the importance of fidelity when married and of keeping chaste our bodies which are His temple when not – to allow God with His Way to elevate our thoughts above the emphasis on sexuality as the ultimate of human existence and re-direct our attention to that which is spiritual, not just carnal and finds its pinnacle in devotion to Him.  Necessary is the comprehension that God speaks to us, if we will listen and that we cannot follow Jesus Christ, if we are not listening and looking for where His Spirit directs us. Critical is knowing that if we profess faith in Him, there is an inherent allegiance which goes with this where like Mary, Joseph and Jesus we say to the Father: “not my will, but yours”.  Essential is the leaving behind of the self-centric mentality, even for those of us who believe, which focuses on turning to God to get what we think we want instead of trusting God to be God (having our best interest at heart and asking Him constantly what He wants of us.  It is crucial to finally grasp down deep within us that everything (EVERYTHING!!!) we have is HIS, not ours.  To Him belong our time, finances and every ability with which He has endowed us.  These are not to use the way we think is good, but the way He leads us, where He leads us. (Again, daring to learn to listen so we can follow.)  Indispensable is the comprehension that we have nothing to fear when He is our God; in fact, it is the fear of the LORD, which is the beginning of Wisdom.  He is our true and only wealth.  He is all that we will ever need, for He promises to supply the rest.  To have our eyes opened to the joy and freedom of worshipping Him with abandon, experiencing the power and strategy He releases in response, and then having the courage and perseverance born of faith to take daily steps in that direction as He leads.  Allowing Him to lead us into how to integrate our faith with every aspect of our lives, including how we vote and otherwise participate in the stewarding of our country through involvement in the governmental process as responsible citizens, in a way that honors Him above all else.

These are some of the messages it is so important that we understand. The mountain to be climbed to get these messages out recently once again has seemed insurmountable. Who will hear?  Who will understand?  Who will care? In other words, as one begins to climb doing one step after another, only after the ascent has begun does the fullness of the obstacles to be overcome and the many hills in between become visible. Who can do this?  For a moment the mountain to which He has called me has seemed too high, the path too rocky and long, the destination of a nation which recognizes a need for God and its return to Him, too difficult to reach.  And so this has been the root of the temporary sense of hopelessness which manifested in the dullness of depression.

This morning I am so thankful for the freedom of realizing its source!  First, was His gift showing me why my senses had been dulled.  Next He reminded me of a basic tenet of following Him.  We are not responsible for the result of the work we do for Him, only for our own obedience to the steps He sets before us.  He is responsible for the result.  It will take His power to accomplish it. We do not even have to worry about the final result, no matter how big the problem/challenge He has shown us. We are only responsible for our obedience to the steps.

This is something probably most of us know, but sometimes oh-so-inadvertently we forget and hopelessness creeps in.  Oh the freedom of once again realizing all we can do is obey!  There is nothing else He requires of us.  We do not carry the burden for the result. He does.  He will do what He has promised and redeem a people who at the moment do not even know He is real.  All we each have to do is our part.

And so my gratefulness increases.  I will obey….  I can obey with great joy because I do not carry the responsibility for the outcome.  God does and He is faithful.  I choose to move forward rejoicing that He has blessed me with good work.  I can delight in every day.  I do not have to worry about the bigger picture.  He is the Victor.  He is the LORD.  I am His child.  I am His beloved Bride.  All things are in His hands, not mine…..and so today, I feel energy returning, for He has blessed me with the definition of that which has oppressed me in recent days.  And with eyes open to the hopelessness which has sought to slow down my listening for, hearing and obeying the voice of my Lord, now I can go forth and do my day – not in the melancholy of hopelessness, but with great joy!  Will you join me?

PSALM 25:5 (NIV)

Guide me in your truth and teach me,  for you are God my Savior,  and my hope is in you all day long.

Elizabeth Fulgaro is a wife, mother, writer, inspirational speaker, worship leader, composer, singer & recording artist.  She is also a Certified Financial Planner and Accredited Financial Counselor with a heart for helping Christians understand and steward their finances God’s way. 

For books, worship cds, Bible studies and teachings written by Elizabeth Fulgaro or to schedule her to come speak to your group please visit www.holyspiritpress.org  Worship music audio clips can be found at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ElizabethFulgaro For information on her work for the military and their families please visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org   Eagles Nest Foundation is a 501(c)3 corporation. Contributions are tax-deductible.

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God’s Grace & Power + Our Free Will = Defeat of Evil

You give us the armor and sword to bring victory when we embrace Your way and choose You as Savior, Lord & Guide. There is nothing better than Your Way. All the rest is deceipt. We look to You for Your answers.

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro (c) 2011   www.holyspiritpress.org   www.eaglesnestfoundation.org 

God is Sovereign.  He is Supreme.  He is Victor and Conqueror.  He and all those who are with Him win….in the end (and for all eternity.)  However, we must be aware that while “in the temporary tents of our bodies” there is evil all around us.  Evil is anything which is not of God.  For if we are not of God and with God, then whether by default or on purpose we are against Him.

Evil often masquerades and exalts itself as good and right, though it represents a lie because it is contrary to God’s way.  Evil seeks to fool and makes fools of those who come into agreement with it.

Evil is rooted in deceit and exaltation of self, creating its own wisdom and declaring this false wisdom as truth.  Evil is fueled by God’s supernatural adversary who puts his supernatural power behind all things which are not God’s way in an attempt to broaden the influence of his own supernatural spiritual kingdom.  The supernatural nature of evil cannot be seen with our natural eyes, for as we have learned as Christians, our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places.

God’s supernatural is always more powerful and conquering over that of the adversary.  However, we are not supernatural and therefore need God with us in order to defeat that which comes against us.

Knowing at its root our battles are  supernatural and spiritual, many of us have worshipped God as He has asked.  We know worship causes Him to release His power into our circumstances.  We have prayed without ceasing.  We know prayer invites release of His power with His answer.  Yet though we have sought to assault evil spiritually from our victorious position in Christ as Redeemer, still in our communities and homes evil can lurk seemingly unscathed.

This is because evil is not conquered by worship and prayer alone.  Worship causes us to enter into the Dwelling Place of God where we are in Him as He is in us.  Worship adores God, acknowledging His rightful place as Leader over our lives and welcomes Him, inviting His presence and strategy.  Prayer partners with God for His perfect purposes and will to be realized and the Holy Spirit responds to prayer by moving situations and people into perfect position.  But the deliverance from evil does not just happen, though God has set everything in place to make it available.  Deliverance must be reached for and grabbed.  Like a gift set before us, it must be opened and received to have its intended effect on the recipient.

Thus the final element to the conquering of evil in our society, and the deliverance (the setting free) of individuals and whole areas from it, is the free will of each individual involved.

Those who are already free from a specific evil in our society, need to stand against it – not in condemnation, criticism and hate, but in firmness and unwavering conviction which finds its root in love of God and wanting His Way.  We worship, pray and act and as the Holy Spirit touches those around us in response they each receive opportunity to choose God and His Way as well.  God responds to the worship and intercession of those who love Him and are already free by charging the atmosphere with the power of His Spirit and putting the people in place to offer opportunity for those who are not yet free of evil’s grip to grab the hand of another and find their way out.

Though the foundation of worship and intercession preceding action is vital because it places us under God’s covering and gives us His strategy (and His supreme power to execute it), the people surrounded and effected by the evil individually must choose God’s path, which Jesus illuminates as He shines His light through us in their dark places.  Unless they so choose, the Conqueror, Jesus Christ, will not assert His conquering, healing, restorative power into their lives, but will respect their free will.  Thus in the end, God does not let evil win.  The individual does.  Every individual has a free will choice which must be exercised to decide whether or not to allow that which is evil to continue to exist in his or her life.

For each person who chooses God, if he or she then will press into learn to hear His Spirit’s voice, He will guide the individual in all things, including leading him or her out of any remaining bondage and into the freedom He always intended for that individual.  In so doing, evil in whole regions will be defeated, one consecrated worshipping, praying, Christ-following life at a time.

EPHESIANS 6:10-18 (Amplified)

10In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].

     11Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.

     12For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

13Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].

     14Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,

     15And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the [a]firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness [b]produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.

     16Lift up over all the [covering] shield of [c]saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].

     17And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit [d]wields, which is the Word of God.

     18Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).

Selah! [Pause, and calmly think of that!]

END

Elizabeth Fulgaro is a wife, mother, writer, inspirational speaker, worship leader, composer, singer & recording artist.  She is also a Certified Financial Planner and Accredited Financial Counselor with a heart for helping Christians understand and steward their finances God’s way. 

For books, worship cds, Bible studies and teachings written by Elizabeth Fulgaro or to schedule her to come speak to your group please visit www.holyspiritpress.org  Worship music audio clips can be found at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ElizabethFulgaro For information on her work for the military and their families please visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org   Eagles Nest Foundation is a 501(c)3 corporation. Contributions are tax-deductible.