I have watched more baseball in the last few weeks than I have in the past ten years combined. True, I am usually reading a book or doing something else at the same time, but I think it counts. My husband’s and son’s enthusiasm for the postseason is catching and I enjoy watching them root for the same team (or commiserating together). I’m happy the Chicago Cubs have made it to the World Series and I hope they win it too.
I find it interesting how a game can change many people’s perspective on life, even if temporarily. There is a buzz to life right now, at least among Cubbies fans (and all real baseball fans). You feel it at work, the grocery store, restaurants, on social media sites, and anywhere else people are gathered. Talk of the Cubs dominates conversations for young and old alike. Allegiance is reflected in what people are wearing each day and their ring tones playing “Go, Cubs, Go”.
What causes this buzz and excitement? Hope. Hope that the Chicago Cubs baseball team can really do it - they can win the World Series.
In the midst of all this post season hub-bub I have been studying the book of Hebrews with my boys. One word that could describe this book of the Bible? Hope. Real hope. Not nail biting, “I-hope-they-can-do-it-but-I’m-not-completely-sure” kind of hope, but solid and unwavering, “I-am-fully-convinced -no-doubt-about-it” kind of hope. Hebrews has once again concreted my faith in God.
The author is unknown for Hebrews, but God is proven the perfect Chooser. This author is a poetic, historical and literary genius. Beautifully written to the Hebrew people it presents the case for Christ using evidence from the Old Testament; lining up the prophetic words and what was lived out under the old covenant to prove the case for Christ being the Messiah and High Priest of the new and better covenant.
The evidence is overwhelming, undeniable and thrilling. After several chapters of presentation and encouragement, the author writes this in chapter 10:19-23:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
I find these verses to be nearly the book of Hebrews in a nutshell. Because Jesus is the answer to all things Old Testament and because of what he did for us on the cross, ushering in the “new and living way”, we can have FULL assurance of faith and can hold fast in our hope. No wavering! Why? Because HE who promised is FAITHFUL. In other words: because God says so, that’s why!
God tells us that if he has picked us to be on his team, we win. The World Series is in the bag and we can call ourselves victorious already. Jesus Christ, putting on his jersey of flesh for a time, hit the out-of-the-park, walk-off home run that saved us. Then he went and sat down at the right hand of his Father, job done (Hebrews 10:12). That is why the Bible is full of commands to rejoice!
So… rejoice! We can possess real hope because Jesus has already crushed the Opposition. We who are on the side of Christ remain on the field until all of our teammates are fully gathered together. We eagerly await the return of our Savior to begin the victory ceremony (Hebrews 9:28). Until then we walk in full assurance that it has been accomplished. “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf,” Hebrews 6:19-20a.
So, let the buzz begin. Spread the good news of what Jesus has done. Let your hope and enthusiasm be on display and affect the way you behave. Let this assurance of victory be on your lips as you encourage your team often, “…and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25b. That “Day” of His return is coming quickly. Be sure you are identifying with Christ and clothed in the Holy Spirit, not trusting in a short-sighted jersey of blue and red dust.
The Cubs may or may not win the World Series this year, I don’t know. I hope they do, but it is not something I hope in. My life’s hope is firmly in the hands of the One who has accomplished the eternal win and who has given me faith to believe that when he said, “It is finished.” He meant it.
The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. – Proverbs 15:29
Christian Women, be encouraged today by these straightforward words from the Bible. God hears your prayer! He keeps the wicked (non-believers) far from himself, but gives audience to those who are his chosen (those made righteous by the blood of Christ).
He is listening to your voice as you speak, knowing what you will say. The answers have already been written into your story by the Author of Life. These answers to your prayers will come about in perfect and divine timing just as God ordered them to be long ago. He is Master of your timeline.
With such a direct promise from scripture we sometimes struggle to believe and really think that God cares what “little old us” has to say. Don’t doubt, “…ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord,” James 1:6, 7.
Let the great depth of the meaning of, “he hears the prayer of the righteous” be felt in your soul. Let it be so wild and beyond your full understanding that this supernatural gift could only possibly come from the Living God who ordered the entire universe. Let it demonstrate his grace to you in a personal way - glorious grace underserved and unfathomable.
Exercise the portion of faith that God has measured out to you. Pray for wisdom (James 1:5), pray for more faith (Luke 17:5), pray that God will help your unbelief (Mark 9:24). Know that these prayers will be answered according to his will.
There are ways in which (while still being counted as righteous and belonging to Christ) our prayers to God can be inhibited. God will turn his face from a daughter who has been treading in sin and stinks like the world. This he will not embrace. Do not continue in sin or live with unconfessed sins against others. Place no barriers between your mouth and God’s ear. Check your heart in this so that your prayers will not be hindered.
Desire a closeness to God so that you connect with him in life-altering ways. Turn your face away from the world and look to the Lover of your soul - to him you can joyfully “pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Women of Christ, rejoice today that God hears your prayers! Your praise and petitions are not in vain, they are not disappearing in the wind or falling to the floor. They flow to the ears of the Almighty! He hears you, he loves you, and from him all blessings flow. Let this drive you to a life of wonderful and continual conversation with your God. Trust this promise and pray.
Women are amazing creatures. Often they don’t even realize how truly awesome God has made them. I was blessed to lead a prayer retreat for women last weekend, over 20 women gathered in a cabin to seek after God and to fellowship together. It didn’t take us long to connect over food, laughs, tears and good fellowship.
Women are quick that way, especially Christian women who feel a special connection long before we begin sharing our hearts with one another. Drop the pretenses, take off the masks, time to be real. Skip the small talk, let’s get to what matters and take it to God together.
I often found myself listening and watching them interact with each other in small groups, at meals or during down time. I was quietly in awe of how loving our Father must be to ordain this type of relationship. Sweet sisterhood. Nothing compares to it; bound by grace to be family forever.
Over and over I saw women discussing needs and opening up to one another, being real with what is going on in their lives - the struggles, the triumphs, how God is working, how they wished God would work. I heard scripture used as encouragement, as teaching and to shed light into difficult areas. Then they took their hearts to God in prayer. Going to their King who loves them and desires good for their lives. Trusting him together.
This is what beautiful women look like. Sitting together, Bibles open, smiles, laughs, tears, rejoicing, hurting and praying together. United by a common, perfect Savior. It is the way God created us to function, as one body with the same Spirit.
“But God has so composed the body… that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Corinthians 12:24b-26
We women should embrace how God has made us. No matter what the world tells us, we are vastly different than men and have been undoubtedly gifted in unique ways. What the world often sees as weaknesses are powerful strengths in disguise –our intuition, understanding, empathy, our nurturing ability, perceiving needs, helping, listening, providing gentle instruction, industriousness, a desire for healing hurts, having a heart for those in need, a desire for relationships, a heart for the family, and the list goes on. See Proverbs 31:10-31 for more insight into this list.
These gloriously potent feminine qualities are gifted to us by our Maker and aid us in living out a gospel saturated life. Give me my sisters in a prayer circle any day over a shopping trip, pedis or any type of girly pampering.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12.