Pointing the People to Christ

pointing to Christ

 

“… That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:29-30 Continue reading

Got Servant Leadership?

Servant Leadership is exercising real, godly leadership, as Christ did when He used a towel, and influencing, equipping, and empowering people to accomplish God’s purpose and plan.

(1 Kings 3:9; Luke 22:25-28; Matthew 25:21; Mark 9:33-37; John 5:19; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Timothy 2:24; Hebrews 13:17)

This is about serving others unselfishly while influencing and empowering them to grow in a Christ-directed, purposeful direction. This was an uncommon trait in Jesus’ time, just as it is in ours; do not let it be uncommon for you! Being a leader in the church, or in the home for a husband, is never a force of personality; it is earning that respect because you love and care.

We are not in leadership for power, control, or for personal gain. Rather, we are to point others in His direction by our example. Consider that Jesus clearly tells us that a leader should behave like a servant (Luke 22:26)!

Jesus took a towel and washed His disciple’s feet. This is an act we can easily glance over, missing its significance. But this was God, Creator of the universe, performing the lowest job in that culture—washing someone’s feet. If the President of the United States came over to clean your toilet, it would be a pale comparison! This is an example for us—we are never too high in our position to perform the lowest tasks, because, it is not the task—it is our servant attitude that is important.

Samson was a Judge for Israel (Judges 13-16). His primary responsibility was to lead his people, and defeat the Philistines. He chose, instead, to party and pursue women that were not right for him. The end result was that his strength was taken away; he was blinded and powerless. Only at the literal end of His life did he call upon God. He wasted his leadership and abilities on foolish, meaningless gains and manipulation. How sad that so many of our church leaders do the same. We are given precious opportunities and we squander them, pursuing trends, personal needs, and desires—and not God’s Will!

Real Biblical leadership for the church is never a force of Will or personality. Leadership embodies the fruit and character of our Lord. It requires being a servant before you attempt to direct others. If a leader just directs and never serves, there is a good chance he is not a real leader; rather, he is a pretender, exercising his agenda—not God’s call and Will.

Is real godly Servant Leadership working in you?

The Leadership Challenge P IV

Leaders with Responsibility

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees”. Psalm 119:9-12 NIV

Never forget who you are and what Christ has called you to. The leadership position is not a place of power and control over other peoples’ lives. It is a place to be humble before our Holy God and to respond to His grace with the best of our gifts, abilities, and time to further His Kingdom. Leadership is not about the personality of the leader, it is about being surrendered to our Lord and being a humble example of His character.

It has been my experience and observations over the years that the most qualified and best leaders are the ones who are hard to get. That is they are not usually seeking the position, you have to go after them. They do not want to be in the ‘limelight’, and they feel they are not qualified and able. The ‘what to be’ leader who pursues the position with lust, tend to be the worst leaders, because they tend to have distorted motives. Now these are just broad observations, make sure you and whoever is the leader has the right motives.

We are to act as examples of the Lord first before we can ask others to do so.

There are few things worse in the church than bully leaders who put others down and do not follow their own teaching. We cannot be in leadership with the focus of power and control over others, this is not the call and example of our Lord! Read the life of David and how God blessed him when his heart was in tune with His. And then take careful note of how and when David was not in tune with God, but was engulfed in his pride and lust, and the consequences of his actions.

The committee is not the ministry, but a huddle to plan the ministry!

Too many churches think that being on a committee is a ministry and the buck stops there for the ministry of the church. So what is the point in that? I cannot tell you how frustrating it is from a pastor’s perspective to be on a committee, such as Youth or Christian Education, where its board members do nothing to help the ministry. Their view is to only “oversee it,” but never see it for themselves or attend, let alone help out. It is not the call of the Lord to be a Christian supervisor, God does not need anybody to sit in a room to critique and manage His servants, who themselves are separated from the ministry. Do you see the absurdity in that? It is funny when you read it in a “Dilbert” comic strip of an incompetent boss, clueless to their task and duties, only to supervise their employees out of ignorance and apathy. I do not see the humor when Christ’s church is the example!

The church needs leaders who are involved in the ministry they are supposed to lead,…

…and if they refuse, they are the incompetent fools “Dilbert” makes fun of. We do not need this in the church! People are the feet to the mission and vision of the church, the leader will lead by example, and not from a chair or bully pulpit. The vision and mission statement are the instructions to build the model. If we try to build a model and don’t use the instructions, we will have a lot of pieces left over, and it will not look like the picture on the box. And if we spend all of our time reading the directions and never reach for the pieces and glue, what good would that be? Yet this is what a lot of leaders in the church do and then feel good about it. Our Lord does not feel good about His children sitting in rooms talking in circles and coming up with excuses when there is work to be done, and His message to be spread.

Meetings are important and necessary to do His work. They are the planning and springboard for action that needs to take place.

We need to see the committee as a football huddle, the strategy planning for the game, to plan the next play of action. As our coach, the Lord instructs us from His Word and prayer.

Do not lower your standards or compromise key theological points or Scripture for personal gain or to please some politically correct whim. Churches that compromise with Scripture and with moral and value judgments will be very surprised at the end of the game when they are called home for Judgment! We must take our task and call seriously, and take God’s Word seriously too.

Remember all the aspects of leadership require the practice of care and love.

This is the fuel to the call and attitude we are to model. This is what God calls us to do, to have the attitude of love and caring. This is what people need, and what makes a compatible church that people want to attend versus a church we go to out of obligation or flee from!

Leadership, as with all things with our Lord, has grace to it.

I have seen churches so picky with its leader selection that they pass up a lot of good people. And I have seen total boneheads brought in and the mess that occurs under their leadership. We must take careful heed to the responsibility of being leaders, and the awesome power that is at our hand, and the people under our care. With the knowledge of discipleship and growth in our Lord will come more responsibility, we must acknowledge this importance and essential element of the Christian walk. When we turn our backs to the essentials of the call and replace it with the quintessence of our own self-focus, we are spitting in the face of the sovereign Lord of the universe and the Redeemer of our soul; not a good thing to do.

So we must strive to be our best for His glory, always learning and growing.

We may never be perfect, and we will make mistakes, but the grace and the love of the Lord will allow us to persevere. The key element is to be our best for His glory, not to our whims, then we will be the great leaders that Christ calls us to. Then we will have churches that are healthy, are reaching their neighborhoods, and are filled with people growing in Christ who want to be there!

© 1994, 2001, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org

More here http://www.churchleadership.org/pages.asp?pageid=66919

The Leadership Challenge P III

 

The Training and Discipling of your Leaders must be a Priory!

Are your leaders effectively trained? Do they know what they are doing? If not why not?

Perhaps there has been no person in history who has had more influence on and instruction to the body of believers since the close of Scripture than Augustine. Augustine was the bishop of Hippo, who fought the decline of the Roman Empire and its lust towards self-destruction, and called Christians to an early reformation. He has had considerable influence on both Luther, who was an Augustinian Monk, and Calvin who quoted Augustine more than any other source, except Scripture. His “Confessions” is a must read for any serious Bible student and essential for pastors and leaders of the church!

Augustine knew human nature and the holiness of God well. He called God’s people to experience the Christian life with passion and the realization of our responsibility in the face of sin. He called leaders and pastors to “self watch,” that is to examine their spiritual condition, abilities, and sin. We must be intently aware of who we are in Christ and where we are in our walk with Christ to be effective leaders. If not, we will fail. It was true in Augustine’s time and is still true today. Because of our sinful nature, we require accountability to each other. We need to have people who know us, ask us about our prayer life, whether we’ve sinned, have been in Scripture and what we’ve learned.

Being accountable will incite us to grow further and not hide behind our natural laziness.

Accountability gives us the perimeters to be effective Christians because it forces us out of our self-desires and ourselves and into relationships with others, “as iron sharpens iron.” If the leaders of the church spend all their energies preparing themselves for their vocation, and virtually zero in preparation to be a Christian and a leader, how good and influential will they be? The disciplines of the faith will lead us to personal holiness and closer to our Lord. Time spent in Scripture and prayer, along with accountability, will hone the skill to be an effective force for our Lord and to further His Kingdom!

We must realize the responsibility we have as leaders and step up to the plate of challenge, with a surrendered will and passion to serve our Lord. Let our Lord reveal Himself to you in your devotions so it impacts who you are and how you are.

We will be effective leaders if we follow Augustine’s example. Augustine knows life well, as he spent the first 32 years of his life as the ultimate “partyer,” and then, at his conversion and realization of his sinful nature, devoted the rest of his life to show us the true way, not the self-centered party approach! The people we minister to will benefit greatly from us getting to know Augustine’s “Confessions!”

The best training is our realization of our dependence on God and each other. And the growth of our devotional life, coupled with our accountability, will make us the disciple that our Lord will greatly use. Is this not what the purpose and call of leadership is about, to serve our Lord and His people? We cannot serve Him unless we are His people and are His example in society.

The capable leader will be in tune to his gifts and abilities and will truly desire to grow in them. We need to read resources and attend seminars to further encourage and challenge us. I was asked at a recent youth pastors’ convention why I was there attending and not leading or speaking. My response was that I need to be learning too. If I spend all my time teaching, then I will not be learning effectively from other talented and capable people. Do not be the pastor or leader who sits in their office thinking they are better and do not need any training! We all need training and further education, and we cannot do this by being selfish with our minds and unwilling to yield from our pride.

 

The Leadership Challenge P II

Be a good leader who points to Christ and not to yourself!

All that it takes is a few wrong decisions where sin and desire have taken over the responsibility of our call. It will cause a ripple effect that will cost and keep costing until the church is distorted and destroyed, unless repentance and forgiveness places a firewall to end the shame. The leader has to ask themselves what will my decisions cost? Pride and immorality, and placing our desires over His has a price that can never be paid. We may think a quick prayer will be the cure all, after all God is love and my decisions really do not matter in the grand scope of the universe. This thinking is dead wrong! (Yes God is love, and then what do we respond to love with?) That cost will keep escalating with compound interest that only Christ can stop.

Clean strong leadership with a focus on Christ will bring riches. Sin will bring a cost that will foreclose on the ministry and joy of what we could have had. When we defy God, then all those around us for generations to come will suffer. Let us put a stop to this insanity with the firewall of who Christ is.

So how do we do this? Let God’s Word be the mirror to show your true character and response to His call and grace. This will allow us to see our own true selves and the areas we need to grow in and listen. Because the result of these characteristics is the care, nurture and the passion to grow in Christ, this is for the listener and the hearer. Our relationship with Christ gives us the motivation to be the “Lover of the Call.” Caring by listening gives us the motivation to be the “Energizer,” that leads to being an effective leader all stemming from “Following” and “Vision.” All these characteristics are synergistically combined to build the character and leadership “right stuff” that it takes to be a leader. If we leave out one of these characteristics then we will not be as effective as we can be and as we are called to be.

Do you make it easy for people to follow you, or do you make it difficult for them?

Ministry is not an easy task, nor should we expect it to be. However this does not mean we are to put obstacles in each other’s path for spite, no are we to put others down in fear they may be better than us. We are to create the path of least resistance, while challenging them to take ownership of their task and most importantly our Lord.

It is not always realistic to find people who manifest all of these characteristics equally and effectively. That is why a team mentality is necessary in leadership. Because there will be people who are weak in some areas that others are strong in. It is essential for the leader to be sensitive to their abilities and those of others so they know their weak areas and strengths. Therefore, an effective leadership team will have a combination of all these characteristics and be a synergistic powerhouse for our Lord!

It has been said recently by a prominent church growth guru that if the pastor is not a visionary, they should not be in the pulpit. To a degree this is true when vision is from the revelation of His Word. If the pastor, or any leader, is not capable of seeing the goal and call that the Lord has, what are they going to accomplish anyway? Not much. If the pastor and leader do not know where they are going or what to do, then they cannot possibly lead others. If vision is just a plan and mission statement to push ahead with what the latest polls say, or what the large church down the street is doing, then that statement from the church growth guru is harsh because that is not leadership. Mission and purpose are very important, but is no substitute for the pastor’s heart and the shepherd’s call.

The Leadership Challenge P I

Is it about our expectations or God’s characteristics? The answer is summed up on what is the purpose of your church? Is it painful, prideful and dysfunctional as to satisfy one’s ego and plans or is it Biblical and effectual, to glorify our Living Loving LORD?

Leadership expectations of pastors and elders are often unrealistic and not centered on what leadership is really about. Too often people confuse a strong-willed personality as an effective leader, leadership is not being strong-willed, rather having a strong sense of purpose that’s centered upon God.

The church of our Lord needs leaders, not petty instigators. There are too many churches that substitute a petty person for a godly person and see no distinction, because the people who put them in power do not know the difference. People who like to quote man’s ideas and not quote God, who like the social and psychological trends not God’s Biblical precepts, people who like to be in the spotlight and not be the light to point to the blood of Christ!

What are the Biblical Characteristics of a real called of Christ Leader?

The 11 Principle Leadership Characteristics: Vision, Knowledge, Energizer, Learning, Perseverance, Maturity, Love their Call, Spunk, No Fear of Failure, Followers and Listening:

  • Vision: A vision will have your primary call from Scripture, to hear and obey His Word!
  • Knowledge is being assured that what Christ did is relevant and impacting, and is a reality that must be accepted and committed to.
  • Love their Call is Passion, it means there is nothing better you would rather do than…
  • Energizer is the importance of influence, and being attractive with Christ who gets excited and is joyful for Him!
  • Learning is to learn and grow from the experience the Lord gives us so we are an example for His work!
  • Maturity is to know that our need is to be in Christ, and not to be to ourselves!
  • Perseverance is to continue in our state of grace so we live it out in our lives and walk with Christ to the end for our eternal reward!
  • Spunk is the willingness to take a risk and go beyond ourselves, our experience and knowledge and into what is best for the body of Christ!
  • No Fear of Failure is the ability to take a risk and keep the focus and attention on our call and obedience!
  • Followers is knowing that you cannot lead where you have not been, unless the leader is a good follower of the Lord they cannot lead others effectively!
  • Listening knows to be an effectual leader, you must know how to listen, all its takes is the will to turn it on and let it work.

None of the characteristics will work unless a foundation of maturity and Godliness is the foundation of the leader. Without a growing love relationship with Christ, you will have conflict and strife, and be running a nursery for adults instead of the church for Christ. If we choose not to grow and live for our Lord, then we are choosing to live for ourselves. So prepare yourself to be a baby-sitter in a nursery, who constantly puts out fires of hurt feelings and misdirected expectations causing all kinds of problems, all leading away from the call of Christ. You will not able to function as a leader, but will be functioning as a bitter, frustrated, unfulfilled, immature individual. And I do mean individual, because you will be going it alone without the support of the Holy Spirit and of our Lord because you will be acting contrary to His call and moving forward in the direction of your own will.

 

Handling Traditions in the Church P4

Who or What is Sovereign in your Church?  

Read Matthew 12: 1-21 and 15: 1-20, as Jesus deals with this Himself! 

The tradition of the Sabbath had a great start and purpose that got skewed; it was supposed to be a symbol of God’s sovereignty and Lordship (Ex. 20:8). It was also meant to be a reminder of the redemption to come for the people under the Law, the redemption that we now have in the work of Christ (Duet. 5:12). The Law had strict guidelines pertaining to the Sabbath—how it was to be observed, and not to be violated. These laws were intended to lead the people to understand and know God as well as to keep the peace and not allow people to corrupt or ignore it. Unfortunately, the religious leaders corrupted it by adding so many countless, additional ordinances that the people were too tied down to the extra laws to ever look up and embrace God’s Lordship. These extra laws became restrictions and, ironically, violated God’s law and intent. Think about it; how often do we do this today? 

Jesus reminded them of this and used Scripture to prove His point just as we are to do. It is ironic that the rules of the Pharisees were very precise, and if someone proved a point using Scripture, they had no recourse but to acquiesce to that point. Jesus obviously won the argument, yet they still plotted! Keep in mind: when you win the day by logic and reason through Scripture, even with kindness and tact, the war may not be over. It takes prayer and patience. Allow the Lord to work and make sure the parties causing the disruptions are being cared for too. 

Jesus’ argument, although sound and righteous, would have been appealing to the Rabbi or true follower of God. However, it may not have swayed a pretentious leader steeped in his pride and traditions. This is the same reason the Gospel influences so few today, or why a wise pastor’s counsel is met with hostility. Jesus’ message is blocked by the inclinations of people and their refusal to surrender to His Lordship. Jesus’ message will only persuade those who are impacted by the Spirit, and where His Will replaces theirs. 

Jesus withdrew from the Synagogue, and a great many people followed Him! Since first century Judaism was so diverse, taking a lot of people away probably did not devastate the Synagogue, as others would join in with those who held the same views as they did. This also happens with some churches today. The Scriptural quote in this passage in Matthew is from Isaiah 42:1-2, and is sometimes called the “Servant Song.” It referred to the nation of Israel when it was written. There are four Servant Songs (Isa. 42:1-9; 49:1-7; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12). Israel was God’s servant, yet she failed Him, disobeying by chasing after false gods and immoral practices. God called the people to be restored, while others took the punishment in behalf of the others, so not all would be destroyed (Isa. 44:1-4; 21; 42:18-19; 49:3-7; 52:13-53:12). Our goal in handling any conflict is restoration and learning so people can grow in faith and be better servants. Jesus came as the servant replacement. He is our substitute, and takes God’s wrath in our place (Rom. 1:18‑3:20; 2 Cor. 5:21). He is the ultimate Servant!

Handling Traditions in the Church P3

Synagogues or Today’s Church: Nothing has Changed 

The leaders of the Synagogues, as church leaders do today, would invite visiting speakers. Jesus was perhaps a visiting speaker in that service when He saw the man in distress. He took that opportunity to serve, as well as to confront their bad traditions and their hypocrisy.  Not all Pharisees were bad; many were pious and used their sect to motivate people to a deeper understanding and application of their faith. 

Synagogues would also host informal dialogues with visiting rabbis; this could be another thing that Jesus was doing. Most Jewish groups in that time did not permit any ministry on the Sabbath. The Sabbath was considered so sacred that the Pentateuch forbade any deviance from its practice. Thus, seeing Jesus gleaning or not washing his hands would have caused quite a concern. They saw Him as dishonoring the faith and Law. However, Jesus was not dishonoring it; He was fulfilling it! The majority group, the Pharisees, did not even allow praying for the sick. Other Pharisees did. The minority groups were also in accord, as the Essenes had even stricter rules, not allowing even an animal to be rescued. However, the Hillelites did allow for some ministry and prayer. This group grew to be the majority after Jesus’ time, up to the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. Thus, some of the leaders would use Jesus to help persuade people to their views, while others sought to destroy Him. 

Does this look familiar, as with power plays in your church today? You see, our Lord faced this personally and so will we. Synagogues were also the place each of these various leadership sects would go to debate. Asking counter questions was a classic, rabbinic way to engage in a debate, and is still the norm today. Now, we sit down and discuss, bring people to the Word, and in prayer, seek an equitable solution that honors hard workers and glorifies our Lord. 

How much more was another standard, rabbinic method of analogy. This was to show inconsistency, pretence, and hypocrisy. They did not interpret the Law with any form of logic or consistency, and Jesus pointed this out to them with their own words and law; He used Scripture! Our Lord continues, stretch out your hand; this implies that there is a connection between our faith and Jesus’ healing power. The healing was given, but it also had to be received! The initiative needed to be taken (Eph. 5:14). Just as Grace is given, we still have to act on our faith to receive it. 

By doing what He did, Jesus infuriated the Pharisees and the Herodians so much that they literally planned to kill Him! When your heart is so hard that you block out the Will and desires that God has for you, you start on a path of chaos and destruction that you will not even realize because you will be clouded by your own delusions and pride. We must beware of this so it does not happen to us or to those under our leadership. People who hang on to bad traditions tend to do this; I know I have at times. They had their religion so mixed up and skewed that they saw an act of kindness as a crime.  Those who had political power used it to put people down. To plot against someone would indicate this group of Pharisees did not have the power to carry out their wishes and had to go behind closed doors. Otherwise, they would have brought Jesus into the courts and charged Him directly.

Be caught up with Christ!

Christ bears our stupidities. What are those for you and your church? 

How can you and your church do a better job at bringing out the best in your people, be a blessing, and not to seek self-gratification at the expense of others? 

The bottom line is this: God is in control of your church. His hand is intervening—in us, in time, in the situation—and in His timing. We will have the bad, and we will have our setbacks, trials, and our human frailties; but most important of all, we have the ultimate Good—we have Christ when we are in Christ! The application for us is what He seeks in us—the distinction of real, effectual faith that makes us able to lead and teach (if one is a Bible teacher). For a leader, it is discernment between good and false teaching, and/or good versus bad love, Fruit, and character, and/or a good versus a failing church.  

What do you think the honest reputation of your church and leadership in the pews and in your neighborhood is? 

One of the deficiencies and fickleness of character that we humans possess is the propensity of being shallow. We are like a charismatic speaker over being told the truth, a flashy dresser over something practical, and a celebrity over an intellectual or even a friend. We want a religion that does not convict or teach because we want to indulge ourselves with our desires and a pat on the back. We want our ears tickled and our problems solved; we want to feel good but we do not want to grow in faith or learn from adversity. We want comfort and not have to bother with the time and work that true spiritual formation takes. In the Gospels, Jesus walked away from the people who were flocking to Him to go after the pious, fraud leaders. 

The question we must ask, is how shallow am I? What about the people in my church? Where do I need conviction; in what areas do I need to grow? Then, we need to get up and follow Christ comforts us and assists us to do the same, to lead others out of their shallowness into the depths of His presence and Word. Jesus knows our thinking, motivations, will, and heart; this is something only God can know. Jesus has supernatural knowledge and will see through any pretentiousness and shallowness; He is not concerned with the fad and excitement, but rather how we are leading others in growing their faith. Jesus did not trust the people who were so eager because He knew they would be just as fleeting (1 Sam 16:7; Psalm 139; John 2:13-25; 4:29; Acts 1:24). 

What can be done to deepen one’s faith and life?  

What are the challenges indicated in this passage for us today? What is our true priority in how we do our church? Where is our focus, rational, and purpose? Is it all about God’s glory—or ours? Is it about what we want—or what He requires? What is the purpose of your church? 

Do not be caught up with the stimulation of trends, hype, and speculations; rather, be caught up with Christ. Do not ignore the veracity of God’s Word. His Word is explicit; He tells us what we need to know and that is that. It is a tragedy to chase what is meaningless and fleeting then miss His wonders and Truth! We have nothing to add to His Word and nothing about which to improve it; rather, it is we who need to be approved.

How does your church glorify God?

Why is it impossible to glorify God in the midst of envy and strife, or in anger and bitterness? 

We, as Christian leaders have a debt to pay out of our gratitude for what Christ has done. We must consider reaching others in our care as well as the lost as an opportunity to obey our call. The whole purpose of the Jewish nation was to model God’s redemptive plan to all of humanity. Now the baton has been passed to Christians—both as individuals and collectively as the Church (Gen. 12). 

Keep in mind this imperative from God’s Word. We are to be rooted in Christ and to display humility, as our Lord exemplified. This means mutual acceptance of others, even those whose culture and beliefs are different. Yet, it is amazing how we Christians exclude one another over trivial matters, causing many church splits and schisms. This is what causes a lot of our problems in the world; we have created a poor reputation in the world. We often are the butt of jokes that we have well earned. It is not always satan or worldliness; sometimes we can be our own worst enemies (Matt. 23; Mark 10:45; 2 Cor. 5:20)! 

How do we as Christians cause church splits and schisms when we exclude one another over trivial items? 

God accepted you. You, in turn, must accept others! He did not save us to be self-centered; He saved us to be His ambassadors wherever we are, whatever we are, and whenever we can! 

What have you or your church done in the past six months to promote or model peace and unity? 

Consider that a bad leader is like a wild animal that will tear at another animal’s weakness and frailty. Do we do the same with others, and still praise the Lord? Yes, Christ bears our weakness and our stupidities, and He has patience with us when we are totally undeserving. But; what about our responsibilities? What about our call to be better? We need to make sure that when we lead, we are pointing others to Christ. We are to seek and bring out the good in others, as our Lord did with us, and be a blessing to others. We are not to seek self-gratification at the expense of others. Did you know that it is as impossible to be a Christian hypocrite as it is impossible to be half pregnant? Either you are—or you are not. The Fruit will show our true colors. We indeed have hope and purpose, as hope is the effect of obedience and trust in our Lord (Heb. 6:18). If you have no hope, then you have no vision and purpose, and no trust in the One who loves you ( Gen. 12:1-3; 17:7; 26:2-4; 28:14; 46:3; Ex. 29:45-46; 2 Sam. 7:9; Isa. 40:10; Mal. 3:1; John 1:14; 4:22; Gal. 3:8-16; 26-29; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 7-10; 13:20; Rev. 7:9; 21:1-3).