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Hope is found in His mercy.

Have mercy on me,
O God, because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.
Psalms 51:1-6 NLT
http://bible.com/116/psa.51.1-6.NLT

In order to find Hope, in order to know His unfailing love and His mercy – we must first open our eyes to see our own sins and rebellion. We must yield our rebellious nature of selfishness and pride and sinfulness – to acknowledge and accept what is sinful in His sight. It is only when we recognize our guilt, and when we recognize that His judgement of us is just – that we have learned the wisdom of what He teaches us so that we are ready for change. Yes, then we are ready for those old ways to die, to be cut out and cast off,  for those chains to be broken, for us to be freed from sin.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me— now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
Psalms 51:7-12 NLT
http://bible.com/116/psa.51.7-12.NLT

And our faithfulness, even that is, His grace at work. It is not found in our own strength,  but it is found in our own humbling ourselves to seek, find,  follow,  and worship Him as the Lord of our lives.

Once we’ve found enough wisdom to understand the Hope that is available in Christ, our old hunger and thirst for the things of this world is replaced with a new hunger for righteousness. We lay down those carnal things – those treasures and pleasures that the enemy has to offer us in this brief existence to distract us from our only portion and prize. We lay them down,  not as a sacrifice or a tithe or offering to God,  but because we realize they are a temptation, a poisonous snake,  a trap,  an unnecessary burden, and a fruitless path.

And we find that in doing this, the one and only worthy sacrifice – of our surrendered heart, of our surrendered life is being offered to our Lord God Almighty – not as a proud “see what I have done” but as a humble “forgive me for what I have done,  change me,  teach me your ways,  and use me for your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Yes, Faith is not our striving under our own power,  but us getting ourselves out of the way for Him to do the work through us.

Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
and they will return to you.
Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit— with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.
Psalms 51:13-19 NLT
http://bible.com/116/psa.51.13-19.NLT

You see,  once we have found Hope, and once we know the power of His Spirit that is found in Faith, we are walking in a different way than the rebel that we used to be. But we are still amongst the same world of rebellion that used to be our master – and our eyes are opened to those still asleep in captivity,  those still hungering for the only food they have known,  those eating their fill of sin and death – not knowing there is something better. And we find ourselves a soldier,  with a Sword of Truth coming out of our mouths,  and this, Word of God does not slay flesh and blood, but it does shine light on sin and rebellion and hatred and unforgiveness and anything that falls short of glorifying God. But that light has, a warmth and a glow that they have not yet felt – not the cruel coldness of their old master’s traps and addiction and unwanted consequences – but the warmth of the love of a forgiving Father.

Yes, it is this grace poured out in His blood on that cross,  it is the sacrifice that He made for us, that breaks us,  that tears down the walls, that allows us to bring forth a sacrifice – not of “slain evil men”, because our enemies are not flesh and blood,  but are the unseen evils of this world holding our brothers and sisters captive. No, we bring living sacrifices,  slaves set free from their old masters, lives awakened by the undeniable difference in lives that are powered by His Holy Spirit.

We walk with light that shines into the darkness. We walk with a fire in our bones yearning to share this Good News. We walk as the savory salt of Christian love and charity and sacrifice for our fellow man, even for strangers and enemies,  which is clearly different than the taste of the world’s ways. We walk as the trumpeter,  heralding the return of the Lord,  crying out,  “Repent,  for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” We stand guard as the watchman, sharing truth and accountability for the dangers of sin, of worldliness, of carnality, of anything short of a surrendered heart – because we know many do not hear, many turn back, many trample the Son of God underfoot willfully sinning after coming to knowledge of the truth – and as a result,  few walk the narrow gate and path to our intended destination.

Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.” He also said, “The Lord will judge his own people.” It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Hebrews 10:26-31 NLT
http://bible.com/116/heb.10.26-31.NLT

If this passage hurts you,  friend. If you feel as though you are bleeding from my sword, understand that I am not slaying you, but I am after your sin. It is my goal to drive this sword deep into the beast that holds you captive. But it is not your blood that is being shed. You are not cut and bleeding.

Get up and run to the, Lord,  and do not look back. I have been sent to free the captives, not to make them comfortable in their cages. Those feeding you sugar are fattening you up for the slaughter. Hear the Word of God. Let it touch your heart and motivate you into action. And do not leave your brothers and sisters captive if you are called and chosen. If you are spiritually mature and no longer battling to break free yourself, but you are trusting fully in the Lord this hour – Stand up against the enemy in Truth. Put on the whole armor of God. Prepare yourself for battle.