OctoberHope

Never Lose Hope

This month our study is on Hope. What is it? How to we make sure we never lose hope? It is something that we can really claim to understand?

When I was younger I thought hope was along the same line as a wish. I hoped for this or that to happen. I hoped (wished) things would change.  Now I know it isn’t the same. Hope is so much more. For me a wish is just wanting things to be different while hope involves more of my heart.

never lose hope

As a woman of faith, I know that my hope should always be in the Lord. Scriptural hope is a heartfelt belief. I believe in the Lord, I know that He is always there for me. My hope is in His love and mercies.

Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD. – Psalm 31:24

For I hope in You, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God. – Psalm 38:15

Before accepting Christ, I was without hope. There were months when I didn’t think I had anything to contribute to those in my life. Everything I tried and worked so hard to accomplish was never good enough. I always fell short and ended up feeling worse than when I started.

I look back now and see that my hope was in myself and not in Christ. I had bought into the worldly position that I was in control of my life and if I only worked hard and long enough, I could have the desires of my heart.  Well, that didn’t work out quite the way I had expected.

I found myself alone with two young girls and no home or job. I was broken and alone. I really didn’t know where to turn. I also had too much pride to ask for help. I accepted all the labels of the world. I was a failure, I was inadequate, and I was not worthy of being happy.

So I dug in and struggled to make ends meet. I returned to school and eventually started a business which supported us. However, I was miserable and oh so lonely. I was tired of fighting for everything I had. I knew my life was hopeless and that I was just going through the motions of living and being a mom to my girls.

Then one day my heart was ready to listen. Perhaps I needed to struggle so long just so that I could finally get to the place that my heart was tender enough for the Word to pierce through the hard shell I had built to protect myself.

Once I accepted that I was worthy and loved…by of all people Jesus; the walls of self protection started to come down. I opened my heart and allowed His Love to start shining light on all the dark areas in my life. I learned that my hope needs to be in Christ.  He is the one that will always be there as long as I remain faithful.

Since that dark time in my life I have done my best to remain faithful. I can also joyfully share that Christ has been faithful to me too. He has been my rock. He has been where my hope has been well placed. He has never failed me.

Do I still struggle at times? Sure. As long as we are this side of Glory there will be struggles and suffering. The difference is now I know that I am not alone. Christ is with me. Even when I stumble and fall, I know that Christ still loves me and that I am worthy.

I have a couple of special verses that I refer to often when things are tough:

But as for me, I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more. – Psalm 71:14

Surely there is a future, And your hope will not be cut off. – Proverbs 23:18

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

They have given me strength because they are buried in my heart. I write them down. I pray them and repeat them when I feel that I am struggling. My body is weak, and I know that I will continue to fall short of what I should be doing for the kingdom. But having the hope of eternity with Christ makes all the struggles of this world worth it.

hope for the future

If you are struggling with hope and have accepted the labels of the world to describe yourself, stop now. Stop and put down those burdens of guilt and turn to the One that can offer you a future. A personal relationship with Christ is the only answer to having and understanding what having hope for a future really means. Start by reading the Word. Spend time looking up verses on hope and you will soon see that you are loved. You are worthy. You can have eternal peace and hope in Christ.

Hope in the Battle

None of us really want to think about it but it has been brewing for quite some time. The issues are real, the people are real. This is serious. Now everyone has to choose sides, and not just with their words but also with their actions. Some believe that the whole situation is being blown out of proportion, that nothing drastic like war needs to be done. And others believe that dealing with the situation is past due.

hope in the battle

A few months ago we thought that we knew who we could count on for support, but  it seems now that we must have been wrong. And it has been disheartening and more than a little disappointing to find ourselves standing up for what is right without the “cover” we had counted on.

The topic dominates conversations and news broadcasts. Everyone is consumed with the chess game, watching and predicting and commenting on each move. People are coming up with strategies of their own, trying to out smart the enemy. Some  think that time and talking is the answer, some think duct tape and plastic sheeting is the answer, and some think the “big one” with its little red button is the answer.

You may have already figured it out but I am not talking about the pending war in the Middle East or even North Korea for that matter. I’m talking about the very real spiritual war that is besieging daily. The war that is far more serious than anything Sadamm or the Korean president could hurl at us. The war that involves our soul, our eternal destiny.

The war is not pending, but raging. It is not a possibility, but a reality. And the lines have been drawn, sides have been taken, trenches have been dug. The time for action has come. In this war we need to be able to count on each other for cover. Cover that we sometimes take for granted. That cover comes in the form of hope and prayer.

When your brother or sister in Christ is battle-weary, they need you to step in with your hope to fortify where theirs has faltered, with your prayers to cover them while they rest up for another round. They. Need. You!

We throw around the phrase, “I’ll be praying for you.” Sometimes we are serious at the moment that we utter the words, but quickly forget to follow through. We have so much going on, our own battlefields to take and war plans to implement. But then the person we promised to cover in prayer gets caught in the crossfire or worse, gets pinned down by the enemy because of our casual pledge. They  were counting on us. This is war. Souls hang in the balance.

only one hope

In this war we have only one hope and it is the person of Jesus Christ. Our victory is sealed but the war rages on. We have got to stop being so casual about fighting this battle. Start by reading and memorizing Ephesians 6:10-19. It’s time we got suited up. In this passage, you get suited up first, then you pray. That is huge!

Why? Because this is war! When you have on your belt of truth, your breastplate of righteousness, your shoes of readiness and peace, your helmet of salvation, and your shield of faith, you are finally ready to pray. All of your vitals are protected, you are able to focus, you are in the battle, you have chosen your team, you are ready to fight victoriously.

So, have you chosen a side? Are you suited up? Are you ready to “cover” sisters who are also engaged and fighting to take back the mountain? Are you willing to commit to do whatever He tells you? Are you ready to get into the war? God needs each one of us to fight and pray although the victory is won.

Let us bolster hope for each other and pray for one another without ceasing.

Hopeful Expectancy

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
For by it the men of old gained approval.  Hebrews 11:1-2

Not all hope is created equal.

hopeful expectancy

I’ve used a phrase or two that sounded like, “Oh, I hope that _____ happens.” or “It would be nice.”
Those phrases are wishful thinking, not true faith in action.

Bible hope should look like belief, not a wish.

That way of thinking was brought to light when something that I thought was a good idea to implement (wishful hope) needed to have some belief (Bible hope) put on it to see it come to pass.

Hope is expectancy. It’s what helps me in standing in faith.

Have you seen your child have that hopeful expectancy? They know without a doubt that what they’ve asked for is coming because you told them it would. They also know that you’re a trustworthy parent.

That’s the way that I always want to be when it comes to my relationship with Abba Father. Hopeful expectancy. Standing in faith. Belief without doubting.

Sometimes when I’d have hopeful expectancy about something I’ve requested, I’d hear a naysayer whisper, “Now, don’t get your hopes up, sweetheart.”

But as I thought about that statement, I asked, “Why not get my hopes up? Am I not expecting what I’ve requested?”

The Bible does say in Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

I think I’ll keep my hopes up, thank you.

Are you possibly in a place right now that you need help getting and keeping your hope up? Do you want to have hopeful expectancy?

hope is expectancy

I want to encourage you to go on a HOPE search. If your Bible has a concordance, that’s a wonderful place to start. There are also online aids like Bible Gateway, Blue Letter Bible, and Bible Hub. In addition, there is a fantastic 10 day devotional on the YouVersion Bible App or Bible.com by Christine Caine named “Staying Hopeful“.

I hope to hear from you! Let me know if any of these resources have been instrumental in helping you get your hopes up.

Hope for the Hopeless

Before we can understand hope, we must look at hopelessness. Many of us have felt the sting of rejection and the heartache of sadness. We have even felt despondent at times. But hopelessness? It encompasses pain on deeper levels. It is dark. And helpless. There is no way out.

hope for hopeless

Hopelessness is true despair with no glimpse of help. There is not one ounce of light shining in and all seems lost. There is no future to look to and no peace in the present.

And, before Christ, we were all hopeless.

Yet, Jesus steps in and gives us hope 
– for a future, for a present, for a life.

Hope brings light into the darkness. It brings redemption and a future to look forward to. There is hope where there was once hopelessness.

I have been in that utter despair and darkness. With no light beams reaching me. It was truly a pit. Yet, He stepped in, and first a little pinhole of light poked through that darkness, and I saw it. I was changed by just that little glimmer of goodness and glimpse of a future that wasn’t so bleak. And that light grew and reached further into the crevices. It was like the rising sun out of a black night.

Psalm 40:1-3
I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.

The light grows and broadens until it is penetrating each area that was once so dark. A once blackened room at midnight is filled with radiant light come morning.

And with each beam of light, hope grows.

And a future is promised. The present is lighter. The peace and joy that come only from knowing Him surpasses all else.

Therefore, hope is more than a feeling or a wish. It is a true anchor for our souls that offers a future of glory. It is what Jesus offers and the world can never give us. Because without Him, there is absolutely no hope. The only way to eternity is through Jesus. He is our hope. He is the One who lights our path into eternity.

hope for hopless

So, dear friends, are you feeling helpless? Hopeless? May we look to Him in these times that sometimes feel lost and dark. Because we are never truly hopeless. There is always hope. In Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father, May we all look to our One and only Hope each day. May we never waiver in knowing the truth that sets us free, sets our feet on a rock, and gives us a plan for a future. A future filled with glory far beyond this world. Far reaching into every dark and dreary corner is a Light that will shine and give us eternity. Amen.

Hope In Jesus

 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Shew! October seemed to sneak right up on us didn’t it? Fall is now in the air and that means the holidays will soon be approaching! With the holiday season quickly coming upon us, I felt the Lord leading me to talk with you about our opportunity for endless hope. When Jesus was born, it was a day we all will remember and will celebrate for our entire lives. Jesus was born with such a great purpose, to be our Savior!

hope in jesus

In that, we have hope for the future, that one day we will be redeemed. Hope that all the struggles and obstacles of our lives will not be greater than God’s purpose. Hope and the reminder that the present time we all have a divine purpose. Hope that no matter the day or the hour, we are never alone, as God is always by our sides. All of these moments of hope are here because of Jesus our Savior.

Jesus paid the ultimate penalty for our sinful lives by dying on the cross. He then rose from the dead so that we too would have eternal life, when we perish from this earth.  Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 1:1) is our hope for all things. Jesus came to bring us hope, but in that, He also is our hope.

we have hope

We have hope in all moments of our lives, that we are forgiven of our sins, we have eternal life when we accept Jesus as our Saviour, hope for a better tomorrow, and so much more. No matter what we go through we always need to remember to have that hope deep inside us.

Lord, we thank you for sending your son to be our Savior and filling our hearts with hope. We thank you for the unconditional love you give, the promises for our lives, and eternal life. As I go out today may the joy of the Lord be my strength and hope today. As we begin the holiday season, help me to remember the true meaning of Christmas. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

In Awe,

Hope in God Alone

Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD. – Psalm 31:24

Where is your confidence? Where do you place your hope?

hope in God

Although I’ve been a Christian since I was seven years old, I often unconsciously placed my confidence in myself and my circumstances rather than in God. I’ve always been a capable, can-do problem solver, so when things were going well, it was easy to think it was because I had my act together. 

My self-confidence was shattered, however, when my husband of 15 years left me with four sons, ages 9, 6, 4, and 6 months. I wasn’t capable of handling this. My can-do became can’t-do. This was a problem I couldn’t solve. As a single mom, I had to rely on God in a new way and place my hope in Him alone.

The truth is that none of us can rely on ourselves; when we do, we’re only fooling ourselves.

But God’s grace is sufficient for us, for His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I once heard a pastor say that suffering shifts our hope from something that is uncertain to something that is certain. 

The Bible describes hope in God as “an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19, NASB). People and circumstances are uncertain, yet we can safely place our confidence in God, knowing that His faithfulness is certain.

Are things going well for you? Thank God for His sovereign provision, and avoid the trap of placing your confidence in yourself. Are times hard? Are you tempted to despair? Place your hope in the wisdom and goodness of God.

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence. – Psalm 42:5 

Hope in suffering

Hard times are a necessary reminder to hope in God. And if we heed that reminder, we can build the habit of hoping not in ourselves, not in other people, but in God alone—in both bad times and good.

Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, According as we have hoped in You. – Psalm 33:20–22

When Hope Wears Thin

We had a bad week. Our air conditioner was leaking water onto the floor. Our gas stove was leaking gas into the house. We had air in the pipes that sounded like a ship leaving port every time a toilet flushed. Our septic system backed up.  We couldn’t use our bathrooms, wash clothes, or wash dishes. All of this happened in the course of a few days.  We were carrying loads of clothes and dishes next door to the neighbor’s house to be washed. In fact, we were carrying ourselves next door to be washed. It was a tough week and it was expensive. Mostly it was just frustrating. It seemed like everything was falling apart. Our hope wore thin.

hope wears thin

I’m sure you’ve had times like that. We all do. We just feel inadequate. And in those times, the world is right there to slap labels on us: unprepared, unreliable, disorganized, uneducated. Often we beat the world to the punch and put the labels on ourselves. We decide that we’ll just never get it together, so what’s the point? Just wear the label and suffer through it.in the story of Rahab. She is mentioned eight times in Scripture, and in five of those she is referenced as a prostitute. Two of those are in the New Testament. It seems like Rahab just can’t get away from the labels.

When we first read about Rahab in Joshua chapter 2, she’s working in a demeaning job and living in a detestable culture. Like the rest of the people of Jericho, she had heard the stories of the Hebrews and their God. But unlike everyone else, Rahab responded with faith instead of fear. She believed that the God of the Hebrews would deliver Jericho and she recognized in that God something she had never known in any of the Amorite gods. Don’t get me wrong. She didn’t understand it. She knew nothing about tabernacles or manna or scapegoats or wave offerings. She had never heard of the Mercy Seat.

She just knew that this God was different, truly powerful.

She had a faith-filled hope in God.

God saw Rahab respond WITH faith and He responded TO her faith.

God sent two Hebrew spies to confirm Rahab’s faith. He’ll do the same for you. If you will just hold on during those difficult times, God will send people into your life who will confirm your faith, who will let you know that you are seen and you are worth protecting. The spies also delivered a promise: Rahab and her family would be spared because she dared to believe in a God she didn’t know. It’s not about understanding or having it all together; it’s about believing and trusting.

hope is believing

When the walls of Jericho tumbled down, so did Rahab’s past. She climbed out of the rubble of the city that defined and confined her. She walked into freedom. In time she married Salmon, one of the spies that she had saved, and they had a son, Boaz, who would become the grandfather of David. She went from foreigner to family; from pagan to believer; from harlot to hero of the faith.

You see, we use labels to define our present, but God uses those labels to describe our past. I can hear Rahab say, “I was lost, but now I’m found. I was bound, but now I’m free.” Now let’s hear you say the same.

Practice hope, it’s a choice, believe and trust in His perfect plan.

Hope in Light of Darkness

Like a threatening rain cloud on a bright day, the darkness of life creeps in slowly. Before we know it, the sky is completely dark. Our souls seem to be smothered in darkness, grasping for hope. We fight it. Squirming and kicking like we are engulfed in a blanket that we’ve accidentally rolled up in during a nightmare. We scream out but our cry is muffled…the darkness keeps coming. We look for any evidence of this stifling suffocation to give way…and that’s when we see it.

hope

At first it might seem far away and faint, but it’s promise of warmth and understanding in the midst of our struggle helps relieve any fear that may be building in our hearts.

There you are, Lord! You see us in the midst of complete darkness. You are our light. You have not forgotten about us and you see and know our every inner and outer struggle.

Praise you for not forgetting us! Praise you for being our beacon of hope in the darkness!

Praise you for being there with outstretched arms to guide us through our struggles!

Psalm 33:17-22

A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.

Where do we place our hope?

When we are covered in this darkness, we have a choice. In whom or what will we place our trust?

hope

We might not place it in a horse like the author of this Psalm says. But what about our husband, our friends, a counselor, a preacher, doctor, our bank accounts, etc? In what do you typically put your trust first?

Putting our hope in anything other than our mighty God, our Lord and Savior, is a vain hope. Our Lord will deliver us, if we will wait in hope for Him.

Prayer over our Hearts

Oh, Lord!  In you and you alone do we put our trust. When the darkness of this world or Satan’s shameful reminders of our forgiven sins try to instill fear and inaction in our lives, we pray we will search for you and your truth. Your light shines brightest in the darkness. You are always pointing out our way home. We never need to fear for our deliverance, when we hope in you, because you have promised to deliver us from death!  We rejoice in your holy name. May we steady our hearts to wait on you. “May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”

In the One who is the light of hope in our lives and our ultimate Rescuer- Amen!

 

A Hope That Anchors Our Soul

Tears streamed down my face and I fixed my eyes ahead, signing loudly, vaguely aware that if I started wiping them away, I would become more conspicuous. But it was too late. Little hands tugged my arm and a little voice whispered “are you ok, mama?” I smiled and nodded, wiping my face and turning back to the worship.

hope

It gets me every time.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

My favorite words from my favorite hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson, cut right to the center of me every single time.

They remind me how so very often my weak and fleshly heart wanders from the Lord and His ways. How quickly I fall into discouragement. How unfaithful I really am. Is the same true for you?

But it also reminds me of the incredible hope that we have.

“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, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV

You see, our souls are anchored in Jesus Christ to the inner place… into the Holy of Holies… at the right hand of God. Our hope is in God alone. It is a hope that steadies our path and brings us back to Him. 

hope

That hope – the promises we have in Christ – strengthens us to persevere and battle discouragement, wait on God’s perfect timing in current trials, and walk in faith and obedience.

May we always remember in those hard times that we have power in Christ and hope in His name. It is the love and goodness of God that binds our wandering hearts to Him through the work of the cross. All praise be to Him!

Lord, I pray for encouragement and strengthening hope for our hearts. Help us to remain anchored and steadfast in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Senseless Hope

This is a very special day.  Four years ago today we lost our first grandson just hours before birth.

It seems like a sad way to start a post, especially since the theme this month is “Hope”, but it actually isn’t sad. Let me tell you why.

hope

Minutes after we received the phone call that they had lost Isaac’s heartbeat and were getting ready to do an ultrasound, I numbly walked to my car. I asked God what to pray for.  Should I pray for a miracle? Should I pray that our grandson was really alive and that this was just some scary misunderstanding? In a very quiet whisper I heard, “no”. It was at that moment that I could feel God’s grace wash over me and a knowing in my heart that He was not only present, but would provide everything we needed to walk this journey. The short drive to the hospital was the hardest I’ve ever made.

As I arrived and walked into the room where our daughter and her husband were awaiting the ultrasound confirmation, you could hear a pin drop. The tech came in and we watched as he searched for a heartbeat. It wasn’t there.  

On the screen, we could see Isaac’s perfect little body, created in the image of God…still, lifeless, peaceful.

There were a few friends there in the room with us and a few minutes later one of their phones started playing a song. I tried to turn it off, but couldn’t, so I left the room with it. I still couldn’t get it to stop playing when I realized that maybe I was SUPPOSED to listen to it. So I sat down in a nearby chair and listened while tears streamed down my face:

All who are thirsty

All who are weak

Come to the fountain

Dip your heart in the stream of life

Let the pain and the sorrow

Be washed away

In the waves of his mercy

As deep cries out to deep (we sing)

Come Lord Jesus come

As I began to worship, I invited Jesus to come onto that hospital floor. Over the hours that followed, His presence was so tangible and his grace so evident, we would be fools to deny it. Our daughter delivered their sweet little boy just 12 hours after induction. I watched her and Jacob draw strength from Jesus as they walked out the seemingly impossible with hope that didn’t make worldly sense.

We spent what felt like far too short of a time holding, kissing and loving on Isaac.

In the days, weeks and months that followed we experienced waves of deep and gut wrenching grief…and yet there was hope…REAL hope. We lived out I Thessalonians 4:13 that describes how, as Christians, we grieve, but NOT as those who have no hope. To grieve WITH hope is entirely different than grieving with NO hope.

And THIS is why we can have confidence…because He IS our confidence. There is no place we can go where His love does not go deeper still. Our feelings may tell us differently, but feelings aren’t always fact and, as believers, we can yield those feelings to the truth…that He is not only our reason to hope, but He IS our hope.