Tag: hope

Unity is a gift

Unity is a gift, and it comes from God. 

We are in dire need of unity today…in our marriages and families, our communities, our churches and our nation. In scripture we learn how God blessed His people with unity.

Hezekiah sought God’s guidance and blessing.  And God blessed: “Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what was ordered… following the Word of the Lord.” 

Paul also wrote about the unity of believers: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

So I believe unity needs to start with us, believers, asking for and being willing to seek it in our relationships – first, with each other.

Heavenly Father, I ask for unity in our church.   As we make decisions about our future, our finances, our lives of serving and ministering together, give us agreement in these areas.  Help us see our circumstances from Your perspective.  And regardless of what the world would say, give us Your wisdom.  Remind us to put our faith not in numbers or schedules or the plans of men, but in You.   

In our church, many plans can be prayerfully considered, but only Your plan counts.  And only You can bring it to pass.  Father, honor the desire of our church to bring Your kingdom into our community.  Show us how to most effectively do that.

Help us make all who come feel welcome and make a place for them to learn and grow and use their God given gifts and talents in our fellowship.

Lord God, I ask for unity of Your believers.  So many things divide us.  Even as one body, we are many people with many opinions.  We are overcome with the world.  We fight each other over things that are disputable until the world sees an inconsistent, arguing, critical body that they want to avoid at all costs; instead of being drawn into Your love and Your care for them. 

You give us endurance and encouragement in Your Word.  Let us draw on Your Word’s truth to live our lives. 

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  Father, bring us this hope.  Bring it into our relationships, our families, our church, our nation.  

Remind us to make time to read the Scriptures so we might receive this encouragement.  Let us learn so we will have the endurance we need.  Give us patience and humility so we can be used by You.  

Heart of hands

And as we live and work and serve together, we can be a model for others. It will take work. And we need God’s help. Through Him we can have the encouragement, the endurance, and hope for our future.

HOPE ! for 2021

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I once coined a definition of HOPE to be Hanging Onto Pending Expectations.

With Covid I suspended most of my expectations for the year 2020.  Did you too?

Did things you had expected to achieve, celebrate, and get done during the year get moved to a back burner and then reevaluated or even canceled as the pandemic went on and on?

It seems odd to me then, that now, many of those expectation have returned, upgraded to a “pending” status.

What seems strange, is that we are in a worse place now with Covid cases than we were in the spring and summer – when we thought we were in the middle of the pandemic and close to it being over.

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Is it simply because the calendar page has been turned there is more hope?

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God designed this world and put us in it to learn from it. To learn about Him and to learn about ourselves. And one thing we see here is the cycle of seasons. There is a time and a purpose for different seasons here on the earth and also in our lives.

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We have a time to blossom, a time to grow and be fruitful, time to let go of and harvest, a time to rest and regroup and store energy for the next coming season of blossoming, productiveness and fruitfulness. It’s an ongoing cycle.

So there has been an imposed season of rest during this coronavirus for many of us.

I have lot of respect for and appreciate those Frontline workers who have kept our grocery stores open, our streets safe, our water and electricity running, and our hospitals working to help and heal people. If you are one of those, thank you!

But for many of us it has been a time of sequestering. I’m living within the walls of our home with no immune system, minimizing outside exposure while awaiting a kidney transplant. And although I don’t know when, I’m hopeful there will be an end to the down time.

Not for the sake of getting back to what we used to call normal. But because I trust what I’ve learned by observing this beautiful world that God has given us. That something more is coming.

As I look out the window from my exercise bike every morning I appreciate blue – the blue of the sky that was taken away for many weeks with the gray of smoke and falling ash from wildfires in my state. I appreciate green – although the grass has turned yellow and brown, the pine trees are a deep green and remind me of life.

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Many people have expressed a newfound appreciation for things we used to take for granted.  How about you?

What are you thankful for – even in this time of loss?

When the time comes, I believe we will bring all the stored-up wisdom from the lessons learned in our down time, and move forward into a new productive time – seeing all the blessings God has placed in and around our lives.

Jeremiah spoke these famous words to a people who were going into captivity.  Theirs was to last 70 years.  I believe our time will be over sooner than that.

Here lies our HOPE:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

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Fear vs Faith

“I was afraid…”  These are some of the first recorded words that Adam said to God.  And if we’re looking at scripture, it’s usually the first thing angels say when they appear to men: “Fear not.”

Fear has been a part of the human condition almost from the beginning.

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There are a lot of things that cause fear in our world today.  People are afraid of being alone, or of not being accepted, afraid they won’t measure up to their own or others’ expectations.  Basic fears of losing something you have, or never attaining something you want.  Rejection, poverty, illness, vulnerability, death.  Loss of something treasured: youth, health, money, status, a relationship.

Some fears are even of fear itself.  Unfounded.  Faceless.

I love acrostics.  They’re a word play that uses the letters in a word to make a point.  So FEAR could be:

False Evidence Appearing Real

This is especially true of those things we worry about happening in the future because we can’t see all the pieces clearly.  We make guesses or assumptions and base our actions, our fears, on what may not even be true.

What are you are afraid of?  Is it something that keeps you frozen, unable to act?

Here’s another set of acrostics someone told me for FEAR:

Forget Everything And Run

or

Face Everything And Rise

While often my gut tells me to Run, my spirit calls me Rise.  It’s kind of like when you hear two separate voices – like the little angel and devil figures in cartoons that sit on your shoulders and give you opposing opinions.

When you Run, the Everything eventually catches up with you.  And you end up having to handle it anyway.  Often by then, it’s an even bigger mess.

adventure-1807524_640But when you Face Everything, remember that you are not alone.  You have resources you may not have considered.  And you don’t have to deal with everything at once.  Plus, you can ask for help from other people.  No doubt you already know people who can support you, encourage you, who have been through something similar and can coach or guide you.

The Rising gives a sense of confidence that builds as you do handle things.  And results in courage to keep you going.

FAITH can help dissolve FEAR.  In a way, it’s the opposite of Fear.  Fear can paralyze you with inaction.  Faith can move you forward.  While Fear focuses you inward, Faith helps you see beyond yourself.

Faith can be:

Feeling As If There’s Hope

And when your hope is in God, your hope is strong and true.  He is able and willing to care for you in any and every situation.  He is bigger than any problem.  Calling out to Him connects you to the Creator of the Universe!  The One True God.  The Everlasting Father.

So, what are you afraid of?

Call out to God and tell Him all about it.  Romans 8:31 says “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Isaiah 41:10 says “Do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Stand with Him.  Face Everything.  And Rise with Him.

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I pray you will reach out to God with every fear.  And that with God at your side, you will sense His presence, and Feel As If There’s Hope.

And in that Hope, You will Rise!

God’s Gifts on your Christmas Tree

I don’t know the author of this poem.  My oldest son, who is 40 now, came home with it from Pre-school 37 years ago.  And it has been a part of our Christmas ever since.

No other comments or pictures.  It is my prayer for you all.

I
pray
that you
will always see
God’s gifts
upon your Christmas tree.
You cannot touch them
with your hand
still they are there at you command.
They’re joy and faith
and hope renewed
with laughter for a happy mood.
And gratitude for each new day
with time to think and time to pray.
May the infant born
this Holy night
give grace to make your pathway bright
and grant that you will
always
see
God’s gifts
Upon your
Christmas tree.

Where is your Hope?

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I have some friends who are going through some really hard times right now.  Serious illnesses, death of a loved one, prison, financial hardship – almost to the point of becoming homeless.

Some of them are dealing with the stress okay and getting through the challenges with their faith intact.  But a couple are feeling so discouraged, frustrated, and helpless; they are losing hope.  I wonder if you know someone who is losing hope?

When things are going well, it’s easy to show and share your faith.  But when they’re not, it’s easy to wonder where God is.  And as a friend it’s hard to know what to say or do.

Sometimes standing with them and saying “I just don’t know what to say but I’m glad to be here with you” is enough.  Sometimes crying with them, or praying with them, or helping them with whatever small thing you can do is enough.  Or making sure they are connected with whatever professional resources are available can help.

But whatever we can do, we are not the ones they can hang their hope on.  And neither are professional resources able to solve every problem with a happy ending.

Of the friends who are doing okay, and have their faith and hope intact, I have noticed some similarities.

girl-1186895_640.jpgThey pray

They read God’s Word, the Bible

They have acknowledged their need to a small group of friends

They accept fellowship and support from this small group

They continue to focus on trusting God with the outcomes

Of the ones who are not doing as well, I have also noticed some similarities.

They go it alone

They deny their need

They have stopped reading the Bible and praying

They focus on the anger and frustration they feel

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If you have friends or loved ones who are in a hardship or challenge that is too much for them, do whatever you can to be the support they will accept.  When you can’t do any more, or if they refuse your help, pray for them.  Pray for them to turn to the One who has the will and the power to have a positive impact on their lives and circumstances.

Holding on to that faith during a hard season, I wrote this song as God encouraged me to hold on and not give up hope.  Put Your Hope in Jesus

When all seems dark and hopeless Your Word becomes a light

A calming reassurance that dawn will follow night

When your only hope is Jesus, then your hope is strong and true

For He’s the One who is able to care for and carry you

Put your hope in Jesus

You can trust the man on the cross who died for you

Put your hope in Jesus

He’s the One who is able to carry you

When all of life around you is so out of control

There is just One you can turn to

There is just one hand to hold

So take the hand of Jesus and cling with all your might

He’s the One with the power to brighten your darkest night!

kneelcrossPut your hope in Jesus

You can trust the man on the cross who died for you

Put your hope in Jesus

He’s the One who is able to carry you