Tag Archives: hope

December 8; New Life, New Hope

Romans 15-16; Acts 20:7-38

Our family grew by one yesterday. My niece in California gave birth to a daughter. Isn’t the birth of a child a precious, hopeful event? That tiny, totally dependent human entrusted to her parents to nurture, instruct, mold into the person she will become. Those tiny fingers and toes, that little body houses an eternal soul. What a responsibility! What a blessing!

Some people think this world is too evil, and think we shouldn’t be having children. I am not one of them. I rejoice at the birth of my newest great-niece. I see hope in her arrival.

As I read these chapters this morning I thought of baby Keaton. I pray that she will give her heart to Jesus at an early age and be the servant of the Lord Paul talks about. I pray her life will be a testament to the goodness of God, and will inspire others to want Jesus in their lives, too.

I know life won’t always be easy for her. But I pray that she will be grounded in the Truth of Scripture and know the strength that comes from a relationship with God Himself. So, using Paul’s words, let me say to our precious Keaton…

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Your Aunt Connie is praying for you, sweetheart.

September 22; Out Of The Depths

Psalms 121, 122, 128, 130, 134-136

What does it mean to cry “out of the depths?” How low does one have to go in order to be considered being in the depths? The author of psalm 130 has come face to face with his past sins, and they seem to have him feeling pretty low. Now, looking at a Holy God, he realizes he has no hope.

I believe having no hope is what is meant by crying out of the depths. There is nothing left when there is no hope, only despair.

Yet the psalmist cries out to God, “Hear me. Be merciful to me.” He recognizes that what he needs, what he longs for is God’s forgiveness for his sins.

So the psalmist waits. He waits patiently, and puts his hope not in himself, not in good deeds or positive thoughts, but in the Lord. He knows that God’s love is unfailing, that God’s redemption is full. And he knows God will redeem Him.

I pray all of us will consider our past sins and know what the psalmist knew – that before we accepted God’s forgiveness we had no hope. I pray that if you have never asked God to forgive your sins, you will consider those sins and realize you have no hope, either. But know this: God loves to forgive our cries from the depths.

I know that, because He forgave mine.

August 5; On Fire

Jeremiah 22:24-23:8, 49:1-33; 2 Kings 24:10-17; Obadiah 1:1-21

I will confess I was a bit down yesterday after my time in God’s Word, thinking about the persecution of believers in our world, and what that means for the future of the sweet children in my life. I pray that they will be grounded in the Truth of Scripture, believers in Jesus, and His through His precious blood and the repentance of sin. I pray they will be strong to face whatever the future holds.

I read the passages for today and, honestly, my mind kept wandering. I got to the end of it and realized I hadn’t gotten a thing out of it. So I prayed and asked God to speak to me as I read it a second time.

Sigh. There is a lot of destruction and judgment in these verses. Is that what God wants to say to me again today? I wasn’t sure I could handle another day of gloom and doom.

And, because I’ve made a 10 day commitment to keep my commentaries on the shelf, I started to read these passages a third time. This time I prayed, “God, if you are wanting me to address your fierce judgment again I will. But if there is something else you want me to see, I want to see it.

“Jesus,” He seemed to say.

There it was. Jeremiah 23:5-6. Jesus, the righteous Branch, wise, and just. The One who will protect His children. The Lord our Redeemer! Thank you, Lord, for reminding me there is hope. His name is Jesus.

Then, in Obadiah 1:15-18 I heard God speak of that hope. The day of the Lord is near. There will be deliverance – AND IT WILL BE HOLY.

God’s children will receive our inheritance: eternity with Jesus. And not one of those who reject Him will survive. Not one.

So, yes. Things are heating up in the world. Satan is on a roll. But we who know the Savior have hope. Nothing that snake can do needs to cause us fear, because God is on our side. Jesus will destroy His enemies.

It occurs to me there are two ways God eliminates His enemies. One is death – physical and eternal. But that’s not His first choice to destroy His enemies.

The other way God eliminates His enemies is by making them His children. When they repent of sin and accept His grace, they are enemies no more! That’s His plan. That’s why Jesus died. That’s what He did for me and you who were once His enemies. He saved us and made us His beloved.

So, dear Christian, let’s be that fire Obadiah spoke of. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to set us ablaze with passion and love and boldness. Let’s defeat Satan by leading people to Jesus. Let’s do our part to turn God’s enemies into His children.

Because if we don’t, none of them will survive.

June 9; Good, Bad, and Trust

Ecclesiastes 7-10

Bad things happen. Good things happen, too. We have successes, and we have failures. Some days the sun shines, and some days the sun hides behind clouds. Let’s face it. There are just some things that are out of our control.

Solomon says, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.” (Ecc 7:14)

We who have placed our faith in the Lord know that He works all things for the good of those who love Him. We count on that with assurance.

Some people question why God allows sin, or tragedy, or hardship. Honestly, I don’t see how He could have done it any other way. If it wasn’t for the night, would we even notice the day? If it wasn’t for sickness, would we appreciate health? If it wasn’t for bad times, we’d take good times for granted. If it wasn’t for sin, how could we understand grace?

Solomon seems to be saying, let God be God. “Who can straighten what he has made crooked?” Quit fighting against God, or wasting your time being mad at Him. He is God. And He’s got this.

King Solomon has a dismal view of life. I don’t. And you don’t have to, either. Do you trust God? He absolutely can be trusted with every detail of your life. You can rest assured that, whether the sun is shining, or if you are in the middle of a storm, God wants to show you what He can do, He wants to draw you to Himself.

Good things happen and bad things happen. Trust God in every circumstance. He can be trusted.

February 3; Discouragement Throws a Shadow Over Hope

Exodus 4:18-7:13

The Jews had it bad enough. Long after Joseph and his brothers were dead and gone, their ancestors found themselves slaves in Egypt. By now these people were born slaves, and the harsh treatment of Pharaoh and his thugs was all they knew.

But here comes Moses with a word from God. “I’m getting you out of here.” When the Jews received the news, they immediately bowed down and worshiped.

Hope. It’s a beautiful thing. Even a glimpse of hope can cause a heart to sing. That glimmer of light through the clouds gives reason to rejoice. And as a Christian woman, I can rejoice in the hope that is mine through Jesus. This life is not the end. These trials won’t last forever. My enemy Satan cannot win!

I don’t have just a glimpse of hope. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood, and His righteousness. I am His. He is mine.

But something happened to the Jews. God didn’t immediately open the doors of freedom and march them out of Egypt that same day. They continued to do the slave-thing, day after day after day.

Then, to make matters worse, Pharaoh didn’t take Moses’ request for a few vacation days so the people could go into the desert to worship God very well. In fact, he made it harder for the Jews to do their job, then beat them when they couldn’t get the job done.

You call this a rescue?

Moses pleads with God on their behalf, and God assures him He has a plan.

“…I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.”  (6:8)

Moses assured them God is true to His word. Don’t lose hope. But 6:9 says:

…but they did not listen to (Moses) because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.

Sometimes, even Christians who have placed our hope in Jesus, get discouraged. Health issues, jobs, relationships, plans begin to crumble, and we feel like those Jewish slaves must have felt. ” I can’t…”

Discouragement throws a shadow over hope.

Are you discouraged? Maybe God is using this time in your life to nudge you in a different direction. Maybe He is revealing a sin you need to confess. Or maybe His timing  just isn’t the same as yours.

Don’t lose hope. Don’t let the discouragement stop you from looking ahead, trusting that God’s got this, even if we don’t feel like He does at the moment. If you have placed your hope in the Lord, trust Him to open the doors, part the seas, rain manna from heaven at exactly the right time.

I pray you will let your hope throw a shadow over your discouragement.

 

 

Isaiah 12-15; Waiting AND Watching

Isaiah penned these words when the Israelites were at a very low point in their history. God had allowed hardship and captivity to come to the Jews as a result of their disobedience. Isaiah gave them hope.

“This won’t last forever,” he seems to tell them.”Those who abuse you will be destroyed.”

Matthew Henry tells us the Babylonians were destroyed. The things God told Isaiah were going to happen happened. But not for another two hundred years. The people who first heard God’s promises never lived to see them fulfilled. Many were born and died in captivity.

I am reminded God’s timing is not always our own. But even in our darkest hours, God does not leave His children without hope.

Chapter 15 begins with a prophecy concerning Moab’s defeat. Henry tells us this particular prophecy was fulfilled only three years after Isaiah wrote the words. I love that. God allowed His people to see concrete proof that He keeps His word, that faith in Him is not misplaced. It wasn’t everything He promised. But it was something.

I think God would remind us He hasn’t changed. Some verses come to mind:

We know all things work together for the good for those that love God… (Romands 8:28)

Is any among you in trouble? Let them pray… (James 5:13)

He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea. (Psalm 102:17)

Scripture tells us over and over to put our faith in God, and He will never let us down. He hears and answers prayer. You can count on it.

But sometimes it seems like we’ve been waiting two hundred years for an answer, doesn’t it? Reading Isaiah today reminds me that I can trust God with everything, including the timing of answered prayers. He’s reminding me that praying is not the same as rubbing a magic lantern and immediately being granted three wishes.

Reading Isaiah today also encourages me to watch in the meantime; to pay attention to the other answers to prayers along the way; to recognize God’s hand in other areas of my life. Because God wants me to know I can trust Him, And He’ll prove I can trust Him every day.

Reading these chapters in Isaiah strengthens my faith in my God. It helps me know that He is my hope, and I can trust Him with today, and tomorrow. It reminds me that I can pray, put my requests at His feet, and know that He’s got this. And it convicts me to take a step back, and let God be God.

He’s actually pretty good at it.

 

 

 

Psalms 22-31; Only God

One thing I learn from hearing David pour out his heart to the Lord is that, God is the source of everything we need. Whether it’s vindication, or strength, or peace, or comfort, or forgiveness, or protection, or victory over sin, God is truly able to do above and beyond what we ask or think.

There is the accepted philosophy in our world that says we can find those things within ourselves; that thinking the right thoughts, or doing the right things will bring about the power to overcome. But I will tell you, like David does, that leaving God out of the mix is a recipe for disaster.

In fact, adding God to the mix doesn’t even help. Until we throw up our hands and admit that we need God alone, our efforts will end in defeat. David learned this truth the hard way. And so have I.

So many times in these psalms, David acknowledges the goodness and faithfulness of God. I don’t see anywhere that David gives himself credit.

Whether we are burdened with personal problems, or with the state of affairs in our nation, may we look only to God for the solution. I like what David says in Psalm 31:

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands… ( vv 14-15a)