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Posts Tagged ‘hope’

I wasted time a few weeks ago waiting for my daughter to finish work. Walking a few shops down, I found a wall hanging with this statement, “Until God opens the next door praise Him in the hallway.”  My first reaction was, “Yes, Lord I am in the hallway, but there aren’t any doors to open.”

 

I smiled to myself with tears rolling down my cheeks.

 

I’ve stepped out temporarily from ministry, which started a strong tug of war. The two sides pull hard with the intent of winning. On one end of the rope, confidence.  I have made a good decision to rest.  One the other end is busyness and the need to be back in the race.  As I talked to a friend about this struggle, he mentioned a devotional by L.B Cowman Streams in the Desert which gives a wonderful illustration of the periods of rests in our lives.  This is the author’s take on the period called rest:

 

 “There is no music during a musical rest, but the rest is part of the making of the music.  In the melody of our life, the music is separated here and there by rests.  During those rests, we foolishly believe we have come to the end of the song… He (God)* brings a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives, and we lament that our voices must be silent.  We grieve that our part is missing in the music. The process is often slow and painful in this life, yet how patiently God works to teach us! And how long He waits for us to learn the lesson.”  (Cowman pg.43,44)

 

Resting periods in my life (a masterpiece) is part of the grander piece. Sometimes these come as hardships, illness, struggles and trials or the everyday mundane.  These rests are times of silence and solitude in which He uses to grow me in my relationship with Him. God is the composer and conductor of my life and He creates rests for reasons.  Some reasons I see some I don’t, but all are for His glory and honor.

 

I love what Margaret Feinberg said in her book Fight Back with Joy, “Always be suspicious that God is up to something.” Even in the resting there is the hope that God is going to do something wonderful through it.

 

For me there are a couple of reasons for my rest: 1.  to grow closer to Him which in itself brings about rest  2.  To understand better who I am in Him, and how He sees me.  There is probably more to it, but that is what I’m observing now.  How cool is that?

 

Yes, I’m in a hallway right now that has no doors. I sit and wait in expectation when not only a door appears but opens and I walk through.  Praise God.

 

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” Psalm 46:10 (The Message)

 

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It’s been a long time since I have visited Solitude with the Father. Deep down I have longed to be here, but God has had different ideas. Which brings me to the word for my year; Hope.

 

In today’s world the word hope has strayed from its original meaning.  It’s usually associate with a “maybe” connotation.

 

The true meaning of hope is “expectation, expect with confidence.” As I have been studying this word, I found a hard saying by Paul in his letter to the Romans.

 

“…but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character and proven character, hope;” (Romans 5:3-4 NASB)

 

Here it comes.

 

“and hope does not disappoint…”

 

The first time I saw this I froze, tears welled up and a little anger welled up with the tears.  If hope (anticipation and expectation) doesn’t disappoint, then where was the transformation I prayed for last year?  Where is the totally changed person I expected?

 

The only transformation that came was a deep depression, where I would do anything to go to a far away place and be alone.

 

I was praying and in the Word daily, yet nothing changed except the dusk turned to darkness without even a flicker of one star. It was terrifying.  I have fought bouts of depression before, but nothing like this.

 

The last part of verse five says

 

“…because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

 

How could this be because of God’s love? The Holy Spirit whispered to my heart. “Christine, hope is expectation without your expectations to be fulfilled. Keep your eyes, ears, and heart open — not set and stubborn. Hope doesn’t disappoint because transformation springs from the love of God. In trials, hope is the expectation of how God is going to refine you.”

 

What I realized, God is going to transform, and grow me in any way He sees fit.  The depression was allowed, why? To show me, now is the time.  The time to take care of deep seated issues, fears, anxieties. I was going to need help with it.

 

It’s been a process.  And it isn’t over yet.  But one thing I do know, because I belong to God as His beloved child, I have hope that healing will come. Transformation will come. Experiencing God in ways I never thought possible will come. Experiencing stillness and knowing He is God will come.  I also know that it may not be in ways I think, but they will come.

 

It’s exciting and scary at the same time. With my eyes, ears and heart open to Him I wait in expectation with exuberant anticipation of what He will do. I have seen glimpses of Him through the dark. In fact, there are little holes He has punctured to let streams of light in.  He will continue to work through the trials to grow me.

 

That is the best kind of hope.

 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts. Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So My ways higher than your ways. And My thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55: 8-9

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Easter is the holiday that ushers in a new season.  Spring marks the end of the bitter cold, snow, and ice. The sun replaces the dreary gray skies with the bright blue horizon. Trees are turning green, bunnies are hopping out of their burrows, ducklings waddle down to the ponds with their mothers and the sounds and smells of new life are every where.

 

However, Easter is more than nature coming out of a winter’s nap.  It’s also an amazing  celebration of the new life we are offered through Christ Jesus.  Because of His willingness and the Father’s plan, He went to the cross to pay the debt that our sin deserves; death and eternal separation from God.  Then three days later He rose from the dead.

 

I know, there are those who say there are many ways to God, like there are several paths to reach the mountain’s summit.  Some of the paths are just harder than others.  I would love for there to many ways to God. That would mean more people wouldn’t go to hell due to their sins, but Jesus Himself told us the complete opposite.

 

 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.”

John 14:6  (NIV 1984)

 

The key word is “the”.  He is not a way, but the way.  He is not a truth, but the truth.  He is not a life, but the life.  What a comfort this is.  There is nothing we can do for an eternal relationship with God.  Nothing.  Why?  My good may outweigh the bad but that isn’t good enough.  The requirement is perfection.  Jesus was the only one who fit that description.  In the end it doesn’t matter how we see ourselves.

 

Jesus also gave us this hope;

 

 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies (*physically); and whoever lives and believes in me will never die (*spiritually)…”

John 11:25-26a

 

Anyone who is spiritually dead due to their sin and choose to accept Christ as their Savior and Lord, will be given a new life, and a abundant life in Him.  That choice also gives us a hope for the future even when we look around and see the mess our lives and the world are in.  God sits on His throne, and a day will come when this world will become new.

 

Friend if you have all ready accepted the free gift that Jesus has extended to you, praise God and celebrate this Easter.  If not, I would encourage you to visit the tab at the top “An Invitation”, which walks you step by step in what it means to be one of His children.  The Heavenly Father desires that all come to Him and be adopted into His family.  Jesus asks one more question:

 

“Do you believe this?”

John 11:26b

 

 *emphasis added.

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:22 (NIV1984)

Over the past few weeks I have been “weary” and “burdened”.  It started with a visit to the ER and over night stay in the hospital, finding out that the chest pains I was having were panic attacks.  But then depression set it.  Unfortunately this had been going off and on for a few months.  I couldn’t get moving on the things I needed to do nor the things I had a passion for (hence the lack of entries).  There was also the lack of desire to socialize, paranoia about what others thought about comments I made when forcing conversations, and crying at the drop of a hat.  Even though it hurt, I knew God was with me and had a purpose for what I was going through.

I finally sought medical help and now I am starting to feel a little better.  Even cleaned my house and got the laundry done in two days.  Whoo-hoo!

There are times however, I am burdened and weary from something quite different. Sin.  I find myself doing some of the same “stupid” mistakes over and over again, like losing my temper.  I wonder when I am ever going to change.  I even ask God, “When is Jesus coming again? I’m tired of fighting the sin”.  It does get me down, and my Heavenly Father has to pick me up, brush me off, and wrap His arms of forgiveness around me.  Then, only if I allow Him, does He remove the feelings of guilt and replace it with peace restoring my joy.

Christmas is more than gifts, and family.  I am much less stressed when I remember the true reason for this holiday.

One starry night, two thousand years ago, God left all the riches in Heaven and became a little baby born in a barn. He was perfect in every sense of the word. He had ten fingers, ten toes, two sparkling eyes and little button nose.  What the world saw was just another baby.  What the parents saw was the Son of God they were to raise.  The only visitors he had were smelly shepherds who were told of his birth by angels and a few magi from the east a few years later.

He would prove that He was God’s Son, by healing the sick, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf.  But His ultimate goal was to bring peace, comfort, and redemption to a sinful world that could not save its self.

This little baby was God in the flesh.  It tickles me when I see a baby around this time of year.  My imagination goes wild.  It’s amazing to me that my Savior was once a little one, who grew up and accepted the world for who they were no matter how bad or good they were.

That child brought hope, love and carried our burden to the cross because He loved each and every one of us.  He extends a gift to each person.  That gift is a relationship with Him and freedom from the guilt of our sin, and unconditional love and forgiveness.

If you have not accepted this free gift He extends to you.  Would you consider it?  I can’t promise He will take your problems away, relieve the depression or loss you may feel.  But what I can promise you is that He will be with you every step of the way.  He will give you the peace you may be seeking.

Take a few minutes and go to the tap “An Invitation” (at the top of the page) It will help you understand what is involved with accepting this gift.

From my family to yours, have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year.

“For unto us a child is born to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulder.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”   Isaiah 9:6 (NIV 1984)

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Our Future Hope

As a child, death was a scary thought.  As a teenager I told Jesus please don’t come back until I experience marriage and have children of my own.

Now?  I don’t know about you but for me, Christ could come back any time.  Sure I would like to see my grandchildren.   There are things I would like to do while I’m here on this earth.  However, as I see this world turning from God, struggle with my sin, see my children struggle in areas of their lives, I get tired of it.

My quiet time was in the book of Romans chapter eight verses 18-39 and what struck me was that in times of suffering, we need to focus on the hope that is to come.  The time we will be home with the Father.

Paul says in verse 18 that he even considered that sufferings weren’t even worthwhile to complain about when compared to what we would experience in Heaven.

Close your eyes for a few moments and try to picture what Heaven would be like.

For me I see lush emerald green grass, gardens of every type rose (my favorite) and flower.  There is light all the time (no need for sunscreen), huge forests. The lakes and rivers are so clear you can see the bottom, and to taste them would be like sweet honey.  Waterfalls are cascading into cool clear pools. Every one of the five senses would be experienced in the ultimate High Definition.

There is relief in knowing that I couldn’t make a wrong decision, or lose my temper.  But most  of all I imagine that I will walk with Jesus without shame for the wrong I had done. He tells me how much He loves me and gives me a big bear hug.

Oh, my friend, my description doesn’t even come close to reality, I’m sure, yet what comfort it brings.  To know that this life is not all there is, priceless. That is our hope.

Are you tired of the bad news on TV, your struggle with sin, your work situation or even the physical and emotional pain you may be experiencing?

Hear precious one, His promise to you,

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them.  They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelations 21:3,4     (NIV1984)

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