What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Source of Hope: Answered Prayer

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about prayer recently. I have been examining what I pray and what kind of answers I get. I find that when I pray for the things that are on God’s heart, the things that are His will, I get satisfying answers. So, I’m trying to pray more for those things and less for the lists of things I want and think I need.
1 John 5:14, 15 give me some insight into praying for God’s will. In The Message these verses say,
“And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening. And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.”
We can have confidence that He is listening when we are praying according to His will. I like knowing God is listening. I think He’s listening even when I’m praying nonsense, but I can have confidence He’s listening when I’m asking for the stuff that is the stuff He wants for my life. The question is, “What is His will?” I find those answers in the Scriptures and I don’t even want to pretend to know what His entire will is for my life or for the life of my family and friends. But there are some things I do know.
It is God’s will for each of us to know Him and trust Him with our lives. So I pray that I would continue to grow in my knowledge of Him and be able to trust Him more. I pray the same thing for my husband, my children, my friends, my acquaintances, and even for my enemies (of which there may not be any). I pray it for everyone I come into contact with. I pray that each would respond to God by believing in His Son, Jesus Christ, and coming into a trusting relationship with Him. That is why John wrote His letter quoted above. He tells us that in verse 13 which says,
“My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion.”
That’s His will for us. To know that we have eternal life. I pray that reality into everyone’s life.
There are other things that are His will for us. And when I pray for those things I get answered prayer. It’s a guarantee – even when I don’t see the answers immediately. So I keep praying for His will to happen in my life and in the lives of those around me. I find a lot of hope in knowing that answered prayer, when I pray according to His will, is a guaranteed occurrence.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Source of Hope: The Word of God

What separates hopelessness from hope? For me it is what I look to for my hope. If I’m focusing on the people around me, I can easily lapse into despair and discouragement caused by unmet expectations. The reality is that there are no perfect people who will live up to my expectations. That doesn’t make them bad people. It makes them human and flawed – just as I am human and flawed.
So where can I find the hope that I need to traverse through my days? Where can I find something or someone who will meet my expectations? In the Word of God, the Bible. Sometimes there are passages of Scripture that come to mind that encourage me and I remember those off the top of my head. More often I need to sit down and read a passage asking God to show me what I need to see for a specific situation or to deal with a specific emotion. Often what I get is a new perspective, God’s perspective, on the situation that allows me to persevere in situations that would otherwise baffle me. I can gain a sense of a bigger picture that allows me to overcome whatever adversity in which I find myself.
The Word of God actually tells me to look for hope in the Word of God. Psalm 130:5 says, “I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait and in His Word do I hope.” And, from the New Testament book of Romans it says, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) True lasting hope comes from seeing things from God’s perspective. The place I get that perspective is in the Bible. Therefore, one major source for any hope I have comes from reading the Scriptures on a daily basis.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dispersing the Darkness

Today, I feel kind of down. Not sure what it is exactly, but I know that it feels like the gloom will never go away.
But, what it feels like and what the truth is are two different things. I know that the darkness I feel is only due to an error in my thinking. God promised us light and in that light, darkness is pushed away. I have to seek out the light and it will come.
I know the darkness does not have to be permanent. Scripture says, “God is light, pure light, there’s not a trace of darkness in Him” (1 John 1:5, from The Message). If there is not darkness in Him, there should be no darkness or down feelings in me because He is in my life. He pushes away darkness – if I let Him. If I choose to dwell in the down feelings, the gloom, then the darkness will persist.
I don’t always know how to dispel the darkness. Prayer helps sometimes. More often just getting busy helps me push them aside. Sometimes talking to another person helps. When all else fails, a good cry is often in order. However, I don’t cry often, maybe not often enough. I’m often afraid that the gloomy feelings will last forever so I don’t want to do anything that might make that seem true. Crying is one of those things that make me feel like the gloom will never lift.
Today, the down feelings are persisting and I’ve already tried praying . . . worked for the few moments I could concentrate. Crying doesn’t seem like the right thing right now . . . there’s nothing specific to cry about. I could call someone on the phone . . . but they will want to know what’s wrong and I can’t think of anything. So, I’m left without an idea about what to do . . . except to get busy doing something which is why I’m writing this blog article. Although writing this article hasn’t necessarily helped reduce the down feelings, it has kept me busy for a few moments. That has lessened the intensity of the feelings.
I know some would say it’s okay to just let myself feel down. I know that it’s okay. I just don’t like it, especially when I can’t figure out why I’m feeling down in the first place. I want to have a reason. I want to be able to pinpoint it and say, “Ah, so I’m afraid of something,” or “Oh, maybe I’m not feeling physically well.” But, I don’t think that is the case today. Today I just feel down.
Maybe a nap will help . . .

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Living Hope

We can be born again to a living hope because Jesus was raised from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3 says,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
When I think about hope, I don’t always think of it in terms of the source of that hope. In this case it’s not based on just any past event being a predictor of a future event. It’s based on the resurrection of Jesus. I know it’s not quite Easter but in my Bible Study, on the Feast of First Fruits, I came across this idea: That we are guaranteed a resurrection because Christ was resurrected first. The Bible says in several places that Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection. If He was first then there are more to follow. We can count on our own resurrection and an eternity in heaven because Jesus was the first to be resurrected. That gives me a source for hope that cannot be compared to anything else.
Of course, it’s not a guaranteed resurrection if one does not know God through Jesus Christ. But, I am confident in my position in Christ and know that I have asked Him into my life to be my Guide, Ruler, and King. So, being assured that I’m in Christ, I am assured that I can be born again to a living hope because Jesus was raised from the dead. I don’t know about you, but that gives me a security I’ve only kind of had before.
I really like the idea that if Jesus was the first to resurrect, then there will be more. Who ever said that someone was first in a race with only one runner? That just doesn’t make any sense. In order for there to be a first place finisher there had to have been other runners. We are the other runners in the race of eternity. Jesus was the first place finisher but He was only paving the way for the rest of us. That gives me a sense of confidence in the resurrection and in my own resurrection. Someday it will happen.
So, because Jesus was raised from the dead and lives, we can confidently know the possibility of resurrection exists for us. That living hope gives me a sense of peace that I have not necessarily had before. This world is not all that there is.