There is Hope for the Hurting

There is Hope for the Hurting by Jill Roleke

There is something about attending your younger brother’s funeral that makes a person do some heavy thinking.  When that death was a suicide the thinking becomes even more intense and the questions are numerous.

In my way of thinking, the one thing my brother lacked was hope.  Hope that things could be better. Hope that there was a way out of despair.  Hope that the future held good things. Hope that God could take the ashes of his life and make beauty from it.  Without hope, life has no meaning. There is no reason to go on or to live from day to day.

In Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) it says, “‘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.’”  I believe the word hope comes first in that verse because without hope we have no future.

If only there was a way to make everyone see that hope exists at all times. There is a God who loves us and He is all the hope we need.  He offers us hope not only for this life but in the life yet to come. We have the hope of living with Him for all eternity.

I have never been without hope in my life but reading Jeremiah 29:11 makes my hope grow. It tells me that God doesn’t just want me to have good things in my life, but that He has planned for them.  They may not be what I am experiencing right now but they will come if I trust in my God.

I want to give hope to those who are hurting.  To give them something to cling to when they are being hounded by the enemy of our souls.  Without hope there is no weapon to fight against the lies he plants in our minds.

Hope brings light to the darkness.  It is a lifeboat when we are set adrift.  It is something we can hold onto until rescue comes.

This is my prayer for all, directly from Romans 15:13 (NLT), “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

My Hope

My Hope by Dave Meyer

I want you to take just a moment to consider something before you read on. Answer this question: What is the worst thing that could happen to you ever?

What did you think about? An auto accident? Perhaps a terrible illness or unfulfilled dreams? However, I want you to think eternally. What could possibly be the worst thing that could ever happen to you?

In my devotions recently, this passage struck me:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

–Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)

I know these blogs are meant to be an encouragement to the readers. In this passage today, what appears to be a sharp discouragement and a warning to those who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, is a word of encouragement to those who have ears to listen.

In the Essential Guide to Healing by Clark and Johnson, Bill Johnson affirms that all gifts of the Spirit MUST be used in a motivation of love. What Jesus is saying to us today is simply this– are we working for God in a motivation and spirit of love? In our “Dare to Listen” class Pastor Debbie has emphasized the same thing. We must walk and operate the gifts in love.

If you reread the verse above, you will see that these people had been doing great works in Jesus’ name but Jesus says, “I never knew you.” Don’t you wonder how they could be doing miracles in the name of Jesus and not be known to Jesus? I do. Especially considering Luke 9:49-50 (ESV) says, “John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.’”

Therefore, the harsh words Jesus spoke about the ones who were doing great works in His name have not been operating in love, rather they are proud of their ability and doing it for their own good and not for the Kingdom of God.

They have taken the good things of God and like the people of the Old Testament used them for their own self-interest. You ask, is that possible? Yes, we have seen it in our lifetime, someone has been used of God and falls into sin, the work they did was not pleasing to God and He caused it to fall apart.

Now you are saying, “That is supposed to encourage me!?” YES! All of us are human and being tempted by the world, the flesh, and the devil. But there is a way to overcome the temptations. When they come remind, yourself the Word of God which says in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV), “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

God has promised us that He will help us! His Spirit will guide us and protect us so that we can hear “Well done good and faithful servant, . . . enter into the Joy of your Master.” Matthew 25:21 (ESV).

Enter Into the Joy of My Rest

Enter Into the Joy of My Rest by Pastor John Kitterman

I pulled the covers up over my head as I rolled over in bed.  I was painfully aware of the sun streaming in the window attempting to poke my eyes and sear my face.  The sun represented another beautiful day and I wanted nothing to do with it. I dragged my exhausted body out of bed and immediately sought my morning energy drink.  Shortly after I finished the drink, it began to mask the low-grade exhaustion that had become normal for me. Life seemed to be pointing out my bodies fallibility.

We experience life in seasons and in this particular season, I thought my schedule and responsibilities were more manageable than in the previous season, so I was looking forward to less exhaustion.  Instead of feeling better I continued to feel tired. Looking back, it’s all very clear that I was simply overdue for rest.

It is 100% true that we are called to rest, yet I neglected that rest in the name of necessity and kingdom.  But rather than add the burden of guilt to me, God reminded me of a new covenant relationship that He made possible to us.  Jesus did not destroy the old covenant, rather He fulfilled it and made a new covenant. Under the new covenant we are not only forgiven but we become adopted sons and daughters.  The picture of adoption is that our old self is made dead and a new self is born into the family of God.

Jesus said, “All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him. Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

There is such a completeness of Jesus’ declaration that all things are entrusted to Him that it’s so encouraging that the part He passes on to us is an easy yoke and a light burden.  The context of His words are in relation to the dozens and dozens of burdensome rules the religious leaders of the day had placed on the people. Jesus replaced the burden of the law with the invitation of relationship.  

So when I consider my life, its priorities, and rhythms, in light of Jesus’ words, I hear an invitation.  It’s an invitation to spend time with Him. Just like Jesus made His way away from the crowds to seek an audience with God, we are invited to make our way away from the many cares of this world and seek the face of Jesus through praise, pray, and silence. Not as a burden like a heavy yoke but as an invitation to have more relationship with Jesus.

As I honor Jesus by resting and seeking His face, He is faithful to meet me and commune with me.  And the result is that the more I rest, the more vision I have. The more I sit quietly, the more I hear from heaven.  The more I praise the, more alive I feel. The more I honor God in this process, the more I align myself with God’s principles, the more I see His hand released in me and through me.

Accept Jesus’ invitation to rest in Him today!

Oceans of Love

Oceans of Love by Linda Heath

When I was a teen we often went to the ocean. I loved it because standing there on the beach, feeling the wind, listening to the surf pounding and seeing the magnitude of the ocean put my problems in perspective. I loved it when there was a storm because as the storm raged outside, my insides got quieter and more at peace.

I got a glimpse of how BIG God is, just a peek, but enough to bring the troubles in my life to a better perspective. That’s the place I see God most clearly, see His majesty and recognize that any problems I have are so small compared to Him. He is big enough to handle it, to help me. This is my happy place, the place I go in my mind when I really, really need to feel His presence and comfort. In my imagination I sit at His feet, hearing the surf, tucked away from the wind, telling Him what’s on my heart. And He listens and loves.

Last week I got to stop at a beach on our way home from the cabin. As I stood with my toes in the sand looking out across the wide Pacific Ocean, I felt the Lord whisper to me ‘Look at the vastness of the ocean. My love for you is bigger! Look at the grains of sand on the beach. My thoughts towards you are more! My thoughts

towards you are good.’ Wow. How can I take that all in? How do I wrap my mind around that?

Psalm 139:17 in The Passion Version says, “Every single moment You are thinking of me! How precious and wonderful to consider that You cherish me constantly in Your every thought! O God, Your desires toward me are more than the grains of sand on the very shore! When I awake each morning, You’re still with me.”

Jeremiah 29:11 in the Amplified says, “For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.”

As tears streamed down my face from the sheer wonder and magnitude of His love for me, I listened to the pounding surf. The Psalm came to mind of deep calling to deep. The deep voice of the ocean called to something deep inside of me, pulling my heart closer to His heart. “Come closer, feel the depth of My love.” Each wave seeming to wash away another pain from the past, smoothing away rough places. Restoring life and hope and joy. So very healing. What a Good, Good Father!

In Psalm 42:7a of the Amplified, “Deep calls to deep at the [thundering] sound of Your waterfalls;”

Lord, I hear You calling me deeper. Deep into the depths of Your vast love for me. Deeper into knowing You. Deeper into what You are calling me to become. Your love is irresistible!

 

Human Pinball

Human Pinball by Shannon Tate

If we were living in the days of old, you would most assuredly find an monument constructed by yours truly in the grass division off of Highway 79 just north of Hermosa, SD. Now, as specifically random as that may be, I promise there is significance to the location.

My husband and I were driving north from visiting his family on Christmas Eve back to my family’s house in Rapid City when the weather went from mild snowfall to blinding blizzard in a span of minutes. This sort of weather change isn’t uncommon for the Hwy 79 corridor but nevertheless it was unnerving. Despite the worsening road conditions, we maintained our speed and concentrated on the road ahead.

We went up and over the big hill like usual when part way down we needed to move into the passing lane to pass a slower moving vehicle. To this day I couldn’t tell you what exactly caused the chain of events to occur. Whether if it was when we changed lanes after passing the car that we hit a patch of black ice or if our speed caused us to lose traction over a section of road, I have no idea but this is what I do remember.

I braced for impact all the while saying calmly, “We’re OK. We’re OK. We’re OK.” I felt peace as the truck glided sideways in front of the vehicle we just passed. I remember focusing on the white snowflakes blurring quickly across the headlights and the green glow of the radio display text. I remember my husband’s hands deftly maneuvering on the steering wheel to maintain control of the vehicle.

We’re OK.

Thunk! The back-right side of the truck hit an unknown object (mailbox? mile marker?). The impact caused us to swing back the other direction, toward the median.

We’re OK. We’re OK.

The truck slid off the road tail first and into the median effortlessly.

Whoosh! The median, being well stocked with fresh snow and grass, made a spectacular spray of snow and dirt which slowed us abruptly and corrected our direction up and out of the median, and back on the highway. By then he regained control of the truck and pulled off to the side.

Silence.

He got out of the truck to assess the damage. No other vehicles were impacted or affected. No one was hurt. The vehicle we passed was nowhere to be seen. The only thing that needed to be replaced was the back right tail light where something knocked us the other way into the median.

My husband got back in the truck, unsettled. After a few moments to collect himself, he said, “That shouldn’t have happened. We should be upside down in that median.” I wasn’t sure what he meant, afterall, we were right side up and sustained minimal damage.

He explained that as a volunteer firefighter, he’s rolled up on accident sites where the vehicle was turned over because the driver overcorrected into the soft-earthed median, which would almost always cause the vehicle to roll. All I could do or say in that moment was, “See, I told you we’d be OK.”

But how did I know that we would be OK? In that moment when we lost traction and started sliding, a peace came over me. Honest to goodness it was probably an angel that bumped us over to the median and another angel to catch us and push us back on the road. A game of pinball, if you will, where angels were the bumpers and we were the pinball. God was there for us that night, I know it.

If we were living in the days of old, I would build a monument in that median where God’s hand protected us from a very not OK situation. But instead, I’ve built a monument in my heart. To this day whenever we drive by that spot, I remember that night and say a silent Thank You to Him. How about you?

Do you ever have times in your life that things seem like they’re spinning out of control and you’re getting bumped around like a human pinball in a very not OK situation? Are you still waiting for that breakthrough moment where the earth can give way and allow you to get back on track?

The Word says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life,” Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG).

My friends, I encourage you to hold on to that “be still” moment and allow Him to take control of your worries and to settle your situation. He has promised so many good things to you and He’s not about to let you flip upside down in defeat! And when you do have your breakthrough, be sure to keep a special place in your heart for a monument and thank Him.

This Is Just the Beginning

This Is Just the Beginning by Pastor John Kitterman

As we come to the close of the all church fast, we look forward to the rest of the year – a year of positioning.  Regardless of whether you participated or not, whether you feel successful or had a difficult time, whether you started late or stopped early, I want to encourage you that this process, however uncomfortable, is one of positioning.  

In the quiet moments when we intentionally and with humility position ourselves before God, we often hear His still, small voice.  Nothing about the fast should cause you guilt because the apostle Paul wrote, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death,”  (Romans 8: 1-2 ESV).

In the process of positioning ourselves before God we have the opportunity come before Him in the same spirit as King David who wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalms 139:23-24 ESV).

The humility of the request aligns us with the words of Jesus when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall inherit the earth,” (Matthew 5:8 ESV).

In humility, we drain the negative effects of pride from our lives.  In humility, we acknowledge that every gift we have comes from God. In humility, we become instruments in God’s hands to implement His will.  In humility, we agree that God is the potter and we are the clay. A position of humility sets the stage for God to move in our hearts.

As we step out of the January and into the rest of 2019, we do so with the knowledge that we are not condemned.  Instead, for as Paul wrote, For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15 ESV).

Let’s tackle 2019 together knowing that we are sons and daughters of the Most High God for whom nothing is impossible!