There is power in hope. Regardless of the way things may look, when you have hope, you can count on a brighter future.
For 25 years we lived in a house which had been built in 1877. While there, one of my delights was being surprised by many outbursts of color as shrubs bloomed or bulbs suddenly created a splash on the scene.
And there were trees galore – of all sizes and shapes.
One of my favorites was an oddity. There was a tree which had been cut down, but which had refused to quit! It had a stump dwindling away, but right in the middle of the stump, was a tree. Standing tall and proud, this tree had grown right up out of the center of that stump.
I loved that tree. It wasn’t really the prettiest one around, but it spoke volumes to me.
Then I ran across these verses.
For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again. And its shoots will not fail.
Though its roots grow old in the ground, and its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant. (Job 14:7-9)
That tree became a picture of hope for me.
Is there something in your life which seems dead? Your career? Your marriage? Your relationship with a child?
If so, pray and ask God to show you how to proceed. He is a God of Hope, and He will begin to impress upon you pictures which are different from what you see with your eyes.
Ask Him to guide you to verses in the Bible which uphold your vision of hope, and start speaking those verses to yourself and to the world around you.
As you do this, you will be developing your very own arsenal of weapons against fear, doubt, and depression. You will find yourself seeing with spiritual eyes more than the natural.
Then do what He says.
That’s how you fight the good fight of faith. And it’s how you turn things around.
Now be persistent and be patient.
Be like that Tree of Hope in my yard.
When that tree first got cut down, I’m certain that it looked completely dead. There was no evidence that any life remained.
But at the scent of water (in your case the scent of the Holy Spirit speaking life to you), the green in the tree began to grow. It had to fight its way to become a tree again. It had to be persistent and patient.
Eventually the shoot overcame the obstacles and won its right to be a tree again.
That’s like you and like me. We are determined not to be cut down and destroyed.
We are coming back. We will make the changes we need to make, and we will come back. Stronger. Taller.
That’s the way it is when we follow our God’s direction. We always have hope for a better day.
Our God is faithful to guide us to that victory.
May your Christmas season be filled with God’s hope!
Frederick Douglass was one of the great movers, shakers, and thinkers of the 19th century. As a young slave in Maryland, he learned to read – and began to teach his fellow slaves by reading the Bible.
Determined to be free from slavery, young Douglass escaped and fled to New York to a safe community for freed slaves.
Then his attentions turned to freeing others.
Frederick Douglass established a newspaper, North Star, and became a writer and orator. Douglass traveled the United States and into Europe speaking for the abolition of slavery – and for women’s rights.
He wrote several autobiographies, sharing his stories of slavery, deliverance, and his Christian views.
Douglass was truly a remarkable man. One who stood up before his time. Before it was fashionable.
His quotes are significant nearly 2 centuries later.
One is especially significant today.
I have one great political idea. . . . That idea is an old one. It is widely and generally assented to; nevertheless, it is very generally trampled upon and disregarded.
The best expression of it, I have found in the Bible.
It is in substance, “Righteousness exalteth a nation; sin is a reproach to any people” [Proverbs 14:34].
This constitutes my politics – the negative and positive of my politics, and the whole of my politics. . . .
I feel it my duty to do all in my power to infuse this idea into the public mind, that it may speedily be recognized and practiced upon by our people.
An amazing man. An amazingly accurate outlook.
[Frederick Douglass, The Frederick Douglass Papers, John Blassingame, editor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), Vol. 2, p. 397, from a speech delivered at Ithaca, New York, October 14th, 1852.]
My grandson, Charlie, is in Middle School now, and a very bright guy.
Recently I thought of an episode which happened several years ago. He was about three, sitting on my lap, when with wide eyes, he began to tell me his story.
Spider Man, Batman, Pink Venom, Black Venom, and Green Goblin were having a “spend-the-night party.” He animatedly continued to create this adventure, which eventually led to a gi-normous (that’s bigger than gigantic or enormous alone) box falling on their heads and they had to fight it off.
All of us listening to Charlie’s imagination on steroids, couldn’t help but chuckle. What a creative mind! You could see the wheels turning as he churned out his tale.
Later, in a quieter moment, I began to think how we adults lose that creativity. What happens to us? Why are we always so methodical and logical about any visions or goals we might have?
Why do we always settle for the “norm?”
If everyone “settled for the norm,” we would have none of the cutting edge technology, space travel, or medical wonders of our generation. So some are not settling, but how about you? How about me?
The Bible says that faith is the substance of things “hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.”(Hebrews 11:1)
The hoped for is the thing I want to talk about today. The hope is like a blueprint in your mind of what you are believing for. If you don’t have a picture in your mind of what you are believing for, then how can you have faith for it? You can’t!
In another blog, I talked about the woman who came to Jesus, pushing through the crowd to receive healing from a hemorrhage. She had been living with the condition for 12 years, and had spent all of her money on doctors, but had not received her healing. Yet she clearly had a vision of herself being healed by Jesus, because she said that she knew if she touched Him she would be made well.
That was creative hope, which didn’t settle for what all of the natural evidence suggested.
Can you imagine what her family might have said to her that day? They probably would have told her that she had been to the best doctors, now just accept this condition and do the best you can with it. They might even have told her that God wanted her to be sick. But she knew better than all of them. She knew that Jesus could accomplish what natural man never could. And she was right!
That creative hope is from God.
He created us in His image, and He always has a special plan in mind about the progression of things. He has special plans for you, but if you are always too busy to spend time with Him, you will never know these plans. You will never develop the Godly hope He wants for us.
Let me encourage you today to spend time with God and His Word. Pray and expect Him to answer.
Ask Him to show you some plans He wants for you. As you continue in this direction, you will begin to see desires drop into your heart…Godly desires. Desires that your faith can then catapult into reality.
In the meantime, enjoy the journey. It’s truly an adventure when we are walking with God!
You and I need triumphant faith.
All of life is in a state of flux.
Now you may think that I am talking about the current state of affairs. The virus. The discontent. The political divisions.
No. I am talking about all of life.
All of it.
From the time we are born until we die, we are going through changes. As we mature and have families, engage in careers, develop friends, we are continually encountering opportunities – and challenges.
That’s life. Everyone has challenges which need prayer and they need faith to overcome them.
Then we ask, “Is this supposed to be? What’s going on? And if it isn’t God’s will for my life, how can I change it?”
That’s when we go to that miraculous book, the Word of God, the Bible. We find out what His will is and how we can overcome. He gives us instruction.
Then we pray to Him and we speak that word – His word – into the atmosphere.
And continue to do that.
You know that
faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17 NASB)
So as we pray and meditate on what God is telling us, our hearts begin to grow in that faith. We continue to speak that word, and we find ourselves believing it more and more as we go along.
Time goes by. It takes time.
We want everything done instantly. We want to snap our fingers or find out a few words which can be spoken for instantaneous reward.
But we all know that life isn’t that way.
Just as Oaks start out as tiny acorns and eventually reach their destiny, so do we, our children, our health, our marriages, and our finances.
And so does our faith within us start as a tiny seed and grow to maturity.
A few year ago I had an experience with the Lord which I’d like to share. I had been fasting, praying, and reading the word.
I was reading in Matthew 13, when my eyes fell on verse 44:
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44, NASB)
That verse is very familiar, and there have been many concepts drawn from it. I had always thought of a pot of gold, or treasure chest, hidden in the middle of the field.
On that special day I saw something different. Quickly a picture flashed across my mind, like a mini-vision.
I saw a plot of land, freshly plowed and planted, with rows and rows of dirt. Since I lived in a farming community, the scene was very familiar. There was no green anywhere; only rows and rows of slightly mounded dirt, signifying that the seed had been put into the ground.
It was planted, but there wasn’t a sprig of green in sight.
Suddenly I knew what the Lord was saying. I had been praying for my children, as they were going through some challenges.
He was showing me that the treasure is the seed – the Word of God. When I was taking the word of God and planting it into the soil of my heart, and then speaking it out in prayer, I was burying treasure in my field – and it was hidden.
As I saw this picture, with no sight of green – only fresh dirt, I knew that the seeds which were planted would eventually spring forth into a luscious, green crop.
In the same way, as I planted and watered the seed of God’s word, there would eventually be a harvest.
So what about the “selling all that he has?” The Lord showed me that when you are in the midst of praying for something which needs to be changed, you will see plenty of evidence which could discourage you.
Until the change comes (the seed begins to produce), the circumstances will scream at you that nothing is happening. There is no seed; there is only dirt!!
But because of your faith in what your God is doing, you sell those thoughts- totally tossing them aside – and buy the planted field, knowing that the seed of God’s word is producing the desired result.
There is a process which takes time, and that is why patience is so important. If you give up in the middle of the process, you will never see the desired result. You have to hang in there and be patient, knowing that God is at work on your behalf.
Through faith and patience, you inherit the promises.
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:11-12 NASB)
So let me challenge you to look at those things for which you are praying.
Are you praying for health, family, finances, a co-worker, the awakening of the church in America and around the world?
Whatever you have on your heart to pray for, you will have many opportunities to give up. You will look around and it will look like nothing is happening. You will feel like you are wasting your time.
But don’t give up! Promise yourself and God that you will not quit, but that you will see this thing through. You will continue to look to Him and His word, and you will continue to pray it back to Him and to speak it into the atmosphere.
So be encouraged. Know that God watches over His word to perform it.
He will bring forth His word in your life as you bring it forth in your heart and tongue. If many of us will rise up and do the same, we can see great changes come to our families, our communities, our country, and even our world.
Never, never, never quit!
Do you talk to yourself?
I hope so. If you don’t talk to yourself, you might wind up in trouble.
Let me explain…
My 9 year old grandson was having trouble focusing on an assignment that he thought was boring. So my daughter tried to help.
She said, “Think of your mind as being like a computer. When you have trouble focusing, you have too many tabs open. Just close those other tabs so you can think about this one thing.”
“O.K.” He said…
“But, Mom, sometimes I have all of these pop ups!”
He said it just right, didn’t he? All of us can relate to the “pop-ups.” And usually those pop-ups are not positive thoughts. They are negative ones.
The “what if’s”…
So what do we do? We close the tabs, of course. And we close the pop-ups. We take charge of our thought life.
David in the book of Psalms demonstrates some terrific lessons. He took charge of his thoughts by talking to himself.
He said, Bless the Lord, O my Soul. And all that is within me, bless His Holy Name. (Psalm 103:1)
Then another time he said, Why so downcast, O my soul? Put your trust in God.(Psalm 43:5)
Or what about this: My heart is steadfast, oh my God. My heart is steadfast. I will sing praises to my God. (Psalm 57:7)
If you look through Psalms, you will see many times when David said, I will praise Him. Not I want to, but I will. He was acting from a spirit of determination. Not from his feelings. He knew how to close those tabs of negativity and replace those thoughts with faith and trust in God.
Right now, when there is so much anger, fear, and sadness in the world, we really need to learn how to do this. To take charge of our thought life, and put our trust in God. He is the answer for everything. Our shield. Our deliverer. Our Savior.
When we replace those negative thoughts with thankfulness, something powerful happens. What happens is that instead of fear and anxiety, true gratitude begins to rise up within us. We begin to thank Him, and even more gratitude rises.
Those negative emotions are replaced with hope.
Regardless of what we are going through, and sometimes it can be terrible… when we allow hope to rise within us, our outlook is different. We know that there will be a brighter future.
Now we are ready to pray. Our prayers won’t come from a heart of hopelessness and desperation. Our prayers will come from a place of faith.
We know that our God hears our prayers and we listen for direction. Then we do what He says. He has the answers, if we will do what He says…
We enter His gates with thanksgiving in our heart. We enter His courts with praise.
As we give thanks and praise God, let’s see ourselves entering His heavenly throne room. He has the answers.
Over the years I have had moments of great disappointment and injustice hurled at me. Just as you have. Everyone has had this happen to one degree or another.
When I would calm my soul through thanksgiving and go before Him, His love and grace would wash over me. There were times when I would just stay there and soak in His presence. There were other times when He would impress upon me some answers – some scriptures – and some steps I needed to take. Then I would take those steps.
One thing is for sure: God always has the answers.
So let’s do what David did. Let’s talk to ourselves and calm our souls.
Then with thankful hearts, let’s run to God for all that we need.
He’s always there waiting for us.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, once said, “I am convinced that God does nothing on the earth, except in response to believing prayer.” When God’s ready to put a new piece of His puzzle in place, He first impresses upon the hearts of His true prayer warriors to pray for it.
We see that principle in Luke 2: 21-52.
God always has His intercessors. While many of the church leaders are parading around in their priestly robes, trying to impress their subjects, God has some less significant people praying for His purpose.
These intercessors are the ones who see and recognize Jesus!
So we see Simeon and Anna. Neither of them is a person of position or great honor; they are simple people. Both of them are advanced in years and both spend lots of time praying. It is these two who God chooses to reveal the identity of Jesus.
Both of these people have seen in God’s Word that the Savior would come, and they are praying for it to happen. The Holy Spirit has revealed to Simeon that he won’t see death until he has seen the Christ, and that’s exactly what takes place.
The joy which comes from this man is evident as he recognizes Jesus and proclaims God’s Word. Overhearing these words, Anna agrees, and her joy exudes to others – the Savior has come.
God’s methodology hasn’t changed. There are many today who parade around in their pride and arrogance, ignoring God’s plan, and even discounting his Word.
Then there are others. There are those who love God and His Word, and who spend time praying for it to come to pass. Sometimes these people are unrecognized, even by those around them. But God knows what they are doing, and He is pleased.
Our world is in great need of awakening, and that’s a promise God has made to His people. As those who will believe God and allow Him to direct their prayers, rise up to their positions of prayer, we will see His plans come to fruition.
We have already begun to see trickles of it, but we will see more. We will see God move in the hearts of people, calling them to a greater life in Him.
Significant change is on the way.
I choose to be a part of His prayer team. Do you?
This is an excerpt from 30 Days: Daily devotions Based On Scripture by Suellen Estes. You may see more at amazon.com/author/suellenestes