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!
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.
Note: I am writing this from a hospital room where my 94 year old mother-in-law is battling pneumonia. Prayers would be greatly appreciated.
God seems tough, doesn’t He? He has to be.
Just think about this most unlikely scenario. This enormous crowd of people (some scholars say about 6 million), who have been slaves under the fist of Pharoah all of their lives – and the lives of their fathers – and the lives of their fathers’ fathers – back for 400 years, are leaving to form their own nation.
This unlikely group of people, often hard-headed and self-centered, are actually God’s chosen people. They are chosen because of God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He promised to take them to their own land. And what he wants from them is to establish a relationship with Him, come to understand His ways, be faithful to Him, and some day be the nation which brings forth His salvation to the rest of the world.
They don’t look like they are on track for such a great mission, but God’s hand is upon them anyway. (more…)
On a cold winter night in 1981, I had a life changing experience with the Lord. I remember the year, because our country was going through a crisis at the time. A revolution in Iran had occurred, overthrowing the Shah, and putting the radical Islamic rulers (the same ones who threaten the world today) into power, and in the process, seizing the American Embassy. By the time of my encounter, all of the workers had been held hostage for more than a year, and there seemed to be no solution to getting them released.
That night, as I drifted off to sleep, a voice woke me suddenly. I knew that God was speaking to me, but the message seemed strange. “What if you could send a coded message to the hostages in Iran which would contain a perfect plan of escape?” I sat up in bed, pondering this unusual message. Of course, I thought that was a good idea, but the question seemed so strange. I knew it was God speaking, but I didn’t understand why he was saying that.
Then He clarified the statement. “That’s what I have done with My Word.” Suddenly what he was saying became crystal clear.
People all around the world are being held hostage by their circumstances. They may be victims of abuse, neglect, or poverty. They may have hurts, fears, and frustrations which run very deep. Anger, resentment, and bitterness may seem to rule their lives.
Yet they don’t have to stay that way, because we have been given a plan of escape. God’s Word is that plan of escape. It will point us in the direction of release from all of the negative influences which try to hold us, and it will give us the power to overcome those influences.
Some see the Bible as merely a history book; others see it as a rule book. Yet the Bible is so much more than either of those things. If we will begin to read it and ask Him to show us His plans and purposes, we will begin to see a God of unconditional love who is reaching out to us. We will begin to understand His power toward us and we will want to latch onto it.
Here’s the thing. We have to read it for it to make a difference, and we have to meditate on what we have read. It is a coded message which only God’s Holy Spirit can reveal in its entirety. As we read, pray, and listen, our eyes are opened to see realities we have never seen before.
Joshua 1:8 says it well. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
There’s wisdom in God’s word and there is power. When you allow yourself to feed upon His word, something happens on the inside of you. You find your faith and confidence increasing. You also see your world view changing – coming closer to the way God sees things.
The best part is that you receive the liberating message which sets you free from the negative elements of the world around you. You are no longer a hostage to these evil forces, but you are set free – into the liberty of God’s plan.
P.S. Check out my daily Bible readings available on Amazon. As you allow the context of God’s Word to come into focus, your life will be changed. http://www.amazon.com/Soar-Bible-Through-First-Quarter/dp/150521503X/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426682950&sr=1-3&keywords=suellen+estes
Thine eyes have seen mine unformed substance, And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was one of them.
I love that verse! Especially the words “unformed substance.” Think about it. On the inside of each of us there are gifts and talents, even desires, which we haven’t discovered yet.
Why is it “unformed?” It’s only potential; it hasn’t been realized.
Then what about the “days that were ordained?” God has plans for us – great days for us. It’s almost too awesome to comprehend.
I’m sure that when we get to heaven, we are going to be surprised to see what “could have been.” What was God’s plan? What great things had He planned for us to do? Which gifts had we never discovered?
Every time I read that verse I get motivated to “get with His program.” I want to dream God’s dreams and tap into His plans. Only then can I live the life He has ordained.
So how do I do that? I spend time in God’s Word, reading and getting insight into how to live this life. I also spend time in prayer, asking my Creator to direct my steps, reveal to me His desires, and empower me to carry out the walk.
Finding His best is always a process. It cannot and will not happen over night. The successful results are the product of a life lived with Him and for Him. Day by day and step by step.
Life is like a path, and as we walk down that path, walking closely with our God, we will come upon treasure troves which bring us to a new level of understanding and purpose. We will often say, “Oh, that’s why that happened those many years ago. I need that experience now.” And we continue to walk.
My prayer for you today is that you will see yourself as God sees you. You are unique – no one just like you. He knows your disappointments and frustrations, but He also has the answers for everything, if we just trust Him completely. He always wants us to shake off the sorrows, to get up, and to live our lives to the fullest, making every day count.
I pray also that you grow in your love for God and become closer to Him than ever before. May you continually discover your “unformed substance” and tap into your “ordained days.”