Tag Archives: Hope

His Plan

David was reminded of God’s grace.

David was in a season of turmoil. His family was a mess; there were many reasons for the messiness, and one of David’s advisors wanted to help him clean it up. He drafted a woman to tell David a parable.

The parable consisted of a widow with two sons. One son murdered the other, and the community shouted for the murderer’s head. If he was convicted, the widow would have no hope of continuing her family line. She pleads for mercy from the king.

David compassionately says she should receive mercy. Then, the woman applies the parable to David’s situation.

She points out David has a banished son needing reconciliation, and reminds David God himself makes plans to enable a banished person to be reconciled to the Lord. 2 Samuel 14:14 says, “All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again, but God does not just sweep life away. Instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.”

Mistakes; they have been made. Regrets exist. The list of things we would not do or redo can be extensive, but God knows how to handle all of it.

God has devised a plan to restore us to the family.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only son, so everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his son into the world, not to judge the world but to save the world through him,” Jesus explains in John 3:16-17.

Jesus also says in John 10:10, “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Jesus is the plan which enables man and God to reconcile.

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You’re Unique

We’ve all seen coffee cup phrases. The encouraging words that are just right to place on a coffee cup and present to someone as an encouraging gift. Most gift shops stock these cups and they make great gifts for a person who just needs a little encouragement. The phrases usually originate from Scripture as the Bible is full of them.

You do not have to read very far into Philippians before finding a coffee cup phrase; maybe even one of the most encouraging phrases in Scripture. It is in the sixth verse of the first chapter; he, who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion.

There is no denying this is an encouraging statement. The Lord is at work in our lives, and he promises he will complete what he has started. God is completing a good work in our lives in spite of what we may do to try to stop him. The Bible’s biography of Moses helps us understand how this truth works. In spite of Moses at times, God completed a good work in his life.

What do we have in common with Moses?

What do we have in common with Moses? This may seem like an odd question. You may be thinking, “We can’t possibly have anything in common with Moses.” True, Moses had a once in history childhood, grew up to be a shepherd in the desert, and spent his senior years leading the Israelites through the desert. Unique is an understatement when describing his life, yet we share common ground with Moses.

A Once in History Life

I said above Moses is the only one who lived his life story. God placed Moses in a unique time and called him to a unique purpose. Moses was the individual God needed in that moment to fulfill that part of his plan.

Glimpse through Moses’ biography, and you can see how each phase of his life prepared him for the next. Growing up in Pharoah’s palace would have enabled Moses to become familiar with Egyptian customs. Shepherding sheep in the desert prepared Moses to be the shepherd of God’s people in the desert. God began a good work in Moses and carried it through to completion.

The same can be said for us. God has placed us in a unique position. Every person has a spot in God’s plan and a purpose to fulfill. Scripture speaks of each person’s uniqueness.

• The Psalmist says to the Lord, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was woven together in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16).

• “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” (Jeremiah 29:11).

• Esther was told, “You are here for such a time as this.”

Glimpse through your own biography. See how the previous phases of your life have prepared you for the current phase. He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. Moses had a once in history life, and so do we. Share how the past has prepared you for the present with us.

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Reasons for Hope

1 Thessalonians 4:18 says, “So encourage one another with these words,” and since we can all use a dash of hope today, here are 2 ways verses 13-18 give us hope.

Our hope is in Christ.

Our hope is not in a temporary or fading person or place, it is in Jesus. We believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again so we could have eternal life. This means our hope in Christ is eternal; it is not going to disappear. As this passage declares, one day all who are in Christ will be united together with him.

We will be with the Lord forever.

Verse 17 reminds us that we will be with the Lord forever. As Jesus promised, he is preparing a place for us, and when it is ready, he will come get us (John 14). That day is coming. A day in which the Bible promises no more pain, heartache, struggle, or difficulty. It is a day for which we can have hopeful anticipation.

We are challenged to encourage one another with these words. Our hope is real, and it is in Christ Jesus.

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Our Source of Hope

“Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?”

These words of Psalm 77 are like those of a personal journal. The Psalmist’s ink quail puts to paper the truth of his thoughts. They may be private thoughts; embarrassment would come if anyone else knew how he felt. However, they are relatable thoughts. Many ask the same questions amid life’s troubles. In fact, you may have noticed the questions and wondered how I knew what you were thinking.

It seems we ask these questions in hard times, feeling the answer may be yes, but Scripture reminds us the Lord is always faithful, always keeping his promises. As Hebrews 4 says, the Lord will never leave us, and Isaiah 64 states the Lord works for those who wait for him. The Psalmist said he asked these questions, but found hope in remembering the Lord.

He says in verse 11, “But then I recall all you have done, O Lord.” As he remembered the Lord, the Psalmist hope was restored.

We too can find hope in remembering the Lord.

We can find hope in remembering his deeds.

In verses 11-12, the Psalmist says, “I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.”

Remember all the deeds of the Lord: how he brought the Israelites out of Egypt, how he helped Israel with the overwhelming task of conquering Canaan, and how he come walking out of the tomb. The Lord has always provided an answer to his people. Our hope can be restored by remembering his deeds.

We can find hope in remembering his character.

The Lord is holy. The Lord is merciful, gracious, loving, compassionate, faithful, and more! Remembering his character can bring us great hope.

We can find hope in remembering his power

The Psalmist proclaims in verse 14, “You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.”

God’s power has been on display throughout history. It was visible when he brought Israel out of Egypt, parted the Red Sea, toppled the walls of Jericho, and calmed the storm with a single word. The Lord’s power is awesome, and he works for those who wait for him. Remembering the Lord’s power restores our hope.

The Lord’s deeds, character, and power can provide us with much hope.  The next time you feel rejected, failed, or as if the Lord has turned his back on you, restore your hope by remembering his deeds, character, and power.

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“Are we there yet?”

“Are we there yet?” Anyone who’s traveled with kids has heard this question. The excitement of arriving at a destination and the boredom of sitting in a car, train, or plane causes this question to be asked. Truthfully, no one likes to wait. None of us are giddy at the thought of long checkout lines or waiting at the doctor’s office. Patience is a hard virtue.

This is especially true when we are going through a difficult time. We just want it to end! But it seems no matter how hard we work or how hard we pray, the difficulty persists. The doctor’s phone call with test results doesn’t come soon enough. We can’t shake the agony caused by this lonely feeling quick enough. It doesn’t seem like this rough patch in life will ever end.

David could relate. He had several rough patches in life lasting an extended period of time. As he was searching and praying for an end, he came to this conclusion.

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from the Lord alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me” (Psalm 62:5-7).

We can echo David’s conclusion. The Lord is:

  • Our rock.
  • Our salvation.
  • Our fortress.
  • Our refuge.

Therefore, the rough times in life can’t swallow us. The rough times will most definitely come and try to consume us, but they will not be victorious. As David says, our victory is in the Lord. We need only to wait before him in prayer.

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Hope on the Horizon

The day seemed ordinary. Vickie dropped Leo off at daycare and went to work. Later that evening, they returned home and spent family time with John. Everyone retired to bed with thoughts of the next day, but they had no idea what awaited. Vickie passed away from a heart attack in the middle of the night. It was a peaceful passing in her sleep.

This left John and 6-month-old Leo devastated. It was only a few short months ago they welcomed 2021 as a family. John and Vickie had several goals for the future, and now, all of that had changed. The man and his son are left to navigate through the world without Vickie. But, there’s hope!

A lot of folks read John and Leo’s story and relate. Change the names and a few minor details, and it becomes their story. 2021 has been a devastating year. Life was abruptly interrupted by death, divorce, or illness. The year is not wrapping up with the same joyous celebration in which it began. But, there’s hope!

Hope comes in knowing we don’t have to walk into 2022 alone. We may still be recovering from the devastation of this year, but the Lord says he is walking with us. In Hebrews 13:5, the Lord promises, “I will never leave you; I will never forsake you.” He didn’t leave when the bad news hit. The Lord is beside each of us, and he wants to grab our hand to help us walk into the new year and through this rough season.

Hope comes in knowing Heaven awaits. Revelation 21 promises a day where there will be no more struggle, and all of those in Christ will be reunited. For John and Leo, this means they will be back with Vickie someday. For you and me, this means death is not good-bye to our loved ones, but only see you later. The future is hopeful.

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Exchanging Gifts

Many people will be at the store the day after Christmas exchanging gifts. It is normal to receive a gift that is the wrong color, wrong size, or in some cases, just not desirable. Making these exchanges has become part of the Christmas tradition. Stores may even have extra staff to ensure the lines at the return counter do not become too long. Gifts can go back, and we can leave the store with something even better. There are many things in life we may desire to exchange, especially from the past couple years.

Gloomy is a description of many events from the past couple years. From global headlines to personal tragedies, there has been much in the way of bad news. Absorbing it all is burdensome and weary. It leaves us longing for rest just like the Israelites in Isaiah’s day.

Isaiah was delivering the Lord’s message to people amid much gloom and despair. They were toiling physically, probably spent emotionally, and struggling spiritually. Amid it all, the Lord sends Isaiah to bring hope of rest.

In chapter 9, Isaiah reminds the people this gloom will not go on forever. A different day is coming; a rest like none other is coming. Verses 6-7 say, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders, and he will be called wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s armies will make this happen.”

Though these words were spoken hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, they point directly to him. Israel was on the lookout for a political messiah. Someone who would establish rule and slam their enemies to the ground, but God had a different plan. God was working to establish an eternal rest. This would not be a rest just for the Israelites, but it would be a rest for you and me. This rest would not be temporary but eternal, and on Christmas day, the child that brings this rest arrived.

His arrival was not in a grand fashion, but he sure made a grand difference.

As you read this today, you may feel like the Israelites. Physically, you are toiling and don’t know how you are going to have the strength to continue. Emotionally, you may be spent, and your spiritual life is a constant struggle. As Isaiah says, the Lord offers rest to you. Jesus, in Matthew 11:28-30, invites us to exchange all of this weariness for his rest and peace. Allow this exchange to happen. Trade your gloom for peace, your despair for hope in Jesus.

Host of the Dwell On These Things podcast John Stange goes deeper into this concept in this episode. Check it out!

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Less Than Ideal

The census had been ordered, and everyone was to return to their hometown to register. For Joseph, that meant traveling the 90-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This was a 3-day trip, and it would be more difficult because Mary was expecting a child. The couple made the trip, and Luke’s Gospel records the birth of the child happening while Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem.

Luke 2:6-7 records, “And while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snuggly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.”

This was certainly not an ideal situation from our perspective. Making a 3-day journey to give birth among the goats and sheep was probably not on Mary’s bucket list; however, the Lord used this “less than ideal” situation to bring salvation to the world. Amazingly the Creator of the world allowed himself to be a baby lying in a manger among the livestock. God was quietly at work.

The setting for Jesus’ birth is not one in which you would expect a king to be born, but a Savior is born. God used a livestock area as the first throne room and a manger as the first throne. This “less than ideal” situation is the last place we would expect God to work, but he did some mighty work.

There are many “less than ideal” situations in life, yet God works through them.

  • It is less than ideal when we feel all alone in a moment of life. We find ourselves amid a life season we don’t think anyone else could even begin to understand, yet God does. The writer of Hebrews tells us Jesus understands, and he is able to help us in our time of need. It may not be a perfect season, but God is still working.
  • It may be a season where you feel absolutely alone. No family close, so you’re just mingling around your house by yourself. You’re not really alone though; God is there. Hebrews 13:5 tells us the Lord will never leave us; he will never forsake us. Even when we are alone, the Lord is there with us and he is working.
  • Maybe your heartbroken and devastated. Your marriage ended as your spouse walked in and said, “I’m done.” Psalm 34:18 reminds us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and heals those who are crushed in spirit.

Much happen on that first Christmas night. We see the extent of the Lord’s love and are reminded he can work no matter the circumstances. In spite of everything happening around us this Christmas season, try to take a moment to rejoice in the truth that a Savior has been born to us.

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An Unexpected Hero

Everyone has a list of heroes. We admire these men and women because of their achievements, nobility, or courage. We expect some people to be heroes, but occasionally, we find a hero in an unexpected place. This holds true with heroes of the faith as well.

Most of the time when we think of Bible heroes, we think of Moses or David. We may think of Jesus’ first disciples, the Apostle Paul, or anyone listed in Hebrews 11. They are certainly all heroes and worthy of our admiration, but I would like to bring to mind another hero. Though we do not know his name, we know enough about this gentleman to classify him a hero. His character and courage are impressive, and though he is only known as the man born blind, he leaves an iconic mark in history.

We are first introduced to this hero in John 9. “As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth” (John 9:1). Jesus’ disciples immediately judge the man. Either he or his parents had to be steeped in sin; otherwise, the man would have been born with his sight. How often this must have happened as the man begged to meet his daily needs. He received what he needed plus an abundance of judgement because of his vision loss. Passers-by would jump to conclusions about the man, his family, and his life. They automatically assumed things about the man based only on his eyesight. They did not take the time to find out more, or even get to know him. They knew he was a blind beggar, so everything else they thought had to be true.

Jesus, on the other hand, offers a different perspective, which truly shows the man’s heroism. Jesus uses the situation to magnify his glory. Notice how Jesus answers the disciples’ question in John 9:3. “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” Jesus says this man’s life and vision loss can bring glory to God.

This is the first reason the man is a hero. He allows the Lord to be glorified through his life. To spite the judgment and criticism the man encounters, his life is still able to glorify the Lord. Just like the man born blind, our lives have been put in a unique position by the Lord to glorify him. In those moments when we feel helpless, when we feel as if we cannot do anything for the Lord, this hero reminds us we still have an abundance of opportunity to glorify God.

Glorifying God is only one reason this man is a champion. As the timeline of John 9 continues, we see this man demonstrate heroic resolve, courage, and character. His healing grabbed the community’s attention and was widely discussed. There were those who were grateful because the man could see, but more so, there were those who were upset because Jesus made mud on the Sabbath. They were upset and began asking several questions, which is where we again see the man’s heroism.

Again, and again, we see the man being questioned about his healing, and each time, he takes a firm stand for Jesus.

  • When his neighbors ask how he was healed, “He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So, I went and washed, and now I can see!” (John 9:11).
  • “The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So, he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!” (John 9:15).
  • “Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?” The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.” (John 9:17).

Each time the man is asked how he received his sight; he points to Jesus. He does not claim to fully understand, and he is undoubtedly aware of the divisiveness caused by crediting Jesus. But he knows the truth, and he is resolved to proclaim it. This is the mark of a true hero: someone who stands up for the truth in spite of the consequences. Taking such a firm stand for Jesus meant being kicked out of the synagogue. The man would no longer have access to the place he has been day after day for years; he would no longer be able to worship in these familiar surroundings. Our hero risked a lot by crediting Jesus for his healing, but he was determined to tell the truth. His resolve spurred on by his courage.

The final time the man is questioned, we see his courage fully displayed. “So, for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”

“I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”

“But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”

“Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” (John 9:24-27).

The man’s question is inspiring. It is as if he is saying, “Look at what Jesus has done for me! Don’t you also want to come follow him?” With much courage the man presents the Gospel. The testimony of his life is a true picture of the Lord’s grace, and he is not afraid to share it. We find in this man’s story an example of courageously sharing the Good News.

Our lives are testimonies of the Lord’s grace, so we should be ready to share it. The Lord may put us in some unique places with opportunities to share the Gospel just as he did our hero. A neighbor’s curious question could easily turn into an opportunity to share our hope in Jesus Christ. When it does, we have the man’s example to follow. We can look to this icon to see what it is like to speak the truth with much courage. Scripture implores, “if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it” (1 Peter 3:15), so be ready to imitate this champ’s response.

The man’s character is another reason he is a hero. After the man endured much criticism and had been expelled from the synagogue, John tells us Jesus came to the man. He could have used this opportunity to complain. He could issue a complaint for a number of reasons; blindness, judgment from others, and being excluded from religious services just to name a few, but he did not display a grumbling attitude. Rather, the man pronounced faith in Jesus and worshiped. He was grateful for what the Lord had done. Life may have not been perfect, but the man realized the Lord had shown goodness to him. He displays a character worthy of modeling.

Our lives may not be perfect, and we can easily come up with a list of complaints to present to the Lord. But the Lord’s goodness is also prevalent in our lives. A gracious and merciful God is walking with us through each day. He is guiding our steps and directing our path, so we should strive to imitate our hero’s character: displaying an attitude of gratefulness for what the Lord has done.

“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done,” instructs David in 1 Chronicles 16:4. We are also encouraged in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Just as our champion did, we should concentrate on our blessings rather than our complaints.

He may not have a name and may only be in the Bible for one brief chapter, but the man born blind is truly a hero. As he responds to being healed, the man’s resolve, courage, and character are admirable. These qualities set him apart as a hero, and we should strive to model them in our own lives. This man may have come from an unexpected place, but he certainly left a heroic mark on history.

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