Heb 6:19 (NIV) We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
Ps 119:114 (NIV) You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
In this chaotic world, hope is what we need every day.
It would be easy to let the darkness take over. In fact, for a number of years, I lived in the darkness of clinical depression. It consumed every moment of my life. Depression stole my joy, my happiness, my peace, and tried to steal my hope. When I was on the last strand of the hope braid, help found me. With professional help and medication, the darkness was slowly peeled away. It was a painfully slow beginning, but the alternative was grave. As the strand of hope grew stronger, delusional thinking was replaced with realism. Joy and peace have returned.
Our hope in Christ anchors us to Father God. Even an anchored vessel is tossed by turbulent seas with waves crashing across the bow being swayed by the wind. The best anchor holds the boat from drifting and getting lost. God is our anchor, shelter, refuge, security. He holds us firmly even when we don’t have the strength to hold on to Him. The holiday season can be difficult when family members are missing whether by decision or death. We could dwell on the feelings of sadness, or choose joy through our hope in Christ. During this sometimes difficult season, know God will bring hope when it seems there is none. His anchor holds firmly.
2 Corinthians 12: 7b-10 (NIV) Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
What am I doing? I need Your mercy and grace Father. This season is full of many struggles. I want to stay in bed and pull the blankets over my head. I try to understand what you are doing with me, but I do not. I can only trust that Your ways are higher and You only want the best for me. I long for Abba’s arms to hold me and rock me with comfort and peace. What am I missing in processing my emotions and letting You lead? Why do I feel the need to take charge when You have it all planned? I have been reading of Paul’s travels, his beatings and his imprisonment. His life was traumatic and difficult. My life is easy-peasy in comparison to Paul’s life. Paul was completely plugged-in to Your Spirit. He was consumed with spreading the news of Messiah. Paul suffered with an affliction and He asked three times for You to remove the torment. However, You did not remove it. Yet, Paul proclaimed Messiah everywhere he went. When I compare myself to him, I fall so short! I am weak in the flesh. I hear You whisper, “Daughter, you may not have the exuberance of Paul, but you play an important role in my Kingdom.” Our culture is fixated on instant results, immediate gratification. I need to be content when I don’t immediately see how You work. Thank You for hanging on to me always. I am grateful for Your grace, for life and for health. Help me to tune out of fleshly thinking and unnecessary comparison and tune into Your shepherd’s voice. May I be a reflection of Your Light and grace.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
This passage has been running in my mind this Thanksgiving week. Am I grateful in all circumstances? As much as I would love to say that I am the perfect follower of Christ, the reality is I am not perfect, the world is not perfect, and life is not perfect. Christ is perfect. How do we transcend the imperfect world to be grateful? As I reflect on life, the good, the bad and the ugly, God reveals blessings that were immediately known and others it took hindsight to see.
I Thes. 5:16-18 tells us: Father God’s will in Christ Jesus is three commands: rejoice first, pray constantly, be thankful. As a child of the King, I submit to His will and His commands.
We need to put first things first. Scripture says: “Rejoice always” (emphasis mine). It doesn’t say to rejoice when we feel like rejoicing or when things are going well for us. It says to always rejoice. Praising God is our direct connection on the long distance call. Do you remember needing an operator to place a long distance call, to dial “1” before a long distance number, or use a long distance company in addition to the phone company? I do! Christ provides the direct connection. There is no need for an operator or long distance account. We have direct vertical access to Father God when we choose to connect, to plug in through praise, worship, and rejoicing in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Secondly, it says to “pray continually”. Personally, I believe God hears my prayers from the shower and the car just as well as from my knees. A prayer can be lengthy or not. The point is to have conversations with God. By conversing with Him, we solidify the vertical connection: God speaking and listening to us. Our fast paced lives can easily push prayer and devotional time to the back of our minds when it should be on the forefront of our minds. Prioritizing our quiet time with God ensures the connection. By seeking Him we stay centered on truth and love. This gives us peace. His peace leads us to the third command of our verses.
It says to “give thanks in all circumstances”. Wait. ALL circumstances? I will admit I like to have a pity party now and then, which is definitely not being grateful for any circumstance! At a recent pity party, God revealed how my thinking was based on worldly values. I had to cancel the party and go back to the first and second commands of our key verses: rejoice always, pray continually. When we follow these three commands, we tap into God’s heart. In turn, He gives us a grateful heart. A heart that acknowledges His ways are better and wiser. Even during difficult seasons, we can thank God for walking with us or carrying us through it.
This imperfect world will always disappoint us. However, constant connection with God gives life, love, peace and joy which leads to thankfulness and gratefulness. Someone from years ago coined the phrase “attitude of gratitude”. While we cannot be devoid of emotions, we can acknowledge our emotions and decide what to do next. When we follow the three commands, we plug-in to the source of gratitude. Let us not disconnect from our source of peace and gratefulness!
Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 6:9-10 (TPT) And don’t allow yourselves to be weary or disheartened in planting good seeds, for the season of reaping the wonderful harvest you’ve planted is coming! Take advantage of every opportunity to be a blessing to others, especially to our brothers and sisters in the family of faith!
Oh Lord, it is a difficult season for doing good for others. All around us the news erupts with accounts of violent protests across the USA. Our leaders turn against each other and forget to lead for the people. It would be easy to stay in the tiny worlds of our houses. However, that’s not how You created us. We are meant live as a community, like a basket of individuals woven together on the bottom and the sides providing extra strength and support. You never intended us to live in isolation.
The truth is when we help or bless another, we are blessed as well. Of course, that should not be the first motivator! In hidden places, God uses what appears insignificant to touch heart strings and create symphonies of hope, grace, peace and love. I remember instances of random kindheartedness that touched my soul. Do you remember any? Someone held the door for you? Someone returned your lost wallet? Someone told you your eyes sparkle? Someone picked up the item you dropped? God created us to care for and nurture one another. Our society is fast-paced, self-focused, envy motivated, and disingenuous. It is easy to get stuck in our own junk, missing what someone else needs. When we stay centered on God, He whispers to us or nudges us to do what is right for others and for ourselves. Even when we grow weary, He gives us the strength to keep doing what is good, kind and right.
Hebrews 13:2 tells us that we may unknowingly show kindness to angels! Yes, angels! Let that sink into your heart! God uses each of us to strengthen one another. Maybe you and I are angels for others, acting as God’s hands and feet on this earth. Next time you feel that nudge to help someone consider: What is preventing you from stepping up? How will you feel if you don’t step out today? Only you can decide to step out of your comfort zone and plant good seeds. Join me in the garden of goodness!
Hebrews 13:2 (NIV) Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.