Hope Realized

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This is a 2nd blog on Hope. In the previous blog, I explored the two kinds of hope, Living and Eternal. I wrote about the longing for heaven and the truth that for every believer, Jesus is our HOPE.

So with this longing, we as humans seem wired for more. We can chase a person, an experience, a goal, but we will never find eternal or living hope.

 Our souls long for a more beautiful, fulfilling, timeless place. We keep looking for heaven on earth. It is not here.

Every disaster, tragic event, scary medical report, broken vow, abandoned child, aging parent, even our physical limitations scream to us to put our hope in God, our eternal, and living God.

We are His children, not belonging to this world. Our hope is realized in Him every day. If you’re struggling to live in hope available to you in Jesus, these steps may help you.

1. Acknowledge Your Need for God’s Help

Our most significant problems generally involve other people. We need to surrender our sinful desires and acknowledge God is in control. We repent of our desire to control and we give that person or situation to God. He can then provide solutions, and walk with us through the troubled waters.

2. Read your Bible

Romans 15:4 states: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide, we might have hope.”

Believers have the holy Word of God to study, ponder, and digest. You likely have several copies near to you right now. The Bible is the manual for the Christian. I have found the spiritual disciplines that relate to God’s holy word do provide that encouragement that Romans 15:4 states. A treasure chest of divine options awaits those who go deep.

3. Believe you are not alone

I Peter 5:9 states: “Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters worldwide are going through the same kind of suffering you are.”

It seems expected that believers will have hardship. We have an enemy. The fact that our fellow Christians are experiencing much of the same wherever they are is comforting. This is an opportunity to pray for those who may be going through what you are.

Serve others – The enemy of our souls loves us to feel alone, isolated. He is very patient and looks for these kinds of opportunities to discourage. Don’t let him have them. When alone, spend time with the Lord. Go to church, serve in some way at your church, or through your church. Please get to know your neighbor and help them.

4. Believe you have a future glory

2 Corinthians 4:17 states: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

Our suffering is not in vain. Here’s why. There’s nothing like pain to get our attention. In my blog, more phrases that have changed my life is this quote, “Well, God’s got their attention now.” We grow in times of pain, and our character is being made more like Jesus.

We also learn how to help others. When something similar happens to another person, we understand better how to assist them. The last reason our suffering is not in vain is that

5. God will be sure we gain on the other side of eternity.

This world is not our home. We are strangers. We must live here and show the world our love for Jesus by how we choose to live our lives. This is a temporary assignment. Our problems are temporary, and yet, sometimes, we act like they are here to stay. We let them define us, and live like we have no hope. This is a lie.

For those in Christ, eternal and living hope is ours now and in the not yet. 

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. I Peter 1:3-5 (MSG)

Dear Eternal and Loving God, thank you for the hope you give to all who know you through your Son, Jesus. Help us not to chase temperal things. We have so much in Christ! Help us to follow you so we can experience this hope every day of our lives. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Hope is Real

Do you have a favorite word? One of mine is hope.

Hope is real, and it lives in truth and can’t be mistaken as false hope. When a person makes things way too optimistic regarding something that has a strong chance of not happening, that is false hope. In error, humans often choose this.

False hope, when finished leading you on, leads to despair.

Losing hope teaches us to live in the light of real hope. I’ve had just enough pain in my life to know how valuable hope is to my emotional survival. I’ve experienced its power!

The Bible speaks of 2 kinds of hope.

Eternal Hope. Eternal means it is going to last! It’s without end. God is infinite and without end.

Living Hope. It’s living because it resides inside our spirit. Because of the resurrection, Jesus is our living Savior, our living Hope.

Hope makes life

worth living,

worth striving for,

worth fighting against the darkness,

worth every ounce of directed energy to hang on to,

diminishes skepticism with quiet confidence,

and…

overrides doubt.

There’s no easy path to get to this point.

We may go through storms, dark tunnels, raging rivers, sleepless nights, and the question of why. As we cling to Jesus, we find His promises are true, and He is faithful. In the end, we learn, He is our hope.

Hope has, within its nature, longing for more. That’s when a believer looks to a life promised beyond this. Heaven. Those in Christ have a home in heaven.

Looking forward to heaven is closely aligned with hope.

Hope, for the believer, causes a radically different approach in terms of residing on planet earth. It’s about WHO is our Hope. Because of Jesus, our spirit is sustained, no matter our circumstances. We, as believers, have the God of Hope living in us. Even in the dark nights of the soul, we have a God big enough to absorb our despair and aching souls. He is our Hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

This concept of hope is too big to cover in one blog. I will post more about this supernatural quality given to every believer in Christ Jesus. Until then…

“Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.” C.S. Lewis

How you can write your Heavenly Father

It’s Father’s Day 2020. My earthly dad went on to glory Christmas Eve of 2014. It is one of the best memories of my life. Because he was a follower of Jesus, death had no sting. Those of us present at his passing were able to sing sacred Christmas carols to him. We had the strength that assurance brings when one knows a loved one has eternal life with Jesus.

Remembering my dad is pleasant, but my relationship with my heavenly Father is a daily and eternal joy. And that’s the way my dad would like it. So sometimes on Father’s Day, I write a letter to my heavenly Father, the One who saved my soul. Have you ever done this? If you know God through Jesus His Son, then you know what a close relationship you can have with Him. If you have time today for some solitude, consider writing a letter to Him. Here are some ways to get started.

  • Read some chapters in Psalms with worship as their theme and spend time thanking and praising the Lord for who He is and what a good heavenly Father He is to you.
  • Find some songs from your playlists or search for some on Youtube about our Father. Selah has a song entitled, “How deep the Father’s love for us.” Amy Grant, “My Father’s Eyes,” and Chris Tomlin’s “Good Good Father” are just a few.
  • Find a notebook and start writing. Thank Him for all you’ve been reminded of about Him in the Psalms and your songs.
  • Make it personal. Thank Him for everyday rescues, interventions, and solutions He brought to your mind. Thank Him for His faithfulness and His daily provision.
  • Lastly, thank Him for saving your soul. Thank Him for the cross. Thank Him for the promise of His presence through life. Thank Him for His goodness. Thank Him for His care. Thank Him for your heavenly home being made for you. 

My dad knew the One who’d saved his soul. The song, “Because He lives” was a favorite of his. My dad was sure of his destination, and this assurance gave him hope on this earth.

No matter who your earthly Father was or is, if you are a follower of Jesus, you have a relationship with an all-knowing, loving, and gracious heavenly Father. He will love to receive your letter.

Happy Father’s Day.

Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind. C.S. Lewis

Hope for Dolores

Rhode Island, geographically, is the smallest state in the United States. However, it is the second most-densely populated state. This unique state was our home for 11 years, as North American Mission Board, church planters. The state motto, HOPE, was harmonious with our assignment; to bring the HOPE of Jesus through the expression of a local, Christ centered church.

From the beginning we experienced God; sometimes in joys and results, and other times in silence and endurance.60-100-10273-2

Building relationships by the power of the Holy Spirit is necessary to planting a church. Even though some may never enter the church doors, relationships build the reputation of the church.

One of the first relationships began in the first place we lived. Our adjoining neighbor was Dolores. What a fireball she was! Born in Boston (with the accent to prove it), Catholic all her life, a widow, knowledgeable, with the composure to survive. She was in her early 90’s now, alone, physically limited, and although she didn’t practice her faith, she clung to it with all she had.

Then we came. The Mississippian’s planting a church in her town! After we met, we’d occasionally make visits to check on her. She watched TV and read, and seemed to accept her life as it was. We snatched as many opportunities to engage with her spiritual need.

One day, she announced she’d be moving to a single level,efficiency apartment. We exchanged addresses, phone numbers, assisted in her move, and soon, our neighbor was gone.

Part of building the friendship with Dolores was to establish who we were, why we came and who we served. Her move would not hinder our relationship with her.

We talked by phone. I would plan visits and bring requested donuts and coffee. One on one chats, sorting through her mail, and sometimes, assisting her with some grooming tasks were common activities.

Dolores often wanted to hear about our work. Talking about Jesus was a natural topic in our conversations. She was curious.

One divine visit, she answered the door agitated and panicked. This was most unusual. Glad to see me, she was anxious to sit at the table. As I divided the snacks, she started to tell me about a recent occurrence since our last visit.

While lying in bed one night, she began thinking about her husband and remembered a verse she’d heard in Catholic school – Jesus would come like a thief in the night. She then wondered if her husband was in heaven, but then fear gripped her heart as she wondered about herself.  If Jesus returned in that moment, would she go to heaven?

Hearing this thrilled my heart. God was at work and was revealing Himself to her! The weight of her experience melted away as she shared. She began to realize her day of salvation had come. Now she could receive Jesus into her heart. She could know if Jesus came “like a thief in the night”, she would be ready. Right then she prayed to Jesus.

She wept.

As we pondered the life changing moments, she wondered aloud why no one had ever told her about Jesus before now.

Gazing out the window, she reflected on the years she’d walked back and forth on the sidewalk there in town – going and coming from Catholic school. “I never heard about Jesus and that He could be mine.” I said, “Well, you know now, Dolores.”

Only a few more visits on God’s eternal calendar were allowed with her. I noticed a blanket of peace wrapped her. She started reading her Bible.

I can only imagine the relief she felt in those last days of her life. Going to bed was no longer a torment and one night that’s where she slipped into Jesus’ arms. The place where the Holy spirit had captured her attention ended up as a place of peaceful passage to her heavenly home.

HOPE had come to Dolores.

Praise be to the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ! In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…I Peter 1:3-4