Blessings from Hope 2

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Sue became a dear friend to me in my new community. She and I would often walk together in the evenings and she was a great listener. I would share the concerns I had about difficult decisions I had to make and she taught me to take those concerns to the Lord. After patiently listening to my worries, she would grab my hand and say, “Let’s just pray about this right now.”

Sometimes we stood along the road and prayed and sometimes we prayed as we walked along. She taught me how to voice my concerns to the Lord, and to pray wherever I was. I was looking for her advice, and she gave me the best. She did not try to have the answer herself; she pointed me to the best answer.

How often I give advice from my own experiences and limited wisdom, when I should say like Sue, “Let’s pray about this right now.”

Sue was one of my many blessings in Hope.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Philippians 4:6

God is Love

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Several years ago while visiting in Florida, I would pass a flashing red and green sign that read, “God is love”.

I wanted to dismiss it as insignificant, but it kept coming back to me like a puzzle wanting to be solved.

One morning running along the beach toward the sunrise, the depth of the statement struck me. God is the source of all love. I am only going to be able to love others to the extent to which I accept His love. Without His love, my love for others will be shallow and pale.

What I attempted to trivialize I could see as a profound truth, inspiring a new gratitude in my heart for the love of the Lord Jesus that brought Him to the earth and took Him to the cross for my sins.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15: 13, 14, 17

Blessings from Hope

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I once worked in a little place called Hope. It was there that I learned to lean on the Lord. I call these little insights blessings from Hope. When my path is uncertain, I remember God’s faithfulness in Hope.

– God provides direction consistent with the priority I make Him in my life.

“First seek the counsel of the Lord.” I Kings 22:5b
“If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

– To be at peace within, I must choose to forgive.

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have
against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Colossians 3:13

– God’s direction does not always make sense to me, but obedience is always right.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against
the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it
obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Thank Goodness You Prayed

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My impatience over little things is a something I would like to overcome. So, in preparation for a weekend visit from my grandson I prayed for patience and compassion.

When there was a small matter that resulted in a mess, I was able to give a gentle reminder and hand him the materials for the cleanup. He was expecting an exasperated response. His surprise at my kindness embarrassed me more than a little. I humbly explained that I had prayed for patience before he came. His reply was, “Thank goodness you prayed, Grandma.”

His words have come back to me many times since. Sometimes they remind me that I need to pray, and sometimes they remind me that I should have prayed.

Even Jesus made it a practice to get away and pray. He knew where His help came from. I need not think it a weakness to rely on prayer.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1,2

People Need the Lord

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The other day I was talking with my stepfather about some of the trouble in this world, and shared some of my thoughts on it. At the end of the conversation, I had to conclude that my opinions count for little. What counts for much is the realization that we need the Lord.

I got to thinking about my reliance on what I sometimes refer to as common sense. It’s a way of using my own logic for solving problems over reliance on the wisdom of God.

Over the years, I have studied theories of behavior and have worked to change problem behaviors – my own and others, by applying those principles. But I have come to realize the limitations of those methods and have arrived at this conclusion: people need the Lord. We cannot fix ourselves or one another.

May it become my second nature rather than a last resort to rely on the best resource for life that there is: the Lord.

Our trouble is not with people, but with the powers of the evil one. Even our best thinking cannot win that battle. We need the Lord. And He delights in supplying what we need to be overcomers.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:10

Jesus said to his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33b

“For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord….For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:5-6

Bible Study

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Several years ago, my mother invited me to a Bible study group, but I felt that I did not have the time to get involved. Thankfully, my mother persevered, continuing to share what she was learning about the God of the Bible and His desire for us to be reconciled to Him through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Later, when I was offered a challenging position away from my family, and relocated, my mother encouraged me to go to a Bible study group near to where I moved. I finally made time for it when I realized that I needed God’s help in my new circumstances. I am grateful for those difficulties and grateful that Mom was given the courage to keep talking to me about God, when I was less than appreciative at times.

I have discovered that the less I know God, the more credibility I give other assertions, especially ideas that may interest or assist me in this life, but lack eternal value. Getting to know God motivates me to know him increasingly better, more personally, with more awareness of His presence and holiness. My zeal surprises me at times, and is offensive to some. Nevertheless, I want to continue to love and encourage others to seek after God as my mother did for me.

Mom and I are still blessed to discuss our Bible study each week; it is the highlight of our conversations. We marvel at what God shows us as individuals that we can apply to our daily lives. God never gives up on us, and what a gift that He places persevering people near to us. I want to be that consistent with the people in my life. They may be too busy or not ready or of a different persuasion, but with God’s help I can persevere and tenderly encourage their knowing the God of the Bible.

“…the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b

The Song Sparrow

cropped-DSC03377.jpgThe song sparrow sang in the rain this morning. Each morning I look forward to hearing its beautiful song as I am waking, but its song was especially sweet on a rainy day.

When the Israelites were delivered from their slavery in Egypt, they sang a song to the Lord: “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Exodus 15:2

Later, in the desert, the Israelites forgot their song and went through a period of complaining about what they did not have. Through their many difficulties Moses remembered God’s goodness and it is his song that joined with the song of the Lamb and is sung by the angels,

“Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All Nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Revelation 15:3

May I always remember God’s goodness to me and sing a song of gratitude to the Lord. In the rain or in the desert, may my song be about the faithfulness of God.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:3

Learning Mercy

Very often when I have been judgmental in my thinking toward another person, I have been provided similar circumstances that change my perspective. As a result of those experiences, I become more merciful in my thinking or actions or both. What a great teacher we have.

Jesus was tempted in every way, and as a result He can sympathize with us. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15

What a blessing that our Intercessor understands our struggles and provides the help we need.

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when we are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

Jesus knew where His help came from. He was often found alone, praying to the Father.* When He was tempted from the devil, He used scripture to make His position clear. **

Jesus left a perfect example of utter dependence on the Father and confidence in His Word. I am glad this never changes. I am glad that as I experience God’s great mercy, I can learn to be merciful.

*(Luke 6:12, Matthew 14:23, Matthew 26:36-45)
**(Luke 4:1-13)

Keeping My Poinsettia Alive

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The poinsettia I was given in December is still lovely today. It sets in the light of the patio door and flourishes there. The petals are as vibrantly red as ever. As leaves drop off, new ones start. The directions for water and light were included, and because it was a gift, I have been especially careful to follow them.

My life is a gift from God and I am grateful for it. His Word generously provides direction on how to live it. Through the years, I am finding that what God wants for me is so much better than my wants.

I am not wise to know what is best for me, and am glad for this direction, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

My prayer today is, “Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8b