What is the Christian’s hope?

I often write about living a joyful life filled with hope, in spite of painful or devastating circumstances. So, what exactly is hope—the kind of hope Christians have? Here is a great answer to this question from GotQuestions?, one of my favorite sites.

Question: “What is the Christian’s hope?”

Answer: Most people understand hope as wishful thinking, as in “I hope something will happen.” This is not what the Bible means by hope. The biblical definition of hope is “confident expectation.” Hope is a firm assurance regarding things that are unclear and unknown (Romans 8:24-25;Hebrews 11:1,7). Hope is a fundamental component of the life of the righteous (Proverbs 23:18). Without hope, life loses its meaning (Lamentations 3:18;Job 7:6) and in death there is no hope (Isaiah 38:18;Job 17:15). The righteous who trust or put their hope in God will be helped (Psalm 28:7), and they will not be confounded, put to shame, or disappointed (Isaiah 49:23). The righteous, who have this trustful hope in God, have a general confidence in God’s protection and help (Jeremiah 29:11) and are free from fear and anxiety (Psalm 46:2-3).

The New Testament idea of hope is the recognition that in Christ is found the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises (Matthew 12:21,1 Peter 1:3). Christian hope is rooted in faith in the divine salvation in Christ (Galatians 5:5). Hope of Christians is brought into being through the presence of the promised Holy Spirit (Romans 8:24-25). It is the future hope of the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6), the promises given to Israel (Acts 26:6-7), the redemption of the body and of the whole creation (Romans 8:23-25), eternal glory (Colossians 1:27), eternal life and the inheritance of the saints (Titus 3:5-7), the return of Christ (Titus 2:11-14), transformation into the likeness of Christ (1 John 3:2-3), the salvation of God (1 Timothy 4:10) or simply Christ Himself (1 Timothy 1:1).

Read more here.

BlogSL2-smallest

Praying Palms Down

Ps4-1-HandsOpen-40--AMP

Answer me when I call to you,
my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
—Psalm 4:1

Today I’d like to talk about prayer—specific prayer, that is. The kind of prayer about painful or stressful situations that brings us to our knees. We pray and we pray, and then we pray even more … waiting for an answer from God.

As we pray, we often lift up our hands up in a symbolic gesture as we give our problem to the Lord. I know what I’m talking about because I used to do this very thing.

One day, however, I had a realization that has completely changed my prayer life. It occurred to me that when I pray with my palms facing up—toward the ceiling (or sky)—I can quickly and easily close my fingers into a fist and mentally and emotionally take back that situation or trouble.

I have a tendency to do that, you know, take back something I’ve been praying about and have supposedly handed over to the Lord, just because I might be able to somehow take care of it myself.

Does this sound anything like you?

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.  —Psalm 17:6

Ps17-6-PalmsDown-50--AMP

Since I am a very visual person, I thought about praying for specific things palms down, with hands facing the floor so that I could drop my prayer request at Jesus’ feet. To me, giving up that situation palms down tells me that once I’ve let go of it that way, it’s gone. There’s no chance for me to pull it back.

I’m not saying that everything I pray for in this way gets answered exactly as I would like, but what it does is enable me to allow God to do His work—not only in the particular situation for which I prayed but also on and through me. Sometimes I get in God’s way too much and don’t give Him enough room.

When I pray in this manner, I feel a real peace come over me. The kind of peace that lets me know that I don’t have to worry about the problem, because:

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?
—Luke 12:25

and

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

Beloved, this is my prayer for all of us: that we will always remember to pray palms down.

BlogSL2-smallest

Changing Things Up

ChangingThingsUp--AMP

A couple of months ago I wrote this post about having to scale back and only post here three times a week because of my health issues. And my nemesis—aka our monsoon season —is back again, so you’d think I’d have to take a complete break for a couple of months since I always feel worse during these times.

So how come I’ve increased the frequency of my posting to almost every day? 

I am so thankful to find many, many great articles and posts from other sites and blogs that I can share with you! It is a slight change in direction for this blog but is still in line with my vision for it:

  • how God is working in our lives no matter what else is going on
  • how to live a joyful and hopeful life with the Lord at the helm
  • learning to recognize the many blessings in our lives and be thankful for them

Having said all that, if I miss a day or two (or more), it’s probably because I didn’t feel well enough to work up and schedule some posts ahead of time. I’ll do my best to stay current here while I also fit in my writing assignments for the other blogs to which I contribute.

Remember: Thanks living always leads to thanks giving!

1Chron16-9-ThanksLivingThanksGiving-sm--AMP

Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; speak of all His wonders.
—1 Chronicles 16:9

cropped-header-littlestorytheme-header-2x11.jpg

 

 

 

Being Thankful for What We Do NOT Have

1Thes-5-16-18-MetalFenceFlowers-50--AMP

Rejoice always;
praying without ceasing;
in everything give thanks;
for this is God’s will for you
in Christ Jesus.
—1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Lately I’ve been pondering the concept of thankfulness. Often when I thank God for all the blessings in my life, I have also thanked Him for what He has not given me or allowed in my life. Have you ever prayed like this?

Okaaay, I can hear most of you saying. The rest are thinking, wait … what? are you serious?

Yes, I am very serious. I thank God for things I don’t have, that He has not allowed in my life. I’m not just talking about more serious illnesses than those I live with every day or cataclysmic events such as tornadoes and hurricanes. I’m referring to things like more money, maybe more (and more stylish) clothes or a bigger house. How about straight hair instead of the naturally curly mop I was born with? Or writing talent so spectacular that publishers come after me instead of the other way around?

It seems to me that the more we want, well… the more we want, like some vicious cycle. Contentment with what we have now is admittedly difficult because human nature always yearns for more. And yet, I’m wondering if allowing ourselves to feel this kind of contentment will result in that inner peace that is so illusive.

And isn’t that something to be utterly thankful for?

Jude1-2-PeaceMercyLove-50

Peace, mercy and love be yours in abundance. —Jude 1:2

Peace. Mercy. Love. These are what can be ours in abundance. And from personal experience, reminding myself that I have these things usually leads to my feeling happy and contented with what I have in the here and now.

Beloved, how about you? Have you learned to be thankful for certain things you do not have?

BlogSL2-smallest

At “Wits’ End Corner”

I’ve had my paperback version of Streams in the Desert devotional for years. It is probably my favorite devotional book. As you can see, I have read it so many times that I need two heavy-duty rubber bands to hold it together. It’s difficult to see, but the photo on the left shows the blue one that holds a big section of pages together. The pink one keeps the binding from slipping off.

StreamsDesertCollage-35--AMP

I received an iPad as a 2013 Christmas gift from my children, so I now have an extensive Kindle library on it, including a digital version of this book. And of course, I’m reading it again this year. When I read the May 23rd devotional, this poem leaped out at me as if I’d never seen it before. My eyes leaked as I read it, and I’m guessing yours will too. 

Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner,”
Christian, with troubled brow?
Are you thinking of what is before you,
And all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you,
And you in the battle alone?
Remember—at “Wits’ End Corner”
Is just where God’s power is shown.

Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner,”
Blinded with wearying pain,
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain,
Bruised through the constant suffering,
Dizzy, and dazed, and numb?
Remember—at “Wits’ End Corner”
Is where Jesus loves to come.

Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner”?
Your work before you spread,
All lying begun, unfinished,
And pressing on heart and head,
Longing for strength to do it,
Stretching out trembling hands?
Remember—at “Wits’ End Corner”
The Burden-Bearer stands.

Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner”?
Then you’re just in the very spot
To learn the wondrous resources
Of Him who fails you not: 
No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved,
But only at “Wits’ End Corner”
Is the “God who is able” proved.
-Antoinette Wilson

BlogSL2-smallest

When You Choose to Forgive

Forgiving others is often difficult, especially if they have done something that hurts you to the core. Jesus is the ultimate example of how we are to forgive, because He forgave our sins by taking our punishment on Himself in our place.

This is a wonderful piece about the value of forgiveness by Carol Round from ASSIST News Service

When You Choose to Forgive (Writer’s Opinion)

By Carol Round – ASSIST News Service On May 17, 2015

Forgive, and you will be forgiven”—Luke 6:37 (NRSV).

Upset she had cheated my son out of $30, I didn’t want to forgive her. I was also mad at myself because I had been used in the process. I guess it’s because I trust too much, trust others to do unto me as I would do unto them. However, I failed to remember not all people are trustworthy.

My son had agreed to purchase two items through an online site where people buy, sell and trade merchandise. Because the seller lived in a community closer to me, and because my son works odd hours sometimes, he asked me to contact her, set up a time to meet and pay for the merchandise. I agreed.

Read the rest here.

BlogSL2-smallest

 

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day 2015

FMS---Collage Today is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.  How do you like my shades-of-purple manicure to honor the occasion? And I just happened to be wearing that t-shirt on the same day I had my nails done. I think that was the inspiration for the purple mani. After all, a girl needs to have a little fun once in a while, even if she happens to be feeling yucky. Not surprisingly, my personal theme for 2015 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day just happens to be “Think Purple!” The chart below is a real eye opener and may help you understand the complexity and far-reaching effects of Fibromyalgia. Top 10 Fibromyalgia Facts You Need to Know Today from the Fibromyalgia Support page on Facebook:   I am ever thankful for my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ who helps me get through every single day. Praise be to His holy and precious name!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;     his love endures forever. —Psalm 106:1

BlogSL2-smallest

The Marriage Triangle: Friendship

The Marriage Triangle: Friendship

by Anna Popescu

LOGO-Official-MarriageTriangle-smaller--AMP

In my first article in the last edition of TRC, I wrote about how marriage is a covenant with these seven elements:

  1. Two lives become one.
  2. There is a sign to remember which serves as a witness and a memorial.
  3. There is a change in name.
  4. There is a meal shared.
  5. There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
  6. There are witnesses to testify.
  7. There is a covenant partner to defend.

For this edition, I am going to focus on number five concerning friendship.

A Friend Who Sticks Closer Than a Brother

Prov18-24-CoupleSittingParkBench-10--AMP

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. —Proverbs 18:24

Let’s start by defining the word friend:

  • a patron
  • a supporter
  • an advocate
  • an ally
  • a person attached to another by feeling of affection or personal regard
  • a person who gives assistance

Jesus Christ, the friend referred to in Proverbs 18:24, is all the above. He is the best friend we could or will ever have!

Friend is a covenant term and is beautifully seen in God’s covenant with Abraham. In 2 Chronicles 20, there is a marvelous account of God’s deliverance of Judah’s king, Jehoshaphat. Upon hearing of the enemy’s advance against him, King Jehoshaphat cried out to God, appealing to His covenant relationship with Israel and reminding Him of who He is and of His great power. 1

In contrast, here are some antonyms (opposites):

  • an antagonist
  • an enemy
  • a foe
  • an opponent
  • a detractor

If you are married, your best friend here on earth should be your spouse. So who would you rather have for a spouse?

Someone who supports you or someone who is your enemy?

We all start out in marriage believing we will always support each other. At that moment, when we utter those two special words, I do, we love each other so much that we truly believe nothing will ever change between us. We are absolutely sure that our love will overcome any obstacle that comes our way.

Reality steps in: Jobs, our family and friends, financial problems, a new baby, and health problems.

What then?

These are the times when you need your best friend by your side so you can support each other. But if your relationship doesn’t start out as a friendship, it may be difficult to work through the tough times.

In my first article, I wrote that Rick and I met online. We lived about 600 miles apart so the bulk of our courtship was conducted online. We met in person four months after we started emailing each other, and two months after that, we became engaged. Five months later, we were married in a covenant ceremony. How could we possibly become best friends in such a short time and living so far apart?

One of the things Rick tells people about those months leading to our wedding is that, because we talked on the phone and emailed each other so often, we learned a lot about each other. It would probably have taken even longer if we had been able to see each other on a frequent basis. We shared our beliefs, ideas and thoughts through those phone calls and emails, and we were able to get to know each other well without all the physical “stuff” that often gets in the way.

Real life happened for us as we started to live together as a married couple.

The Honeymoon is Over

It doesn’t matter if you are in your 20’s, 30’s or older when you get married. You both bring to the marriage your pasts, beliefs, behaviors, hurts and emotions. Things happen to all of us as we grow up that color our thinking and actions, good and bad. In a perfect world, we are all brought up with wonderfully nurturing families. We treat our family members with utter love and respect. There is never an angry word passed among us, and all is right in our world.

Seriously?

Beloved, we are humans who do not always get the kind of family we would love to have. That “right” world?

Heaven.

Our earthly lives are filled with frustrations, anger, jealousy and a whole bunch of other not-so-nice emotions. We carry this baggage around with us until we meet that certain someone who is perfect for us. And because we are perfect for each other, we will never have any arguments or differences of opinion.

Reality Check

Oh, if it was only that easy! On this side of heaven, there will always be conflict. It is how we handle those conflicts that makes all the difference.

A marriage is made up of two imperfect people, each with their own idea of how things get done. You may be a very neat person who cannot abide clutter while your spouse is fine with the house being a bit untidy but does not do well with an unbalanced checkbook. You could waste time and emotion arguing or nagging about these things or you could find ways together to compromise so that neither of you is giving up anything.

If you are the one who can’t stand clutter, you might agree on an area in your house that is okay if it is a bit of a mess—such as  laundry room, one of the bedrooms or the garage. On the other hand, if you feel a sense of panic when the checkbook does not balance, you could consider letting your spouse take over that task. These are only suggestions for compromise because there are many other scenarios that you could work out together.

So What is a Best Friend?

BestFriend-CanoeSunset-50--AMP

“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” —Author Unknown

Didn’t each of us have a best friend when we were growing up? You know, that person who completely understood you and all your quirks but loved you anyway. The one who let you rant when things were unfair at home. The one who might disagree with you about something but never let that get in the way of your friendship.

Why can’t spouses be that for each other? We live together so why shouldn’t we be best friends?

Awhile back, I was listening to a talk show about marriage. I don’t remember the names of the husband and wife who were being interviewed, but the subject really interested me: how to have a good marriage in spite of the little things that irritate you about your spouse.

I was alone while listening to this interview, but I laughed out loud as the husband said something about how the cute and endearing little things that you love about your spouse while you were courting begin to grate on you after you’ve been married awhile. Two other things this couple said affected me:

  • They compared marriage to being in a canoe. When you’re single and in a canoe by yourself, it’s easy to control your canoe. But when there are two of you in that canoe, every single movement from each person can easily cause the canoe to flip if both people do not work together.
  • We too often grant a full cup of grace to friends and family who do not live with us, while offering only a partial cup of grace to our spouse.

If we consider our spouse to be our best earthly friend, why aren’t we treating them better than anyone else? We can get through sticky situations by talking things out and being open to compromise. If you love each other, it shouldn’t be very difficult to keep in mind what makes your spouse feel more comfortable about a situation.

Here’s an example from Rick and me. When we first got married, I used those air fresheners that you plug into the wall. I placed them in several rooms of our home. Some were not as visible as others, but the one in our bedroom was right under the window and easily seen. Every morning for about a week, I would find that air freshener plug on the floor under the outlet, so I would plug it back in. The first couple of times I thought Rick had unplugged it so he could vacuum in there, but after the fourth day, I began to stew about it. Why did he have to be so mean about something so simple? Maybe he didn’t like the fragrance I chose, so why didn’t he just tell me?

I calmed myself before I asked him these questions because I didn’t want it to be a confrontation. I just needed to know why. It turned out that Rick was worried about those being a fire hazard. When I asked him why he hadn’t just told me that, he shrugged and said he thought I’d take the hint after the first couple of days, and didn’t think it was worth talking about.

After I thought about that, I realized the reasons why he thought the air fresheners could be a fire hazard did not count. What did is that he believed it was a fire hazard, and that was enough for me. So we never used those plug-ins again.

My point here is that even though something might seem irrational or unreasonable to you, your spouse might have a perfectly realistic explanation.  We just need to take the time to find out the reasons before we begin to accuse.

Beloved, marriage can be wonderful… or not so much–depending on how loved and cherished spouses make each other feel. Try to keep in mind that marriage triangle where Jesus is at the top and each of you are at the bottom looking up to Jesus to lead you together.

1 PreceptAustin.org: The Covenant of Marriage

 

BlogSL2-smallest

Gray-Haired Splendor

Those of us blessed with gray hair will really appreciate this wonderful devotional by Joni Eareckson Tada. Please visit her great site, Joni and Friends.

Prov20-29-GrayHair-elderly-woman-50--AMP

 Gray hair is the splendor of the old. —Proverbs 20:29

Ernest Barkaway, a 90-year old Englishman, looked bright, sprightly and dapper in his woolen vest and British tam. He told me that when one of his kidneys was removed, he received a blood transfusion: “I watched the drops trickle through the tube, and I thought of all the people–male and female, English and foreign, black and white–who had given freely of their life blood for my need.” After a pause he wistfully added, “How much more Jesus gave freely of His life blood for my deepest need!” I could tell he had garnered much godly wisdom in his 90 years. He proved it with a poem he gave me…

They say that I am growing old; I’ve heard them say times untold,

In language plain and bold–but I am not growing old.

This frail old shell in which I dwell is growing old, I know full well!

But I am not the shell.

What if my hair is turning gray; gray hairs are honorable they say.

What if my eyesight’s growing dim; I still can see to follow Him

Who sacrificed His life for me–upon the Cross at Calvary!

Why should I care if time’s old plough has left its furrows on my brow?

Another house, not made with hands awaits me in the Glory Land.

What though I falter in my walk and though my tongue refuse to talk?

I still can tread the narrow way; I still can watch and praise and pray!

The robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise to seize the everlasting prize

I’ll meet you on the streets of gold and prove I am NOT growing old.

As I wrote the above, I learned Ernest Barkaway went home to be with Jesus. Write a note of encouragement or call an elderly friend today. Share Mr. Barkaway’s poem. 

Father, reveal to me ways I can ascribe dignity and show respect to the elderly people in my life. May I never take lightly their struggles and trials.

Blessings,

Joni and Friends
www.joniandfriends.org

Copyright © 2006. Pearls of Great Price by Joni Eareckson Tada. Published in print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan

BlogSL2-smallest