★ Day 03 – Reason for the Season – Let Hope Arise ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1In the ★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming? ★ we looked into what problems really are…How to avoid being overwhelmed, and more importantly how to overcome them, if you missed it, I highly recommend reading it in tandem with today’s “Reason for the Season” as it has everything to do with Hope.

Christmas can be a really challenging time for people, whether because of loneliness or as a result of losing a loved one or because of some hardship.  For me, this Christmas has been a little difficult because of my mother’s condition.  On December 23, 2010 we had an incredible day with my sister sightseeing in New York City, in which we hit all the hotspots…We saw the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center, played the “Big Piano” in FAO Schwarz Toy Store and the kids saw Santa Claus at Macy’s Department Store.  03 - Daily Dependence - NYC SightseeingIt was an incredible day when all of a sudden the rug was pulled out from under us when we got the call that my mom was rushed to the hospital after having a massive stroke that almost killed her.  Nothing prepares you for that call, and let me tell you the train ride back to New Jersey was the longest trip of my life.  The next 5 days in the hospital was a rollercoaster of emotions, filled with extensive praying and tears as one doctor after another rendered a very bleak prognosis of her future.  We went from “what do we do if she flat lines,” to “she may never speak or walk again”…It was a truly gut-wrenching time.  5 years later I am so thankful that not only did my mother survive; she is able to speak and walk and is a living miracle (as there was not an iota of hope that was given by the doctors.)  The reason that this time is a little hard for me is that though my mom is doing well, her life, “the new normal” as they call it after a stroke is radically different.  My mom thoroughly enjoyed Christmas and went overboard to make a magical time for everyone.  Truly my love for the season is a direct result of all that she poured out for everyone else.  As I think back to that time 5 years ago, I am so thankful that we were in town visiting for Christmas when that happened because I could not imagine getting that call and being over 1,500 miles away and I am thankful that God showed up in the way He did because though it was a horrific time, I experienced His Love, mercy and grace in a way I never had before!

Today’s “R03 - Daily Dependence - Fit Family - Let Hope Ariseeason for the Season” is one that is “a rose-colored glasses” everything is great, peaches and cream viewpoint but rather a call to action that regardless of the hardship, circumstance or doctor’s prognosis…we need to “Let Hope Arise!” I cannot think of a better image than this rose struggling to survive in the cold snow laden ground.  If Christmas is a tough time for you, I pray that God would stir your heart as you read this post and well up in you the truth that there is Hope in every situation when you trust in Him!  We talked on the first day about the Advent Wreath, in which there are 4 candles that are lit each week in the season of Advent and the fifth is lit on the last day.  

03 - Daily Dependence - Advent Wreath 1The first purple candle that is lit on the Advent Wreath represents Hope.  Advent Wreath.  Day 2 of the 121 Advent Bible Plan says,

“In Scripture, however, hope is void of uncertainty.  In fact, certainty is at its core, because it rests in the stability of God, His character and His will, which are unwavering.  Biblical hope, then, can be defined as, “the confident expectation and desire for something good in the future…Hope is essential to our faith.”

“Hope is essential to our faith!”  If you are feeling alone, hopeless and at the end of your rope, I want to encourage you to change your perspective because God is a miracle working God!  Like in my mother’s condition, He can breathe life back into your situation.  I love what Marty Collier said,

“Hope is our assurance that God will finish all He has started.
Hope is our confidence that He will do all He has promised.”

The Bible is full of stories of God’s promises.  One such story in the Old Testament that comes to mind, is that of Abram (later renamed Abraham,) who God chose to be the Father of the nation of Israel and promised him and his wife that though they were old, and she was barren, they would conceive and have a son (you can read the account in Genesis 17-18).  Sound familiar?  That is the same story from yesterday’s ★ Day 02 – Reason for the Season – Why I Say Merry Christmas ★ about Zechariah and Elizabeth.  God loves stacking the odds up against Him, and all we need to do is believe.  Romans 4:18-24 (ESV) describes Abraham’s belief…

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”  He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.  

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.  That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”  But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,”

ABRAHAM BELIEVED AGAINST HOPE!  Regardless of the situation we can have the same unwavering faith!  Day 6 of the 121 Advent Bible Plan talked about Abraham’s hope…

“Abraham’s circumstances seemed humanly impossible.  The promise of an heir was hopeless in the face of old age and barrenness.  But when hope rests on God, who can and does, in fact, do the impossible (Matthew 19:26), the realm of possibility has no bounds.  Our hope abounds in His ability, His goodness and His faithfulness toward us, His children.  We have “full assurance of hope.”

“With God everything is possible!”  You can read more on Abraham in (Romans 4:16-21 NLT).  I share this because this is not some dusty old history lesson but is applicable to you and I today!  Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT) says,

“The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.”

God’s love for you and me will never end!  He is merciful and faithful.  Problems are going to happen.  We live in a “Fallen World” and Satan is always looking to cause hardships in our life in to discourage us and turn us away from God.  People are going to get sick and bad things will happen but when we persevere and look to God, we can overcome the adversity; and when we do, it will develop and change us, breaking the focus from ourselves and make us more like Jesus so that we can help others!!  Again all we need to do is TRUST GOD in whatever we are going through today and let it transform us! I will close with this beautiful promise that was made in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)…

I am so thankful for this truth and for what God did in my mom and in my heart!!  God has a plan for you and me, to give us a future and a hope, so LET YOUR HOPE ARISE in God today!

As an additional supplement to today’s “Reason for the Season”…I highly recommend you listen to “The Twelve Voices of Christmas” audio dramatization from Back to the Bible of “Elizabeth – The Voice of Blessing.”  This dramatization is designed to help the listener experience the story of Christ’s coming in a fresh way from the Elizabeth’s perspective.

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here… ★ Day 04 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Consumerism ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Five Truths That Will Change Your Life! ★

69 - Daily Dependence - 5 TruthsI know this is a bold claim but I believe it is true if you will have an open mind to what you are about to read. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines truths as:

1. Sincerity in action, character, and utterance
2. The state of being the case :  fact
3. A transcendent fundamental : spiritual reality

Truths are indisputable facts that transcend what the latest thought that is trending on Twitter. They are black and white, that are constant and do not change as a passing fad. In this fast pace, pleasure driven, my way or the highway world we live in, beliefs in absolute truths have become the exception, rather than the norm, but if you accept these 5 Spiritual Truths, I promise your life will be forever changed!
I have shared in previous posts how remote God was in my life, not because of Him but as a result of being hurt by people in the church.  As I think of my self absorbed teenage years and early twenties, God was way, way down on the list…if He even was on there.  Except for the obligatory Easter and Christmas Mass, I never was present in church.  But Jesus gives us our first truth in Matthew 6:33 (NLT) of what will happen if we do place a priority on God…

God and what He cares about should be ahead of everything else, if we do, everything else will be added to us.  Too often we have it backwards, we chase after everything and God comes last, if at all.  Part of Jesus’ famous sermon on the mount, Matthew 6:33 is a great scripture to stand on.  I have always loved this verse, but the Message translation of this passage has opened my eyes to see this bit different…

“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” 
 

When God is first, He promises to meet our needs!  Where else do you get that kind of guarantee??
69 - Daily Dependence - Truth #2 - Realize that You are NOT a Good Person????
Ouch, that ones hurts doesn’t it??  But it’s true, (that includes me also.)  John 3:16-17 (NLT) says,

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that 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.”
 

Until you realize that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness, and accept Jesus, as payment for your sins, your life will remain in brokenness and you will be separated from God.

If you want to learn more about this and how to have a relationship with Jesus, check out the post called,  ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★

Francis Chan breaks down our second truth why “being good” just doesn’t cut it…Watch it!

 

69 - Daily Dependence - Truth #3 - Life is Not Always Going to Be Easy
Amen??  I don’t have to say much to convince you of that right?  Even if you have accepted truth #1 and #2, that does not make you immune from trouble or pain. Are you suffering today?  Aching from being hurt by someone’s betrayal or persecuted for something you did not do?  You are not alone, the Bible recounts in Genesis how Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, only to then be wrongly accused of attempted rape and thrown into prison…BUT God used these horrible betrayals that people inflicted, and elevated Joseph to second-in-command of all of Egypt.  Our #3 Truth comes from Genesis 50:20 (NLT),

69 - Daily Dependence - Genesis 50-20 - God Intended it for GoodI love that, what was “intended to harm me,” was used by God to “save the lives of many people.”  We cannot see the whole picture, God is always working and you never know how God will turn a bad situation around.  What is interesting is that early on in Joseph’s teenage years, he was given incredible dreams of what God’s plan for his future was going to be, but he had to go through a season of struggle first before he was able to step into his destiny that God had planned for him.  Psalms 105:19 (NLT) gives us insight into Joseph’s life.

“Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the lord tested Joseph’s character.”

Genesis 50:20 is one of my favorite verses that illustrates that even in the worst circumstances God can use the pain to produce something great!  It is the Old Testament parallel verse to the often quoted passage from Romans 8:28 (NLT),

69 - Daily Dependence - Romans 8-28“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

God can bring something good out of any situation.  He causes everything to work together for the good.  Trust Him to use your current situation to mold you into something beautiful!  God can and will turn any trial into a triumph!!!

69 - Daily Dependence - Truth #4 - Put on Your Armor
Wars are won or lost based on your defensive capabilities, so we need to make sure we are equipped for the battle.  Spiritual warfare is very real! You don’t have to live too long on this earth before you’ll find out that there will be trouble from those around you.  People will hurt you, betray you, cheat on you…you name it.  There is evil in this world and we need to be aware of it.  (You can read more about this in the post called ★ Thought for the Day – All the Time in the World ★.)  There is a war is occurring in the “unseen” realms as our #4 Truth warns us that we need to put on “The Whole Armor of God.”  Ephesians 6:10-12 (NLT) says, 

There is a battle raging on the enemy of our souls, the Devil will use every weapon in his arsenal to take us out.  The challenging part is to realize the attack as it is happening.  The Devil is a deceiver and master of lies, so often the attack will come in the form of voices in our own mind, that will lead us to believe the wrong thing.  Bob Hamp said made this powerful statement,

“Spiritual Warfare is the battle in which you choose which voice to listen to in the midst of your experiences.”

So what voice will you believe?  The lies screamed by Satan or the still small voice of God?  I encourage you to continue to read Ephesians 6:13-17 that goes into all the Armor of God (which one day I will write a Thought for the Day on.)

69 - Daily Dependence - Truth #5 - There is hope!
The things we go through in this life are temporary, but Jesus promises us that we can have peace because of what He did for us on the cross.  John 16:33 (NLT) says,
69 - Daily Dependence - John 16-33 - Oval Alt

We all go through different storms in this life, whether relational, financial or physical health, but no matter the storm, the answer, and the solution are the SAME… Lean into God and rely on His strength.  Arm yourself with Bible verses that you can speak out loud and pray, when doubts and worries creep in.  If you want to read more about God’s presence in the midst of the storm, check out this post called ★ Thought for the Day – The Storms of Life ★.

Draw close to God and He will draw close to you.  I promise you will never be disappointed that you did! 

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – What’s In Your Sponge? ★

I remember growing up in Pennsylvania as a kid, I wanted to make some extra money; so I made a pitcher of lemonade and set up a folding table and got to work.  The problem was, I lived off a small country road and there was very little traffic, whether by foot or vehicle.  Needless to say, I did not make much that day…hahaha!  You’ve heard the old adage…

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

Which is a phrase used to encourage optimism and a “can-do attitude” in the face of adversity or misfortune.  Though it is put on bumper stickers and feels played out, there is tremendous truth that we can use in our lives when we are squeezed!

I once heard a great analogy contrasting the pressures of life with a sponge.  Bishop O.W. Prince compared it this way:

“What is really inside of us will come spilling out of us when life puts the squeeze on us.  Crisis will usually reveal what is really in our hearts.  It is easy to do and say the right things when life is calm and everything is going right, but what we say and do when chaos hits and the pressure is on tends to paint a more accurate picture of who we really are.”

Wow!  That is convicting!  God has been showing me that I have some work to do!  Just like a sponge, when we are squeezed, what is in us will come flowing out!  The question is, will it be sour like lemons or sweet like lemonade?  In James 19-20 (NLT), we are given this word of advice…

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters:  You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”

31 - Daily Dependence -James-1-19-20

So I ask you…What’s in your Sponge?

When you are squeezed, what comes out?  WILL it cause a mess and hurt those around you, or WILL it be full of grace and uplifting?  Here is a promise of what will happen if you choose the latter…

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”  James 1:12 (NLT) 

If you are interested you can read a related post called ★ Thought for the Day – The Storms of Life ★

 

 

 

Continue reading