Tag Archives: Hope

Blessings


With Thanksgiving approaching, you may find yourself in a place where you are wondering what in the world you’re going to be thankful for this year. For you, this year may look very different from last year–it certainly does for me. Maybe you find yourself on the mountaintop or maybe you are wondering what in the world you’re going to do next. Maybe you’ve lost a marriage, a family member, a love,  your job, your sanity or maybe all of the above.Thanksgiving Crossroads

You may have more to be thankful for than you know but it may look very different than you think. Don’t stop. Keep looking. I’m looking too.

 

Overflow

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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. –Rom 15:13

Hope. It’s such a great word, isn’t it? It tells us that though all is not right in the world, things are not always now as they one day will be. You don’t have to look far, though, to notice that hope is something that’s desperately missing in the world we live in. Christ followers aren’t exempt from the hurts of this life either, but we do have a hope that only God can give and a future that only faith can see. It ’s these “intangible” truths that provide the fuel for us to keep going when the going is hard, to keep trusting when the circumstances seem to tell us otherwise, and to keep loving, because in the end, that’s all that matters and love, ultimately, is all that will last (1 Corinthians 13). Since these “intangibles” are the only things that truly last, whether in this life or the next, maybe they’re more tangible than we often think.

The beauty and gift of pain in this life is that it reminds us that this is not all there is. C. S. Lewis said that one of the plights of humanity is that we are far too easily pleased. He says we’re like the child content with making mud pies in the slums because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  When life is “good” we tend to settle. When life is painful, we tend to hope and long for what is better. Paul gives us this encouragement so that the miracle of hope would overflow and be visible to those around us. Hope implies something better is coming. The good news is that we don’t always have to wait for heaven to experience the “betterness” of God. He longs to give us so much of Himself even now. A favorite passage that is often quoted in reference to heaven actually speaks of the life that we can even now begin to experience through the Spirit of God. “However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’– the things God has prepared for those who love him– these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” [1Co 2:9-10]  What could possibly be more “deep” in this life than a peace that passes all understanding (can’t be explained–only experienced), and a hope that is secure? (Heb 6:19)

So let’s join together with expectation of an outpouring of His Spirit that we may all experience the Kingdom that is “now but not yet” in all of the fullness available to us today. We hope, we long, we yearn for that overflow.

Worshipping Through Grief

grief_small_bwWhen we first moved here to the Alpharetta area, one of our members described living here a little like “living in Disney World” and in many senses this is so true. We live in a great community surrounded by beautiful landscapes and the benefits of affluence, hard work and the American Dream. All of us know, however, that no matter where we live on planet earth, there are none of us that are immune to grief. We all suffer loss, whether that be the loss of a business due to a bad economy or the loss of our deepest relationships from disagreements, misunderstandings, or even death. Someone much wiser than I has said, “When times are good, they are rarely as good as we think they are, and when times are bad they are rarely as bad as we think they are.” I really believe that the Scripture would bear this out as well. Our worst of times and best of times will fade quickly compared to the glory that will one day be revealed in us (Rom 8:18). So, with this hope, we rejoice even though we live in a fallen world and even though we see suffering all around us.

Over the last couple of weeks, my heart has shared in the pain of two significant events. A couple of weeks ago, hearing of Rick Warren and family in the loss of their son Matthew to suicide (he suffered from mental illness his entire life)–my heart literally hurt. Rick has been a “pastor to pastors” and has been a pioneer and champion for reaching the unreached and adding value to millions through his books. For any family this would be painful and especially to such a public figure, I knew this would be a tragic loss and one that would meet it’s deal of “haters” from some in the media and mainstream culture. Yet, we have seen the hope of Christ and His Church shine through as many have lifted this family up in prayer and as we have witnessed the testimony of Rick, Kay and the family through social media and personal testimony.

Of course, we all have heard of the bombings in Boston over the last couple of days and our hearts go out to the many families and friends of those that were lost and injured during the blasts. It is so easy to become immune to this as it seems we hear of a bombing somewhere nearly every day. When these tragedies strike so close to home, it is a difficult reminder, however, of the evil that does exist in our world. How can anyone hate that much?

Yet, through the scriptures we also are given several examples of those who also worshipped in the midst of pain.

Job worshipped through grief. Job lived a righteous, God-fearing life. He was blessed by God with a dear family and much material wealth, yet he was allowed to be tested by Satan, who took nearly everything from him, yet Job said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Hannah worshipped through grief. Hannah was barren and wanted a child with every ounce of her being, yet this blessing was delayed and she was found weeping in the temple yet “They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:19).

Jeremiah worshipped through grief. So much so, in fact, he is often known as the “weeping prophet” probably due to a book in the Bible that he penned called “Lamentations”.  The theme of this book is developed as Jeremiah grieves over a wasted and desolate Jerusalem as a result of Israel’s exile. Yet in the midst of all of this he says, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will hope in him” (Lamentations 3:24).

Jesus, of course, knew grief. On the night before His crucifixion, we see Him praying in the garden of Gethsemane and weeping as it were “great drops of blood.”  Yet in the midst of this, he prays, “Not my will, but yours, be done,” and “Father, glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (Luke 22:42, John 17:1). We also read in Hebrews where it give us insight into the “big picture” that Jesus was able to keep before Him even despite His great suffering and grief–”Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).

Like Jesus, may we see the “big picture” and worship through our grief. It doesn’t mean that grief won’t still hurt or that suffering won’t still sting, but it does mean that we know the One who somehow through it all will one day “make all things new”.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5

 

How have you worshipped through grief? What advice do you have for those who have suffered a great loss? Let us know by leaving your comments below.

Hope is Not a 4-Letter Word

Hope. A four letter word? No disrespect intended here at all, but for many it truly is. Even the Scriptures acknowledge this (Proverbs 13:12), especially in reference to a false hope, or a hope that is deferred. How many times have you hoped for something that didn’t come true, or hoped for better circumstances? Many today can identify with this. Joblessness is higher now than it has been in almost 30 years and many are wondering is there an end to it all? On top of all the  doom and gloom in the news, one of the top box office hits is “2012”, a film depicting the end of the world. Where is the hope?

Enter Jesus. “Hope deferred, makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12). While true, the good news here is that this Hope (Jesus) is already come–it’s not deferred. That’s what Christmas is all about. No need to wait. Hope came wrapped and delivered in a manger over two thousand years ago.

That is what we’re celebrating this weekend at Trinity with “A Night of Hope”. Jesus said that He has come to “…tell of good news to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, preach deliverance to the captives, recover sight to the blind, and set at liberty those that are bruised and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord”  (Luke 4:18 paraphrased). Jesus is the hope that we all need.

Even if you’re still a little skeptical, I invite you to attend “A Night of Hope” this weekend (Dec. 5 & 6 at 4pm) and see for yourself what Jesus has done in the hearts of so many and what He can do for you. Our Choir, Orchestra, drama team, soloists and Artists in Residence, The Nelons (www.thenelons.com) will be presenting this hope in a dynamic musical/media presentation this weekend.

Jesus has come. He is even knocking on your heart’s door (Revelation 3:20). Open up and experience the hope that is found in Jesus and join us for “A Night of Hope”.

For more information on “A Night of Hope”, go to http://www.tbc.org.

*For more information on how you can help and provide hope for the hungry of Jacksonville to to http://www.fighthungerjax.org

As part of the event, we want to help provide hope for the hungry of Jacksonville. We are partnering with the Jacksonville Hunger SWAT Team and it’s affiliate organizations to raise awareness and help with non-perishable food items. You can bring your donation with you to the event. There will be donation bins in designated areas throughout the complex.

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