31 Days of Reinventing Our Hope in God


31 Days of Reinventing our Hope in God – in 5 minutes a day
Welcome to 31 Days of Hope in October – not the hope you have grown up with or grown accustomed to, but a hope that is transformed in the very presence of God.
Scroll down to catch a glimpse of what this hope just might look like. This page will be the directory for you to come back to for easily finding posts within this series.
Click to read the other days, I’ll be adding a link to each day once it goes live.
I pray this is a blessing to you and that it will be a refreshing to your soul, even if it is only 5 minutes. Thank you for coming and exploring hope with me!

Day 1: Salvation is Here
Day 2: Not in Kansas Anymore
Day 3: Where Was God?
Day 4: The Grief Process: Finding Our Way & Thriving in the Desert
Day 5: Vision From the Pit: Purpose in Crisis
Day 6: Revelation in the Darkness -Who Was the Thief?
Day 7: Facing Depression
Day 8: Facing Disillusionment
Day 9: Facing Fear
Day 10:Facing Judgment
Day 11: Facing the Sin Within
Day 12: Facing Memories Through a Biblical Lens
Day 13: Facing the Enemy
Day 14: Facing and Embracing Reality – The New Normal
Day 15: Facing the Future
Day 16: Understanding Sin & The Sovereignty of God
Day 17: The Christian Culture
Day 18: Telling Ourselves the Truth – exposing Our Unbelief
Day 19: Fairy Tales Remixed
Day 20: Uncovering the Goodness of God When Life Hurts
Day 21: Hope’s Debtor: Gratitude & Humility
Day 22: Hope in Sorrows & Affliction
Day 23: Exploring Hope: Making Sense in a Fallen World
Day 24: Superficial Hope
Day 25: The Promise of Hope
Day 26: The Foundation of Hope
Day 27: The Formation of Hope
Day 28: The Fruition of Hope
Day 29: Hope Discovered
Day 30: Hope Reinvented
Day 31: 31 Days…How Was It?

We were all children once, dreaming of a fairytale life and happy ending. The thing is, we fail to see that fairy tales are often fraught with suffering before the main character gets to a place of peace and blessing. So it is with life. For the Christian, there is hope in suffering, but there can also be disillusionment. This series on hope is not going to give you false hope. It is not about living the American Dream and it is not dependent upon our worldly circumstances, but this hope we have is real and it belongs to those who are in Christ Jesus.

Sometimes hope is hidden from our eyes and seems impossible to reach. I pray this series will help you to find your hope again, but this time it will look different. This month our expectations and desires will have passed through God’s sovereignty and purposes and redefined our understanding of what hope really looks like.

It might hurt. It might feel like death at times to explore our concept of hope and the loss of what we thought we wanted, but when our eyes are opened to see the fullness of this living hope, unlike any this earth offers, we are set free. Set free from the trap of a superficial hope and awakened to a new sense of purpose toward the hope God has for us – and His plans for us are not just good – they are the best!

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Thoughtful Thursday: Attention!

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in the space of rest that all the commotion around us is put into perspective.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalms 78:1-2

1 “A well-written song by Asaph. Pay attention, my people, to my instruction! Listen to the words I speak! 2 I will sing a song that imparts wisdom; I will make insightful observations about the past.”

Proverbs 5:1-2

1 “My child, be attentive to my wisdom, pay close attention to my understanding, 2 in order to safeguard discretion, and that your lips may guard knowledge.”

Proverbs 4:20

“My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.”

“Someone get the phone”. “We have to leave now”. “Did You forget to feed the animals?” “Did you turn in the permission slip?” “Where are the medical immunization records?” “Did you pay the bills?” On and on this list of daily reminders could go. Meetings are added to planners and the email inbox just keeps filling up. Relationships require maintenance and sometimes intervention… or ATTENTION. With so many things vying for our time, we need to come up for air.

Our attention spans are a bit short with this world spinning at its current rapid pace. Add an over consumption of electronics to the ever growing responsibilities everyone juggles and we just might have a crisis on our hands.

But a clarion voice beckons us to draw near. That’s right. Drop our phones. Our planners. Maybe even our cleaning chores and rest. The God who created us with the intention to work also knew we would need rest.

His Spirit cries out to us through His word, trying to get us to pay attention to the desperate need of our inner soul – the very core of our being. To pay attention to the fact that we are being distracted from true devotion. To be aware of our need for His wisdom in every area of life.

When things are going well and we are on our typical cycle of constant action, He whispers to us to come and be still. When life comes crashing down, He draws us near to rest in Him. It seems counter-productive with our mindset of always being on the move, but at all times, our very life functions on the foundation of time spent with God.

It is in the space of rest that all the commotion around us is put into perspective. 

Pausing to seek God with no agenda other than reading His Word is where we can prioritize and reflect on the purpose of it all and ask our God what His mission is for us in this blip of time.

Sometimes we get so busy that we cram this precious time with God into just a few minutes a day. Maybe our busyness is ministry or a kind deed. Even then we need to be refueled with time spent with our God to be able to keep all our balls up in the air.

The tensions of life grab our attention and brings us to the simple need we all have – God. 

When we don’t take this time sometimes God has to get our attention through means that cause our crazy, chaotic world to stop.

Creating space in each day to focus and stop and consider His truth is what gives meaning and purpose in every moment we are given.

If a day is like our finances, we would tithe to God a tenth of our day – not as a legalistic measure, but as a dire need of our soul.

God, help us to pay attention and see what really matters in our daily tasks. May You be glorified in it all.

 

Thoughtful Thursday: The Source of Strife

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Yielding to God in the midst of conflict uses that strife for good and God’s glory.

Scripture of the Day:

Proverbs 17:14

14 Starting a quarrel is like letting out water; stop it before strife breaks out! 19 The one who loves a quarrel loves transgression; whoever builds his gate high seeks destruction.

Proverbs 20:3

Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel.

James 4:1-2

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.”

James 3:14

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.”

I am afraid I might step on toes with today’s post, but the truths in this post have stepped on mine in the past, too. You can’t go through life without strife, but finding the source of that strife helps to move through it.

Motives of the heart are not so easy to discern, but eventually God reveals the source of dissension. Whether it is a competitive spirit, selfish ambition, jealousy or just our flesh being sensitive or irritable, the root of all conflict is spiritual.

Recognizing the battle is spiritual takes away offense. Instead of thinking about self, what we want or being offended, we start to think about why the conflict happened in the first place and how God can be glorified in it. It might be our flesh or the enemy influencing our thought patterns, but we still have a choice. The battle is not against another person – it is ultimately the LORD’s.

After we recognize the spiritual aspect of our conflict, at the heart of discord is self. Somehow in someway we take on an offense for an impression that someone else did not treat us the way we thought we deserved or maybe we assume they did.

I like to avoid drama and needless strife. Seems scriptural, too – not to get involved in civilian affairs. But sometimes God allows strife in and accomplishes amazing fruit in an unlikely way.

What used to break my spirit when others would misjudge or mistreat me is now something I am grateful for. I know it seems pious, but God has shown me how some of the hardest moments of persecution, strife or being shunned have truly served to draw me nearer to God and to trust Him. It hurts, but it no longer affects me the way it once did.

Instead of trying to have everyone like us, we can pray for them and choose to rise above the fray. Maybe we need to examine ourselves and maybe we just need to surrender it over to the LORD. The end of a matter is better than its beginning, but yielding to God in the midst uses that strife for good and God’s glory.

Lord, thank You for helping us to rise above problems and difficulties and for choosing to delight in You, instead. Help us to remember the battle is a spiritual one and to seek Your glory and not our own.

Mundane Monday: A Higher Purpose

Perspective - Seeing Christ in Our World by Alex Wong - smaller size

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our blessings and trials are not about us, but about those around us seeing God’s activity in our lives. #SeeingDeep #DenisePass

Scripture:

Exodus 18:9

“Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 He said, “Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.”

The car breaks down, home is foreclosed upon, miscarriage, diagnosed with multiple diseases, falsely arrested, hospitalization for pneumonia, a spouse betrays us. Poor us, right? Life’s ups and downs can leave any of us disillusioned, heart broken, in a foul mood or a bona fide well-deserved pity party. Or maybe not. For those who grab a hold of the grace of God are overcomers and are changed forever along with those around them.

What if our perspective on troubles was flipped “right side up” to recognize the hand of God at all times? Assuredly hardships are not something to be delighted in, but they teach us much about contentment and relying on our God, more than good times ever could. But more than that, the people around us get a front row seat and the opportunity to see God sustain us, encourage us and rescue us in evil times.

Jethro saw God’s hand in the life of his son-in-law, Moses. He was overjoyed, and this joy resulted in him worshiping God. Wow. To think that our response and God’s movement in our lives could serve as a catalyst for someone’s salvation and worship of God is humbling.

If we complain and blame, we lose our reward and perhaps the people watching us do, too. If we surrender, God is glorified, His fame spreads and victory is ours. Those troubles at the beginning of this blog? They were all just a few of what I have personally faced. They caused me to cry out to God, despite my need to confront my own lack of trust in Him for the suffering I faced.

Like Jacob, when we wrestle with God and try to understand, we end up transformed. Whether or not we ever fully comprehend, we inherently know our God is good and will use it all for good.

Lord, thank You for Your grace and for showing us the deeper purpose in all of life. Help us to glorify You in everything, for You are worthy!

Good News Friday: Broken and Beautiful

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We are never closer to God than at our most broken moments.

Scripture of the Day:

Isaiah 57:15

“For this is what the high and exalted one says, the one who rules forever, whose name is holy: “I dwell in an exalted and holy place, but also with the discouraged and humiliated, in order to cheer up the humiliated and to encourage the discouraged.”

Sometimes we we feel bummed we think we are not good company.  We are supposed to always be cheerful and never admit to our brokenness. But sometime we have to be still and see our need.  It is in those moments that we draw nearer to God.

He is with the broken and contrite and He came for those who were lost – not for those who have everything together.

We might try to avoid brokenness.  It hurts.  We don’t want to admit that life is hard and often confusing.  We are supposed to have the answers . . . and we do.  The Word of God has all we will ever need, but it does not mean we are perfect.  It means we know where to go when the chips are down and when we are in seasons of blessing, as well.

Most amazing of all – there truly is no one higher than God, yet He chooses to associate with the lowly, the downtrodden and forgotten.  Perhaps it is because we recognize our need for a Savior when we are vulnerable enough to face our own lack.

To be broken truly is beautiful – because in that moment we are able to be healed by a God Who knows how to perfectly fit the pieces all together.

Lord, thank You for loving the weak and coming for the hurting.  Thank You that You are all we need.

 

Truthful Tuesday: Carrying the Torch

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We help our children carry the torch of faith by living out our faith honestly and in humility.

Scripture of the Day:

Judges 2:10-12

“That entire generation passed away; a new generation grew up that had not personally experienced the LORD’s presence or seen what he had done for Israel.  11 The Israelites did evil before the LORD by worshiping the Baals. 12 They abandoned the LORD God of their ancestors who brought them out of the land of Egypt. They followed other gods–the gods of the nations who lived around them. They worshiped them and made the LORD angry.

Some have said that the upcoming generation is leaving the church.  The foundation laid is purportedly not firm and the future generation left the faith of their predecessors.

Nothing scares me more than the faith of my children fading and being replaced with a worldly counterfeit.

I have a jealousy for their souls and a desire for them to see this walk with Christ is not mere religion, but a vibrant, cherished relationship with the Lover of our souls.

But I cannot make that choice for them.  They have to pick up the torch and choose to carry it.  As the character Sam Wise said in the movie, “Lord of the Rings”, “‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.”

Praying for them and daily sharing God’s word and living it out has a much more profound effect than rules aimed at external behavior only.  So it is with us, the predecessors.  We each had to face the poverty of our own souls, grapple with sin and not allow it to master us on the inside.  We still do.

When our children see our need of God, there is no greater demonstration of active living faith.  Confessing our shortcomings yet not yielding to them shows them how to carry the torch.

Ultimately, if the faith of the future generation was dependent upon our perfection, faith would fail.  Thank God that faith is a gift from Him, nurtured with time spent with Jesus in His word and prayer.

Lord, help us to never grow weary of seeking You and discipling the precious next generation for Your glory.  May righteousness sweep across our nation and the hearts of the children return to You.

 

Truthful Tuesday: Judging Judgment

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Romans 14:12

“Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore we must not pass judgment on one another, but rather determine never to place an obstacle or a trap before a brother or sister.”

1 Peter 4:17

“For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?”

Judgment.  No one wants to be the recipient, but all have been participants in either judging others or being judged themselves.

In His perfect wisdom, God designed a system of justice in place to judge our actions.  Man sets up his own system of judgment, too, to condemn one another.

At the root of judgment from any human being is pride.  Pride in our own sinful, myopic condition that we would think we could ever be in a place to pass judgment on another creation, made in God’s image.

There are so many more motivations in the act of judgment, though. Sometimes we want to make ourselves feel better about our decisions, or we manipulate others with judgment to try to get them to do something we want.

Sounds pretty ugly.  That’s because judgment from man is going to be man-centered, but judgment that Christ gives is perfect and redemptive.

God judges our hearts to bring us to repentance and show us our sinful condition.  Man judges to prove a position, inflict pain, manipulate or inflate self.

Man cannot judge other’s motivations, for we cannot see the heart – only God can.  Still, the default sinful condition of man is to presume and judge brothers or sisters in Christ.

Despite out corrupt nature, we do not have to give in to judgment.  The heart of man is deceitful, but God.  He is gracious and able to help us lay down our judgments and put on forgiveness.  Sometimes people can hurt us and boundaries have to be put up so they cannot hurt or condemn us further.  Sometimes we have to lay down our desire to please man in his faulty judgments, too.

Maybe some of us feel we deserve judgment – we all do.  But Christ bore that judgment for us all.  In this world we have relationships that are broken from sin and ensuing consequences, and people will judge us until the day we die, but all of those judgments fall off our shoulders and are laid at the feet of our Savior – the One, perfect, Righteous Judge.

Lord, thank You for the sweet victory You give to walk in freedom and forgiveness.  Thank You for bearing our judgment.  Help us to consider others better than ourselves and to discern others in the light of the grace that we have been given.

Thoughtful Thursday: Influential Influence

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our battle is not fleshly, but spiritual.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

Romans 12:12

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Timothy 3:1-6

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,

Ephesians 2:1-2

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”

One verse my children know well as it was a mantra repeated continuously in their childhood was 1 Corinthians 15:33.  It was challenging to strike a balance between warning them about being influenced by ungodly people around them and not judging them, either.

Much like the Israelites had to be reminded to write God’s word down and keep it before them, we need reminders to be aware of the influences all around us.

Most of us do not pause to perceive why we are feeling a certain way about another person or circumstance.  We casually give in to the emotions, unchecked unless we ask God for discernment to see the spiritual influence all around us.

The prince of the spirit of the air is busy.  So are our minds, with over 2100-3000 thoughts per hour going through them.  Keeping track and being accountable for all of those thoughts is overwhelming.

But when we study God’s Word and surround ourselves with godly influences, the sorting of wicked and godly influences becomes easier.  God has made a way out and He will show us what is pleasing to Him and what is not.  The choice is ours.  There is no middle ground. Life or death. Righteousness or wickedness.

Apathy is not the answer, self-righteousness is not the answer.  There are absolute standards that God has set.  We are accountable.

Choosing to abstain from bad influences is not enough, though.  Keeping oneself unsoiled is not the same as becoming a source of godly influences for those around us.  We are a light not because we have anything inherently good in us, but because we have the light of the world within us and He is good and able to use us for righteousness.

Lord, help us to be an influence on those around us that draws people nearer to You.  Help us to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world and to live for Your glory.

Worshipful Wednesday: The God Who Gives Rest

Rest

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Rest is necessary to be productive.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalm 23:1-3

1 “A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He takes me to lush pastures, he leads me to refreshing water. 3 He restores my strength. He leads me down the right paths for the sake of his reputation.”

Psalm 127:2

“It is vain for you to rise early, come home late, and work so hard for your food. Yes, he can provide for those whom he loves even when they sleep.”

Those who suffer with autoimmune diseases know the drill well.  Awoken by sharp pain in the back of both sides of my head, my eyes hurt to open.  Carefully, I tried to ease into the day the best I can.  Trying to move through the suffering to a place of functioning, I contemplate how grateful I am for the times when I do not feel this bad.  But for now, I rest.

Rest.  That word that should be so welcoming, but not when there is work to do.  Until I realize that there is always work to do. Inconvenient interruption of suffering!   And yet, perhaps God brings pockets of rest when we need them most.

Today it was a stubborn migraine that would not dissipate, no matter what I tried.  I continued to work despite it, but the throbbing reminder was almost too much to bear.  It is in this place of pain that I cry out to my Abba Father and ask Him to grant me strength. He does me one better.  He offers me peace and makes me to lie down, basking in His love.

This is one of those weeks where there was too much on my plate, anyway.  I rose earlier to make sure I would get it all done, but today God canceled most of my commitments.  Kind of like a snow day when all of the obligations suddenly are postponed – only today it was the threat of tornadoes nearby.

As my children and I all huddled in the basement, I found myself in awe of God’s power and protection.  With a breath or a thought He can affect our world.  We have limits and our flesh speaks loudly when our frail bodies have reached them.  In humility, recognizing that I cannot do it all makes me rely on God and recognize my need for rest.

God is so good to help us momentarily step out of our busy little boxes and see our world the way God does.  Instead of seeing rest as inconvenient, we can create moments of rest as a priority and recognize the necessity of refueling to be able to finish the race he has marked out for us.

Lord, thank You for making me to lie down – even when I would not choose to.  You are not a God Who ruthlessly works us – You want to fellowship with us and give us a rest that restores our weary souls.

 

 

Thoughtful Thursday: The Pity-less Party

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We are more blessed than we deserve.

Scriptures:

Job 9:1-4 (ESV)

“Truly I know that it is so: But how can a man be in the right before God?  If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand times.  He is wise in heart and mighty in strength —who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?”

Proverbs 19:3 (NIV)

“A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.”

Life is an amazing gift from God. Yet many people never really live the abundant life that Christ meant for us to have.  What keeps us from a full life?  Ourselves.

Life can be exhilarating and a bummer sometimes, if we are honest.  The roller coaster ride of flat tires at inconvenient times, an award for a job well done, terminal illnesses, healing, reckless accidents, miraculous protection, unemployment, a new job, unfaithfulness, loyalty, rebelliousness, obedience . . . and the list goes on and on . . . can be no fun at all for us less adventurous types.

To think that life would be great if we never experienced pain is flawed, however; for the pain is a vivid reminder of how blessed we were to have had moments without suffering in the first place.  When we made a mess of things all by ourselves, the consequences for our sin point us to our need for our Savior, which leads ultimately to that perfect, abundant, eternal life.

So how do we wreck abundant life in Christ if we did not cause our own demise?  Our response.  How we accept, deny, respond in anger or blame others or God – sets the course for whether or not we will walk in the joy that Christ has for those Who are His.

I get it, believe me, I do.  When other people’s sins cause immense pain and horrible consequences.  I have been there, done that, and still feel the effects.  There have been moments of horror, anguish, PTSD, shock, disbelief in my life – but at the end of the day the LORD would bring me to a singular truth that I could not argue with – I am doing better than I deserve.

Every time I try to argue with myself about that truth, when I somehow feel I have been unjustly treated (and it might be the case), I finally relent and realize it is folly to even attempt to play the self pity card when the truly Perfect One didn’t.  He did not deserve to suffer for my sin or anyone else’s, but He WANTED to.  This was not because he enjoyed suffering – no, He cried tears of blood in anxiety over His choice, but He chose it nonetheless, because comfort was not His God and the salvation of our souls was His mission which He did not falter from.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are tremendous burdens that seem completely unbearable, that make us lean into God hard.  When we see others hurting, we have an opportunity to be the hands and feet of God – not just to dismiss their suffering.  But in that comfort, it is in vain if we do not point them to the Healer Who is able to help us handle every let down.  But perhaps our expectations, when placed in reality, help us to take notice and be grateful when things go well.  Why is it that I did not get sick?  Why is it that I can see this amazing gift from God at all?  What an amazing grace is ours.  Such understanding this is that we can turn away from our behaviors that hurt the heart of God and thank Him instead.

Lord, forgive us when we get mad or disappointed when things don’t go our way.  Your ways really are the best.  Give us eyes to see and ears to hear.