Day 31: 31 Days of Reinvented Hope …How Was It?

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Hope Reinvented survives in the harshest of environments and is an anchor, sure and steady.

Scripture of the Day:

Hebrews 6:19

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain…”

1 Peter 3:15

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Zechariah 9:12

“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.”

Psalm 119:114

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.”

You made it! (Or, if you just found out about the 31 days of Hope Reinvented, welcome!) Sifting through our hopes and dreams, fulfilled, broken or unrealized, has taken us on a voyage to discover a hope we never thought was possible.

Hope Reinvented survives in the harshest of environments and is an anchor, sure and steady. It reminds us of our core purpose in this life – to glorify God and live a worthy life filled with His eternal hope – and beckons us back to our Creator and His vision for this precious life He has given.

As you have assessed where your hope lies, have you had a change of perspective in hope? Was it all you “hoped it would be”? (Sorry, my corny sense of humor had to chime in there).

If you are in a place of brokenness, hope is not easily seen. How have you navigated through such times?

This knowledge of the hope God has for us cannot be kept a secret. People need to know this life was never meant to be lived for the here and now alone. There is hope when life is not hopeful, but it is not in things or positions or earthly temporary success. Hope Reinvented is found in His precious Word alone as we are in a relationship with the God of this universe, our Abba Father.

Thank you for taking this time to come with me and explore what Hope Reinvented looks like.In case you missed it, below is a table of contents for all 31 days. God makes all things new and His hope for you is sure.

Oh God, You are our portion, our delight! Thank You that You have not left us without hope. We worship You, our Eternal Hope!

31 Days of Hope Reinvented

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?

Day 19: Fairy Tales Remixed

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

This life might not have a fairy tale ending on earth, but all of our sorrows will be swallowed up in Heaven and for all eternity. 

Scripture of the Day:

John 10:28

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand.”

Once upon a time (had to start this blog post like this, right?), ok, where was I? Oh yeah, once upon a time everything was perfect and a perfect looking person (who is the object of this story) suddenly had something imperfect thrust into her life. Whatever would she do? Oh, no worries, there is always a fairy something or another to help save the day after she goes through a significant amount of pain that makes it all worthwhile.

Sorry for the notable sarcasm present in that last paragraph. Fairy tales were not something I read to my kids much when they were little, and while I am at it, we did not celebrate Santa, either. I know – I am a real killjoy. Or am I?

I always wanted my kids to know that I told them the truth. Being fed lies can leave us hopeless and disillusioned when real life smacks you hard in the face. I wanted them to know that when I told them about Jesus that they could trust me, because I had laid a foundation of being a truth-teller.

Back to our story. We all somehow wish we could live in a fantasy world, because things always turn out well there. The “bad guys” always get what they deserve and the “good guys”always win out in the end. Life is good and it all revolves around us. Well, not really.

In the story of our lives, a life well-lived revolves around Jesus, the real Hero of our story. He made us, and though He was God, He came in the form of man and laid down His own life for us. He did not seek a comfortable life nor man’s praise. He, the God over all, humbled Himself! He did not complain about things being unfair, but entrusted Himself to His perfect Father, knowing the story would ultimately be for God’s glory and His good.

Perhaps instead of craving a “perfect” life where we are surrounded by orchestral music constantly cheering us on in our adventures and where everyone adores us, we could have a change in our mentality. If we, too, laid down our lives as Christ did and sought to have Him live through us, then our perspective becomes one with a much different goal.

If my expectations are that all will work out well for me, my expectations can lead to idolatry. Ultimately, it ends well for those who are in Christ Jesus, but there will be times where life just does not make sense and sinful people seem to get away with wicked things. Other heroes of the faith got distracted with this reality, too, but they hoped in God.

When life hurts, we just want to escape. We want to hope in a perfect life. But maybe instead of that vain, temporary hope, we can begin to see a new hope forming. A hope reinvented is a hope in the tragedies and mishaps of life that is focused on hoping to live a life worthy of the life Christ gave on our behalf. It is a passion to be faithful and to glorify God in the pains and the joys that life brings, a life that overcomes obstacles and looks to the Author of our faith instead of the obstacles themselves. That is my hope.

I know it’s hard to have faith when there is turmoil all around. It is a death, of sorts. But this life is not the end goal, anyway, and after death there is life.

This life might not have a fairy tale ending on earth, but all of our sorrows will be swallowed up in Heaven and for all eternity. We may not have a castle that eventually moth and rust destroy, but we have mansions in Heaven that never fade – beside the crystal lake, where we will have no more burdens and no more tears. Sounds better than any fairy tale ending I know – pretty amazing, in fact.

This song, “I Can Only Imagine” by mercy Me has always got me. What a hope we have that never disappoints!

Lord, help our hope to be solely in living lives that glorify You. Take our burdens and use them to make us more like You!

 

Truthful Tuesday: Purpose in Provision

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

By sowing what we have been given, we demonstrate that we trust that God will give again.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Corinthians 9:6

“My point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work. 9 Just as it is written, “He has scattered widely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness remains forever.” 10  Now God who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your supply of seed and will cause the harvest of your righteousness to grow. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God,” 12 because the service of this ministry is not only providing for the needs of the saints but is also overflowing with many thanks to God. 13 Through the evidence of this service they will glorify God because of your obedience to your confession in the gospel of Christ and the generosity of your sharing with them and with everyone.”

Everything we have is given so we may be generous to others, but our giving also is for us. Sowing what is not ours in the first place bears fruit for eternity, and causes us to grow to be more like Christ.

By sowing what we have been given, we demonstrate that we trust that God will give again.

When others look into our lives and see God’s blessing and our obedience to share that blessing, it serves to point them to God and brings Him glory.

All too often, though, we can look at what we don’t have or focus on all of the abundant needs there are around us instead of seeing how much God has truly blessed us with. The fact is, there will always be needs, but those needs point us to the One Who gives us the greatest riches of all – Himself.

When we have Christ, we can sow more than just physical needs – but also seeds of the Gospel into the hearts of others, giving them true wealth. He gives us all we need for this life. He is the vine and living water Who quenches the thirst of all who come to Him.

Just like we should not withhold material blessings when we can give them, the gift of salvation is one we should share liberally, as well.

Lord, may You be glorified in all that You give us and may we be faithful to bless others with the gifts You have given, including our salvation.

 

 

Ministry of Reconciliation

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2 Corinthians 5:14-16, 18-21

14 “For the love of Christ controls us, since we have concluded this, that Christ died for all; therefore all have died.  15 And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised. 16 So then from now on we acknowledge no one from an outward human point of view. Even though we have known Christ from such a human point of view, now we do not know him in that way any longer. 17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away–look, what is new has come! 18 And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea through us. We plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!” 21 God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 6:4

But as God’s servants, we have commended ourselves in every way, with great endurance, in persecutions, in difficulties, with distresses, 5 in beatings, imprisonments, in riots, in troubles, in sleepless nights, in hunger, by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by benevolence, by the Holy Spirit, by genuine love, 7 by truthful teaching, by the power of God, with weapons of righteousness both for the right hand and the left, 8 through glory and dishonor, through slander and praise; regarded as imposters, and yet true.”

Relationships can be tricky – especially if we go by feelings.  Offenses can run rampant in families, friendships and even the body of Christ.  Wherever two or more are gathered, there can be conflict or hurt feelings.  But in Christ, we who have been saved are new creatures and called to a different standard.

Likened to a soldier serving his country, we have been called as ambassadors for Christ and given a ministry of reconciliation.  What a wonderful occupation – peacemakers.  And yet in all honesty, there is not a lot of glamour or appreciation that comes from this position; rather, a lot of humble pie.  But the joy of pleasing God far outweighs the bitter heart weighed down with unforgiveness, resentment or bitter envy.

When someone is uncharitable or unkind to us, it hurts, but what an opportunity to glorify God.  If it is a Christian who is envious or bitter with us, God help us to see the individual as one whom God has forgiven.  We cannot hold a grudge, no matter how justified we feel we may be, for we, too, have trespassed against God and been forgiven.

This ministry of reconciliation should consume our souls.  We are on a mission from God to reconcile man back to a right relationship  with God.  And not just that, but with one another.  God demonstrated relationship to us through His Son.  We are called to relate to one another in humility and grace; embodied by Christ Himself, who we were enemies of and crucified, yet He did not count our sins against us.

At this present time, the “sufferings” of a Christian today in our country do not compare with those of the first generation of Christians in the New Testament.  They armed themselves with being prepared to die to self, to endure hardship all for the glory of God.  Their weapons were righteous – not self righteous, not for their own defense, but to win one soul to God.

Lord help us to not forget our calling and purpose or be distracted by controversies that just do not matter.  We can pursue unity as far as it depends upon us and leave all matters up to God.  Recently I saw a quote, which I had heard many years before in a sermon and it was such a fresh reminder of how to respond when people say things that are not true of ourselves.  To paraphrase, the part of us that wants the truth to be told fights against someone spreading falsehood, yet, in reality, there are things which are true of us that are just as hideous as the lie being told.

God help us to just let it go.  Let God straighten out any misperception and just be about the business of reconciliation as much as depends upon us.  Reconciliation is not for the super religious; it is not for the religious at all; it is expected by all who profess Christ and who have received mercy, grace and reconciliation themselves.

Lord, we surrender to You and ask You to help us to be focused on Your purposes and glory, not our own.  May zeal for Your salvation consume us and may we never tire of serving in this ministry of reconciliation.

Worship Wednesday: Paying Attention In an Inattentive World

Photo Credits: mindful listening

Photo Credits:
mindful listening

Psalm 49: 1-4

1 “Listen to this, all you nations!  Pay attention, all you inhabitants of the world! 2 Pay attention, all you people, both rich and poor! 3 I will declare a wise saying; I will share my profound thoughts. 4 I will learn a song that imparts wisdom; I will then sing my insightful song to the accompaniment of a harp.

As a singer/songwriter, this verse is precious to me.  When I write songs of worship to God, I am caught up in how awesome He is and how to reveal Him to whoever listens to my music.  In everything I do, I want to convey God’s amazing grace, truth and love; to express His word in a way that can reach someone to understand God more.  It is this hunger that drives me on: to know Him more and make Him known.

Music has a way of grabbing our attention more than mere words.  Singing new songs also helps us to worship when we have grown accustomed to listening to the same worship songs.  We can also listen inattentively and not recognize the impact music is having upon us.  It has been said by some that they do not listen to the lyrics, just the music.  But we are more complex creations than that.  We are able to retain a lot of information and might not even be aware of it.  What we listen to matters.

When I was in college studying music, I wrote a research paper on the profound effect music has on plant life.  I was astounded that even plants wilted when hard rock music was played.  (Smile).  Humans are likewise affected by music, yet in even deeper ways.

The company we keep in media is either corrupting us or discipling us in our walks with God.  There are so many distractions today, so many things beckoning for our attention.  Which entertainment will we choose?  Music that helps us to understand and worship God more, or music that numbs us to His existence?  Movies or television that inspires us to be more like Christ, or awakens our flesh to become more carnally minded?

He has entrusted the secrets of His kingdom to us and we must prove faithful.  Even in seemingly small decisions, He is LORD over it all.   May we pay attention to what surrounds us and choose to place in our path songs, words and media that cause us to walk in purity and joy in the LORD.  Like the Psalmist, may we seek to go deeper with God so we can share with those around us more of the depth of the riches we have in Christ.

Lord, in all I do, I want to glorify You.  Help us to honor You and to never grow weary us seeking You diligently in every area of our lives.