Posts Tagged ‘Hope

02
Jan
17

Thankful For Another Year

The first message of 2017 from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.  This talk is based on Psalm 65.

06
Dec
16

Come Back To The Manger

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. — Luke 2:16-20 (NIV)

I love that the shepherds returned to the manger after telling everyone about the baby that was born there.  It’s almost as if they had to go back to see it with their own eyes again.  I think that this is why we celebrate Christmas every year.  We need to return to the place where it all began.  We need to journey back to Bethlehem and visit the manger once again.  We need to be reminded of how God put on flesh and became like us.  That God took on human form in the person of Jesus Christ.  He felt what we feel.  He breathed the air we breathe.  He wept like we weep and He laughed like we laugh.  Jesus was real and it all started the same way we all started out: as a tiny baby.  The gift of that tiny baby is the greatest gift we could ever hope to receive.  May our lives be lived in gratitude and thanksgiving for the manger of Bethlehem and for the baby that the shepherds found there.  The journey to Calvary and our forgiveness began there and that is why we need to go back there this year.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for becoming like one of us. Thank You for the hope that You brought to earth. Thank You for the peace that You bring into my life. Amen.

28
Sep
16

No Disappointment In Hope

…we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. — Romans 5:2b-5 (NIV)
I’ve spent this morning talking with several people who are having a tough time of things.  There’s the woman whose sister has cancer.  There’s the family that is facing hard times on two different fronts.  There’s the young man whose baby has a mysterious illness.  There’s the woman facing a possible surgery soon.  All of them sound broken and beat up by life.  They are facing times of hopelessness and disappointment.
It is so hard to focus on the positive aspects of trials and tribulations when we are in the midst of them.  When we are in the thick of the frustrations and disappointments of life, it is so difficult to say, “This is making me stronger!  This is helping my faith grow!”  No!  We get angry and we weep and we sigh and we cry some more.  We want answers and we don’t want to wait for them.  We want things to go our way for once!  We don’t want easy Sunday school answers.  We want real hope in a time of hopelessness.  We want stability in an unstable world.  We want things to stay the same when everything is changing all around us.
The good news is that God doesn’t change.  His love doesn’t change.  His character never changes.  His Word never changes.  Hope doesn’t change.  He is there, loving us with a fierce, compassionate love as a father loves his child.  He is merciful and He is kind.  He gives peace in the midst of the storm.  He gives hope, even in the midst of the disappointments of life.  He showers us with blessings even when we can’t see them.  May He pour out His love on you and give you hope today.
PRAYER: Father God, we are in need of hope in our country and in our lives. We know that You are the source of hope. Help me to not feel discouraged and disappointed by the difficult circumstances of my life and to know that You will work everything out for the best possible good. In Jesus’ name, amen.
02
Sep
16

Against All Hope

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. — Romans 4:18-21 (NIV)

We are living in hopeless times.  Our confidence in our economy and in our leaders is wavering.  Promises have been made by politicians (on both sides of the aisle) and while some have come to fruition, for the most part they have not been kept.  It seems as though companies are laying off more and more employees every day.  ISIS is on the rampage.   The threat of terrorist attacks is still very real.  Nations like North Korea are working on nuclear missile programs.  There is gun violence in the streets of Chicago where hundreds have been killed in what seems like a war zone.   Is there any hope?  Is our situation truly hopeless?  Not at all.

All Abraham had was God’s promise to be the father of many nations.  As the years passed, hope, like a burning candle, seemed to grow smaller and smaller.  Yet, hope continued to flicker.  Paul wrote that Abraham’s faith did not weaken.  He did not waver in unbelief.  In human comprehension, hope was gone.  But with God, there is always hope.  God has the power to do what He promises to do.  Do you believe that?  Where is your hope today?  Is it in an economic forecast or a politician?  Or is your faith and hope in the power of the God who does the impossible?  He is the God who provides and the God who loves and the God who, by His Son, forgives and gives real hope.

PRAYER: Father in Heaven, I need hope today. I need hope that things will get better. I need hope that this life isn’t all there is. I need hope that You are still in control. I need the hope of Jesus. Help me to trust in You. Amen.

31
Aug
16

The Scandal Of Living Water

John 4:7-14 (NIV)

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus, in His encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, speaks of living water. This was quite a scandalous scene. Jesus, a Jew, was speaking with a Samaritan, which as John points out, was unacceptable. Not only that, but Jesus was a man and He had approached a woman, which also was socially unacceptable. Samaritan women were seen as “unclean from birth” and Jesus asking her for water may have been misconstrued as flirting with her (IVP Bible Background Commentary). Jesus wasn’t concerned about social customs or appearances. He was more concerned with His mission – to seek and to save the lost.

What if we, as followers of Jesus, could be more devoted to our mission than to keeping up appearances? What if we could be more devoted to Jesus than we are to worrying about what others may think? What if we could be more devoted to Jesus than to man-made legalistic rules about the people we interact with? What if we could be more devoted to the cause of Christ than we are to being free from the charge of guilt by association? We’d meet people where they are, wouldn’t we? We’d be in the bars talking about living water to those sipping on gin and tonics or nursing drinks to escape their pain. We’d be dispensing grace like water on a hot day to people dying of thirst in places we don’t normally go to. Let’s stop worrying about what others think and break through some barriers to do what Jesus did – take the living water of hope to those who are very thirsty.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I want to be like You and to take Your message of love, hope and grace to a world in desperate need of it. Help me to be more concerned with what You think than with what others may think of me. In Your name, amen.
18
Mar
16

No Victory For Death!

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  — 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 (NIV)

Sometimes it seems as though death wins.  We lose someone we love and cherish and there is no consoling us.  The memories of their life linger on and make the sting of death that much more unbearable.  Life goes on for everyone outside of our realm, but for us it stands still for days.  We don’t know how people can go on living their lives when for us there seems to be nothing but numbness.

As a pastor, I deal with death often.  More often than I would like.  I spend time with families who have lost loved ones and that is the time that I feel most inadequate.  What words can I offer that could comfort them in this difficult time?  Sometimes words fail me, but I know that Truth never fails.  The Truth is that Jesus is coming back.  There is no sting in death or victory for the grave!  Jesus conquered the grave when God raised Him from the dead!  Though tears may sting our cheeks for a while, death will not sting our souls forever!  Just as Christ was raised, those who have died and have been buried with Him will be raised as well.  That’s the promise of Romans 6 and 1 Corinthians 15.  Our hope is in Christ and He gives true victory over the grave!

All praise be to His powerful, holy Name!

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for raising Jesus from the dead and conquering the grave forever. Thank You, Father, for the hope that we have in our resurrected Savior. Fill me with hope today.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

29
Jan
16

Plenty

It’s hard to trust God, isn’t it?  We have a head knowledge that He has said He will provide for our needs.  We want to believe it.  We try so hard to trust Him when He says, “I will provide.”  But connecting the head with the heart is difficult.  There is a story in the book of Matthew where Jesus provides for the needs of people.

Then Jesus called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way.”  The disciples replied, “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?”  Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”  They replied, “Seven loaves, and a few small fish.”
So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground.  Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd.  They all ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food.  There were 4,000 men who were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children.

– Matthew 15:32-38 (NLT)

Jesus had compassion on the people.  He felt sorry for them.  He saw them in their helpless, hungry state and felt for them.  So Jesus did what Jesus does.  He was moved to action.  He did something about their situation and lovingly provided for their needs.

He still does the same thing for us today.  When we are in a helpless situation, He helps.  When we are hopeless, He gives hope.  When we are hungry, He provides.  He loves us and has compassion for us.  He knows that we are weak and frail.  It is in our weakness that He demonstrates His incalculable strength.  He not only provides, but He abundantly provides!  He gives us so much more than we could ever ask or hope for!

Oh that we would learn to trust Him to provide!  Oh that we would know His compassion and love!  Oh that we would sense His strength and power in our lives!  May His loving presence in your life give you peace today.

PRAYER: Father, help me to trust You today.  Amen.

When is it hardest for you to trust God?

How does this story of Jesus’ compassion for people give you hope and comfort today?

What is one area of your life that you need to trust God with today (family, finances, relationships)?




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