6 items tagged "Hope"

  • A Cause for Joy

    ”But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2:10

     

    Both during Christmas time and throughout the rest of the year, we deal with stress, like family and relationship problems, health struggles, financial issues, and more. However, Christmas is a reminder that God cares for us and loves us. We can make Christmas to be about a lot of different things, but it’s core message is one of hope. Jesus is here! The times of darkness, fear, hopelessness, and despair are coming to an end! God comes in humility, yet with intent and power that is still felt to this day. Love from God himself will be poured out and His people will be saved. He will be known as the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. No one can ever or will ever compare to Jesus!

    We have many challenging things we walk through in our life’s, but let us not forget you have every reason to have joy! He is still the God that is here, alive, and full of power to do the impossible! The brokenhearted are still being healed. Captives are being set free and released from darkness. The oil of joy is pouring on those in mourning and the garment of praise is replacing the spirit of heaviness. This is our Jesus and this is the reason why we still have cause for great joy this Christmas season!

    Merry Christmas!

  • But then enters Jesus...

    Where people are at their lowest, and where hope is most dismal, in the margins, you will always find Jesus.  Jesus wasn't found eating at the finest restaurants, with the most influential people of his day. He was found willingly touching lepers, eating with messed up people, and breaking all sorts of religious rules. That's our Jesus. He has a niche in finding people who most need acceptance, significance, and hope.

    A few weeks ago 12 students and adults went on a mission trip to Guatemala, to minister to children and prostitutes working on what is called, "The Line". This was probably the most evil place I have ever witnessed. There appeared to be nothing but shame, lust, depression and ultimately, hopelessness. For the majority of these women, they were stuck in this environment with little hope of ever escaping. But then enters Jesus. In the midst of this dark place, a ministry was born called, "El Oasis". Every week, for the past 15 years, a group of people minister to these ladies by simply sharing just how much Jesus loves them. By the power of God, planting seed by seed, lives are being transformed. What was once broken is now being made whole!

    Our hearts, in a lot of ways, are similar to these ladies'. We too, have areas in our hearts we have pushed to the margins. We’ve accumulated shrapnel from broken relationships, disappointment, shame, regret, bitterness, crippling doubt, and hopelessness…all symptoms of a heart beaten back to the margins. Remind yourself of this. Jesus is against all of it. The same way he approaches these ladies, is the same way He approaches you and I. Not with more pain or condemnation…His approach is healing. It's love. And He will never stop pursuing you.

  • Debunk The Marriage Myths

    You have probably heard of the following: Divorce rate is just as high in the church as outside.  Most marriages are unhappy.   Living together before (or even rather) getting married is now considered conventional wisdom.  Relationships will only work when you're "happy".  These are the common beliefs about marriage in our culture today, leaving most people feeling discouraged and even hopeless that their marriage can't survive the "valleys" that life brings.  

    How would things change in your marriage though if these "beliefs" were actually only myths?  God's design for marriage in fact works and you can actually have a thriving relationship with your spouse for as long as you live!  Check out this short summary of some encouragingresearch about marriage from the book The Good News About Marriage:

     

    #1The divorce rate has never been close to 50 percent!  There is no way to nail down one final divorce rate.  However, accoding to the Cesus Bureau, 72% of people today are still married to their first spouse.  And among the 28% who aren't, a portion of those marriaged ended in widowhood, not divorce. The current divorce rate is more accurately at 20-25%.

     

    #2Most marriages are happy! Although most people think that only about a third of marriages are happy, in reality around 80% of marriages are happy.  In multiple surveys, 91 to 97 percent of respondents say their marriages are happy.  93% of people say they would marry their spouse again if they were to do it all over again. 

     

    #3The divorce rate in the church is not the same as the rate among those who don't attend worship services.  The common belief to the contrary is based on a misunderstanding of the well-known George Barna studies.  The reality is that every study that has been done has found that those who act on their faith by attending worship services, praying with their spouse, and so on are happier and closer in their marriage.  Studies find that the rate of divorce drops 25-50 percent among church attenders. 

     

    #4Most marriage problems are not caused by big ticket issues, and simple changes can make a big difference.  Most marriage problems are caused by day-to-day misunderstandings, unintended hurts, and trying hard in the wrong areas.  82% of the time in marriage conflicts, one partner is just simply unaware of the other spous's unhappiness.  Awareness is a relatively easy problem to fix compared to an affair, addictions, etc. 

    Be encouraged!  Divorce is not the greatest risk to marriages, discouragement is.  Don't give up, your marriage can thrive!  Find out more here

  • Do you recognize Me?

    “So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.” Luke 24:15-16

    Cleopas and his companion were lost and directionless on their way back home. The events that occurred on that long and violent Friday left them wounded, confused, and hopeless. They knew Jesus, they witnessed his miracles, and they believed He was the Messiah, God’s promised one. That’s why this story is interesting, how could they not recognize someone they knew and observed very closely?

    Pain has a way of reducing our ability to see clearly and make our choices based on reality. Perhaps that is what these two men were experiencing. Their focus was only on their pain and a future that was no longer hopeful. Scripture doesn’t give us the whole picture on their temporary “blindness,” but it’s not that difficult to put yourself in their shoes and understand why they didn’t recognize Jesus. We’ve all experienced a sudden loss, seasons of pain, confusion, worry, and frustration when things are not working out like we hoped. When in these moments, we can become unaware or even may experience some temporary blindness that hinders us from finding the hope, comfort, and strength that is found in Jesus.

    Perhaps this was Cleopas’s experience; why Jesus appeared as a stranger to him. But, as we’re about to find out, ones’ heart cannot help but recognize when Jesus is near. Luke 24:32 says, "...Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and when he opened the Scriptures to us?" There’s just something special about Jesus. It’s too difficult to even attempt putting it into words. Even in moments we feel lost, hopeless or perhaps even angry at God, He still knows what it takes to warm and ignite our hearts. Our hearts can always recognize when Jesus is near.

    As we move through this week in preparation for Easter, let’s not forget to slow down and steady our hearts to recognize Him. When circumstances and experiences are creating temporary blindness, know that only the living and powerful Jesus can get to those places in your heart that need Him. No heart is too far off or too cold to be warmed again by the presence of Jesus!

  • How will you respond?

    The moment when hardship comes, where does our mind then go?

    Hardships, storms, trials, whatever we want to call them are always one moment away. Life will be cruising along and then out of nowhere we receive a bad phone call, a business deal goes south, a relationship comes to an end, etc. Difficulty is promised. At these moments, one’s character, resolve, and faith is tested. How will you respond? Are we drawn into our circumstances or are we taking these moments to allow Jesus to become our peace, strength, and joy in the midst of the storm?

    It’s at these moments our mind and heart can be crippled with worry, fear, and what seems impossible. But then Jesus enters into the scene! We must allow our mind to daily marinate in the truth that nothing is impossible with God (Matt.19:26). Nothing. No matter how dark or hopeless the report may be, we are promised that our God is able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think!

     

  • Jumping to Conclusions

    And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

    But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:20-22

     

    We meet this young man who appears to be very well off, certainly financially, and possibly spiritually. He desires to please and love God, as evidenced by keeping God’s commandments. But as we read, there is a problem this young man has been unable to address. His heart is following another treasure…money. Jesus easily identifies the man’s heart-issue and gives him a solution; get rid of the wealth, and you’ll finally receive a treasure your heart yearns for. This is not what the young man expects to hear, and he departs in sorrow.

    Abandoning our treasure, however each of us defines it, is painful. We don’t all follow after money, but let’s not fool ourselves, our hearts are mesmerized by false treasures. It can be difficult to let go of these things, and we can quickly establish patterns in our lives that protect these counterfeit riches. This is what occurred for this young ruler. The pattern of loving money became so strong, that escaping it appeared to be impossible for him. Here is the issue for the young ruler: It wasn’t that his possessions were too much or that he couldn’t donate a portion. Worse, he felt it would be impossible to be free. He thought it impossible to be the type of person that can live without this false treasure. He believed, “It’s impossible for God to make a heart-change in me.” When you, like this young man, live in a place of “impossibilities,” you will always walk away in sorrow.

    Ultimately, the young ruler in the story made the wrong conclusion. He concluded not even God could set his heart free from the lure of his treasure. Bottom line: He determined it’s impossible to live free. But Jesus declares, what is impossible for man, is not impossible for God (Mark 10:27)! Jesus didn’t intend to leave the man in sorrow. Jesus wanted him to see, though it may be impossible for you to break free, it is certainly possible for God to supply the grace and power you need. This is the hope of Jesus Christ! We don’t have to walk away in sorrow, when our hearts are stuck in the muck of sin. We now have hope and are promised victory, because of the work of Jesus Christ!

    If you find yourself walking away in sorrow, stop right there. Don’t draw the wrong conclusion about your fate and about the goodness of God. For with man it’s impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God. This is the conclusion we can all live in!

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