Hope vs Hope

Most often when we think of the word “ Hope”, it is in terms of wishing for certain things to happen. That is normal and there is nothing wrong with that. It is good to know there is a much deeper meaning for the word “Hope” than just wishful thinking. Hope is mentioned over 150 times in the Bible. It is not limited to our circumstances or what is going on in our lives. It transcends all of that. It actually means to have confidence and trust in God no matter what we face. Lysa Terkeurst, popular inspirational speaker and author describes it this way: “My Hope isn’t tied to my expectations finally being met in my way and in my timing. No, my Hope isn’t tied to whether whether or not a circumstance or another person changes. My Hope is tied to the unchanging promise of God. I Hope for the good I know God will ultimately bring from this, whether the good turns out to match my desire or not.”

Here are a few of those Bible verses that refer to this kind of Hope:

“Put your Hope in the Lord, travel steadily along His path.” – Psalm 37:34

“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their Hope and confidence.” – Jeremiah 17:7

“You are my refuge and shield. Your Word is my Source of Hope.” – Psalm 119:114

“Let Your unfailing love surrounds us, Lord, for our Hope is in You.” – Psalm 33:22

The early Christians used the symbol of an anchor with a cross on of it. It was to give them Hope and remind them of their confidence and faith in God. You may seen this same symbol in a stained glass window in a church. It is taken from Hebrews 6:19… “We have this Hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Even today, beneath the surface of our lives, we also have this anchor of Hope and trust in God. This anchor holds us through the storms of life. Hope is not just wishful thinking, it is having confidence in God, regardless of the situation.

“May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.” – Romans 15:13

Prayer Changes Things… and Us Too

We have a tendency today, to rush in and out of God’s presence like it is a fast food restaurant…where we place our order the way we like it and expect God to deliver It to us quickly. Good luck with that approach!

Praying is not just saying rehearsed words and asking for things we want. It actually should start by thanking Him for what He already has done for us. Thanking Him for how He is with us now. It is also praising Him for He is… our Savior, our Rock of Stability and Strength in our lives. We should also Praise Him for His Amazing Grace, and His unconditional Love for us!

I have discovered that if we are doing all the talking when we are praying, it is just a one way conversation. We also need to take time to listen to Him. That happens we read the Bible and apply it to our lives or taking time to think what we can specifically do to help others as we are praying for them. Sometimes when I am praying for someone, God will give me a way to encourage them by calling them, sending a text with some encouraging words, or some other way to help them.

“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” – Colossians 4:2

Prayer is not just speaking to God, It is taking a little time to allow Him to speak to us… and that changes everything, including you and me.

A Simple yet Strong Faith…

This is a photo of a milk can is from the farm of my wife’s grandfather. The can was old and rusty. I had a friend sandblast it and then paint a picture of the farmhouse. When I think of Granddaddy Elliott, I think about his farm and about his faith. My own grandfather, “ Pappaw” Hyder was much the same way. They were both farmers. They were both faithful Christians for many years. I think the Lord places special people in our lives like them to encourage us in our own faith.

Grandaddy Elliott was a deacon and the janitor (and whatever else they needed) at the church near his home. I remember one day going to his house to mow his yard since he wasn’t physically able to do that anymore. After I finished, we sat down and talked awhile. He got out his Bible and shared with me how reading it and studying it every day kept his faith strong. He had developed the practice of reading through the entire Bible a few chapters at a time. This helped deepen his faith. We also talked about the importance of prayer. A long time ago, when his brother was serving our country overseas fighting in the war he would pray for him. Each day he would walk out to the special spot on the farm to pray for him. He would also place a rock there. By the time his brother came home several years later, there was a big mound of rocks representing all the times he specifically prayed for his brother.

My Papaw Hyder used to tell me, that he prayed for me and each member of his family everyday. What a strong encouragement that was for me and my family. In his Bible were prayer notes with tear stains on the them. These experiences and examples have really made a positive impact on my life.

Sometimes I think we neglect or take for granted doing the consistent things like reading and studying the Bible and prayer. Spending time with God each day is so essential to maintaining a faith that is…so simple and yet so strong.

Where it all began…God is Real!

I want to share with you, how my walk of faith began one summer afternoon at the beach…

Growing up as child, I knew a lot of information about God but didn’t know Him personally. Then, all of that changed in the summer of 1970. I attended a youth retreat with my church youth group on the coast of North Carolina. I was really searching for peace of mind and in guidance in my life. One afternoon, I went by myself for a walk on the beach. I stopped and sat there in the sand just looking at the ocean and thinking about my life. I prayed and asked Jesus, if He was real, to come into my life and change it and become my personal Lord and Savior. I have never regretted that decision I made 50 years ago.

Through the years, I have been back to that same conference center to attend meetings and lead retreats. I always take time to go out on that same beach, just talk to Jesus in prayer and thank Him. I still feel unworthy of His love, grace, and forgiveness …yet I know from His Word it is true. I am still learning more about how much He loves and cares for us. He is my best friend, counselor, and encourager. I can’t imagine living life without Him. He makes me a better person, spouse, parent and friend for others. He is my motivation, and source of strength each day. Thank you Jesus for loving me and caring for me!

Also, since that day, I am grateful for the many opportunities that God has allowed me to share with others about His love and care for them too.

How about you? Do you know Him personally? If not, please talk to a Pastor or a Christian friend. Please let God be Real in your life. It will be the best decision you will ever make. Maybe you are already a Christian, but somehow you have drifted away and neglected your relationship with Christ. He is just a prayer away, please talk to Him today. The Bible teaches us that if we will come near to God He will come closer to us, and also that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

I am reminded of Psalm 139:17-18 which states…”How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God, They cannot be numbered! I can”t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand.” Think about that for a moment..how incredible it is to think that the God who created you and me, and the earth we live in, loves and cares for us in so many countless ways …even more the number of grains of sand at the beach.