Tuesday, August 4, 2009

August theme- Hope

Finding an Anchor for the Storms of Life

The old sailor looked at the skies and saw a dark storm coming. As the sea became rough and choppy, the old salt calmly lowered the heavy-chained anchor link by link, battened down the hatches and went to bed for the night.

He knew the storm would be rough. But he had faith in the grasp of the anchor. He knew his boat would be there in the morning.

Hope Defined

Like that sailor, we have an "anchor" for our lives that can help us stand fast through the storms of life. It's called hope.

In biblical terms, hope is closely allied with faith.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that, faith is "the assurance of things hoped for" (Hebrews 11:1). Hope, therefore, is the object upon which we direct our focus and energies.

To the Christian, hope is the knowledge that we are being changed for the better as we trust in God's promises (Romans 8:28). It is the conviction that no matter the circumstances, God's plans for our lives are "for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11b NLT).

Hope Described

The Bible is full of examples of men and women who hoped in God's promises. The patriarch Abraham is held up for believers as a model of hope.

When Abraham was 75, God promised to bless him and give him many descendants, as numerous as the stars in the sky. Abraham heard these words and believed God (Genesis 15:6).

But despite his belief, Hebrews 6:15 explains, Abraham had to wait 25 years to see the fulfillment of his hope. Yet all the while, Abraham trusted in God, the Author of his hope, until he saw the promise come to pass.

You see, Abraham's hope wasn't in his own ability to father a child. It was rooted in a trustworthy, unchangeable God, and in His eternal promises.

The writer of Hebrews explains that God wants us to take encouragement from His character and hope in Him (Hebrews 6:16-18). In fact, the Scriptures describe this hope "… as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast" (Hebrews 6:19a).

Hope Derailed

What can cause our hope to go sour? Often, we hope in the wrong things. It's so easy to place our hope in the wrong things. It's so easy to place our hope in this material world -- what we can see, taste, touch, and feel. These things are controllable to us. But God says His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). In fact, the things of this world do not provide a firm foundation for our lives (Colossians 2:8).

Only when we look to the truly firm foundation for living -- Jesus Christ -- will we find a hope that can anchor our souls. It all begins with our relationship with God. If you have not been "born again," your hope is simply misplaced. If you are feeling hopeless right now, consider where your primary hope is grounded. If it's not in Jesus, come to Him now to find a hope unlike any other.

Jesus offers His hope freely to all who willingly come to Him, acknowledge their sin, and trust in His cleansing blood for eternal life. "I am the resurrection and the life," Jesus said, "He who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die" (John 11:25-26a).

Building a Foundation of Hope

Even if you know Jesus as your Savior, you can still lose hope. We learn from Proverbs that "hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Proverbs 13:12). When our hopes are delayed, we can be overcome by a deep sense of despair.

So, how did Abraham do it? How did he remain hopeful for more than two decades? Look at Abraham's relationship with God: he was a friend of God (2 Chronicles 20:7); he was also God's servant (Genesis 26:24); and he was totally obedient (Genesis 22).

You can do the same. Here are four practical steps you can take every day to build a sure foundation of hope that will carry you through the storms of life:

1. Submit yourself to God. God is the source of our hope. Come to Him in humility and He will restore you (1 Peter 5:6-7).

2. Strengthen your faith. Allow God's previously fulfilled promises to renew your hope. God has given us written record of countless ways He has provided hope for believers in centuries past. Look to these marvelous accounts for renewal (1 Chronicles 16:11-21).

3. Trust God's timing. Sometimes God answers our prayers and fulfills our hopes quickly. At other times, for His own divine reasons, He allows us to wait. Remember, it was through faith and patience that Abraham's hope was fulfilled.

4. Thank God today. Though it's arduous to rejoice as we wait for hopes to be fulfilled, rejoicing enables God to perfect us in ways we are unable to see at the time. And this kind of hope, purified in the crucible of waiting, and sometimes suffering, "does not disappoint" (Romans 5:1-5).

As You Pray

Have you lost hope? You can regain lost hope, with Jesus' help. Right now, turn to the Author of all hope and rest in Him.

Pray this prayer:

"Father, forgive me for not seeing You as You truly are. Please use Your Word to encourage me. Help me to hide it in my heart. Let Your Holy Spirit direct me moment-by-moment as I wait in the hope You have given me through our Lord Jesus Christ. In Jesus' name. Amen."

God's Word on Hope

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast" (Hebrews 6:29a).

Scriptures for Study

Hebrews 6:10-19, Romans 5:1-11 -- God's precious promise of hope

Job 13:13-16 -- Hopes' perseverance through trials

Psalm 33:13-22 -- Right and wrong objects of hope

Psalm 25:1-11 -- Hope's source of strength


April said...

Such a great lesson for us all! Thank you, Denise!♥

Pia said...

hi denise. (((HUGS)))

i miss blogging, reading others' blogs. i've been behind so much with my readings.

denise, can i ask a favor? can you pray for my relationship with God to be much deeper? i don't want tragedy to come first before i will feel closer to God. i want to be close to Him even in good times. also, thank you for continuously praying for my marriage. i know God hears and He will deliver.

i love you, my friend. God bless and heal you.

Peggy said...

WOW! AWESOME teaching on HOPE!Just beautiful & so many great scriptures!

Blessings Denise...thanks for filling me up with HOPE & so much love over at my place on your many visits.

JESUS is our ANCHOR! Here's the chorus from a favorite song that speaks this to me:

The anchor holds
Though the ship is battered
The anchor holds
Though the sails are torn
I have fallen on my knees
As I faced the raging seas
The anchor holds
In spite of the storm

YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FL112E3NjqU

Verse 1
i have journeyed (and so have you)
through the long dark night
out on the open sea by faith alone
sight unknown and yet HIS eyes were watching me!!!

THANKS Denise for your heart, your encouragement & now HOPE!

Caroline said...

Oh Denise! Thank you for this. It has spoken so deeply to my heart. I am going to read this again and again. Thank you for teaching us. I love the word "anchor". I am beginning more and more to appreciate the profound meaning and depth of certain words. You are blessed dear Denise. You have encouraged me so very much.

Karen said...

Oh, amen and amen! This was a wonderful message and one I needed to hear....

maritz said...

Amen to that!

Sweet Blessings said...

Denise, I LOVED the practical steps and all the key information that you wrote about so beautifully! Thank you for linking up to share this encouragement with all of us! I was blessed! Amanda:)

RCUBEs said...

Thank you for this wonderful post! God bless..Love you in Christ.

Debbie said...

What a beautiful post Denise. Thank you for the verses on hope. I love to be reminded. And His anchor does hold.

luvmy4sons said...

Awesome powerful stuff here! Thanks for being a light for Him!

Holley said...

"...Hope is closely allied with faith." Yes, your words ring so true and remind me that hope is one part ours and one His--the place where seen and unseen join together. Thanks for the reminder!

Daisy said...

This is a long post but so beautiful to read! Add the nice music on the background and I feel so blessed. That first, I read this today, and that second, I agree with you in so many things! You just wrote them all down much much better than I could express. All prayers are heard by God indeed, it's just a matter of realizing whether His answer is yes and if no, that there is something much greater that He will give us.

Thank you for sharing this with us. May God Bless You Always Denise!


Gretchen said...

What a great devo, Denise.