Tuesday, December 18, 2018

December 18, 2018

“Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD.” Psalm 31:24
Hope isn’t really hope unless it is our internal guidance system; our life GPS.  It is hope in what is to come, but it first of all is hope in “the God of hope” Romans 15:13. Hope in the God of all hope, and hope in what He promises us in the future, filters down into the reality of our existence today. If that hope doesn’t affect us, then it is suspect as to whether it really is hope at all. 
So, as Psalm 31:24 reminds us, hope gives us strength and a courageous heart. That stands is sharp contrast to the challenge of the times we live in. Jesus foretold a time when people would be “fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Luke 21:26. The nearer we get to that time, the greater the need for hope to strengthen us and give us courage.
Sometimes life circumstances sucker punch hope. I can stand strong and courageous in hope, and then seemingly petty circumstances send me to the corner cowering in fear. Depression and despair put hope on the sidelines. 
By nature, I don’t have the sunniest disposition. I admire those who can light up a room and instill optimism in others, but that doesn’t come naturally for me. My firstborn perfectionist nature easily gets in the way and sets me up for frustration, disappointment, and anger. Too often, unrealistic expectations pave the way for negative emotions. But enough whining - human nature doesn’t win out at the end of the day for believers. Hopeful promises instead are our rallying cry: 
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Either these verses are true or they are not; bottom line. We are overwhelming conquerers or we are not. We can do all things in Christ, or we cannot. These are promises without qualification. But … but … but. How quickly we want to insert our “out” clause. If only I had a better job, a more understanding spouse, better behaved children, a happier childhood. Not to minimize any of these very real issues, but we ARE ultimately designed for more in view of our hope.  We are meant to epitomize these truths, and this can only happen when our hope is set on the LORD. It best happens when He is central in our thinking and focus. By starting our day reading and contemplating His word, the Bible, we align our mindset with Him. We cannot say that our hope is in Him if our attention isn’t on Him. And the best way to fix that mindset is to deliberately start our day in His word and presence, even if it’s fifteen minutes or a half hour. Little is better than nothing.
- From the upcoming book, "Hope for Uncertain Times."

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