I invite you to join discussions, it enhances the reading experience for everyone. Please share your thoughts, opinions and knowledge in a respectful manner. May we all learn something in our endeavor to educate our hearts and minds. I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, November 6, 2017

To be Thankful- Building a FrameWork of Hope: Part 14

It’s my prayer that this 10 month long series has both challenged and inspired you to find your identity, and your hope, in Christ alone.

He alone is a sure foundation to build upon.

Remember, in a world of uncertainty, He NEVER changes (Heb 13:8)

As we approach Thanksgiving, I pray you take time to reflect upon all the blessings in your life and Thank God for each of them (Phil 4:8).

I pray you also make time to evaluate the trials and setbacks in your life and seek to learn from them. Ask God to show you where He was during these dark times and what He wants you to know. Ask Him to teach you, heal you and refine you. 

Being refined isn’t fun.

But it is a blessing. 

Hard times are opportunities to yield to God’s design in your life, to trust Him more, to know the power and depth of His love.

Nothing can separate you from His love. 

For I know that nothing can keep us from the love of God. Death cannot! Life cannot! Angels cannot! Leaders cannot! Any other power cannot! Hard things now or in the future cannot! The world above or the world below cannot! Any other living thing cannot keep us away from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39 NLV

I pray that as you set your sights on this upcoming year (2018) that you will embrace any hardships that come your way. That you don’t waste your time or energy trying to fight against God’s plan for you and that you don’t wish your life away by comparing yourself to others or longing for a different set of circumstances to make you happy or give you peace.

True happiness, peace, and joy are not found in a set of circumstances but in the arms of a Savior (John 16:33).

Please don’t view trials as punishment from God. He is not against you. He is for you.

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.John 15:13 NLT

He’s already laid down His life for you…will you lay down yours for Him?

Will you trust Him with your pain…or continue to rely upon your own understanding? 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Prov 3:5-6NIV

Life is full of choices.

How you live your life, is your choice.

How you respond to trials, is your choice.

And what you do with His invitation to Come and Build upon His foundation, is your choice.

What will you choose?

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.Rev 22:17 NIV

Happy Thanksgiving.

May God bless you abundantly with the knowledge of how wide, long, high and deep His love is for you (Eph 3:17-19).

Monday, October 9, 2017

There's Still Hope- Building a Framework of Hope: Part 13

Three of the four people I mentioned in my previous post survived the Holocaust. The fourth died just days before liberation.

None of these people could control their environments. They were at the complete mercy of unmerciful people. 

And yet, they didn’t give up. 

They didn’t wallow in self-pity. 

While they didn’t like where they were or how they were treated, they didn’t let resentment fester until it killed any semblance of hope remaining inside.

When we reject the “bad” in life, we are not only rejecting God’s higher purpose for us, but we are also throwing away valuable lessons—lessons that can change our lives, mold our character, and give us a greater purpose for living than we ever dreamed possible

Trials can catapult us into a closer relationship with God, mature us so that we can be used in greater measure, and anchor down the beliefs we hold most dear.

Suffering great loss, such as those who experienced the Holocaust, challenges not only who we are, but what we believe to be true.

When all is taken from you…who are you?

When no one is there to comfort you…where will you turn?

When you can’t avoid the valley…how will you navigate through it?

When your world is pitch black…can you see the light? 

When evil is all around—when you are abused, neglected, or offended…how will you respond?

When trials threatened to defeat you…will you push forward?

While no one knows how they will respond to calamity, how we live our lives NOW is a good indicator of how we will traverse even bigger tragedies.

When we try to control every aspect of our lives we are not being dependent upon our Creator.

I’m guilty of being a “control freak”. I like to make plans and to have more than one “back up plan”. 

But God has shown me that this keeps me immature in my faith, impatient in how I handle setbacks, and full of turmoil. 

In essence I create additional chaos in my life because I am trusting in myself more than I am in Him.
I think my plan is better than His and so I cling to an illusion that I have more control over my life and circumstances than I do.

I am rejecting His will for my life. 

give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess 5:18 NIV (emphasis mine)

We cannot always control our environments or the circumstances we find ourselves in. But we can trust that God is in control.

You didn’t suddenly slip out of His sight. 

He knows where you are and how you feel.

He knows the conditions you are living in.

He feels your pain.

He is not “toying” with you.

You are loved…even when nothing in this world feels very loving (John 3:16-17).

And for that, we can give thanks NO MATTER the circumstances. In ALL things we can have hope.
Our God never fails (1 John 4:4, John 16:33) . 

When life gets tough, you don’t have to “get tougher”, simply trust in God (Deut 31:6).

Don’t let resentment, despair, doubts or fears steal your hope and joy (John 10:10).

HE is our hope and joy (Rom 15:13).

HE is the prize set before us (Heb 12:2).

This world, this trial you are currently in, is not all there is (Heb 13:14). 

There’s still hope.

Enjoy this song by Danny Gokey, “Hope in front of me”.

Monday, September 18, 2017

When Hard Times Come - Building a Framework of Hope: Part 12

Let’s continue learning from the past (reference the books listed in Part 10):

1.        You’d never believe how quickly you will exchange your morals for survival. That’s why it’s so important to Know WHO you are and WHAT you believe. If you compromise your beliefs and morals NOW, think of how much easier it will be to compromise when faced with severe circumstances. Lengyel’s book tells of women bartering their bodies (the last thing they have) for food or clothes.

2.       You don’t have to be overly “religious” in order to be a witness for God. The things you do, or don’t do, attest to WHO you belong to. Integrity shows brightest in the darkness. Not stealing in order to survive, telling the truth no matter the cost, not using vulture language, not curing those who persecute you, giving to others out the abundance of your poverty (trusting God to meet your needs), not resorting to violence and sex in order to survive are all ways people in those books showed the love of God in the worst environmental conditions imaginable.

Some went even farther by leading Bible Studies while in the concentration camps and/or praying for those around them. There are numerous ways we can let our lights shine, both in difficult times and not so difficult times. Regardless, it begins with having personal Character/integrity. Hard times challenge us, but they also build our character and give us opportunity to show the world the Character of God (love in action).

In Luke 6:27-30, JESUS instructs us to, “… Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

Romans 12:14 tells us to, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse”.

1 Peter 3:9  articulates this point further, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Matt 5:16 says, In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” 

You cannot always chose how you are treated, but you can chose how you will respond. The Bible is clear on how Christians are to behave—the character we are to display—even in the most trying of times. 

Reflection Questions:

1.        Do you have trouble trusting God in “good times”? If so, how do you think you will respond when life gets harder?
2.       We all are guilty of compromising at times. What are ways you can build your character NOW? (not taking an extra-long break at work even if everyone else does, clocking in/out on time, not taking post-it notes home from work, tithing, going to church even if you’re super tired/busy, getting up 10 mins early to read your Bible, making a prayer journal and actually using it, praying with kids before bed, etc)
3.       Do you have a “bottom line”, you know, a standard of where you’d “never go” no matter what? Have you ever thought about the things you’d be willing to compromise in order to make ends meet or survive? 

It’s important to know who you are and what you stand for.