A Teaching Series on Hope  -  Part One

It’s now been 11 months on this unexpected journey of Floyd’s illness.  When it began, I didn't expect it to last 11 days.  Then certainly not 11 weeks.  And now we're at 11 months. 

People ask me all the time where I get the "material" for the prayer updates.  Well - I get it from my life.  From my quiet times, from the Word, from things I'm reading, and from impressions to my heart.  It's all things I'm processing as I'm walking on this unexpected journey.

Many times the Lord is speaking to me about areas He's touched on in my life before.  I often go back to my notes from previous times of learning.  He seems to continually use things from previous learning seasons......and take them to a deeper level in my heart.  That's happening right now.  He's been speaking to me about hope.  The Lord is stirring my heart to keep hope alive as we continue on.

I've found a number of definitions about hope.  Here are some of my personal favorites:

·      to be confident/to trust

·      to look forward to with confidence of fulfillment

·      to expect with desire

We all have hopes.  Some are realistic.  Some are unrealistic - more dreams, wishes rather than true hope.

And we all have disappointments in some of those hopes.  Solomon, the wise king, wrote about the impact in our lives of losing hope.

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life."  Proverbs 13:12

One of my favorite aspects of God's character is His faithfulness - especially that He is a faithful teacher on any area that I'm needing to learn about.  One of my favorite areas that He's taught me in is HOPE.

I've been in quite a few situations in my life where I've had to learn to persevere.  Situations where I've needed to keep going when it would have been so much easier to quit.  Scientists say persevering is a natural instinct, but I don't think that is always the case.

A key part of persevering is hope......and learning to keep it alive when things are hard.  Hope helps us persevere in difficult times.  There have been a number of very, very difficult times in my life where hope has been a key for me.

Just one that comes to my mind is when our daughter, Misha, was very sick for over 6 years.  The doctors told us at times that she might not live, but if she did, she could be severely disabled.  They told her she'd probably never marry, and she'd never have children.  The forecast the doctors gave her was very bleak.

God put hope in my heart for my daughter's future.  I felt I was to start a "hope chest" for her children, my grandchildren.  I put in some toys, some Classic Winnie the Pooh items, some clothes - especially one cute sunflower dress because Misha loved sunflowers.

Years later, I'll never forget opening a letter from Misha months after my granddaughter Kezia was born, and seeing a photo of Kezia wearing that sunflower dress!  Tears ran down my face.  We serve a God of hope!!!  Doctors are wonderful, but they aren't God.  The doctors were wrong.

We hear a lot about faith - it even sounds strong, firm, secure.  Hope sounds different somehow - softer, kind of weak.  But hope is equally as strong as faith!!  The Word has a lot to say about hope.  We'll look at a number of scriptures this week.

"Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us."  Romans 5:5

Hope is instilled in our hearts by God through the Holy Spirit.  He wants to teach us how to keep it, maintain it, and not lose it.  There are 7 simple things about hope that I've found important to me for maintaining it and keeping it alive.

God spoke each of these things to me at different seasons in my life when I was facing something that looked impossible.  I've seen God do a number of impossible things - some small, some large.  In recent weeks I have felt stirred in my heart to pour back over my notes.  I felt God saying He has a lot more to teach me.  He wants to take the earlier lessons much deeper into my heart as I'm on this journey.  

I've been praying, pondering, searching the Word, and hungering to see what God has to say.  May I invite you on this journey with me in the next few days?  I dare say each one reading this has something that you are hoping for, trusting God for.  I'm stirred to believe that God is going to do something for each of us.

Because of who He is, we can have hope......even hope for the impossible. 

The first thing I've learned about hope is that it comes from God.  I can't have true hope apart from Him.  He is the root of hope.  Hope can't grow in our hearts unless it is coming from who He is.  

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13

That's one of the reasons we can trust Him.  The hope for that trust is grounded in Him.  Thank goodness it's not grounded in us.  We're too fickle.  Without God's help, we can be blown about by every wind of adversity that comes along.  But our hope is rooted and grounded in knowing God and knowing His character.  He is a God of eternal encouragement - not just for a season, but always.

He's gone before us to prepare the way!

He's never left us, never forsaken us, never changed!

He's with us - every second, every minute, every hour, every day!

He's won over loneliness and despair, over every difficulty!  

He's conquered death and the grave.  He is victorious!

He's longing to fill our hearts with His joy and peace!

Because of all these things, and so much more, we can have hope.  In a world that is so often full of doom and gloom, full of despair - He is our sure rock, our anchor in life's storms.

"So we who have found safety with Him are greatly encouraged to hold firmly to the hope placed before us.  We have this hope as an anchor for our lives.  It is safe and secure."  Hebrews 6:18,19

Eleven months ago my life took a very unexpected turn.  And in the months afterwards, my life has had so many twists and turns that I almost feel dizzy.  I keep saying that "I trust Him."  And I do!  But the only reason I can trust Him is because of the hope He has placed in my heart that is rooted in who He is.

"My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him."  Psalm 62:5

In hard times, like these last 11 months in my life, there is no middle ground.  My only hope is to press into Him - knowing it's a safe place to be.  My trust is based on a God who sees and knows everything.  A God who can do anything.  A God who holds our lives in His hands, and has a "future and a hope" for us.

I trust Him because of the hope He's put in my heart that comes from Him.  I've simply opened the door wide to invite Him in.