Let’s wrap up our short discussion on H.O.P.E. To recap, stories are one of the most valuable ways to regain hope. That’s why we listen to them, read them, and why God put them in the Bible.
It’s History now, but stories still inspire. In my last post I introduced you to Hannah and her story. We left off with her feeling hopeless.
She had done all she could. She was out of answers. However, she could pray, believe, and wait. In short, if God didn’t show up and do something, then she would never have a child.
That’s what she did. Like the Psalmist she poured out her complaint to God and told Him all about her trouble (Psalm 142:2). Her prayer led to personal peace for we read, “And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad (1 Samuel 1:18, ESV). Soon after she experienced…
Omnipotence. That is, God stepped in. “They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her” (1 Samuel 1:19, ESV).
Perhaps you are thinking, “I can only take so much.” “Or how long will it take?” Or “What’s the purpose in all my mess?”
That’s when you need…
Promises. Not a promise that your pain will go away. Not that the sun will shine brightly on your life tomorrow. You need to know that God is always working, despite what you see and feel. In the present things don’t make sense. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28), ESV).
Or do we? We’re beginning to doubt. So right now maybe a lot of problems and predicaments are weaving their way throughout your life. Everywhere you look there are dark clouds.
There is another great story about Joseph. Note what he said about all that he had gone through: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20, ESV). The phrase you meant evil against me could be translated you weaved evil into my life. Which they did.
But what did God do? He re-weaved all the bad stuff and turned it into one spectacular finish. I realize happy endings are not automatic. But what I want you to see is the promise that God is working. That’s what we need to know.
That should lead you to our final letter…
Encouragement. Hope and encouragement. Those are found throughout the Old Testament. Even the apostle Paul was aware of the value to be found in the Scriptures, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4, ESV).
H.O.P.E. can be a reality in the midst of your own pain. Is it?
Before you get the idea that I am a little out of date, I am not talking about digital technology. Plus most of us have converted to using our phones as our PDAs.
I want to address three huge issues in all of our lives. As you know I often draw life lessons from the sports world, and while watching this past weekend these three stood out and were difference makers.
If one of these three is missing you may wind up beating yourself.
Let me illustrate.
P is for Passion. Even sports fans have little desire to watch games that lack passion. It’s not unusual for NBA fans to skip most of the regular season and only tune in for the playoffs. I confess, I fit into that category.
During the San Francisco/Carolina game Steve Smith brought the passion in the first half. However, after he got banged up he showed less passion. As his passion subsided so did the teams.
It’s not unusual for one person on a team to fuel the passion for the rest of the team. During the second half as Carolina’s passion weakened the game eventually got away from them.
A high level of passion would have made a difference in the second half and perhaps changed the outcome of the game.
Passion alone can sometimes make all the difference.
So when you head out the door take passion with you. Take it to work. Take it to your next meeting. Take it to your next conversation.
Passion; How is the first trait of your personal PDA?
Let’s be honest right from the start. Prayer meetings tend to have the lowest attendance of any kind of meeting. There is something about prayer that is mystical. Plus in a crowd many get uncomfortable to say the least.
However, what about in the privacy of your home.
Let me share four quick thoughts about prayer that will encourage you, and I dare say drive you to pray.
The apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:11 (NLT) is encouraging the church to participate in what God is doing. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.
1. Prayer Helps others. Paul said the prayers of others were very helpful to him. There will be times when there is nothing else you can do for someone but pray. Let this verse encourage you. Prayers are helpful.
2. Paul Urged believers to pray for him. Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:30 (NLT) That’s how huge prayer is.
3. People will Give thanks for the working of God in their lives and the lives of others. “…many people will give thanks.”
4. Who doesn’t want the favor of God in their life? No one! How Encouraging is it to know that your prayers play a role in someone experiencing the favor of God.
Once again, let’s be honest. Wouldn’t you want someone to be praying for God’s favor in your life? Then why not pray for others?
Spend some time and meditate on these verses. You will be glad you did.
Because Prayer is H.U.G.E.
For years our family went to the beach and spent a lot of time in the water. And of course we spent a lot of time floating on rafts. And what do rafts do? They drift.
Before you know it you have drifted so far up or down the beach nothing looks familiar. Or you have drifted so far out that you begin to panic.
In life it happens all the time. We tend to think drifting only happens at the beach. Yet that is not the case at all.
One of the most noticeable types of drifting is marital drift.
Ask any crowd of married people who is planning on getting a divorce and few hands go up.
So why is the divorce rate so high? Because couples drift until they grow so far apart that very little is left to the marriage. Typically by the time a couple senses that they have drifted, they have drifted so far away from the shore it’s almost impossible to paddle back in.
Let’s use the acrostic D.R.I.F.T. to describe and better understand the deadly affects of drifting. You may be drifting now and not know it. Here is what it looks like.
Distraction – Sometimes I feel like the king of distraction. I’m watching a ball game and get up to go do something. Then I get caught up in a project and do not return to the game for thirty minutes. In marriage couples get distracted by work, kids, activities, and television.
Rearrange – Soon our priorities change. A couple who used to go out for dinner once a week no longer makes it a priority. Something else has taken its place. The couple who used to take long walks has allowed time on the computer to take precedence.
Immune – Sadly it no longer bothers us. No dinner date for six months and no sign of remorse. Yet it is typically at this point that we live in denial which leads us to the letter f.
Fake it – However, as we venture out into the public eye everyone thinks we have a great marriage. In fact we so good at it that when a couple breaks up it is not unusual to here, “Wow, I had not idea their marriage was in trouble.”
Top it off – In marriage it may be an affair. In one spiritual life it may be that he bails on God.
Here’s the question. Do people have affairs all the sudden? Do people bail on God overnight? Do we become obese in a week? Does our house fall apart over the weekend?
We all know the answer, but how many of us are asking the real question: Am I D.R.I.F.T.ing in my life, in my marriage, or in my physical health?
Often it is easier to drift than paddle back to shore. However, it’s time to quit drifting and start paddling!