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
This scripture has been so important to me over the last several months. There is so much bad news out there, screaming for our attention. It really is too easy to listen to all of that too often and begin to slip into discouragement or even despair. But imagine what might happen if the people of God stopped focusing on the bad news, which has been a thing since the Garden of Eden and will continue to be a thing until Jesus returns. Instead, we could try focusing on our Great God of Hope, who will fill us to overflowing with His hope if we let Him.
Hope is so powerful! There is even something physical about it, and many doctors recognize this. When patients believe they can get well and hope to be better, they often get better. Hope has proven to be powerful medicine and incentive. Viktor Frankl wrote his book Man’s Search for Meaning after his own personal experience within the atrocious Nazi camps of World War 2. He witnessed that many people in the concentration camps who hoped and believed they would get out alive did, as opposed to so many others who just gave up and gave in to despair. Vast numbers of people in those wicked camps died of hopelessness.
Eli said something recently that is so meaningful to me. He pointed out that Jesus came to rescue us not only because He thought were we worth saving, but also because He thought we actually could be saved. God knows what He made us to be, and has such hopes and dreams over each of our lives. We can all read a history book or the nightly news to see the ill that we are capable of, but Jesus knows the good we are capable of. He came to make a way for all of us to have the opportunity to become everything that God created us to be.
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
- 2 Corinthians 13:11
Chip and Joanna Gaines have absolutely transformed the city of Waco, Texas. Even just ten years ago, passing through Waco was like passing through a shadow of a town. It had once been prosperous, but was fading so drastically. Now, it looks significantly and even surprisingly better. The idea of taking something old and unloved and putting some sweat equity into making it beautiful again has struck a nerve with our whole nation. Everyone loves Chip and Joanna, and their brand is everywhere. This idea of restoration obviously speaks to something deep within many of us.
Our good friends Johnny and Amy understand this in a profound way. We have been all over the country with them through the years, and they almost always end up hauling a big rusty pile of junk home to Texas from every trip together. What the rest of us might see as a pile of rubbish languishing in someone's field, those two see as something that could be beautiful again, whether it be an old car, or a barn door, or a soul. This is a clear reflection of God, who is Himself in the restoration business, and invites us to join in with Him.
What are striving to see restored?
-To right relationship with God. To see men and women recognize our own sin, and let Jesus be Lord and Savior of our hearts and lives.
-To truth and sanity. So many folks are just lost in unreality with bad habits of thinking and lifetimes of believing in lies. Jesus restores hearts and minds.
-Not just God to man, but man to man. Here is where racism, classism, sexism, ageism, and all other wrongs are actually made right.
-Recognizing the worth and value of each person, and having the God-given grace and love to be right with one another.
-Selfishness and ambition are replaced by humility, which is a sober sense of reality. When we realize all are made and loved by God, and all are special in His sight, peace can be achieved…
-husband to wife
-parent to child, child to parent
-brother to brother
-neighbor to neighbor
-Real Christianity does not seek to completely erase any culture. God is the creator of all people, and put so many different wonderful flavors into the many cultures across the globe. Rather than see any culture destroyed, the Church hopes for every culture to be fully restored through the power of Christ.
-It is not a demolishing of culture, but an enhancing, a remaking, and a restoring!
For every land to be filled with healthy family relationships, healthy work and rest rhythms, healthy community, and a healthy and whole understanding of who and what they can be as a people.
So, our job as the Church is not to fixate on the bad news, but to do something about it! We are to be the ambassadors of the God of Hope...
-To represent Him rightly to our own families and the people in our spheres of influence.
-To see people the way He sees them - absolutely worth saving and able to be be saved and restored.
-To pray with hope, to minister with hope, to encourage and cheer on, to set them on the best foundation and trajectory we can for them to thrive and live lives of restoration and hope.
Many of us can remember what we were like before Jesus came in and brought hope, joy, and peace into our hearts. We know that He took our mess of a life and made something beautiful out of it. He saved us not only from our pasts, but from our futures without Him - thank God! As we go into a new week, may we remember that He longs to restore every heart we encounter. God is in the business of making thrown-away and unloved people absolutely beautiful and useful, not just temporarily, but forever. This is the best news of all!
Be filled with His presence this week, and may this great 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.
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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