Monday, January 30, 2012

Audacious Hope

A Guest Blog by Lynn Huggins Blackburn

I hope for so many things.

I hope the weather will be perfect for my child’s birthday party.
I hope NCIS will never go off the air.
I hope the cheesecake I had for dessert will go to fuel my brain instead of finding its way to my hips.

I have no reason to believe any of these things will happen the way I want them to.

But I still hope.

We have more serious hopes. We hope our parents live forever and our children make us proud. And whenever a baby is expected, whether that child is yours, your grandchild, your friend’s first or seventh, there is a universal hope for wellness. We hear it all the time. “I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl. Just so long as they’re healthy.”

But sometimes . . . All the hoping in the world won’t change reality.

For me, it started with an early delivery. It progressed to a glimpse of a tiny body being whisked away. And not hearing any crying.

In the almost nine years since, I’ve learned a few things about hope.

I don’t hope for valedictorian honors, great big weddings, or grandchildren with her smile.

I hope we’ll be able to have a conversation. I hope she’ll have true friends. I hope she’s happy.

But most of all, I hope she changes the world.

I’ve learned that there are two kinds of hope. There’s the word “hope” that we throw around in everyday language - it’s more like a wish.

Then there’s Biblical hope. The word translated “hope” in the Bible has nothing to do with wishes and dreams. Biblical hope has everything to do with certainty. When the Bible talks about hope, it’s referring to things that will happen. No doubt. No maybe.

And it’s that kind of hope I’m talking about when I say I hope Emma changes the world. Maybe that sounds audacious to you. Maybe it is.

But I serve an audacious God.

The kind of God who, every now and then, takes a little bit longer as he knits a baby together in the womb. He tweaks the cells and creates a child unlike any other.

What we call a syndrome, God calls a plan.

Would her life—and mine—have been easier if her DNA looked like everyone else’s? Probably. But would it have been as rich? Would it have been so full of grace? Would it have pulled me to my knees in prayer and lifted my hands to the heavens in praise? I don’t think so.

I have hope—Biblical hope—that Emma is here for a reason. Her life has a meaning that transcends her ability to tell me about her day or do long division.

Believe me, there are days when I forget. Days when I’m frustrated. Days when I ask God why. On those days, God gently reminds me that He is the God of Hope. That He has “a hope and a future” for Emma—and for me—that is beyond anything I can imagine.

Audacious hope isn't something I can self-generate.

I can't talk myself into it. But I can run to the God of Hope and ask Him to provide it.

He can. He does.
He can do it for you, too.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Rom 15:13 (ESV)

Lynn Huggins Blackburn has been telling herself stories since she was five and finally started writing them down. She blogs about faith, family, and her writing journey on her blog Out of the Boat. Lynn is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and the Upstate Fellowship of Christian Writers. She lives in South Carolina where she hangs out with three lively children, one fabulous man, and a cast of imaginary characters who find their way onto the pages of her still unpublished novels. She drinks a lot of coffee.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Grief Is Too Great

Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. (Mathew 5:4, New King James Version)

It was an ordenary day. She was on leave from work for medical reasons. It was an ordenary day until the piercing ring of the telephone. "My mom has passed away," were her husband's heartbreaking words to her. The grief was crushing and hit their shoulders like a huge bolder. There's a difference here though. Though the family is experiencing unfathomable grief, they still have hope. They know who to turn to in their darkest hour, and most of all, they know where their loved one is! Are you experiencing the grief from the loss of a loved one? Perhaps you're grieved over a job loss...a devistating illness. If you belong to the Lord Most High, you also have hope! Just as this family has the hope of the Lord to get them through this time, so do you! Let me encourage you ladies, in your grief today, turn to the one who can give you hope. It's always darkest before the dawn.

Most gracious Lord, I pray for each reader today. I pray that in their time of grief and pain, you'll be with them in a special way. Let them experience your presence and your comfort like never before. Amen.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lord, You Are My Hope and Portion

“ The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!" (Lamentations 3:24, New King James Version)

My hope and my portion? Really? This verse was really put to the test just 2 days before Christmas. "I have something to tell you," were the words I read on my computer screen. "You didn't get the scholarship to the conference." The pity party and self-doubting had officially begin. "Am I not good enough?" "Was my essay not what the judges were looking for?" Most of all, "what's wrong with me?"

Then, this verse came to my mind. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" Do I really? He starts speaking to my heart. "Jamie, do you trust me completely?" "Yes, Lord." "Put your gift of writing into my hands." "Lord I need to be there and this is the only way." Again, the sweet voice, "Put your gift into my hands." Well, the hope and trust paid off, as it always does. I didn't get the scholarship, but I received the funds to get me to the conference! Not only did I receive what I needed, I received more than the cost of the conference. Is there something today that you desire and you're tired of the waiting game? Let me encourage you, ladies, put your hope and trust in the one who knows the big picture. It will pay off, and you'll be astounded at the results!

Father, help us all to put our complete hope and trust in You. Help us trust You even when we don't necessarily get what we want. Help us be satisfied with what you know is best for us. Amen.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

All Things Are New!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corenthians 5:17, New King James Version)

The rain was coming down in sheets. It was washing away all the dirt and dust of the day. The downpoor was terentual. As I listened to it pound against my window, I recognized that still, small voice. "Jamie, let me make all things new for you." Still, I wanted to carry the load. "Jamie, give me the pain and hurt. Let me make all things new." "Yes, Lord, Yes!" Are you needing to be made new? Is your life in shambles? Put your pain, your hurt, into His capable hands today. Let Him wash away the dirt and dust of your life. Let Him give you a new start. Answer Him with a resounding "yes" to a new life.

Father, thank you for being the author of new life. Thank you that we don't have to walk around in the dirt and dust. Thank you for offering us a new life! Amen!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Battle Isn't Yours!

And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the LORD to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. (2 Chronicles 2015, New King James Version)

Ok Ladies, this is how the Lord works! I had a post ready to go for today, and sitting in church tonight the Lord spoke and said, "No you don't, change it!" The battle that you're fighting...the load you're carrying...isn't yours to begin with. It's the Lord's. A lot of times, we carry things on our shoulders and try to bare the weight. It was never meant to be carried on our shoulders. Place your fear, your job loss, your sickness, or whatever you're facing to the one who can handle it all. Take it to the rock...the Rock that is higher than we are! It doesn't matter what you're facing, He can hhandle it.

Most gracious Lord, we thank you so much for bearing the loads that we so often can't. We thank you that when we reach the end of our rope, you're there to take hold of it and pull us along. Thank You Lord. We love you and we praise You. Amen.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Lord Most High Rejoices Over You!

The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save;
      He will rejoice over you with gladness,       He will quiet you with His love,
      He will rejoice over you with singing."  (Zephaniah 3:17, New King James Version)

The Lord rejoices over us today! Yes He does indeed! Have you ever considered what song He may be singing over you today? Could it be a song of peace to calm your storm? Let me assure you, whatever your song is, it's a song of love. It says that He "rejoices over us with singing!" Have you ever need to be quieted with His love? If you need that today, come to Him and crawl up into the lap of your Father and let Him love on you. There is no condemnation, only love and strength for the journey. If you've had a miracle happen in your life, it says that He rejoices over you with gladness! So be glad and praise Him for what He has done!

Father, thank you for that beautiful song of love and assurance. Thank you that we can know that we can know that you will quiet our spirit with your sweet and unfailing love. Thank you for being glad when we just can't praise You enough for all the good you've given to us! Lord, we love You and we praise You. Amen.

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Grace is Sufficient

 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9, New King James Version)

"David's been in a car accident." Those were the dreaded words I read in an email just a few weeks before Christmas. I immediately felt a sinse of helplessness and dread. As those feelings of helplessness came over me, a sweet assurance came to my spirit at almost the same instant. "My grace is sufficient for you." Have you ever had a feeling of helplessness and then God came to reassure you with His sweet spirit? Or, you're going through a trial and felt at the end of your rope, and still, that sweet assurance came to you? Ladies, that assurance sustained me when the friend was over 5 hours away from me; and all I wanted to do was be there with him and his precious wife,  and it still sustains me all these weeks later when he's still in major pain at times. Let me assure you, whatever you're going through, He'll be there for you as well. He'll be there to sustain you when you feel like your world is crumbling. He'll be there when you feel that prayer isn't enough, but it's all you can do.

Father, thank you for the grace that you give on a daily basis. You give us just enough grace for the moment. I pray that you'll be with my readers in their trials of life. Help them know that no matter what, your grace is sufficient. Lord we love You and we praise You, Amen.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Seeking God

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Mathew 6:33, New King James Version)

Seeking God. What does it mean? To seek means to pursue, to look for, to go after with much furver. So many times, we seek all the wrong things. So many people spend their time seek after wealth and fame. They want the riches this world can offer. Ladies, I've got some bad news. This world doesn't offer us eternal riches. It offers us things that will eventually waste away. In this new year, will we seek after God with all our heart? If we will seek Him first, all the other things will be added. I want to encourage us all to seek after God with our whole heart this year. Let run head-first into the plans He has for each of us. Will it take us out of our comfort zone? Yes, perhaps. When we go after what He has for us in all of its fullness, wow! The blessings and rewards will be astounding!

Father, let each of us seek you with all of our heart today. Take us to new places in You. Take us to places we never dreamed possible. Lord, give us a heart to want to seek You because the more we seek You, the more we find You! In Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Do You Have a Difficult Gift to Unwrap?

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (New International Version)
Have you ever gotten a gift that was particularly hard to be thankful for and just difficult to accept? I know I have. My blindness is sometimes difficult. At the same time though, within that difficult gift, there are many blessings tucked inside. This verse tells me that I need to be thankful "in" all things, not for them, but in them. I see my blindness as a very difficult gift at times. Sometimes, I have to pray, "Lord please give me a spirit of thankfulness." I'll be honest and tell you that sometimes, I don't feel very thankful for this gift. I'm glad this verse doesn't say to be thankful "for" all things, but it says to be thankful "in" all things. Yes, it's hard to be thankful "for" this gift at times, but I can be thankful "in" it. When I choose to be thankful in it, it produces the blessings. I choose to let this make me better, not bitter. Let me encourage you, whatever your difficult gift may be, whether physical, financial, or spiritual be thankful "in" it.
Father, teach us all what it means to be thankful in our circumstances. Give us a spirit of thankfulness. In Jesus Name, Amen.