July 31, 2014
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out unto the Mount of Olives.”
Mark 14: 26
“At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God.”
Acts 16: 25
“Twas night indeed; their darknest night;
They deemed it their last night with Him;
Yet, ere they left the chamber bright,
We read that they all sang a hymn.
Their hearts were sad; they would be left;
He whom they loved would soon be gone.
And they, benighted and bereft,
Would have Him not – to lean upon.
And yet they sang, with voices brave,
And strengthened each his brother-friend;
Their sky was dark, the issue grave;
Their future none could comprehend.
They sang: and if some eyes were dim, -
If choking sense nigh stilled the song,
Perchance they may have strengthened Him,-
So soon to meet the rabble throng.
‘They sang’ – thus speaks the record true:
‘They sang an hymn’ that darkest night!
And, soul of mine, do thou sing, too,
Should tragic mysteries steal thy light.”
J. Danson Smith
“The Seed of Hope”
“God of hope, come! Enter into this heart of mine which often loses itself in self, missing the message of Your encouragement because I am so entangled in the web of my own whirl of life. Enable me to not lose sight of the power of Your presence or the truth of Your consolation.”
Out of the Ordinary
What area in my life needs God’s “seed of hope” planted in it?
“Where’s the strength to keep my hopes up? What future do I have to keep me going? Do you think I have nerves of steel? Do you think I’m made of iron? Do you think I can pull myself up by my bootstraps? Why, I don’t even have any boots!”
Job 6: 11
The Message Bible
The words above were spoken by Job during some of the most difficult days one can imagine – the total loss of all his children and all his possessions. We find Job left on earth with only a weary and heartbroken wife and three unsupportive friends. In blunt language Job asks questions that I know I’ve asked myself. Have you had these questions run through your mind, too? Maybe, you have even screamed the words to God in utter pain and disillusionment.
Over the past few months many of you have written to me sharing the despair you feel, whether it is due to a severe health crisis, a catastrophic financial collapse or the unexpected breakup of a marriage. These painful events are not uncommon right now – to the point where I sometimes feel that the book of Job could have easily been written about a lot of people I know.
Anyone who has ever felt the lonely emptiness that comes with dashed dreams, betrayal, desertion or unanswered prayers, not only understands Job – you’ve walked on the path he traveled.
But like Job, I have personally come to believe that our great God has planted within us a tiny seed. And yes, there are times that seed is so small, I may think it will die. Then just at the right moment, the spring of water from God’s love, enriches the soil of my life – and that little seed sprouts, grows and blooms into a flower of hope.
Listen to Job as he reflects on what he learned through a time of desolate emptiness:
“Hold your tongue while I have my say…because even if God killed me, I’d keep on hoping…this is going to work out for the best!”
Job 13: 13-15
The Message Bible
There it is! God’s seed! The one He has planted in your heart and mine. It is the seed of hope – that lifts us above the abandonment and barrenness of disappointing circumstances and gives us a glimpse of the possible…the potential God has for us. In the words of Jeremiah, “I know what I am doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:11, The Message).
When I was a young girl, our family lived in Oxnard, California, surrounded by fields and fields of strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, and lima beans. This area continues to be a fertile region providing produce and fruit to the entire country.
One of our closest family friends, Ed Gregory, owned a ranch that grew lemons and avocados. Often on the weekends we’d go out to Ed’s country property and have lunch, feasting off the delicacies harvested fresh that day.
On one visit, Ed had just gotten a small “ATV” that he proudly wanted to show me. I hopped on the back and rode behind him as we bounced through the meticulously manicured orchards. As Ed pointed out small avocados hanging on the trees, I could tell that farming was as they say, “in his blood.”
When we got back to the house I asked, “Well, are you going to have a good harvest this year?”
With a wry smile and twinkle in his eyes he said, “I sure hope so!”
Every year, Ed worked those orchards driven by the power of hope. Hoping it wouldn’t freeze. Hoping the rains would come. Hoping for the day when he could call the crews to come pick the fruit. Hoping for a plentiful harvest.
Today, I encourage you to cultivate the seed of hope God has planted in your heart. Nurture it with His word. Water it with His love. Then trust that God is at work – even in your darkest, most empty moments. As Jeremiah reminds us: “My eyes will watch over (her) for (her) good, and I will bring (her) back…I will build (her) up…I will plant (her)…I will give (her) a heart to know me” (Jeremiah 24: 6-8, New International Version).
“Why are you downcast, O my Soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour (Deliverer) and my God.”
Psalm 42: 5
New International Version
“When hope does awaken, an entire life awakens along with it. One comes fully to life. It begins to seem indeed that one has never lived before…Wherever hope rises, life rises.”
John S. Dunne
The Reasons of the Heart
“Hope, like the gleaming taper’s light, adorns and cheers our way; and still, as darker grows the night, emits a brighter ray.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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