God’s hope has your name on it (Day 17)

imageCan you guess what the theme for today is?

I wrote this page in my journal a few months ago at a time when to be totally honest I felt much more hope-less than hope-full.

My fatigue levels had increased and I was struggling to cope with the lack of energy, emotionally and mentally as well as physically.

Some days I found it difficult to read or journal or pray and lying in bed felt very frustrating, so I decided to experiment with some lettering (thank you Pinterest) and to write out verses or quotes that inspired me or I felt God was highlighting to me.

By writing the words on the page, it helped me to focus on the truth of God’s hope rather than the hopeless circumstances.

It was a way of writing His words on my heart and in my mind and speaking them over my life.

As I imagined filling a page with HOPE written in different verses and different letters, I felt the Lord whisper:

The page of your life is NOT blank. It is FILLED with HOPE. Don’t stay stuck on the hope-less page.

Maybe you’ve felt robbed of hope. Life feels blank or frustrating. It’s been a hard season.

Don’t stay stuck on the hope-less page.

Pursue. Overtake. Recover.

Choose to fill the pages of your heart and mind with HIS HOPE.

Allow Him to rekindle the hope in your heart.

God’s hope has your name on it. 

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BUT GOD …

imageAs I write this the rain is POURING down … AGAIN!!!!

The weather is often a topic of conversation but never more so than this summer and rarely for good reasons 😦 I can totally sympathise with the friend who texted me “this weather just really gets to me BUT I’m trying to be grateful regardless”.

This is a good example of trying to make a bad situation better, turning things round for good, looking for the silver linings behind all the dark clouds.

But it’s seldom the easy option to do this. Sometimes the clouds loom so threateningly, it feels impossible to lift our eyes off them and focus on the smallest glimmer of hope.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 highlights the importance of this decision in impossible circumstances.

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NLT)

You may not be struggling with your ‘fig trees’ or ‘flocks’ but I’m sure you could fill in your own ‘even though‘ thoughts …

EVEN THOUGH
… It’s pouring again
… The school uniforms have cost me a fortune
… The job interview didn’t work out the way I hoped
… I’ve been let down by someone I trusted again

Even though you may be scared or scarred, in pain or in a process, feeling hopeless or a failure, there is hope. The causes and symptoms are endless but there is one solution … “yet I will rejoice in the LORD!”

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” (Psalm 43:5 NIV)

In times like these we need to get off our ‘BUTS’!!

BUT I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more.” (Psalms 71:14 NLT)

BUT giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honours me.” (Psalms 50:23 NLT)

“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, BUT GOD remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” (Psalms 73:26 NLT)

Even though we all face different “even though” situations, we still have the same choice of response.

Will ‘BUT GOD’ be a cry of fear and questioning, hopelessness and lament OR will it be a bold declaration of faith and thanksgiving, of hope and praise.

As I’ve been writing the rain stopped and for a brief moment the grey sky brightened and the sun even came out.

No matter how dark the clouds are, the sun is still always there.

No matter how dark your situation feels, the SON IS STILL ALWAYS THERE.

If you are feeling discouraged, focus on these “but God” verses and be reminded of God’s involvement in your life.

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT)

DREAM ON!!

imageForget George Clooney’s nuptials in Venice. The wedding of the weekend was here in Coleraine!!

We had the enormous privilege of attending the wedding of our lovely friend Georgina to her handsome Matt 🙂 It was such a special day filled with joy and celebration of God’s goodness to them both. Since then I’ve had the chorus of a Gabrielle song going round my head …

Dreams can come true
Look at me babe I’m with you
You know you gotta have hope
You know you gotta be strong

Dreams can come true … don’t give up on your dreams! I’m sure Georgina would tell you that too.

As Bill Johnson posted this morning “Once you stop dreaming, you start dying“.

It’s no secret I enjoy the odd Bill Johnson podcast! In a recent one he spoke of “the need to refresh my list of dreams” … the need “to create some part of my life that God can breathe on, to step out courageously, to broaden my opportunity for His blessing”.

What would I include on my list? I dream of seeing God set people free from ‘hidden’ illnesses such as cancer, depression, ME, fibromyalgia as I pray for them; I dream of climbing the Mournes again; and I dream of travelling with Andy to as many countries beginning with ‘A’ and ‘S’ as possible!!

We should take care not to categorise our dreams between spiritual and natural, big and small. Every dream is significant, they all reveal Him and illustrate a life of hope.

Bill Johnson describes biblical hope as ‘the joyful anticipation of good which creates an atmosphere for faith to grow and attracts the promises of God’.

My husband, Andy, not only writes out his dreams, he also finds a photo or an image or a scene that helps him visualise them. One of his current dreams is to use some of the psalms David wrote on the run, hiding in caves, and record them in some of our local caves!!

This is his picture for his ‘cave’ dream.

A few years ago Andy had a dream to do a house concert tour in USA. To illustrate that dream, he happened upon a picture of a beautiful lake in America with a kayak being rowed across it. Not only the dream became a reality but so did that picture!! It’s a long story … but on the trip we spent a very special morning in a kayak on a lake in the beautiful mountains near Cardinal Village in California 🙂 GOOD times!!! GOD times 🙂

Dreams can come true … You know you gotta have hope

Maybe you’ve run out of hope because you’ve run into disappointment time and time again. Rather than finding ways to keep your dreams alive, you’ve buried them so they would die once and for all.

But we serve a God who specialises in resurrection!!

Just as Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb, so He is calling your dreams back to life again. Why?? Because they are His dreams for your life too! He is whispering to your heart ‘dare to dream again’. Every dream the enemy has tried to snuff out, He wants to set alight in you again. Why?? Because …

Dreams can come true … You know you gotta have hope

What is on your list of dreams?

I hear Him saying it’s time to resurrect those old dreams but it’s also time to dare to dream some new ones too.

Dreams can come true … You know you gotta have hope

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. (‭Psalms‬ ‭39‬:‭7‬ NLT)

Audio

“A beam of light on my dark path.”

imageThis week I felt God show me a picture of someone in a dark, dark tunnel. You feel trapped. No way out. No beginning and no end. No escape. Then you see a light in the distance. But it isn’t a light of hope at the end of the tunnel. It’s a light signalling the danger of an oncoming train, hurtling towards you at great speed. You feel rooted to the spot, stuck in the middle of the tunnel, too far in to turn back and yet no way forward because of the threat of collision with the oncoming train. You sense only fear and panic in what seems feel a totally hopeless situation. Just like David in Ps119:107 (MSG), you want to cry “Everything’s falling apart on me, GOD”.

So often in the Psalms David writes of his struggles with feeling trapped by fear and hopelessness. But he refuses to stay stuck in the situation, in that tunnel, and prays “put me together again with your Word.” Ps119:107 MSG

Psalm 119 says Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. (Psalms 119:105 NLT)

Many times Psalm 23 has helped me in dark and hopeless times so I too can say By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.” (Psalm 119:105 MSG).

I’m taking the liberty of sharing my version of Psalm 23 with my favourite translations of each verse.

1 THE Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack (AMP); I have all that I need (NLT), I lack nothing (NIV).

2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. (NLT)

3 He restores my soul (NKJV); he refreshes my soul (NIV); He renews my strength (NLT); He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him–not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake (AMP); He guides me along right paths, bringing honour to his name (NLT).

4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me (NLT); Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. (AMP)

5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honour me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. (NLT)

6 Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place. (AMP)

This psalm speaks to me of His provision and abundance, restoration and renewal, guidance and direction, protection and comfort, and promises that His goodness, mercy and unfailing love will pursue me ALL the days of my life (Psalms 23:6 NLT).

Know this: GOD, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him and observe his commandments for a thousand generations. (Deut 7:9 MSG)

Even though troubles came down on me hard, your commands always gave me delight. The way you tell me to live is always right; help me understand it so I can live to the fullest. (Psalm 119:137-144 MSG)

The picture didn’t end with the disastrous consequences of being trapped in the tunnel. Suddenly there was a door in the wall of the tunnel – a doorway of hope.

His Word provides light and doorways of hope when we feel that everything is falling apart and we are trapped in the middle of emotional, financial, physical or relational struggle and hopelessness.

I pray His words give you delight and He makes a way in the wilderness (Isaiah 43:19), in the tunnel of despair. He reveals a way where there seemed to be no way. As you read this Psalm may you also find HIS door to hope, to safety, to comfort, to protection, to provision … to FREEDOM.

HOPE

imageIt’s hard to beat getting a message of HOPE through your letter box first thing on a Monday morning!

I love our Easter service at Causeway Coast Vineyard. It’s always a wonderful celebration of the victory of the risen Christ and the hope and life His resurrection brings each one of us.

We have the benefit of knowing the full story, of having read the end of the book but the days leading up to that first Easter Sunday would have felt very different. The disciples felt the weight of hopelessness and despair as they saw their Lord led away, and then crucified. They had to live hour by hour, day by day with the fear of the unknown, feeling they had lost everything. They had no way of knowing that the One who lost His life would rise from the dead so they could have new life, fullness of life. Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him, and the devil could not defeat Him.

The enemy didn’t know the end of the story either. He mistakenly believed the victory was his! He made a grave tactical error. He is the one who is now defeated!

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 NIV)

A thief can only steal what you already own.

If you don’t have a car, you can’t have one stolen from you! The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy … the thief can only steal what you already own; he can only kill what is already alive in you; he can only destroy what is already in existence.

“Even what the enemy means for evil, You turn it for our good and for Your glory”. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV) or as The Message says “we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

His attempts to defeat us are a reminder of the victory Christ has won for us.

Maybe he has been trying to steal from you – your peace; your joy; your health, physical and mental; your identity; your dreams, vision or purpose; your … but his attempted robbery is an affirming reminder of exactly what is yours, what you already own. Plus Proverbs 6:31 says if a thief is caught, “he must pay back seven times what he stole”!!

Graham Cooke writes “In a weird way we should love negativity, because it’s almost like prophecy. The anointing you have in the spirit immediately looks at that negative and thinks, ‘What is the opposite? That’s what God is giving me.’ List every negative against you. What is the opposite? Make a second list of opposites and destroy the first list. You now have a record of all that God is relentlessly doing in your life. Enjoy this process; it will turn you into another person!”

What Satan intends to use to destroy you can in fact release you into a greater place of faith.

For as surely as Easter Sunday is coming, so is HOPE.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 NIV)