THERE IS HOPE

Shattered dreams,
   broken hearts,
       lonely people passing us by every day.
People without hope,
   searching for happiness–
       a lost and dying world.
 

What can we offer these people?

This world we live in seems to offer happiness to them in the form of

riches,
  fame,
    sex,
      drugs,
        alcohol.
But, this happiness does not bring them anything to hope in,
    for these “worldly” pleasures last but a few fleeting moments.
They don’t offer anything lasting and real,
    and there is nothing to cling to.

In this world, the only true hope is found in and through Jesus Christ.

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 Photo credit by Lex McKee under Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC 2.0)
With Christ as the center of our lives, we can possess a lasting happiness that will carry us through this life.
Christ gives a peace that surpasses all understanding despite all the trials we may be facing.
He is our best friend and will never, ever leave us even though others may desert us.

Our greatest hope is in the day we will meet Jesus face to face, and then spend eternity with Him.

This (Christ) is the lasting hope we can offer people as we live it and walk it each day. As Paul states in his First Letter to the Corinthians, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Cori 15:19)

Christ is the hope we need to offer others–it will change their lives forever!

I think the song, Cry Out to Jesus, by my favorite Christian band, Third Day, is such an inspiring, encouraging song that talks about the hope that Jesus provides.  Take a listen and be blessed!  Let the words penetrate your heart and soul.

Remember…
There is HOPE for the helpless…..
    REST for the weary.
        And LOVE for the brokenhearted.
                                –Excerpt from Cry Out to Jesus by Third Day
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  –Jeremiah 29:11

GOD’S CALL FOR YOU

God calls each of us to do different things for Him in this life.
We are each called to be different and do special things with our unique, spiritual gifts that He has equipped us with.

God gives us examples of many people in the Bible who were called…

….Mary was called to be the Mother of Jesus….the “tabernacle” for God’s only Son.
….John the Baptist was called to prepare the way for Jesus; to preach repentance and a baptism with water.
…Abraham was called to be the Father of all nations.
…Samuel was called as a youth to proclaim God’s word.
…Moses was called to bring God’s people out of Egypt.
…Esther was called to save God’s people, the Jewish from annihilation.
…Jeremiah was called by God when he was a youth, and even before he was born, to be a great prophet for Him.
…Isaiah was called by God as a prophet to speak to a corrupt generation.
…The twelve apostles were called by God to heal the sick and be fishers of men.
…Paul was called by God to preach to the Gentiles.
…Peter was called by God to eventually be the beginning “Church.”
…Jesus was called by God to bring salvation to all who believe in Him.

In many of these callings by God the people did not feel worthy to do what God called them to.

…Mary asked God, “But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  –Luke 1:43  (NIV)
…Moses asked God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharoah and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  –Exodus 3:11 (NIV)
…John the Baptist said, “…But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry.”  –Matthew 3:11  (NIV)
…Isaiah said, “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”  –Isaiah 6:5  (NIV)
…Peter said, “…Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”  –Luke 5:8  (NIV)
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As I was reflecting on these things while writing this, and with some inspiration from a pastor I was sharing with, it occurred to me that being called by God does really involve two major things.

1-Loving the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul.

Jesus replied:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”   –Matthew 22:37-39  (NIV)

2-Going and making disciples of all people.

After Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to the disciples, He instructed them, “…Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  –Matthew 28:19-20  (NIV)
I believe all the people mentioned in the examples above that were called by God, did indeed love the Lord and their calling was to help make disciples of all people.

Wow….we have been called by God to do those exact things with our lives!!  What a great commission God has called us to as well!

As we live day by day, in what ways is God calling you?
 CALL FINAL
When I was a teen, I remember being in church one day and feeling such a closeness to God knowing that He truly did have some plan for my life…that I would do something special for Him.
Sure, I do think living daily for Him and even doing the “little” things for others like sending cards to the sick, helping the poor and broken, praying for others, and words of encouragement is a call from God.
But, sometimes maybe we need to stretch ourselves and look to see if there are even bigger things we are called by God to do.  We might have to put aside our feelings of unworthiness and stop making excuses for NOT doing what God calls us to do.
In my own life, I think God is currently stretching me, despite my feelings of unworthiness, in two different ministries that I feel He is calling me to do for Him. It is a great, rewarding feeling to finally get to that point in my life.  I am so grateful for the people God has placed in my path to help get me started upon this journey.
When we are doing what God has called us to do in our lives, we will experience the peace and joy that He provides. We will know in our heart that it is what He is calling us to, and He will clear the way for us.

It reminds me of a saying I’ve seen….“God doesn’t call the qualified….He qualifies the called!”

This other saying I just saw seems to be fitting too…“Stay where you are until God calls you into something new. God calls us into things, not just out of them.”

I pray that you may find God’s call for you in your life and that you experience the many rewards that He blesses us with.
It would be a blessing to hear some of the ways God is or has called you in your life. Please comment below so others may be blessed too.
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You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  –John 15:16  (NIV)

PRECIOUS ANGEL

This reflection is dedicated to all the parents who have lost a baby or child, no matter what age. These words come from Jesus’ heart. May you be comforted by Him and others who care. I think the thoughts are also fitting for anyone who has lost someone special.
Every life is so precious to me
  No matter how small the child
Even the tiniest baby within its mother be
  is a treasure and special “angel” in my plan.
I know every tear you’ve shed
  Every dream you’ve dreamed
I hear every prayer that is said
  And I know how much your heart aches.
Though many sacrifices and pain
  You have endured
Know that they were not in vain
  They are steps that were part of my plan.
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Photo credit by Scripture As Art under Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
I know the burden is hard to bear
  And the pain is great
But know that I care
  And I bring you comfort.
Some day soon you will see
  Your “angel” in my heavenly kingdom
But in the mean time be
  Assured that your “angel” is safe in my arms.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  –Matthew 5:4  (NIV)

SECOND CHANCES

As I was watching this final season of American Idol, the theme of SECOND CHANCES resonated with me.
I thought about how bittersweet this final season is for many of the contestants. It is their one last shot of trying to make it to fame and notoriety.
From what I’ve seen so far, I think this final season has definitely inspired many younger people, as in the 15 to  17 age group, to audition for the show. It makes sense that they figure they might as well try out since it is their last chance with this type of venue. This is a great opportunity for them to give it their all and see what happens.
The show has highlighted some people who have come back this year, who for them, is providing them with a second chance at making it to Hollywood.  Some have even previously made it all the way to Hollywood when their dream came to an end. They want to see if they can get even further this year.
And with this being the final season of American Idol, many are saddened by the fact that they will never have an opportunity for a second chance like others have in years past.

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All these thoughts of SECOND CHANCES made me think of our relationship with the Lord.
 
I think it is a good thing to reflect on how God gives us SECOND CHANCES in our lives.
Think about the most important time in your life when God provided a second chance for you.
That point in your life when you were ready to accept Him into your life and heart.
At that moment, He forgave you from all your sin! That is the ultimate reason why Jesus came to this earth….to give us a second chance to live with Him forever in Heaven.
It would be nice if once we accepted Jesus, we did not sin anymore, but Jesus is the only person who walked this earth that did NOT sin. That is because He is also God.
But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin. –1 John 3:5  (NIV)
As much as I think we humans strive to be “perfect” and not sin, that is not possible on this earth. It seems like because of this, everyday we are given second chances.
second chances
Maybe SECOND CHANCES can be viewed in two ways…
….One being more where we have wronged someone in some way
….One being opportunities where God’s intervening is evident
What SECOND CHANCES has God given you today where you have wronged someone?
…the time you caught yourself gossiping about a co-worker?
…the time you caught yourself cursing at the driver who cut you off?
…the time you lost your temper with your child or spouse?
…the time you were speeding because you were running late?
…the time you ignored the homeless person on the street because you were in a hurry?
These are times when our second chances are opportunities to ask the Lord and maybe another person for forgiveness.
We can start each day anew with a renewed love of the Lord and others. In doing this, we can once again experience the fullness of the blessings of the Lord .
What SECOND CHANCES has God given where you have seen Him intervene in your life?
…A chance to renew a strained family relationship?
…A healing with a health issue?
…A freedom from an addiction?
…A pursuing of a new career path for your life where God is calling you?
…A protection from a disaster that you saw coming?

These second chances are pure blessings from the Lord to help increase our faith and show the Creator’s mighty power.

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May we strive to live as Jesus loving and serving all we meet and giving it our all, just like the contestants on American Idol.
May we always be thankful to the Lord for ALL the second chances He provides for us,  just like the contestants on American Idol who are so thankful for their second chances.
May we always strive to live in peace and honor the Lord in all that we do.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. –John 3:16 (NIV)