"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
November 5, 2008
One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Romans 8. From beginning to end, it is jam-packed with good verses. Two particular verses that I have read over and over, speak of hope. Verses 24 and 25 say, "For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it."
A couple definitions of hope are: "A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen; a feeling of trust."
Throughout different circumstances in life, we are faced with situations where we need hope. It may be during times of sickness involving either ourself or a family member. We pray and hope for a full recovery. It may be separation from a family member due to them being in the armed forces and stationed overseas, or them being involved in a missions work, etc. We pray for their safely and hope for their safe return. It may be a couple who desperately desire to have children of their own, but are having problems conceiving. They hope that they will someday become parents. It may be a single individual who wants to meet the right person and get married. They hope that the day will come when they will have a strong, loving marriage. It may be that a close family member or friend hasn't made a commitment to God, and you pray and hope that they receive salvation before it's too late.
I have personally needed hope in many of the above situations. Until my mom drew her last breath, I hung onto hope that she would be healed and that the cancer would leave her body. I have had numerous family and friends who have been diagnosed with various medical problems, and have prayed and hoped for their recovery.
I have a nephew who is in the Army and currently stationed in South Korea, so he and his wife and baby daughter are living far from home. Jon has a nephew who is in the Army Reserves, and is serving in Afghanistan right now. His wife and little girl are here in the states, so they are dealing with months of separation. Jon and I daily pray for God's protection for these nephews, as well as their families, and hope for their safe return to the states next year.
I have had members of my family who have been involved with mission trips to various locations. My sister has been to the Dominican Republic, Nigeria and the Philippines to minister to the deaf in each of those locations. Her husband has been to those three places also, as well as Argentina. Next summer they will be going back to the Philippines. I've had a niece and nephews who have gone on various mission trips to Mexico, Romania, Greece, Ireland, and Belgium. Anytime any of my family have been gone, I pray that God will use them to minister to the people they come in contact with; but also, until I know that they are safely back home again, I hope and pray for their protection and good health.
When I was single and desired to get married, it was easy to lose hope from time to time. But I would read the above verses to encourage myself. I knew that I had to hold onto hope, and wait for God to bring the right man into my life. I couldn't have hope one day, and give up the next, but had to be patient and have endurance. I didn't always do well at persevering in having hope, and I sure didn't do it eagerly. But each time that I began losing hope, I would re-read Romans 8:24, 25.
Verse 24 proclaims a statement and then asks a question. First of all it state that, "Hope that is seen is not hope." Then comes the question, "For why does one still hope for what he sees?"
When I met Jon, we first became acquainted as friends. After awhile, I realized that he was someone that I would enjoy getting to know better, and hoped that he would ask me out. But once we began dating, I no longer had to hope for an opportunity for us to spend more time together, because that was happening. After a few months of dating, I knew that I loved him and hoped that someday he would propose to me, and that we would get married. But on our wedding day when we spoke our vows to one another, I no longer needed to hope that we would become husband and wife. It had become a reality, so I didn't need to keep hoping for it to take place.
We hope for things that have not yet happened, not for things that we already see. For once our prayer is answered and we receive whatever it is that we desire, then we no longer have need for hope.
We also need to be aware of the fact that sometimes God answers differently from what we're looking or waiting for. And sometimes He may say "no", because He has something different and better for us. It's during those times that we need to let go of the hope that we've been clinging to, and accept God's will. We'll never be contented or happy if we are trying to hold onto the hope that we had in the past, while heading in a different direction.
It's not always easy to know when we're supposed to hold on, and when it's time for us to let go. At times, it seems as if Satan does everything in his power to try and discourage us so that we lose hope. He makes our situation look so overwhelming, that it's difficult to feel like an end or answer will ever come. During those times, it's so easy to focus on the largeness of our problem and it begins to look far bigger than God. If we're not careful, we'll begin to listen to that little nagging voice of our enemy (Satan) that tells us that there is no hope. It's tempting to feel like giving up and quitting. But that's not the time to lose hope. That's when we may consciously have to determine in our heart that we are not going to give up on God. We may have to over and over again recommit our situation to God, and choose to hold onto hope.
Jon and I have been praying over certain hopes of our own, and have been for the past few years. Right now some seem far out of reach, and at times feel like they're never going to occur. It would be easy to lose hope and become discouraged. And there are days when it's very tempting to become bitter and angry. Jon and I have spent some restless nights, wrestling with them. Satan would like nothing better than to get us distracted and get our focus on problems, instead of on God. We don't see the answers now, but we choose to hope for victorious outcomes; and to persevere until God answers our requests and give us miracles. These will come no other way except for God's intervention. There are days when we have to reaffirm over and over again that we choose to trust God and not let go of hope.
As much as we hope for things during our life upon earth, there should be an even greater eternal hope that we focus on. That is the second coming of Jesus, to receive His people unto Himself for all eternity. Titus 2:13 calls it the "blessed hope". It says, "Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ."
At times life may seem unfair. It may seem like bad things happen to good people, and that our world keeps getting involved in deeper and bigger sins. It's easy to become discouraged and feel that God has left us alone to survive life all by ourselves. It's hard to have hope at times, when there is so much negativity surrounding us. But we must never get our eyes off our eternal goal.
The birth of Jesus was declared hundreds of years before He came to earth. I'm sure that at times it seemed like it would never become a reality, and that there were those who questioned the validity of the promised Messiah coming as the Redeemer of all mankind. But even though hundreds of years passed by between the prophecy of Jesus being born upon earth in human form until it actually occurred, the truth is, the day came when it became reality. When God makes a promise, He keeps it.
The same is true of the promise of the second coming of Jesus Christ to receive His children (all those who believe and whose hearts are prepared to meet Him) unto Himself. A couple thousand years have passed since that promise was made. That doesn't mean that it's not going to take place. It doesn't invalidate Jesus' words to come again and "rapture" His church to be with Him for all eternity. But it does mean that we're just that much closer to it becoming a reality. The Bible declares that not all mankind will see death, for there will be those who will be "caught away" to be with Him. This isn't a church doctrine that's been made up, but it's a promise from God's Word.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 says, "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep (die), or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."
1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 says, "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep (die), but we shall all be changed -- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible (imperishable), and we shall be changed."
I don't know how it's going to happen. But the Bible declares that when the time comes, that suddenly a trumpet will sound; and only those who have accepted Christ into their heart and repented of their sins, will be be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
It hasn't happened since it was first promised two thousand years ago, but I have hope that it very possibly could happen in my lifetime. There could come the day when I will be typing this devotional and suddenly I'll hear the trumpet of God sound; and as fast as a blink of an eye, I'll find myself in heaven with my Saviour and my loved ones. Jon and I may be driving down the road headed towards Missouri when the trumpet sounds, and suddenly our car will be void of a driver and passenger, for we'll be in the clouds with God. I know that each day draws us closer and closer to the second appearing of Jesus Christ.
We can't blow it off as being unlikely to happen in our lifetime. We can't live as if we'll all die of old age and have plenty of time to get our heart right with God and repent of our sin. We may face death, but we may not either. We must life each day with our hearts prepared to meet God, because it could be the day that the trumpet of God will sound, and we'll be caught away to be with Him for eternity.
I encourage each of you to be prepared for the coming of our "blessed hope"; the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ. Don't become so caught up in life that you forget about God, or the promise of Him coming back to receive His children to be with Him. We don't yet see it, but may we continue to have hope until it becomes a reality. May we each eagerly and with perseverance, wait for that day when we'll be united with Jesus for all eternity.
I've known several people who simply hope that "good people" will get into heaven when they die. It really sounds nice. But the second meaning of hope that Loretta mentioned is "a feeling of trust". We need to have our hope in Christ. I have hope in Christ of joining Him in heaven.
Jesus said that many would die and face judgment, and say that they had cast out devils in Jesus' name. And Jesus will say that He never knew them. (Matthew 7:22-23)
It's important that our hope is well founded. Are we hoping for our own glory, or is our hope truly In Christ?
Banana Sour Cream Cake
1 pkg. Yellow cake mix
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup oil
Heat oven to 350. Beat cake mix, eggs, bananas, sour cream and oil with mixer on low until moistened, scraping bottom of bowl often. Beat on medium 2 minutes. Pour into 9x13-inch pan. Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake completely.
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 pkg, (16 oz.) powered sugar
1 cup walnut pieces, finely chopped
Beat cream cheese and butter with mixer on medium until blended. Gradually add powered sugar, beating well after each addition.
Remove cake from pan. Carefully cut cake crosswise in half using serrated knife. Place 1 cake half, top-side down, on plate; spread top with frosting. Top with remaining cake half, top-side up. Frost top and sides. Press nuts onto sides. Sprinkle top with additional chopped nuts. Refrigerate leftovers.
Jon and I had a wonderful summer this past year. We spent a lot of weekends in Lampe, Missouri at my family homestead, which is one of our favorite things to do. Our fall has also started out as being very busy.
A couple of weeks ago, we got to spend a Saturday in Lampe with several members of my family. We had a couple cousins and an uncle stop by to visit, which we all thoroughly enjoyed.
The following weekend, we went back up. I worked at a bank in Missouri for almost fourteen years. It was by far the best working experience of my life. We got a lot of work done, but also had a lot of fun. We were a close-knit group and were friends, and we genuinely cared for one another. One of the bank officers, who is now retired, and his wife invited a bunch of the old gang to their house for a reunion. It was so nice to see everyone and reminisce. Jon was told too many stories about me, that made it sound as if I were ornery and an instigator of practical jokes. Surely not me! It was great seeing several people that I hadn't seen in quite some time.
Jon has been involved in an electronic design competition for the past several months... and it continues to be ongoing. There were initially almost 400 designs submitted in the first phase. Jon has recently found out that he is one of the 32 contestants to advance to phase 3 of the competition. I am quite proud of him! He is now beginning to work on the development of software for his project design. This phase will go until the end of January, then only 8 will advance to the next phase. So Jon will now be busy most evenings and weekends for the next three months, getting the software programmed and working for his project. I guess I'll be reading lots of books!
This past weekend, my husband did take me out on a couple of dates. Isn't it nice that we have been married for three and a half years, and still "date"?! He took me out to eat on Saturday. Then on Sunday afternoon, we went to see the movie, "Fireproof". There are not a whole lot of movies that I would recommend, especially on this website. But this one was exceptionally good, and I recommend that all couples watch it together. It has a strong Christian message in it, and deals with the subject of marriage. Whether you have a strong marriage or are struggling, have been married a short time or for many years, I believe that each couple can learn a lot and mature from watching this movie. Fireproof has been out for a few weeks now, so I'm not sure how much longer it will be shown in the theater. But if you are unable to go watch it right now, please rent this movie as soon as it becomes available on DVD, and have a date night at home with your spouse.
God is more interested in your character than your comfort. - Rick Warren
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We hope everyone is enjoying this fall season.
We love you!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read our newsletter. We appreciate you very much.
Loretta & Jon