A Spoonful of Hope

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bible-for-study-mfI am imagining that my Bible is a big bowl of cereal and I am digging into  it with my spoon to find scriptures to feed upon and satisfy my hunger. Today, I have an appetite for HOPE. My Reader, please join me in my search for nourishment within a spoonful of hope. In I Corinthians 3:1-2, Paul speaks of God’s Word as being milk for spiritual infants and meat for men of the Spirit. So, please join me in digging into scripture and finding a few spoonsful of hope for us to feed upon.

 

spoon-of-sugar-pink-mfI am reminded of the song A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down from the movie Mary Poppins. For me, “A Spoonful of Hope Helps My Day Go Up.” Hope helps me to see situations from a positive rather than a negative perspective. It is interesting that the first reference to hope in the Bible deals with the appearance of no hope. Listen to the words of Naomi. Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons, would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is harder for me than for you, for the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me.” Ruth 1:12-13 Even though there did not appear to be any hope, Ruth chose to stay with her mother-in-law. Throughout the remainder of the book of Ruth, we learn that the God of Hope intervened to provide Ruth with a husband and Naomi with a grandson. The story of Ruth and Naomi reminds me to trust God and rely upon His hope even when my circumstances appear to have no hope. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust I him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 My Reader, this scripture is a spoonful of hope for both of us!

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cross-4-mfHope is not just a throw of the dice. Hope is holding the cross of Christ in your hand while waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises. The Lord is our source of hope. I like what Psalm 71:5 says in he New Living Translation, “O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O LORD, from childhood.” I become aware of a correlation between hope and trust. My hope originates with the Lord. For me, hope is possible because of Luke 1:37. The New International Version says, “For no word from God will ever fail.” This allows me to place hope in scripture. I like the wording of this verse in a couple of other translations. The New Living Translations says, “For nothing is impossible with God.” and the New American Standard Bible states, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” One translation relates God’s impossibility to the present while the other speaks in the future tense. According to Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, so the same is true regarding His words and actions. I once read that hope is “impossible” with the “im” erased. Listen to Mark 9:23, “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Hope is possible because nothing is impossible with God!

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hands-10-mfHope does not keep us bound in ropes that prevent us from achieving what God desires for us. Jeremiah 29:11-13 promises, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” This is one of my favorite Bible verses! However, while being confident in God’s hope we also need to be aware of the words to Timothy in I Timothy 5:17, Do not be arrogant nor put your hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but put your hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Our hope for the future needs to be based upon God’s kind of hope in order for us to fully succeed according to Gd’s plan. Most likely there will be times when we all will feel hopeless. When these times occur, we need to say with the Psalmist in Psalm 42:5, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” We also can find hope in Proverbs 23:18, “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” We never need to be fearful of the hope and the future the Lord has for us because of the promise found in Romans 5:5, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

spoon-of-strawberry-mfBiblical hope is based upon God’s promises. So, let’s go back to our bowl of cereal, the Bible, and find a few more spoonful of hope. As you dig deeply into God’s Word, may your spoon of life be filled with hope. I encourage you to look for a verse that is like a delicious strawberry on top of your cereal just for you. The Lord likes to fill our spoons of life with verses that are appropriate and appealing to our specific needs. Be filled with hope!

spoon of strawberry mfBut hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Romans 8:24-26 NIV

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.
Psalm 39:7 NAS

spoon of strawberry mfThe LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Psalm 147:11 NIV


You will be secure, because there is hope;
Job 11:18 NIV

The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Psalm 147:11 NIV


Be joyful in
hope
, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12 NIV

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
 Isaiah 40:31 NIV

I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.
Psalm 71:14 ESV

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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*Author’s choice to highlight hope in above scriptures.

 

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Memorials for Memorial Day

 

 

flags-and-stonesMost of us are looking forward to the upcoming long holiday weekend observing Memorial Day. It is a sobering fact that many people do not celebrate this holiday as it was originally intended. Memorial Day was instituted as a federal holiday in the United States to remember the men and women who died while serving in our country’s armed forces. It originated after the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers, but by the 20th century, the honor was extended in memory of all Americans who have died while in military service.

Today I want to think about how we can best fulfill the original intent of Memorial Day , but before I do that I want to share some scriptural background for creating memorials. In Joshua 4, we find the story of Joshua leading the Israelites across the Jordan River  into the Promised Land.

And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the
Jordan. He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants
ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed
the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan
before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the
Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before
us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the
earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you
might always fear the Lord your God.”
Joshua 4:20-24

After 40 years in the wilderness, Joshua wanted to be sure future generations would remember the faithfulness of God in leading His people out of slavery and into freedom. As the Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry ground, Joshua had one man from each of the 12 tribes carry on his shoulders a stone from the dry riverbed to the other side. With these 12 stones, they erected a memorial. The purpose of this memorial was to be a thankful reminder to the people of what God had done as well as it to be a structure future children would ask about. It would provide the opportunity for adults to share their story of deliverance with generations yet to come.

WWII_Memorial from wikipedia LINKviet nam memorial widipedia LINK

When I apply the scriptural account of Joshua building a memorial in the Promised Land to our remembering those who have given their lives for our country, I think about national monuments that have been built in Washington D.C. Right now I want to focus primarily upon the memorials erected in honor of veterans of World War II and the Vietnam War. I want to emphasize these two memorials because there are people still alive who served in these two wars. Visiting these memorials has brought healing to many men and women of our country. However, as we celebrate Memorial Day this year I suggest that we do more than just look at monuments we have built in honor of these military heroes. My Reader, do you know a veteran from either of these wars who you could visit on Memorial Day? Ask them to share with you some of their experiences. I realize soldiers often prefer to forget what they have encountered and I want to respect that but I also want them to know that we still care about what they did for our country. I want them to know their sacrifices are still appreciated.

The stories of soldiers that we may be privileged to hear are part of our nation’s history. Textbooks and news articles record one aspect of history but personal perspectives give us insights beyond the facts. Stories help historical facts come alive. Although I do not know the original source of the following phrase, I like its message. “Our story is HIStory.” Whether it be the story of Joshua leading the Israelites into the Promised Land or the individual story of each United States veteran, there is a tale to be told. Each story is a page of history and each story has the potential of being HIStory when God is given His place of honor within the story.

My Reader, I encourage you to make Memorial Day 2015 a day of honoring both the living and the dead. If you know of fallen heroes within your family, please honor them with flowers and flags on their graves. If you have friends and family who have previously served in the armed forces or are currently serving in our military, take time to thank them for their services and listen to their stories. Following the example of the Israelites who erected the stone memorial, may we remember that we are a nation under God. May we also follow Joshua’s example by honoring past generations and sharing their stories with future generations. There has been and continues to be a high price paid by our citizens in order for the United States of America to remain a free nation that honors God.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Another thought: I have focused upon the members of our armed forces today. However, I also encourage you to take time on Memorial Day to share with your children stories about the history of your family ancestors whom they may not have had the privilege of knowing. I also encourage you to make HIStory part of your family story that will be part of your genealogy.

A Cup of “T”

 

 

tea-cup-set-2My Reader, would you like to join me for a cup of “T” today? Before you continue reading, you may want to get yourself a cup of hot liquid. Then come back so you can sip a cup of tea while we share three more cups of “T.” The cups I offer to you will be filled with truth, trials and testimony.

 

tea-cup-correct-with-sppponWe are filling our first cup of “T” with truth. The best cup of liquid tea is made by brewing tea in hot water for several minutes. It also takes time to produce a cup of truth because there are situations where it can be hard to discern the truth from falsehood. In John 8:31-32, Jesus says, “If you continue in My word,… you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” If we are consistently in the Word (reading and meditating upon scripture), we can compare Christ in us to tea brewing in a cup of hot water. The result will be that we are set free when we drink this cup of “T.” Jesus goes on to say in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” So, may we allow the truth found in Jesus to brew in our cups of life. How do we get our cups filled and refilled with truth? John 4:24 says, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” So, we refresh our cups of life with truth whenever we truly worship the Lord.

 

tea-cup-with-teaMy Reader, you may not want to be as quick to accept the next cup of “T” that I offer to you. It is a cup of trials. None of us like trials, but we will all encounter them during our lives. Some varieties of tea produce a darker colored tea than others. The same is true with the days of our lives – some days are darker than others. James 1:2-4 encourages us by saying, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” In order for our cups of life to lack nothing, we have to accept the trials that are poured into our lives. Listen to the words of Jesus in Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” From a human perspective, even Jesus would have preferred not to endure trials but this cup was handed to Him by His Father. Think about what our situations might be like today if Jesus had not accepted the trial of the cross! Although not our favorite cup of “T,” as we sip our cup of trials, remember what is said in Romans 8:28, “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

 

tea-cup-correct-with-rose-sugarOne more cup of “T” is waiting for us today. This is the cup of testimony. This cup of “T” will have a different flavor for each of us. That is okay because I like different varieties of tea to drink on different days. Some days our life cups will be full of a strong testimony while other days may result in a weaker testimony. Some days I allow the tea to steep longer than other days. David says in Psalm 23:5, “You (the Lord) prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” While sitting at the table of life, we will be served cups of trials but the Holy Spirit will also be there pouring His presence into our cups brewing powerful testimonies. Revelation 12:11 says, “They triumphed over him (satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” May we be quick to share our testimonial cups of how the Lord enables us to not only to overcome but to go through our trials. We must ask for refills of this cup of “T” on a daily basis. I do not care to drink cold leftover tea and neither is an old stale testimony appealing to those around us.

 

tea-cup-goldAs I look at the emptiness of my cup of life, a few words from the old hymn Fill My Cup Lord by Richard Blanchard come to mind. I realize I need the “T”s in my cup of life to be refreshed. I sing the following words to the Lord, Fill my cup, Lord; I lift it up Lord; Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.”

My Reader, are you ready for another fresh cup of “T” before we conclude our tea party together? What kind of “T” do you want – truth, trials or testimony? The Lord promises to fill your cup!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Blessings for Mom

flower-in-handMay each mother reach out to receive her blessing from the Lord.
Happy Mother’s Day! 

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pink-flowerBlessed are you among women,
and blessed is the child you will bear!
Luke 1:42

Elizabeth spoke this blessing over Mary shortly after Mary found out that she was pregnant with the son of God. In observance of Mother’s Day this Sunday, I choose to speak this blessing upon all mothers who may read this blog. Yes, there was a special blessing placed upon Mary because she was chosen by God to be the mother of His son. However, I also want you, as a mom, to realize this blessing is for you because God chose you to be the mother of the children He has given to you.

At the same time, being blessed as a mom does not guarantee that it will be easy. Being a mother is one of the most difficult tasks a woman will ever undertake, yet it is a position for which she is probably least prepared. There is no Mothering for Dummies book available. Neither is there a mom shaped cookie cutter. A mother needs to uniquely love and nurture each of her children according to his or her personality. Having said this, I still see Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a good role model for motherhood today. Mary was blessed and all moms can be blessed while fulfilling their motherhood responsibilities. Let us look at the example Mary sets for moms.


pink-flower... she (Mary) gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no guest room available for them.
Luke 2:6-7

Mary cared for the physical needs of Jesus as a baby. We must care for the physical needs of our children.8606715653_3761c12e53_b

pink-flowerWhen the time came for the purification rites required
by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him
to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
Luke 2:22

Both Mary and Joseph took their newborn son to the temple to be dedicated as required by the Jewish Law. We, too, should assume the responsibility of dedicating our children to God. For some, this may involve infant baptism while for others it may be a dedication service.

pink-flowerAnd Jesus grew in wisdom and stature,
and in favor with God and man.
Luke 2:52

Mary provided opportunities for Jesus to grow educationally, physically, spiritually and socially. Today, we as moms still need to help our children mature in all of these areas.

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His mother (Mary) said to the servants,
“Whatever He says to you, do it.”
John 2:5

This verse of scripture is taken from the account of Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana. Mary knew it was time for Jesus to begin His public ministry and she encouraged Him to do so. I believe Mary set an example for us to encourage our children to become the men and women God created them to be. There comes a time for us to “untie the apron strings” and acknowledge our children as responsible adults.

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Someone said to Him (Jesus), “Behold, Your mother
and Your brothers are standing outside
seeking to speak to You.”
Matthew 12:47

Although Jesus was a grown man with His own ministry, Mary continued to follow Him and care about Him. Once a mom, always a mom! Our children never outgrow their need for our prayers, love and interest in their lives.

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But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother
John 19:25

Probably the most difficult task for Mary as the mother of Jesus was watching Him die. I hope I do not have to full this role as a mother. However, I do not think there is a mother who would not stand by the side of a dying son or daughter.


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When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple
whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His
mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He
said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From
that hour the disciple took her into his own
household.
John 19:26-27

While her son was dying on the cross for the sins of the world, I believe Mary was blessed. These words record how Jesus handed over the responsibility of  caring for His mother to John. Mary had successfully fulfilled her responsibility as His mother and Jesus wanted her to be cared for the remainder of her life. What a blessing to have so successfully nurtured her son that, even though He was in extreme pain, He remembered her. He loved her!

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Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
Proverbs 31:28

Mothers, your role is not easy but it is fulfilling. Mary received a blessing from her son. May your children bestow upon you the blessing promised in Proverbs 31 this Mother’s Day!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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