Home 2019 September 30 40 Days of Hope Week 1

40 Days of Hope Week 1

(Devotions are written by Pastor Brenda unless otherwise indicated.)

Day 1 Monday, September 30

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19

You are invited to join the Muir’s Chapel family in a 40 day journey of hope. Most of us have had moments, days, even seasons, when we felt like giving up. We have experienced times when we have doubted the light at the end of the tunnel and have been unable to envision any future at all.

In these next 40 days, read again just a sampling of the many scriptures in the Bible about hope. Reflect on the difference between the hope of people in general and Christian hope. Remember that God is always with you. Rejoice that God is forgiving and reaches out to us again and again. When your world gets shaky, find assurance that God is faithful and is a sure anchor.

I invite you to begin today by simply reading God’s Word below and hold on to these promises:

“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13  (NRSV)

“But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (NLT)

“I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13: 5 (NRSV)

“Lord, I am trusting in Your promises.  Fill me with all joy and peace in believing. Help me to find new strength.  Though I may not be able to see the future You have for me at this moment, or how this situation is going to work out, fill me with a hope that grants me the spiritual courage to move forward.”

{ For each day- if there is someone in your life that needs hope, pray particularly for that individual to have hope in God that will be an anchor for their life.}

Day 2 Tuesday, October 1

“But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8: 24b-25 (NIV)

There is a difference between the hope of people generally and Christian hope. Hope, in general, is easier when we can reasonably expect a certain outcome. If your ball team has won five consecutive games, you are going to be rather hopeful about the outcome of the next match. If we are afflicted with a cold, it is reasonable to hope that we will improve in a matter of days.

We use the word ‘hope’ in casual conversations. We hope our vacation week at the beach will be filled with sunshine. We hope to get home from the meeting in time for our favorite show. I imagine that our younger son felt a little frustrated with us a few years back when we joked with him about becoming grandparents. I remember our comment that “…it would be a lot easier to hold on to that hope if you were at least dating someone.”

The hope talked about in the Bible is the “ I can barely breathe….will we ever get through this…hanging by a thread….” hope. It is hoping against hope. It is recognizing that God is more powerful than any circumstance we are experiencing. In the Bible, it is Abraham and Sarah having a child well beyond their child bearing years. It is the woman who had been suffering for twelve years, still reaching out to touch Jesus’ garment hoping for healing. It is Peter being forgiven after his staunch threefold denial of Jesus.

Christian hope is hope in God’s power and presence with us. It is hope in God’s love for us. It is hope in God’s choice to forgive and save us. It is hope in all of God’s promises to us that are sure and steady- an anchor for every time.

“Lord, there are so many people who need to know that You are more powerful than their circumstance. There are people weighed down by their mistakes and need to know that we do not have to carry our mistakes with us throughout our lives. There are those who are sick because their hopes have been dashed and their dreams have died. Draw them close to You. Help them to dream a new dream You have for them. Assure them of forgiveness.  Fill them with the hope in You that grants the spiritual courage to move forward.”

Day 3  Wednesday, October 3

“18 Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.”  Romans 4: 18 (NRSV)

“I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” Genesis 12:2 (NRSV)

What are some of the more important promises you have made? In Sunday’s message, we talked about how our lives are built on promises. Big and little promises shape us. We learn to trust when promises are kept. We feel loved and important when promises are made and honored on our behalf.  If you have been on the end of a broken promise, you know the pain. A child feels heartbroken when a parent misses an event they promised to attend. As adults, we realize that unforeseen circumstances can prevent us from keeping such a promise, but the child does not understand.

In Genesis 12, God makes an unbelievable promise to Abraham. In fact, the Bible contains more than 7000 promises.  In our 40 days of hope, we will reflect on just a few of these promises. This promise to Abraham was given to him when he was already old and his wife was beyond child bearing years, yet God promised that Abraham’s descendants would be more numerous than the stars. God was faithful to this promise, and is faithful to all of His promises to you and me. In fact, the most amazing of all our gifts is the gift of God’s faithfulness to us.

In the Bible, God’s promises are often called covenants. I want you to reflect today on the characteristics of these covenants:

  • God initiates them. (God desires a relationship with us.)
  • The intent of the covenants is always to save.
  • They are agreements of grace.

We tend to think of covenants as contracts, and most of us have had a few less than ideal experiences with contracts. Worldly contracts seldom have our best interest at heart. They are designed to see that the company secures the most profit. There are hidden fees and it can be daunting to read all the fine print. It is not uncommon to find ourselves stuck with the free phone that really isn’t free or the cable contract you can’t

cancel. In a segment on ‘contract horror stories’, one small business shared that “Our 5-year copier contract expired… and just as we were about to run a new bid, we were notified that, because we hadn’t provided advance notice of non-renewal for an expiring contract, our contract was automatically renewed and we were stuck for another year.” ( https://www.sourcingalliance.org/locked-in-and-locked-out-contract-horror-stories)

God has our best interest at heart.  God’s covenants are about God’s love for us. God’s covenants are covenants of mercy with the intent to save. Our hope is in a forgiving loving God who keeps His promises to us. God’s promises are a sure anchor no matter the storm.

“Lord, what heartache I have experienced because of broken promises. Sometimes I wonder if anyone truly loves me. And Lord, I realize that I have hurt others with broken promises. Lord, forgive me for hurting others and help me to forgive those who have hurt me. Lead me to put my hope in Your promise of forgiveness. Help me to completely trust that You always have my best interest at heart. Fill me with the hope in You that grants the spiritual courage to move forward.”

Day 4  Thursday, October 5

“I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13: 5 (NRSV)

Loneliness is a surefire reason people feel hopeless. Human beings have an innate need to connect. God made us to be in relationship with Him. God made us to be in relationship to each other. Psychologists often report that loneliness is even a factor in many critical diseases. My mother, in her nineties, has talked often about the number of friends she has lost. There are fewer cards to send each Christmas and fewer phone calls. But you do not have to be a senior citizen to feel lonely. Employers relocate employees often and children move to new school systems and adults leave friend circles. Even people with large families and an active social life can feel lonely.

I feel the most lonely when I do not believe that I have the support system to help me with a problem or situation. I feel alone when I do not believe others can empathize or understand. I remember vividly waiting in an airport by myself to make my connection to California. Our older son needed his family, and I was the only one able to travel immediately. When my worries started to feel like the proverbial elephant taking my last breath away, my phone rang. I did not recognize the number, but I quickly recognized the voice.  “I know you have a lot going on, and God nudged me to call and pray with you.”

Wow! God does know how to send a messenger. I don’t know how many people saw me cry in the airport, but I know that prayer wrapped around me like God’s very arms.

We are never alone. Pray. Ask God to show you the person to share your hard situation with. God is with you. God created us to be in communities so that we will never face anything on our own.

Listen, wholeheartedly and without judgment, to others experiencing difficult circumstances. Pray for them, and check in often. God calls you to stay in connection with others.

Lord, thank You for always being with me. Thank You for others You have put in my path just when I needed them. Thank You for the hope given me when loneliness threatened to overwhelm me. Lord, put me in somebody’s path when they most need a prayer, a word of encouragement, a listening ear, or just the assurance that they are not alone. Fill me with the hope in You that grants the spiritual courage to move forward.”

Day 5 Friday, October 6

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[a] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21: 4 (NIV)

“33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” John 11: 33-36 (NIV)

Grieving a loss is another reason people feel hopeless. In fact, I believe that grieving is the hardest work we do on earth. Yet we grieve because we love, and love is the greatest gift. I have come to understand that grieving is a necessary part of the journey towards healing and moving forward. It is vital that we give ourselves space and time when we grieve, and that we are good to ourselves. It is also important that we share our grief and not try to go it alone. Be honest, cry, hide sometimes, but not too long.

God offers numerous verses of comfort throughout the Bible. I think God especially included the story of Lazarus’ death so that we know that Jesus wept. Jesus lost a good friend, and he felt the overwhelming sorrow of Lazarus’ sisters. Jesus understands the depth of our sadness. Jesus walks through the valley of the shadow of death with us. God’s power is greater than death itself. This is our hope. In I Thessalonians 4: 13-14, we read, “ But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about those who have died,[b] so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.(NRSV)

“Lord, grieving is too hard. I can’t do this. Show me how to hold on to you and get through this valley that seems to stretch for miles and miles. Give me the courage to reach out to others for support. Help me to have hope for reunion with loved ones, for joy, for the future You have prepared. Lord, send me to another who is grieving that I will be a source of hope. Fill me and fill all who grieve with the hope in You that grants the spiritual courage to move forward.”

Day 6 Saturday, October 7

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43: 25 (NIV)

“9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9 (NIV)

“13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3: 13 (NIV)

One reason we despair and especially need hope is that we mess up. Last Sunday, we shared about broken promises. When someone consistently breaks promises, the relationship deteriorates. Trust, faith, and hope are interrelated. It is difficult to trust someone who lets you down even once, but it becomes almost impossible to have faith in someone who continually breaks promises and fails to value you or the relationship.

Yet, we stumble again and again. In fact, we often stumble over the same old thing again and again. We get angry and say words we regret. We make selfish decisions. We allow our pride to matter more than the relationship. We lie. We are greedy and fail to be grateful to God for our many gifts. We share sparingly.

God promises, however, to forgive us. In fact, the Bible is the story of God giving humanity another and another chance. It is the story of an unbelievably gracious God who sees our weakness and our absolute inability to fix the world and yet offers us grace again. God does not quit on us. We can trust God’s promise to forgive us when we come to him. We have hope because God’s nature is a forgiving nature. It is connection to God’s grace that gives us hope.

An important part of God’s plan is that we learn to forgive others because God has forgiven us. This is one way we are ‘hope-bearers’. Have you ever avoided someone for fear that they have not forgiven you and still harbor anger? It is an uncomfortable feeling. Forgiveness brings with it peace and renewed relationships. What a gift for us to offer one another.

“Lord, I have messed up again. Are You tired of forgiving me? Assure me of Your unending grace. Help me to humbly listen to Your voice of loving correction. As I find comfort and hope in Your forgiveness, lead me to forgive others. Fill me with the hope in You that grants the spiritual courage to forgive and move forward towards restored relationships and second chances.”

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