INDEPENDENCE DAY: PATRIOTISM & HOPE

Tomorrow — July 4th — is like any other day on most of the planet, but in the USA it is recognized as Independence Day. In pre-pandemic times celebrations would be held with many crowds gathered for special patriotic events.

On July 4, 1776, the status of 13 British colonies with taxation but no representation under the oppressive rule of King George III  changed significantly to the “United States of America.” Brave signers of the Declaration of Independence risked everything for freedom.

Requiring more than a document with signatures, a war was unavoidable between seemingly unimportant colonies and a powerful world force. The war would last 7 years and cost thousands of American lives, but with Providential help the USA emerged victor to become a light on a hill.

The new nation had one thing that led amateur soldiers to triumph over the threat to their freedom, their families, and their fortunes. Their very lives hung in the balance. They had patriotism, and that one essential thing gave them hope to carry on.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, patriotism is “love for or devotion to one’s country.” For about 250 years America has been home to many patriotic individuals. I am thankful that many Americans have patriotism today.

Patriotism is still greatly needed to maintain the Judeo-Christian heritage and national life gained and held by Founding Fathers. Has too much patriotism been lost? Has the light been extinguished? I think there is little doubt that it has dimmed and burns less brightly than it once did.

Whether celebrating jointly or separately patriotic music can be a part of our 4th of July. I recommend adding the songs below to your playlist. I am glad that recorded music is not quarantined.

As long as patriotism exists, I am hopeful for “one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” I admit that this is not reality now, but I prefer to be hopeful rather than hopeless.

Together may we heed an Old Testament verse that says, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14)

When God’s words are followed, then we may have real hope that can impact not just our nation but our planet. Tomorrow may we celebrate safely, fly our American flags, enjoy our music, show our patriotism, be hopeful, and pray. May we thank God everyday for our land of the free and our home of the brave.

 

PATRIOTIC SONGS:

THE PATRIOTIC MEDLEY
(Bates, Howe, Berlin)
I WILL STAND”  (Allegiance Trio)
IN GOD WE STILL TRUST”  (Diamond Rio)
MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”  (Gary Moore)
MAY GOD BLESS AMERICA
(Weldon Kennedy)
AMERICA”  (Chris Tomlin)
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL” (Katharine Bates)
“GOD BLESS AMERICA”  (Irving Berlin)

PLEDGE of ALLEGIANCE:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

DANNY GOKEY: HOPE IN FRONT OF ME

You may think that little has changed since my last post… still a pandemic around our planet… still problems in most places… still pain in many people… still panic in some hearts.

Where is hope? Today this is an important question to ask. It may be even more important to answer this question.

Danny Gokey saw the answer through eyes of faith. He expressed it musically and shared it in a song. Listen to “Hope in Front of Me” as often as needed and be blessed by his answer.

HOPE IN FRONT OF ME

“I’ve been running through rain
That I thought would never end
Trying to make it on faith
In a struggle against the wind.
I’ve seen the dark and the broken places,
But I know in my soul
No matter how bad it gets
I’ll be alright.

There’s hope in front of me.
There’s a light, I still see it.
There’s a hand still holding me
Even when I don’t believe it.
I might be down, but I’m not dead.
There’s better days still up ahead.
Even after all I’ve seen,
There’s hope in front of me.
There’s a place at the end of the storm.

You finally find
Where the hurt and the tears and the pain All fall behind.

You open up your eyes and up ahead
There’s a big sun shining.
Right then and there you realize
You’ll be alright.

There’s hope in front of me.
There’s a light; I still see it.
There’s a hand still holding me
Even when I don’t believe it.
I might be down, but I’m not dead.
There’s better days still up ahead.
Even after all I’ve seen,
There’s hope in front of me.

There’s a hope still burning.
I can feel it rising through the night,
And my world’s still turning.
I can feel Your love here by my side.

You’re my Hope.
You’re the light; I still see it.
Your hands are holding me.
Even when I don’t believe it
I’ve got to believe.
I still have hope.

YOU ARE MY HOPE.”

(Danny Gokey)

I am thankful for Gokey’s song and for his many others, too. I am thankful for faith to know the One Who is Gokey’s hope and my own as well.

Regardless of temporary darkness in this world, I am not hopeless. I know I am blessed. Christ’s light burns eternal, His grace is sufficient, His peace sustains, and His love never fails.

Where is hope? His HOPE is right in front of me.

 

Sometimes we don’t discover our purpose until the darkest moments strip us of everything, and all we are left with is brokenness and heartache. It is in these moments, ironically, when hope becomes our strength and carries us.”  (Danny Gokey)

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep for You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.”  (Psalm 4:8)

PEACEMAKERS: BLESSING AND HOPE

Protests… unrest… chaos… violence…. In many places on this planet there is no peace. In many lives peace has never been known. Does this describe your place… your life?

Sadly where there is no peace, there may be no hope.

I realize injustice exists. I understand life is too often unfair. Abuse and suffering reign in too many lives. What is to be done? How does one experience relief? Is peace even possible?

Peace… calm… rest… comfort…. To ponder these words may inspire some to reach toward achieving them. Unfortunately these words describe the opposite of reality for many who do not know how to obtain them.

Is there an answer to this dilemma? Is peace obtainable? The Bible teaches there is One Who is the Prince of Peace. Not only can He be known, He wants us to know and experience Him and the peace He offers.

It is no accident that He is called Prince of Peace. It was not on a whim or by chance. God knew this world would need peace, His peace. Contrary to those who do not understand His character and His timing, God provides that which we need. God understands our need, and He is our Provider, because He loves us so. That should give us hope.

When we seek Him and find Him, then we can become peacemakers and share the Prince of Peace and His peace that He gives. Then we are promised blessing.  “Blessed are the peacemakers” is a promise that brings hope.

As I am now mature enough to reflect on my life and past, I regret my failure at times to be a peacemaker. Although it is the past, these recollections should stir me to try harder and do better in the present to bring peace to others, to situations, to this planet.

I confess that those times of failure were when I chose to be defensive, to escalate situations, and even to retaliate. How much better it would have been to have chosen peace instead… to have been led by the Prince of Peace. I admit that so often I failed Him and missed His blessings.

Remembering that I can share peace only if I know the Prince of Peace, I look to Him — Jesus Christ — and to the Source of Wisdom, the Bible. I am thankful God provided this Book of Truth and especially that He gave the One Who is the Truth.

I am also thankful that when I make peace, I reap benefits — God’s blessings that include hope. God is good and faithful all the time. When I believe this, then it is my desire to be faithful, and that means making peace in a world where peace is desperately needed. Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant (you and) me peace (and hope) in every circumstance.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”  (Matthew 5:9)

Finally, brethren, rejoice! Be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”  (2 Corinthians 13:11)

Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance.”  (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”  (James 3:18)

Setting your goal to become a peacemaker like Jesus will bring God’s love and peace to your life.”  (Lynette Kittle)

“… if we can catch God’s vision of what it looks like to be a peacemaker — to bring harmony, security and rest to a difficult situation — it will allow us to feel secure and at rest in the midst of conflict. We can stand confident as children of God. By learning to give peace the way we receive peace from Jesus, His peace flows through our lives.”  (Nicki Koziarz)

“World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point. Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built.”  (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Continue reading “PEACEMAKERS: BLESSING AND HOPE”

JEREMY CAMP: HEARTBREAK AND HOPE

Jeremy Camp has more than a decade of successes as a minister singer and songwriter. With four million albums sold, four RIAA Gold albums, a multi-platinum DVD, three American Music Award nominations, and a GRAMMY nomination, he is influencing this planet with his inspired music. He has toured 25 times across the US and has performed in more than 30 countries. Camp calls himself, ‘a minister who happens to play music as a way to minister.'”

If you are not very knowledgeable about Jeremy Camp, then you may think his life is all rosey. Great musical successes… and now there is a movie that features him, his wife, and their marriage. “I Still Believe,” is a new movie about Camp… and his wife who died.

Wait…. His is a love story touched by death? He suffered great loss? He has known spiritual lows? Suddenly it does not sound so rosey. He has experienced lots of love… but love AND loss.

Focus on the Family’s Plugged In review of the film stated, “‘I Still Believe‘ is a poignant portrait of faith and doubt, love and grief, heartbreak and hope.'”

Jeremy Camp has allowed his experiences to bring into focus his priorities that give him hope and help him share that hope with the rest of us. His is a hope that helps him live through each day of his life and will lead him home when it ends. His hope is in Jesus Christ.

I remember hearing for the first time his song below. I immediately loved its meaningful and powerful message. I relate to its lyrics, and I think they will become even more meaningful as life becomes more challenging.

I am thankful that Camp expressed so beautifully his need and desire, because I realize they are mine also. Jeremy Camp, his ministry, his music, and especially his Savior all give me hope.

“Give Me Jesus”

“In the morning when I rise,
In the morning when I rise,
In the morning when I rise
Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world.
Just give me Jesus.

When I am alone,
When I am alone,
Oh, when I am alone
Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world.
Just give me Jesus.

Jesus.
Give me Jesus.

When I come to die,
When I come to die,
Oh, when I come to die
Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world.
Just give me Jesus.”

(Jeremy Camp)

EDGAR HARRELL:  SURVIVAL, COURAGE, AND HOPE

To commemorate our recent Memorial Day I viewed David Barton’s 2017 interview with Edgar Harrell (1924-2020).  He was one of the Greatest Generation and endured extraordinary circumstances in 1945 shortly before WW2 ended. Those circumstances found him in desperate need of hope.

The USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by an enemy submarine and quickly sank in only 12 minutes. Onboard were 1,196 military members from both US Navy and US Marines. Sadly only 316 would survive the sinking known as the greatest single loss of life at sea from a single ship in US Naval history.

Harrell’s testimony of his experiences relate hope even today 75 years later. He received much-needed hope by recognizing God’s providence, by receiving His peace and courage, and by a miraculous survival against great odds.

To learn more about this American hero’s true story of how God’s providence helped him survive shipwreck, shark attacks, and being lost four days in the Pacific Ocean, then read his book or visit his website at Indysurvivor.com.

Harrell’s personal story is featured in his book, OUT OF THE DEPTHS: An Unforgettable WW2 Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis, co-authored by his son, David Harrell.

Also an interview with Harrell can be heard anytime at WallBuildersLive.com. Parts of his story are given below in Harrell’s own words from a transcript of an interview by Rick Green.

“From a spiritual standpoint, I have to say that I was just so fortunate that somehow, someway that the mercy of the Lord that I know and serve; somehow, someway He enabled me to endure…. It’s just a consolation just to hear and know and to be able to tell of the providence of God to bring me through such an ordeal….” (Edgar Harrell)

“I can’t take any credit for the fact that I endured other than the fact that when I left that ship… I was actually believing, praying, and asked the Lord to give me some assurance that I’m going to survive.” (EH)

Then to have a Scripture come to mind from just a little Sunday School boy a few years before, ‘I’ll never leave you or forsake you.’ Not audibly, but I knew.Peace I give unto you not as the world give unto you, let not your hearts be troubled, don’t be afraid.’ That was ringing in my ears. I say to the Lord, ‘You’re speaking to my heart; I’m going to make it.'” (EH)

“But then I wondered, wondered, wondered these next… days when I would see a buddy next to me that… his torso is gone, then maybe he bumps into you, and he leaves part of that residue of the decayed body on you, and you wear that, you know you wonder if you’re not going to be the next one. But then to look back on all of that, and it makes a different person out of you….” (EH)

Wounds, aggressive shark attacks, dehydration, and hypothermia were now increasingly against those who had lived long enough to get off the rapidly sinking ship. By the time they were rescued four days later 20-year-old Harrell was still alive.

“Now there was a big story in those four and a half days… from the time that I left the ship until I was picked up…. Now that is God’s Providence working in my life. I have a wonderful story to tell, and that’s recorded in my book, too.” (EH)

Many will remember Harrell’s unforgettable experience as a story of survival and courage. To me it is also a story of hope, and I shall remember that God provided the hope for Marine Corporal Harrell just when he needed it most.

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them for the Lord your God is the One Who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”  (Deuteronomy 31: 6)

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”  (John 14: 27)

“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”  (Matthew 14: 27)

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.”  (Psalm 139: 7-10)

RAVI ZACHARIAS: LIFE AND LEGACY OF HOPE

Ravi Zacharias (1946 – 2020) was a Christian apologist and author of more than 30 books on Christianity including Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s Gold Medallion Book Award winner, CAN MAN LIVE WITHOUT GOD? His life blessed this planet, and although he recently moved on to heaven, his legacy will continue to impact this world.

His messages via radio, television, worldwide web, and writings blessed me personally for almost four decades. I began listening to his radio programs in the 1980’s, which led me to read several books he authored and to listen eagerly at every opportunity. His messages were worth hearing and full of hope in Jesus Christ.

Ravi was probably my favorite Christian speaker to whom to listen. He made me think, and he always directed my thoughts toward the Subject of his messages — Jesus Christ. His program, “Let My People Think,” was named appropriately. Both as a listener and a reader I was always challenged to think. I was led to Hope, Truth, and Love all found in the One he knew well and followed closely.

Because of Christ Ravi’s physical life was saved from a suicide attempt when he was 17 in India, and then his life radically turned from hopelessness to one full of hope. He devoted his life work to sharing the same hope with humanity, and his messages reached millions that include me. His spiritual life was saved by Christ to prepare him for eternity.

I found Ravi to be a brilliant intellectual apologist that touched me every time I heard him speak or read his books. He did not seek personal glory but was held in high regard for his faithfulness. His walk matched his talk.

Ravi’s impact will not end with his death. His legacy goes on, because he used the gifts God gave him. He left us with so many evidences of what matters in this life and so much wisdom for the one to come. If you are not familiar with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), seek to learn more. Especially seek the Lord of his faith and His hope.

When I learned that Ravi had died, my first thought was this: “Now his faith is sight.” I want that statement to be true of me when I leave this life. I want to be sure the legacy I leave counts. I am thankful for Ravi Zacharias, because he was used greatly to build and strengthen my personal faith. His faithful and hopeful life leaves a powerful and hopeful legacy.

 

Beginning well is a momentary thing; finishing well is a lifelong thing.”  (Ravi Zacharias)

My goal is to satisfy the hunger and longing for those who are seeking the truth.”  (RZ)

There is no greater discovery than seeing God as the author of your destiny.”  (RZ)

One often sees a call only in retrospect. This, too, is God’s design. God often reinforces our faith after we trust him not before.”  (RZ)

What I believe in my heart must make sense in my mind.”  (RZ)

Faith is a thing of the mind. If you do not believe that God is in control and has formed you for a purpose, then you will flounder on the high seas of purposelessness, drowning in the currents and drifting further into nothingness.”  (RZ)

“Love is a command not just a feeling. Somehow, in the romantic world of music and theater we have made love to be what it is not. We have so mixed it with beauty and charm and sensuality and contact that we have robbed it of its higher call of cherishing and nurturing.”  (RZ)

“Truth that is not undergirded by love makes the truth obnoxious and the possessor of it repulsive.”  (RZ)

“One of the most staggering truths of the Scriptures is to understand that we do not earn our way to heaven. …works have a place – but as a demonstration of having received God’s forgiveness not as a badge of merit of having earned it.”  (RZ)

“I do not believe that one can earnestly seek and find the priceless treasure of God’s call without a devout prayer life. That is where God speaks. The purpose of prayer and of God’s call in your life is not to make you number one in the world’s eyes, but to make Him number one in your life. We must be willing to be outshone while shining for God. We hear very little about being smaller in our own self-estimate.”  (RZ)

“It was not the volume of sin that sent Christ to the cross; it was the fact of sin.”  (RZ)

“Unless I understand the Cross, I cannot understand why my commitment to what is right must take precedence over what I prefer.”  (RZ)

“Goodness can endure a few moments; holiness is life-defining.”  (RZ)

MORE WARING POETRY: MORE HOPE

In Heavenly Love Abiding,” a poem by Anna L. Waring, was featured at this blogsite on March 27, 2020. If you missed it, look back and read “ANNA WARING POEM: HOPE BEYOND MEASURE” to learn a little about the poet and to let that inspired poem bless you as it does me.

In view of the continuing global pandemic, I think it is time for another dose of hope; hence more Waring poetry. Find another inspired poem below that expresses the love which I desire to become true in my life.

Read it over and over to let it speak to you personally. Allow it to soak into your soul. Look to the One Who is the Object of the poet’s devotion. Ponder the poem’s message. Do not fear, wait on Him, and have your spirit filled. Receive His strength and hope that we all need today.

FATHER, I KNOW THAT ALL MY LIFE

“Father, I know that all my life is portioned out for me,
And the changes that are sure to come I do not fear to see;
But I ask Thee for a present mind intent on pleasing Thee.

I ask Thee for a thoughtful love through constant watching wise,
To meet the glad with joyful smiles and to wipe the weeping eyes;
And a heart at leisure from itself to soothe and sympathize.

I would not have the restless will that hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child and guided where I go.

Wherever in the world I am in whatso’er estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts to keep and cultivate;
And a work of lowly love to do for the Lord on whom I wait.

So I ask Thee for the daily strength to none that ask denied,
And a mind to blend with outward life while keeping at Thy side;
Content to fill a little space if Thou be glorified.

And if some things I do not ask in my cup of blessing be,
I would have my spirit filled the more with grateful love to Thee,
More careful not to serve Thee much but to please Thee perfectly.

There are briers besetting every path that call for patient care;
There is a cross in every lot and an earnest need for prayer;
But a lowly heart that leans on Thee is happy anywhere.

In a service which Thy will appoints there are no bonds for me;
For my inmost heart is taught ‘the truth’ that makes Thy children ‘free,’
And a life of self-renouncing love is a life of liberty.”

(Anna L. Waring)

“…I love You, O LORD, my strength.”  (Psalm 18:1)

Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.”  (Psalm 27:14)

Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.”  (Psalm 100:2)

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)

Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  (Matthew 16:24-26)

And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  (Romans 5:5)

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

Not that I speak from want for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:11-13)

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians: 16-18)

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”  (1 John 4:18)

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”  (1 John 5:3)

GREG LAURIE: HOPE IS HOLDING ON

According to Greg Laurie, hope can be defined in an acrostic. H-O-P-E … Holding On with Patient Expectation.

Holding on” is often hard and “with patient expectation” is usually harder. With God doing the holding on, however, Laurie’s life has become a life that epitomizes hope.

Laurie’s life as a child was harder than difficult, and by the time he was seventeen he was more hopeless than hopeful. His mother’s life was filled with alcoholism and seven marriages and divorces. His life was full of being raised in his mother’s dysfunctional instability sometimes and by his grandparents and military school at other times.

Now fast forward… to the present. Today finds Pastor Greg involved in many endeavors, all helping others in some way or another. His changed life was not a random happenstance but planned and directed by the Master Designer. Thankfully Greg made some right choices along the way that accepted God’s having His way. Greg chose to hold on, but more importantly God held on to Greg.

Now Greg Laurie is Senior Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship located in California and Hawaii. It has consistently ranked among the most influential churches in America and has been affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention for about three years.

At age nineteen his first pastoral role in ministry was leading  Bible study to a group of thirty. God blessed and brought an increase from that first small group to a church with approximately 15,000 to make it one of the largest churches in the country.

Pastor Greg has held Harvest Crusades, his name for evangelistic events, for approximately thirty years. Almost eight million people have been reached by these Crusades in the United States alone.

In 2012 Pastor Greg’s Harvest America first brought internet simulcast live HD video to thousands of locations across America. More than 300,000 Americans attended, and Harvest America ranks as one of the largest gospel presentations ever. The Crusades also expanded internationally to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. An important result is that 506,644 people professed faith in Christ following these events.

Pastor Greg speaks on the nationally syndicated radio program, A New Beginning, on more than 800 radio sources around the world. He also has a weekly television program on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and appears on multiple television news programs as well. Besides working at Harvest Ministries, he has served as an Honorary Chairman of the National Day of Prayer and is a member of the board of directors of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He received honorary doctorates from Biola University and Azusa Pacific University.

In addition to his many ministry activities, Pastor Greg is an author of more than seventy books. His bibliography includes Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon; Jesus Revolution; Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon; Live Love Fight; Tell Someone; The New Believer’s Bible Hope for Hurting Hearts; and his own story revealed in his autobiography, Lost Boy.

His documentary film, “Lost Boy: The Next Chapter,” and film “Hope for Hurting Hearts,” have won awards at international film festivals. “Steve McQueen: American Icon,” features the true story of the legendary actor coming to salvation in Christ.

Greg’s personal successes include being married to wife Cathe for more than forty years. Together their marriage has been blessed with two sons and five grandchildren.

It is apparent that God has blessed Greg Laurie and his ministry. I am thankful that God uses him to share the blessings that bring faith, hope, and love to our planet. God has transformed his life from a near hopeless childhood to hopeful Christian leadership. Because of God’s transforming power, my own life has been blessed with the same hope that Greg Laurie shares.

I am thankful that God’s hope is apparent in this man’s life. His example reminds me to hold on with expectation when life is difficult. When that becomes too hard, I will thank God that He is holding onto me… to God be the glory!

 

Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you to love the Lord your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”  (Joshua 22:5)

Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.  (Psalm 37:3-5)

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way.”  (Psalm 37:23)

“Serve the Lord with gladness….”  (Psalm 100:2)

And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (Matthew 19:26)

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’”  (Matthew 25:21)

For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”  (Romans 8:24, 25)

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect… Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. (Romans 12:1,2,11)

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”  (1 Corinthians 15:58)

For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” (Hebrews 6:10)

PANDEMIC: HOPE OR FEAR

We all are aware that a deadly virus is spreading fear across our planet. What can we do? How shall we cope? Where can we find hope?

Many people offer ways to cope with fear, and some try to offer hope even in the midst of a pandemic. (I do not have all the answers, but I know Who does.)

That which we face right now is beyond our control, but we can choose how we react to our new world condition. So then… how do we react to the overwhelming uncertainty that is our current reality?

First each one of us needs to know without a doubt that we are God’s child. We can choose to exercise His gift of faith, and if we have prayed sincerely to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, we can know.

When we know Him, then we can experience hope in whatever we face in life. We turn from going our own way to going His way. We learn His way by reading His Word and spending time with Him in prayer.

We need to refuse to dwell on fear and negativity. We can choose to focus on God’s Word instead. When we feel fear creeping into our minds, we can feed on Scriptures that share His hope and His promises.

We can pray for His peace and comfort in our current circumstance — whatever it is. We can choose to intentionally experience His presence knowing that He will never leave us nor forsake us according to His Word. In fact, God’s Holy Spirit is here to comfort us.  Knowing this brings hope to any circumstance.

We can acknowledge that God is in control of our lives, and nothing takes Him by surprise. We can remember that He cares for us. He loves us so much that He provided our salvation — a sacrifice not given lightly to then leave us abandoned to the ways of a world spinning out of control or to an evil randomly having its own way. We can trust God to finish what He started in the world and in our individual lives. Again, knowing this brings hope to our lives.

May we acknowledge and accept God’s providential will when we recognize it. May we pray for discernment, so we will be aware of His purposes. When we understand His will we can experience His hope.

May we study His Book — the Holy Bible — so we can trust the ending of His story. If we do this then we can look forward without fear. May we believe that His way is best and that our future includes a glorious eternity in His presence with a home Jesus Christ has prepared just for us. When we trust Him for the world to come, we can trust Him in this one. That is real hope.

Also we can care for those around us. We can share the hope that we have in Christ with others, who may be struggling with fear. If we personally know His love, then we will have enough hope to share.

We will contemplate God’s love and care whenever we feel fear overpower our faith. We will practice prayer, choose faith, meditate on the Scriptures, and intentionally respond in hope not in fear.

I do not pretend to know the details of our future lives, but I believe the Bible that says all things will be for our good and His glory. Beyond this I will leave the details to Him. Although that is sometimes easier said than done, I believe He is worthy of our faith and trust.

He alone is God. In Him alone our hope is found. Since He is still on His throne, I can sleep at night knowing that He has got this pandemic.

 

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”  (1 John 5:13)

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?”  (Psalm 27:1)

“But He [Jesus] answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”  (Matthew 4:4)

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper that He may be with you forever.”  (John 14:16)

“For I am confident of this very thing that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6)

“And 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.”  (Romans 8:28)

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains from where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day nor the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”  (Psalm 121:1-8)

MOVIE QUOTE & SONG LYRICS: HOPE & LOVE

I have not seen the 2020 movie, “Call of the Wild,” yet a quote from it kept speaking to me. While reading about the latest film based on the classic story by Jack London, I learned that Perrault, a mailman, says, “You see, Buck, we don’t carry mail. We carry lives. We carry hope. We carry love.”

I pondered the mailman’s comments and realized that this character said he did the very thing that Christian believers should do. I believe we should carry hope and love everywhere we go. They should be such deep-rooted parts of our being that we cannot go anywhere without those two elements being seen and felt by others. Everywhere around us are people who need hope and  love, so we need to share.

There are many song lyrics by talented Oscar Hammerstein II that I like very much. One of my all-time favorite movies is the 1959 award-winning musical, “The Sound of Music,” so I remember Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s song, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” The introduction for the reprise was not used in the film but is in theater versions. I like what those lyrics say about love:

“A bell is no bell till you ring it,
A song is no song till you sing it,
And love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay —
Love isn’t love till you give it away.”  (Hammerstein)

Perhaps love that remains in a heart and never given away is not real love. Maybe love that is real has to be shared. I think Mr. Hammerstein understood love the way it ought to be.

Don Roth and Timmy Tappan, two songwriters, were inspired by and borrowed from Hammerstein’s lyrics when they wrote “Love Isn’t Love (‘Til You Give It Away)”, a song recorded by Reba McEntire:

A smile’s not a smile until it wrinkles your face.
A bell’s not a bell without ringing.
A home’s not a home when there’s nobody there.
A song’s not a song without singing.

Love isn’t love till you give it away.
Love isn’t love till it’s free.
The love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay.
Oh, love isn’t love till you give it away.”
(Roth and Tappan)

I have said that I have enough hope to share, and I try to do that via this blog. When I write about hope, am I sharing love as well? Love is said to multiply or increase when it is given away. Does it decrease when not shared? It seems selfish to try to keep love to oneself, and real love is not selfish.

It is generally understood that we cannot give that which we do not have. Who is the Source of love and hope? Where are they found? How are they accessed? Good questions! I know Who has answers.

According to the Book with answers to Life’s questions, the Christian’s Bible, God is Love. He wants to share His love that is found in Jesus Christ. To experience His love and hope (and forgiveness, peace, joy, and every good gift), one has only to accept Him as Savior and Lord. This is how one can have enough hope and love to share. Knowing Him, following Him, and trusting Him cause our faith, hope, and love to increase. The more we share, the more we will have.

If we know Jesus, then we carry love, and we carry hope — just as Perrault wisely equated with carrying mail. May we be intentional to not only carry but leave hope and love everywhere we go. When the world looks at us, may they see hope and love. May they see Jesus. They will if we carry His light to the world that seems to be growing darker.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,  does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1  Corinthians 13:4-7)

“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness but according to His mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7)

Beloved, let us love one another for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” (1 John 4:7-21)