Put Your Hope in God

“When you wish upon a star, Makes no difference who you are…la, la, la, la.” Ever since 1940 this song has put hope in the hearts of many children.

Eventually the children are taught that it’s not so much wishing on stars, but instead it’s hard work, wise choices, and “a little bit ‘o luck” that will get you everything you have ever hoped for – at least we hope so!

Consider King Solomon. He applied himself in many ways, and there is much we can learn from his many sayings in Proverbs. Yet as he somewhat sadly reflected over his life and accomplishments in Ecclesiastes 2, he pointed out, “Who can have enjoyment without Him?” and later, “Remember Your Creator.”  We must place our hope in God alone, for this world offers no guarantees. As Solomon said, we “do not know what misfortune may occur” (Ecclesiastes 11:2).

276 guys can attest to that in Acts 27:9-44, when they took a lively trip on a ship to Rome. With a sense of foreboding from the beginning, they sailed away from their safe harbor, “hoping somehow” to complete the trip (Acts 27:12 HCSB). From our view centuries later, we know God was completely in charge of the trip and they were safe as could be in the will of God. But at that time, from what they knew, the passengers could only hope the captain knew what he was doing (he didn’t), they could only hope the wind would cooperate (it didn’t), and they could only hope various attempts to shore up the ship would help (they didn’t.)

For fourteen dark days and darker nights, wave upon wave crashed against that ship and broke down every particle of hope until “All hope…was gradually abandoned” (Acts 27:20). Sometimes it takes getting that desperate to turn to God. At least now they were open to hear Paul tell them of an angel’s visit on their ship, who said that all could be saved – if they would trust and obey the One who controlled the waves. Some had a little trouble with the plan, but in the end, they all stayed together as instructed; and everyone was safely brought to shore.

Reading on in Acts 28, we see the story didn’t end then. Instead God arranged some bonus R & R on the lovely island of Malta. It must have been like a revival, with miracles happening andHope in God people honoring each other. It was truly beyond anything they could have ever hoped for. Isn’t God wonderful?

Just think of it this way, to place your hope in God is a “win/win” for every believer, with “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”

Paul summed it up toward the end of his life,

The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. 2 Tim 4:18a

With hope like that, we can sing with the psalmist, “Why so downcast, o my soul, put your hope in God” (Psalms 43:5).

About the Writer:
Ruthe Turner is Director of Truett Memorial Library of First Baptist Church Dallas, where you will find a treasure-trove of resources concerning the Hope of God.  You are invited to visit the library in person or on-line at www.firstdallas.org/library

Waiting with Expectation

Now, I would guess if you cleared some time in your busy schedule this morning to spend a few minutes with your Creator, you did not go searching for encouragement from the book of Lamentations. The name alone is a little depressing. Lamentations means “the passionate expression of grief or sorrow; weeping.” As a girl who does NOT enjoy “a good cry” or even understand the meaning of “a good cry,” I do my best to avoid all things sad, depressing, or unfortunate.
However, let me encourage you to see past the title and into the beauty of this book. It is so much more than mourning and sadness. It is a book of hope! When the prophet Jeremiah poured out his heart in this book, the people of Judah had just been taken into Babylonian captivity. Here is a picture of Jeremiah’s emotional and spiritual state as he wrote this book:

“My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, ‘My strength has perished, And so has my hope from the Lord.’” Lamentations 3:17-18

Pretty dismal isn’t it? Well, the first time I really read Laminations was a pretty dismal time in my life. I Hope of God Picturehad just received a phone call that ended a relationship I had placed a lot of my hope in. As the Lord led me to Lamentations that night, I cried right along side Jeremiah. At first I cried tears of sadness, mourning the loss of the hope I had in that relationship. However, as I kept reading, my tears of mourning turned to tears of hope, not hope in that relationship, but hope in the truth of who my God is even in the midst of hardship.

This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:21-25

In the middle of Jeremiah’s mourning over sin and bondage, he recalled to his mind (he set his mind on) the truth of who God is. He even praised God for His lovingkindness, compassion, and sufficiency. The word “hope” he uses in these verses means “to wait; to be patient, stay, tarry, trust, wait.¹” God’s people were going to spend a total of 70 years in captivity. Seventy years…talk about waiting. Hoping in the Lord often means waiting with expectation. In our times of mourning we are called to:

  • Set our minds on the Lord alone
  • Praise God for who He is and what He’s promised
  • Wait with expectation for God to fulfill His promises

Maybe you feel like you’ve been in mourning for 70 years or you have 70 years of hardship ahead of you. Let me encourage you to try something crazy and read through Laminations this week. I pray you will see great hope in the midst of mourning, so, that like Jeremiah, you may learn wait on God with great expectation.

¹James Strong, A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 49.

About the Writer:
Kate has the privilege of serving as the Girls Ministry Director at Frist Baptist Dallas.  She has a heart for helping girls come to know and build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She is also contributor to Lifeway Girls Ministry resources.  

Does My Life Matter?

When one of my daughter’s high school classmates took his life it made me wonder how anyone could get to the point of such intense hopelessness that they would take their own life.

Psalms 139:14a and 16 state:

“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; 
And in Your book were all written 
The days that were ordained for me, 
When as yet there was not one of them.”

Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:29-31 just how valuable we are in God’s sight:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

No matter how extreme the circumstances of your life, there is someone who cares and will help you face your current situation.  That someone is Jesus.  John 3:16-17 tells us:

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

HopelessnesDoes my life matter?s occurs when we are so focused on our problems that we fail to look outside ourselves for help. If you are feeling hopeless in any situation, you need to be aware that God is willing to meet you right where you are. You don’t need to change anything to accept His offer of eternal life as well as His offer to see you through any situation you might be facing. He loves us right where we are, just as we are, because He created us. It is His desire that we all have eternal life and that the life that we live on this earth be abundant.

Jesus tells us in John 12:46-47:

I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me would not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My words and doesn’t keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

About the Writer:
Anna Schaefer leads the W.E. C.A.R.E. team for the Women’s Ministry of First Baptist Dallas, a widow, a mom, a grandmother and grateful to the Lord for giving her opportunities to share with other women in several ministries through First Baptist Dallas.

Jesus – He is Hope

What does the Christian religion bring to your mind? Christianity often invokes images of pious people looking down their noses at the shortcomings of others. Just as dangerously, particularly in many developing countries, Christianity is seen as a Western religion that brings material prosperity.

But beyond these misguided popular views of Christianity is Jesus.

Many acknowledge that Jesus was a prophet and a good man. But did you know Jesus claimed to be God? See some things Jesus said about Himself:

  • “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6
  • “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”  John 8:12
  • “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”  Matthew 28:18

As our pastor, Dr. Robert Jeffress, has pointed out you have to reconcile your view of Jesus with who He claimed to be. He can’t just be a good man, because He claimed to be God. He was either a liar, or He was delusional, or as He claimed, He is God.

Would you pray and ask God to reveal to you if what Jesus said about Himself is true?

You don’t have to be a perfect pious person to ask Jesus to save you. And you don’t have to have your life together or be successful to come to Jesus. The truth is “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The person in the church pew who prays five times a day, reads the Bible, and has the appearance of righteousness needs Jesus just as much as a murderer.Jesus-He is Hope

The saving grace of Jesus Christ doesn’t depend on you or your works, it depends on Him. Jesus Himself is sufficient. Accepting Jesus is acknowledging you are not worthy or sufficient on your own and never can be, but Jesus is worthy.

Many see Christianity as life insurance to go to heaven when we die. But following Jesus is not merely a “grin and bear it” stop gap required for heaven, but an opportunity for a full and rich life now.  Jesus promised us that:

Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.”
Mark 10:29-30

There is a promise for here and now in the present age! Rejoice! That doesn’t mean our lives are free from problems (remember Christian faith doesn’t bring material prosperity), but that when we cling to the truth of who Jesus is we can endure and have peace in the midst of struggles, because Jesus has overcome (John 16:33).

The hope of God is Jesus. I pray that you consider putting your trust in Him and committing your life to Him.

About the Writer:
Caroline Moore is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.

My Hope is in You

I tried to think of a good story, a memory or life lesson I once learned on hope. But the truth is I have nothing. I got nothing. I sat in front of my computer for hours and all I could think of was the truth I wanted to talk about, not the fluff that an intro lends itself to.

When it comes to the hope of Jesus, a true understanding is the foundation of all that life is. Hope in Jesus is what brings you identity, it’s what brings you passion, and it is what brings you understanding. Hope in Jesus is what gives life.

I found myself hopeless earlier this year. I was deep with a job I did not want but looked good to the world, I was overwhelmed with church commitments that left me drained; I was nowhere near where I thought I would be as a 28 year old.

I had a choice.

I could continue buying into the lie that my hope would be found in this world–that finding a man, a good job, a hobby, or anything really, would one day satisfy the hopelessness I was feeling. Or, I could learn what hope in Jesus was really about.

Hope

I had experienced a true understanding of Christ’s hope earlier in life. You know, one of those moments when you pause and think, “I thought I got this already. I thought I trekked this path and came out knowing the Lord better,” only to find out that you have fallen into a pit and need God to pull ya out again and you need to relearn the lesson all over. So I knew what I needed; I needed Jesus to pull me back to the only foundation I knew was solid….hope in Jesus.

Hope in Jesus is the truth that He sent His Son to die for me, He choose my sin and shame, and died that I might live in the hope that one day He is coming back.

Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalms 25:5

So I choose Jesus. I choose hope in Christ and praise the Lord that Christ never un-chooses me.

For me, waking up to the hope that comes with Jesus meant finding my identify in Him and not a relationship status, it meant finding value in His name and not mine as I climbed the ladder of professional success; it meant remembering that every encounter and every conversation has the power to reflect Jesus to someone.

I am choosing to live in the power of the hope of Jesus. I pray that today you choose to as well. That you will view the hope that comes with Christ as the foundation and the definition of who we are as women and as daughters of the Most High King.

About the Writer:
Liz, just a girl who spends her days with fifth graders challenging the normal way of teaching, spends her afternoons with her friends laughing and challenging the definition of community to be something much deeper, and spends her evenings with Dancing with the Stars and Pinterest, challenging the worldly norm of a 28 year old.