Where Does Your Hope Lie

Where does your hope lie?
By Brittany Howard

Where is your hope focused on? Is it focused on the future and the promise of the unknown? Or is it focused on God, the one Who has plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Is your hope a dream you have had for your entire life or is your hope the One who gives us the desires of our hearts?
“A hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life” Proverbs 13:12 (NASB)

I have been thinking about that for the past week. I have found my self in a place of hope deferred. I tend to look ahead, look forward to what is to come, and sometimes look forward to things that are not set in stone but things I would like to happen or ways I picture our life going. So much so that I put my hope in things that are not a guarantee which is basically setting myself of to be disappointed… Who am I to put expectations on God’s plans for my life…WOAH now Brittney! During this time I have realized that the focus of my hope and the who of my hope has lost focus, I have been focusing on the promise of these things yet to come on what tomorrow holds.
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 (NASB)

I have not been doing this. I have been planning and looking forward to what tomorrow holds instead of living each day to the fullest in what The Lord has for me in that day. I have been waiting for this BIG AHA moment, a moment of “I have arrived” I have been waiting for my life to begin. Instead of rejoicing in a new day the Lord has made I have been rejoicing the days that are still to come…
Reality check… I am alive, my life started September 24, 1987 in Athens Georgia… And God new my days before the foundations of the earth!
“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.” Psalm 139:16 (NASB)

What have I been waiting for… Well I know one thing I have been waiting for is my purpose I have been grasping at any and everything that comes along that I feel will give me purpose, all except for the one thing that gives me life and purpose and that is JESUS! “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not for calamity to give you a future and a HOPE.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB)

“The thief comes only to steal kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:12 (NASB)

I have been believing the lies the enemy has been whispering in my ears… That my lifes purpose is what I can do with my hands, that I will have life in big moments…. And only in big moments. The truth is that my purpose is to seek God to let Him reveal the abundant life He has for me! I am His daughter and he gives me the desires of my heart!
“Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 (NASB)

My heart aches for the truth and fullness of what hope is in the hands of my Father. His perfect love casts out fear…
“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 (NASB)
and for me the fear of the unknown is huge. I plan and plan what my future and my families future will look like, to make it something comfortable instead of something unsure and unknown. The future is slightly uncomfortable for me, I want to know what is to come so I can prepare myself for it and not experience any surprises so that I can be comfortable. But the Lord has so many bigger plans and purposes for me then I can even make up for myself. His thoughts for me out number the sand!! HOLY COW! I am yet again found awestruck by His love for me. God is my comforter, He comes along side me and helps me through the tough times and rejoices with me through the good times! He is with me on the mountain tops and He is with me in the valleys, He is there with me while sowing the seeds and He is with me in the time of harvesting. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. His love for me never ceases… If his eye is on the sparrow then I know He watches me…. He came to give me life and life abundantly, believing anything contrary to that will get me in trouble. In my weakest moments it is very hard to not to get in the flesh and to hear the enemy’s voice over the the voice of my Father. The lies he whispers are just enough to get me into a tail spin of thinking of the what if’s and shoulda, coulda, wouldas… But when I dwell on the truths I have listed and just stand firm in the words of my Heavenly father He lifts me up and helps me out of the pit. He truly is amazing!
Thank you Abba for never giving up on me! Thank you for your lovingkindness that is new ever morning! Thank you for picking me up when I fall and for holding me up when I cannot stand on my own!

I will give thanks to You!

The Life of a Daddy

by Chad Wallace

Lately, I have been complaining about my 18 month old taking 45 minutes to go to sleep. Of course, this has been 44 minutes of crying and yelling and, in general, complete unhappiness. Tonight marks only the 2nd night in the last 14 that there was no crying. AMEN! But, I have to be honest, the last 2 nights I have put her to bed with a different mindset.

She is so tired, you can see it through her frown that is too tired to actually turn down – just a face that is tired of smiling for the day. She can barely hold her head up and when you hold her, she buries her plug (pacifier) filled mouth into the blanket laying on my shoulder. As I lean my head onto her fuzzy blonde hair, she and I both know she is completely safe, comfortable, and entirely too tired to make even one last stand against impending sleep. But, this is where I have messed up over the last couple of weeks. At this point, I would want to lay in my sheets and hold my pillow, but for the baby, for the child, for the child of God, it is time to be held.

As I have been growing as a father, my revelation of the Father’s heart has grown. I also know He is teaching me things about how I, as a child, can be seen by Him and how I can see Him.

Today, I learned about rest; God’s rest for His children. After I held her and then held her some more, she was completely content – not asleep, but contently sleepy with her eyes wide open. I laid her down in her crib and continued rubbing her back, and this is where the revelation hit me: she doesn’t need me to sing to her, or tell her a magical story – she needs me to rub her back and stay quiet. In her wide open blue eyes, I can see myself – a child in desperate need of rest but trying to stay awake, waiting for my Father to tell me something so I can then rest. But I knew, as her father, that she needed me to be consistent; rubbing her back, relaxing her squirmy muscles, and calming her racing mind. I can imagine my thoughts if I were laying on my spiritual bed, ‘I am completely comfortable, but I think I need Him to tell me that I can sleep.’ But He knows best, His presence is what calms my soul.

Are you looking for rest? Are you like me and lying on the bed comfortable and staring up at your Father waiting for him to give you words to go to sleep? In some seasons, it is neither the song that He sings nor the story He tells, but simply His quiet presence that gives us rest. In Exodus 33, Moses is praying for his people and asks God to find favor with them and to stay with them and to never leave them (how many times have I asked these questions). Moses says in vs 13: “I pray thee, if I have found favor in Thy sight, let me know Thy ways, that I may know Thee, so that I may find favor in Thy sight. Consider too, that this nation is Thy people” God then, without telling Moses his ways, or giving him any other words simply promises in vs 14 “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” [Of course, God does give the Israelites words in Ch. 34, but His promise of presence and rest remain]

The Messenger

by Allison Keys

A whole bucket of burdens were on my back as I got ready to teach the 2-5 year olds in church. I struggled to hold my composure. I broke into tears a couple of times as I put things in place. When a dear friend asked me how I was doing, “fine, just a lot of little things on my mind.” The tears on my cheeks told a story more complicated. I knew that I would enjoy teaching the kids. I was just trying to put those burdens down long enough to really be with the kids.
I picked up the bible during snack and told them the story of the Angel Gabriel’s good news to Mary. Then I put the book down and asked them about ways they can talk to God. “God can talk to you with an angel, that happens all the time, or God can say something to you himself.” “If you are ever alone or quiet that’s a good time to talk to God.” Then we prayed together and thanked God for all the things he gives us and I said, “OK now were going to be quiet for just a second and have a chance to listen in case God wants to tell us something.” I paused for 5 seconds maximum, thinking, “oh well this will be a good practice for listening for that still small voice.” When I opened my eyes a little 4 year old boy popped out of his seat and said, “I heard Him!”
“You heard God.” I said, “What did he say?”
He had the biggest grin on his face and he said, “It’s going to be alright.”

Tears filled my eyes. I think that little boy grew 2 inches from before that prayer to after. You could see that he felt like a son of God, not disconnected or insignificant.

A few minutes later I shared what had happened with the little boy’s mom. She said, “Oh Allison, He’s been dealing with fear at night this is so important for him!” Then she said that the little guy had also been frustrated because he had never heard God speak to him and wanted to so badly. This was a big deal to this little boy. To know that he was important to God and comforted in his fear. I wish you could have seen his shiny and happy face!

After Sunday school I went home to pick up my little family. A whole host of problems were waiting for me there. I didn’t make it back to church. So many cares and worries around my neck I felt like I drown in my sadness at some points in the next 24 hours.

When it happened I had felt a little badly for that mom at Sunday school earlier. Bad that she had not heard this little boy’s conversation with God firsthand, or in her own house. Now at my house I knew that God had let me in on this conversation, because I desperately needed to hear “It’s going to be alright.” It was a message for that boy, but it was a message for me too. I am not alone in my fear, he is comforting me. He let me know ahead of time so that I wouldn’t despair He cared enough to send me the message like he did for Mary. Only my messenger was a beautiful little boy. He knows me so well, I love little boy messengers.

Thank you for seeing my through my fears and sorrows today and thank you God for my little Gabriel yesterday.

The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Psalms 25:14-15