May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 (NIV)
It’s amazing to think that we can overflow with hope, the very thing that defines God. As though that isn’t gift enough, we can also be filled with all joy and peace as we trust in him.
All joy and peace, and an overflowing of hope are blessings bestowed on us by the Lord when we believe and trust in him.
Trust. A difficult thing for many people to do. Maybe you’ve suffered hardships and tragedy. Maybe you’ve asked God for something, and you didn’t get the answer you were hoping for.
Maybe things seem completely out of control; we may feel out of control, but nothing is out of God’s control. When we surrender our lives to Christ, we do so in faith. A faith and a belief that God is who he says he is. The Lord came to earth as a tiny baby. What else is more vulnerable? We can trust a Savior who would do that for us. We can trust him, and then be filled with all joy, all peace, and an overflowing of hope.
For Today: Is there something you’re struggling to trust God with this season? What is one step you can take to demonstrate your trust in him?
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.
Lamentations 3:25 (NIV)
Over and over again the Bible says that those who seek after the Lord will find him. Often we think we have to do something big to gain the Lord’s approval, when all we have to do is seek him, and put our hope in him.
What if, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we spend more time seeking him than seeking the best bargains? How will our relationship with Jesus change if we stop hoping for the newest gadget or toy or designer handbag, and instead put our hope in him?
The holidays can leave us feeling wiped out, and sometimes even spiritually dry. Maybe we can’t see the Lord at work in our lives, but he’s always at work in us. We miss that when we take our focus off of him, and are consumed with things that lack eternal value.
He isn’t hiding, he’s waiting. We just need to seek after him.
For today: Thank about ways you can seek after Jesus – reading the Bible, praying, singing worship songs – and commit to seek after him each day this Christmas season.
Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
The holidays can be exhausting. In general, it’s a stressful time filled with events, added responsibilities, decorating, baking, gift-giving, stretched finances, relatives, etc. It’s possible that some of us dislike the holidays because it means seeing family members we successfully avoid the other 11 months of the year. We start out the season well-intentioned, but sometimes a house full of extended family is just too much.
Then there are those who dread the holidays because someone is missing from the celebration. Perhaps a loved one passed away, or lives too far to visit, or is deployed, or you’ve suffered another type of loss this year.
Whether our weariness and exhaustion come from busyness or loss, we can find renewed strength from the Lord. We can be confident that, when we put our hope in God, he will give us energy and strength.
When the hustle and bustle, and maybe heartache, become too hard, turn to the One who came wrapped in hope.
For Today: At times, when we consider what we’ve lost, we forget about the ways we’ve been blessed by God. Make a list of some things in your life that have brought you joy and hope. In the moments of sadness or struggle, refer to your list and thank God for his blessings.
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
Psalm 33:20 (NIV)
Advent: The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event; the coming or second coming of Christ.
For the Church, Advent represents the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Each week brings into focus one of four different characteristics personified by Jesus’ very existence: Hope, Love, Joy, Peace. Two-thousand years ago, the Savior of the world laid linen-swaddled in the arms of a young mother. A tiny baby, Jesus was an answer to prayer, and the fulfillment of prophecy.
He is the Greatest Gift in all of history.
The birth of the Messiah brought hope for this life, and hope for eternal life. As we prepare our hearts for Christmas, may we find comfort knowing that in the hope-filled waiting – waiting for his return like those who waited for his birth – he is our help and he is our shield. He came so that we might live.
For today: As Christmas approaches, is there something that makes it difficult for you to have hope? If so, take a moment, and in a simple prayer, talk to God about it. Ask him to help you find hope for what you’re facing as you head into the holiday season.