HOPE FOR A TROUBLED HEART

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In 1991 Billy Graham wrote a National Bestseller entitled, Hope for the Troubled Heart.  In the foreword Graham said, “In my travels over the decades, I have found people are the same the world over. However, in recent years I find that there is an increasing problem that I would sum up in the word ‘hopeless’.”

Nearly three decades later, the problem of hopelessness and despair continues to rise. There have been ongoing studies concluding that our country is experiencing an “epidemic of hopelessness”.  Many desperately need some hope to hold on to.

This life is hard. We all go through difficult times. There are those hard things that keep our thoughts and minds reeling through the night. Most of us have experienced things in life that have broken our hearts and left us feeling like we have no hope, but did you know that you can actually know Hope?

Jesus comforted his followers with these words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine) These words of comfort are just as much for us today as they were for the disciples back then!

Do you know the way?

Even Jesus’ disciple, Thomas, was unsure of the way, but Jesus responded,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Jesus didn’t just come to show us a path, teach us some truth, and give us a key to life. He says, “I am your way and your truth and your life.” Unlike other religions of the world, Jesus takes us by the hand, leads us, and incarnates his truth within us. He’s calling us to walk by faith, yoked ever so closely, and learn from him. He wants us to stop striving and know him… know Hope.

Jesus, our Living Hope, did not create us to do life on our own. He promises us, just as he did his disciples, that he will not leave us. “I will not leave you comfortless…” (John 14:18). The word “comfortless” is taken from the Greek word orphanos, which is where we get the word orphan.

He will not abandon you to your own devices and inclinations. His presence comes to dwell within YOU! Remember he calls you “son”! It must grieve his heart when we choose to live like orphans. We have been accepted into the family of God! He calls us by name! We belong! He thinks of us constantly! He bends down from heaven when we talk to him. He is so near!

If we aren’t aware of his presence within, it isn’t because he is not there. It’s because we are not paying attention, or perhaps dabbling in sin, or not keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, rather living our own way.

He wants us to be as connected to him as a branch is to a vine. As his life (the True Vine) flows into us (the branches), we will bear the fruit of His Spirit. That fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) is the supernatural result of abiding in Jesus.

Envision Jesus, by his Spirit within, flowing through you as you walk and talk. Keep that image alive as you renew your mind daily, and then go live, allowing the Living Hope (1 Peter 1:3) to encourage you and others through you!

If you’re struggling with feelings of hopelessness, there is hope for you. You don’t have to walk alone. Tell a trusted friend. There is freedom in vulnerability.

Jesus wants you free and full of hope!

I am praying for you as you read this…

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. In Jesus name ~ Amen

Hope is alive!
Jenny Gallion

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LIFE IS A ROLLER COASTER RIDE

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A roller coaster ride?  Yes.  The top of the hill is the place where the car slows down and you get to see the surrounding area.  It’s a vast conglomeration of buildings, streets, parking lots, and people.  It appears to be organized and functional.  That’s because you’re at the top.  You have a clear view.  Then what happens?  The car slowly inches forward to the slope of the car’s downward travel path.  You tense up.  You may close your eyes.  You will probably scream.  Sometimes you may go with your hands and arms pointed straight up to the sky.  That is NOT me.

Then the rush comes.  The view from the top is skewed.  It doesn’t seem organized and functional any more.  You’re maybe even frightened.  You can’t wait for the bottom of the hill to come.  You think it’s over.  But you’re wrong.  The same cycle goes on a few more times.  Maybe this time there is a section of the coaster that puts you into a spin.  You spin and spin and spin.  Lastly, you come to the end.  The car slows down.  You breathe a sigh of relief.  You wipe the tears from your eyes.  You smile for the camera.  You step out only to realize your steps are shaky.  You’ve been changed.

There’s a song recorded by The Oak Ridge Boys called “Life is Like a Mountain Railway”.  I’ll be short with the lyrics.  But they relate.

Verse 1:
Life is like a mountain railway,
With an engineer that’s brave,
We must make this run successful,
From the cradle to grave.

The chorus is this:
Blessed Savior, thou will guide us,
Till we reach that blissful shore,
Where the angels wait to join us,
In the great forevermore.

There’s a Book in the Bible that parallels this theme.  It’s found in the Book of Ruth.  The entire story can be found in Ruth 1: 1-22.

In Chapter 1, we can get a closer look into the choices and decisions of one family to do what was right in their own eyes.  This family found great suffering and difficulty that lead to important, even critical, decisions.

The very first thing we learn in Chapter 1 is that there was a famine in the land.  Food is scarce.  This is “The First Tragedy”.  These were the people of Bethlehem in Judah.  The word Bethlehem means “house of bread”.  A great irony, isn’t it?  Bread was the main source of nutrition for the people.  We find that Elimelek, the head of one family living in Bethlehem made a choice.  That choice was to leave Bethlehem and go live where there was food to eat.  That was in Moab about 50 miles away.  This land was known as an area where the people worshiped other gods and were immoral.  Proverbs 16:25 says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.”

The next “roller coaster hill” approaches and you descend into Grief.  This is “The Second Tragedy”.  Grief came when the decision chosen was to move.  Elimelek chose reason over trust.  Trust in the Lord to provide.  Things just seemed to go from bad to worse.  They went their own way.

The second decision was “To Remain Away from the Lord” and to trust their own understandings.  To live in a land that served other gods and did not serve the Lord Almighty.

And finally, the third choice was made, “Returning to the Lord”.  The story ends with the return of Naomi and Ruth to Bethlehem in Judah.  Naomi lost everything. She lost her two sons.  One of her daughters in law left her to go back to Moab.  Life was hard. But now she returns with her Moabite daughter in law, Ruth, to Bethlehem in Judah.  Her home. Naomi’s decision to return home identifies God’s amazing grace.  Naomi is not alone and empty.  She had Ruth who also returned so that she could care for Naomi.

Chapter 1 ends like this in verse 22, “So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.” The story of Ruth goes from Famine to Grace.  God’s grace touches Naomi’s life.

This end reminds me of pulling finally into the roller coaster station as the ride has come to an end.  You breathe a sigh of relief.  You are home.  There is no more fear.  No more grief that you chose to ride.  What is left is peace and freedom as you disembark from the ride.

Let me encourage you today that there is hope in suffering.  God desires that you return to Him.  You can restart with the Lord.  You can have rest and peace and hope in Jesus Christ.  The road is not easy, and it will require that you leave some things behind.  But I know that the Lord is your co-pilot.  He promises to never leave you, never forsake you.  He wants to meet your every need.  Don’t ride the “coaster of life” without a “riding partner”.  His name is Jesus.  Will you respond by returning to the Lord today?  If you have never met your “riding partner”, you can right now.  Pray and ask Jesus to come into your life.  Your sins are forgiven but you must ask Him to forgive you and then repent.  Choices that you can make.  If you call on the Name of Jesus, He will hear you and forgive you.  And you will have the hope that you desire.  Will you make this choice today?

Dear friend, my prayer for you this week will be for God to enlighten you to understand that He is with you and He is your everlasting hope.

George

HOPE HAS A NAME

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I love the word Hope. It’s such a powerful word; pregnant with promise. I don’t think people can live without hope. And the God of the universe, the God who created us and knows us so intimately, knew this. He is a God of hope and He longs to fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of His Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to literally overflow with hope?

There was a time in my life when I felt like I had NO HOPE. Even having grown up in a Christian home, and knowing a lot about Jesus, I had never encountered Him in a personal way. I knew my baby faith had something to do with a “personal relationship with Jesus”, I just didn’t quite get the “personal” part. I did not KNOW HOPE.

I believe that there are many people that know a lot about doctrine… maybe even a lot about the man, Jesus, but they don’t really know Him.

And that was me in my early twenties… searching for something to hold on to… something to anchor me as the waves of life buffeted my soul. It was a very dark, fearful time. I searched for hope in relationships.  I searched for hope in a bottle and pills. But the waves of life continued to toss me deeper and deeper into that miry pit of despair.

Have you ever been there? If you have, you know what an unpleasant season it is, and you know that without hope, it’s nearly impossible to keep going.

BUT GOD… the God of Hope… is a relentless pursuer of His children, and He knew how much I needed Hope, and He knows how much YOU need Hope, so He sent Hope down! You see, Hope is a person, and Hope’s name is JESUS.

Just like God sent the beautiful star of Bethlehem to guide the Magi and the shepherds to encounter Jesus, God sent beautiful people into my life to guide me back to Hope.

My heart’s desire became to know Him better.  Yes, to know the reality of His presence within me. I committed to pray Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1 as my own personal prayer.

 “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I may know him better. I pray that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened in order that I may know the hope to which he has called me…

Did you catch what is said? “Know the hope…” Not NO HOPE, but KNOW HOPE!!! Yes, His desire is that we would KNOW HIM, our Hope of glory. (Col. 1:27)

Do you KNOW HIM?

If you do know Him, He may be calling you to know Him in a deeper way. He wants you to KNOW HIM as your HOPE. Scripture says in Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Jesus is the answer to whatever “seemingly hopeless” situation you may find yourself in. Let HOPE ARISE! Let’s Speak Life into our circumstances!

  • If you are feeling weak, hear HOPE declaring, “My grace is sufficient for you; my power is made perfect in your weakness!”
  • If you’re feeling disconnected, hear HOPE calling to you, “ABIDE INTIMATELY in Me, your True Vine. Cling to me for I have chosen you …”
  • If you’re feeling bound in sin, hear HOPE saying, “I AM your DELIVERER! I have come to set you free!”
  • If you are feeling lonely, hear HOPE saying, “I AM your Friend that sticks closer than a brother. I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you!”
  • If you’re feeling unsure… uncertain about life’s path, hear HOPE saying, “I AM your Good Shepherd leading and guiding you along paths of righteousness.”
  • If you are feeling fearful and anxious, hear HOPE saying, “FEAR NOT! My perfect love for you casts out all fear!”
  • If you are feeling sick in your body or mind, hear HOPE saying, “I AM Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals you.

Yes… Hope is a person. His name is JESUS!

Last Sunday we were blessed by an amazing Christmas production at Painesville Assembly. It was all about Hope; JESUS coming down to save us from our sins. Pastor Aaron challenged us to look at the lyrics of the popular Christmas Carol, O Holy Night.

“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn…”

This Christmas season may you rejoice in the fact that Jesus, our Hope, like an anchor for our souls, is holding on to you and longing for you to reach out to Him as He reaches out to you. He came down… for you.

Jenny Gallion

Not Such A Wonderful Life: Hope for those Who Battle Regret

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Message Recap | 12.14.2014
Speaker: Aaron Taylor, Lead Pastor

In our series, Not Such A Wonderful Life, we talked about the hope that Jesus provides for those who are struggling with loneliness and broken hopes and dreams.  Back in 1990, I had just completed my 20th year with the McDonald’s Corporation.  I was an area supervisor of a franchise that included 6 restaurants, 30 management people, and about 500 employees.  I had an incredible career.  I started out as a grill man at age 16 working for $1.65 an hour and had worked myself up in the ranks to supervisor.  I thought I had it all.  I was earning a good wage that enabled me to have my own home and support my family.  Then things changed one day.  I was told I was no longer needed.  I was out of work.  I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me.  My hope for a continued great future was crushed.  You see, this whole scenario started with me standing up for the truth.  My regret was the truth wasn’t necessarily what the owners wanted to hear.  After I was fired I wondered if I should have kept my mouth shut.  I regretted challenging their decisions.  I wasn’t the boss.  I had made a mistake that cost me my livelihood.

You know, I think that some of us are pretty good at beating up on ourselves when we make mistakes.  In fact, I think that often times forgiving ourselves for past mistakes can be even more difficult for some of us than forgiving others.  In fact, the inability to receive God’s grace and forgive ourselves can actually leave us trapped and in a pattern of causing continual pain either to ourselves or to others that we love.

This week we are going to look at forgiving ourselves, or moving beyond the hurt that we’ve experienced in our own lives as we receive forgiveness from God.  Christmas, and the story of Christ’s birth, is a wonderful reminder for those who are struggling with regret and guilt.  Join me in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 1, verses 19-21.

Matthew 1:19-21 (NKJV): “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Mary had been told that she was going to have a child conceived by the Holy Spirit even though she was a virgin.  To complicate matters, she was engaged to be married to Joseph.  How do you explain that?  The Bible tells us that Joseph was struggling with these things when an Angel of the Lord appeared to Him in a dream.

If you want to learn more about Mary and the meaning of “Jesus” as found in God’s Word, as well as hope for those Who Battle Regret, listen to our podcast at http://painesvilleag.com/notsuchawonderfullife  for the complete message.

Friend, the past cannot be changed, but the meaning of the past can be changed.  We can never change what happened, but God can change the meaning of the past, if we will allow Him.  What is God saying?  Do something new, something different, don’t dwell on the past.  Let it go.  There’s a new day.  As a new year approaches, grab it with a spiritual new birth of the risen Christ, who says, “I forgive, and I give second chances.”  Spend some time in prayer this week seeking God and begin to receive His gift of grace that only Jesus Christ can give.

Lead Blogger,
George Leonhardt