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Everyday Hope {a guest post}

I’m particularly drawn to instructions. I long for someone to tell me what to do when in order to achieve my desired outcome. Whether it be how to put a savory, yet nutritious meal on the table in less than an hour cooking time, or the best way to maximize my time as a work-at-home mom, I’m especially drawn to the how-to’s in the areas I feel weak.

 

I think many people are this way, and our spiritual life is no different. It only takes a quick stroll down the self-help book aisle to see what we all crave: something more than what we have now. It’s easy to feel depleted and defeated emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

 

As a Christian, the pressure’s on to be a beacon of light to the lost world around me, yet sometimes I can’t seem to shake the feeling I should be doing or experiencing something I’m not. Scripture tells us that Christ came to earth to provide a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). It’s one thing to read these words on a paper and say, “Amen.” It’s quite another to experience this living hope in our everyday lives.

 

Maybe you feel this dissonance as well?

You and I are on a voyage. A journey toward this living hope and abundant life our Creator and Savior has promised. However, our travels can often feel more like we’re aimlessly tossing in a storming sea of hopelessness. You may desire to better navigate the trip ahead. You may find yourself looking for a way out of the chaos, for a ladder that will lead to the lifeboat that promises rescue from the storm. Or, maybe you’ve given up altogether, and all you have left is a weak cry for help from the bottom of the boat.

 

You may have heard from others: “Keep your chin up. Don’t lose hope!” It’s easy to see hope as a verb — something we need to do. An action we need to take. Though there are actions we can and should take when our soul is in despair, trying to conjure up the strength to be hopeful is not helpful.

 

It’s impossible.

 

Hope is a noun, not a verb. It’s not something we do to escape the storm. Hope is what we hold fast to, as we endure each wave.

 

Hope is a treasured possession, not an action.

Hope is a guiding light, not a ladder to climb.

Hope is a steadfast anchor, not a search for more.

Hope is a harbor of promise, not a way of escape.

 

Our hope is found in the Gospel of Christ alone. This good news of Jesus is not a one-time experience; it’s a moment-by-moment need.

 

 

PRAY THIS WITH ME: God, we are desperate to experience the hope of Christ in our everyday. We look forward in anticipation to all You have planned for us through Your Word. Open our eyes to see the truths the Bible holds about our gospel-hope. Soften our hearts to receive them. Enable our souls and minds to follow you in obedience as we respond to all You will speak to us.  

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This is an excerpt from Everyday Hope, an easy to use, four-week study. Designed for women who are pressed for time, yet crave depth from their Bible study, Everyday Hope offers a relevant and lasting approach for reading and understanding Scripture. In as few as 15 minutes a day, explore hope that fills the Scriptures and the same hope God intends to fill your life. Everyday Hope, will help you discover how to hold fast to His promises amidst feelings of hopelessness. Purchase your copy today at your favorite retail bookstore. Also available online at these online stores.  

 

Remembering the God of “New” in the New Year {a guest post}

The online world can be a beautiful place. Over the years, I have encountered women with a deep passion for the gospel, a desire for growth in scriptural understanding, and an embrace of the high calling of motherhood. Emily Jensen is one of those women. Her online ministry, both in writing and her podcast, have often encouraged and challenged my heart. That’s why I was thrilled when she agreed to write a special post for the new year here at Dishes & Doctrine. I know you will be blessed with her thoughts for 2018…..
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On my bookshelf sits a deep-emerald green textural prayer journal, waiting to be filled with my hopes for 2018. Next to it, you’ll find a growing pile of books I plan to read, which will hopefully incite life-changes that actually last. And although I haven’t gotten around to it yet, the white walls of our mudroom are empty and ready for some printables with goals for every member of the family so we can track the great things we’ll do in the new year. With the turning of a simple calendar day, it feels like the white snow in our yard lets out a big breath and fills the air with the magical aroma of change. Like Lucy walking through the wardrobe into Narnia, greeting a new world that feels more exciting than scary, we tentatively explore the possibilities and hope again for the promise of new.

 

Particularly, I like to think that new means I’m suddenly going to be good at all the things. Instead of picking a very small-sampling of life areas to consider changing, I imagine this year will make me a new and better wife, mom, cook, gym member, church member and neighbor. But the thing about newness is that it’s not magic, it’s not produced by flipping a calendar page, and it’s not a direct result of our own savvy efforts. Newness ultimately belongs to God, and we get a chance to image him as we enter into the new good things he is doing. So as we consider the fresh feeling of 2018, let’s remember these truths about newness.

Only God can Truly Do Something New

God was the first and the only one to truly do something brand-spanking-new. Because he has existed for all of time, he is the only source of all new and created things (Psalm 90:2). When we think of our goals and our fresh ideas, it’s important to remember that there is really nothing new under the sun as far as God is concerned (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Our goals and ideas might be different from last year, and we might have added some Pinterest-sourced tips and tricks, but no one is really doing something completely new. We struggle with the same sins, setbacks, and limitations as every other human since the fall (Romans 3:23). In fact, humans are only attributed with inventing new ways to do evil (Romans 1:30). So we don’t exactly have an awesome track record when it comes to doing new things. The only new good works we do come from the God who is in the process of making all things new (Revelation 21:5).

 

Only God can Produce New Good Fruit

So if true “newness” belongs to God alone, can we be hopeful for new things in our own lives this year? Yes! As long as we remember that the new, good works we walk in and the new good fruit we produce isn’t really a direct result of our own SMART goals. Sure, we can do some behavior modification here and there (actually, I’m embarrassingly bad at that), and we can occasionally keep some rules for a while, but only God can write his law on our hearts, giving us a heart of flesh where it was once stone (Jeremiah 31:33, Ezekiel 36:26). Only his power within us can cause us to will and to work according to his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). He is the God of new, and he renews us as we fix our minds on his word, standing in awe of the work he’s done on our behalf (Romans 12:2).

 

The Good News:

We don’t have to have it all figured out this year when it comes to starting something new, because we trust a God who does.

Remember, this is the God who made the heavens and the earth, the animals, the people on the earth, and who created the science that orders it all together.

This is the God who gave a New Covenant when the old one was a hovering cloud of death.

This is the God who promises to renew and restore all things at the return of Christ.

He can certainly handle our sanctification in the new year!

 

So as we crack open our prayer journals, our stacks of books, our crisp notepads, and our organizational apps, let’s rest knowing that it’s not up to us to make ourselves new. We’ve already been washed as white as snow in Christ, and the best “new” we will ever experience is still yet to come (Isaiah 1:18, Revelation 21:5). Eternity, 2018’s got nothing on you.

 

About the author: 

Emily Jensen is the Co-Founder of Risen Motherhood, and the Co-Host of the weekly podcast. Risen Motherhood is a ministry which encourages and equips moms to apply the gospel in their everyday moments. She lives with her husband and five young children amidst the cornfields of central Iowa. You can find her microblogging @risenmotherhood on Instagram and all podcast archives at RisenMotherhood.com.

 

Fresh Start – hope for the new year….

I’m so excited to share some hope with you today from one of my favorite authors, Jessica Thompson. She has been so kind to share some gospel encouragement with us as we head into the new year! Enjoy! 

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Fresh Start

 

Often when my boys are playing video games I hear them yell out in agony and the very next thing I hear is the game starting over again. The failure of a poorly thrown virtual pass is erased and the score is once again 0-0. We all love a restart. I think this is why we love January 1st so much. The old is gone. The new is here. The score is 0-0. I don’t have to be reminded of the failures of 2015 because now 2016 has come. Time to begin again.

Here’s the thing though, our hope is not in a fresh start with better results. Our hope is not in our ability to get it right this time because honestly, we will continue to fail over and over again. What can we hope in? The prophet Jeremiah asks this same question in Lamentations 3:17-18 “my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.’” But then the Holy Spirit reminds him of where to look and then he pens, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope, The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”(22-23) In the Christian life, every morning is like January 1st, it is a new start. The failures of yesteryear, yesterday, yestermoment were gone before they were even committed, erased by the blood of the Lamb. His faithfulness brings us hope.

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My default is that my faithfulness brings me hope. When I can look at my success and say, “See I did it before I can do it again!” I am trusting in myself. I am living as though my will power is my hope. The truth of the matter is that my will power is so broken that Christ’s body had to be broken in order for me to find forgiveness and acceptance. As long as I am trusting in myself I will either be proud (Yep, nailed it again) or depressed (I will never get it right). But when I forsake my self-trust and learn to trust in His faithfulness alone I will have a new hope every morning. New mercies. Same love. Forever faithfulness. That is what our God has promised us.

So when you fail today, tomorrow, in the next five minutes stop and pray that the Holy Spirit grounds your heart right here, “there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.(Message paraphrase)
Our hope for 2016 is always Him. A God who never changes, never gives up on us, and promises to always forgive. That hope pushes me towards him every single time. It pushes me toward loving God and loving others. Our eternal hope is Christ himself.

publicityjess

Jessica is an author of several books and a frequent conference speaker. Her heart is to see women, families, and children freed from the bondage of moralism and to live in the truth that in the gospel there is joyful freedom awaiting them. Jess has a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology and with her mother, Elyse Fitzpatrick, she co-authored the books Give Them Grace and Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions. She has also written Exploring Grace Together and Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships With the Love of Jesus. Jess believes the truth that salvation is “naked confidence in the mercy of God.” She has been married to her high school sweetheart since 1995. Together they have three teenage children.
Connect with her at www.givethemgrace.com or on Twitter at @thejesslou

The Fruit of Gratefulness….

“What do you say?” I ask my son as he takes the cookie from the waitress.

“Thank you!” he says with his silly four year old grin.

I pat him on the shoulder with an approving look and secretly feel proud of myself that I’m raising such polite children. Even my one-year-old toddler says something slightly resembling those two words although nobody outside our immediate family would be able to decipher it.

I really swell with pride when our oldest, clearly and loudly responds, “Thank you” on his own accord. I must really be doing this mothering thing right! After all, every parent includes gratefulness in the list of character qualities they want their children to develop by 18 years old.

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As we head into another busy holiday season, though, I wonder if we’re missing the mark with this thing called gratefulness. How can we cultivate this attitude in even our smallest children?

To read the rest of this post, visit Emily Jensen, my writing home for today….