Advent – Hope

“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

Hope is being certian of good things to come even when circumstances show no sign of things changing or getting better.  Hope is to believe what God can do because you know what God has done.

We Believe by Newsboys

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“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Hebrews 11:1 NIV

(This photo was taken in October of 2018 at a park in Winterset, Iowa)

Prepare The Way For The Lord

“…as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way”[a]
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.’”[b]

Mark 1:2-3 NIV

God’s story and God’s plan is greater than our self-centered desires…we are a part of His story, not the other way around.  We all have been given certain gifts to use while we are here…our job is to recognize the gifts we have been given and to use them to help others.  We are to do our part to Prepare the Way for the coming of the Lord.  Amen.

Prepare Ye The Way by Michael W Smith

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

John 1:1-5 NIV

(This photo was taken in October of 2014 at sunrise on the island of Maui, Hawaii)

Our Hearts

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
    bind them around your neck,
    write them on the tablet of your heart.”

Proverbs 3:3 NIV

God has given human beings free will and His Word gives us instructions on how we should choose to live…unfortunately too many of us have turned our backs on God and put worldly things before Him in our lives.  This choice by human beings of rejecting God is what invites evil into the world and evil comes to cause pain and suffering as described in John 10:10…“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”  We need to seek the Lord with all our heart and choose to live in a way that honors God.

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.”[a]

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2021 at a park near Sioux Falls, South Dakota)

Thanks Be To God

“…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

John 10:10 NIV

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

1 John 4:7-12 NIV

Happy Thanksgiving!  Give thanks to God for all the gifts and blessings in life and for His presence to get us through the struggles and difficult times.  God is good…thanks be to God.  Amen.

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“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV

(This photo was taken in October of 2018 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)

Change Lives With Prayer

Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.”

Psalm 62:8 NIV

Opening your heart in honest, sincere transparency with God in a quiet time with Him is true prayer…an on-going conversation where you spend as much time listening as you do speaking on a daily basis is kind of prayer life that can change lives.  Amen.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

Colossians 4:2 NIV

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Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

(This photo was taken in October of 2014 on the island of Maui, Hawaii)

Trust In The Lord

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.”[a]

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Instead of trying to control things beyond your reach…put your trust in the Lord.  Trust His way…trust His timing and trust the outcome to Him who has done more for you than any person in your life.  He is with you, He is for you.

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

(This photo was taken in August of 2016 in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington)

Ask…Believe…Receive

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

John 14:12-14 NIV

When you pray, do you truly believe what you are asking for will happen?  Or is it more like wishing for something that may or may not happen?  True transformation is when we believe what we ask for will happen and not on our timeline or according to our expectations.  As I look back over the early part of my faith journey, I remember prayers that were more just like going to a wishing well…speak it once and probably never think about it again.  This is not sincere, authentic praying.  Prayer is communication with God, it is about spending time with Him and our relationship with Him.  Jesus put it this way…

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Matthew 6:6-8 NIV

The key to this statement is your Father knows what you need.  Ask Him for things, believe in Him and what He can do.  Then watch and listen for Him and you will receive.  Ask…believe…receive.  Amen.

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“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Mark 11:24 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2021 in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado)

Be Thankful…Be Content

  “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Colossians 3:15-17 NIV

Jesus Christ suffered and died for you because He loves you.  He has risen…He is alive and wants to help you in this life and spend eternity with you.  Give thanks to Jesus, not only with words but with how you choose to live your life every day.  Amen.

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But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

1 Timothy 6:6-8 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2018 on the shore of Lake Superior near Ashland, Wisconsin)

Living Sacrifices

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12:1-2 NIV

Every one of us has a choice, every day…how will you choose to live this day?

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Romans 12:9-13 NIV

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

(This photo was taken in August of 2016 in Glacier National Park in Montana)

God Is Good…Be Thankful

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100:1-5 NIV

Take time to reflect on your life and remember what God has done for you.  Think about the storms you have already come through…how He protected you or guided you safely.  Remember that no matter what God loves you…He is with you and within you.  Jesus left the comfort of heaven to come down and live as one of us…He sacrificed Himself to be beaten and crucified and to pay the penalty for our sin so that we could have a relationship with God.  God will do for you that which you can’t do for yourself…put your trust in the Lord and give thanks to Him.

Forever by Michael W Smith

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“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Colossians 3:12-17 NIV

(This photo was taken in June of 2013 while traveling in northern Colorado)