We all hope for something. We hope for a better job, a bright future for our children, early retirement, a long, rich life.
Did you know that when you hope, you are modeling God’s character?
Let’s take a look at the Christmas story as an incredible example of God’s hope.
By today’s standards, Mary is a girl. A teenager at best. Perhaps a high school student. She’s engaged to be married. She’s never been a wife. She’s never raised her own children.
Joseph is the man to whom she’s engaged. We don’t know much about him. He’s not a rich man. But a man with skill in a trade. A man who comes home and shakes the sawdust off his jeans and washes the sweat off his face. Who has callused hands from his work as a carpenter.
This is the couple chosen to raise the Son of God.
Not a King and Queen
Not the president and the first lady
Not William and Kate
Not even Brad and Angelina
Just ordinary Joseph and Mary.
This is the couple God has chosen. This is the couple in whom God has placed his hope; who will raise the Son of God, the Lion of Judah, the Savior of the world, Immanuel, God with Us.
A young girl who has no experience in raising a child herself. Whose child would be doing homework before she herself graduates high school. And some guy who, until an angel sets him straight, seriously considers walking out on her because the child she carries is not his own.
God certainly knows how to create a situation that requires hope. Not just a situation that requires Mary and Joseph to place their hope in God. But for God to place his hope in them.
And God places his hope in you as well. Every talent you possess, every day you have been given, is an opportunity for you to fulfill the hope God has placed in you.
Hope is not wishful thinking. It is trusting in the promise of God. That he has a future and a plan for you. God has placed his hope in you. What will you do with it? Something to think about as you begin your week.
We're not inclined to make a change in our life if we are complacent. Often times, real change comes when we are dissatisfied with the way things are. Have you ever seen a group of picketers with signs that say, "Our pay is adequate”? Of course not! People go on strike when they have become so dissatisfied with some level of employment that they join the picket line.
Sometimes we have to reach a point of dissatisfaction that makes us ready for change. Dissatisfaction leads to change. Complacency on the other hand is dangerous. It keeps us places that are not safe.
Dictionary.com defines complacency as: a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger.
Do you ever think of becoming more? Or are you just satisfied enough to stay where you are? That is the danger of complacency. It robs us of vision… for a better future, for a better life. While the life that awaits us passes by, a life that deprives us of memories swallows us up.
This may sound crazy but if you want to be happier you need to start being dissatisfied with where you are. Acknowledge that good enough is no longer good enough. Turn your good enough into great.
The other day I noticed my laptop was running out of power, but the power cord was inserted. Great, my laptop is dying. I can’t live without this thing. How am I supposed to write all these great articles for you to read without my computer right?
I double checked the cord. It was pushed into the laptop. I checked my settings. Everything seemed fine. Maybe my battery was going dead. But that doesn’t make sense, it’s plugged in. So why was the unit about to die? Well it turns out the other end of the cord wasn’t plugged into the wall. Hey, at least I figured it out before the pc died.
How many times do you find yourself running out of power? When your battery runs down, what do you plug into? Better yet, is what you plug into enough?
The world offers a lot of power sources. Some good, some not so good. We have self help books, therapy, prescriptions meds and friends. These are great power boosters. But they can’t be our only source. When we treat them as the sole source of our power we can become addicted to them or wear them out. When we abuse them, they will fail us.
We need a power source that never goes out. Not when there’s a storm, high winds, or too much demand. We need a perfect source; a clean, steady stream of energy that gives us the power we need.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26) Right after he said this, he raised someone from the dead. The world has a lot of power, but I’ve never seen one that raised someone who was dead a few days.
Plug into Jesus. His power never runs out. The only thing left to say is the question Jesus asks, “Do you believe this?”
Last night my church hosted its third annual Trunk or Treat. At the event we brought in a giant blow up slide. Before the gentleman who set it up could walk away, kids were lined up waiting for the exhilarating experience of sliding down. The Trunk or Treat was scheduled for two hours and every second saw a child going up or coming down.
Over and over, young ninjas, Spidermen, Batmen, princesses, and Disney characters formed an assembly line of sorts, running up the steps on one side and tumbling down the other. As soon as a kid hit the bottom, they ran right back to where they started and got in line to start the whole process over.
Makes you think about life doesn’t it?
As adults we spent a lot of time climbing the “ladder” only to come sliding back down don’t we? And when we hit bottom, we head right back to get in line. Are we like Sisyphus, the figure of Greek mythology, who was eternally punished by having to move a boulder up a mountainside only to have it forever slide back down again?
For many of us, the answer is yes.
We get caught in a rut of doing the same thing over and over. Not just in our jobs, but in life. We excel in making the same mistakes. And once we’ve hit bottom and swear never to do it again, we get right back in line only to repeat our same behavior. And that truly is tragic.
For others, we’re trapped. We work hard and yet, can’t seem to get out of this rut we’re in. We get behind in our bills, our sleep, our relationships. The more we try, the more we find ourselves in a vicious cycle of unfulfilled work and little to no reward. And that too, is heartbreaking.
For all of us, the escape is the same.
We need to find meaning beyond the immediate. We need to know that there is something beyond this existence of ours. Something that is bigger than our problems, bigger than life.
Bigger than the slide.
When we can see beyond the things of our life, see beyond the borders of this world, we will begin to comprehend that there is more than what this existence has to offer. When that happens hope grows within us. And when we have hope, we are no longer held captive by the boundaries of our lives. The world grows to unimaginable proportions, without limits or understanding, full of possibilities beyond our mere comprehension. And then something truly magical happens.
We become children of creation and the slide becomes fun.
Jesus said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! ~ Luke 12:22-24
Come get in line with me.