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Listen while you read: "Go To Dark Gethsemane"1 (Lyrics)
I shared the workplace lunchroom one day with a co-worker who held very little hope about society's future, and declared that he would never bring children into this world. A little later, he discussed his upcoming wedding plans. As I mused on this, it seemed odd that he doubted a better future, but also wanted to marry and enjoy a good life and family. I once heard a sportscaster say, after reporting on a serious injury, that an athlete "had his future ruined". How can anyone accurately predict that? Only God holds the future, and that attitude of fatalism can land someone in a puddle of discouragement.
The writer to the Hebrews addresses just such a gloomy spirit of pessimism and discouragement, and gives many ways to gain courage and not despair about the future.
Hebrews 12:12-15 – Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame might not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. (NKJV)
I'm personally inspired by Canadians like Terry Fox, a cancer survivor, who ran a marathon of hope in the 1980s to raise awareness for cancer research, and Hélène Campbell, an organ donation activist who encourages people to donate organs to others upon death, so that others might live, even as she herself received two double-lung replacements.
I'm not suggesting that heroic self-sacrifice is the duty of all believers, but we are instructed to be actively involved in Jesus' kingdom by not giving in to discouragement and by not being careless about personal holiness and loving relationships. The Scripture emphasizes that holiness is essential for a close relationship with God. It's a growing desire to know Him and to be more like Him each day. This isn't a return to a set of religious rules to follow, but a vital inner life of prayer and trust in the Lord. Discouragement and bitterness can't survive in such an environment! As we remember God's grace extended to us, we can extend that grace to others also.
God's grace is an active thing; it surpasses the pain and hurts of yesterday, and we also need to be spiritually active. Are you feeling pessimistic about the future, where nothing can change and personal holiness doesn't matter? I urge you to seek God, to strengthen the hands that hang down and the feeble knees, and with His grace, to look forward to the year ahead with joy and praise.
Prayer: Dear Lord, may we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Hour by hour and day by day, may we do our utmost to be humble, honest, and true, and to extend Your grace to all people. Amen.
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Thanks for the encouraging words, Shirley.
The world needs this, Shirley! Thanks for the reminder, bless you,
Shirley, I liked your phrase “God’s grace is an active thing”. The words are sticking with me today. Thank you!
Thanks for the reminder of God’s AMAZING GRACE. GRACE THAT IS GREATER THAN ALL OUR SIN!
Thank you, Shirley, for your very good and encouraging words. Yes we can get quite discouraged listening to happenings here and there in our world each day, but much better if we focus on the positive of God’s word and spread His love and care with others. Blessings for these special and most meaningful writings you do.
Thank you so much. I think you sure are spot on in His Holy Spirit. About an hour before reading this I was getting the same messages inside me as daily in our journey the challenges keep coming.
Thank you so much for sharing our faith in God. Through His Word, In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 3 in one!!! Keep going, Shirley! Thank you kindly.
Good morning, Shirley,
Thank you for encouraging us to not be pessimistic or discouraged by what is happening in our lives or in this world. God is there to help us through the tough times if we focus on Him and draw closer through His Word and prayer. It is so true that we cannot predict the outcome. It is in God’s hands and our faith will help us to have the hope and strength to move forward. His Grace is offered freely so we should do the same for others. Blessings.
I must praise my Heavenly Father this morning for unfailing love and compassion. He blessed me with your words that hit home for me.
I write also and hope the words and scripture touch someone with feeble hands and a broken heart. I have two daughters that have cancer. I love the hope you give and the grace I feel when I pick up God’s word. The peace that rises with strength to face another day is amazing. I often sing “This is the day that the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it.” God bless you and keep writing for the Lord.
Thank you for this message and reminder Shirley.
I needed this today.
My wife and I are on a streak of decaying health. She has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. If that wasn’t bad enough she was injured while walking to the mailbox.
I am a transplant patient. My kidney graft was humming along nicely till this winter. Now it looks like the rejection of my transplant. I know God is in control, and at some point it will all make sense, but when it is all flying at you at the same time, it weakens your resolve as you state above.
We are struggling with all of this at once. This certainly has messed up my prayer life. I know I have to get back on track, but I would be lying if I said I am not angry right now. I know it all revolves around trust, but at this point in time I do not see how our situation aligns with Jeremiah 29:22 11 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.
Blessings, and thanks again for this message today.
Thank you for sharing these encouraging words with us today! Blessings.
Thank you, Shirley. These sentences especially spoke to me:
The Scripture emphasizes that holiness is essential for a close relationship with God. It’s a growing desire to know Him and to be more like Him each day. This isn’t a return to a set of religious rules to follow, but a vital inner life of prayer and trust in the Lord.