Hope Is Here

 

Hope word with shadow, backgroundI’ve been in plenty of situations where there seemed like only one way out and it felt quite hopeless. I know the struggle of a sleepless night. I know the paralysis that worry delivers. I also know that when the Lord enters the room of my life, HOPE flows from Him. He gives me strength and wisdom to navigate any and every situation I’m faced with. Paul speaks very clearly about the hope we have no matter the situation. Check this out….

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 CSB)

This passage has much depth to it. This is a snapshot of life:

  • Faith
  • Peace
  • Access
  • Grace
  • Rejoice
  • Afflictions
  • Endurance
  • Proven Character
  • Hope
  • Love

I’m trying to wrap my mind around these 10 profound pieces of the journey with God.  It starts with Faith and ends up in Love. The journey with the Lord always goes through the tunnel of affliction and suffering. It’s during those dark nights of the soul that the light of hope in Him is real. The Lord never wastes a dark night to show off His Heart for me. He brings such hope and clarity to most confusing circumstances. He builds my character from the inside out and not from the outside in. My salvation journey begins with faith in Him.

When He enters the room of my heart, there is NOTHING else like it! He brings HOPE and it is a Powerful Presence. #thankful

All My Hope

By Crowder

I’ve been held by the Savior
I’ve felt fire from above
I’ve been down to the river
I ain’t the same, a prodigal returned

(C)All my hope is in Jesus
Thank God that yesterday’s gone
All my sins are forgiven
I’ve been washed by the blood

I’m no stranger to prison
I’ve worn shackles and chains
But I’ve been freed and forgiven
And I’m not going back, I’ll never be the same (C)

There’s a kind of thing that just breaks a man
Break him down to his knees
God, I’ve been broken more than a time or two
Yes, Lord then He picked me up and showed me
What it means to be a man come on and sing (C)

_____________________________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Grief & Sadness

Beauty girl cryThis is a word that covers many areas of my life. I have felt grief over the loss of a loved one. I’ve felt grief over the loss of a job. I’ve felt grief over the loss of a friend. I think grief touches everyone in some form or another. There are some losses that are less devastating and less permanent. If I lose a job, I can get another one. If I lose a friend I can be a friend to another and soon move forward. I’m not quite sure how you grieve the loss of a country. In Psalm 137, the writer is grieving the loss of their country being captured and their lives are forever different. Check this out…

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
    when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars
    we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
    our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
    they said, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’

How can we sing the songs of the Lord
    while in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:1-4 NIV)

It really is hard to think about songs of joy during pain. There are times that I can’t think because the grief hurts so deeply. I remember times when I cried until it felt like there were no more tears. I have made some decisions during times of grief that were not smart. A few years ago, after coming through a really hard time where grief was pushing on me hard, I determined that I would never go through grief alone – the Lord would always be there. I decided to claim His promises and lean into Him. His Presence did not disappoint. He gave great comfort but even greater clarity. I can sing songs of joy I the midst of great pain if His Presence is in me. He comforts me deeply and profoundly. He turns my sadness into singing. He turns my grief into joy. I can’t fully explain this to someone who amid struggle, but after the dust clears, this trust in the Lord is something to consider.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Home In My Heart

 

Young man suffering pain on his chest, isolated on whiteI’ve heard it said that “home is where the heart is”. This speaks to where I live. Wherever my family and I live is now home. I grew up calling Kentucky home as that is where I lived nearly 18 years of my early life. I’ve since lived in Tennessee and Georgia. In fact, I’ve lived in Georgia over 30 years of my life. I still call Kentucky home when I’m asking about family “back home”. Georgia is now my home and has been for a long time.

As I read in Psalm this morning about God making His home in Zion, I was reminded that He now makes my heart and the hearts of His people His home. Check this out…

13 For the Lord has chosen Zion,
    he has desired it for his dwelling, saying,
14 ‘This is my resting place for ever and ever;
    here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.
15 I will bless her with abundant provisions;
    her poor I will satisfy with food.
16 I will clothe her priests with salvation,
    and her faithful people shall ever sing for joy.

17 ‘Here I will make a horn grow for David
    and set up a lamp for my anointed one.
18 I will clothe his enemies with shame,
    but his head shall be adorned with a radiant crown.’ (Psalm 132:13-18 NIV)

When Jesus came and conquered sin and death, He left us with the very Spirit of God to dwell in our hearts. There are churches being built where people gather to worship, but the Lord no longer dwells in temples made with hands, He dwells in our heart. I like how Paul describes it. Check this out…

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22 NIV)

I can live out my life in confidence that the Lord has made His home inside my heart. He directs me. He leads me. He settles my heart. His Presence in me gives me Power to combat temptation and sin that creeps in. He gives me strength that seems impossible and peace that is hard for others to understand. My heart is not His home – His dwelling place.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Dreams

 

House and money on scalesWhen the recession hit full force between 2007 & 2010, our little part of the US Economy was hit very hard. We experienced 5 different banks and all their branches being taken over by the FDIC and sold off to another institution. One bank was started from the premise that they would be a “foreclosure bank”. When these bank take-downs took place there were hundreds of people in our area who lost massive amounts of money invested into those institutions. Then after the foreclosure banks took over, they started calling notes and loans due. I knew one person whose family had 3 investment properties who were never late and the bank called the note due. These folks were strong enough to go to another bank and borrow the funds to move forward. Others whose notes were called due had not choice except foreclosure or bankruptcy. (I don’t have time to explain the lucrative “loss-share” arrangement that the FDIC had with these foreclosure banks, which explains in large part why so many notes were called due.) These were some very hard times and money was very tight in our part of the world. Fast forward to 2017 and the economic outlook is a bit better. We still have some challenges ahead for sure, and while economic recovery has been slow, we are recovering.

As I read the word this morning, I was reminded that the Lord was not surprised by the recession. He is never caught off guard by events of my world. When I call out to Him, He shows up and really changes the outlook and outcome of many events. Check this out…

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
    ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
The Lord has done great things for us,
    and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
    like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them. (Psalm 126:1-6 NIV)

I don’t know many people who weren’t downsized a bit by the economic recession that is not too far distant in the rear-view mirror. I know that many of them have discovered a lot about themselves and their ability to recover and rebound. My family and I battled through like so many good people and I’m thankful that The Lord provided the path to navigate through such turbulent times.

I feel like the Lord brings hope and peace to the most chaotic circumstances or issues. He brings clarity and calm. He brings wisdom and discernment. He is responsible for giving wisdom in large doses to anyone who asks. He became my CFO (Chief Financial Officer) when the recession hit and He will hold that position in my life to the end.  He restored my hopes and dreams, they will just be delayed a bit. He is worthy of my trust and my hope. At the end of it all, the Lord owns everything and I’m simply His manager of what He’s given me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Praying For Peace

 

Pretty girl praying.Elderly man prayingI see peace as a “state mutual harmony, and a state of serenity and tranquility”. This is a word that means different things to a lot of different people. I love having peace in my life, buy sometimes peace is not quiet or boring. Sometimes “mutual harmony” is a bit loud and even a struggle. I used to connect peace with quiet and I still do sometimes. Peace is much deeper than silence. Peace is a matter of my spiritual heart condition. When my heart is at peace, I am trusting the Lord with whatever is getting me anxious.

David was evidently heading to the Temple when He wrote this Psalm. David is a warrior and has fought many bloody battles and has seen much bloodshed. In the midst of this assent to worship he is asking the people to join him in prayer. Check this out…

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    ‘May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
    and security within your citadels.’
For the sake of my family and friends,
    I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your prosperity. (Psalm 122:6-9 NIV)

I need to be a prayer warrior for peace. I can pray for peace for my family, my community, my state, my country & the world. Praying for peace and seeking to be peaceful are two different things. I believe that the Lord loves peace. I believe He restores my soul and nourishes my heart during peace. During times of struggle and angst, He does some of His best work building me. I feel like I’ve grown more in times of suffering and struggle for sure than in times of peace. During struggle and hardship, I found myself clinging to Him – holding on as tight as possible. I learned through struggle and suffering that He doesn’t leave me. He is always there. At times during the struggle, it felt as if He had left, but He had not. My feelings are fickle and I’ve learned that when the Lord says He is with me, then I can count on that. It may not “feel” like He is with me; but He sure is!

I love the greeting that Paul ends his second letter to the church as Thessalonica with. Check this out…

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. (1 Thessalonians 3:16 NIV)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

 

 

Hope Filled Heart

 

Girl holding a heart-shaped boxI know what it is like to be hopeless and feeling helpless. I must say though, that as I study the Word of God and pursue His heart, I find that those times are a lot fewer than ever before in my life. As I journey through His Word, I find that I ALWAYS have hope. He never leaves me alone. Recently, upon hearing of my brother-in-law’s diagnosis with multiple myeloma cancer I was stunned and I allowed hopelessness to enter. I’m thankful that the Lord keeps pursuing my heart as I pursue His heart.

David pens a hope-filled Psalm that reminded me of His Presence. Check this out…

For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
    my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you;
    you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
    I will ever praise you.
I have become a sign to many;
    you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
    declaring your splendor all day long. (Psalm 71:5-8 NIV)

I have followed the Lord at some level since I was a young boy. My parents and grandparents invested in building my faith consistently for many years. I am so thankful for their teaching and example over the years. As I read this passage this morning I was reminded of a tag line that Kari Jobe used in one of her live performances at the end of a special song. The song was “When You Walk In The Room” as a tag line. She then goes into a song called Majesty written by Delirious. Check out this simple worship chorus.

Majesty, Majesty.
Your grace has found me just as I am,
Empty handed but alive in Your hands.
Singing Majesty, Majesty.
Forever I am changed by Your love,
In the presence of Your Majesty.
Majesty.

I’m so thankful for God’s Presence in my life. There is no place I can go that He is not there. There is nothing I face without Him. He has filled my heart with hope and forever changed my heart. I will put my hope in Him because He’s filled me with hope.

Pressing On!

Dwayne