Advent Hymn Studies #1 – Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
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I love to study the lyrics of hymns. They often bless my heart probably because so often they are words straight from scripture. I haven’t done a hymn study in a while so I’m going to try to study some Christmas hymns during December. Won’t you come along with me?
Even though he was the wisest man of all time, King Solomon discovered much in his life. It’s kind of comforting to know that the wisest man of all time discovered that life is pretty much meaningless. If it was meaningless for him, no wonder we feel that way!
I recently just finished studying the book of Ecclesiastes, thought to be written by King Solomon toward the end of his life. Solomon searched for meaning and documented his findings in this book of the Bible. He realized a lot of things about life.
When we accept Christ’s wonderful gift of salvation, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is like earnest money. His indwelling in a believer is the proof of God’s guarantee that He will follow through with His promise and bring us home to dwell with Him forever in Heaven.
This is our confident hope!
One glorious day we will be fully alive and free from the temptation to sin as we live eternally in God’s physical presence. We have a guaranteed inheritance through Jesus. Paul wanted the Ephesian believers to know the great magnitude of this rich inheritance in God’s people.
We are HIS Inheritance
We usually think only of our inheritance as salvation, righteousness, or Heaven, but Paul wanted the Ephesians to understand they were so precious to God that He considered them His own inheritance. Knowing our spiritual poverty, we wonder how God can find anything of value in us, let alone His own inheritance.
His Investments in Us
Yet God creates unspeakable riches out of poor men and women because He invests Himself in them. He has invested riches of love, riches of wisdom, riches of suffering, riches of glory, and riches of holy transformation. These things accrue to a rich inheritance in the saints. (Enduring Word) He has invested Himself in us and His return on that investment will be magnificent!
“Because of His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Peter 1:3-9)
It’s a Glorious Hope!
What a glorious hope we have! I urge you to read the entire passage in 1 Peter! No matter what we face in life, hope in Jesus is certain and sure, never fading away. This confident hope comes from the sealing of the Holy Spirit. We know, that we know, that we know, that God holds our lives and our souls for eternity, sustaining us through His Word.
We can trust Him with eternity, with our next breath, our next celebration or tragedy; He will never change or abandon us. We can remind ourselves of His faithfulness by
Hold Tightly to Your Confident Hope
Holding tightly to our assured hope is hard, but if we keep a written record of God’s specific blessings, we can remind ourselves of His faithfulness when our faith is weak. In my own life, there have been many trials, but my hope is found in knowing God is faithful and never fails.
I like to use Psalm 136 as a template to write my own blessings from God; repeating after each blessing, “His faithful love endures forever.” I pray you have this confident hope in Christ! It is yours by giving your life completely to Him. Leave everything in His hands and you will find peace, hope and security.
This is just an excerpt of the Bible Study I wrote for Gracefully truthful. Follow this link to read more.
In looking for some hope in our scary world, I’ve been watching movies and reading books based on true stories. I’ll tell you I have shed more tears, both of sorrow and joy, on this journey hearing the stories of others.
Recently, my husband and I have ventured on The Dove Channel. As you might expect, it is a Christian based channel with stories of hope and love and JESUS. This week we watched Rev. Roger Minassian’s amazing story of perseverance and love in a movie called Streets of Hope.
“at the age of 53 left the security of his pastorate to step outside his comfort zone to do the truly amazing. Knowing nothing about gang youth, he took to the streets and transformed our city, ravaged by gang violence, by taking hundreds of gang kids off of our streets. It is also the story of Santos Delgado, a gang member, who at age 16 had no future and little hope. He knew his future was either prison or death. His girlfriend was pregnant. He had to make life-changing decisions. This film is about taking risks, embracing change, overcoming the impossible, and finding hope.”
I found myself hoping against hope with every decision Santos made. I felt the frustration of Rev. Roger Minassian as time after time kids went back to the gangs, sometimes ending in death.
Perseverance was the key. Rev Roger Minassian had to remind himself over and over that God placed him there for a purpose. Imagine how he must have felt at times, wanting to give up, but remembering that if he could reach even one kid it would be worth it all. I was thrilled to see that indeed, he reached way more than 1 kid.
Streets of Hope Recommendation
Streets of Hope is a keeper. Find it on Amazon, Vudu, and YouTube. Check out the trailer below.
This summer (2020) Susie Larson is offering a free online study of her latest book, Fully Alive. This was such a helpful book for me, so I decided to repost this review. She is offering the book for only $10 [CODE: FAITHRADIO] and the study is free! Sign up at the end of this post.
NOTE: I received this book at no charge in exchange for writing this review. These words are my own opinion and I have not been compensated to say them.
Dare to Hope again
Have you been losing your hope lately? What is it that is pulling you down into
This month on the blog, we have been sharing journeys with grief. Today, I want to share a few resources for grief that I have found this month.
Personally, I am not on a journey with grief; however, there are many ways to suffer a loss that requires a grieving process. I (Mandy) have lost much in recent years including my health, my ministry with my husband, our home, our bank account, and our small annuity. I shared more specifically on this two years ago with my friend and fellow blogger, Nan Jones.
In searching for what to share this month, I discovered a new book just getting ready to release in November. It was on a list of books to preview and review so I picked it up.
A book release, Loss, Survive, Thrive
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Mark Twain, always a master at painting pictures with words, was left utterly speechless when attempting to express how he felt after the death of his twenty-four-year-old Susie. He wrote, “To do so would bankrupt the vocabulary of all the languages.” To this day, that is the best description of grief I have come across.
Susan Whitmore, Loss, Survive, Thrive
These stories will tear at your soul and tug at your heartstrings. They will bring tears to your eyes. But still, no words come to mind to make the journeys easier.
However, this book is not all sadness because these families also walked through the strife into thriving. Each family found a way to make sense of it all, if only slightly. They found ways to speak this child’s name for eternity; a way to remove the senseless reasons behind the grief. Of course, grief journeys will always seem senseless but if we look closely, we can find a way to keep them from being useless.
These families have found that in sharing their journeys with grief they are able to help others travel through similar sorrows. In doing so, they found that their own grief became just a tinge easier to bear because now we can all bear it together.
C.S. Lewis says, “We read to know that we are not alone.” Anyone striving through a journey of grief can read this collection of stories and maybe, just maybe it will hold them up a bit.
Susan Whitmore, Loss, Survive, Thrive
Finding Ways to Thrive
Someone once said to never let a trial be wasted. Grief works in ways that teach us to help others. When I lived far from home and would get lonely, my mother always told me to reach out and help someone else. It really does make a difference and somehow brings joy into any situation.
Some of the ways these families have found to pay something forward include establishing groups or foundations that can help support others in the same place.
If you need some grief support, maybe their actions will be the place you find peace in your sorrow. Here are a few resources for grief shared in the book.
Just writing/blogging can be therapeutic. Here is one blog from the book luminousblue5.com
Giving of Gifts to celebrate special days
Expressions through art, writing, and poetry
“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.”
-Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Thank you, NetGalley, Meryl Hershey Beck, & publisher, Rowman & Littlefield for giving me a copy and allowing me the opportunity to read and review this new book.
But something was missing
I found this above-mentioned book excellent for finding connection with others who have lost children. Also, it is encouraging for finding a way to thrive beyond the grief; however, for me as a Christian, I found something missing.
While some did mention God, I found it quite lacking in stories of faith. Families that leaned hard into the hope that comes only from God. So I went looking for another option for you. I remembered my author/blogger/friend, Karen Sebastian who writes about the hope she has found in the dark places of her own life.
Ride the Waves to Comfort
I realized that I already had purchased two of Karen’s books and they were waiting for me right on my Kindle:
The Power of Hope in Mourning: Ride the Waves to Comfort
Relating to our day-to-day, even moment-by-moment, journey through grief Karen will walk with you through your pain. She “rides the wave” with you as you, knowing that God is there carrying you through.
You will find her guidance towards hope neatly put together with lessons from her own journey with grief, practical advice, and spiritual guidance. This Hope that is missing from the aforementioned book review is everywhere in this book.
A thought of my own
We often hear others say that God will not allow us to go through more than we can bear. However, this statement is not Biblical. The truth is that you WILL go through much more than you can bear. But the joy in this is: GOD CAN BEAR IT! Just rest in Him and His comfort.
Rabbi Harold Kushner reminds us “We can endure much more than we think we can; all human experience testifies to that. All we need to do is learn not to be afraid of pain. Grit your teeth and let it hurt. Don’t deny it, don’t be overwhelmed by it. It will not last forever. One day, the pain will be gone and you will still be there.“
Additionally, I must add to Kushner’s thought; lean hard into God. He promises to take care of us. He promises to go through the high waters with us. And when we come out on the other end, we will be stronger, wiser, more understanding, and probably a bunch more.
In Savannah, we all know what it is like to be awakened in the night with blaring horns warning us that there are severe storms in the area. I recall into the midwest that storms and tornado warnings could come upon us quickly as well. Either way, it’s a frightening experience.
Just like in a tropical storm, we have no control of where or how the storms come in our lives. It may barrel straight through us or it might skirt around us. Some storms may be strong and dangerous and others are slow and become just a thunderstorm or even just a bit of rain. One never knows.
Isn’t Living For Christ a Cake Walk?
We would like to think that if we are following the Lord, life’s path will take us through smooth sailing. But this is not true. The Bible says, “In this life, we will have trouble.” (John 16:33) The Promise we do have is safety through the storm.
Oh, how we must learn that God is faithful through the storm.
God Sees us THROUGH the Storm
He will be right there with us, our haven. His path will help us grow and learn. We will be strengthened to face another day. He provides for our every need in every situation. There is Hope in the Hard Places.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ESV
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV
Why do we worry and fret and not live in the peace that He offers us? Why do we allow the projected path of a storm to get us all worked up? We aren’t showing the world a reason to follow Christ if we fret and worry over our situation.
P.S. I’ve been introducing the old hymns lately. This seems like a good time to share a hymn…
“There is Peace in the Midst of the Storm”
When the world that I’ve been Living in collapses at my feet And when my life is all tattered and torn Though I’m wind-swept, I’ve been battered I’m gonna cling unto His cross I’ll find peace in the midst of the storm
-by Stephen Adams
There is peace in the midst of the storm-tossed life There is an Anchor, there is a rock to build my faith upon Jesus Christ is my vessel so I fear no alarm He gives me peace in the midst of the storm
Peace in the Midst of the Storm: Performed by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I am not being paid to write this or being told what to say.
There’s nothing like reading a book that you wish you had earlier but then realizing the Lord directed you to survive in the very way the author has suggested. That’s what I found in Sarah Beckman’s book, Hope for the Hard Places. That is exactly what happened to me.
Our family has had our share of hard places: chronic pain, job loss, bankruptcy, grief, You name it. Sarah offers some definite steps in how to handle a crisis. And everyone, one time or another, will need this guide.
If you are in a hard place, this book is for you. It’s a beautiful guide to making it through the worst of times whether it is from grief or sickness or any other trial. If you need encouragement, go ahead and read the last chapter. Then start from the beginning and read IT through. This book is filled with practical advice along with the spiritual. Trust me you will be glad you picked this one up.
Sarah will tell you how to place the right people around you and what you need to have at your access. She will offer you great ways to get what you most desperately need in your own time of crisis. This book will help you deal with words that hurt and friends that disappear. Sarah will also help you look inward to change impossible expectations and how to give yourself grace when you fail to rise to your own expectations for yourself.
Most importantly, she talks about your own soul-care for this, to me, is the most important thing you can do in a crisis because as the scriptures say, “For what profits a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul” (Matthew 16:26) I’ll let you get the whole explanation by reading the book yourself but here are the steps in a nutshell.
5 Steps of Soul-care during a Crisis
Listen to God – Ask “Why me?” but also “What now?”
Be Honest with Trusted Friends – tell them what you need
Trust God without any Expectations – He sees you & knows what you need
Choose Joy – A positive outlook makes all the difference
Spend Regular time in God’s Word – Cindy Barnes recently wrote this about regular time with God here on the blog.
Get bonus products by ordering today ~ LAUNCH DAY, March 5th
There is so, so much more in this wonderful guide for the hard places. Please go get your own copy to read and keep on your shelf. Trust me. You or someone near you will need it soon.
As soon as we entered through the doors at Mayo Clinic, we felt peace and hope. We had never experienced anything like the atmosphere and the love and care we felt when we arrived.
When we turned the car onto the campus we felt peace. We saw beautiful landscaping with trees and flowers and water fountains as we drove onto the campus. We drove right up to the building we needed to check into.
10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to theLord.11 And she made this vow: “OLordof Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to theLord, his hair will never be cut.
Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.
1 Samuel 1:10-11, 18 (NLT)
When I read about the anguish in Hannah’s heart, my own heart is pricked.
Do I Pray with Deep Anguish?
First, while I had a great desire to have children, I don’t know this kind of pain of waiting years to be blessed and seeing others around me having children when I did not, however, I do know about pain of a different kinds=. I have actual pain from my chronic illness, I have aching pain for family members that are far from God, I know the pain of rejection.
But I wonder at times if my pain has been deep enough for me to cry out to God in “deep anguish”. I wonder if I have ever fallen before God begging him to work in my life or in the lives of others. Do I fall prostrate before God, asking and fasting while I pray for Him to intervene?
When we say that we are praying for someone, do we really pray for them or do we just hope that things will get better for them? Do we actually take the time to stop and focus on God and ask Him to intervene? I have recently made an effort to always place the person’s name in my prayer journal app. (See Prayer Popper) I don’t say I will pray unless I place them in this journal. This brings them to my mind occasionally and I do lift them up in prayer for a moment. But I still wonder if I am praying or just wishing and wanting. Do I get serious about intercession?
Secondly, Do I Believe God will Answer?
After Eli blessed her and asked God to grant her request she “went and ate with her family and was no longer sad.” She accepted with confidence that God would now answer her prayers. She was no longer distraught over her situation. She left it in God’s hands.
When we are distraught over our situation, do we take it and lay our concern on the altar and then go away “no longer sad”? Or do we pick up our concerns and take them with us?
Are we content to trust Him no matter what His answer may be?
Hannah was able to leave her request at the altar. She went home and was happy. She had not received her heart’s desire yet but she now found joy in her God. Her faith held her up.
Our hope should be in God not in our desires.
Are we devoted to God regardless of whether God has met those desires? Are we willing to give back to God the very things for which we are praying?
I challenge you to lay your burdens on the altar of God and leave them there. Remember, he promises to give rest to our souls if we bring them to Him and let Him do the work.
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