The Journey Thoughts

December 22, 2016

It was time to clear the dead lantana from our flower bed.  I was thinking
how amazing it was that this stuff kept coming up year after year, even when
I cut it back to the ground every winter. It clearly had spread over the
entire bed, and now was just a bunch of dead bushes.  Yesterday looked like
a perfect day to get that done. As Lisa and I were clearing it away, we
noticed a stone placed under all the brush, that I had forgotten about. On
the rock was enscripted the word: "HOPE."  It's funny that there it was all
the time, yet it has been so long since we had seen it.  We both were
surprised that it was there, for we had forgotten.  It reminded me of the
hope that we have in Christ.  Always there, yet covered at times with an
overgrowth of bushes and grass, the stress of the world.  It's like that
word just jumped out from under all that brush to remind us of the hope that
still burns brightly in our hearts, even though it is not seen at times.
Scripture tells us this: "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 5:2-5  It took a little rock to remind
me that hope still burns bright within me. The passion of serving others for
the sake of our Lord; the love that He has given us in our hearts toward one
another; the endurance we have, even in the face of trials.  All this is to
bring hope into a strong and stable place within us.  This hope is what
drives us every day.  I know that, especially during this season, things can
get to you.  Life has a way of bringing us stress that we don't want, but
every step we take seems to bring more and more stress.  It becomes like my
Lantana, that if not carefully pruned, will grow to overshadow the hope that
we desire.  But I want you to know, my dear friends, that underneath that
brush of stress and anxiety, there is hope.  It's still there, in the still
small whisper, in the gentle rain, in the things that, even in the presence
of stressful life around us, still burns brightly under it.  It is in the
comfort of a friend. So, if you have lost sight of hope, for the pressures
of the world around you, just clear a little of the weeds away, seek the
Word of the Lord, and He will show you that hope remains. He will bring you
to the place where hope resides, and your character will reveal what was
already there.  For the One who lives in you; the One who brings you through
every day, has not left you, and so I would say, rejoice! Rejoice in the
hope of the Glory of God, and you will then be able to rejoice in whatever
afflictions you are in today.  And you will see, that under all the clutter
of the things that occupy your mind, you will find hope.  I wish you a very
merry, and a blessed Christmas, and I pray that you will rejoice with me in
the hope we have been given in Christ, for He is our savior; He is our Lord;
He is our rock; He is our firm foundation; He is our hope.

Pastor Andy

Heavenly Father, Thank You for the hope that rests within me.  Thank you for
reminding me through a little clearing of the brush of dead plants that hope
was there all the time.  I love the way, Lord, that You use such subtle
reminders to bring our focus back on You daily.  You are our hope, and I
thank You.  I would ask Lord, for Your forgiveness, when we let the things
of the world bring a shroud over the hope that we have, and thank You, for
helping me remove this dead stuff that was covering the hope that You have
placed there long ago.  I would ask Lord, for Your mercy on those I love, on
those who, though I don't know, I realize You do, and I lift them to You.
Please touch: Don, Lynn, Dwight, Sammie, For those leaving, traveling during
this season of celebration. Please keep them safe. I pray for: Carol,
Michele, Pam, William, Carrie, Ada, Rheba, Mary, Veronica, Douglas, Fritz,
Dan, Dillon, Tara, Kristena, Kristen, Carolyn, Gene, Terry, Angie, Isabel,
Don, Mike S., Barbara, Candace, Meredith, Abe, Ramona, Ben, BJ, Ida, JV,
Eva, Kelly and her son, Corbin, Robert, Pat, Ryan, Fred, Dotty, Scott,
April, Tracy, Abraham, Elijah, Japheth, Mike, Megan, Jeff, Laura, Matt, Liz,
Matt, Bethany, Tim, Carmello, Kaitlyn, Alex, Ken, Lynette, Patrick, Kathy,
Jennifer, Montella, Nancy, June, Pastor Berkey, Harriet, Shelbi, Fisher,
Marlaina, Cynthia, Loren, Mike, Pam, Clara, Jerry, Gary, Diane, Nada.  I
pray that You uncover the hope that is in us, so that we can see Your glory,
and that You will reignite the passion of our first love once again, for I
ask it in Jesus name.

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