Monday, April 27, 2009

I was introduced to Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking, many years ago and its principles have had a profound effect on my life. Dr. Peale emphasized applying faith in daily life in order to overcome life’s problems and to seize opportunities. Peale confessed that as a youth he had "the worst inferiority complex of all," so he developed his positive thinking/positive confession philosophy just to help himself. You see, he found hope; he held on to hope; then he handed out hope. He said, “The person who sends out positive thoughts activates the world around him positively and draws back to himself positive results.”

He was a possibilitarian.
How can we hand out hope? How can we become possibilitarians?

I’d like to share 5 S words that will help us to hand out hope:
Share, Smile, Speak, Send, and Show

S #1 - Share Love
Christ gave us 2 very important commandments. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” The greatest form of love is agape love, a love that is from God and is meant to be shared. It is an empathetic love.
You may be familiar with the song, "Share the Love."
So many people hopeless, so many live in fear,
They wander in darkness, they cry a lonely tear.
So many people hurting, and it seems nobody cares;
But you can be the difference with all the love you share.

The following list of S words will show us how to share love.

S # 2 – Simply Smile
Proverbs 15:13 tells us, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful.” We can begin handing out hope with a smile A smile is the universal symbol for happiness or joy. A smile crosses all language barriers.

I have experienced much joy and much sadness in my life through cancer, divorce, an injured child, the death of my brother and then the death of a spouse. I know that behind many smiles lie a thousand sorrows. Yet giving a smile has been a way I’ve chosen to spread hope. A smile can give you a happiness boost and others a happiness boost.

S #3 - Speak Encouragement:
Ephesians 4:29 tell us, “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
Athletic teams have a home court advantage when they hear thousands of fans cheering them on. We’re like that too. Sometimes we need the home court advantage. Sometimes we just need someone to tell us “Go!, You can do it! Run to the finish line! You can score! You’re the one! You’re special!, You’re important!” To encourage is to inspire someone with courage. Mark Twain said he could live 2 months on a compliment. When we speak a word of encouragement, we are giving someone extra courage to do something, try something, or find hope in something.

S #4 - Send Notes:
I received a note from a really new friend not too long ago with this scripture, Psalm 16:9, “I’m happy from the inside out and from the outside in.” Don’t you know that brightened my day!
Tell someone you’re praying for her. You can write a specific Scriptures as a prayer. Romans 15:13, "[I pray that] the God of hope [will] fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

S #5 - Show Kindness
We can take the advice of John Wesley
Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can!
Kindness may mean a warm hug, quality time spent with someone, a home cooked meal, or a book of stamps. I’ll never forget that after my husband’s death, my sweet neighbor who had been a widow herself came to my house with a roll of stamps. “Honey, she said, you’ll need them.” A simple, but meaningful act of kindness.

It's an interesting fact of history that the Romans confused the Greek word "christos" (Christ), with the word "chrestos," which means "kind". They sometimes said the word for “kind” when they meant the word for “Christ.” What a beautiful way to transpose words. See how many people you can confuse this week with Christ and kindness.

We have a choice each day. We can put on the glasses of hope or the glasses of despair. We can choose to look for a future good. Or we can live in the darkness and gloom of the present. Ladies, let’s learn to heal our brokenness with hope. Let’s hold on to that hope through good times and bad. Then let’s handout that hope.

In the words of Norman Vincent Peale, "Hope! What a wonderful word it is! Write it indelibly on your mind. H-O-P-E. It is a bright word, shining and scintillating and dynamic, forward looking, full o courage and optimism. With this word, let us begin tomorrow."
This devotion is a portion of a speech I gave at a ladies luncheon. You may hear the speech by clicking on this link - http://christplace.org/pdfs/CathysTalk.WMA
To post a comment -- Click on the title of this blog, "Hope," at the top of the page. When the new page appears, scroll to the bottom and make a comment.

Make Me an Instrument

Sunday, April 19, 2009

One of the most beautiful sights in Italy is the little town of Assisi. Known as the birthplace of Italy’s patron saint, St. Francis, Assisi is a feast for the eyes with it Roman ruins, narrow winding streets, and walls of cascading flowers. The town boasts breathtaking views of central Italy. On the day I was there this spring, we looked out on miles of vineyards, lush gardens, and medieval villages.It was in this idyllic setting that St. Francis grew up with all the privileges of family wealth. As a very young man, Francis turned his back on his inheritance and committed his life to God. He practiced a life of simplicity, poverty, and humility before God. With a devout respect for all that God created, Francis showed compassion for the poor, the sick, and all of God’s creatures. His remains are at the beautiful Basilica of St. Francis in the heart of the town. The "Prayer of St. Francis," while probably not authored by him, certainly embodies his spirit of simplicity.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
here there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

The words reveal what it really means to be a Christian: to be an instrument of God's peace. If we become active in our Christianity, we will put the needs of others before ourselves. We’ll be the love, forgiveness, faith, hope, light, and joy to others. The prayer is that we will be less concerned with getting and more concerned with giving. Following the example of Christ’s death and resurrection to new life, we too should die to self and find eternal life through our Heavenly Father.

This week let’s think about situations that require us to be love forgiveness, faith, hope, light, and joy to someone. Let's be an instrument of God's peace. Then let’s feel the peace and blessing our risen Lord.

To listen to a contemporary musical version of the prayer, click on this link.http://www.recoverytimes.com/stfrancis.html

27,000 Sunrises

Monday, April 13, 2009

Christ has risen! He has risen indeed!

It was early in the morning when Mary Magdalene discovered that Jesus’ body was missing from the tomb. What a morning of emotions as her sorrow turned to joy when Jesus appeared to her and called her by name. At sunrise on that morning Mary Magdalene recognized Jesus.

Beginning that morning, Jesus appeared to a smattering of his followers. Each failed to recognize him until he revealed himself in a way that cast away their doubt. You see, Jesus met them where they were. He spoke to their individual concerns. Then it was up to each individual to respond.

Mary Magdalene was crying outside the tomb when Jesus appeared to her. She thought he was a gardener. Then Jesus called her name, “Mary.” She heard and believed.

The disciples, fearing the Jews, had locked themselves in a house. When Jesus appeared, he calmed their fears as he stood in the midst of them and said, “Peace to you.” But it wasn’t until he showed them his nail-pierced hands and side that they rejoiced. They saw and believed.
Thomas needed more. It was not until he put his finger in the nail holes that he was able to say, “My Master, My God!” He touched and believed.

Simon Peter needed even more. After an unsuccessful night of fishing, Peter and his disciple friends fell asleep very disappointed. The next morning Jesus appeared on the shore, unrecognized. He told them to throw the net on the other side of the boat. All of a sudden there were so many fish that they couldn’t pull them in. After experiencing this miracle, Peter acknowledged Jesus, “It’s the Master!” Peter experienced and believed.

Aren’t their experiences much like ours? Some of us are like Mary Magdalene. We need a tender voice of comfort in our sorrow. We need to hear Jesus. Jesus whispers our name and says,
“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” John 14:18

Some of us are like the disciples, gripped by fear – fear of the unknown, fear of what others say about us. Maybe we’re “locked” in emotionally. We need to see Jesus working in our lives. We need to Jesus says
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. “ John 14:27
Some of us are like Thomas. We doubt and become skeptical. We hear what good things God is doing for others but don’t believe it will happen in our own lives. We need to touch God. We need for God to move mountains in order for us to believe. Jesus says,
"I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him." Mark 11:23

Then some of us are like Simon Peter. We may have a history of highs and lows in our relationship with Christ. We may have praised him in one minute and denied him in the next. Or maybe we’re in a rut and like the disciples, our net comes up empty. We need to experience Jesus in a mighty way. Jesus says,
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. “ Mark 2:17

Jesus meets us where we are. Whether we need to hear, to see, to touch, or to experience Jesus, he has promised to be near. He will reveal himself to us. Will we recognize him? Will we respond to him?

If you live to age 75, you will experience over 27,000 sunrises. Jesus will appear at all of them. On how many mornings will you recognize him? Like his early followers, all we have to do is accept and believe.

Journey to Jerusalem

Monday, April 6, 2009

Now it came to pass when the time had come for Jesus to be received up, that he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem – Luke 9:51.

This verse describes the focus of all of Jesus’ actions during the weeks leading to the cross. “He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Some versions read, “He determined to journey to Jerusalem.” Jesus set his eyes on the cross. With determination and purpose Jesus began his approach to the city where he knew the crucifixion and resurrection awaited.

As we enter Holy Week, let’s focus on Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. After nearly three years of ministry and in the weeks before his crucifixion, Jesus began to prepare the disciples for his departure. As he headed toward Jerusalem, some of the disciples found reasons to delay following him. But Jesus told them they couldn’t plow forward while looking behind. “Follow me,” he said. He reminded them not to look back but to keep focused on the goal, the kingdom of God. He asks us this week to "Follow him."

During this journey to Jerusalem Jesus taught through parables, visited Mary and Martha, taught the disciples how to pray, dined with a Pharisee, healed the infirmed, raised Lazarus from the dead, and answered questions by the Pharisees. His eyes were on his goal – the kingdom of God. Then before his triumphal ride into the city, he took his disciples aside to remind them, “Listen, we are going to Jerusalem” (Luke 18:31). I imagine he was helping them to keep their focus. This week the still small voice whispers to us, “Listen, we are going to Jerusalem.”

During Holy Week Christians all over the world commemorate the suffering and death of Jesus. We set our face on Jerusalem as we concentrate on the preparations for Jesus’ death that took place in the last week of his life.

Jesus prepared his disciples through the Passover meal, our First Lord’s Supper, by predicting his suffering, by giving them symbols of remembrance, and by guiding them to be servants.
Jesus prepared himself through his time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane where he prayed, “not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus’ enemies prepared themselves too. Judas left during the Last Supper and aligned himself with Chief Priests, Pharisees, and fanatics who led Jesus to his tribunal.

Through it all, Jesus’ eyes were fixed on the cross. What preparations have you made to experience the cross this week?

Whether through shouts of “Blessed be the King” or “Crucify him,” Jesus kept his focus. He knew his mission: he came to serve and give his life as a ransom (Mark 10:45).

What is your focus this week? Are you able to fix your eyes on the cross? Can you “set your face to go to Jerusalem?”

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
I’ll never forget fixing my eyes on the hill of Golgotha a decade ago and imagining the pain and agony our Savior endured. Then I walked a short distance to the garden tomb and with tears of joy read the words, “He Is Not Here For He Is Risen.” When we fix our eyes on the cross we have the promise of life eternal with the risen Lord.

It is only by going through the agony and darkness of Holy Week that we can imagine the horrors of sin and its consequences. It is by contemplating the despair his faithful followers felt on Holy Saturday that we can truly appreciate the hope of Easter Sunday.

Sunday’s coming!

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