April Hope Whispers

“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.”
Jeremiah 29:11

SAFE
by Victory Worship

“You are never far away
Always reaching out to save
My weakness covered by Your strength
And I am found forever safe
I found my fortress in You
And my soul is anchored with You
My resting place is in Your name
Forever safe”

Hope-Breathing Quotes

“I know the world is crazy right now, but I’m so thankful that God knows our names, understands our emotions and is intimately involved with the development of our faith.” ~ Lois Flowers

Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don’t. You are in good company… You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope.” ~ John Piper

“Hope is the silver shaft of sun breaking through the storm-darkened sky, words of comfort in the intensive care unit, the first spring bird perched on a snow-covered twig, and the finish line in sight. It is a rainbow, a song, a loving touch. Hope is knowing God and resting in His love.” ~ NLT Life Application Study Bible: Zephaniah introduction

Nature is a Retreat of Hope

““Be as a bird perched on a
frail branch that she feels
bending beneath her,
still she sings away
all the same,
knowing she has wings.”
Victor Hugo

Thank you to my brother John for these beautiful bird photos.
(🙂 Please respect copyright laws. 🙂)

Black-Necked Stilt
Roadrunner with a Lizard for His Lady
As part of the mating ritual, he carried the lizard from tree to tree and made a cooing sound.
Green Heron
Green Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl

 

When It’s Hard To Jump Into the Jordan

It’s scary to step out and take a risk into the unknown, isn’t it?

When God made a way through the Red Sea for the Israelites, they saw the waters part before they took one step. But crossing the Jordan River was different. The priests carrying the Ark were told to step into the swollen waters. When they took that step of faith, God opened the way to the promised land.

God has been whispering to me to “jump into the Jordan” ever since I read this guest post at Ann Voskamp’s blog.

I identify with the need for being absolutely certain. I recognize that paralyzing fear when it comes to decisions in my life. When I read eloquent posts, I feel insecure and indecisive, and that negative voice whispers, “You’re not good enough.” I question whether or not I should keep writing. Whether or not I should continue this blog. As I wrestled with this again during my summer break, I wanted a clear answer from God. He didn’t give me that. Instead, He gave me a nudge to trust Him, to stop standing on the shore, terrified that I can’t step forward without knowing for sure it’s His way for me. Without knowing what the outcome will be. Even without “feeling” Him beside me. He nudged me to take a step of faith and jump into the Jordan’s unknowns, trusting He’s got me and will never abandon me.

“For we walk by faith,
not by sight.”
2 Corinthians 5:7
“Because of the Lord’s great love
we are not consumed,

 for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

Maybe you, too, feel you don’t have a way with words like some writers. Maybe you, too, don’t feel “good enough.” The truth is we don’t need to become more fluent writers to blog. All God asks is that we “jump into the Jordan” with all our inadequacies, trusting His power to part the rivers of our impossibilities with His Almighty strength. Trusting His grace is greater than our fears of not being enough. Trusting His faithful love will guide us and give us the words, whether few or many. Believing He can bless even the sharing of a Bible verse, a song, a nature photo, or an inspirational quote.

Whatever insecurities and impossibilities are overwhelming us right now and paralyzing us from moving forward, God is bigger. In His power, we can step forward into the unknown. The same God who can make a way through the rivers and seas He has created also has the power and the desire to help us jump into the Jordans of our lives and to trust Him to lead us and take care of all our needs.

“And looking at them Jesus said to them,
‘With people this is impossible,
but with God all things are possible.'”
Matthew 19:26

Faith
by Jordan Feliz

“There is no ocean that can’t be parted
There is no mountain that can’t be moved
I know there’s help for the heavy hearted
The weak will find their strength renewed

You just gotta have faith
Mmm, you just gotta have faith

It’s light for the shadows, for all your tomorrows
It’s knowing He’s there through the sun and the rain
It’s when you believe it, before you can see it
And you can walk on ’cause he’s making the way…”

Mary’s Devotion to God and His Way In Spite of Scorn

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord;
let it be to me according to Your Word.”

Can you imagine an angel from God suddenly appearing in front of you? Telling you something will happen to you that is so incomprehensible that no one on earth can ever understand it?

What a shock it must have been for Mary, coming from the disregarded, despised city of Nazareth. She was among the poor and unnoticed.

But God noticed her. He chose her to carry our Savior, truly God who became poor so that we might become rich.

“You know the grace that has come to us
through our Lord Jesus the Anointed.
He set aside His infinite riches
and was born into the lowest circumstance
so that you may gain great riches
through His humble poverty.”
2 Corinthians 8:9 Voice

When the angel appeared, Mary became frightened, but the angel told her:

“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Now listen:
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you will call His name Jesus.
He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father David.
He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and His kingdom will have no end.”
Luke 1:30-33 HCSB

Mary was baffled, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied to her:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,

and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore, the holy One to be born
will be called the Son of God.”
Luke 1:35 HCSB

Wow! God poured in His grace, and Mary opened her heart and believed this was not impossible with God. She answered His call, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your Word.” (Luke 1:38 ESV)

What would this illegitimate birth mean for Mary in the culture in which she lived?  Her father might have cast her out and forced her into begging. She would be scorned and could even be put to death, but God took care of all this and told Joseph not to abandon her and to go ahead and marry her anyway.

She may still have been under suspicion. Maybe she even lost friends.

A difficult journey was ahead of her, and she knew her submission to God would be costly. Yet she remained devoted to Him and freely offered Him her body and soul. It was more important to her to follow God and have His favor than gain the approval of people.

O Lord, are we that available to You? Please help us to give You our whole hearts and lives, both body and soul. Make us open to whatever You have in mind for us in this life, even when we can’t understand it or we meet with resistance. Like Mary, help us to put Your favor and glory above people’s approval and favor. Enable us to throw ourselves into Your hands with a childlike trust as Your servants, ready to do or be whatever You ask us to! Help us to make room in our hearts for You! We invite You to be born in the stinking, dirty stable of our hearts! Help us to embrace and be filled with awe that You became poor so we might become rich! Thank You for Your free gift of unspeakable love!