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This message is dedicated to my friend, Jerri, who is an amazing example of living in faith and holding on to hope.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – the LORD, who remains faithful forever.    ~ Psalm 146:5-6 (NIV)

Jerri, my hairstylist and sister-friend, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.  Her doctor said there was nothing he could do, that only 15% of people with this cancer survive.  Jerri’s response to the doctor:  “Then why aren’t you treating me like one of  the 15%?!”    Jerri’s response to God:  “I give this to You, Lord. My hope is in You.”   Jerri prepared for the worst, but ALWAYS hoped for the best.  She remained prayerful and steadfast in faith as she endured months of painful treatments.  As a hair stylist, she worked as much as she could and took every opportunity she had to share her faith with others, always giving praise to God and stating that her hopes remained in the Lord.

Yesterday Jerri called  with wonderful news.  Her latest tests indicate her lymph nodes are clear, and it looks likely that surgery can remove the cancer that remains in her lungs and chest.  If all goes well, Jerri could be cancer free! Praise the Lord!!!  This is nothing short of a miracle.  Surely this is a reward for her unshakable faith and continued hope in the Lord.

What is HOPE?  It’s something we feel when we long for something.  I used to say I ‘wish’ for this or that.  Now my ‘wishes’ are replaced with hope.  What’s the difference?  For me, wishing simply states my wants as if I’m talking to Santa Clause or the tooth fairy.  Hope is a spiritual feeling that comes from my heart, based on faith, often wrapped in prayer, and is directed to God.  Hope is a positive, encourage feeling I can share with others.  My wishes were only thoughts seeking luck.

The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines hope as a “trustful expectation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of God’s promises.  Biblical hope is the anticipation of a favorable outcome under God’s guidance.  More specifically, hope is the confidence that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our participation in what God will do in the future.  This contrasts to the world’s definition of hope as a ‘feeling that what is wanted will happen’.”

I used to hope in a questioning, asking way…a way that conveyed uncertainty, not confidence.  Holman’s definition states hope is a “trustful expectation”…”a favorable outcome under God’s guidance”…and is about having confidence in God.

A true feeling of hope can be shared with others.  When others are struggling, hurting, depressed, or feeling overwhelmed, our ability to have  hope – confident expectations based on our faith – can lift them up and help them grow in faith.

The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (HIBD) says that Christians can have confidence in God because of the things He has done.  He has proven His strength, power and might.  For thousands of years God has made miracles happen and helped those who seemed hopeless and helpless to find a way, when there seemed to be no way.  The greatest proof we have that God is our one, true source of hope is the fulfillment of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  His resurection after dying on the cross as a sacrifice for us “defeated the power of sin and death”, thereby giving us hope for the future.

“Given the assurance of hope, Christians live in the present with confidence and face the future with courage.  They can also meet trials triumphantly…Christian hope is the gift of God.”    (HIBD)

That statement is definitely true for my friend, Jerri.  From the moment she trusted God with her life and put her hopes in HIM, she began facing her future with courage and meeting her trials with triumph.  As she did, she demonstrated grace and peace that could only come from God, and I believe it’s because she truly put her hopes in the Lord.

Please pray for Jerri and her doctors, that her lymph nodes are indeed clear, for her surgery to be successful, and for God’s will to be complete healing for her.  Pray also that Jerri will continue to use her experiences to encourage others in hope and faith, bringing glory and honor to God.

If you are in a situation needing hope, then my prayers are with you, too. If you’d like others to pray for you, you can respond to this post, or to my email   ReneeMyers@carolina.rr.com     God bless you.

 We (Christians) have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.   ~ Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)

May the God of hope 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.     ~ Romans 15:13 (NIV)

“God our Savior…wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  1 Timothy 2:3-4

I met a woman this week who said she ‘received’ the Gospel from her parents.  “What an interesting choice of words,” I thought.  The words became more meaningful as she shared her history.  My new friend is from China where Christians have been persecuted for pursuing their faith.  She is a third generation Christian.  She ‘received the Gospel’ from her parents, who received the Gospel from her grandparents, who received the Gospel from Americans serving as missionaries in China.  From her family’s perspective, they received the Gospel.   

To receive means to actively take or accept something.  Many of us say we’ve heard the Gospels, or we’re studying the Gospels.  Some might even say they know the Gospels, but have we received the Gospel?  Have we accepted the Good News and teachings of the Gospels? 

My friend spoke with great appreciation for the missionaries who shared the Gospel with her grandparents.  Because of their efforts, four generations from her family are now Christians.  Her children are being raised in the Christian faith here in Charlotte, NC. 

Hearing my new friend speak about her faith made me realize how much Americans take our Christian faith and heritage for granted. Our conversation also made me realize how important it is that we not just hear the Gospels, we need to receive the Good News of the Gospel by claiming the truth of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel is the Good News that when Jesus Christ died on the cross, He gave Himself as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Three days later God raised him from the dead.  Now he sits at the right hand of God, our Father, in heaven.  Because of this, we, too, can be ‘raised’ from our sins and given eternal life in heaven. Through Jesus Christ, man can be forgiven of his sins.  Mistakes, wrong-doings, and evil ways will be justified with God so that we can live for eternity with God in heaven.  It doesn’t matter what we’ve done or where we are in life, Christ is ready to receive us.  Are you ready to receive Him?  

Once made perfect, Jesus became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.  – Hebrews 5:9

Would you like to know more about receiving the Gospel?  Or receiving Christ as your Lord and Savior?  If so, you can contact me at ReneeMyers@carolina.rr.com or go to www.Proverbs31.org and click on Know Him. 

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  – Romans 10:9 

1)  Money can buy a lot of trouble. 

      Work for it in earnest.  Spend it in truth. 

2)  Work hard.  Save smart.  Spend wisely. 

Renee Myers 1-12-11

Isaiah 43:19
For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.  (NLT)       (Verse copied from www.Biblegateway.com

It’s a new year and the timing is perfect because we’ve spent the past eight months doing away with the old so we can ring in the new.   We’ve been completing major house repairs and remodeling.  It started with a new roof and windows – both of which were badly needed.  From there the project grew to involve flooring, walls,  stonework, remodeling kitchen and baths, finishing attic space, replacing staircases, other miscellaneous projects that evolved throughout the process, and oh, yeah…we added a new room.   It’s been tough and frustrating at times, but the outcomes exceed our expectations and we’re very pleased with the changes and improvements made.  Perhaps the best part of all is that these projects forced us to completely clear out rooms, closets, cabinets, and storage areas.  Doing so was painful at the time (literally and figuratively!).  At times the messes we created seemed worse than the messes we were trying to fix.  They gave new meaning to the verse above where it talks about making a path through the wilderness because at times paths were all we had through our ‘wilderness’ of a mess!    The rewards are worth the work, though.  It feels so good to get rid of stuff we don’t need and to reorganize and repurpose things we do need.   It’s like a load has been lifted from us – again, literally and figuratively. 

Change can be hard, but change is often good.  As our boys grew, our lives moved forward.  We outgrew the need for many things.  Getting rid of those things makes room in our lives for new interests and pursuits.  By completely clearing out rooms, we found ourselves visualizing new ways of using old spaces.  It’s been great to experience how much better things feel with the changes we’ve made. 

The work isn’t done yet, but we’re almost done.  At times I’m exhausted and feel overwhelmed, but at the same time I’m excited by all we’ve accomplished and the improvements we’ve made.   I also feel good about the many things we passed along to others.   Some of our housing materials were taken to Habit for Humanity, other things were given to appropriate charities, and some things were passed along to friends and loved ones.  Much more was shared with others than was thrown away. 

Yes, ringing in the new year feels especially good this year.  We’ve parted with the old and are ready to ring in the new…’new’ home, new opportunities, and hopefully lots of new memories and special times with loved ones and friends. 

 And you know what?  I’m thankful to God for this mess He blessed us with.  Facing the messes forced us to cut through clutter, simplify, minimize and reorganize so we’re better able to make this a home we can share with others, and a better place for His presence to reside.  It is my greatest hope and prayer that our home will be a place for others to gather, and that in those times we’ll somehow be able to bless and glorify God. 

We went big, but it doesn’t take major projects to bring about major changes. Sometimes simple changes and little baby steps can lead to significant improvements. What areas of your life could benefit from a little fixing up or re-doing?  Maybe it’s a physical room in your home, but it could also be old habits or patterns of  thought that need a little attention.  Perhaps it’s time to give yourself a new look, or maybe it’s time to spruce up your spiritual life.  Whatever it is, I hope you find the same joy and satisfaction from your efforts that we’re finding from ours.  I also hope you won’t let a little hard work scare you away.  Anything worth having is worth working for.  May God be with you and bless you in your efforts to make the changes your heart desires – and also the changes  made necessary by leaking rooftops and rotting windows!   

May the blessings and joy of the Lord be with you throughout new year.  🙂

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