How to Have Hope During Difficult Times

This devotion was originally written for the Chase Oaks Church website. Read the Devotion on the Chase Oaks website…..

Romans 5:1-11

1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,2through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.3And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;4and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

6For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.11And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

Having hope during difficult times sounds impossible, but that depends on what you think hope looks like. In the past, I have imagined it as someone who looks naive and complacent while enduring horrible hardship. However, I now realize that hope can be either a steely glare looking deep into the pit of trials of all kinds or a peaceful smile.

One definition of hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”

I’ve seen the steely glare on the faces of those enduring horrible worldly troubles but determined to focus on their hope in Christ. I have also seen suffering with a smile. They both bring to mind a dear friend of mine who recently went home to heaven. For the last 18 years of her life, she was completely paralyzed due to complications of Multiple Sclerosis. She could not do anything for herself. She had to be fed, bathed, everything. She couldn’t even wipe her own tears away when she cried.

When I first met her, I wondered why she wasn’t angry and depressed. But I noticed that, as I cared for her, I somehow felt like she was actually taking care of me. She was a prayer warrior and full of biblical wisdom, but more than that she was full of joy! No one could make me laugh like Patti! And we laughed all the time. She had joy and a smile on her face because she had an expectation that God had a purpose for her.

During her memorial service, I learned from a childhood friend that Patti also contained the steely glare of hope. When she became a quadriplegic, she told her friend, “I will never let my children see me become bitter because of this!” And they never did.

During difficult times, our hope in Christ is not a blissful ignorance or denial; it is an expectation that Christ is going to get us through it and that heaven will more than make up for any temporary struggles here on earth.

Enduring hardship? Hold on to hope in Christ.

God is Your Best Friend

This devotion was originally written for the Chase Oaks Church website. Read the Devotion on the Chase Oaks website…..

Colossians 1:15-20; Isaiah 9:6-7

15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.16For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.18He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.19For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,20and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NASB)

6For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;

And the government will rest on His shoulders;

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

7There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,

On the throne of David and over his kingdom,

To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness

From then on and forevermore.

The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.”

Jesus is fully God and fully man. And Jesus, the incarnate of the all-powerful God and creator of the universe, wants to have a personal relationship with the sinful, mistake-making, fully human me—and you. Jesus died on the cross to make that possible. Jesus came to save everyone and cares about each one.

In my relationship with Jesus, I talk (pray) to Him throughout my day and try to remember to look to Him before making decisions. God answers all prayers. However, it may not always be the answer you want. God may answer with a yes, no, or wait, but there are no unanswered prayers.

There have been times when I didn’t like His answer to something I was praying about, and I would get angry at Him. I’m ashamed to say there have even been times when I have yelled with my face turned upward telling God how unfair He was. The reality is that He is God, and Jesus’ accessibility and love for me can sometimes make me forget that He reigns over all. Jesus is not a genie who grants my wishes. Jesus is the almighty God.

Thankfully Jesus loves me, and I can be open about my feelings, even my anger or doubt. I’ll say it again: Jesus is God Almighty, even when we don’t understand why things happen the way they do. Many of the bad things that happen in the world are just the consequences of living in a fallen, sinful world.

However, being in a relationship with Jesus means taking everything to Him and making Him a part of your everyday life. Jesus wants to share in your joy, calm you when you are angry, and comfort you when you are sad. And the best part is, God is your BFF—literally.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

This devotion was originally written for the Chase Oaks Church website. Read the Devotion on the Chase Oaks website…..

Jude 1:1–3; Titus 3:9

1Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,

To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:2May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.

3Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

Titus 3:9 (NASB)

9But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.”

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” As one of Chase Oaks’ DNA statements, it means to focus on what is important and not argue over the “small stuff.” But what is the small stuff when it comes to our beliefs? The small stuff is anything that does not contradict the Bible or is not clearly spelled out in the Bible.

“Small stuff” includes things like when the rapture will occur, what you eat or drink (including alcohol consumption), how you dress daily, how you dress for church, types of music, and things like these. The Bible is not specific about many of these things or may be less restrictive than some feel is appropriate for themselves. Romans 14 is an excellent chapter that deals with this topic.

Romans 14:5–6, 10 says, “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. . . . You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.”

In other words, the “small stuff” is between each individual and God and not for us to judge. Instead, we should all focus on what God, His Word, and His Son, Jesus, have told us to focus on: loving others and sharing the gospel of salvation by accepting Jesus as God’s Son who lived, was crucified on a cross for our sins, rose to life again after three days, and now sits at God’s right hand interceding for us.

Arguing or judging others for “small stuff” can confuse the watching world. So, when another Christian disagrees with you on the “small stuff,” remember to shift your focus to what is important: loving them and not judging them.

Written by Diana Wells

Wife of Gerry. Mother of Caleb. Child of God

How to Have Courage to Share the Gospel

This devotion was originally written for the Chase Oaks Church website. Read the Devotion on the Chase Oaks website…..

1 John 4:19–21; Romans 1:14–17 (NASB)

19We love, because He first loved us.20If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.21And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

Romans 1:14-17 (NASB)

14I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.15So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUSmanSHALL LIVE BYFAITH.”

Two sections of today’s verses struck me or, more accurately, convicted me. The first is 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.” The second was Romans 1:16a, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation.”

These two brief statements are all I need to get out there and share the salvation of Jesus with others. Love should compel me—Christ’s love—and not only when the other person is lovable. I should love just because of the amazing way God loves me. Love is what should give me the courage to tell others about God, Jesus, and salvation because if I love someone, I would feel an urgency to keep them from an eternity in hell. Right? Of course, I would.

However, you may have noticed a lot of “shoulds” in that first paragraph, and that is because sharing the gospel with others is terrifying to me. It shouldn’t be, but it is. It should be easy. I shouldn’t be ashamed of it. I should be telling anyone who will listen because I really do want everyone to experience God’s love and an eternity with Him.

So what holds me back? Fear of rejection, fear of people thinking I’m weird, fear of people ending relationships because of it, and the list goes on.

Writing it out makes it clear how ridiculous my fear is. Why on earth should I be ashamed or afraid to tell people about Jesus—the most amazing, loving, and life-changing Person anyone could know? Jesus gives people hope, love, forgiveness, and He fills that hole that everyone without Him feels.

I am going to challenge myself, and you, to find someone to share Jesus with and pray for God to give us the courage to start the conversation. Then, He will take it from there!

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” —Franklin D. Roosevelt

With whom will you have the courage to share the gospel?

Written by Diana Wells

Wife of Gerry. Mother of Caleb. Child of God.

Is Your Light Shining?

This devotion was originally written for the Chase Oaks Church website. Read the Devotion on the Chase Oaks website…..

Matthew 5:13–16 (NASB)

13“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;15nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.16“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

“You are the light of the world.” I often hear, and think myself, that this world is becoming such a dark place, and it seems to me that the darkness comes from negative attitudes, words, and actions. Watch any newscast, and it is one story after another of murder, sexual misconduct, kidnapping, political rants, countries threatening war—and it keeps happening every single day. So, how can one person make a difference?

Well, what chases away darkness? Light! And that light starts with you and me. God is light, and His light shines on us through His love. He calls us to take His love and shine it onto the dark world. Deborah Smith Pegues wrote a book, 30 Days to Taming your Tongue, in which she challenges you to go through one full day without saying anything negative. Now, I’m a pretty positive person (or so I thought), but you have no idea how hard this is until you try it.

Can you imagine the impact this simple challenge would have on those around you? Our light of positive comments would shine brightly in a world of negativity, and I have found that encouraging, positive words are incredibly contagious. Try it sometime with someone you know who tends to be negative. It may take a little time, but you will notice them starting to add more positivity into their words too.

Changing our words to ones of positivity and encouragement is just one way we can be the light of the world. People will notice the difference when you always find something positive to say or when you don’t engage in negative conversations. And when they notice they will ask you why, which will easily fling open the door to share your faith in God.

It only takes a few changes in our thoughts and actions to stand out and shine God’s love in a dark world. Are you up for the challenge?

Written by Diana Wells

Wife of Gerry. Mother of Caleb. Child of God.

Freelance Writer