2018: A Year For Hope (Prologue)

Have you ever lost hope?  If being honest, I know I have – at least for some things, or during long dry seasons.

I have lost hope for things longed (even prayed) for to have happened by now, and yet here I am … eyes weary from straining to see something emerge on the far horizon.

Dreams that I eventually gave up watering, that now hang sun-shriveled on the vine like snap peas I forgot to pick from last summers garden.

I think we have all lost hope, and yet hope is what is needed now more than ever!

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.  ~Proverbs 13:12

In 2014, no – earlier than that.  In 2010, the Lord gave me a strong desire to start blogging.  I didn’t know what I was doing, so I started by writing about what was on my heart at the time.  I started again in 2014, testifying about the God who rescue me from an abusive past. And now, at the close of 2017, here I am ready to start yet again,  But this time, with some specific instructions:  a weekly post on the case for hope (not of hope) in 2018.

HOPE – a desire accompanied by confident expectation

Rough sketch for watercolor (December 2017)

Expectation for good.  Expectation for the thing desired.

A dear friend spoke something over me in 2017, which evolved into a word picture that I sketched and am now attempting to bring to life in watercolor (to be revealed in future posts).I hope you will consider returning to this blog series periodically throughout 2018, and I would greatly appreciate your prayers as I seek to speak the voice of hope to a heart-sick world. 

Until next year and the inaugural post of this 52 week series, praying God stir up in us the seeds of hope for greater things in 2018.

 

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All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

 

Crossing Jordan: walking into your inheritance

It was several years ago when I first noticed it while reading Psalm 37.  Over and over again, the same phrase … “inherit the earth / inherit the land”  And I thought to myself, what in the world does that mean? Obviously, something significant or it wouldn’t be repeated so often – but what?   So like I often did (and still do), I just sort of tucked it away in my heart with a note attached that said ‘this means something to me, but I don’t yet know what’.

[Have you ever had that happen to you?  Read something in the Bible that resonates deeply within your spirit, but not understood the meaning or significance of it at the time?  Do you also just set it aside for a while until God brings you back to it at a later time?]

Well, here we are in 2014, and recently God has brought that phrase back to me.  It felt rather like a “re-awakening” of something unsettled in my spirit, and as sometimes happens when God begins to stir something up within you, I began noticing references to ‘inheriting the land’ appearing almost everywhere!   Preachers I listen to started using it in podcasts.  Devotional readings included it.  Worship songs sing of it.

By now I am really starting to get hungry for knowledge … I want to know what this means to me Lord!  What are You saying to me?

So I dug a little further, and this is what my NKJV Study Bible has to say about Psalm 37:3 … ‘Eight times the thought of dwell in the land, or inherit the land, is mentioned, showing to the righteous Jews that their future is secure.’   And I think it may have been from a podcast teaching (or perhaps someplace else in my Study Bible?), that I also learned that:

To “inherit the land” is to receive from the Lord secure entitlement (for them and their children) the promised land (redeemed sphere and bountiful source of provision).

Now I don’t know about you, but that lights my fire!  And the more I studied, the more excited I got!   The Bible is filled with scriptures speaking of ‘inheriting the land’, which I now understand is the promise of ‘a secure entitlement’ that is generational, and of the inheritance of a ‘redeemed sphere’ that is well able to supply far above my need (be it for finances, for relationship, for healing, for protection, or whatever the need).  That is some Good News, folks – and it inspired a the following painting.

Crossing Jordan

God is so funny!  I just love the way that He works with me, talks to me, and sometimes even paints with me!   This painting started out as a mess (as had the other 5 attempts to paint based on my own limited skill and ability).  But I’ve discovered that when the Lord is painting with me – somehow the ‘oops-ies’ turn out to be something useful in time, and much to my surprise over the course of about 3 weeks this picture emerged, complete with dry and barren mountains in the background contrasted by lush and fertile fields in the foreground.  (And to think I almost tossed it after the 1st night!)   The river was added at the end, by inspiration of the Lord, and immediately made me think of the Israelites crossing over the River Jordan to the Promised Land.

“So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant – when you have eaten and are full, then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.  … (for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you)…”                             (Deuteronomy 6:10-12, 15 abbreviated)

Where are you in your journey, my friend?   As you read through Psalm 37 on your own, be encouraged.  We all go through desert seasons.  We all face enemies.  We all have rivers to cross.  But praise God, we also all have the promise of the abundant life calling us forward into greater and greater life with Him.

Keep pressing on – and go take possession of all that God has promised is yours, through Christ Jesus!

(this post was originally published in 2014)

 

 

It was not supposed to be like this.

I’m 55 years old, and you would think I would have learned this by now.

Have you ever seen plans fall apart before your eyes, and then been left standing in unfamiliar and challenging places wondering Why? Why now? Why here? Maybe even stomped your feet a few dozen times trying to get God’s attention so that He would deliver you out from this dry and thirsty land you’re now walking through?

“O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in a man who walks to direct his own steps.”  ~Jeremiah 10:23

And after much walking (and if we’re being honest, much repenting along the way) you eventually begin to see glimpses of beautiful new territory coming into view?  Vision begins to clear and it seems that every step brings you closer to something which (in its own unique way) is so much better than where you were previously living/heading?

Anybody else??

nXAfx44
photo by Kevin Tuck

Why is it only when we start to see the pieces fitting together that we suddenly have a revelation of God’s presence in all of what just transpired!   It’s as though the fog finally lifts, and you suddenly realize you were not alone on the journey but had a steady and faithful companion even during the hardest of times.

Moreover, you begin to recognize that some of the skills developed and lessons learned during your desert walk have equipped you with knowledge you didn’t previously have so that now you are able to act wisely in this ‘new land’ you are heading towards. And you raise your hands and thank God for the desert walk that has led you to this new land!

I’m 55 years old, and have gone through this ‘processes’ dozens of times … you would think I would be quicker on the uptake by now!

God is FAITHFUL! He will NOT abandon the work of His hands! And when you find yourself in a desert place (be it the result of your own wanderings, or by divine assignment) … keep your eyes on the horizon, because new territory is dead ahead.  Keep your eyes fixed on Him.  Keep putting one foot in front of another.  He is faithful to walk you through the desert places of life to the other side!

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].”   ~Proverbs 3:5-6 (Amplified)

[This writing was actually something I shared on Facebook several years ago.  FB kindly reminded me of it this morning, and I thought it good enough (after a few updates) to share again.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.]

Little by Little

What are you dreaming about?  I’m not necessarily talking about sleepy-time dreams, but the dreams and aspirations that drive you to keep on pressing, keep on pursuing.

Maybe you’re dreaming of becoming a doctor.

Maybe you’re dreaming of becoming a home owner.

Maybe you’re dreaming about the day you will become debt free.

Or maybe, like me, you’re dreaming of becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Just over two years ago, a dream was birthed in me to leave the comfort and security of regular employment, and launch out on my own.  (you can read more about that here).  Today, I am President of a small manufacturers rep firm, and I’m continually amazed at God’s faithfulness to me as I make this day-by-day walk of faith into the future I believe He has called me to.   But some days … well, some days I just wish things would happen a little faster, success would come a little sooner.

That’s when I like to go back to a few scriptures that “re-center” my perspective.

“I will not drive them out in one year – lest the land become desolate and the beasts too numerous for you.  Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased and you inherit the land.”   Exodus 23:29-30

Here I am reminded of the simple truth that the success I am believing for must first be prepared for. 

When I first started out, quite honestly I barely knew what I was doing.  I’ve never Incorporated before.  I’ve never been President before.  And it took a while to quit viewing myself as an employee under someone else’s management, and grasp the truth that I was now Captain of my own ship.  If it was going to happen, it was going to happen by my actions under the leadership and blessing of my Daddy God.  It was also going to require more of me – more dedication, more humility, more discipline, more gratefulness, more leadership

“Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase.”  Proverbs 13:11

In my Bible, there is a note that the phrase ‘gathers by labor’ could be translated in Hebrew to ‘little by little’.   Not only does this tie the two scriptures together, but it reminds me that success done right takes time.

There are no short cuts to character building, and if we are dreaming God inspired dreams, we should expect that our character must be developed to increase in relation to the size of the dream we are pursuing.   And that takes effort, energy, and yes … time.

Now one last scripture, and this probably my favorite.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…”  Zechariah 4:10

Little by little.  Success upon success.  Start where you are, and keep pursuing that dream under the leadership the favor of the Lord.  You’re gonna get there!

 

 

 

It’s your inheritance.

It’s been almost two and one-half years since I took that first step of obedience.  If you’ve read Water Walking, you may remember it was April 2014 when I respond to an inner voice that spoke to me in a time of earnest prayer …

“You will never leave the shore if you don’t put weight
on your foot (and take that first step of faith).”  

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back in my mind to that day, to the invitation to walk out into deep water with Him.

Just as precious to me is the instruction He gave me later that year, the same instruction He gave to Moses and the Israelites.

So And the Lord said to me,  “See, I have begun to give Sihon and his land over to you.  Begin to possess it that you may inherit his land.”  ~Deuteronomy 2:31

God had promised His people a land overflowing with milk and honey, but they still had to ACTIVATE the promise by ‘begin(ning) to possess it’, so that they could (later) inherit it.     In other words,  obedience was required to take hold of their inheritance.

I would like to say that I’ve not only walked on water, but that I’ve reached the other side of the waters and am now living in an ocean front property.   In truth, I’m still in the process of ‘walking it out’ so that I may inherit what was promised.

Are you holding onto a promise of God, but have yet to fully take hold of it?

 

Water Walking
Water Walking [“Once you are walking on the water, the depth of the water beneath your feet is irrelevant.”]