Gifts of Hope

Chances are we all know someone in need of a little hope – or perhaps you’re the one in need of hope. I truly understand how that feels. I wanted to put together a post with what I think are gifts of hope – gifts that will comfort, provide encouragement, and help us to remember the true reason for our hope – Jesus.

Going through my own marital issues has also shown me, personally, just how much we need hope. And those of us going through this kind of journey are often looking for items of comfort – something tangible that reminds us that we can keep on going each day.

So here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order. I pray that these are a blessing to you or to the one you choose to bless with a gift of hope this year.

Just click the product to view the details.

Gifts of hope for someone you know who could use some hope today.

 

The gifts listed below contain my affiliate links.
If you purchase through any of those links, I receive a small commission.

Hope has been a word I continue to cling to as my husband and I work on our marriage.
I love the simplicity of this mug.
The back reads: “Hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. Heb. 6:19”

hope mug

A journal – for your prayers, your questions, your favorite verses, for truths that God plants deep in your heart.
The journal reads:
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. -Hebrews 6:19
The charm reads:
God will be with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9

 I have candle holders very similar to these. It’s so easy to pop a candle in and see the word illuminated.
It’s a calm reassurance that we can have faith, hope, or love when wee need it.

How about this pillow? Sometimes we all need the simple reminder that we are loved.
(This product is pillowcase only – no pillow included.
If you need a pillow of this size, you can purchase that here.) 

A soft and cozy throw blanket is just the thing for those cool evenings or crisp mornings.
I still have a couple of favorite blankets that I’ll curl up with.
I like the feeling of security that comes in a comfy, warm blanket.
(There are other colors to choose from.)

I particularly liked this brand of Epsom salt.
I’m not a huge fan of lavender scent, but there were some nights where sleep was hard to come by.
I could draw a warm bath, use a little of the lavender-scented Epsom salt and sleep a little better.
Combined with the candles above, this is a very relaxing combination to end a day. 

There is one other place where I want to suggest you look for gifts of hope. I am not an affiliate and won’t receive anything for any purchases you make through sharing the link to this lady’s shop.

I think I first came across her on Instagram, but I’m not sure. If you visit her Instagram or Facebook page you’ll find that she has a real heart for the Lord and for creating beautiful pieces that will encourage others in their walk of faith. (You can find links to her social media pages on her shop’s page.)

So – visit Dandelions in December. I’m sure you’ll find something beautiful there. If you click the link to Jewelry and don’t immediately find something you love, there are options for creating your own necklace or bracelet, so you can choose something that will be meaningful to you. You may want to order early, though, as a blessing to her and to you – so that she isn’t swamped with last minute orders, and so that you can be sure to get your order in time if it’s a gift for someone. Dandelions in December – you’ll love her products!

I hope these gift ideas have been helpful,
or that they have helped you think of other gifts that might be appropriate
for the people on your list who could use some Gifts of Hope this year.

Gifts of hope for holidays or everyday - find just the right gift for the people on your list who could use some hope today.

 

Sharing at
Crystal Twaddell

12 Scriptures to Meditate on this Easter

It happens each year here in the Midwest – lingering snow melts away and red buds form on the tree outside of my window. Robins return to the backyard with their early morning song. Soon the green tips of our tulips will peek through the soggy earth, too.

All of creation speaks of new life when Spring arrives.

It’s as if Spring is preparing us to celebrate Easter Sunday, the day that we believers celebrate as the beginning of new spiritual life. The Word, who became flesh, endured suffering and death to pay for our sins and restore us to a right relationship with the Heavenly Father. He gave us new life!

But all too often, those of us who have been walking in the faith for some time easily forget our first love, the joy of our salvation. Lately I’ve been asking the Father to restore this unspeakable and contagious joy to me so that I might be enthusiastic about the gift of salvation!

One way to remember what Jesus’ death accomplished is through scripture. What better time of year to focus on the cross and what Jesus accomplished than Easter? With that in mind, I hope you enjoy this collection of verses to meditate on this Easter!

12 Scriptures to Meditate on this Easter

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:13

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:37-39

12 Scriptures to Meditate on for Easter - getting your heart ready to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord

 

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2b

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Rom. 5:8

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.. Rom. 5:18-19

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:6

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Mark 8:34

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Romans 1:16

—————————————————————–

Remember both the sorrow and subsequent joy of the cross this Easter.

Savor God’s free gift of Salvation. Ask the Father to restore your joy, your first love, and then walk according to the power of new life in Christ.

Because He Lives,

Jen 🙂

Jen Stults @Being Confident of This

Would I Do It Again? Would You?

It was a Wednesday.

It was my worst day.

It was the worst day.

The kind that doesn’t come with a manual on how to survive, the kind that people don’t write blog posts about, because most people don’t endure this kind of bad day.

Which has made me feel terribly alone, almost all of the time.

And like I’m stuck in a life that isn’t mine, that I didn’t ask for, and that (if I’m being honest) I really don’t want.

New beginnings are hard. And when life throws you one of those curve balls – one of those gut-wrenching, “I didn’t sign up for this” kind of curve balls, it can be really hard to view new beginnings as good things. 

Because new beginnings really just trigger the memory of why you have had to come to this new beginning – and why things couldn’t stay as they were.

It can be really easy to feel down. And sometimes that’s even okay. After all, we can’t deal with our grief if we don’t acknowledge it.

The most miserable thing about grief, in my opinion, is that it comes in waves. Everything can be just fine, then out of nowhere, the grief hits again. 

That’s where I’ve been…hangin’ out with my grief.

Hi, my name is Rebekah and I have grief. And sometimes it’s easier to pick up the grief and hang on to that because it’s familiar, because I know how to deal with it.

This week I watched “Do You Believe“. I was particularly challenged by a few lines that talked about not letting other things become our identity – whether it’s loss, grief, financial status, whatever it might be in your life. Rather, as Christians, our identity needs to be “child of God”.

That can be so hard to live out on a daily basis. Exercising our faith is tough. I struggle with the “I didn’t sign up for this” mindset and so it’s hard to accept some of the things that have happened to me / around me and not feel “down for the count” (if that makes any sense).

Feeling our emotions is a good thing – even a healthy thing. However, we also have to remember that God is the one who gave us those emotions in the first place. And so even in the midst of whatever we are feeling – anywhere on the spectrum from extreme joy to extreme pain – we are still a child of God because those feelings, those emotions, were given to us by God.

Still, though…

That hasn’t always been enough for me.

(I’m just being honest…and a little blunt because I’m realizing that maybe I’m not the only one who struggles with this.) 

So how do you keep on going when you’re struggling through all of your feelings? Especially when it’s feelings of hurt, caused by someone else. 

And how in the world can God use us, broken as we may be?

A couple weeks ago, I encountered a man in a store. He was wearing a US Marines hat. Another gentleman commented on his hat and thanked him for his service. He shared a few tidbits of his time overseas and the number of years he served (30 years in the USMC).

He seemed to shy away from the thanks and kind words that were spoken to him.

I’ve seen these kinds of interactions before. Thanks are given for service provided. The one who has served may nod or might say something like, “It was an honor.”

This man said something I’ve not heard anyone else say – at least not that I can remember.

He said,

“I’d do it all over again.” 

Given the opportunity to do it again, would you? Would I? Why our answer to that truly matters!

I’m not sure what the others in the store took away from hearing those words. I thought it was a nice sentiment. 

Today, though, something different occurred to me.

When that man,
whose name I don’t know and who does not know my name,
stood there having lived through 30 years of some of the toughest things imaginable,
and said he would do it all again,
what he was really saying was that
my life – and your life – is still worth fighting for, no matter what.

This man’s service to the United States probably ended at least 20 years ago, which means that his service started before I was even born.

Whatever his reasons were for enlisting in the first place, or for staying in the Marines for 30 years, had absolutely nothing to do with me because I wasn’t born.

Yet today, if he had it to do again, he would.

And I think that’s because he realizes that there is something to be lost in life if we don’t fight to keep it.

Maybe it’s our freedom, maybe it’s the pursuit of happiness, maybe it’s just the possibility of being all we can be. Maybe it’s something different for each of us.

Whatever it is, he’s willing to stand up and protect our right to that freedom.

And that’s when it hit me:

This man would willingly fight for my life, and for yours, to protect our freedoms. In fact, he already has fought for us.

HAS THE WAY I’VE LIVED 
BEEN WORTHY OF HIS EFFORTS? 

HAVE I LIVED IN SUCH A WAY THAT WOULD 
HONOR HIS CHOICE TO WILLINGLY PROTECT ME?

It’s the same with the Lord.

He sent His Son for our lives.

He willingly sent His Son not just to fight for us, not just to protect us, but to die in our place.

Does the way I live honor that choice?

Can I be honest? Can I be really honest?

The answer to that question is a simple, painful “No.”

I don’t have to like what has happened to me. I don’t have to feel okay about it – I really don’t.

But when it detracts from how I should be living my life? That’s where the problem comes in. 

The pain is okay. Jesus endured pain. The Father endured pain. 

The tears are okay. Even Jesus wept. 

The decision to rest and try to find healing and rejuvenation is also okay. Jesus often went away from the crowds. 

But the taking up that grief as my identity? Nope. That’s not okay. 

That’s exactly why Jesus came – so that my identity no longer has to be
Sinner
Grief-Stricken
Imperfect
Unrighteous
Unloved

He knew, even before going to the cross, how each of us would respond to His free gift of salvation. He put us each at a specific time and place in history, on purpose. 

I don’t know why I’m here today, and I don’t know why you’re here. But I know it’s not by accident. I know it’s part of a grand design.

We matter – here, today, right now. God’s put us here to benefit someone else’s journey, and for God’s glory.

If I’m living encumbered by all the tough stuff, and not trying to move on…
If I’m so wrapped up in my own issues and struggles that I forget I’m here for a purpose…

then am I telling God that His fighting for me was in vain? 

Would I tell that Marine that I didn’t need his protection? No way!

And so I shouldn’t treat Jesus as though His protection is not needed.

I thought about asking a few of my blogging friends what they’d say if they were asked to write a post to themselves.

I decided instead, to take that challenge myself.

These are the words I’ve needed to be reminded of tonight.

Someone willingly fought for me. Is the life I’m living worth it?

When I stand before Jesus one day, having lived out my appointed days on this earth, will I say that I did all I could do, that I did my best, or will I wish I could have done more? 

Will I have done all I could to minister to the people God has put in my life? If the people I have crossed paths with were to pass before me, one at a time, could I say that I’ve done all I could to be worthwhile in their lives?

Would I be able to look them in the eye as they pass into Heaven and said, “I’d do it all again”?

That’s how I want to live my life – with a sense that these earthly struggles are just that: earthly. temporal. 

We have heaven to look forward to. And I hope that these days, these pains, these struggles, would be worth it because of who I can minister to, and who can minister to me.

At the end of it all, I hope I can say that I would do it again.

I’m not sure what you’re dealing with today, but there are people out there who would willingly put themselves in harm’s way for you.

Jesus did. He put Himself on the cross as a covering for your sins.

Are you living worthy of that?

Am I?

If not, what needs to change?

For me, it’s my perceived identity. I need to pick up the “child of God” sign and wear that. It covers all the others: grief-stricken, feeling shamed, fearful… The only one I need to choose, to believe, is “Child of God”.

But God {hope and encouragement}

Welcome back to another week of the Grace & Truth linkup! The post I’m sharing this week caught me with one word – hope. That was my word for 2014, after some traumatic situations in my life. Debbie shared some verses about hope, many of which have become words that grab my heart and remind me that God is still at work.

Debbie refers to them as the “but God” verses.

There is such encouragement in these verses, such hope, when you read them with the emphasis on those two words:

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Gen. 50:20

I love how those two words capture my attention and remind me that it is God who is at work – who is providing for us, who has the power to redeem our lives, who is our strength.

I’d encourage you to read through the verses in her post and reflect on God’s power at work in your own life and the hope He provides.

Thank you, Debbie, for sharing this post with us at Grace & Truth!

But God - verses of hope - plus the Grace and Truth linkup for Christian bloggers

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Redemption 2015

Happy New Year, friends! I’m grateful for the year that’s gone by, but I’m looking forward to an amazing year ahead. See, I never intended to be one who chooses a word for a year. I don’t really do resolutions, either. Mostly, I try to walk quietly through the year and to listen to God’s voice. Last year, though, God gave me a word – one that I would need to cling to the whole year through. Friends, Hope 2014 was a year of drawing close to God and trusting, no matter what. After a full year of focusing on just one word, I asked God for a new word this year, because attention to just one word helped to keep me focused on what God had for me.. I heard Him the first time He said the word for 2015, and honestly, (shamefully) I tried to resist because I didn’t want to feel let down if the word didn’t apply in certain situations. But after a year of Hope, it was easier to trust for the new year. And so today, January 1 –

Redemption 2015

My One Word - Redemption 2015

Image courtesy of Traci Michele.

 

Redemption. Honestly, it’s not the word I would have picked for this year. After all that has gone wrong in my life the past 15 months, I was not prepared to hear “redemption” as the word for this year. But God, in His wisdom, kept bringing Scripture verses, conversations and bigger perspective into my way of thinking so that I couldn’t get away from the word redemption.

He also reminded me that it’s not all about me.

When I started writing in this space, it was always about writing what I felt God was sharing with me, and letting Him do what He would with the words. God’s taken these simple posts around the world – to people I don’t know, in places where my geography knowledge has failed and I’ve had to look them up to remember their location.

Redemption is my word for the new year, yes, and I’m trusting God to redeem so many areas of my life that have become battle-weary and filled with scars of past wounds.

A few days ago I took some much-needed quiet time. The kids were off from school and happily doing their chosen activities so I climbed the stairs to my room and decided to turn on Pandora. I put on a station I haven’t listened to all that often and just sat and listened.

The first song was “Nothing But the Blood” by Jesus Culture,
the second song was “Manifesto” by The City Harmonic
and the third song was “Let it Rise” by Big Daddy Weave.

Through these songs, God kept saying “Redemption – write about it, because it will mean something different for everyone who reads it.”

And then, this was on my heart:

You can’t know Redemption without knowing the Redeemer.

Redemption - You need to know the Redeemer before you can know Redemption. My one word for 2015 || rebekahmhallberg.com

I can sit here and tell you how I hope God will work His redemption this year in our marriages, our finances, our employment situations, our children – any area that might need some redeeming. Many of you could agree with me in those prayers and hopes.

Maybe, though, you’re here and don’t know that God can provide redemption in those areas.

We live in an imperfect world – a world with people who can’t save themselves from an eternity apart from God. We needed a sacrifice to atone for the wrong that we do, in order to be able to spend eternity with God.

Examples of sacrifices are used all throughout the Bible. Animals were used to atone for sin, the shed blood being what was needed for the atonement. It was in that manner that someone could receive redemption for their wrongdoing.

That same shedding of blood is what was needed for our redemption – for us to be able to spend eternity with God.

God the Father sent His son, Jesus, to be that atonement for us – to shed His blood for our sins. Jesus, being fully God, was perfect and so His blood could be shed for our sins. Accepting His free gift of salvation, His atonement for us, is the only way to ensure that we can spend eternity with Him.

But you won’t find Him on the cross anymore…He died, He rose again on the third day and He is in Heaven with the Father, where He’s preparing a place for us. (John 14)

I wonder – do you know Him?

How amazing to think that someone would love us, despite all our problems and messes, enough to want us to spend eternity with Him. It’s true – that’s how much He loves us. And He offers all of us that free gift of salvation, regardless.

You don’t have to be good enough.
You don’t have to have everything together.
Your life doesn’t have to be perfect.

You just need to accept that Jesus died for you, that He forgives your sin, that He loves you, and that He wants to help lead you in righteousness. That doesn’t mean you’ll never sin again – it does mean that He will help you when the temptations come. He will forgive you when you sin. You will still have to deal with the consequences of your choices, but His forgiveness does not run out.

If you don’t know Him, there’s a simple prayer that you can pray, and there is nothing special about these words – it can be any words you choose.

Dear Lord, I know that I need you to redeem my messes.
I acknowledge and accept your free gift of salvation.
Please forgive my sins and make me whole.
I give you control of my life – help me to walk in your ways.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you prayed this prayer to accept salvation, would you let me know? You can comment here, you can find us on Facebook and hang out with us there. You can email me (see the Contact tab above).

This year can be your Redemption 2015 as well as mine.

I’m not sure what redemption is going to mean for each of us this year, and I don’t know what God is going to do this year, but I’m so eager to be following Him and to be available for what He has.

Do you have a word for the year? If so, would you share it? I’d love to know what’s ahead for you!

 

I’m linking up at One Word 365 at Front Porch Inspired and at Grace & Truth.

Reflection

The end of a year is always a good time for reflection. Many of us look back on the good things that happened, and realize just how much life we lived inside of twelve months. For a lot of us, there are hard times woven in with all the beautiful memories. We don’t discount those, but we don’t want to dwell there, either. In order to move on from a difficult situation, though, we often have to look at it, acknowledge it, understand the lessons learned before we can move on. For me, this post is an attempt at just that – looking back at what has been the hardest year of my life, and then to move on.

Reflection - looking back at a year of hope, and looking ahead to my one word for the new year || rebekahmhallberg.com

I recently read a quote from one of my favorite books, The Velveteen Rabbit. I’m always amazed by just how much wisdom we can find in the pages of a children’s book. This particular quote jumped out at me because it talks about living life – about the change from a pristine, untouched life, to a messy, beautiful, fully-loved life:

“You become. It takes a long time.
That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges,
or who have to be carefully kept.
Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off,
and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.
But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly,
except to people who don’t understand.” 

― Margery Williams 

This year has, in fact, been the worst year of my life. If things had gone even the slightest bit differently, I stood to lose my marriage, my husband, my home. I felt like my life was in a state of pre-Job quite often. I read Job’s story, knowing that at any moment, that could be me.

I spent a lot of time this year thinking that was the important part of the story. I felt like the shame was the weight around my neck – the one that almost took me under. I felt (and still feel) the stares and questions, the wondering. And what’s been the hardest part – those have come from people once very close to me. But they don’t understand. They don’t understand the power of redemption. And that’s where I can identify with Margery Williams’ quote – “…because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

I read an article last night that discussed how so many of us look at going to do God’s big works – whether it’s to a country overseas, or to a neighborhood that needs rebuilding and ministry. But what if God calls us to stay and deal with the messiness and the uncomfortable aspects or our current situation? What if we can do the greatest good right where we’re at?

I spent so much time this year, just trying to breathe and survive moment to moment, that it takes times of reflection like this for me to see that while the year has definitely been about all that’s gone wrong, the bigger picture shows all that is going right.

I have shared about standing my ground – waiting, while God works around me. And yet, I’ve watched my life fall around me. The words of II Corinthians 4:8-9 have become very real to me: 

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Yes, every one of those things happened in my life this past year.

Hard pressed. Perplexed. Persecuted. Struck down.

– but – 

Not crushed.
Not in despair.
Not abandoned.
Not destroyed.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because I know so many of you face challenges like I have. The circumstances may be different, but at one time or another, we all face the fight of our lives. The enemy will come knocking. He’s going to try to destroy us, in any way that he can. And friends, he has the power to cause some intense pain. Life may come crashing down, friends may turn and leave you. A life that once made so much sense may become utterly meaningless. Everything you thought you loved may be asked of you. You may feel like your life has become a pile of ashes.

Like me, you may feel that’s your story.

Can I encourage you, though, that it’s not the end of your story. Hallelujah!

Isaiah 61: 1b-3 reminds us –

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

I don’t know where you find yourself right now. I have been at every end of the spectrum this year – from barely able to breathe, to now having eleven great days in a row. I went from not knowing which end was up, to being extremely grateful at the start and end of each day.

When we find ourselves in the fight of our lives, we can be sure of one thing: God.

We have the head knowledge of what He’s done in the past, and we have the heart knowledge that He never changes.

Oh, we may feel like He changes. We may feel like we’ve been left high and dry. But that’s not our God.

Our God is faithful and our hope is in Him. Those times when we’re fighting for our lives? Those are the times to drop our anchors – to move the head knowledge of faith in God, to a heart knowledge. Stay with Jesus. Don’t move. Pray for His grace and mercy.

Because it’s only through hope that we can look ahead to the redemption that God is going to bring. Our God is a God of redemption – He is redemption.

As we head toward the new year, you’ll hear more about redemption – my one word for 2015. I’m so excited to see what God is going to do!

Friends, this time of reflection has been so good for my heart. It’s taken me 3 days to get this post written because there were so many different reminders of God’s goodness and faithfulness. This has been a year of survival. But I firmly believe God’s going to redeem the year I’ve had and use it for His glory. And I believe the same for you.

If you’re struggling right now, if you’re feeling like you’re in the fight of your life, will you let me know so I can pray for you, and with you? Feel free to leave a comment below, or email me – my contact information is listed in the Contact tab at the top of the page. And would you consider joining us on Facebook for the new year? I have such a heart for sharing redemption in the new year, and would love for you to join us.

I know this post has mostly been for me to reflect; I do pray you’ve found something to take away and keep close to your heart.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
I Corinthians 13:12

Check back soon for the start of the year of redemption!

 

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Nothing Can Hold Back Hope

A year ago, I stood looking ahead at uncertainty, filled with fear. I want to take a look back at what I’ve learned this year, and try to share some of the precious truths with you. This has been my year of hope – because nothing, nothing, can hold back hope!

Nothing can hold back Hope - not even the darkness || rebekahmhallberg.com

I’ve learned that hope is so much more than the feeling we had, as children, eagerly waiting for Christmas morning. Hope encompasses so much more.

To hope implies that we know we have a need or a want.

When the car breaks down and we hope the tow truck comes along soon, it’s because we have a need for their help. Or when we’re at the doctor with a sick child, we hope the doctor can help.

When we want to get together with a friend, we hope our plans will come together.

To hope also implies trust.

We hope the chair will hold us; well, we’re not going to sit in an obviously broken chair, are we? Of course not. We’ll pick the one that looks sturdy.

If you are struggling and need a friend to pull you through, you’re going to hope in a friend who you trust to actually help you.

To hope in God, though, is so much more than acknowledging a need and trusting in Him.

To hope in God means that we stand with all the authority of His Word,
the Bible,
as our strength and our defense.
Hope in God means a trust in His unfailing promises.

 

At the start of 2014, I stood looking into the proverbial lion’s mouth.

Fear, shame, guilt – they were sharp teeth ready to grab hold and devour my life.

For months I said a very simple prayer because I did not know what else to pray.
My prayer was just four words:
“Jesus, mercy and grace….”

And He protected me – maybe not in the way I’d hoped for, but His ways are so much higher than ours, aren’t they? I’d rather put my hope – my trust – into an all-knowing God than into my own finite abilities.

I prayed mercy and grace for a large part of the year. On occasion, I stood in that power from God and determined to let the enemy know that my God was bigger than any attacks the enemy could send my way.

In September, I was blessed with a free ticket to Women of Faith. One of the speakers spoke directly to the whole idea of the proverbial lions we face. Her message was based on the story of Daniel in the lions’ den, when Daniel was sure that he would be attacked and killed by the lions. Daniel survived the night and the king asked him how that could possibly have happened.

“My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions.”
Daniel 6:22a

Our God never changes. He is the same through all ages. If He can send an angel to shut the mouths of the lions for Daniel, He can do the same for us.

The speaker was reminding us to live in the boldness of hope in God, and to remind our lions that

My God can shut your mouth!

 

That has been such a powerful reminder for me as I have stared into the mouths of my own lions. The One I place my hope in, the changeless God of the ages, can shut the mouths of hungry lions waiting to devour us. The story of Daniel has been a challenge and reminder to me to live a life honoring to God, and to remind the lions that my God is so much more powerful than they are!

I have lived a year of hope – a year of acknowledging my needs, a year of needing to trust.

God very clearly gave me the word “hope” for 2014 and I have learned to stand firm in my hope in God.

I have learned that nothing can hold back hope when God Himself is our Hope!

This is the verse that God placed on my heart, and reminded me of, many times through the year of hope:

“As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.”
Psalm 71:14

As I have looked back at 2014 and prayed with thanksgiving, I have also started to ask God for a word for the new year. He has answered in a special way! For as important as hope has been in 2014, I am almost giddy with joy looking ahead to 2015.

There have been a few verses that have come to my heart so far, in looking ahead for the new year. This one, though – this is so perfect to end the year and start the new year:

“Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with Him is full redemption.”

As we prepare to move from this year and into the next,
I know that nothing can hold back Hope, especially as it ushers in Redemption.
The year ahead is the year of Redemption!

 

Hope makes way for Redemption || rebekahmhallberg.com

I’m sharing this post at The Loft – join us? 

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A Year of Hope

A year or so ago, sometime between mid-October and mid-November of 2013, the Lord gave me a word. As the end of the calendar year was approaching, people were beginning to discuss their plans for Christmas and also their New Year’s resolutions. Knowing that I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I wasn’t sure just why the Lord gave me that word. I had heard about the “one word” project, where people chose a word to focus on for the year. After some time in prayer, seeking what God was doing, I decided that the word He had given was to be my one word for the year. And so began my plans for the new year – a year of hope.

The word that the Lord gave me, just the one, small word, was hope.

My family had just gone through a major crisis, I was pretty sure that things were going to just keep falling apart (which, to some extent, they did), and I wasn’t sure which way was up…and God said, “Hope.”

It made no sense.

But God didn’t ask me to understand.

He asked me to be still, to watch what He was going to do. He reminded me time and again that all that happened was not about me.

My only choice in the matter was how I would continue from that moment forward.

And that’s where I needed hope…and Hope. Hope that was, and is, the very nature of God Himself at work.

I chose not to move. I made the decision that I would trust what I felt God was saying to me.
It was terrifying, and I questioned that decision many times over.
But I determined to stand, being confident that I would see God’s goodness at work.
(Psalm 27: 13)

And at some point this year, I came across Psalm 71 again, particularly verse 14:

As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more
.

 

A Year of Hope

The dictionary defines hope as “to expect with confidence”.

When I determined to take hold of the one word God was giving to me, I wasn’t sure what I was hoping in. I couldn’t have explained it to you if I tried. I asked a few people if the decision I was making made any sense. No one could give me a definitive answer, except to say that I should trust what I felt God was telling me. Most people jumped in to support my decision in any way they could, not knowing what was ahead. In the tough spots in life, the ones who walk in when the world walks out are the ones you want to cling to. Like I’ve shared before, there was a lot of loss due to the situation. But God gave me hope.

I determined to stand my ground. I grasped on to Hope even more tenaciously.

There were times – there still are – when I felt like I was standing in the middle of a downpour while the world passed by draped in sunshine. All I could do was to put my chin down, close my eyes, and keep standing, knowing the downpour would pass. And other times it felt quite the opposite – that I was in the middle of a dry, thirsty desert, praying for some of that rain that had just poured down.

Yet, I stood.

Because in my heart, I firmly believed that while the main part of the journey truly did belong to someone else, my part was to stand in Hope and to trust God.

Many times, I reminded God of His promises to meet our needs, to never leave us or forsake us. My life looked and felt unconventional and I knew it. There were times when even I wondered what I was doing.

But when I stood, when I kept trying to listen to what I believed God wanted, Hope showed up, because God Himself is Hope.

When I went to a store, there would be a trinket or decoration with the word hope on it.
When we had to face the struggles, we were met with hope.
I found hope in random acts of kindness, knowing God had not forgotten me.
When a friend shared a verse that God placed on their heart, it was full of hope.
I saw hope in small acts of goodness from people who may never know the impact of their deeds.
When I didn’t know how to pray, I prayed for mercy and grace, expecting hope.
And expecting Hope.

Hope changed my life this year. Hope kept me going when I didn’t know if I could keep on.

And I believe that’s why God gave me the word hope for this year – because He knew I would need it.

Standing in the face of the unknown – and to keep standing – is difficult.

Maybe you find yourself in that same situation – wondering how you can keep going? Wondering why God is asking you to do a thing.

Dear friend, I do not have the answer. When I first started this journey, I wished someone could just give me the answer. All I wanted was to know why, and that things would improve.

I had a lot of people encouraging me to keep listening to God, but no one could give me the answer I wanted – the ultimate yes or no.

And that’s where the verse from Psalm 71 kept coming to my heart. It was as if God was reminding me to change my focus – to worship when I wanted to worry. When I filled my heart with praise, I found more hope. We can’t always determine what will happen to us in this life, but we can always determine how we respond. (And no, my praise, in this situation, was not to thank God for the mess I was in; rather it was to thank God that HE is the way through, and out of, the mess.) 

This image below is what I started 2014 with:

hope for the new year

You see, I wasn’t assured of anything at the start of the year. Only Jesus, and only hope.

As I took Psalm 71:14 to heart and began to praise God in my troubles He began to fill my heart with hope, despite my circumstances.

This year, as I have stood the ground that God called me to stand – holy ground because God met me there – God began giving back some of the precious gifts that I thought I’d lost.

If you are struggling, if you find yourself feeling hopeless and that the world is crashing in around you, would you consider the words of Psalm 71:14? I don’t have much that I can offer you – I don’t have the yes or no you need.

But I can offer you hope – life-saving Hope.
The Hope that not only is in Jesus, but the Hope that is Jesus.

I don’t know if God will give me a word for the new year. I am praying He does as this year of hope has been such a blessing. I’m praying that He continues the work that He is doing in our circumstances, and that His name will be magnified in all we do.

If you have found yourself in a struggle of hopelessness lately, let me know?
You can comment on the post, you can use the icons at the top of the page to find me on social media,
you can use the page at the top to find contact information.
I would love to stand with you in prayer,
to encourage you and to share the hope that has grown in my heart.
Life can be messy at times, but there is Hope! 

A Year of Hope - how just one word changed my life || rebekahmhallberg.com

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Sharing at Tell His Story

Limitless Chances

Last week, Miss Rebekah sent me a message on Facebook. Yes, we have the same name, spelled exactly the same way. How do you tell us apart? Well, she’s 16, and I am…not 16 anymore. 😉 Our families have known each other for some time and she was asking some questions about missions, life overseas, and sharing a little of her heart with me. I read in her message what I heard in my own heart at that same age – a strong desire to make an impact in this world. And not just any impact, a God-sized impact. Here is a young lady who is already using her talents for God’s glory. She likes to take pictures and she writes, and she is using those gifts to bless others. I asked if I could share some of her work here from time to time, and the very first piece she sent was titled “Limitless Chances” – a sermon that she wrote for a Fine Arts competition, but that is already making an impact in the world.

As you read the piece, please consider how you are using your chances.
I’m pretty sure I’m not always using mine very well. 

Rebekah asked if I would pray for her, as she continues to work at making a God-sized impact in her world. I asked her if I could share her prayer request with you, in her own words, because it caught my heart.

“…I ask that as I start this journey you would join me in prayer as I not only pray that the door may be opened for me to be able to minister to people, but that this generation will set the example and break down these walls and break these chains,
that there will be a revival.” 

Would you join me in praying for Rebekah as God brings her to mind? Would you pray that, indeed, this generation would rise up to be the hands and feet of Jesus, that we might see a revival across our world?

I’m happy to say that Rebekah’s post marks the first guest post that I’ve shared on this blog. It’s a blessing to find others who share a heart for God, and it’s a tremendous privilege to share her words with you!

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LIMITLESS CHANCES

 

I remember reading an interview about a man who accomplished many things in life. He was famous and had it all going for him. He made some bad decisions and became infamous, as a result. His name was Lance Armstrong. He was the most accomplished cyclist in history before he cheated.  This man once said “If you ever get a second chance at something, you’ve got to go all the way.”

How many of you have received a second chance in life? Have those opportunities been wasted or taken for granted? We as human beings are undeserving of them, and wasting them is irresponsible. But we’re blessed that we serve the God of second chances, whose love is never ending. Whose mercies are new every morning.    God’s redemptive plan, his forgiveness and mercy, are limitless.

Limitless Chances - A reminder of God's redemption || a guest post at rebekahmhallberg.com

 

I began to think about many of the stories in the bible and how God blessed countless people with second chances. Jonah,  disobeyed God. Our Lord redeemed him in an amazing and miraculous way and then used him to save Nineveh. Moses, killed a man but was still used by God to save Israel from the pharaoh.  Peter, denied Christ 3 times but was later used to preach to thousands of people who became followers. There is one person however who is mentioned in each of the 4 gospels who received another chance but we don’t know how he used it.

His name is Barabbas.

If you think about it.. Barabbas was the ultimate redemption story.  He was a murderer and Jesus, the Son of God, was literally crucified in his place. Picture this: Barabbas is in prison but he can hear the distant crowd shouting at Pilate. First he hears them shouting his name then he hears them shouting, “Crucify him, Crucify him!”. Soon after that, Roman guards are dragging Barabbas out of the prison. He has to be thinking, “This is the end”. But our gracious and limitless God even had a redemptive plan for a murderer like Barabbas. THIS is the concept that defies all understanding. If Jesus wasn’t sacrificed, Barabbas would have been crucified and WE would never get our second chance.

The Bible never completes the story of Barabbas which leaves us with several questions. Did Barabbas take this opportunity for granted? Did he continue to murder other people or did he turn his life around? Most importantly, why was the story of Barabbas even in the Bible? It’s just a fragment: A story with no beginning and no end.  Regardless of how Barabbas lived from that moment on, Jesus still chose to die in his place. Christ gave his life that day even though Barabbas’ future actions are unknown or unrecorded. God so loved Barabbas that He gave His only begotten Son. How grateful we should all be that we, much like Barabbas, have been given the ultimate second chance. The difference is we still have time and our future actions can be known and recorded IF we choose to live our lives for God.

There is yet another person in the Bible who is different than Barabbas. His life is recorded in great detail. He, too, was given another chance. The Apostle Paul was persecuting the very people of God when he had a direct encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul used this opportunity to preach everywhere about how Jesus was the Son of God. His life was transformed. It wasn’t easy at times and he was even thrown in prison and eventually martyred. Paul’s response to God’s calling was almost limitless. He was not confined to human constraints. What he accomplished in his life is super human. No it was supernatural. We could say he went all the way. Or as many athletes say, he left it all on the field.

Barabbas is an unbelievable example of God’s radical love for us. Christ literally took the place of a common criminal. He is also a warning that we can slip into obscurity and completely waste our lives in spite of God’s calling. Lamentations 3:22 says, “The Faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.” If his mercy never ceases then our response to His love can never cease. The only thing we deserve is death. But Christ died on that cross because he loves us so much! He died on that cross so we didn’t have to. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while WE were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Yes, we are sinners. But we’re blessed with the gift of salvation. Let’s respond to God’s call and leave it all on the field. Let’s go all the way. We all have the potential to respond to God like Paul but the enemy wants us to be a Barabbas. Which one will you be? I challenge you to go all the way and bring honor and glory to his kingdom.

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Rebekah2 Many thanks to Rebekah, age 16, for this post! I’m looking forward to sharing more of her work in the weeks and months to come. Would you pray with me that the desire of her heart would continue to be a love for God and that, indeed, she would make a lasting impact in our world!

 

 

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Tell His Story

Romans 15:13 – The Power of One Small Word

The simplest of ideas often come to me when I’m alone, when I can quiet away the noise of the day, or when I can grab some quiet moments before the day gets going. Today it was a few thoughts on one simple verse, and even beyond that, the meaning of one of the smallest words in the verse. I wanted to share just a few of my thoughts today, a small word study if you will. It’s not anything in-depth, it’s just a few thoughts from my quiet time this morning as I pondered Romans 15:13, and specifically, the word “of”.

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 

The God of hope - Romans 15:13 || rebekahmhallberg.com

I sat thinking about “the God of hope…” and started thinking about “the Queen of England,” or “the Grand Duke of Luxembourg”. From there, I went smaller in my thinking –
*the box of cereal
*the cup of coffee
*the vase of flowers

(Yes, you can probably tell that all this happened around the time that I was gearing up for my morning…coffee, breakfast…just keeping it real here!)

Anyway, what’s so special about “of“? It’s a small word, it doesn’t seem very significant as you read through Romans 15:13, but I’d venture to say it may be one of the most powerful words in the verse.

In all the examples above, the word “of” refers to the one person or item that possesses the other.

For example – the box of cereal – the box holds the cereal
The cup of coffee – the cup holds the coffee
The Queen of England – the queen possesses/holds power over England.
You get the idea.

The God of hope.

That certainly falls in line with the Queen of England and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg – they are the ones who claim sole ownership of a nation, of a particular location, a certain portion of the world.

The God of hope.

Not the God of ‘some hope’.

Not the God of ‘sometimes hope’.

The God of hope.

All of the hope. Every last bit of it.

It’s all His!

He holds all of the hope to give as we need.

Let’s look at the verse again:

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.

Why would the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace?

If I’m the one answering that question, on a personal level, it’s because I can’t seem to find hope in my life in those tough situations, unless I’m focused on the joy and peace that only Jesus can give.

How do we get that joy and peace? By spending time – whether it’s in His Word, whether it’s worship songs, whether it’s prayer – we have to be focused on Him. We have to clear out the other distractions to hear Him speaking to us.

We need to let Him place the peace and joy in our hearts, which will transform our hearts from hopeless, to hope-full.  Full to overflowing.

This verse, Romans 15:13, is my prayer for you today – wherever you are, whatever your situation.

Romans 15:13. Amen.

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