Episode 8 is out. "Find Hope in All Times"

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Hey, it’s me again feeling blessed and thankful to be here spending time sharing with you.  Oh what times we are living in. Somedays it is truly tough to remain positive isn’t it? I know it is because I to struggle. We all need hope. So many of us are suffering and we need help and encouragement to get through those tough times and lately those times seem to be hanging around way too long as they feel relentless. We find ourselves feeling discouraged and depressed even. There are a lot of unsettling things going on so no wonder a person finds it difficult to stay upbeat. We do not often know how to or what to ask for and so often times that keeps us from reaching out for what we truly need because to be perfectly honest we may not even know what it is that we need to help us feel encouraged again. There is more than one way but I have some important ones I want to touch base on and share some of the lessons learned and words spoken that have helped me learn to encourage and remind myself how to keep going.  I hope to help answer some of that hopelessness and help you to be able to learn by daily habit to encourage yourself as I talk to you in our time together.

You have heard me say it, life can be hard. Sometimes it just may be that we have to endure a bad moment, or a bad day. While there are other times, we must endure however we can, unbearable heartache. There are some of us who face difficult times more often than we feel is fair. Yet you have heard it said life isn’t fair so it's almost like the world is telling you to “suck it up.” And hearing that doesn’t help whatsoever because we have grown weary, we’re tired of sucking it up.  As difficult as life can be, we cling to whatever hope we can because hope guides us and can steer us through these rocky storms of life. Take away hope, and even the small things will throw us completely overboard in that raging storm.

We do see hopeless situations. And of course media is regularly overwhelming us with stories of bad, sad and horrible events happening all around us and reminding us just how broken our world is and how much evil prevails. Where is all the good news, because I will promise you there is some, but its just not at the top of their priority list of what they think we need to hear. What I have found is I unfollow it and I don’t watch it. It makes me feel better. Our own lives and those of our loved ones and all the things we must do is already full and it juggling act is already  overwhelming in itself. Then add the rest of the world’s news and it is so depressing to say the least. I am certain you remember these words as well, hurt people hurt people and there is a lot of hurt in our world. And people’s brokenness can break you too if you don’t see it coming at you. Be careful especially when you feel down or upset what you allow to come out of your own mouth, be careful what you do. If you are not, the enemy will delight in it and it could be life changing in a bad way not only for you but for someone else. Be careful what you do when you are mad, sad, or hurt. Because you see, you are speaking and acting out of your upset emotion or overwhelmed being, not out of love as God commands us to do. I am reminded that we do not speak love at the expense of the truth. As the Word tells us we are to speak the truth in love.  Because if your’e not speaking the truth, then you are lying and that is not loving and caring about people.  We are in the midst of a battle. You like millions of others are most likely asking such things as, Why God do you allow any of this? Do we truly deserve all this, for I thought I was trying my best to live a good life for you. Is this the plan you had for me Lord? Surely you did not create me for this?   I can tell you for certain that in our world the enemy is out to destroy you and the family in every way, shape and form.  Our church is under more persecution than we have ever experienced in our lifetime and our Lord has given we the church the authority to stop what is going on. So rise up church.  In His Word we find that God shows us how we the people once fell away from His true plan and what He did to heal us. This is where we can find hope as His original intentions for our lives reveals.

Genesis is where it all begins and where our God created every thing needed to make a beautiful world and a beautiful life for us. Adam and Eve had this, but sin

came into the their world. God truly loves us and He gave us free will to choose to love and to follow Him or not. So why wouldn’t we have free will to chose encouragement or defeat? 

In the first book of the Bible you can read the story of the creation of the world and how he gave  Adam and Eve specific but simple instruction of what to do and what not to do but they made the choice to disobey.  And this is how sin entered into their lives and was passed down to their children and so on and so on. This means we to have this terrible thing called sin which causes us to not trust our God as we should, and instead lean on our own understanding and give in to our temptations. We are supposed to resemble our God but sin doesn’t help us to appear as so.  Our God didn’t create us to be broken so some of us may be wondering why do I feel this way or that way and where do we find hope? The truth of the matter is, we will never be perfect, we will never get it all right. Even the best of the best doesn’t. Let this take off some pressure, No One does! We can't meet God's standards or overcome the effect of our sin condition but we must not quit trying to please God as we walk in truth. The good news is we have been given another chance to chose. God loves us so much that he couldn't just let us stay in our brokenness and despair.  We may feel broken, but we don’t have to remain there but instead can travel the path to being whole in a new way. I heard that in Japan, broken objects are often repaired with gold. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to its beauty. They find it more valuable and beautiful. God will make beauty of our ashes of our mess. Consider that when you feel broken. He has never once chosen a perfect person with a perfect life to do His work, to fulfill His plans.  Did you know that wages of sin is death, therefore the way to pay those wages would be through the death of someone else so God Himself had to be that Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ Who willingly did that for us. He died so that we may have eternal life and have it abundantly.

Jesus was born and lived upon this earth and endured all the things we broken people like you and me have. Well, there were times He definitely had it worse but I say this show you that He understands us and what it is like to be us. He was even tempted, yet being Who He was He never once sinned. Our Jesus was more than enough to pay for all the bad choices all people of all times have made.  I want you to remember when life seems like it is more than you can bear, you cannot forget  that the crucifixion goes before the resurrection. It wasn’t pretty and it was painful of course. Jesus’s life, death and resurrection saved us all. God through His grace that was shown to us, given to us,  gave us a clean slate. However we must keep coming to Him our true Father,  to repent time and time again asking Him to cleanse us, to forgive us as we continue to allow Him to help shift us back into place and lead us through this life. We learn as we go and without the process we don’t learn how to use the power and the authority He has given to us. If you continue to struggle then let me ask you this even though you may have asked God for forgiveness of your sins, have you forgiven yourself? Are you still trying to prove something? Or could it be that you are being way too hard on yourself ? 

Now I am about to share with you something that I feel even those of us who have been Christians a long time, may tend to forget some of these important points. Note at anytime if any of these hit a nail on the head for you. Once upon a time I just kept working at trying to achieve things in life. I kept feeling like I needed to accomplish one more thing and just maybe I would be qualified to become enough for the life God planned for me.  There were times it was emotionally exhausting and I didn’t realize just how much until someone pointed out that it seems I was trying to earn God's love or prove myself to Him, that I was worthy of His Love and His great plans for my life. I would never be good enough. Yeah I would get into Heaven, but just how pleased would God be with me or not. Would I hear those words at the end of my journey where He says,  ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. But you know what, I already had my qualifications. I didn’t have to prove it, I didn’t have to earn it. It was a gift from Him, not something I had to earn, not something I had to be, for He already paid for it, it was my gift to accept and receive.  He accepted me and loved me for who I was. When you accept a truth, it changes what you do in your life. By accepting Christ I was changed.  I was now agreeing with Him about my sins, by asking Him for forgiveness and promising Him I would do my very best not to go that way again, asking Him to be the Lord of my life and allowing Him to lead my life.  Making the decision to trust Jesus, and no longer trying to earn His love, but now spending every day living in His great love. Know this that you will never be be perfect and you will still sin, but not as willingly as you used too because you are forever changed by this experience of Him if you truly allow yourself to be. But because the Holy Spirit now resides in you and this will allow you grow in Christ and you will want to live a life that is pleasing to God. Draw near to Him and He will draw nearer to you.  He forgives us and helps us start again and often times again and again as we repent and keep coming to His throne and establishing a relationship with Him. 

Salvation is God's free gift to those who wants to receive it. Regardless of how broken you may be, no matter how poor of a choice maker you may have been, Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price and can forgive you if you ask Him too. He wants you to.  The choice to accept or reject this gift is up to you but it is free and remember it is a gift given to you by simply saying yes to receive it. 

It is really important that you learn to encourage yourself in the Lord. You cannot depend on anyone else or other things to make you feel good. Sure people can remind you of God’s word, they can teach you about God, they can help, but ultimately you have to learn to encourage yourself by God’s Word and His teachings and use these in your life.  This is your responsibility. It is a relationship where God never abandons you. He is always right there so if you walk away it is you that must come back. He longs for you too. He wants to pull you closer.

Be careful in your attempt to justify why you are feeling this or that and know that going from broken to whole is the destination you want to follow in this healing journey. It is a process. You cannot skip the steps. God allows them there for  a reason. However, there will be times God picks you up and carries you. Ask Him.

In the journey you must often times tune things out, that may mean certain people, that may mean social media, the news, where you go and what you do. And go to your quiet place, the secret place of God. Talk and quiet yourself to listen to Him. The bible tells us that what the Father sees in the secret place He shall reward openly. You can easily get consumed by all that is going on that you fail to go spend time with your God as this is encouraging yourself in Him. Discover what He wants you to know, how He wants to direct you in all things. Actually ask Him out loud. Let Him see your effort and feel your truest intention to know more, for Him to hear your voice.  Go to your secret place, your quiet nook, your prayer closet. The secret place is that face to face with God and a quiet place that doesn’t allow distractions of the world to interrupt you. Do not look to others, do not expect others to encourage you. It’s important to have fellowship with others, there are a lot of important things in your life, but never put any of them before God. 

Encouraging yourself also include doing things that help you to find hope in your life through beautiful things God has given and instill within you. In a previous episode we have talked about affirmations, so do those. Write positive things to yourself about yourself, and even goals and put them in a place you will see often and even in your prayer journal and talk to God about them. But go too and read the book of Ephesians to learn about who God says you are in Him. I am currently listening to the audible book entitled “Defined Who God Says you Are” from the movie Overcomer by Stephen & Alex Kendrick and David Cochran Heath. There are a number of great books to read, the Bible being the best. Find something you really enjoy doing and makes you feel happy and do that. Like for me its gardening, and another, podcasting to you. If you are feeling lonely surround yourself in Godly people or maybe even find a mentor and there is great healing in finding a Christian counselor to talk too and get great guidance and inspiration from.  Exercise, walking is a great start. Prayer walking. 

Find a new hobby and give it a try and see how it goes or where it may lead you in and or spark another interest in other interesting areas you find along the way. Make some goals, start small and grow from there. Talk to God about all of it and wait upon Him to answer. When you do what brings you joy, you have essentially replaced those negative thoughts and feelings. How do you eliminate the darkness? Turn on a light, you become the light. Believe that God is going to turn all things around. Say it out loud, declare it. Believe God is going to restore all that has been taken from you. Ask God for strength energy and courage to face each day with joy, compassion, power and confidence. God has a new season planned for those who keep their faith in Him. Believe like you never had before, seeking, waiting and pressing on. What do you have to loose by doing so?  Begin by asking  yourself what needs to change in me to look more like Jesus?

Matthew 7:24-27 says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” 

The most important thing you can do is to keep your focus on God and He will set everything right. Challenge that despair by being honest with yourself emotionally. Allow God to shift your heart. Psalm 42:5 says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” 

Do not forget one of the most important tools, Prayer, it is not just speaking to God, prayer is listening to what God is saying. Prayer is the most powerful weapon you possess.  Do not just listen to your own thoughts but be listening to God. Talk to yourself in the way that the Lord would talk to you. Remember those affirmations and those promises of God and Who He says you are. The book of Ephesians  Say to yourself what the Lord is saying to you. This is why prayer is so vital and why the Apostle Paul tells us to take every thought captive: The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2nd Corinthians 10:4-5.

Challenge your mind by taking those thoughts captive. As the psalmist writes the doubt and discouragement in his own soul. Sometimes your soul can act like the Israelites acted when they were taunted by Goliath – your mind can taunt you, and God knew this but we challenge those thoughts and let God’s truth sanctify our emotions. 

His gift of salvation is wrapped up and waiting for everyone to receive at anytime. Right this moment you can take God at His Word. Tell Him you want to be in a relationship with Him and that you want His forgiveness for your sins. Tell Him that you wish to accept His gift of salvation through Jesus' death and His resurrection. Ask Him to lead you as you seek to build a relationship with Him as you get to know Him and learn to love like Jesus does. There is no special language or any mystery to talking to God. It is simple. Share with Him, openly and honestly talk to Him what's on your mind and in your heart. He is not complicated and therefore He doesn't really care what words you use, as long as you're being honest. Talk to Jesus anytime. I recall once where my son was talking about God always being with him that he always acknowledged Him. One day he was sitting on the sofa when the empty recliner popped out and my son said, “Well have a seat Jesus!” I hear my husband out and about just talking as if he was talking to himself, sometimes he likes to speak his thoughts out loud other times he is talking to God. Who care what anyone thinks? God loves it and He is happy about this relationship building too that is taking place. Trust and stand on God’s Word and go about you life as you speak power into it. Speak things into existence, you know speak those positive things over yourself and the lives of those you love, even if you are not feeling it, it will come to life. God tells us to speak those things as if they were and they will be so. So cheer yourself up and continue to do so, make it a habit. You honestly have nothing to loose and everything to gain by doing so. 

FYI: its not a sin to feel distress and depressed, its sin to stay there! Do not conform to the ways of this world! The devil doesn’t want to come after you in times of despair, but he does want to keep you there. What he really wants is to come after you in times of victory, when you are feeling your most powerful. He knows your strength is up so your strength is powerful, your belief, your thoughts are intense as it is flowing from the state of victory. You see you are in the midst of victory, you are not in the process of fighting for the victory. You are already there, strong and bold! He wants to weaken you from that strength.  Remember this, the enemy he feels completely opposite for you than your God does.  The evil one he not only doesn’t like you He hates you!  Silence him, take him out with your powerful words, declare victory over him. You do have authority over him.

For we children of the almighty our hope rests on trusting God. Take those worries, those concerns and lay them at His feet. Trust Him in all things. Just so you know salvation has nothing to do with obeying the right set of rules, doing the right type of good works or feeling a certain way. You do not have to accomplish those things first. You don’t have to be prequalified. The condition of your heart is what matters.  Salvation comes by simply saying, "Yes, Jesus, I trust You," When you accept Jesus' terms for salvation, you can trust that God will honor His agreement forever that your salvation is safe with Him. The restoration of your life has begun and God will complete it.

Our hope rests on God's promise that even though we experience pain while we are on this journey of life, one day we will be fully restored. All that pain and suffering that we have endured will be gone. We serve and we love a God that never changes, He never goes back on His Word, He keeps His promises and He will finish the work He started in us. The end of our story is a guaranteed happily ever-after one that God will never stop loving us. God wants our love. He wants to feel and to hear our love for Him. You can identify with that right? That encourages Him and the more encouraged He is the more He can do for us all.  In Hebrews 11 it says that Faith without actions is dead. Therefore we must put forth our faith into actions, believing before seeing it that it will happen for this encourages our Lord to act upon our faith that He will do what He says He will do. You see my dear friends, we must get up out of the pit of despair and lift up our voices of praise and worship, pray the prayers to our God, and stand on the words of our affirmations of and promises of God that we the mighty warriors of our God of who He says we are. Roll out of our beds and onto our knees giving Him all the glory first thing each morning and as we fall asleep at night and throughout the day lift up your voices in praise. And even if the enemy is trying to pull us down again and you do not feel like it or inspired to do much to fight back remember the enemy is working his best to weaken you, to get into your thoughts and defeat you. Take captive of those thoughts and act on your faith, do it anyhow, use your weapons of words for there is power in your words and speak up and against him, and let God speak through you and change you, let God empower you as you learn to encourage yourself in Him and you rise to the call. 

Allow your life to be touched by hope and to be encouraged in the Lord, its your choice.  There is no hope like the hope God offers through Jesus Christ. Regardless of whoever or whatever happened to you or let you down in the past, Jesus is not like them. In Him, as you focus yourself on Him and seek His ways you will find your greatest dreams come true. Do not worry if some people do not like you! There were a whole lot of people who didn’t like Jesus then and do not like Him now. Because the truth is not to their liking.  Do not be consumed by this world because when things are not good, God still is, especially to those who love the Lord. Jesus’ love is like no other. It only takes just one wave of His spirit to bring about tremendous miraculous changes. We hold the petition of prayer to Him. So Pray for He hears us, we His children who He responds too. Because of our acceptance of His gift and our repentance His forgiveness frees us to be all He created us to be. He does say You were created for a time such as this. He knows better than us. He is our Father and we can trust Him.  Mighty warriors rise up, be encouraged in the Lord. You are what He says you are.  His great power is limitless and our future with Him is the best thing that could ever happen to you and I!  Until next time…. Remember this in Joel 2:25 the word  talks about how God is able to restore the years that the locus have eaten. Many of us have lost so much. Keep your focus on Him because no matter what God is going to restore all of it. Allow yourself to find hope in your relationship with Jesus. The ending to this story is We Win!  -Diana Hudgins


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