Cheri's Blog

Hope When You’re Feeling Defeated

day 6 when you're feeling defeated

Day 6: Hope When You’re Feeling Defeated

Scripture

Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. And Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up their lines of battle in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried to the LORD his God, “O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.” So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. 2 Chron. 14:9-12

 

Devotional Material: Hope When You’re Feeling Defeated

Although he was a king, Asa was someone who very much resembles you and me. He believed God was faithful and trustworthy, except when he didn’t. There were times, instead, that left him feeling defeated. That sizes most of us up right there.

Today we zero in on a point in history when the king is in a menacing predicament. It’s not unexpected, just the worst-case scenario as a king. The kingdom is about to be crushed by a bad guy and his one million troops.

Not only does this situation demonstrate God’s faithfulness to hear and respond, but it shows us what hope that is awakening in a person’s life can look like.

He went out.

The king could have remained in the fortress to defend himself at home. But scholars believe he went out in order to strategically place himself on more equal footing. The Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah was not large enough for one million troops plus chariots to advance together. This was military genius, given the odds.

Notice what was happening here. Asa was using every means within his power possible. He did not rely on his feelings. No matter what God was going to choose to do in his situation, the king had utilized every resource and ounce of wisdom he possessed to participate in the event. Asa did not shrink back in fear or discouragement. This man did not stay out of the battle because it was hopeless from the get-go. He went out.

He cried out.

Once Asa had been faithful and bold in his going forward, he did not hesitate to make it know where the victory would lie if it came. God and God alone would bring it, regardless of his feelings or how large his army was or how strong they proved to be in battle. It was the Lord’s name that was at stake, not his own glory as the king.

He took courage.

After the victory, God was not finished dealing with the king. This was a hope-extending experience that stretched beyond the results of one single event.

Immediately following the victory, God sent an obscure encourager who was moved by the Holy Spirit to speak into the life of this man. His message was hope-filled, spurring him on to seek the Lord. It came with a warning for not seeking Him, which we cannot skip over. To demonstrate his point, this Nobody gave King Asa a rundown of all the ways the kings before him have blown it by not seeking and relying on God, and how not to be like them.

But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.” 2 Chron. 15:7

This encounter set such a fire under the king that he did exactly that.

Sometimes we have done all we can. We’ve stepped out in faith, using all our resources and there is nothing left to offer. We’ve prayed. Yes, God has shown Himself to be faithful. You, too, have experienced the Gospel to be true and trustworthy.

But there is still more to be experienced. Hope continues to be awakened in each one of us. I don’t know what you are embarking upon, but the encouragement today is simple: Take courage. Don’t slack off! Do not hold onto that defeated feeling! Your labor is not in vain and is meaningful to the only One that really matters.

 

 

Leave a prayer or response below so that we can participate together as we walk this journey alongside each other.

To return to the beginning of the plan, click here.

Click here to return to the previous day.

cheri strange speaker author she yearns

 

Popular Reading Plans

if you like feeling defeated you will like help for the discourage

if you like feeling defeated you will like how to adopt without ruining your family

 

 

 

A Day is Coming

Day 5: A Day is coming

Scripture

 Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

Devotional Material

What we’ve learned from Hebrews about hope and how it increases is that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in us what nothing else can. He is the Hope Awakener. But for all the promised fullness to be realized, you and I are expected to participate by drawing near, without pretense, pure in heart. Don’t think it’s going to be easy or without ample opportunities to take up something less intrusive like badminton, instead.

Discouragements may come, but you and I are in this together. So that we are not tempted to go it alone, the writer of Hebrews drives home the necessity for Christian community. It’s difficult to be provoked to love and good works if there are no occasions to do so. Doing life together, becoming knowledgeable of genuine needs and then acting upon them, is more than checking off your Good Christian boxes. The writer is not articulating a To-Do List for how to score BIG with God, but something more like how to Waltz. It’s as if he is trying to convey that when all the steps and motions fall into place in this fullness of hope he’s been describing, it’s exhilarating to experience and nothing short of magnificent to behold. He doesn’t want us to miss it!

What if we don’t like to dance?

That doesn’t seem to be on the table for discussion. I don’t mean to sound so dramatic, but the writer believes eternity is at stake in this business of hope. There is urgency here, even an increased intensity. Whether you choose to learn how to Waltz and try it out for yourself, so to speak, or not, a day is approaching. A day is coming when each one of us will account for our engagement with the Savior.

In God’s economy, our salvation is dependent upon faith in Christ alone. But we’re clearly responsible for one another. If one of us becomes discouraged, defeated, even disinterested so that the love and good works are not accomplished, the day will still approach. It’s a severe reality revealed here, but revealed nonetheless. We will be responsible.

This calls for earnest prayer. Prayers of forgiveness for where we are lacking. We need prayers for wisdom in how to move forward. And prayers for the willingness to do the dance, and encouragement for those entrusted to us.

Oh, let the Holy Spirit continue to awaken the Hope in us!

 

 

Leave a prayer or response below so that we can participate together as we walk this journey alongside each other.

To return to the beginning of the plan, click here.

Click here to return to the previous day.

cheri strange speaker author she yearns

 

Popular Reading Plans

if you like stirring connection you will like help for the discourage

if you like stirring connection you will like how to adopt without ruining your family

 

 

 

Stirring Connection

Day 4: Stirring Connection

Scripture

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, Hebrews 10:24

 

Devotional Material

Could we all just agree to put our phones down and look across the room?

It’s awkward, I realize.

Do you notice the people around you? Are you cognizant of their emotional state based on their body language? How do they spend their free time? Does any relative live nearby? Have you developed connections with real live people within your sphere of influence to the degree you could recognize a need?

Unmistakably, if the Gospel is anything, it’s a collective endeavor. Sometimes we find ourselves on mission independent of others by circumstances or necessity. Other times, we isolate ourselves through other means. Neither option is optimal according to Scripture. We are commissioned through the Word of God to be involved in relationships outside of our individual pursuits for Kingdom purposes.

The challenge presented by the writer of Hebrews is that we authentically connect to such a degree, we impact each other and the world around us. You and I cannot even begin until we are in a physical and mental position to notice people.

Once we center on the individuals, we are to give serious consideration to how we stir them up to love and good deeds. That’s why observation is critical. Listening should be without headphones dangling out of our ears. Phones removed. People learned. Situations studied. Only then can we better define specific needs.

We could have been charged with achieving great things for the Kingdom employing all our talents and resources, independently. But nothing is further from reality. Instead, this writer maintains we are to “provoke” or incite each other toward accomplishing the love and good deeds. This suggests substantial effort to propel one another forward on mission with God. You need me to do this for you. And I most certainly need you.

Here is where we prayerfully lay out what we’ve learned in our people-watching before God. Ask Him to help you know what to do with those entrusted to you, and to make you aware of the needs. Who might need your encouragement so that the work will be accomplished?

May the Lord begin to give you the strength to stop going it alone. I pray He grows a love in you that draws you together with others. May He then so stir your hearts and minds in a single focus, that collectively you can make an impact that is recognizable as being the Gospel.

 

 

Leave a prayer or response below so that we can participate together as we walk this journey alongside each other.

To return to the beginning of the plan, click here.

Click here to return to the previous day.

 

Popular Reading Plans

if you like stirring connection you will like help

if you like stirring connection you will like how to adopt

 

 

 

 

Seize Your Hope

Day 3: Seize Your Hope

Scripture

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

Devotional Material

An unusual family structure like ours (eight kids: six adopted, two biological) brings out the obtrusive curiosity in people. They ask bold questions like, “What’s it like living with all those kids?

I respond with some variant of life being busier than you can imagine but not as chaotic as you would think. Organization is key. Still, periodically, things get a little hairy. Time is needed to reorient the bins, closets, and bedroom mayhem.

Mixed up in the piles or with the dangling hangers, I invariably uncover girls’ jeans accidentally hanging in the boys’ closet or the wrong person’s shirts shoved in the drawers. Always I’ll unearth something totally unexpected. Sooner than later I’ll exclaim, “What in the world is THIS doing HERE?

That’s sort of the way I feel about Hebrews 10:23.

  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering…

Scholars believe the author is writing to Christians living in Jerusalem just before the Romans destroyed the city. Life was burdensome. Persecutions were rampant. Their expectations of how things would turn out were not being met. It was difficult to see the light in the middle of dark circumstances.

These were not namby-pamby fence riders. These people had taken hold of the Gospel message and allowed Christ to have a firm grip on their lives. And they were challenged to seize and hold tightly to their hope in the midst of the disappointment; because God remained faithful and trustworthy.

A Perfect Fit

That’s what it’s doing there. Unlike the misplaced jeans, this is perfectly positioned.

Maybe your situation doesn’t look promising. Unmet expectations cross all generations. Half a dozen reasons declare why realism points to trusting in something other than God.

Don’t do it!” the writer cries. This is temptation talking. Seize your hope! Keep drawing near. This isn’t a kiddie ride at an amusement park. You and I are far beyond that in Christ. There are no guardrails or restraints for the thrill ride that is following Jesus. It’s just you and me holding tightly to the hope we can see through the darkness of whatever comes our way.

What might be causing you to waver? Recognize it as temptation. Stop it in its tracks. Instead, hold tightly to the hope you have in Jesus.

Seize it!

Seize it by asking God to make it impenetrable as the Holy Spirit awakens it exponentially in your heart and mind.

 

 

Leave a prayer or response below so that we can participate together as we walk this journey alongside each other.

To return to the beginning of the plan, click here.

Click here to return to the previous day.

 

Popular Reading Plans

if you like seize your hope you will like resting well

if you like seize your hope you will like what if

 

 

 

 

Draw Near

Day 2: Draw Near

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22

Devotional Material

Most mornings I wake up with the weight of impossibilities and my inadequacies pushing me deep under the covers. This heaviness is often mixed with reminders of blaring realities I can see of my inabilities and lack. Being the multitasker that I am, my mind wanders quickly to the times I have failed before and mistake after misstep are filed across my mental landscape like an old movie set up for me to review as evidence that should size up my day. Nope. No way can I do what I think I’m called to do.

And I haven’t even brushed my teeth.

Call it the Enemy, perfectionism gone bad, or my own conscience, as the writer of Hebrews might agree. The bottom line is that if I just wait around allowing all that garbage to percolate I will literally waste my life, paralyzed in fear, stifled in inhibition. Unmoved.

No. We cannot fix the problem or awaken the hope within. But neither does God intend we stand there brushing our teeth in presumed failure or indifference.

What then is the solution?

Draw near.

So often we don’t draw near because we have beaten ourselves up too much before we get out of the starting gate. The work IS impossible. We ARE inadequate for the task; which is why we can’t fix it. It’s a circular disaster with a single workable strategy: take your mental mess and emotional abyss to God. You moving closer to the heart of God as He draws you to Himself. That is the only solution.

Get rid of the pretense.

He simply asks for our sincerity. This is not the time to practice some artificial ritualistic nonsense. He can see through all that drivel. Bring your whole mistake-ridden, inapt self. But offer it in candor. In our worst postures, He still presses in toward us.

Come in full confidence of Faith.

Leave the “I cant’s,” with your toothbrush.

Instead, come near in full confidence that your God hears you; that He will respond on your behalf, and will replace all of that negativity and destruction with His Truth, filling you with overflowing bountifulness of Holy Spirit imparted hope. Positioning this confidence in the forefront mentally changes the trajectory of your day to impact your world. It’s literally life-changing.

Today, would you simply draw near?

 

 

Leave a prayer or response below so that we can participate together as we walk this journey alongside each other.

To return to Day 1, click here.

 

Popular Reading Plans

If you like Drawing Near you will like Wating Well

If you like drawing near you will like bloom abiity