Cheri's Blog

A God of Hope

Welcome

Hey! I’m Cheri Strange, the hostess for the devotional aspect of this 21 Days of Prayer emphasis with America World. It is my pleasure to partner with this fabulous organization during this season of hope in my cyberspace. We may have met last year during the same season through What if YOU Were the Plan?

Before we get started, allow me to give you the skinny on the plan and the general structure for each day. Once we get going, I will try to provide a seamless experience for you and get out of your way. Let me first invite you to make yourself at home while you are here. Get to know one another in the comments section. Sometimes this particular road can feel lonely. I have found much-needed support and encouragement just when I needed it, so if something strikes you or an idea comes, please share it in the comments so that others who have signed up to participate with us can benefit.

You are reading this plan in my Reading Plan section. All of these plans (at least a portion of them) can be found on YouVersion in some variety. Most of the time you will find the Scripture reference or the verse entirely at the beginning of the day’s reading. Under the Bible reading will be the devotional material. The only time I will deviate from that is when I feel it flows better to embed the verses within the body of the devotional material.

Most plans have bonus materials that are added periodically, so don’t forget to check that out. If you have any questions, comment below or you can contact me at info@sheyearns.com.

I am so thankful you are here and have been looking forward to your arrival for months! Let’s see what God has in store.

For His Glory,

Cheri

Day 1: A God of Hope

Scripture

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

Devotional Material

When I was about ten years old, my parents managed a Christian radio station. A small operation, it often became a family endeavor. My sister hosted a contemporary hits show while I debuted my disc jockey skills hosting a weekly children’s hour.

What I remember most was the personal investment it required. The victories were ours to celebrate and the problems stuck around until they were solved. That investment included the tower.

In case you’re not familiar, radio frequencies rely on very tall towers to transmit signals. Towers are required to house red flashing lights on top to warn low flying aircraft. When these go out, replacing them is an urgent management problem.

Although a licensed pilot and a lover of flying, heights did not love the management. There was no way my dad was going to climb that tower and change the lamps. What we needed was someone outside of ourselves to bring what was darkened back to light.

This is what the Holy Spirit does within us in terms of hope. He brings to light what we cannot do for ourselves. Even a person with a temperament that leans toward happy and joyful on any given day can’t do this. It’s simply supernatural. You can’t raise your hands high enough or believe strongly enough to obtain it. We are not capable of solving our deepest issues of belief and trust in our God. This kind of hope must be awakened by the Holy Spirit like a small broken lightbulb made new to light up the sky.

What in your life has just about burned itself out?

Maybe you’ve done everything in your power to fix it, to bring back the light, but it’s still not working.

Perhaps you are looking up at a very tall tower, wondering how you are ever going to solve this problem. It’s just too overwhelming.

Consider outsourcing this job. You’re right. You can’t fix it. And it will burn out.

You and I were not made for Lone-Rangering our God-given responsibilities. Yes, God asked you to manage it. But bringing light where there is none? That’s out of your league.

It’s time to call in the expert in all things bright and beautiful.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

Back to the Beginning of Awakening Hope

Move on to Day Two

Able Still Speaks

day 2 able still speaks

Day 2: Able Still Speaks

Scripture

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. y faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. Hebrews 11:1-4

while Abel brought the best portions of the firstborn of his flock. And the LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, Genesis 4:4

Then Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Genesis 4:8

Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he slay him? Because his own deeds were evil, while those of his brother were righteous. 1 John 3:12

 

Devotional Material

One of my daughters suffers from allergies in the fall. When she was younger, her father proposed a medical treatment to help alleviate her symptoms. But her response was downright negative. In fact, she told him she didn’t know why we would try that because it was never going to work! Since she was all of seven, dad wanted to know what tainted her thinking.

Apparently, the child had been steered away by an infomercial on television. Even though she had no medical training, zero experience, or justification for distrusting her father, she demonstrated little to no faith in the proposed remedy.

Unfortunately, the reasoning of a misguided and gullible seven year old can sound a lot like you and me when it comes to trusting God and matters of faith.

In The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan created a character named Little Faith. Little Faith has just that: little faith. Oh, he eventually makes it to heaven, but he doesn’t experience the kind of victories and successes worth retelling. Bunyan pushes the reader past settling for little faith toward become a person with great faith.

He knows possessing a meager faith will cause a person to spend too much time in the gutters fighting make-believe foes. Positively that person gets to heaven. There is grace enough. But for some reason, the confidence to believe God can accomplish what He sets in motion never materializes.

Too often, too many limp along unable to believe God beyond what we can see.

Abel still speaks today.

Why?

Abel believed God for what he could not see during his time through his circumstances.

That’s it. That’s all great faith ever requires.

But let’s be frank. Great faith will be costly. People are hurting. Children are without families. Widows are neglected. Girls are enslaved. Countless others are displaced and hungry, all without the Gospel.

The world needs Believers in Christ who will take a step toward greater and deeper faith. As it has been through the ages, so it is here and now. The world is looking for hope. And faith displayed in your life is what it looks like.

Ask God to help you recognize where you are settling for a lesser faith in Him. Then prepare to move toward a faith that hopes in what it cannot see.

What is one step you can take toward trusting God for the unseen today?

with much affection,

 

 

If you would like to the beginning of this plan, click here.

Want to read find this plan on YouVersion? Click here.

Other Popular Reading Plans

if you like Able still speaks you will like helpIf you like Able still speaks you will like becoming thirsty

The Other Side of the Dungeon

if you like stirring connection you will like help

Day 6: The Other Side of the Dungeon

Scripture

Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, 2and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. 3But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-3

Devotional Material

Spurgeon says of himself for days after the incident at the Surrey Garden Music Hall:

“Even the sight of a Bible brought a flood of tears and utter distraction of mind.”

Crushed spiritually and mentally to the degree he physically cannot function is where we find our renowned preacher. Not only was Spurgeon questioning his ability to preach again, but picking up a Bible brought an emotional torrent. Would he ever recover? He doesn’t yet know.

But he found help in the Lord.

He returned to his mourning congregation, hurting. Likely, he was filled with all sorts of competing thoughts, anxieties, and emotions. As this grieving leader took his place, he began to pray this gut-wrenching prayer:

“We are assembled here, O Lord, this day, with mingled feelings of joy and sorrow…Thy servant feared that he should never be able to meet this congregation again.”

He was serious. It took superhuman strength to get up that morning, stand there, and pray. Spurgeon did what you and I need to do when he found himself in a dungeon experience. He refused to quit but exhibited perfect trust under delay and disappointment, just like Jesus called John the Baptist to do.

We know this evidenced through his life and ministry. He refused to quit and trusted God. Later he said this:

“I have gone to the very bottoms of the mountains, as some of you know, in a night that never can be erased from my memory…but, as far as my witness goes, I can say that the Lord is able to save unto the uttermost and in the last extremity, and he has been a good God to me.”

That is the essence of Jesus and the promise for your life today. Your God will be faithful to do the same for you. I don’t know how He will choose to do it. But please remember that if John the Baptist can find himself in a season of discouragement; and if Charles Spurgeon can go “to the uttermost and in the last extremity” and still find God to be good– we can trust this same God.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?

My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.

Lift up your eyes, my friend!

Don’t you dare quit!

Your help is coming.

 

For His Glory and with much affection,

 

 

Conquering Your Dungeon

if you like stirring connection you will like help

Day 5: Conquering Your Dungeon

The first days are so painful sometimes but I know days five and six are coming. God does not leave us alone to climb out of our dungeons. He helps us in conquering them. Today’s message not difficult to write because I am so familiar with it. For me, the encouragement and strength as essential–the very purposes we are gathered. I pray God’s Word does not return void, penetrating your own heart and mind.

Scripture

John 16:33

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 8:37

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 

Devotional Material

Charles Spurgeon was a renowned pastor in London during the 1800s. He was not popular because he was soft on truth, nor did he pander to the critical base. It was his giftedness in preaching the Word. Spurgeon was able to present a truth, draw you in where you felt it is written for your particular need, and sense Divine inspiration.

This man, like our John the Baptist, was full of conviction, confident in his calling, with the ability to deliver faithfully. Spurgeon developed such powerful sermons that even translated in other languages across continents, just reading them could be used by God to bring people to salvation.

At age twenty-two, Spurgeon was newly married with two babies and already had what we would call a tremendous following. So much so that he and his congregation decided to rent the Surrey Garden Music Hall to accommodate the crowds they were anticipating. This music hall was built with a bottom floor and balconies where people sat facing the stage. Quarters would be close in order to hear the speaker without sound equipment. For an evening message, 12,000 people would attend. Another 10,000 would stand outside leaning in straining to hear something.

Such ministry success, however, brings out the worst in some people. A few minutes after six p.m. someone yelled “Fire! The balconies are giving way!” With that announcement came mass hysteria. People were still coming into the theater which blocked the exits. A balcony, indeed, gave way from the weight, but there was no fire. It had been a lie–intentionally told to create the hysteria and mass commotion. What resulted were seven deaths: people trampled by those trying to escape; and twenty-nine seriously injured. Spurgeon was helpless, and had to be carried out on the verge of consciousness. He didn’t believe he would ever recover from the event.

Yes. In this world, you and I will have trouble.

But we know this tragedy does not mark the end of an era for Spurgeon for the same reason your difficult situations, tragedies, or deep discouragements will not mark the end for you. His story is not over and neither is yours!

Even before we know how the story ends we can make progress in our own realities.

  • Refuse the defeating thoughts battling within your mind.
  • Instead, embrace the truth of God’s Word that He will help you through this difficulty.

With much affection,

 

 

Follow John’s Lead

if you like stirring connection you will like help

Welcome back. One thing about today’s devotional is that it stems from several places in Scripture. (There are several verses. I’m sorry!) I have provided them here for you so it shouldn’t be difficult. I certainly don’t want to leave them out. It is so important that we know where these verses live and today’s lesson is no different. 

I’m glad you are here. I pray you benefit from this plan as greatly as I have.

Day 2: Follow John’s Lead

Scripture

Luke 1:15

for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.

Malachi 4:4-5

“Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. 5″Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. 6″He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”…

Isaiah 40:2-3

2″Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the LORD’S hand Double for all her sins.”

3 A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. 4″Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley;…  

Matthew 3:5-6

Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

John 1:22-23

So they said to him (the Pharisees), “Who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

23John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet: “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ 

John 1:29

“Behold, The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” 

John 1:31

the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel.”…

 

Devotional Material

We have time for one Biblical example in this plan on discouragement. Know there are others who needed God to restore their hope and their joy–their very life. God has been there time and time again to do the work and show Himself faithful.

In these moments we are going to take a look at John the Baptist, the cousin of the Son of God. Possessing the Holy Spirit from the womb, this guy was SOLID!

The Old Testament prophesied that before the Messiah came Elijah would return, and God would send someone to prepare the way. When John the Baptist arrives on the scene with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, he goes out into the wilderness looking very much like Elijah, sporting a leather belt and eating locusts as Scripture promised.

Fast forward through John’s ministry. John recognized Jesus as the Son of God and calls it out on the banks of the Jordan. Then before the crowds, John declared that the reason he came baptizing with water was to reveal this very man.

Once Jesus is out in public ministry, the crowds began to leave John and head over to the Jesus wagon. Naturally, John’s groupies are upset by this disruption, disturbing their awesome follower numbers. But John gets it! He understood His purpose. It wasn’t to have the most likes, high baptism numbers, or the greatest ministry success. Instead, it was to be overshadowed by this guy. Harold the new guy and get out of the way! That was his mission. But don’t stop ministering, John, in spite of the lessening crowds, the dropping numbers, and the discouragement it naturally arouses. Don’t stop speaking the truth regardless of the cost.

John lands in a dark, miserable prison for his faithfulness. Prison was not on the agenda. Preaching? Yes. Heralding the new guy? Absolutely. Preparing the Way was his calling, not wasting away in a dungeon.

Life wasn’t turning out as he planned. It begins to have an effect on him. Here he was doing everything God had asked of Him. He frankly couldn’t do anymore. For that, he’s in a dungeon. John begins to question very foundational premises that once rooted His life and mission.

What about you?

Have you ever found yourself in a different place in life than you planned? It’s not working out like you’d hoped or envisioned? Maybe you too, have experienced two handfuls of hardship for your faithfulness, and it’s causing you to question your own foundational premises.

Keep reading. Follow John’s lead. He takes his questions to Jesus. What you and I are going to see is that this makes all the difference.

Today, you and I can do the same.

Can’t wait to meet you tomorrow.

With much affection,