Hope Blossoms

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.”Psalm 119:114 I read a devotion this morning from Our Daily Bread that I thought would be an encouraging devotion to share for the times we find ourselves in right now more then half way through 2020 (e.g., Covid-19, riots, the shutting down of churches and other social gatherings where people were used to getting together and encouraging and enjoying one another, etc.) and with a Presidential election only 81 days away.

This devotion is titled, Hope Blossoms,” and  it is written by Patricia Raybon, award winning author and journalist:

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.Isaiah 35:1

In the city of Philadelphia, when weedy vacant lots were cleaned up and brightened with beautiful flowers and trees, nearby residents also brightened in overall mental health. This proved especially true for those who struggled economically.

“There’s a growing body of evidence that green space can have an impact on mental health,” said Dr. Eugenia South, “and that’s particularly important for people living in poorer neighborhoods.” South, a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, is coauthor of a study on the subject.

The downtrodden people of Israel and Judah found fresh hope in the prophet Isaiah’s vision of their beautiful restoration by God. Amid all the doom and judgment Isaiah foretold, this bright promise took root: “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy” (Isaiah 35:1–2).

No matter our situation today, we too can rejoice in the beautiful ways our heavenly Father restores us with fresh hope, including through His creation. When we feel down, reflecting on His glory and splendor will bolster us. “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way,” Isaiah encouraged (v. 3).

Can a few flowers rekindle our hope? A prophet said yes. So does our hope-giving God. (Quote source here.)

While the word “hope” does not appear in the following Psalm, there is a lot of hope found in the words of Psalm 103 (NKJV):

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness
And tender mercies,

Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
But the mercy of the Lord is
From everlasting to everlasting

On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember
His commandments to do them.

The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.

Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.
Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
Bless the Lord, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

I don’t know about you, but after reading this psalm, I feel better already.

And here’s an encouraging article titled, When Life is Hard: 9 Reminders that ‘The Lord Fights for You,'” by Debbie McDaniel, writer and pastor’s wife, published on August 18, 2016:

Whether we recognize it or not, this truth daily confronts us, we face an enemy here in this life. It’s more than what we can see before us. It’s more than another person who we think has wronged us. It’s more than our own struggles and weaknesses we deal with, or the negative self-talk we sometimes battle.

This enemy is real and fierce. He will stop at nothing to try to bring you defeat and destruction. Maybe you’ve noticed too. Because if you’re a believer who is living like salt and light in a dark world, you won’t go for long without encountering obstacles and attacks he’ll hurl your direction. We can be assured, this enemy hates Truth. So if we’re living by it, standing on it, seeking after it, we will be targeted. God’s words are true, this battle is real, many times it feels intense.

But here’s the powerful hope that keeps us strong: God is greater than whatever we face here in this world, and He fights for us still today! 

If you’re in the heat of the battle right now, or if the enemy feels hot on your trail, please know you’re not alone, not ever. Neither are you left to fight on your own. Many of us are in the battle with you, and God is the One who fights on our behalf, constantly shielding, protecting, strengthening, even when we’re unaware. We never have to struggle to fend for ourselves, but He’s with us, always, covering us, in all of our days.

He’s given us His words that are powerful and true, so that we’ll have the wisdom to stand strong against the enemy. As I read these verses this morning, the reality struck me again that Paul wrote them while in chains, in prison. Yet the truth is–the enemy, no matter how vicious his schemes, can never chain our spirits that have been set free by Christ. Paul was not silenced by the cruel attacks from dark forces. Neither should we be.

Focusing here today, putting on His armor, staying alert, and praying, that God will equip believers everywhere to “stand strong.” Press on–courageous and free–never held back by fear or defeat.  For God has the final victory over our lives…

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Eph. 6:10-18

Remember, your battle today may be more about what is unseen than what you see before you. And when you resist the enemy, God’s word reminds us in James 4:7 that he has to flee.

Stand strong my friends, grace to you this day.

You’re never alone.

He loves you. He fights for you. He is with you.

9 Reminders from God’s Word that “The Lord Fights for Us” Today:

“For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” Deut. 20:4

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Rom. 8:31

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Josh. 1:9

“Through You we will push back our adversaries; Through Your name we will trample down those who rise up against us.” Ps. 44:5

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt. 10:28

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

“Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God himself will fight for you.” Deut. 3:22

“Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Is. 40:31

“One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you.” Josh. 23:10 (Quote source here. She includes a prayer at the end of this article and you can read it this link.)

In Exodus 14, we find a story where Pharaoh’s army had chased and caught the Israelites by the sea. There looked to be no way out for the Israelites, and fear was overtaking them. However, Moses, their leader, told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:13-14 NLT). And guess what happened? The Lord parted the waters of the sea and the Israelites crossed. When the Egyptian army pursued them, they were drowned (see Exodus 14 for all of the details).

This year of 2020 has unfolded like no other year that we can remember in recent times. However, for believers, we have a hope that the rest of the world does not have, and that hope is found in Jesus Christ. It is He who fights for us, and in the last three words of Exodus 14:14 (NLT) are our instructions that we need to follow…

Just . . .

Stay . . .

Calm . . . .

YouTube Video: “Overcomer” by Mandisa:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here