How to Be a “Bounce Back” Person

J. K. Rowling didn’t magically become successful overnight. Penniless, recently divorced, and raising a child on her own, she wrote the first Harry Potter book on an old manual typewriter. Twelve publishers rejected the manuscript! A year later she was given the green light by Bloomsbury Publishing, who agreed to publish the book but insisted Rowling get a day job because no money could be made in children’s books.

J.K. Rowling showed resilience, persistence, and her perseverance paid off. I believe resilient people are “bounce back” people, that is, they have the ability to bounce back when they have been knocked down. Think about that old-style toy clown punching bag. When you knocked it down, it bounced right back up.

Resilience builds hope into your life. Yes, it really does. “Why?” you might ask. Here are 8 good reasons.

 

Resilient People Are Flexible
They understand that no person’s life rocks along without some bumps in the road, so when troubles do come, they are able to adjust and find ways to adapt.

Resilient People Aren’t Resistant to Change
Whereas some people are crushed by change, resilient people embrace change. They see change as an opportunity to try new things, to branch out in different directions, and to experience something fresh.

Resilient People Are Optimistic
An important strength of resilient people is that they remain optimistic during dark times in their lives, those occasions when life pulls the rug from underneath you. Resilient people don’t deny the difficulties, but they remain hopeful amid those adversties.

Resilient People Are Goal Setters
Goal setting usually grows out of a sense of purpose which allows resilient people to analyze their current circumstances, assess reality, and then plot their next move. They do this through ongoing goal setting.

Resilient People Are Great Time Managers
They don’t get distracted by disruptions, but are able to stay focused on the task at hand, and to envision what’s next. This approach to life requires excellent time management skills, which the typical resilient person has.

Resilient People Don’t Even Think About Quitting
They aren’t delusional, but it’s just that boatloads of perseverance have been built into resilient people. Resilient people keep on going in the face of their challenges and obstacles. Precious few things can stop them.

Resilient People Take Initiative
I know too many people who wait for life to happen to them. Resilient people take the opposite approach. They make life happen for them. They take charge of problems and circumstances. They do whatever is needed to get back on course.

Resilient People Have a Moral Compass
Think about it. You can’t do the right thing unless you know what the right thing is. This is where your sense of personal morality comes into play. Resilient people refuse to take moral shortcuts. As a Christian, I believe God shows us what is right, and what is wrong, in the pages of the Bible

So, How Can I Become More Resilient?
Recently I attended one of our local high school basketball games. I sat several rows up and behind the scoring table. The person who operated the play clock wore a T-shirt with these words across the back: “. . . so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
The promises God makes to us in the pages of Holy Scripture encourage us to keep on going, to be more resilient, and to be that “bounce back” person. That’s hopeful!

Persevere, and You’ll Find Hope

“You learn to endure by having your faith tested” (James 1:3).

My wife, Linda, answered the phone last night. A sweet, quiet voice on the other end said, “It’s Girl Scout cookie time!” The voice belonged to our granddaughter, Rhyan. She and her sister, Megan, are in the Girl Scouts. Of course, they wanted Mimi and Paw Paw to buy some cookies.

When it comes to selling Girl Scout cookies, Markita Andrews, age 13, from New York City, is the champ. For the past several years, Markita has sold near 3,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies each year. For her success last year, Markita was awarded an expenses-paid trip for 2 around the world. Her secret? Ask. That is, simply ask people to invest in the Girl Scouts by buying some cookies. I would say that Markita understands perseverance.

I know that’s a big word. It just means steady persistence in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. You persist. You don’t give up.

We live in a society that desires comfort. We wear “comfortable” clothing. We cook “comfort” food. We want “comfortable” sermons at church. We want to ride in a “comfortable” car. But, perseverance, endurance, you see, runs against comfort.

Yet, perseverance might be the greatest character quality you can develop. Do you have perseverance? Your answers to the following questions might reveal the degree of perseverance in your life.
. . . When things get difficult do you tend to give up, quit, or bail out?
. . . Do you easily talk yourself out of difficult tasks?
. . . When difficult situations come your way, do you look for the easy way?

So why do you need more perseverance?

Perseverance Helps You Become a More Positive Person
When you don’t run from your problems, you eliminate negative thoughts like, I’ll never be able to do this. The result? Your perseverance builds optimism. Learned optimism equips us to drive toward success.

Perseverance Makes You Refuse to Give Up
Quitting allows difficulties and hard situations to define you. But perseverance builds stick ability in the face of obstacles.

Perseverance Helps You Embrace Failure
Thomas Edison performed hundreds of failed attempts before he invented the light bulb. But those failures were actually his motivation. Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Perseverance Builds Character
It really does! When you persist, you master your difficulties instead of your difficulties mastering you. The result? You develop strength of character. Nothing can stop you.

Perseverance Will Keep You Focused
Whether it be the goal of being a great spouse, becoming a better parent, learning a new computer program, tackling a foreign language, or attempting to change the oil in your own car, you won’t accomplish those goals without persistance. Perseverance helps you stay goal-focused, rather than problem-focused.

Perseverance Builds Hope
Here are 3 terrific Bible verses, Romans 5:3-5: “But that’s not all! We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope that will never disappoint us.”

Do you see the progression? Troubles and difficulties come. But we endure, we exercise perseverance. And that endurance builds character, stick ability. And best, of all, the result is great hope.

The Best 2018 Resolution You Can Make

“I deeply love your law! I think about it all day” (Psalm 119:97).

When Mary Horomanski from Erie. Pennsylvania, recently opened her electric bill, her husband and son noticed she had a funny look on her face. Why? The electric bill displayed a balance of more than $284 billion! Mary said her heart started beating, she broke out in a sweat, and was asking herself, What on earth just happened? After contacting the electric company Mary discovered her actual bill was for $284.
That’s a story about an alarming discovery.

But I want to show you another discovery, actually an amazing one. It’s a discovery you will experience when you make the most important New Year resolution of all—making a commitment to study the Bible this year. Here’s why.

Bible Study Makes You Wise
Verse 98 of Psalm 119 states, “Your laws (God’s Word, the Bible) make me . . . wiser.” The idea is that personal Bible study helps you become a wiser, more skillful, more prudent person, one who is wise in practical matters.

How is this possible? Because God has promised to do this. Hence, Psalm 32:8: “I will make you wise and show you where to go. I will guide you and watch over you.” When Bible verses are in your heart and mind your life goes in positive, helpful directions. You make better choices.

Bible Study Gives You Understanding
Verse 99 of Psalm 119 continue this theme: “Thinking about your teachings gives me better understanding.” When you gain “understanding” from your Bible reading you will gain insights that help you become the person God wants you to be. You will order your life in better directions.You will know God will for you.

Bible Study Prevents You from Getting Into Trouble
Yes, it really will! Verse 101 of Psalm 119 says, “I obey your word instead of following a way that leads to trouble.” How many times have you landed in hot water, or made a bad decision, or found yourself in trouble because of a faulty decision you made? This verse make a terrific promise to you: If you will study the Bible, trouble will not be your constant companion.

Bible Study Allows God to Teach You
Verse 102 states, “You have been my teacher, and I won’t reject your instructions.” I’ve had some great teachers in my lifetime: Mrs. Waite, Mr. Foshee, Dr. Fasol, and more. But I’m thinking no earthly teacher can stack up with the teaching that comes from the Heavenly Father. Multiple times Psalm 119 makes the statement, “Teach me.” We never outgrow our need to be taught great truths and needed lessons, and God is the best teacher you’ll ever have.,

Bible Study Is Enjoyable
Verses 103 of Psalm 119 makes an incredible statement: “Your teachings are sweeter than honey.” The writer of that verse is showing us that “being in the Word,” actually is an enjoyable experience. When you do personal Bible study you learn God’s ways, His plans for your life, His promises, and more. At the end of each day’s time of Bible reading you will say, “God spoke to me.” Now, that’s exciting!

I know what you are thinking. You are telling yourself you don’t have enough time, or you don’t know enough about the Bible, or Bible study will be boring. Battle these pressures! Buy yourself a Bible in a modern translation that reads like you talk. Carve out just 10 to 15 minutes each day to read the Bible. Start with one of the Gospels in the New Testament. In fact the Gospel of Mark is a quick read.

Your time of Bible reading won’t be boring. If you like mystery, adventure, romance, history, biography, drama, poetry, and war stories, you’ll find all of that and much more in the Bible. Purchase a Bible dictionary that will help you know the people, places, and events of the Bible.

So, make the New Year resolution/commitment to do personal Bible study in 2018. This resolution is guaranteed to bring hope to your life.

‘Tis the Season to Be Peaceful

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors” (Luke 2:14)

A woman went to see her doctor. She complained that she was feeling run down. The physician said, “You’re not run down. You’re too wound up.” Those words might describe you during this busy Christmas season.

Did you know God has a special gift for run down, wound up, stressed out people? Jesus told us about this gift when He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you” (John 14:27).

Christmas is not the season to be anxious, but to be peaceful. God is never beset with anxieties. He never is at the mercy of circumstances beyond His control. The glory of Christmas is the gift of God’s peace.

Do you have peace of mind today? Are you at peace in all your relationships? Do you have peace at work? Do you enjoy peace in your personal finances? God never intended that your life be full of aggravations and frustrations.

The Bible verse at the top of this post, Luke 2:14, shows us 3 truths about God’s gift of peace.

Peace Is God’s Work
In the Bible whenever God does something wonderful, people are encouraged to give glory to God. So, when Jesus was born, angels announced to the shepherds, “Glory to God.”

When God blesses you with His gift of peace it is a sense of well-being that is beyond human comprehension. Our enjoyment of God’s gift of peace really is God at His best.

Peace Is Well-Being
The angels announced, “peace on earth.” What exactly does this word peace mean? The word actually carries the idea of “wholeness” or “well-being.” I think the word harmony is a good word to explain God’s gift of peace.

When God blesses you with His gift of peace you are at peace with others. You are at peace with yourself. And you are at peace with the circumstances of your life.

One wise person has said, “Every tomorrow has 2 handles. We can take hold of tomorrow by the handle of anxiety and worry, or we can take hold of tomorrow by the handle of faith. When you pick up the handle of faith God blesses your life with the gift of His peace.

Peace Is a Person
The angels sang out, “to all whom God favors.” What’s that about? This word favor is a terrific Bible word that means a grace that God does for people. “Favor” describes the tens of thousands of blessings God showers you with over your lifetime. You have been favored by God. Did you know that?

When Jesus died on that Roman cross, He shouted, “It is finished!” All that needed to be done to bring God’s peace into your life was accomplished. That is why I say, Peace is a person. Isaiah 9:6 speaks of Jesus as “the prince of peace.”

When God gave the gift of peace, He didn’t send a booklet of complicated instructions for us to figure out. He sent His Son. And peace enters your heart when you, by faith, take Jesus into your life, and you commit yourself to live with Jesus at the center of all you are and all you do.

‘Tis the season to be peaceful. The glory of Christmas is the gift of God’s peace. And that’s hopeful!

What to Do With Fear

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).

I have served in ministry work for more than 40 years. Never in my wildest imagination would I have ever thought part of my ministry duties would be the safety of my church members. That is where I find myself today. Seems the recent church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, has churches across America forming church security teams, and taking increased measures to protect those who attend church.

Of course, fear motivates these actions–fear of an active shooter, robber, or intruder inside the church building. Related to this fear, gun sales, as well as the number of background checks have surged in recent years.

We should distinguish 2 types of fear. One type of fear is warranted. Like the fear of touching a hot stove top, or fearing a nearby rattlesnake. And the Bible even admonishes us to fear the Lord (Psalm 89:7).

But a different type of fear we might call “a spirit of fear.” The first type of fear I just mentioned is normal and proper. But what happens when our fearful feeling is something more, when it is an emotion we feel simply getting into our car, leaving our house, being in a crowd, or attending a church service? Are these feelings of fear normal? The answer is a resounding no!

How, then, should we respond to the spirit of fear that someone might harm us? What should we do with these unnatural feelings of fear?

Understand That God Does Not Give Us a Spirit of Fear
2 Timothy 1:7 from the Bible (printed at the beginning of this post) states that God has not given us a spirit of fear. So, if God has not given us a spirit of fear, then someone has. Who is that person who gives us fear? That is the enemy of God, and we call him Satan. He plants thoughts of fear in our minds. Satan attempts to convince us that God can’t be trusted to protect us. All of Satan’s actions are designed to eliminate faith. Here’s the point. If a spirit of fear dominates you, that fear did not come from God. I’m speaking of God’s character here.

Know That God Is Greater Than the Spirit of Fear
You don’t have to look far to find someone who’s only too willing to inform you about all the things you should fear, whether it’s being shot in a church service, financial collapse, food shortages, killer diseases, or some sinister government secret. Always remember that God is greater than any fear that torments you. God’s presence is with us daily as we confront our fears. Nothing we might fear can overtake God, nor does it catch Him off guard.

Surrender Your Fears to God
Until you trust God fully, you will never get complete freedom from your fears. Begin by asking a simple question: “What am I afraid of?” Being attacked? Facing an intruder in your house? If something terrible happened to you, God would still be in control. He would still love you. He would still help you. He would still get you through that awful thing. He really can be trusted. So, trust Him with your fears.

So the next time a spirit of fear rears its tormenting head, you should say out loud: “God did not give me a spirit of fear. I will not be afraid. God loves me, and I will trust Him.” Believe me, these words of affirmation are hopeful.

 

 

God Is Love; and That’s Hopeful!

Nine years ago Justin and Margaret Mussel of New Jersey lost a diamond engagement ring. The Mussels married in 2006. In the summer of 2008 they visited San Marco dei Cavoti, an Italian town where Margaret’s family owns a home. The engagement ring slipped off Margaret’s finger, but she did not realize it was gone until days later. The couple made a thorough search of the property, but did not find the ring. Because the ring was lost on international soil, their insurance would not cover the loss of the ring. The couple resigned themselves to the sad fact that they would never see the ring again.

Fast forward to this past summer. Justin and Margaret and their 2 boys took another trip back to San Marco dei Cavoti. They were seated on a bench in the front yard when something caught Justin’s attention. Every time a car drove by with headlights on, he saw something like a flicker of light out of a crack in the sidewalk. He looked closer. Using a screwdriver, he dug into the crack where the flicker of light was coming. And there was the engagement ring lost 9 years earlier. Needless to say, the couple was flabbergasted. More about Justin and Margaret Mussel in a moment. Keep reading, please.

In Sunday School classes in churches, preschool children are taught a foundational concept: God is love. This truth is proclaimed in the Bible in 1 John 4:8: “For God is love.” God’s love is seen clearly when we consider that He supplies our needs, protects and watches over us, gives us His wisdom for problem solving, and continues to love us even when we don’t deserve His love.

But the greatest expression of God’s love is communicated to us in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Romans 5:8 proclaims the same good news: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We can see from these Bible verses that it is God’s greatest desire that we join Him in His eternal home, heaven. But we humans have a dilemma. We have not always lived by God’s standards that He shows us in the pages of the Bible. The Bible calls our failure to live God’s way “sin.” And our sin is so bad that it separates us from God, and prevents us from having a personal relationship with Him. That’s the bad news.

Here’s the good news. God has made possible the way for us to be forgiven of our sins, and to be brought into a personal and real relationship with Him. God did this by paying the price for our sins. When Jesus died on that Roman cross, our sins, and the sins of the entire world, were placed on Him. His death on the cross redeems us from sin’s penalty.

Why did God do this? He loves us like crazy. And you see, love forgives. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

We sometimes refer to our life lived in sin as being “lost.” Remember the story at the beginning of this post about Justin and Margaret? They lost a ring, but we, because of our sin, have lost something much more valuable—eternal life in heaven. But God in His great love “saves” us from our sinful condition when we trust Jesus’ death on the cross for our forgiveness, and commit ourselves to follow Jesus daily.

You cannot earn your way to heaven, and you cannot “save” yourself from your own sin by doing good deeds. Yet, here is where our hope comes in. You can know for sure that you have eternal life, and that heaven will be your eternal home, by coming to Jesus in faith. Honestly, there is no other way.

God Has Amazing Power; and That’s Hopeful!

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm” (Jeremiah 32:17).

After Hurricane Irma struck Florida in recent days, a news headline read, “8 million Floridians without power.” Can you even imagine being without electrical power for several days, maybe even weeks? No electricity to power your air conditioner. Not able to brew coffee in the morning. We surely empathize with our friends in Florida. They are hurting.

At times we might be without electric power, but we never are without God’s mighty power.

When describing God, theologians often use 3 big “omni” words: omnipresent, meaning God is everywhere; omniscient, meaning God knows everything; and omnipotent, God is all-powerful.

Jeremiah, an Old Testament preacher-prophet spoke about God’s incredible power. (You can see Jeremiah’s perspective on God’s power at the top of this post.)

What does it mean to say that God is omnipotent? This big word simply carries the idea that God has the skill and strength to do all that He wishes. (Some people have the skill, but not the strength to do a certain work; others have the strength, but not the skill. God has both!) He has the ability to carry out His plan. Nothing can stop God. He is the Almighty God.

How does God’s power bring hope to our lives?

God’s Power Is Personal
Our verse from Jeremiah speaks of “God’s outstretched arm.” In the Bible, this phrase speaks of God’s power shown on behalf of people. When God’s people were enslaved in Egypt (see the Book of Exodus in the Bible), God said, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.”

Can you think of a problem that overwhelmed you so severely that you thought nothing could overcome that problem? When you live for God, and serve Him, He works in your life. And part of His mighty work is to overcome whatever problem you face. His power (His “outstretched arm”) is personal.

God’s Power Equips You
When was a time you were given a responsibility for which you felt inadequate or unprepared? God sometimes places us in such situations to grow our faith, and to prompt us to depend upon Him. When you find yourself with a task or responsibility that is overwhelming, ask God for power to do the task that has been assigned to you. His power is greater than your weaknesses.

God’s Power Meets Your Needs
2 Corinthians 9:8 states, “God can bless you with everything you need.” Philippians 4:19 promises, “God will take care of all your needs.” Through the years, when my wife and I faced a need, we have trusted these 2 Bible promises. And you know something? God has never failed to meet a single need in our lives. God is able to pay the bills!

God’s Power Means No Person or Situation Is “Impossible”
Perhaps you can think of a person, or situation, that you’ve given up on, and said, “It’s impossible.” If God can create the universe by merely speaking it into existence (and He did), then He can do the impossible in your life. Nothing is too difficult for God.

So here’s the hope. God actually wants to display His amazing power in your life—meeting your needs, solving your problems, giving you wisdom for decision making, breaking down barriers, restoring your relationships, conquering temptations, and more. What’s the key for this to happen in your life? Just give Him your life, all of it, with nothing held back. It really is the most hopeful way to live.

God Is Faithful; and That’s Hopeful!

“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever . . . I will make your faithfulness known through all generations . . . you established your faithfulness in heaven itself (Psalm 89:1-2).

When a guy went off to college, his girlfriend gave him a framed photo of herself. But one day, the guy took the photo out of the frame, and noticed these words written on the back of the photograph: My dearest Tom, I love you with all my heart. I love you more each day. I will love you forever.” It was signed “Dianne.” But her words contained a P.S. “If we ever break up, I want this picture back.”

I suppose that among the most painful things all of us experience is when a person breaks a promise made to us. Sadly, the quality of faithfulness has become abnormal in American life today. Think about that. Spouses leave their marriages for even the slightest of annoyances. Athletes leave one team as soon as another team promises them more dollars. Employers think nothing of laying off hundreds of workers. People today flippantly break their promises and commitments. I feel startled when I think of how unfaithful our society has become.

But our great God is the opposite. He is absolutely faithful. What does it mean, practically speaking, to say that God is faithful?

God Always Does What He Has Said, and Always Fulfills What He Has Promised.
Psalm 89 (at the top of this post) declares that God is faithful. The writer of this psalm even said he would tell future generations about God’s faithfulness. Every time a new generation came on the scene, God would be as faithful to them as He was to previous generations. God is 100% reliable, trustworthy, and faithful. He never will fail you, disappoint you, forget you, let you down, or break one of His promises to you. God is faithful!

God’s Faithfulness Is Unconditional.
Verse 2 of Psalm 89 states, “Your love stands firm forever. You established your faithfulness in heaven itself.” This statement means that God’s faithfulness to you never changes. His faithfulness is not conditioned on your response to Him. Even more, God is faithful to us even when we feel we don’t have any faith left in us. You can have zero faith, and God will still be faithful to you.

God’s Faithfulness Is Experienced Most Clearly During the Difficult Times of Your Life.
Have you ever noticed how the tough times in your life prompt you to reach out to God, to pray to Him, to seek Him? When you hold on to God during times of difficulty, you discover a wonderful truth: God never fails you. His compassion, love, and mercy to you is new every morning (see Lamentations 3:22-23).

If difficulties have you weighed down, or you are feeling crushed or discouraged, God is there for you. Even when you’ve messed up, He never writes you off. He is willing to pick you up and get you off to a fresh start.

God’s Faithfulness to You, Builds Stronger Trust and Faith in Your Life
I often hear people say, “I wish my faith and trust in God were stronger.” Exercising faith in God is just like exercising your muscles. If you don’t use and exercise your muscles, they become weak. But the more you exercise your muscles, the stronger they become.
In like manner, the more you trust God, the greater your faith in Him becomes. You can trust Him, because He is faithful to you.

When you trust God’s faithfulness, every day is like the first day of school—clean paper, new crayons, sharp pencils, and a shiny notebook. God makes each day a fresh, new beginning. Because of His faithfulness to you, you can live every day with confidence. Believe me, that’s hopeful!

God Never Changes; and That’s Hopeful!

“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the earth’s foundation and created the heavens. They will all disappear and wear out like clothes. You change them, as you would a coat, but you last forever. You are always the same.          Years cannot change you” (Psalm 102:26-27).

When I was a teenager, the cassette tape was invented. You could buy an Underwood manual typewriter for under $75. The Number 1 song was “I want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles. I got my drivers license in 1964. A gallon of gasoline back then cost 27 cents. The minimum wage was “$1.25 an hour. The average cost of a new car was less than $3,300. During my teenage years, the United State Postal Service started using Zip Codes.
   During my teen years there were no cell phones, no personal computers, no microwave ovens, and no capability of recording your favorite television shows. Yeah, I know; I’m old.

My, how time has changed things! Change is all around us. Some change is good, and some is not. Change can be unsettling for some folks.

Yet, amid the amazing and fast-paced changes we all experience, one constant does remain: the Lord God Almighty who never changes. Theologians call this quality of God His immutability, meaning God is unchanging in His character, His purposes, His will, and His promises. God is the same today as He was a thousand years ago. I find this attribute of God to be assuring. What does it mean for your life to say that God never changes?

With God, You’ll Always Know Where You Stand
God doesn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed. He doesn’t have good days and bad days. With Him, you always know what you are supposed to do. And you always know the results of living for Him. God isn’t fickle. Since God is unchanging you can always count on Him.

You Have a Solid Rock in a World of Uncertainty
There’s no need to live your life in fear, isolation, or confusion. The problems of life don’t have to baffle you and knock you down. The hardships you face don’t have to sink you. You have a solid rock upon which you can stand.

Life, and its uncertainties may shake us, but God who is the Rock of Ages, does not move. If you will cling to Him, His mighty strength at work in your life will sustain you.

You Have Bold Reasons for Developing a Rich Prayer Life
Imagine that when you prayed that God was grumpy in the morning, but friendly in the afternoon, or if He was fickle in His feelings toward you. Why, you never would pray to God.

Remember, He doesn’t change. You can trust Him the same today and 50,000 years from now. You can venture out in faith, knowing God will always be there for you. The foundation of bold praying is the unchanging character of God.

Your Life Has Eternal Significance and Everlasting Security
The people of God–those who love Him, obey Him, and trust Him—are part of God’s great purposes in history. The people He planned from the beginning to be a blessing to the world. This fact tells you that you life has meaning and purpose. You can bank your entire future on God.

So, here is where you have great hope. You don’t have to go to bed at night worrying about the stock market, rising interest rates, or whether God will feed you and care for you. You don’t even have to waste one second wondering if God will ever stop loving you (believe me, He won’t). You can live every day of your life fully trusting God. And, that’s a hopeful way to live.

A Prayerful Person Is a Hopeful Person

“God is our mighty fortress, always ready to help in times of trouble”            (Psalm 46:1).

The Barna Group just released their study of religious faith in cities across America. One interesting category was “the most prayerful city.” This category measured faith engagement through personal prayer. The survey asked whether the person had prayed to God in the past 7 days.

The findings showed Augusta-Aiken, Georgia as the most prayerful city in America, while Springfield-Holyoke, Massachusetts as the least prayerful city.
What does it mean to be prayerful?

1. Prayerful persons love God. Prayer is more than asking and receiving. Prayer is not done only in times of trouble and emergencies. Prayer is part of our love relationship with the Heavenly Father. He cares for us, and wants the very best for us, and we want to be the best we can be for God. Therefore, we pray to Him, and we pray regularly.
2. Prayerful persons make prayer a priority. A terrific way to prioritize prayer is to pray as soon as you wake up. Whisper a prayer in which you thank God for another day. Then throughout the day pray when you need strength, when you need guidance, when you are confused, when you feel stressed, and so on.
3. Prayerful persons create prayerful environments. In your recliner, at the beach, in the woods, or at school, take time to pray. Allow these spaces to become prayer times. The space it takes to set up a beach chair can become a sacred place. Even a busy commuter train can become a prayerful space.
4. Prayerful persons give thanks in everything. The Bible says simply in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Not be thankful “for” everything, but be thankful “in” everything. Why? This step prevents bitterness, hardness of heart, and ungratefulness from gripping your soul. You will find that thankfulness increases your joy.
5. Prayerful persons persevere. Have you noticed how your troubles and difficulties often drive you to prayer? That’s a good thing because you don’t really need perseverance until you are going through a trial. Prayer is the lifeline that lays hold of our loving God during times of tribulation. Prayerfulness gives you the strength to keep on going instead of giving up.
6. Prayerful persons seek God’s guidance throughout the day. I love to make lists and to plan. Sometimes I get carried away with my plans, and then I realize I haven’t asked God for His guidance with my plans. When you are prayerful you bathe your planning process in prayer. You are constantly asking for God’s guidance and direction.
7. Prayerful persons schedule time for prayer. Typically I rise early, read my Bible, journal, and pray through my prayer notebook in which I have written specific prayer requests. This early morning time is a choice time for me, but I am a morning person. You might be wired oppositely and you are an evening person. Pray at night. Regardless, you probably won’t pray if you haven’t scheduled time for an extensive period of prayer.

Here’s the best part of being a prayerful person. You develop hope, and I mean strong hope in your life. Pope Francis once said that prayer is an act of hope that leads us to God. If you are in a dark place right now, and struggling to find some hope, then pray.