We're here on our final day of video testimonials and daily devotionals. But not the Week of Hope. Tomorrow, on Day 6, we'll wind things up with our online Harvest of Hope event and you're invited!
I hope these video testimonials and devotionals are helping you to "stay the course" during these challenging times. One of those challenges is answering the question, "What is church supposed to look like right now?" I believe the answer is embedded in Natasha's story.
Day 5: Hope is Not Found in a Building
From a “dark and cold place” to the warm, enveloping light of Jesus Christ. Natasha’s story is so inspiring!
Her story also demonstrates how fellowshipping with other believers is so critical … including for our mental health. Proverbs 18:1 tells us, “A man left to himself rails against all wise judgment.”
These days, it’s easy for us to feel “left to ourselves.” With church buildings closed due to COVID-19, many people have been left feeling hopeless and depressed …
They also have no clue how to obey Paul’s admonition to “not forsake assembling together … but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:25).
So, what’s a believer to do? Do we get all “Zoom and Gloom,” waiting for our churches to reopen while we reluctantly “do church” online? …
Or do we try and find—or even form—our own small home church? Or do we wait it out—all by our lonesome?
These are valid questions. Our “church-as-usual” apple cart has definitely been upset! But it’s good to remember that while the church has left the building, we, being the church, don’t need a building to worship.
It’s a blessing to have a structure (even Jesus taught in the local temple and the first disciples met in a large room), but it’s obviously not necessary to our continued fellowship. If it were, then the faith of millions of persecuted believers throughout the world would be dry as a bone.
In fact, it’s the opposite. The persecuted church is thriving, even though most of these believers are meeting “underground”: in house churches, abandoned buildings or even outside under the cover of night …
The difference between them and us, however, is they seem to be a lot more intentional about it. That’s what desperation does.
What is their hope in? Certainly not in certainty … their lives are anything but. Rather, their hope is built on nothing less than God’s faithfulness—and the encouragement they receive from one another … no matter what the setting.
This much is certain: Christ, the head of the Church is the chief cornerstone of our faith. "In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord"(Ephesians 2:19–21).
Jonathan D. Anderson
It's day one of our Week of Hope and I'm so happy to have you joining us. I'll be sending out one of these emails and videos each day this week.
Today I hope you enjoy Pam and Natasha’s stories of restoration. It shows you how a simple meal can lead to miracle!
Hope can be simply for a meal when you’re hungry and have nothing. But God created us for far more than getting our basic needs met. His plans for each of us are to “prosper and be in health even as our soul prospers” … and to give us “a future and a hope.”
For those who’ve lost hope, however, it’s hard for them to get past either the shame of their past or their present adverse circumstances. They’re not future-minded … dreaming of what could be and then believing it will happen. Instead they believe what their negative experiences have taught them: that their innermost desires will never be met. Life may be good for others, but it will never be good for them.
I see this all the time at the Mission. A beaten-down-by-life person comes in for a meal with only one goal: to survive another day. But gradually they’re fed something else … a heaping of hope being served daily by those around them. Some are volunteers working in the dining room. Others are staff members that befriend our guests and offer helpful resources. Their heart is to help pull their brother out of the muck and mire that some of them too once rolled around in—stuck, with no way out.
Whatever their role at the Mission, these purveyors of hope all share one thing in common: they all dared to believe—pushing through the pain of their own past disappointments and present difficulties to land on the other side of despair.
This is when hope becomes more than a meal. Or a place to sleep. Or a job. It’s a hope in an unfailing God that pays both eternal and temporal dividends. As C.S Lewis said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”
My prayer for you over the next six days is that you will come to a deep understanding that God cares for you deeply, He has an amazing plan for your life, and there is a way through the frustration and disappointment you may be feeling.
Jonathan D. Anderson
It's Day Two of our Week of Hope and I'm so happy you've joined us! Each day this week I'll be sending out an email devotional and video testimonial to encourage you in your faith.
My devotional today focuses on what we have our trust in during these troubled times. Homelessness is a frightening prospect for many, but far more frightening would be having spent our lives building a foundation on false comforts and wrong priorities!
Doug’s story in this video makes you pause and think … how does it feels to be homeless? Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan asked that very question when he penned his famous lyrics, “How does it feel? To be without a home, like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone. Most of us will never know … some know all too well.
Homelessness, of course, isn’t just the lack of a physical structure—a familiar and comfortable place to lay our head at night where we find shelter from the elements. It’s first and foremost a condition of the heart.
Intellectually, we know that. Yet let’s get real … sometimes we find ourselves envying others who seem to “have it all”—including a nice big house! We wonder, why did we get left out of the great American Dream?
It’s especially hard when the person we’re comparing ourselves to is a powerful, yet unprincipled, person—using his riches for worthless or even downright evil causes. David, who himself was homeless at one point, faced this same dilemma when he asked God candidly, “Why do the wicked prosper?”
Homeless people, of course, have nothing to protect them against the cold realities of life. Looking at them, our hearts are pricked because their misery seems excruciatingly obvious.
That’s when we secretly wonder where our hope would be if we too suddenly found ourselves on the street—having lost everything … including our home.
How we would fare under such circumstances depends not on what we have our absolute hope in, but in who. The Bible makes it clear where our real refuge and security lies—not in a physical shelter, possessions or the fleeting status that separates “the haves from the have nots.”
Rather, it lies in the very dwelling place of the Lord Most High. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress my God, in whom I trust’” (Psalm 91:1-2).
My prayer for you today is that you will come into a deeper revelation of where your home truly is—in Christ—and find your refuge there. That way, when the winds of uncertainty come whipping through, trying to shake your faith, you'll rest in the truth that it's Christ alone who is your sure foundation.
Jonathan D. Anderson
Welcome to Day Three of our Week of Hope. My devotional today focuses on how we’re ALL in recovery—not just those who manifest the more visible signs of a habitual sin. Knowing this helps us to fix our hope in His righteousness … not our own.
DAY THREE: Hope in His Righteousness
Amazing! Who knew that hearing three little words—“house of hope”—could lead to such a dramatic transformation for someone caught in addiction. This was Micoa’s story.
Maybe you’ve escaped being held captive to something—a destructive habit you return to over and over …
Your worst addiction is binge watching Game of Thrones or consuming one too many Reese’s Pieces. (For me, it’s ghost peppers … the hotter, the better!)
You think to yourself, I’m glad I have nothing to recover from—that “I’m not like those other men.” (Please don’t hurt yourself beating your own chest.)
The simple truth is, we’re all in recovery …
Before Christ, you once were inclined to sin. That was your nature. Until you said yes to Jesus and then acquired a new nature. From that point on, you were in recovery, no longer a slave to sin ...
But while you may no longer possess a sin nature, that doesn’t mean your flesh got that memo. You and I are still quite capable of sinning!
I’m sure you have some besetting habit that sometimes hampers your walk with Christ. The apostle Paul faced the same dilemma: “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15).
Thankfully, when we do miss the mark, the Bible offers us real hope: “But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (I John 2:1).
Simply put, when we stumble—be it slipping back into an addiction or committing a one-time sin—the Righteous One helps us recover from the fall, even when we’ve acted unrighteously. “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again” (Prov. 24:16) …
Even better, this recovery isn’t a twelve-step program but rather a one-step pivot—which is turning towards Jesus rather than running away from Him ...
His merciful nature gives us hope … and a reason to celebrate our recovery from sin!
Let’s pray: Lord, thank you that you’re a kind and merciful Father who will never love us any less when we mess up, or love us any more when we do everything right. This takes the burden off us to be perfect in order to win your love and approval. Instead, we trust in who your Word tells us you are which is “a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness.” Amen!
Read more about the Week of Hope at www.gnrm.org/hope.
“I found out who I was as a father, a parent … as a man.” I love that! As you can see in today's video, my friend Daniel has his priorities straight. He also understands that while education is important, acquiring wisdom is far better. That's the focus of today's devotional.
The Knowledge of God Brings Hope
16th-century philosopher Sir Francis Bacon wrote that “knowledge is power.” (Anyone with the name “Bacon” has my vote.)
That begs the question, “Knowledge of what?” There are more than a few highly educated people who are sadly ignorant (“darkened”) in their spiritual understanding ...
They don’t get that it’s “the fear [reverential awe] of the LORD that’s the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7).
At one time, educators did know this as evidenced by the fact that most of our revered ivy-league colleges were founded as religious institutions. Princeton’s school crest still reads, “Dei sub numine viget,” which is Latin for “Under God she flourishes.” (Hey, it’s Greek to me!)
Sadly, the only thing that’s flourishing now is foolishness. Instead of professing Christ, these professors are professing atheism, nihilism and socialism—proving the adage that “there’s no fool like an educated fool.”
No wonder that hopelessness among this generation has skyrocketed!
The apostle Paul, himself a highly educated man, wrote, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).
In other words, knowledge alone “puffs up.”
This is true even for theological knowledge. Jesus did a major “WWE Smackdown” when He told the Jewish religious leaders, “You analyze the Scriptures, frantically pouring over them in hopes of gaining eternal life. Everything you read points to me, yet you still refuse me” (John 5:39).
In essence, Jesus was saying, “There’s no fool like an educated religious fool!”
So yes, “book learnin’” is good, but it offers only a temporal benefit. “As for knowledge, it will come to an end” (I Cor. 13:8).
Far better, Proverbs 18:5 tell us, is to have an “intelligent heart.” That’s why prayer for you today is this: “… that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know the hope to which he has called you” (Eph. 1:18)!
Jonathan D. Anderson
We need your help! We’re looking for prayer warriors to partner with us at the Mission. We need followers of Jesus to intercede on behalf of our recovery students, homeless guests, staff and volunteers. We believe that God the Father is a personal God who loves to hear from us and respond to our prayers, petitions, intercessions and declarations. “The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful” (James 5:16)!
Every day at the Mission our guests and students are fighting for their lives – they’re fighting to overcome addiction, fighting to break through depression, fighting to make it another day and not give up. These are not struggles that depend solely on physical needs being met, but they require the power of the Holy Spirit to bring true and lasting transformation. That’s why we need you to make a commitment to pray for the Mission regularly.
If you’re ready to become a Prayer Partner fill out the form on our Prayer page or join our Facebook group. We’ll be sharing specific and general prayer needs as well as praise reports on a regular basis.
The Harvest of Hope virtual event is going live at 530pm on October 24th and you’re invited to submit a question for Jonathan, the Executive Director, to answer live! Plus if your question is chosen you’ll win a $25 gift certificate to Logan’s Roadhouse.
It’s super simple:
If you’re video is chosen we will notify you and you can watch it get answered live at the Harvest of Hope virtual event!
If you would like to become a sponsor Click Here to download the sponsorship packet
This event is made possible by the following sponsors.
Ken Hodges Nursery
Brad & MaryKay Williams