Tag: fellowship

7 ways to hold on to hope

Some of you are in a difficult season right now. Maybe it’s in your finances. Maybe your marriage. Maybe your health. Or maybe your job.

Hold on to hope. Or chips. Chips are good, too.

Hold on to hope. Or chips. Chips are good, too.

I’ve heard it said that you’re every person on the planet is in one of three places:

  • In the middle of a difficult season
  • Coming out of a difficult season
  • Getting ready to enter a difficult season

Hopefully you haven’t yet taken your shoes off.

What you need right now isn’t an immediate change. That may be what you want, but it’s not what is going to happen. You know that. God doesn’t just remove all things difficult when we ask Him to.

I don’t always do that for my kids. “Dad, I’m tired of cleaning my room!” doesn’t find me giving in to my kids’ request to stop. It’s good to push through what you think your capacity is. It builds character when frustration isn’t immediately resolved, and we’re required to dig deeper, hang on longer, and trust with more certainty. Paul the apostle says it like this:

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5:4-6

Suffering –> Endurance –> Character –> Hope

So how do you hold on to hope?

  1. Go with friends.

    • Don’t try to navigate on your own. There are no healthy followers of Jesus that are lone rangers. Going alone, you will be broken. Going with others, you can grow and prosper. The wisest man to ever live, Solomon, said this:

      And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:12

      Hope isn’t found simply through relief. It’s found when others walk through hopelessness with you. It’s found in community. Paul urges us:

      Bear one another’s burdens.” – Galatians 6:2

  2. Actively trust in the Lord.

    • This means we don’t simply wait lazily on our couches until God opens up the heavens. There’s this concept in Crossfit that we talk about called “active recovery.” It means that on your “off” days, do something that’s still active. You don’t get better by sitting on the couch. Actively trust in the Lord by doing and going, not just sitting and waiting. Be careful with your “open door theology.Hope is an action verb.
  3. Be honest.

  4. Know it’ll get better. Relief is coming!

    • It may not come when you want it to. It sure didn’t for the Israelites. They had to wait 40 years at one point. Then 70 years at another point! But relief is coming. Hold on to hope because God’s got a plan to pull you through.

      For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LordFor as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9

  5. Know it won’t get better.

    • “Wait, wait, wait,” you say. “You just told me that relief is coming!” And I did. But the larger reality is that we live in a fallen world where sin abounds. There is a thief that comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Which means we should come to expect that this life will be fraught with pain and frustration. So instead of making an idol of an easy life, grow in the reality that things will never be fully “right” on this earth, but they will be in heaven. (this isn’t an invitation to fatalism, though: Jesus prayed that God’s perfect will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10))
  6. Know this will make you more like Jesus.

    • God’s not taking you through this pain because he’s sadistic. His plan is that through all things, you’d begin to look more like Jesus. We love Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” But it’s verse 29 where we find what the answer is for our situation:For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” The “good” that God wants for you is that you’d grow to look more and more like Jesus! Hold on to that hope!
  7. This can be your ministry.

    • Check this out:

      For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.” – 2 Corinthians 1:5-6

      So God comforts us in our days of hopelessness so that we could extend that same love, mercy, grace and hope to others who have no idea where to turn. In other words, God creates most impactful ministry for you out of your deepest pain. Don’t hope simply for relief. Hope for a more lasting, eternal impact.

 

15 Christmas Ideas for your Small Group

image credit: creation swap user Matt Gruber

Lots of small groups take the Christmas season off. And that’s fine.

But if you’re one of the groups that really loves Jesus, you’re not taking the season off. You’re soldiering through like the little drummer boy who could. Massive traveling, family celebrating, and time off of work won’t slow you and your group down!

If you’re one of the groups that’s meeting throughout the month of December, you may be wondering what you can do that’s a little outside of the norm. I’ve got some suggestions.

15 Christmas Ideas for your Small Group

Fellowship:

Don’t feel bad about wanting to have fun together as a group this Christmas season. Having fun together is very biblical.

  •  Go caroling.
  • White elephant gift exchange. See explanation HERE.
  • Ornament exchange.
  • Pot luck with your favorite Christmas dish.
  • “Favorite book” exchange.
  • Celebrate with a gift exchange mid-January. That way, you can get gifts on sale, and extend the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Jesus would probably have loved a good sale. Am I right?!?

 Serving

  • Email your pastor for families in need, and serve them food and gifts.
  • Contact your local public school system and tell them you’d like to sponsor ___ families with food and gifts this Christmas. Ask them to connect you with the families.
  • Contact your local Salvation Army and sign up to ring the bell.
  • Write letters to soldiers who are deployed, if you live in a military town.
  • Bless your pastor. Examples: a gift card to Amazon, a night away for him and his wife, or a gift card to a nice local restaurant.

Worship/study

 Is your small group meeting for the Christmas season?

* image credit: creation swap user Matt Gruber

 

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