Impact: Mercy (Day 1)

Stories have a way of grabbing one’s heart. Jesus was the king of using stories to make his point. We call them parables. I’m glad he did that because…

I can understand stories.

Rather than just say “show mercy to others”, he would give us an example through a story. Arguably the most famous of all parables is centered around mercy.

In Luke 10, an “expert in the law” tried to trick Jesus with some tough theological questions. How does one inherit eternal life? Jesus answered, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” The man replied (with a correct answer), “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus said – bingo. (My paraphrase.)

But then the expert in the law tried to trick Jesus by asking, “who exactly is my neighbor?”

Jesus then answered with a story. I love it! You know the story, the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man is hurt on the side of the road, but two religious men walk on by (too busy with religious duties perhaps? Hmmm.) But a Samaritan walks by and helps in any way possible, even going above and beyond (going the second mile) with his help.

Jesus then asked the expert in the law, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to that man?” The expert in the law replied:

“The one who had mercy on him.”

Wow.

If I want to live out the greatest commandment today, it’s not done by being critical, judgmental, too busy for people, harsh, or even memorizing another verse in my Bible. It’s done by showing mercy to whoever I come across.

 
-Nathan Boldt

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Impact: Hope (Day 6)

Have you ever met someone that is all talk? “Someday I’ll pay you back…” “I once caught a fish this big!!!” “If I were the boss, everyone would get a raise.” It’s easy to talk big isn’t it? Here’s the problem though: Talk with no action is worthless. 
 
That’s what I love about HOPE. Genuine hope is not wishful thinking. It’s not saying all the right things. It’s not giving yourself a pep talk while avoiding getting in the game. That’s like saying I hope to become a doctor someday but never enrolling in college. It just doesn’t make sense! Instead hope is a deep rooted belief in the goodness of God that inspires action. Yep, you read that right. Genuine hope leads to action. 
 
In 2 Corinthians 3:12, Paul said “therefore since we have such a hope we are very bold.” Did you notice what led to their boldness? It was hope!
 
So how about you? What does your hope in Christ lead you to? The question is important because if your hope doesn’t lead you to action you might be confusing hope with wishful thinking or good intentions. 
 
So if you’re hoping that you have the opportunity to share God’s love with your neighbor, let that hope lead you to action. Knock on their door and gift them with a big plate of cookies. If you hope that your relationship with your spouse grows deeper, tell them today that you’re thankful for them.
 
-Smile in the midst of the storm
-Say you’re sorry for that unkind word
-Ask for help in overcoming that addiction
 
I think you get the point. Put your hope into action today!
 
(By the way, if by chance I’m you’re neighbor. Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite when you knock on my door.) 
 
-Doug Songer

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Impact: Hope (Day 5)

We couldn’t believe it. The concert was SOLD OUT. How were we supposed to know? A bit of background: this happened in the early 2000’s before ticket sales were widely done online (I know, “ancient times”, haha)

As a teenager, myself and a half dozen friends had loaded ourselves in a van and traveled over six hours to see a concert. We didn’t have tickets, but were sure to arrive plenty early to be there when the box office opened. As we waited, we found out from others in the area that the concert had actually sold out. SOLD OUT? Yes, sold out; No tickets left. What we failed to consider was the fact that the headlining band was playing a concert essentially in their home town. Little did we know, these “local” concerts for the band would sell out quite often.

Having driven six hours already, we stayed in line, clinging to the faintest hope that someone would return tickets or we could find some extras. Neither of those plans worked. Less than an hour before the concert, most of us came to accept that we were not getting in.

Suddenly, there was a flurry of excitement a little ways from where most of us were still waiting. Towards the back of the concert building, the lead singer of the headlining band had walked out to mingle with fans. Fortunately for us, one from our group had been wandering that direction. This friend, being bold, went up to the singer, told him our situation and asked for his help. Was there any way we could get in? He couldn’t give us tickets, but what he gave us might have been even better. We were given road crew passes. We never did go backstage, but with that kind of access we certainly should have been able to.

When all hope nearly was gone, we caught a very fortunate break, because a friend was in the right place at the right time. I’m so thankful that our hope in Christ doesn’t work the same way! Our eternal hope comes from what Jesus has done for us; It’s a promise, a sure thing. It’s a guarantee that is based on the finished work of Christ. The invitation to eternity is open to all who will accept Him. No guess work or luck here, only grace and an ever faithful Savior.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and it is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8
 
-Adam Green

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Impact: Hope (Day 4)

I Corinthians 13; This chapter is know as the love chapter in the Bible but it also gives us great hope!  Did you know that hope doesn’t last forever?
  • What do you hope for in eternity?  When you think of heaven what do you look forward to?
  • In the Bible hope is not simply wishful thinking.  It is not just wishing.  Hope is based upon the promises of God.  Faith is the development of hope in what we will someday experience. (Hebrews 11:1)
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. -Hebrews 11:1
  • When we read I Corinthians 13 and see that the greatest of faith, hope and love is love, we think that faith and hope are less than love.  If there is any truth in that, it is only because faith and hope do not last after we die or when Christ returns (Philippians 1:20-21).  Love lasts forever but love, faith AND hope are created by God in us to help us make it through this life and be ready for heaven.
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. -Philippians 1:20-21
  • Hope is powerful because it helps us not hold onto the present but look to the future.  It helps us live well now, because we are not focused on us.  Faith and love gives us hope because we focus on Jesus.
  • Take a moment, clear your mind.  Close your eye and think about how much do you think about heaven and Jesus coming back?
  • Remember the hymn  “My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”
  • The greatest way to build your hope is to wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
  • Spend some time praying about how much hope you place on Jesus.
-Myron Klesner

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Impact: Hope (Day 3)

The Hebrew writer talks about hope in chapter six of Hebrews.  He uses a phrase in verse 11.  “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end.”

Hallmark had a series of shows on the “Call of the Heart” a TV series built on the life of the frontier of the little town called Coal Valley.  The main way of life in this small frontier town was to work in a dangerous coal mine.

The town’s people began to lose trust in the mining company and its head leader.  He was putting profits above people’s lives.  Then it happened a terrible caving in of the mine which killed many of the workers.

The show then showed what people put their hope in in this little town of Coal Valley.  Some people crumbled because their hope was built on possessions.  They moved from Coal Valley to run from their despair.

The TV series then shows the one who turned their hope to God!  The church and the school become the primary focus.  People began to put God first and “love their neighbor as yourself.”  Because of hope that things will get better and God will take care of them!  The people changed the name of the frontier town of Coal Valley to Hope Valley.

Everybody has to look for our purpose of hope!

As believers in Christ our hope is built on the solid rock in our lives.  Our refuge is always in Christ and the race he ran before us.  The Hebrew writer closes the chapter with this….”this hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
 
-Jeff Davis

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Impact: Hope (Day 2)

Throughout my study in the book of James for the teens, I noticed there is a word that
doesn’t show up at all in the text: hope. I thought that was interesting because James’
letter is filled with just that!
 
He is writing to a group of Christians who are struggling, not just physically, but
emotionally and spiritually because of persecution. They are scattered, simply because
they believe in a man named Jesus.
 
If anything, hope is what they need! They need the comforting expectation that the
future will look brighter than it does right now. They want assurance they can get
through this hard time with the joy of salvation at the end.
 
James, though he may not say the word hope, gives them just what they need. 
James says in 1:2-4 NIV “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you
face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces
perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and
complete, not lacking anything.”
 
The only way you can consider a hard time “pure joy” is if you have one
thing…hope. This trial is not the end; the future is bright! Press on, endure this test of
faith, and it will produce perseverance which will help you remain strong and hopeful
while waiting for our Savior Jesus to come. You will be perfect and complete when you
hold on to this hope.
 
I don’t know what trials you’re facing today. We all have something going on in our lives.
It could be a speed bump or it could be a brick wall. Trials are difficult to overcome on
your own. Listen to James’ encouragement. That speed bump is something you can
hop over. That brick wall is something you can get around. I believe that with our
hope in Jesus, you can even do this with pure joy!
 
“Heavenly Father, thank you for the hope that you have given us through Jesus. Trials
and tests will come our way, but I know with my hope in you, I can overcome them with
joy. Amen.”
 
-Kendall Beye

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Impact: Hope (Day 1)

Impact: Hope (Day 1)

Lamentations 3:25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks Him.

The truth is, we are not very good at “hoping”. Statistics say that this generation is the first generation in American history that does not believe things will be better in the future. 

There’s a lack of hope.

As much as I would love to see the United States of America thrive in future generations, that is really a worldly hope. Christian hope is different…and better.

I appreciate Steve Poe’s description of three different kinds of hope:

Wishful Thinking Hope

This kind of hope looks like this: Your teenager spends all evening with some friends, and then gets home, only to watch movies into the late hours of the night. He/she has a huge algebra test during first hour the next morning. There’s been no studying, no effort, no preparation. But you ask your teenager, “are you ready for your test?” And he/she says, “I hope so.” 

That’s wishful thinking hope.

“I hope it works out.” “It’s a roll of the dice.” “Let’s cross our fingers.” That’s wishful thinking hope.

Plans Come Together Hope

This is quite different than “wishful thinking hope.” In “wishful thinking hope”, we don’t seem to have that much control nor do we seem to care about the outcome. (Otherwise, you would’ve studied.) In “Plans Come Together Hope”, you feel like you have much control over the outcome and you deeply care. 

An example would be, “I certainly hope I have enough money for retirement.” You’ve been saving for 35 years, planned, calculated, put away, and thus, you have proven you care, and you have even prepared. 

But there’s a third kind of hope. 

All Out of Options Hope

This one is unique, because you deeply care, however, you have no control over the outcome. 

There are many examples of this, but let’s jump immediately to the eternal example. When we see that we are dead in our sin, our efforts cannot save us, our religiosity cannot save us…in reality, we are all out of options. One cannot fully appreciate the resurrection of Jesus Christ until one realizes we are all out of options concerning our standing with God. 

All other hopes will fail. Putting your hope in Christ will never fail. 

Hebrews 7:18,19 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
 
-Nathan Boldt

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