Sunday, September 23, 2012

Restoring Lost Hope

So many people are struggling with a loss of hope. They might not even know how to identify exactly what they are experiencing, but their life just feels…empty. Dry.

Some may try to define it as a lack of passion or searching for purpose. They know something is missing but they might not be quite sure of the ‘what.’ They would be correct. Others might try to describe what they’re feeling as depression or a feeling of low grade discouragement that never seems to lift off of their emotions. They, too, are correct.

Some seek solace in trying to fill that empty vortex with ‘things;’ such as shopping, sex, relationships, work, excessive exercise, or other equally addictive behaviors that utilize drugs, alcohol or perhaps gambling, to name a few. The by-products of all these less-than-satisfying (although socially acceptable) behaviors and activities include guilt, condemnation, increased depression, insomnia and torment of the mind. Believe it or not, this is how many forms of emotional and mental illness begin. Every time a new disappointment arises, it seems to add to the bitterness of heart, reminding people of just how empty and unfulfilled they feel. Forgiveness becomes more and more difficult, as others are seen as perpetrators of hurt, rejection and emotional wounding. But the Bible is clear that unforgiveness opens the door to demonic oppression and torment, regardless of who is actually at fault. It is our responsibility to forgive. Unforgiveness and bitterness can open the door to a whole lot more, too, including bondage such as addictions, poverty, illness and disease. There are often spiritual root causes for many troubling issues in people's daily lives. I think sometimes we can get so focused on the desired behavior we expect either from ourselves or others that  behavior alone becomes the objective; we also need to remember that sometimes there is something lodged so deep down in an individual that it is working against them, preventing them from being able to process thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. Perhaps it is a lie from the enemy, telling them they are unlovable, unwanted or rejected. Perhaps it is a demonic attachment of some sort, fueling their fears, anger and emotional torment. When that happens, that person's behavior will only conform to what they believe about themselves, others and God. Unhealed offenses can be a great motivator towards negative, unhealthy behavior. When these symptoms are not properly treated, it can become an overwhelming problem for the person that suffers under their weight of their burdens. The difficulty becomes teaching the person that the source of their pain is not just painful memories or experiences, but the fact that they gave the enemy a foothold through their own responses, and now they must deal with their own heart attitudes with God. It can almost seem like adding insult to injury if they feel that they did nothing to deserve the way they were treated by someone that hurt or offended them, but the Bible does not view sin as only a one-sided deal. Regardless of how others treat us, we must take responsibility for our own heart and make sure that we are in right standing with God. When people fail in this area, their own lives reflect wrong heart responses. The root issues in these cases are undiagnosed ‘sin’, (sometimes generational sin is passed down from generation to generation and can be the culprit), a spirit of heaviness and unbelief. There are many more situations that can also cause a loss of hope, such as divorce, death of a loved one, loss of a job, tragedy or other life-changing situations. These things bring heartache, grief and regret over things that often cannot be changed. It ties people's hearts to some past event rather than them being able to look towards the future in a positive light. Sometimes the things that occur in a person's life are unexpected and so devastating that it causes a person a deep sense of grief without a sense of being able to recover from it.

A person that is slowly worn down by life’s disappointments begins to discard whatever faith they may have once believed in and adopt a different belief system. This new belief system re-writes ‘new data’ based on negative experience and disappointments rather than truth, reality or God’s word. Often this belief system is aligned with unbelief rather than faith and it becomes very difficult for the person to come into agreement with God. Where ever one finds hopelessness there will always be the presence of unbelief. I don't mean this to sound insensitive, but hoping desperately that something will change is not the same as aligning oneself with faith that pleases God and moves His hand. Wishing for change is not the same as exercising faith in prayer, asking God to change a situation. God is a God of hope and He wants to restore your confidence in Him today. The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the earth, seeking those whose hearts are fully turned towards Him so that He may show Himself strong on their behalf. He looks for hungry, steadfast hearts that are loyal to Him! But He also understands that life is hard, the enemy is a liar, and disappointments can put stress on our faith. ‘Hope deferred’ will make the heart sick. Many people are in that place today, but there is good news! There is a remedy!

There is a proven remedy for all our needs, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. He is called Jesus Christ. Isaiah 61:1 says that Christ came to bind up the brokenhearted. He wants us to exchange that heaviness and depression for joy and gladness. When we align ourselves with faith, joy and gladness can return to wash over our weary soul. God wants to renew our mind with God-centered, faith-infused thoughts that will restore our hope for the future, and give us a fresh vision to look towards as well.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a portion of scripture that was addressed to people in captivity. They had lost their hope, yet God came to reassure them of His love and concern. He wanted them to renew their hope and believe again in the fact that He still had good plans for their lives! “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” vs. 12 “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” vs. 13. “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” vs. 14. “I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I caused you to be carried captive.” A sense of hopelessness causes people to agree more with unbelief rather than faith, and it causes a loss of vision and revelation because faith is not activated. The Bible tells us in Hosea 4:6 that people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Without an understanding of God’s plans or faith to agree with God, they lack the knowledge of His will for them. Proverbs 29: 18 says, “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;” they go back to living without the faith that pleases God and brings them into His good plans. They flounder in indecision, but real faith makes the decision towards having confidence in God and settles the battle of the mind and heart. The battle must be won in the will of man before the heart of man can be uplifted. The battle must be won in the mind before the Spirit will fill us up again with faith and joy. The enemy seeks to destroy faith and confidence in God, but Holy Spirit is ever at work to restore that confidence and trust. God cannot and will not lie! True happiness is found in a personal relationship and communication with the counsel of Our Savior. He is the One who loves our soul and wants to guide us in His good plans, and those ‘good plans’ bring a sense of fulfillment and joy to our lives. It will replace the heaviness and depression so many people struggle with!

Hebrews 11 is full of reminders of less-than-perfect people throughout history that were remembered as virtual heroes of faith. If there was room for drunks, liars, adulterers, murders, harlots and fearful individuals in that list of heroes of the faith, don’t you think God has room for you on that list, too? Because some of those people were once just as sinful and unbelieving as anyone else, until they allowed faith to overcome doubt, worry, grief and shame. You don’t have to be perfect because Jesus is; and the good news is, God took care of the sin issue for us all through the atonement made by His perfect Son, Jesus Christ. You don’t have to live with regret, guilt, condemnation or hopelessness. God wants to renew your hope today. He wants you to throw out that ‘new belief’ system that lies to you and tries to tell you that He has forgotten about you. God hasn’t forgotten you! Not at all! Read Isaiah 49: 14-26 and Hebrews 13:5. He has not left you or forsaken you! So now that you know this truth you can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear!”

There is a God that loves you so remarkably that your own works have nothing to do with what HE has planned for you. He is a God of HOPE...but greater yet a GOD OF MERCY. His plans for you are not so 'legalistic' that they depend on all of your efforts and hard work, for Deut. 9 tells us plainly that we inherit God's promises as a gift of His GRACE. OH!!! What a wonder for our hearts to ponder!! Is it really true that entering into His promises has nothing to do with US, but rather with HIM?? (Yes!!)  Let your heart be encouraged today...GOD in HIS grace, decided a forehand what HE had planned for your life and HE PAID the price FOR YOUR SINS. YOUR WORKS had nothing to do with it. When He decides to move you forward, it isn't because you did everything right. It's because HE IS GRACIOUS. Often we go through storms to prove not just how righteous we are, but where we are weak. It isn't that God doesn't already know these things about us, but we need to discover them and be able to see ourselves with all the rags of self righteousness pulled off. He does not do this to shame us, but to help us understand that when the blessing comes, we have no claim to glory. It's all Him and none of us. We won't have any way of feeling as if our own self worth had anything to do with it. But the bottom line in any test is what we decide to believe about God and our situation. If we line up with unbelief, our thoughts will be laced with fear and hopelessness. If we line up with faith, a sense of peace and assurance will flood our thoughts and hope will be restored. The decision is ours, but once we finally settle it in our heart that we can believe God in spite of ourselves, and in spite of what natural circumstances might look like, the turn around is in motion. God is waiting for you to agree that nothing is impossible with Him!

Beloved, let your heart return to a confident expectation of the Lord. You were not even born yet when the scriptures were written and God made His promises that apply to all who would come to Him in faith. God had perfect plans for you then, and even though your faith may have wavered His plans for you have not changed. His thoughts towards you are still good. All you have to do is to return to God and let your heart be lifted up. Let faith come into your heart today. Tell Him you want another opportunity to align your heart with His truth and agree with God. The only thing you stand to lose is depression and hopelessness. There is nothing too difficult for God, and I have experienced many miracles that affirm this truth, over and over again! When you align your faith and expectation in the One who works miracles, anything can happen. Lift up your eyes, for your redemption draws near!


Lord Jesus,

I thank You for Your good plans. Forgive me for letting experience and disappointments cloud my vision of who You really are and steal my vision for the future. Today I ask that You forgive my unbelief and help me to believe again. You have good plans for a good future for my life. I break all agreement I have made with unbelief and lying spirits. Align me with faith that pleases You. Help me recover relationship with you and the lost vision, revelation and understanding of Your will. Guide me in Your plans and purposes, and let clarity return to my life. Father please fulfill my heart's desire. I want to be healed. Holy Spirit, please forgive me for any way that I may have offended or grieved you.  I ask that You take this empty vessel and pour in new wine and oil. Fill me with Your love. Fill me with revelation. Fill me with a fresh experience with You. I ask that You heal my hope. Heal my memories, and heal my heart of all disappointments.

I declare that my cup is running over with fresh oil. I declare my cup is running over with new wine. I declare my cup is running over with fresh revelation. I declare my cup is running over with peace and joy. I declare my cup is running over with the love of God. I declare my cup is running over with the abundance of God's Spirit. Thank you, Holy Spirit. In Jesus name, amen.