Words have power. Written words provide proof. You can read them, and reread them whenever you want. They can speak life to someone who needs encouragement. They can speak death to someone who is being deceived. The choice lies within you. How is it that you want people to remember you? Encourager...that is the gift that God has laid on my heart. To use my written, spoken, and/or sung words to lift people up. To be one link in their road to healing, restoration, joy. I have been without those things, and I claim them to be mine again. If you want me to seek God on a prayer for a specific situation...that is why I am here. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to pray God's Word of Life over you.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Suggest Hope

Good morning! And what a beautiful morning it is here in northwestern Pennsylvania! It's been a little chilly lately, but the sun is shining and it is already warming up. Don't get me wrong. I am a LOVER of everything fall! The temperature. The smell. The activities. The food. The pumpkin-a-latte loveliness. But...........it. is. JULY! *Rant over...for now*

Most of the year our church has a Saturday night service as well as Sunday morning. My husband is the Worship Pastor and I am also a member of the worship team...which means that we get to attend both services! :-) The message a while back on a  Saturday night, spoke a couple of really power-filled things straight to my heart...and I can't wait to share one of them with you today!! I've literally typed this post three times. Once on my phone. Don't get me started on how annoying that was! Once on my iPad...almost as equally annoying. And once on my computer. Fourth time is a charm? We shall see......

First, this is my challenge to you. Get your Bible out. *Vanesa taps fingers on table and hums Jeapordy theme song while she waits for you get your Bible* No matter how annoyed or impatient you are at my request it will help my post make sense!! Pretty please...*insert puppy dog eyes*

Whew...now open to Acts 27 and read verses 9-44!! The reason I say use your own Bible...is because that way you can underline the verses that stick out at you. You can also write beside them what God speaks to you today. It is for your benefit at a later date when you are struggling. The words underlined and written will stand out...and you will remember how God used them for your good! =)

For those of you honestly too busy, rushed, or ahem...lazy to get your Bible...here you go...

Acts 27: "Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Day of Atonement. So Paul warned them, 10 “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” 11 But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. 12 Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.

The Storm

13 When a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. 14 Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the Northeaster, swept down from the island. 15 The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure, 17 so the men hoisted it aboard. Then they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Because they were afraid they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor[b] and let the ship be driven along. 18 We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. 19 On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.
21 After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.

The Shipwreck

27 On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic[c] Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. 28 They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet[d] deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet[e] deep. 29 Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. 30 In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. 31 Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away.
33 Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. 34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” 35 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. 36 They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 Altogether there were 276 of us on board. 38 When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea.
39 When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. 40 Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. 41 But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf.
42 The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely."

I highlighted and underlined the verses that I wanted to bring your attention to. The men on the ship had given up hope. They did not see any way out of this situation they found themselves in. So what did Paul do. He suggested hope. He was the first to give them a thought of life over the death they were sure they were facing.

Let's think about this first suggestion of hope. Had they not believed...what would the outcome have been? Had Paul, being a prisoner of these men, been too terrified to speak up...oh how different this story would be. But Paul boldly spoke. And the soldiers hesitantly listened.

Think back on the course of your life for a moment. Has anyone ever been that first suggestion of hope to you? Whether you believed it at first or not...can you recognize that they boldly spoke what neither of you could actually see? Let me give you two of my life examples.

MY first suggestion of hope came after my second pregnancy, which just like my first, ended in a disappointing miscarriage. The difference though, was that I had had a lot more time to fall in love with baby #2. I was 16 weeks along when my hopeful attitude slapped me in face and into another state of shock, disbelief and soon to be depression. I held him. Born in my bathroom on December 20th of 2001, Isaiah Ethan fit into the palm of my hand. His arms and legs were like spaghetti. His tiny lifeless body I was sure would haunt me forever. 

Months went by. I was still unable to think of the events of that traumatic night with out shedding tears. One day I was with a couple of friends at their yard sale. Vicki walked up to me and spoke straight to where I was broken. She said that she was praying for me and God told her that I would have a child. I would carry the child to full term...and the baby would be healthy.

THAT, was my suggestion of hope. I no longer had to wonder. I no longer had to doubt. I just had to wait for God to bless me with this child I had now been promised. It was one month shy of 3 years after that conversation that God fulfilled that promise to me. My healthy baby boy was born in May of 2005...and all I had to do was believe.

MY second suggestion of hope came after I had my fourth child. (I only KNEW of the promise of one...but out of my seven pregnancies...I have gained four AWESOME kids...and three are in Heaven awaiting our arrival!!) After I had my final baby I was diagnosed with Post Partum Depression (PPD). It made absolutely no sense in the natural. Baby #4, Levi, was a very happy baby. The transition to bring him home was super smooth. And it was fall...my favorite season! BUT, in the supernatural it made complete sense. Knowing what I know now....it was an absolutely VITAL part of molding me to the woman I am today.

So, shortly after my diagnosis, God began telling me to talk to specific women. He would say, "Tell her what you are going through, she has something for you." So I did. Six women. Each with their own specific truth for me. Each one, one step in my road to healing. One of them though...was my suggestion of hope.

Bekah sat with me in my living room..while my kids raced around...and listened gently and softly spoke when appropriate. I told her all of it..."I feel like a horrible mother, I've had thoughts of hurting myself, I scream at these children that I prayed for, I flip out, I stay silent for days, I distance myself from everyone I love"...and what is her response?

"I see so much hope for you."

Confusion set in. I didn't see it. If I didn't know and love her...I would say that it was a cruel joke. So she went on to explain. "When you come out of this victorious...you are going to have a powerful ministry that will be set on fire. You will reach out to women who are going through similar circumstances and you will be their voice of hope. God will use you in a mighty way!"

I didn't feel it. I didn't see it. But I CHOSE to believe it. I had to. My alternative...was death. A few weeks later the opportunity would present itself. Death knocked at my depressed heart...and I fought for my life. Had I NOT spoken to those women...what would my outcome have been when the enemy whispered for me to take my own life? If I had not chosen to believe in the hope I neither felt nor saw....where would I be today?

Who has been that voice of hope for you? Have you ever told them? Maybe it is exactly what they need to hear today. Write it down. Mail it to them. Text them. Call. Email....whatever it takes. Let them know the impact that their suggestion of hope had on you. And be willing to suggest hope to the hurting people you know/see. They might be simple words to you....but to the searching heart....it is LIFE!