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Hope

Hope Does Not Disappoint!

Hope Does Not Disappoint!

Hope is a wonderful thing. The Apostle Paul teaches that, “Hope does not disappoint…” For the person who is frustrated that they cannot help a drug enthused loved-one, break the cycle of addiction, hope is real. The dejected individual who cannot find a job, is buoyed by the hope that one day, some way, employment is right around the corner. The spouse who wonders, “What will it take to get my husband or wife to start acting in a rational manner and stop wrecking our marriage,” hope for a turnaround is sometimes all they must stand on. Hope is what keeps the person with an elusive medical challenge to continue to look forward to healing and long life.

Yesterday afternoon, after a long day at church, an early morning helping to prepare lunch for our Confirmation of Faith Class and some of their parents, a last look at the sermon I would preach, and several small conversations before, in between and after worship, I looked into the eyes of five young persons and listened to them talk about their faith in God.

What I heard the young people express were youthful, but mature and well-thought out concepts of faith in God and hope for the future, their futures. Hope is real, and hope does not disappoint. As I listened to the children and looked into their eyes, my hope for the world and the future of life as we know it filled with enthusiasm and hope that everything will be alright.

Romans 5: 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. [1]

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What are the things or components that make for hope?
  2. Why do you think the Apostle Paul teaches in Romans 5 that “Hope does not disappoint us…?”
  3. Other thoughts you may have about hope?

Prayer: Lord, I thank you for hope. I thank you for reasons to be excited about life and the future ahead. When the walls of life seem to constrict and close and options seem so few, I thank you for the ability to hope. When options are limited and those who seem to know the way are lost, without a clear answer, Lord, in you I find reasons to hope. It is because of you that I hope for tomorrow and the best life possible. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

More about the ministry, mission, and meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org and www.puccdetroit.org

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 5:4–5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

The Hope of Youth

DSC_2522 The Hope of Youth – The eyes of a child often portray a hope that adults find impossible to resurrect. Today, I saw hope in the faces of children, hundreds of miles from my home in Detroit, Michigan. The youth I met, as part of a mission observation trip to Guatemala, are from a remote, mountainous region. Many of the youth live in two room homes with mud-based walls and metal roofs. They walk or find a ride in the back of trucks with day-laborers for in some cases, up to an hour and a half- and that does not count for some of the children another three or four hundred feet from the road to their home in the dark. These children are the students of the Jabel l Tinamit Spanish School. These youths are accepted to the school on a competitive basis. The owners of the school are a husband and wife team, Candelaria and Gregariou Garcia, who began poor and found hope through education. In their own way, for the last twenty years they have provided Spanish language classes online to individuals from America, Europe and other countries. Many of the youth who benefit from the school are of Myan descent. The children we met today are poor, but full of hope. They travel on Saturdays from the mountains to the school with a burning hope for a better future. Today, after a set of welcoming exercises, that I am going to try out on some of our small group setting with my congregation back in Detroit, our delegation of twelve persons were folded into a Mayan cooking class where we learned how to make tortillas, chicken with a sauce made of nuts, peppers, tomato and more, mole sauce over fried plantains, and vegetables. I let several of the children take my camera to take photos of our cooking class. Over the years, when traveling in foreign countries, I take the camera off my neck, find a willing child, give them a crash course on how to hold the camera, compose a picture and push the shutter release button. The children today were just like children I have met around the world. The photos for this blog post were taken by one of several children at the school. As I considered the eyes of these children, I was struck with their sense of hope. They come from an incredibly poor background, but they were enthusiastic, energetic and full of hope. I asked what happens if they stay too late to hop a ride back to their villages. I was told that sometimes several of the children will sleep on the couches in the library of the school. Craig Orr, and his wife, Connie, who are members of the church I pastor, the Plymouth United Church of Christ in Detroit, have been telling me about this mission of hope and love. They are leading our Guatemala Mission Observation Team. You can learn more about this mission at www.friendsofforma.org Pray for us and pray for the children of Guatemala who are so poor, but full of so much hope. Psalm 139: 13 For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. [1] Questions for Reflection:

  1. What are your thoughts about the hope of youth?
  2. As you have aged, has your hope increased or decreased? Why?
  3. How does your faith inform your hope?
  4. What are the elements that create hope?

Prayer: Lord, even as I l grow in years, help me not only to maintain hope, but to increase in hope. Liberate my soul, that I may develop a growing sense of hope. Build my faith, so I might believe in your grace and divine providence. As the future draws looms ahead fill me with ambition, courage and hope: hope for a better day, hope for a brighter future, hope for tomorrow and the best life possible. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen. Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III Photo by the children of Jabbal Tinament Spanish School Additional Prayers Photo and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/ More about the ministry and mission of Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at www.nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.org And www.puccdetroit.org [1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ps 139:13–14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Strength for the Poor!

DSC_1207Thou Hast Been a Strength to the Poor!

 

When things are not going your way, hope is often all you have. It is one thing not to have enough money, but the person with hope is bolstered to believe as the old Negro spiritual says, “I’m so glad, trouble don’t last always.” Loneliness can choke and starve emotions, but hope of love and friendship and someone to talk with, can mean the difference between a miserable life and a joyful life. Love, that has dried up like a river in the desert, can leave one empty, frustrated and desperate for renewal. The hope that we obtain from our faith in Jesus Christ should be an encouragement that God does not desire suffering and pain and that one day, things will turn around for the better.

Isaiah, the prophet, preached and gave hope to the Hebrew people who were carried away to Babylon in exile. The whole Book of Isaiah is a prophecy of hope, restoration and renewal. Within an 70 year period of time, from 608 BC-538 BC , some think it was 586 BC – 516 BC, Cyrus of Persia liberated the captive Jews and they were free to return to Israel.

My encouragement to you today is that you might read chapter 25 of the Book of Isaiah, and let the Lord renew your hope and outlook on life. Thank you for taking the time to read these words.

Isaiah 25: 4   For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat. [1]

      Questions for Reflection:

  1. How is the Lord a “Strength to the poor?”
  2. What does Isaiah 25:4 say to you?

 

Prayer: Lord, from the beginning of time you have been a refuge to the poor and needy. In my worst hour, you have provided me with hope. I seek your face for inspiration and direction. I seek your power and receive renewed confidence. Help me to look beyond the things that bother me. Renew my dreams. Restore my joy. Refresh my outlook on life in the confidence that in you, all things are possible! Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.

 

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

More about the ministry, missions, prayers, photos and meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org and www.puccdetroit.org

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Is 25:4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

“That You May Abound in Hope…”

“…That You May Abound in Hope” –

Sunday, I looked at Reddick Grant holding his young son, who had fallen asleep. I am sure they were waiting on the little boy’s mother, sister and older brother. As I looked at the father holding the little guy in his sleep, I thought about all the potential the little fellow possessed. God has promised him a future and a hope. God only knows what tomorrow will bring for the children of the world, but the love of this little boy’s dad will lay a foundation for what lies ahead. The Apostle Paul teaches that when we are filled with joy and peace in believing that we will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. I pray this day that you will be filled with this hope.

 

Romans 15: 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. [1]

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Where does your hope come from?
  2. Why do you think Paul writes that “Joy and peace in believing…will make it possible for you to abound in hope?”

 

Prayer: Lord, grant me your hope. Fill me with joy. Bless me with peace. Make it possible for me to abound in hope by the power of your Holy Spirit.

 

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

More about the ministry, message, missions books and photos of Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 15:13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Angry with God?

DSC_1253
Denise and Me on a mountain top in Greece – 2015

Have you ever been angry with God? Has there ever been a time when you asked the Lord for something and it did not happen? Have you ever prayed a hard, long prayer for something specific and the answer was no?

I have had a few “No’s”, but I can truly say that up to this point in my life I have never been angry with God. There have been occasions when things and people just did not make any sense, but my attitude in faith is to press on, hold on, and walk on through the darkness until the light of God points me to a new awareness.

The lesson from the Bible I would like to draw upon today is the story of Jonah. Jonah was a prophet who was directed by God to travel to the city of Nineveh and preach that they should repent or die. Instead of going to Nineveh, Jonah takes a boat to Tarshish. Along the way, a storm arises and the sailors throw Jonah overboard because he admits that he is running from God. Jonah is swallowed by a big fish and for three days and nights he dwells in the belly of the beast, praying to the Lord. Eventually, the fish spits Jonah from the fish and he makes his way to Nineveh. To his disappointment, the people of Nineveh heed the warning of God and repent. The story ends with Jonah, stomping off in anger and expressing his displeasure with God in not blowing the roof off of Nineveh. You would think Jonah would be pleased with the repentance of the city, but instead he pouts in anger.

As I have considered the anger of Jonah, I believe there is a progression of steps that cascade into his bitterness and anger with God. First, Jonah attempts to define God. What we are really doing when we define God is to secretly make ourselves into little gods. Jonah moves from defining God to disagreeing with God. His disagreement with God leads him to distance himself from God. The next logical step in this theological progression is to become angry with God.

Thank you for reading this post. I encourage you in faith to resist the temptation to allow disappointment in life to cause you to become angry with God. I encourage you to hold on in faith and the Lord we serve will bless, keep and strengthen you in all ways.

 

Jonah 4 But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city. [1]

 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Have you ever been angry with God?
  2. How do you handle disappointment in life and maintain your faith in God?

 

Prayer: Lord, walk with me through disappointment. Hold my hand when life becomes difficult to understand. Jesus, help me to rise above the temptation to define you, disagree with you, and distance myself from you. Lord, your mercy is great. Your grace is sufficient. Your love is everlasting. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.

 

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev.Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

More about the ministry, missions, and books, (“The Test, The Strength, The Endurance and the Way Out” and “African American Passover Celebration”) by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at http://nicholashoodiiiministries.org

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jon 4:1–5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Rise Shine for Your light has come

Arise and Shine for Your Light Has Come! Blog post

Your Time is Now!

Isaiah 60    Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. 2     For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. [1]

 

To me, the saddest persons are those who perpetually are waiting for their “ship to come in.”  These are the persons who are reluctant to commit in love because they wonder if someone better is around the corner.  They are reluctant to take a vacation or trip because, “the time is not right.”  I have known persons who put off traveling for one reason or another only to find that by the time they had no more excuses, they had the money and time to travel, but their poor heath would not allow them. They put off spending time with their children.  They put off love for a career.  They put off building a career they can grow into because they are afraid of going back to school.  They put off patching up a relationship with a relative or friend, saying I will wait for a better time, not realizing that every moment in life is precious.  They put off saving for the future because they want to live for today.  Time is not promised to any of us.  They put off marriage because they don’t think they have enough money.  They get married then put off having children because “it’s not the right time.”  What they do not realize is that for each of us, our time is now!

I never will forget a conversation I had with my elderly God-Mother in New Orleans.  Shortly after Denise and I were married, by God –Mother asked me in all earnestness when we would start a family.  I replied that we had just gotten married and it was not a good time to have children.  The quickness of her reply surprised me: “it’s never a good time to have a baby.”  She went on to say that the career pressures, financial pressures, and personal desires of a young couple all are good reasons not to have a baby.  She said, “if you wait until you have enough money you will be too old to have a child.  If you wait until your career is established, you will be too old to have a child.”  If you put off having a child until you have the right  house, right neighborhood, right moment in your  relationship, you may never have that baby.  Because there are so many good reasons not to have a child, at some point prospective parents need to decide that they want to have a child and then try to make it happen.”

-“You are the light of the world”

I don’t know what you are going through, but the word of God is still true: your time is now!

-Not tonight

-Not tomorrow

-Not next week

-But now!

-Your time is now!

-I know some of us are carrying tremendous burdens

-In some cases I know the load seems greater than what you can bear

-Yet, even so, your time is now!

-The word of God to Isaiah is still relevant today: Arise and shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you!

-Look at those words:  Arise and shine

-Arise – get up from your bed of despair

-Get up from your bed of doubt

-Get up from your bed of procrastination

-Get up from the bed of thinking now is not the right time

-Look at the other word in this verse:  shine

-Shine and let others see the Glory of God that is already within you

-Shine, you are just as worthwhile as the next person

-Shine, what you have is worth a lot

-Put those two words together: Rise and shine

-Get up and show the world what you are working with!

-Get up for your time is now

-Get up from your laziness and seize the prize that is waiting for you!

-And when you get up, shine

-Shine to the east

-Shine to the west

-Shine to the north

-Shine to the south

-Because your time is now

-Not tonight

-Not tomorrow

-Not next month

-Not next year

-Your time is now!

Questions for Reflection:

  • What is holding you back from claiming your destiny?
  • How can the Word of God inspire you to make the most of your life?

 

 

Prayer:

Lord, wake me from the deep sleep of fear and indecision.  Wake me, shake me and encourage me to reach for the prize you have set before me.  Regardless of my age.  Regardless of my mistakes, remind me that I am yours and you are mine.  Bless me this day with new energy, new hope, and new conviction to make the most of the life you have give to me.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray.  Amen.

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditatons from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

More about the ministry of Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The word of God to Isaiah, “arise shine; for your light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee” can also be applied to our modern situation.  The economy is weak.  Many have lost jobs or are fearful of losing a job.  Others have been forced to take a buyout.  Some have experienced forced wage reductions.  Yet, even in such a time as this the word of God is still relevant.  The way I interpret this word of hope for the people of today is this – Your time is now!  I believe God is saying to us today: no matter how dire your situation might be, stand up, get on your feet and seize the moment.  You only will live on this earth once.  You are only 20, 30, 40, 50, or older once.  Your children will only be young once.  If you have your health, take advantage of it. If you still have your mental faculties, use them, for your time is now.  If you have financial resources, use them now while you still can enjoy what they offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My encouragement to you today is simply this – seize this moment that God has given to you and realize that your time is now.  Not tomorrow. Not next year.  Not when you “get older,” but right now.   Ask yourself, “Am I living for the right now, or the pie in the sky, by and by?”

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Is 60:1–2). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

So Much More to Live For! (How to Overcome Thoughts of Suicide)

So Much More to Live For!

The Male Chorus of the Plymouth United Church of Christ, Detroit in rehearsal
The Male Chorus of the Plymouth United Church of Christ, Detroit in rehearsal

There is so much more to live for! What word from the Bible would you use to lift the spirit and help a depressed or suicidal person?   If you are not depressed: why? Is there something in your view of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that tells you that there is always so much more to live for?

I can only speak for myself. To me, every day is a fresh day. Every night is a reason to get excited. Every mistake is an opportunity to re-create. I love people, but I also love myself. I look forward to every day with a sense that for every success, every challenge, there is so much more to live for.

While I see every day of life as an opportunity and a challenge, the truth of the matter is that some people see life as anything but a challenge and opportunity. In reality, some look at their life and come to the conclusion, “My life sucks.” The implication of this attitude is that their life is messed up. The possibility of improvement upon their life is slim. This attitude might also believe that death could not be worse than the life they are living. Therefore, they sometimes come to the conclusion that suicide might be the best option.

The message I try to impart is that regardless of everything, there is still so much more to live for. I believe this because I really believe that each of us is made in the image of God. God loves us. God cares for us and God wants to see us succeed. Share the good news!

Psalm 34: 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,

and saves the crushed in spirit.

19  Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

but the Lord rescues them from them all.

20  He keeps all their bones;

not one of them will be broken.

21  Evil brings death to the wicked,

and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

22  The Lord redeems the life of his servants;

none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. [1]

 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What words of encouragement would you share with a depressed person who is contemplating suicide?
  2. What Bible verses would you use to let a depressed or sad person know that they still have much more life to live?

 

Prayer:

Lord, show me a reason to live! Lord, help me to see that at every stage of life there is so much more to live for. In spite of my mistakes, regardless of my past, no matter how much I have messed up my life or the lives of others, grant me a clear sense that there is so much more live to be lived! Lord, lift my spirt. Lord, grant me fresh joy. Help me to look beyond today and to rejoice in the opportunities for tomorrow. Through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Nicholas Hood III

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Hood at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

  • “Recipe for Renewal” – an article by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III in the October 2015 edition of “Guideposts” Magazine – available now!
  • “The Test, The Strength, The Endurance and the Way Out” – a book of prayers and photos written and taken by Rev. Hood is available at nicholashoodiiiministries.org
    Book cover
    Book cover

    com.rocktide.servlet.ShowAsset;jsessionid=4F7F48AA57919F1B9EFD302007CECC48

 

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Ps 34:18–22). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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