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Harvesting Hope

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord 
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. 

Jeremiah 17:7 

Did you know that optimists tend to have a better sense of well-being and lower levels of stress? Were you aware that positive people also are more likely to have stronger cardiovascular and immune systems?  This data helps explain why many of these hopeful individuals experience “exceptional longevity,” a term researchers use for those who outlive their pessimist peers—sometimes by a decade or more.   

While there seems to be increased scientific evidence to support the belief that hopefulness and good health go hand-in-hand, this probably isn’t much of a surprise for those who believe in God.  Why?  Because Scripture is replete with the benefits of a hopeful outlook, as the prophet Jeremiah so eloquently summed up in the verse above:  “blessed are those” who have decided to believe in the Lord, trusting Him for everything, including their future in Heaven one day. 

But let’s be honest with one another, this is a challenging season for hope.  After months of pandemic fears, fighting in the streets, and a floundering economy, people are fatigued.  Add to these public crises personal dilemmas like finances, health troubles, aging parents, and problem kids, and no wonder so many individuals struggle to have a positive rather than pessimistic perspective. Indeed, you may feel much like David did when he cried out to the Lord so many centuries ago: 

Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress. 
My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all! Feel my pain and see my trouble. Forgive all my sins. See how many enemies I have and how viciously they hate me! Protect me! Rescue my life from them!  

Psalm 25:16-19 

Like this overwhelmed psalmist, we feel the pain of living in a fallen world, and these past few years have only exacerbated the “deep distress” we’ve experienced.  How can we continue to hold up, let alone try to harvest feelings of hope in such troubling times? 

Well, why don’t we take a look at how David completed his plea for help in Psalm 25: “Do not let me be disgraced, for in You I take refuge. May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in You” (verses 20-21).  

David’s source of strength and support, even when “problems go from bad to worse,” was the Lord.  Actually, he reiterates this trust in God over and over again in the Psalms.  Here’s a sampling of how this bruised and battered believer harvested hope, even in the most challenging of circumstances: 

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in You. Psalm 39:7 

But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. Psalm 56:3 

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. Psalm 62:5 

The Apostle Paul also discovered he couldn’t make it through life without completely trusting in God, and he often encouraged believers to focus on the hope that only the Lord can offer.  In the book of Romans, one of those passages is particularly poignant: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (chapter 15, verse 13).  This leader of the early church understood the stresses and strains of living in a far-from-perfect world, and no doubt he cried out to God just as David had done “see how many enemies I have and how viciously they hate me!” Yet because of life’s difficulties, Paul had learned to rely on the Source of Hope who not only promises His assistance but also peace, joy, and a confidence that no one or nothing else this side of Heaven can provide.  

What about you?  Are you ready to experience more of these blessings in your life?   

While researchers continue to look for explanations about “exceptional longevity” and other benefits of being more hopeful, you’re already promised some pretty amazing results when “you trust in Him.” Our Source of Hope offers everyone who believes a harvest of blessings, which extends from the here and now right into eternity!   

  May this season of Harvest be filled with many blessings and an increased sense of hope about the Lord’s plans for you! 

Thought of the Season

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called—His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance. 

Ephesians 1:18 


No one could miss the dark script boldly emblazoned on the nurse’s forearm: Strength Through Pain. It didn’t escape her notice that my eyes were fixated on her tattoo as my mind whirled, wondering what could have caused this young woman’s anguish. 

“I’ve been through a lot in life,” Ava* smiled sweetly as she broke the silence, “but I have also grown stronger because of it.” She went on to tell me about the birthday party she was planning for her three-year-old, and the upcoming visit to church on Sunday with her family and the barbeque they’d have together afterward.  She never divulged any specifics about the reason for her tattoo. She didn’t really need to because, like her, I can relate to painful experiences that have indelibly marked my soul too. 

Shorty after this experience, I read an email sent by a friend about a woman named Suzy* who is battling brain cancer.  Despite the tremendous trial she’s enduring, Suzy penned a positive message about her fight against the disease—connecting it to a struggle she’d had years ago while trying to break a horse named Storm.  Here’s part of her poignant note:  “I think God has to break us to make us useful.  If God has broken you, it is because He loves you.  You are more beautiful because you have been broken.” 

Whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, all of us carry painful scars that are a result of living in this world.  In other words, we’re all marked by something, but what would a tattoo artist inscribe as a result of your distress?  Would your tattoo read Strength Through Pain, or might it be something more like this:  

Bitterness Through Pain 

Sadness Through Pain 

Defeat Through Pain 

Anger Through Pain 

I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to have an attitude like Suzy and Ava.  They’ve taken their suffering and transformed it into something far more powerful and productive, no doubt due to their willingness to look to God for strength and support. 

There are many individuals, including some Christians, who struggle with the existence of pain in our world.  After all, doesn’t God want people to experience “abundant life” (John 10:10)?  Of course! But the reality is that our lives must be lived in an imperfect world—one far different from the ideal creation God had originally designed.  Sin changed things, as Jesus reminded us about when He said “here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b, New Living Translation). 

I love the ending of that verse.  Take heart!  In other words, don’t get discouraged. Don’t be sad, bitter, or angry.  Because of the Lord’s gift of salvation, we can rely on His assistance in the here and now as we await our perfect, eternal home.  Indeed, Jesus summed up our circumstances this way: “ So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy” (John 16:22). 

There’s a day coming when we’ll finally be with our Heavenly Father and live the way He had initially intended. And that environment will never be tainted by the problems we contend with now.  Actually, Scripture tells us “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:4).  Until that day, may each of us seek the Lord’s assistance as we walk through life.  Let’s strive to “rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation” (Romans 5:3-4).   

Please know all of us at Sonkist Ministries ae praying that, even during those tattooing seasons of life, you will “keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you” (I Peter 4:19b). 

*The names have been changed to provide anonymity. 

  Thought of the Summer

For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him. 

Philippians 1:29 

Does Jesus Still Love Me?

Does Jesus Still Love Me?

The three-year-old was quite serious when she asked her mother this age-old question:  “Does Jesus still love me?” Harper had disobeyed and knew her mom wasn’t happy, but most importantly, she wondered what Jesus thought.  Could He possibly love her even though she’d “blown it” again? 

Little Harper’s question is poignant because, if we’re honest, many of us have asked this very question.  You may be pondering this question right now.  Or you may know someone who is wondering whether or not God can ever forgive them.  

Amazingly, the answer to that question is simple. Yes, the Lord loves us.  Indeed, we discover time and time again in Scripture that God loves everyone (“For this is how God loved the world, He gave His one and only Son…” is how the New Living Translation’s John 3:16 explains this fact).  Most of all, He is “not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9, New American Standard Bible). 

Repentance is key to a secure relationship with God, just as it is critical to restore any relationship.  Harper’s mother still loved her despite the willful disobedience, but in order to make things right, Harper had to ask her mom for forgiveness.  When she did so, they moved on because there wasn’t anything to interfere with their healthy, harmonious relationship. 

Merriam-Webster explains that repentance basically means “to feel or show that you are sorry for something bad or wrong ….and that you want to do what is right.” In other words, attaining forgiveness involves these components: 

Feeling sorrow or regret.   

Expressing that regret specifically.  

Seeking forgiveness to make the relationship right again.   

These three steps heal broken relationships, including the one we have with God. Whether it’s the first time (as we find in Romans 10:9, NLT, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”) or the many times over a life-long journey that we need to ask God for forgiveness, the process is very straightforward.  This is how the Apostle John described it: 

“If we admit our sins—simply come clean about them—He won’t let us down.  He’ll be true to Himself.  He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.”
(I John 1:9, The Message Bible) 

So, if you feel you’ve blown it with God, ask for His forgiveness. While God loves you, He is going to wait for you to “want to do what is right.”  

If you know people who feel unsure about the Lord’s love for them, encourage them today with the truths we’ve just covered.  Remind them of the simple steps to either begin a relationship with Jesus or to reconnect with Him. 

And if you want to stay reassured of the Lord’s love for you, read His Word in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Why? Well, Harper would probably explain it this way:  “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” 

Thought of the Season

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Romans 8:38-39, New Living Translation 


Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship,
    and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:
Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
    give glory, you sons of Jacob;
    adore Him, you daughters of Israel.
He has never let you down,
    never looked the other way
    when you were being kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do His own thing;
    He has been right there, listening. 

Psalm 22:22-24, The Message Bible  

Never before in human history have we been besieged by so many words. Like the blast of a winter storm, words whirl in and out of our lives via airwaves or the Internet. Some people inundate us with incessant conversation; others simply send a surplus of texts, tweets, and email messages. Most of the time we process those words promptly, then prepare ourselves for the next round of communication coming our way.

It is for these reasons, particularly during this busy season, I felt it important to keep this Sonkist message short and, hopefully, sweet. In fact, I’d simply like to have you focus on one single word: Adore.

Now, as often happens, one word can lead to another—but hold on for a few more paragraphs for that second, far more important “word”. Right now, let me briefly explain what I mean by the term adore.

Like the famous song Adeste Fidelesadore finds its origin in Latin. The root meaning, aōrāreliterally translates “to pray or to beseech.” In ancient times, anyone who used this word would have understood it meant “to plead with, appeal to, or approach (a god) as a suppliant or worshipper,” ( No one centuries ago would ever have thrown around the term loosely as it often is today, for instance, “I just adore that outfit” or “We found a new restaurant we adore.” Instead, adore would have involved the greatest respect and reverence as the “oration” (prayer) was offered up.

The passage of time doesn’t mean the significance of the word need change for those of us who worship the One True God. Indeed, as the psalmist encourages in the passage above, we can and should adore Him, especially during this most holy of seasons. Why? Because, unlike others in our lives, He doesn’t let us down, look away, or stop listening. He is worthy of our praise, so let’s be sure to “punctuate it with Hallelujahs.”

This time of year, that praise might come in the form of Christmas songs like O Come All Ye Faithful, which when translated from the original Latin leads us to that second, most important Word we should know:

Yes Lord, we greet Thee
Born this happy morning
Jesus to Thee be all glory giv’n
Word of the Father
Now in flesh appearing
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord!

 Why should we adore Jesus? Because He is literally “the Word” (John 1:1-4). He is not only with God, but He also is God. He is  “the Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—” (Luke 2:11a). If we are going to adore anyone, it must be Him—and there’s no better time to do so than right now.

Can you take a few minutes today to adore your Lord and Savior? To do so, simply put everything else out of your mind and just focus on Jesus. What has He done for you? Thank Him for that. If you have a little extra time, read a favorite passage of Scripture, or listen to some music that inspires you to worship Him. Make this adoring process a priority each day of this holy season—and in all the seasons He gives you along life’s journey.  

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at Sonkist Ministries!

  Thought of the Season

In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through Him,
    and nothing was created except through Him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and His life brought light to everyone.

John 1:1-4, New Living Translation

The Harvest Shout

Each fall for countless generations, Cornish gleaners would hear a familiar euphoric cry from the master of the harvest:  “Yma genef! Yma genef! Yma genef!”  This jubilant shout signified that the last crop had been cut, so field laborers would gather to lift up their own joyous reply because their season of toil had ended, and a great time of celebration was about to commence.

Most of us can understand the reason behind such enthusiasm, although we may never have experienced an agrarian lifestyle.  Indeed, people around the world appreciate the benefits that an ample harvest brings to their individual homes.  Yet even with such autumnal blessings, many in 2021 may not feel like celebrating anything.  The fallout from a global pandemic is still creating a plethora of problems. There’s also an unbearable amount of worldwide atrocities delivered to us daily in the news. More locally, some in leadership have failed us while a few families we know are floundering. 
If you are feeling overwhelmed by life’s circumstances right now, you are not alone. Actually, centuries ago the Apostle Paul shared how the difficulties of this world are particularly challenging for Christians:

And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as His adopted children, including the new bodies He has promised us.  We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it.  But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
Romans 8:23-25, New Living Translation 

Like those early believers, today’s Christ followers know a better season is on the horizon.  Once you and I accept Jesus as our Savior, we are given the promise of eternal life (John 3:16; I John 5:11-12). And although pain, grief, and even groaning are normal reactions to living in a fallen world, we’re encouraged to do more than mourn our losses.  Instead, in these verses we are urged to “wait with eager hope” for God’s perfect plan to unfold which includes an amazing future we can’t even imagine (Jeremiah 29:11; I Thessalonians 5:9).

Why would God have us wait for the joys of Heaven, which include new healthy bodies that will never again experience the pain brought on by sin?  The answer to this query involves the most important harvest season the Lord has sanctioned, as the Apostle Peter explains:  

The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed but wants everyone to repent . . . and remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— speaking of these things in all of his letters . . .  
II Peter 3:9, 15-16a 

What are we waiting for?  God’s timing—not only for our futures but also for the many souls yet to be saved. The seeds of salvation are still being planted, and the Lord is patiently gathering all who wish to join His forever family.  Jesus made this mission clear when He shared a farming analogy with the disciples:

You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!
John 4:35-36 

Since the Lord’s mission is focused on gathering souls, those of us who follow Him can take up this mantle while we await our “full rights as His adopted children.” In other words, while we “wait with eager hope,” we can be involved in His harvest process.  And notice what is bestowed upon those who choose to work alongside Him:   Joy!  Joy in 2021?  Joy in the midst of problems, even a pandemic? Yes, most definitely yes!  The Lord is the purveyor of joy, and He wants to share this jubilant feeling with His co-laborers. 

As we slowly shift into this fall season, remember another much-anticipated shout is coming soon.  When He deems the timing is right, “the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven with a commanding shout.” This will signal the end of His harvest season for “the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Can you participate more in the Lord’s mission? Despite what you are going through, could you help plant seeds that may lead to someone’s salvation? Would you join in the efforts of fellow believers and assist in the gathering of souls, decreasing the number of those who might cry “the harvest is finished, and the summer is gone . . . yet we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20)?

May you experience great joy this Harvest season as you await the Lord’s return with eager anticipation!

  Thought of the Season

The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So, pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields.

Luke 10:2