Dear Loved One,
As we draw near to the end of 2017, may I be transparent with you about something? This past year has been a difficult one—both for me and my family with the heaven-going of my beloved Anna—and for countless others around this world for a number of reasons. Natural disasters, political turmoil, and senseless violence have all conspired to sap our faith and leave us in a state of despair.
That is why I want to ask you, Loved One, have you faced fierce difficulties? Have you experienced loss? Have there been circumstances that have been painful to you?
In the face of difficult times and circumstances, many look desperately for something solid to hold onto. Something that will give a sense of comfort in the midst of loss and a sense of stability in the midst of confusion and chaos.
As I have been praying about this, I have sensed the Lord say to me that what the world needs now—along with love, sweet love—is a healthy infusion of hope!
God is the Father of Hope, and He gives us hope to help us to get a glimpse of His heart and recognize His ways. The promise of the hope He gives to His children is that, no matter what happens in our lives or this world, we never consummately or ultimately lose.
Hope gives us perspective to trust that—even though we may be facing difficulty now—God is still in ultimate control.
He wants us to embrace this truth, so we will be unshakeable in our way of living and our commitment to Jesus. The hope our Father God gives us is the promise that our lives have a purpose that has been designed and ordained by Him.
God did not create us to only experience eternal frustration or to float along on some kind of mindless existence. We were created for a distinct destiny.
No matter what is going on in our lives—or the world around us—we have hope and can stand in confident faith that our God will work valiantly on our behalf, and He will bring about His ultimate purpose for our lives.
When we realize this truth and live submitted to the Lord, we will experience the fulfillment, blessedness, and joy He has designed for us. Because God has a plan for us, we can have hope in this world!
The source of our hope is Jesus, and it is through Jesus that hope flows to us.
God gave us much more than a Savior with Jesus. He gave us a Lord that ushers us into a life of expectation and promise on this earth, as well as the eternal gift of spending forever in Heaven with our loving Father.
I pray the hope we have in Jesus will infiltrate the very fabric of our lives and deepen the focus of everything we do. I also pray that knowing we are loved with eternal love will impact how we love others.
The hope Jesus gives our hearts is not a passing breath or fleeting vapor. The hope we have in Jesus is certain and is meant to be an anchor for our souls—an anchor that is both sure and steadfast.
Loved One, my prayer for you is that the Holy Spirit will help and guide you to cast out the anchor of the Lord’s hope in the midst of whatever storm you may be facing. I pray you will experience the stability and settled-ness that comes with fully trusting Jesus in all of life’s circumstances.
As God’s children, we are called to be ministers of His hope to our world.
In the book of John, we see two specific ways the hope of Jesus was manifested during His earthly ministry. The first is the healing of a blind man, and the second is Jesus’ talking about being a shepherd.
John 10:10-11 says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”
I believe there are two distinct messages for us in this passage of Scripture.
First, I believe the Holy Spirit longs for us to have a deeper understanding of how Jesus came to bring light into our dark world, just as He brought light into the world of the blind man by healing his sight.
Second, Jesus came to shepherd our souls, and just as he shepherds us, we are called to become shepherds. The Holy Spirit longs to teach us the traits and attributes of Jesus’ care and compassion and of His power and purpose.
Jesus desires for us to move into situations with His power and light and to make an impact on His behalf. He wants to train us to do the same things He did in His earthly ministry.
The saving hand of Jesus cannot be separated from the shepherd heart of Jesus.
When Jesus healed the blind man, God’s power to overthrow the darkness that invades human circumstance was demonstrated. Jesus not only healed the blind man’s sight, He also restored His hope.
Healing is consistent with Jesus’ uniquely shepherd’s heart, and we see that clearly in this instance. Jesus came not only to deliver us, but also to heal and restore us. He came to draw us to Himself and to guide us along the way God has for us.
The lesson in Jesus healing the blind man’s vision is that there is no human dilemma that God cannot overcome when the power of His touch is welcomed.
Now, it’s also important that we understand what is NOT being communicated in this message. God does not set up a “strawman” of difficult circumstances to let us suffer a while and then walk in and say, “Well, I put you in that trouble for a while, so now I can show you how kind I can be.”
That kind of philosophy—which exists in the minds of many believers—is flawed and dangerous. Our sovereign God put the rule of this planet under the stewardship of mankind. Human sin, disobedience, and failure have caused things to be on this earth that God—in His sovereign will—never intended or designed to exist.
God also gave mankind dominion over our own lives, and our life works correctly when we relate correctly to the Lord. But throughout history, man has chosen to not correctly relate to God. This has caused people to sow wind and reap a whirlwind, and to inherit problems from generation to generation. It is important we understand that this reality was not God’s divine design.
The message of Jesus healing the blind man is not that God gave the man a difficulty, so Jesus could heal Him at some miraculous moment. The message is that there is no situation or human bondage that the deliverance of God is unable to enter and restore.
The Lord is always ready to touch human need with divine provision; to bring His deliverance to human bondage and His healing to human sickness.
We are called to let the Lord develop us into shepherds.
If the only “shepherds” in our culture and world are people in vocational ministry, the world will never experience the light and touch of Christ, and the body of Christ will never be nurtured as it needs to be.
There were never intended to be enough people in vocational ministry to take care of the whole world. All believers are called to emulate Jesus’ shepherding heart and ways.
Jesus came to deal with the blindness of this world to help us see and the “sheepness” of mankind to help us become whole, and to help us discover the abundant and fulfilling life our Father God designed for us.
These truths are meant to bless us. These truths are meant to encourage us to push through the present trials and challenges by grabbing hold of the hope that Jesus brought to the earth more than 2,000 years ago.
Loved One, Jesus still reigns! And, it is important that we understand that He came not only to bless, encourage and give hope to you and me, but also to prepare and empower us to do that for others. What a marvelous privilege!
So, as we move into this wonderful season of Christmas, I invite you to fully embrace the bright hope of Jesus. Then, let the Lord’s light flow through you to touch this darkened world. Allow Jesus to develop you into a shepherd after His own heart—a shepherd that ministers His hope to a world in desperate need.
I pray you will experience the hope Jesus’s birth brought into the world, and that His hope will fill and bless your life, your family, and your home.
I also pray for any circumstance you may be facing that is causing you to feel like you are in a storm being tossed around in rowboat amidst twenty-foot swells. I pray the mighty Spirit of our God would enter those circumstances and bring you solidity and confidence, so that you may know that whatever the nature of the storm you are in right now, there is no way you can be capsized.
There is no way you can be sunk, because our God will abide with you through this and every other season and circumstance of life.
I pray that our God—who stills the sea—will see you through. I pray that our God—who walks on water—will walk beside you and guide you through every detail of this life as He ultimately leads you to eternity in His glorious presence. I pray that the grip of that truth will lay hold of your heart and bring hope to your soul.
Resting in His Hope as we celebrate His birth,
P.S. Although the past year was a difficult one to be sure, we witnessed many believers rally to the aid of those caught in the wake of natural disasters and man-made tragedies. It blessed me to see our friends and partners bring hope to the afflicted through their sacrificial gifts and aid.
Of course, it meant that many had to redirect their precious resources to financially respond to the need. As a result, we now find Jack Hayford Ministries facing a deficit. I’d like to encourage you to read the information below and prayerfully consider a special, year-end gift of support. We are grateful for you and thankful for your faithfulness.
Would you prayerfully consider a special gift of $100 or more this month? In appreciation, we will send you two special gifts:
First, Pastor Jack’s hope-filled audio album, The Light of Hope. As you listen, you’ll discover how to keep down a spirit of defeat and allow a spirit of hope to flourish in your life and shine brightly on those around you. The 4-CD set includes: Crowding Out the Darkness – Resting in His Eternal Hope – The Spirit of Enthusiasm – The Hope of His Calling
Next, we’ll send you Pastor Robert Morris’ powerful book, Why Keep Praying. In it, he reveals why it is so important not to stop—to never give up. This book provides hope and evidence for readers that God does hear their prayers, cares about them personally, and intervenes in their lives in ways beyond their imaginations.