Everlasting Hope

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The week before Christmas, two months after my mom died, holiday shopping and decorating sat at the bottom of my priority list. I resisted my husband’s attempts to comfort me as I grieved the loss of our family’s faith-filled matriarch. I sulked as our son, Xavier, stretched and stapled strands of Christmas lights onto the inside walls of our home. Without a word, he plugged in the cord before he and his dad left for work.

As the colorful bulbs blinked, God gently drew me out of my darkness. No matter how painful the circumstances, my hope remained secure in the light of God’s truth, which always reveals His unchanging character.

Psalm 146 affirms what God reminded me on that difficult morning: My endless “hope is in the Lord,” my helper, my mighty and merciful God (v. 5). As Creator of all, He “remains faithful forever” (v. 6). He “upholds the cause of the oppressed,” protecting us and providing for us (v. 7). “The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down” (v. 8). He “watches over” us, “sustains” us (v. 9), and will always be King (v. 10).

Sometimes, when Christmas rolls around, our days will overflow with joyful moments. Sometimes, we’ll face loss, experience hurt, or feel alone. But at all times, God promises to be our light in the darkness, offering us tangible help and everlasting hope.

永恆的盼望

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聖誕節前一週,我的母親剛過世二個月,我仍沉溺在哀傷中,聖誕購物和家庭布置,完全被我拋諸腦後。我拒絕丈夫的安慰,為著失去堅定愛主的母親而傷痛。當我們的兒子賽維爾將聖誕燈飾掛在家裡的牆壁上時,我慍怒不語。兒子沒有說什麼,只在他和我丈夫出門上班之前,將燈飾接上電源。

五顏六色的聖誕燈飾閃爍著,上帝溫柔地將我從憂傷的黑暗裡拉了出來。無論身處於多麼痛苦的境況,我的盼望在上帝真理的光中依然穩固,上帝的話語總是顯明祂永恆不變的屬性。

在那個艱難的早晨,詩篇146篇呼應了上帝對我的提醒:我無盡的盼望是在於耶和華,祂是我的幫助,我全能又有憐憫的上帝(5節);祂是全地的創造主,「祂守誠實,直到永遠」(6節);「祂為受屈的伸冤」,保守、供應我們(7節);「耶和華扶起被壓下的人」(8節);祂「保護」我們、「扶持」我們,並要作王直到永遠(9-10節)

有時候,當聖誕節臨近時,我們的日子喜樂滿溢;有時候,我們會面對失落,經歷痛苦和傷害,或是感到孤獨。但無論何時,上帝已經應許,祂要成為我們在黑暗中的光,祂會給我們切實的幫助和永恆的盼望。

Gentleness

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The troubles of life can make us cranky and out of sorts, but we should never excuse these bouts of bad behavior, for they can wither the hearts of those we love and spread misery all around us. We have not fulfilled our duty to others until we have learned to be pleasant.

The New Testament has a word for the virtue that corrects our unpleasantness—gentleness, a term that suggests a kind and gracious soul. Ephesians 4:2 reminds us, “Be completely humble and gentle.”

Gentleness is a willingness to accept limitations and ailments without taking out our aggravation on others. It shows gratitude for the smallest service rendered and tolerance for those who do not serve us well. It puts up with bothersome people—especially noisy, boisterous little people, for kindness to children is a crowning mark of a good and gentle person. It speaks softly in the face of provocation. It can be silent, for calm, unruffled silence is often the most eloquent response to unkind words.

Jesus is “gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29). If we ask Him, He will, in time, recreate us in His image. Scottish author George MacDonald says, “[God] would not hear from [us] a tone to jar the heart of another, a word to make it ache . . . . From such, as from all other sins, Jesus was born to deliver us.”

溫柔

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生活中的煩惱會讓我們煩躁不安,但不表示我們就可以亂發脾氣,因為這樣的行為不只會傷害我們所愛的人,還讓周遭的人也不好過。我們只有學會和氣待人,才不會繼續傷害他人。

新約聖經裡提到一種美德,能幫助我們和氣待人,那就是溫柔,也就是親切善良。以弗所書4章2節提醒我們:「凡事謙虛、溫柔。」

溫柔是願意接受身體的侷限和病痛,而不遷怒他人。溫柔是對我們受到的一點點幫助表示感激,並寬容那些未能善待我們的人。溫柔是能容忍討厭的人,特別是那些煩人、吵鬧的小孩子。因為善待小孩,是良善溫柔的人應有的特質。溫柔是在面對挑釁時,柔聲地回應。溫柔可以是靜默無聲,因為平心靜氣的沉默通常是對不友善的話最有力的回應。

耶穌「心裡柔和謙卑」(馬太福音11章29節)。若我們向祂祈求,祂終將會以祂的形象重新塑造我們。蘇格蘭籍作家喬治·麥克唐納(George MacDonald)說:「上帝不要我們以言語刺激、傷害別人的心……。耶穌為我們而生,正是要救我們脫離言語以及其他各樣的罪。」

Big World, Bigger God

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As we drove through northern Michigan, Marlene exclaimed, “It’s unbelievable how big the world is!” She made her comment as we passed a sign marking the 45th Parallel—the point halfway between the equator and the North Pole. We talked about how small we are and how vast our world is. Yet, compared to the size of the universe, our tiny planet is only a speck of dust.

If our world is great, and the universe is vastly greater, how big is the One who powerfully created it? The Bible tells us, “For by [Jesus] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16).

This is good news because this same Jesus who created the universe is the One who has come to our rescue from sin for every day and forever. The night before He died, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 nasb).

When facing the large and small challenges of life, we call on the One who made the universe, died and rose again, and won victory over this world’s brokenness. In our times of struggle, He powerfully offers us His peace.

世界很大,上帝更大

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當我們開車穿越密西根州北邊時,經過一個標誌,上面標示著北緯45度線,也就是位於赤道和北極的中間,瑪琳驚呼:「這個世界這麼大,真令人難以置信!」接著,我們談到人類如此渺小,而世界如此浩淼。然而,與整個宇宙相比,我們這小小的地球也只不過像微塵一般。

如果我們的世界很大,而宇宙又更大,那創造一切的上帝有多大呢?聖經告訴我們:「因為萬有都是靠[耶穌]造的,無論是天上的、地上的、能看見的、不能看見的,或是有位的、主治的、執政的、掌權的,一概都是藉著祂造的,又是為祂造的。」(歌羅西書1章16節)

這是個好消息,因為這位創造宇宙的耶穌,就是天天拯救我們、永遠都拯救我們脫離罪的救贖主。在耶穌受死之前的那天晚上,祂告訴門徒說:「我將這些事告訴你們,是要叫你們在我裡面有平安。在世上你們有苦難,但你們可以放心,我已經勝了世界。」(約翰福音16章33節)

我們在面對生活中大大小小的挑戰時,可以求告耶穌,祂創造宇宙、死而復活,並勝過這個世界的敗壞和痛苦。當我們面對苦難時,祂就賜下平安給我們。

More Than a Hero

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As Star Wars fans around the world eagerly await the release of Episode 8, “The Last Jedi,” people continue to analyze the remarkable success of these films dating back to 1977. Frank Pallotta, media reporter for CNNMoney, said that Star Wars connects with many who long for “a new hope and a force of good at a time when the world needs heroes.”

At the time of Jesus’s birth, the people of Israel were oppressed and longing for their long-promised Messiah. Many anticipated a hero to deliver them from Roman tyranny, but Jesus did not come as a political or military hero. Instead, He came as baby to the town of Bethlehem. As a result, many missed who He was. The apostle John wrote, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11).

More than a hero, Jesus came as our Savior. He was born to bring God’s light into the darkness and to give His life so that everyone who receives Him could be forgiven and freed from the power of sin. John called Him “the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (v. 14).

“To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (v. 12). Indeed, Jesus is the one true hope the world needs.

不僅是英雄

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世界各地的星際大戰迷,正熱切期待《星際大戰8:最後的絕地武士》上映。人們追溯至1977年,分析這部系列電影成功的因素。有新聞評論者指出:當世界正渴望一位帶來新希望和正義的英雄時,《星際大戰》恰好滿足了人們的渴求。

在耶穌降生的那個年代,以色列人民受到極大的逼迫,他們熱切期待上帝應許已久的彌賽亞降臨,許多人盼望有一位英雄能救他們脫離羅馬暴政。但耶穌並不是以政治或軍事英雄的姿態出現,祂反倒成了降生於伯利恆的一名嬰孩。因此,許多人認不出祂是誰。使徒約翰就寫道:「祂到自己的地方來,自己的人倒不接待祂。」(約翰福音1章11節)

耶穌來到世上不是要作個英雄,而是要成為我們生命的救主。祂帶著上帝的榮光降世為人,進入黑暗並獻上祂自己的生命,使每一個接受祂的人都能得著赦免,從罪的權勢中得著釋放。約翰稱祂為天父的獨生子,「充充滿滿地有恩典,有真理」(14節)

「凡接待祂的,就是信祂名的人,祂就賜他們權柄,作上帝的兒女」(12節)。的確,唯有耶穌才是這個世界所需要的真正希望。

With God’s Help

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As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed more joint pain, especially when cold weather hits. Some days, I feel less like a conqueror and more like someone conquered by the challenges of becoming a senior citizen.

That’s why my hero is an older man named Caleb—the former spy sent by Moses to scout out Canaan, the Promised Land (Num. 13–14). After the other spies gave an unfavorable report, Caleb and Joshua were the only spies out of the twelve whom God favored to enter Canaan. Now, in Joshua 14, the time for Caleb to receive his portion of land had come. But there were enemies still to drive out. Not content to retire and leave the battle to the younger generation, Caleb declared, “You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said” (Josh. 14:12).

“The Lord helping me.” That’s the kind of mindset that kept Caleb battle-ready. He focused on God’s power, not his own, or his advanced age. God would help him do whatever needed to be done.

Most of us don’t think of conquering cities when we reach a certain age. But we can still do great things for God, no matter how old we are. When Caleb-sized opportunities come our way, we don’t have to shy away from them. With the Lord helping us, we can conquer!

主必幫助我

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隨著年紀漸長,我的關節也越發疼痛,在寒冷天氣之時,更是如此。有些時候,我甚至覺得自己就像無法戰勝挑戰的老年人。

這就是為什麼我心目中的英雄是一位名叫迦勒的老人,他是摩西差往窺探迦南地的其中一名探子(民數記13-14章)。在十二個探子當中,其他的探子都報告了壞消息,最後唯有迦勒和約書亞蒙上帝應允進入迦南地。在約書亞記14章,迦勒可以前往得他的產業,但那地仍有敵人還未被趕出。迦勒不甘退役,也不願將戰役留給年輕的一代,他說:「那裡有亞衲族人,並寬大堅固的城,你也曾聽見了。或者耶和華照祂所應許的與我同在,我就把他們趕出去。」(約書亞記14章12節)

「主必幫助我!」就是這樣的心態讓迦勒隨時都能作戰。他專注於上帝的大能,而非自己的能力,或是漸長的年歲。上帝必會幫助他完成所需要做的事。

當我們到了某個年齡階段時,常認為自己不能承擔什麼重責大任。然而,無論我們年歲幾何,我們依然能為上帝行大事。當有如迦勒那樣的機會臨到我們時,我們無須迴避。藉著主的幫助,我們必能得勝有餘!