Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Renewed Hope In The New Year

…And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:2-5 NIV

Romans 5 tell us that perseverance leads to hope and that hope doesn’t disappoint. We've all had to persevere through a tough year, and we can only hope that 2021 will be better. For Christians, this isn’t an ordinary hope. It’s a hope that comes through the Holy Spirit living in us—that no matter what happens in our earthly life, we have a resurrected hope in eternity. We're able to lean on God’s strength to face whatever challenges lie ahead, and be filled with His supernatural hope to see us through.

As we ring in the New Year, enjoy this excerpt from Lord Alfred Tennyson's poem, In Memoriam, [Ring out, wild bells] 

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,

   The flying cloud, the frosty light:

   The year is dying in the night;

Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.


Ring out the old, ring in the new,

   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:

   The year is going, let him go;

Ring out the false, ring in the true.


Ring out old shapes of foul disease;

   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;

   Ring out the thousand wars of old,

Ring in the thousand years of peace.


Ring in the valiant man and free,

   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;

   Ring out the darkness of the land,

Ring in the Christ that is to be. 

I don't know about you, but I'm determined to embrace a renewed sense of hope in 2021 that only Christ can bring! Happy New Year! 

God bless,


Monday, October 26, 2020

Learning to Stand, Even When the Armor Slips

During the past four years as I’ve grieved the loss of my daughter, one of my lifelines has been reading Scripture. Memorized verses transform into prayers when my mind and heart get caught in a cycle of despair. 

Recently, I’ve studied strength verses because strength is what I need most. Strength to continue to face the future without my daughter. Strength to keep going despite health issues. Strength to get through pandemic challenges. I’m sure you can relate in our “new normal” of 2020.

Ephesians 6:13 says to put on the armor of God so that “you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

To stand. You don’t simply strap on God’s armor and stand. You have to keep standing!

I don’t know about you, but I often find that challenging. Sometimes I feel like King David when he was merely shepherd boy David, struggling to make the king’s armor fit him. But unlike David, I can’t take off the armor. God has equipped us differently to fight spiritual battles. The more we saturate our minds and hearts with Scripture, the better the armor fits, and God's strength enables us to stand.

As the Apostle Paul said, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the … powers of this dark world” (Eph. 6:12).  Whether grieving a loved one, battling a pandemic, dealing with job loss or a difficult family member—our only hope in the struggle is God’s strength manifested through us.

My most recent inspirational romance novel released October 13. Not surprising that I share a few traits with Misty, the main character in Hope’s Gentle Touch. She also lacked strength, though her lack of strength came from living in abusive relationship. Her story is a journey of learning to stand again, and intertwined with that strength is love and hope. God intended His strength to be the force by which we’re able to stand—and His gentleness to be a fertile ground for love and hope to grow.

Do you struggle with letting God be your strength—and thus being a source of gentle hope to those in your life? Spend time in His Word and at His feet in prayer. You’ll be able to stand, knowing His presence surrounds you, no matter what circumstance you’re in. He’ll give you strength and meet your needs in ways you could never imagine

How may I pray for you today? Please leave a comment or email me. While you're at it, share a favorite Bible verse that sustains you. I've shared a few at the end of this post. I’d love to hear from you!

Laura Hodges Poole is an award-winning Christian author. Her novel, Return to Walhalla, was a Selah Award finalist. She enjoys encouraging others through her writing and mentoring. On beautiful days in South Carolina, you might find her hiking instead of writing. A mother of two and empty-nester, Laura enjoys a quiet life with her husband. Visit her website by clicking here.

(Devotion photos courtesy of Pixabay.)

Click here to order your copy of Hope’s Gentle Touch

Praise for Hope’s Gentle Touch:

Poole handles the tender topic of abuse with grace and just enough tension to remind the reader that our happily ever afters are often hard won. She writes with the kind of authenticity and wisdom that transforms a sweet romance into a meaningful tale that will give readers something to think about long after turning the last page.
~Sarah Loudin Thomas, Christy-nominated author of Miracle in a Dry Season

A heartwarming novel with characters you can't quit rooting for. This book is perfect for fans of small-town inspirational romance.
~Heidi McCahan, author of Unraveled

Hope’s Gentle Touch is a profound look at the effects of spouse/ date abuse on its victims. Heartbreaking and honest, the story weaves a realistic psychological study of the long-lasting turmoil faced by those who are trapped or have been trapped in abusive relationships. Yet author Laura Poole offers words of hope in the midst of tragedy, light in the midst of the darkness. A well-crafted novel that will bring understanding about this often-hidden evil. ~Elaine Marie Cooper, author, Love’s Kindling, Scarred Vessels

After her abusive husband’s death, Misty Stephens returns to her job as a nurse and volunteer at a women’s shelter. She intends to put her life back together and has no intention of ever being vulnerable to a man again. But when an abuse victim dies in her care, Misty finds herself consoling the girl’s brother ... and fighting attraction. 

Adam Jenkins sees Misty’s heart for the oppressed and implores her to help build Hope House, a women’s shelter, in honor of his sister. Though grieving, Adam is drawn to Misty. But he approaches romance the way he does ranching—quick and decisive—an almost disastrous mistake. While dealing with family fallout and troubles at work, this new project and Misty become a light shining into Adam’s grief. 

A common purpose binds them together, and Misty’s heart starts to open to Adam. But she finds it much harder to lower her defenses than she imagined. Can any man be fully trusted—especially a powerful, wealthy rancher? When the past rears its ugly head and her reality starts to crumble, Misty's trust in God and hope for a bright future are put to the test. Will hope’s gentle touch finally bring the love Misty’s heart needs to heal? 

Zachariah 4:6Joshua 1:9Psalm 62:1-2Philippians 4:13

Friday, April 10, 2020

The Last Supper And Jesus’ Quandary

Leonardo da Vinci’s depiction of The Last Supper is one of the most famous paintings in history. 

Why did this scene captivate da Vinci, along with untold numbers of other folks over the last few centuries? The story behind the Last Supper of Jesus and His disciples is compelling on so many levels.

For Christians, it symbolizes Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for the atonement of our sins. For centuries, we have commemorated it with communion in our churches.

The Bible records the Last Supper of Christ and His disciples during Passover in the four gospels. While Matthew, Mark, and Luke give a snapshot of the evening, John gives a more detailed, personal account of Jesus’ purpose for the evening in chapters 13-17.

Jesus’ life and ministry culminated on the night of the Last Supper. Jews all over Israel celebrated the Passover Feast, but Jesus had a much higher agenda for His “family” of three years. He was there to say good-bye and give final instructions to prepare His disciples for ministry. With the Holy Spirit’s help, they would pick up the torch and carry Jesus’ ministry forward. Luke 22:15 records that Jesus “eagerly desired” to share the Passover meal with them. Yet, from their words and Jesus’ admonitions, we see there was still much for them to learn.

Like most families during the holidays, Jesus’ inner circle wasn’t without its foibles.
Foibles = Weaknesses
Even after Jesus washes their feet in a lesson about servanthood, Luke 22:24 shows the disciples still squabbling over their places in His kingdom. One brooded about his perceived notion of Jesus’ earthly kingdom, and Jesus called him out on his plan of betrayal in John 13:18-27.

Was Jesus disappointed, with so much at stake, that His followers still behaved in a very human fashion? After all, He had spent three years trying to mold them into men capable of carrying His ministry into the future.

We don’t see the frustration Jesus displayed in other places in the Gospels, such as Mark 9:14-29. We see patience in our Lord at the Last Supper, even though He corrected the men. This was to be the last time before his death that they sat together, sharing a meal, receiving instructions, and praying. Jesus was in His brother mode as well as His father mode.

It’s easy for us to believe we would’ve behaved differently than the disciples. If Jesus were here today in the flesh, teaching us, surely it wouldn’t have taken three years for us to comprehend that He is the Messiah and to overcome our human nature. Yet, as we look at our own lives and Christ’s hand in our trials and triumphs, we are capable of being just as whiny, divisive, and self-promoting as the twelve disciples.

We can all think of occasions where a situation didn’t work out the way we envisioned, and we took matters into our own hands to make it work. Maybe not to the extent Judas did, but nevertheless we tried to give God the agenda we wanted Him to work by. And if we’re honest, we’ll admit we’ve argued our point of view, much like Peter, even when through God’s Word or prayer we’re being told something different.

Jesus’ quandary wasn’t so much that He had to go to the cross, although that was a dire situation to be in. Rather, the intensity and depth of His words in John 13 through 17 show us that like all teachers, His concern was whether His pupils were ready for graduation. He gave them final instructions and then handed them over to the Holy Spirit, who would take them into the future. He ended the supper by praying for Himself, His disciples, and all believers (John 17).

Then He went on to fulfill God’s plan for His own life.

When I look back over my life, the lessons I tried to teach my children, the plans I’ve tried to fulfill, whether career or ministry-wise, and every decision I’ve made—I realize after I’ve done my best; what happens next often isn’t up to me. Daily, I must choose to hand the reins to God, take up my cross, and follow Jesus. I believe that, above all else, this was what Jesus tried so hard to instill in His disciples. It’s a lesson He ultimately modeled by going to the Garden of Gethsemane, praying, and then yielding to His Father’s will. It’s a lesson I'm still learning to put into practice.

As we enter the final Holy days before celebrating Resurrection Sunday, what problem are you wrestling with that you simply need to hand over to the Lord and instead take up your cross and follow Him?

Are you willing to let Him lead—no matter where it takes you?