The Fallow Ground of Abandoned Hope

fallow ground

Every acre of your life should glisten with the dew of hope. Hope, in fact, is one of the chief characteristics of our calling (Eph. 1:18). But sometimes the gap between promise and possession becomes fallow.

The fallow ground of abandoned hope.

Fallow ground is soil that has at one point been prepared, but then left inactive – abandoned – until it becomes resistant to seed and moisture. This is ground where we’ve ceased to expect results. These are places where disappointment has led to discouragement and even disbelief. Fallow ground is where you have stopped hoping things will be different. This is the fallow ground of abandoned hope.

The Path toward Fallow Ground

Have you ever been disappointed? Hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12). Disappointment is tiring, wearying and can even be devastating – like a wound in our soul. Over time, disappointment leads to discouragement; the wound in the soul becomes inflamed or infected. Discouragement can be too painful or frustrating to face or fight, and eventually the scar of disbelief covers the wound in our soul. Fallow ground is left. We no longer bother with hope in that place.

After all, isn’t it easier to acquiesce to status quo than to anticipate change? Isn’t easier, less painful, less frustrating to cope than to confront? Because, after a while, it feels like it has been after a while. This is the fallow ground of abandoned hope.

This is the ground, I believe, of a father’s heart in Mark 9:14-24.  The story pivots on  Jesus’ statement to this desperate father that “all things are possible to him who believes.” The daddy responds with “I believe (I want to believe, I know I should believe, I am trying to believe); help my unbelief.” Help my unbelief? This was no willful rejection of faith. No, I believe the father was saying something much more like this:

I’ve been disappointed so often. The heartache of watching this boy’s life being destroyed has been overwhelming for me. I have tried everything – twice. It has been like this for too long. What hope I had ran out a long time ago. I brought him to your disciples, and not even they could help. And now… now YOU are standing in front me, asking me to believe?

Yes. Yes He is. He stands as the single greatest hope on the planet, as the savior of the world, God-become-man, the anointed One, and asks you to trust Him. And if you will permit me to project my view upon the story, I believe the father’s confession of faith, but request for help reveals that He heard something in voice of Jesus, that he saw something in face of the son of God that began to break up the hardened soil in his soul. There is something about Jesus and His perfect, pristine radiance of God’s glory and expression of His Nature (Hebrews 1:3) that breaks through the dark clouds of fear and pain and draws us to risk, to trust, to hope again. From the blazing love behind his piercing gaze, Jesus says, “all things are possible.” There is nothing that is not possible. His words beckon hope’s return.

How to Restore Hope to Fallow Ground

If the gap between possession and promise has dried and hardened, it needs be broken up. We can till the ground with truth: God’s person (who He is), His promise (what He has said), His Providence (what He has done), and His power (what He can do).

We strike the dry soil in our soul, reminding it of who God is, that He is Good, profoundly and exceedingly Good, and that his loving-kindness endures forever. We declare that He is faithful and He is Holy. (Pardon the grammar that follows) He is gooder, wiser, kinder, and better than I’ll ever know or can measure. We then remind our soul of all that this great-big-good-God has said, of His promises – and that each one is “yes” in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). Further, we use the tool of God’s providence – we recall and recite what God has done for us and for others. We can be very generous in the application of providence; the testimony of the Lord is a powerful and practical tool to restore hope. Finally, we recall that what whatever God has done, and what He has said He will do, He has the power to perform. Like Abraham we stand in the place of barrenness and believe in “God who raises the dead and calls the things that are not as though they already were. Against all hope, with hope he believed…that what God had promised He was able to perform” (Romans 4:17-18, 21).

And we fasten hope to the soil of our hearts with the chords of perseverance (Heb. 10:36-39). Perseverance means we will not give up this ground again to hopelessness. We will not cease to till our soul with the truth of God’s person, promise, providence and power. We will not shrink back. Believing deeply, we hope boldly. And we persevere, because something has got to change, something has got to give, and it’s not going to be us: dry bones will rattle with life, springs will rise up in the desert places, light will break through the clouds; blind eyes will open; deaf ears will see; the lame will walk. Hope will rise and rest upon the landscape of our life as fresh as the morning dew.

Thanks for reading. I pray you are encouraged. Consider using the social media buttons below to share this post with others.
~ Dav



How the Spirit Helps Us Pray




help wanted

In Romans 8:26-27, the Apostle Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit helps us to pray. How does He help us, and what does His help mean for us?

The Spirit’s Help

When Paul says that the Spirit helps us, he uses an eight syllable Greek word that means “to lay hold of with, to help in obtaining.” The Holy Spirit personally partners with us prayer; his hand reaches and grasps alongside my own – providing guidance and grace.

The Spirit helps us to pray in at least two ways: directly via assisted or inspired expression – as the text seems to more heavily indicate, and indirectly via the influence of His presence – as the text at least allows us to consider. Both, I think, are important and should be incorporated into our understanding and practice of Spirit-aided prayer.

But first, let Paul remind us of why we need help…

Why We Need Help

The Spirit helps us in our weakness, which Paul explains to mean that we have a limited knowledge of how to pray or what to pray. We pray from limited perspective, finite knowledge, and regardless of our best intentions, often a personal bias. We pray from reality as we see it; The Spirit prays from reality as He sees it. Therefore we need His help. I do not believe that Paul here intends in any way to encourage introspection and fear regarding our ability to pray, but much rather to inspire us to pray with confident, robust trust in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit intercedes through us in accord with the will of God. The Spirit who knows our hearts perfectly also knows with precision the will of God. And He weaves our longings and God’s will together in harmony.

How He Helps

The Spirit (directly) helps us to pray by interceding for us with groanings too deep for words. What does Paul have in mind here? The word he uses for “groans” just means “sighs,” or literally groans that cannot find articulation. This spirit-aided expression can certainly include glossolalia, if not by design than by default (even if not intended by the text, tongues certainly gives us opportunity to express our deepest longings with the empowered guidance of the Holy Spirit). The only other time this phrase (groans) is used in the NT is when Stephen is describing the deep longing of the Israelites (Acts 7:34) to be freed from captivity. These “groanings,” then, can include anything that expresses great longing: a sigh, a word, a string of words that may or may not make sense… The point is not to emphasize the expression itself, but the activity, the unction, the help of the Holy Spirit behind and with it. The Spirit is active in connecting with and interceding on behalf of our greatest longings. Spiritual prayer (spirit-aided prayer) engages our deepest self; it is not merely a cognitive function.

The Spirit also helps (indirectly) by bringing his influence to bear upon our prayers. By this I mean that we (should) pray with a deliberate awareness of His presence. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:18 that we should “pray in the Spirit an all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Wayne Grudem tells us that “in the Spirit” means “dwelling consciously in the presence of the Holy Spirit Himself, a presence characterized by Godlike qualities of power, love, joy, truth, holiness, righteousness and peace. To pray in the Spirit, then, is to pray with conscious awareness of God’s presence surrounding us.” A conscious awareness of His surrounding presence invites His influence to prevail upon our thoughts and affections. This “helps” us to pray by heating our hearts and minds with Holy affection and insight. Awareness leads to influence.

What His Help Means for Us

First, everyone can and should pray in/by the Spirit. Yes, everyone. There is absolutely no mention in the text here of a learning curve or difficulty. There is no hint of difficulty implied. Nothing in this hope-filled text suggests that one needs to practice to get this right. It is not reserved for the super-spiritual or exceptionally mature. In fact, friends, we only become spiritual BY THE SPIRIT. The Holy Spirit’s help in prayer is the birth-right of every believer. If you’re response is “I don’t know how,” it is probably because you’ve assumed (or been told) that you have to know how. Nope. You don’t have to know how this works. I know there are some who claim to know and offer some formula or another, but just between us – they’re making that up. This works by believing it’s true. Believe, deeply, that the Holy Spirit is helping you to pray, and pray. Practice an awareness of his saturating, surrounding presence, and pray. Trust the Holy Spirit.

Second, every believer can have confidence in their prayers.  You are not praying alone. He’s praying with you. Trust the Holy Spirit. Also, and please re-read this part, your prayers are not being evaluated for accuracy. Go ahead, read that part again. Heaven isn’t measuring the content, syntax, or even the doctrine of your words. Heaven hears the Holy Spirit’s intercession from your heart. God knows what you mean. So, you don’t have to speak well, just release the longings of your heart. Trust the Holy Spirit.

Third, we should always trust the Holy Spirit (you might have caught on to this by now). He is our prayer partner; our senior partner. Truly, we don’t really pray – in a New Testament sense – apart from His active presence and influence. Trust the Holy Spirit. He’s here to help.

Don’t Lose Heart Doing Good



What’s the use? Is there anything more deflating than the sense that what you are doing doesn’t matter? Have you ever felt that way? Or perhaps more accurately, how often do you feel that way? You’re trying to do what is right. You are trying to help. You are making things right. You are making things better – for a friend, a family member, for the whole family, for someone in need, for lots of people in need, for the church, for a stranger. You’re doing what feels like what should be done. You’re making sure, the best you can, things can keep going. You may even be doing what will only get done if you are the one doing it. And you keep doing it. You are doing what is good. And quite possibly, even probably, you get weary.

You are the person the Apostle Paul has in mind when he writes, “…do not grow weary in doing good” (2 Thess. 3:13). It isn’t unusual for Paul to say something like this (Gal. 6:10). He must have known a little something about doing what is good, and a little something about why sometimes we might get weary doing it. I think it might help to look at why we can get weary, and then to consider some rejuvenating truths about our well-doing.

Don’t Lose Heart

First, it might help to look more closely at Paul’s words in the text. He isn’t saying, “don’t get tired,” rather he saying, “don’t lose heart; don’t lose courage.” Paul is not just telling his audience to pound down an energy drink and get back to work. He is not telling us never to rest; he is urging us never to give up. He is speaking to our inner person, to our hearts, because that is the place where we get weary.

Why We Get Weary

We can run out of steam when doing good for several reasons. First, because we may not feel that we’re doing really matters – that it is making a difference. Is anyone or anything changing? Have we made any real progress? The dance of taking two steps forward and three back will wear you out in short order.

Second, we may get weary because we do not feel appreciated. It’s tough to feel like we’re doing what is right, and doing it with all our might, and have it go unnoticed or under-recognized. Right about then we often feel a bit resentful. Or we might wonder if no one is noticing because maybe it doesn’t matter after all. Maybe someone else could or should do this, and maybe do it better, if at all.

Third, we may get weary because we fear running out: out of energy, of resources, of ideas, of money, of time… that there just won’t be enough of what it takes to get it done. Fear of lack can squeeze the courage right out of our hearts.

Weariness, here, is a matter of the heart. Time-outs and time-off won’t help this, but truth will.

How to Overcome Weariness

Let me say that there is nothing wrong – at all – with a good nap. Without sleep the drama-factor increases by a bazillion. Everything feels worse without rest. Rest happens to God’s most natural means of assuaging weariness. So, when you’re tempted to give up, sleep on it and take a fresh look when you wake up.

Second, it is absolutely essential that we do everything unto and for the Lord. Whatever we do, we do it all our might as unto the Lord, and for His glory. There is joy in that. There is strength in that. There is even an assurance that regardless of what I can measure (or cannot measure) what I am doing for (and with) the Lord matters. It matters because He makes it matter. It matters because He is the master architect, builder and artist. He always makes things work out for good. He always uses the most apparently insignificant things to make the biggest difference. He wastes nothing: no person, no resource, no opportunity. There is no way anything we do for the Lord can “not matter.” Hear Paul tell the Corinthian church, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). The message bible says it this way, “being confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.” Don’t get weary – because everything you do for and with Him matters.

Third, let us rest in the deep assurance of Heaven’s praise. It is normal and healthy to enjoy affirmation from others. Positive feedback, appreciation and sincere compliments are morale boosters and courage-builders. God made us this way. It’s one of the reasons that it is urgent that we constantly encourage others. However, people’s praise is often passing. Further, praise from men is hardly the gold-standard of well-doing. Depending on the situation, you could just as easily be despised for doing good. We must do good because we love people, not because we love their praise. All the honor, praise, and reward only matters when heaven says so. We must set our hope on heaven’s praise (2 Cor. 5:9-10), and do good.

So, dear friend, don’t get weary. Don’t lose heart. What you’re doing matters. The Lord sees, records and rewards. Keep up the good work.

Positive Gossip


Gossip is a multi-billion dollar industry, just from the advertisement revenue.
No one admits to gossip; few acknowledge enjoying it. Even fewer appreciate being the subject of gossip.

Here’s the deal: if someone will gossip to you, they’ll gossip about you. And for sanity’s sake, don’t lie to yourself, believing that it’s anything less than ugliness. There is nothing helpful or healthy about gossip. It poisons the heart whether it enters from the lips or the ears.

But since we’ve found ourselves so conditioned to talk about others, here’s an idea: spread positive gossip.

Strike up a conversation by talking about the qualities or actions of a mutual friend or family member that you particularly enjoy or appreciate. Really pile on. And then, speaking of that, be reminded of how terrific someone else is. Then talk about them, too. Be careful – you might get really carried away. You also might fill your heart and mind with exceptional kindness toward and gratitude for others. You might delight the Holy Spirit by agreeing with Him about people He’s a fan of. You also might actually find yourself admitting to someone that you heard some really positive gossip about them.

And the same rule applies – if someone gossips positively to you, they’ll likely gossip positively about you.

Give it a try. Positive gossip may not be profitable, but it’s far and away more beneficial.

Care to share?


Please let me say “thank you” to those who have taken time to read any posts on this blog. I genuinely hope that you’ve found encouragement here. It is my deepest hope to stir and encourage readers, and I would thoroughly enjoy connecting with new ones.

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Thanks again for reading, and thanks for considering to help me share this blog.

Grace to you,
Bryan Davenport

Keep your joy on


Rejoice… for your own good? There is reason a plenty for us to rejoice – to honor God, to encourage others, etc. But I’d like to emphasize how important it is that we abide in joy – that we keep on rejoicing in the Lord – for OUR OWN GOOD.

It is not unusual for Paul to enjoin his audience to rejoice (Philippians 4:4, I Thess. 5:16). When he does, he urges their joy always. Paul’s priority of and purpose for joy is revealed in his letter to the church at Philippi (Philippians 3:1).  Here’s an augmented translation of Paul’s counsel there:  “Whatever happens, from here forward, keep on rejoicing in the Lord. I never grow weary of telling you this; I tell you for your own good, for your strength, to safeguard your faith.”

Believers should rejoice in the Lord, and keep on rejoicing, for their own good. Why should we be so serious about joy? Consider the following reasons:

To rejoice in the Lord is to agree with truth

When I rejoice, I am agreeing with heaven. I am saying “yes” to the truth of God’s nature—His Goodness, loving kindness, faithfulness, wisdom, and power.  When I rejoice, I am also responding to and agreeing with the glad consequences of the finished work of Jesus. It is finished; I am glad. Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before him (Heb. 12:2) – the joy on the other side of the cross. I am glad to be on that side with him, the joy side. When I rejoice, I am agreeing with the promises of God—all that He has promised to be and do for us in Christ. I rejoice because, like Paul, I know that God is causing all things to work together for my good (Rom. 8:28). That is grin-worthy.

Not incidentally, by recognizing that joy is agreement with heaven helps me see that joy – rejoicing – is a heart posture and mindset. It need not be loud or wild, it need only gratefully agree with truth. Joy is agreeing with Heaven.

Furthermore, I can (and should) agree with heaven anytime, all the time. Too often in times of frustration, crisis, and heartache it is easy to forfeit joy. I might argue, “Hey – this is a tragedy and no place for joy for cryin’ out loud!” But I would be wrong. Because Joy is agreeing with heaven. In crisis, joy looks like hope. In heartache, joy looks like compassion. In conflict, joy looks like gentleness and love and patience and forgiveness.  Even in broken-hearted grief, joy may mourn, but “not like those who have no hope” (I Thess. 4:13). I bring my joy with me into hard times, because there is no greater need for heaven than when we hurt. Keep on rejoicing – for your own good!

To rejoice is to strengthen ourselves

There are few things more devastating than despair, and the slow drain of discouragement can leave us empty. Melancholy moods, ambivalent attitudes and the drip-drip-drip of negative thoughts and words weaken our soul. We are left unprepared for challenge, distracted by the unimportant, and confused as to why we feel so grumpy.

The joy of the Lord, on the other hand (the joy that comes from Him and in response to Him), is our strength (Neh. 8:10). Joy strengthens our soul. Joy lifts our attitudes and sweetens our demeanor. Joy makes us optimistic and resilient. Joy gives us strength to endure, to overcome, and lets us enjoy the ride. We are most powerful when we are most joyful. Keep on rejoicing – for your own good!

Hope is a byproduct of joy

Without hope, faith is dormant. Faith is the substance, the currency, of things hoped for. Without a resilient hope, our faith isn’t reaching for or laying hold of anything. Robust faith requires resplendent hope. This kind of hope is produced and protected by joy. Paul prayed in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you will all JOY and peace in believing so that you will OVERFLOW with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Overflowing hope is the product of being filled with joy. Hope thrives in the atmosphere of joy. Keep on rejoicing. For your own good!

Rejoicing repels the ugly and unhelpful

When I rejoice, I reject and displace other things that produce nothing good. Joy cannot coexist with ugly attitudes. Joy will not abide anxiety. Joy is not irritable. Joy is never pessimistic. This makes perfect sense when I remember that joy is agreeing with heaven, with truth. My mind is never as clear and calm as when truth is prevailing there. Joy keeps truth in pole position. For those who might struggle to overcome unholy habits or unhelpful behaviors, I boldly prescribe joy. You’ve probably tried to beat yourself up, struggled to abstain, or maybe even flicked a rubber band on your wrist. Behavioral modification might work on puppies, but joy is heaven’s antidote to your angst.

Rejoicing 101

What’s that look like? Well, there’s not much complexity to it. If I begin with the conviction that rejoicing is agreeing with truth – then I can simply decide to rejoice in whatever expression I choose. Seriously. Sometimes I just smile really big on purpose. (Smiling actually sends signals to and through your brain that triggers natural pleasant and happy feelings.) Sometimes I will breathe in deeply and find something to give thanks for or just begin to praise God. Most often, however, rejoicing is as easy letting out a good chuckle. Seriously LOL. “Hey Dav, I don’t want be fake.” No one does, and rejoicing never is – because it always agrees with truth. And furthermore, why would you feel so obligated to be loyal to a bad mood? What’s that bad mood ever done for you? So, laugh out loud. Laughing is worship. Laughing is agreeing with the Lord of the Cosmos. Laughing is celebrating the finished work of Jesus. Laugh with God. Rejoice.

Finally, in those moments when smiles and laughter are not on the menu, don’t forfeit joy – never do that. Rather, quiet your heart. In silent reflection, remember who God is, what Christ has done, what God has promised to be and do for us, and place your trust in His nature. And let your heart rejoice in Him.

Joy will protect your thoughts, guard your heart, strengthen your soul, sweeten your spirits, promote great hope, and keep you in agreement with Heaven.

Keep your joy on, for your own good.