Gather His elect

My wife reminded my son and by being in earshot of the comment, she reminded me too, that all of us have been chosen by God – we did not choose Him.

So when we talk about the coming of Jesus, for the second time, and not as a babe but as a King with power, He is coming for only one reason – to bring home those whom He has called.

He gave us a bit of a heads up in Mark on what that day may look like, even sound like.  It is a rather emotionally strong convicted passage that really describes just how we cannot survive, even the best of us with the strongest faith, and keep the hope that we have in Him as a burning light within our souls.

While I am thinking of Christmas with my family, I am praying for peace.  I pray that when we face the reality of death, that we will be rejoicing in the hope we have of eternal life because of Christ’s death and resurrection and His promise to come again and take us home.

Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.  Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. – Mark 13:26-27

on christ the solid rock i stand

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It is not you who speak

O Almighty God, please give me the courage to speak up for Jesus with grace and boldness trusting that your Spirit will give me the right words and attitude to share my hope with those who do not yet know your grace given in Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.

Do you really believe that you are speaking the truth? Do you really believe that this is the word of God? Do you really have the hope of life in Christ?

As for yourselves, beware; for they will hand you over to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them.  And the good news[b] must first be proclaimed to all nations.  When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.– Mark 13:9-11

God of the living

Having just completed two months of small group study on Kevin DeYoung’s book – Taking God at His word – having the right knowledge of Scripture is the fountain from where our faith is built and the surest way to step away from error.  When we confuse ourselves with matters of the world of spirits like the Sadducees when they confronted Jesus on the resurrection, we do so with a world sense. Abraham’s soul does exist even though it is currently separated from his body.  As my pastor shared this past Sunday – this is a dying world – let’s pass through it with a joyful hope of a glorious resurrection and eternal life.

You will notice in life those who do not believe in the resurrection.  They put their hope in this world.  Their “let’s party” mentality puts their rather tall building on shaky ground and they become slaves to their fear of death and unfortunately, live their life without purpose and meaning.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[a] Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live – John 11:25

For this, Jesus died and lived again. Praise the Lord!

 Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?  For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.  And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?  He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.” – Mark 12:24-27

Tim Hughes – Everything

Acknowledge our guilt

When people start complaining more about their sin in their life as opposed to what ails them, there is the beginning of hope for them, for they will start to seek God.  As they seek God in earnest and with sincerity, they will find Him and He will be a refuge.  With God, there is redemption for everyone who calls on His name – these is peace only where God is.

Hosea tries to lay that out for us in verse fifteen of chapter five reminding us of the hope made available for us but it is conditional. There has to be an acknowledging of guilt and there has to be a seeking of God.

Even in the very middle of a promise of impending judgment there is a note of hope. The hope of mercy for those who will turn from their “idols” to the Lord. It is the same God who made the promise of judgment as the one who offers hope through His mercy and grace.  There is a cost for this all and Jesus Himself would offer Himself in our place to be judged for our sin.

I will return again to my place
    until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face.
    In their distress they will beg my favor – Hosea 5:15

Hosanna

The word hosanna comes from a Hebrew word meaning “save now” or “save us, we pray.”  By saying “hosanna” as Jesus passed through the gates of Jerusalem, the Jews were acknowledging Jesus as their Messiah. The Jews had been waiting a long time  and their shouts of “hosanna in the highest” indicated the hope that their Messiah had finally come to set up God’s kingdom then and there.

The hope of the people have been in a state of expectation. 

Another group of pilgrims was arriving in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, and those already there were shouting the traditional welcome: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The words are from Psalm 118:26 – a Psalm which is often heard at the Feast of Tabernacles. It was a festive hope that perhaps ‘this year’ the ‘Son of David’ would arrive to conquer Israel’s enemies.

All the people shouting recalled all the good things Jesus had done: healing their sicknesses, planting the word of life and hope in them, raising the dead, and giving sight to the blind Genuine thanksgiving and love and worship began to rise up in their hearts. They broke into a chorus of praise

“Hosanna!
    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
     Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!” – Mark 11:9-10

Hosanna (Praise Is Rising) – Brenton Brown, Paul Baloche

Have mercy on me

Have you ever felt desperate? A walk through hospital intensive care units reveals desperate people hoping for some respite in their need. Scattered throughout communities, desperate people hope against hope for some financial crisis to be remedied or a broken marriage to be mended or a wayward child to return safely home. Desperation is part of human existence. The size of one’s bank account or position in life doesn’t matter; desperation can dog anyone’s steps.

Bartimaeus had heard of Jesus and his miracles, and learning that he was passing by, hoped to recover his eyesight. In coming to Christ for help and healing, we should look to him as the promised Messiah. The gracious calls Christ gives us to come to him, encourage our hope, that if we come to him we shall have what we come for. – Matthew Henry

You are not alone.
You have hope.
You can get help.

Having expectations is important.  Expecting something good is essential for a believing heart.  Without it we will put restrictions on our hope. Bartimaeus – his cost for hoping in Jesus? – his beggar’s coat and all the money he had collected.

Instinctively, as if he is aware that his only hope is passing by. 

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” – Mark 10:46-47

Called Me Higher w/ Lyrics (All Sons & Daughters)

A little child

When we look at how Jesus loved the little children that parents brought to Him for a blessing, how do we get our own priority rightly aligned with Him – our only hope is in Jesus.

This episode with the children teaches us to hope – He graciously received these children and He has not forgotten us.  As we commit ourselves to being followers of Jesus, let us be disposed to become as little children. 

With the amiable simplicity of children, let’s put ourselves into the hands of Jesus and refer ourselves to His pastoral and parental care.  May we be born again by His Spirit and formed anew by His grace.  Only then can we participate in the inheritance and become children of God through the resurrection.

When we become helpless we become hopeful.  Jesus sees those coming as children as those who belong to the kingdom of God.  They come to Jesus with the help of others.  There is hope and expectation when we talk about being part of the family of God.  We do not know all that we need, but we know we need the help of others.  We may bring nothing ourselves but empty hands – actually, empty hands can be filled.

If our attitude in this world is to – expect the worst, hope for the best – we need this message today.  The more we trust and believe by faith, the more we will begin to live in the freedom that God is in control.

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them.  But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.  Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”  And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. – Mark 10:13-16

This Little Child – Scott Wesley Brown

A door of hope

… taken from MacLaren’s Exposition of Hosea 2:15

The Prophet Hosea is remarkable for the frequent use which he makes of events in the former history of his people. Their past seems to him a mirror in which they may read their future. He believes that ‘which is to be hath already been,’ the great principles of the divine government living on through all the ages, and issuing in similar acts when the circumstances are similar. So he foretells that there will yet be once more a captivity and a bondage, that the old story of the wilderness will be repeated once more. In that wilderness God will speak to the heart of Israel. Its barrenness shall be changed into the fruitfulness of vineyards, where the purpling clusters hang ripe for the thirsty travellers. And not only will the sorrows that He sends thus become sources of refreshment, but the gloomy gorge through which they journey-the valley of Achor-will be a door of hope.

One word is enough to explain the allusion. You remember that after the capture of Jericho by Joshua, the people were baffled in their first attempt to press up through the narrow defile that led from the plain of Jordan to the highlands of Canaan. Their defeat was caused by the covetousness of Achan, who for the sake of some miserable spoil which he found in a tent, broke God’s laws, and drew down shame on Israel’s ranks When the swift, terrible punishment on him had purged the camp, victory again followed their assault, and Achan lying stiff and stark below his cairn, they pressed on up the glen to their task of conquest. The rugged valley, where that defeat and that sharp act of justice took place, was named in memory thereof, the valley of Achor, that is, trouble; and our Prophet’s promise is that as then, so for all future ages, the complicity of God’s people with an evil world will work weakness and defeat, but that, if they will be taught by their trouble and will purge themselves of the accursed thing, then the disasters will make a way for hope to come to them again. The figure which conveys this is very expressive. The narrow gorge stretches before us, with its dark overhanging cliffs that almost shut out the sky; the path is rough and set with sharp pebbles; it is narrow, winding, steep; often it seems to be barred by some huge rock that juts across it, and there is barely room for the broken ledge yielding slippery footing between the beetling crag above and the steep slope beneath that dips so quickly to the black torrent below. All is gloomy, damp, hard; and if we look upwards the glen becomes more savage as it rises, and armed foes hold the very throat of the pass. But, however long, however barren, however rugged, however black, however trackless, we may see if we will, a bright form descending the rocky way with radiant eyes and calm lips, God’s messenger, Hope; and the rough rocks are like the doorway through which she comes near to us in our weary struggle. For us all, dear friends, it is true. In all our difficulties and sorrows, be they great or small; in our business perplexities; in the losses that rob our homes of their light; in the petty annoyances that diffuse their irritation through so much of our days; it is within our power to turn them all into occasions for a firmer grasp of God, and so to make them openings by which a happier hope may flow into our souls.

But the promise, like all God’s promises, has its well-defined conditions. Achan has to be killed and put safe out of the way first, or no shining Hope will stand out against the black walls of the defile. The tastes which knit us to the perishable world, the yearnings for Babylonish garments and wedges of gold, must be coerced and subdued. Swift, sharp, unrelenting justice must be done on the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, if our trials are ever to become doors of hope. There is no natural tendency in the mere fact of sorrow and pain to make God’s love more discernible, or to make our hope any firmer. All depends on how we use the trial, or as I say-first stone Achan, and then hope!

So, the trouble which detaches us from earth gives us new hope. Sometimes the effect of our sorrows and annoyances and difficulties is to rivet us more firmly to earth. The eye has a curious power, which they call persistence of vision, of retaining the impression made upon it, and therefore of seeming to see the object for a definite time after it has really been withdrawn. If you whirl a bit of blazing stick round, you will see a circle of fire though there is only a point moving rapidly in the circle. The eye has its memory like the soul. And the soul has its power of persistence like the eye, and that power is sometimes kindled into activity by the fact of loss. We often see our departed joys, and gaze upon them all the more eagerly for their departure. The loss of dear ones should stamp their image on our hearts, and set it as in a golden glory. But it sometimes does more than that; it sometimes makes us put the present with its duties impatiently away from us. Vain regret, absorbed brooding over what is gone, a sorrow kept gaping long after it should have been healed, like a grave-mound off which desperate love has pulled turf and flowers, in the vain attempt to clasp the cold hand below-in a word, the trouble that does not withdraw us from the present will never be a door of hope, but rather a grim gate for despair to come in at.

The trouble which knits us to God gives us new hope. That bright form which comes down the narrow valley is His messenger and herald-sent before His face. All the light of hope is the reflection on our hearts of the light of God. Her silver beams, which shed quietness over the darkness of earth, come only from that great Sun. If our hope is to grow out of our sorrow, it must be because our sorrow drives us to God. It is only when we by faith stand in His grace, and live in the conscious fellowship of peace with Him, that we rejoice in hope. If we would see Hope drawing near to us, we must fix our eyes not on Jericho that lies behind among its palm-trees, though it has memories of conquests, and attractions of fertility and repose, nor on the corpse that lies below that pile of stones, nor on the narrow way and the strong enemy in front there; but higher up, on the blue sky that spreads peaceful above the highest summits of the pass, and from the heavens we shall see the angel coming to us. Sorrow forsakes its own nature, and leads in its own opposite, when sorrow helps us to see God. It clears away the thick trees, and lets the sunlight into the forest shades, and then in time corn will grow. Hope is but the brightness that goes before God’s face, and if we would see it we must look at Him.

The trouble which we bear rightly with God’s help, gives new hope. If we have made our sorrow an occasion for learning, by living experience, somewhat more of His exquisitely varied and ever ready power to aid and bless, then it will teach us firmer confidence in these inexhaustible resources which we have thus once more proved, ‘Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope.’ That is the order. You cannot put patience and experience into a parenthesis, and omitting them, bring hope out of tribulation. But if, in my sorrow, I have been able to keep quiet because I have had hold of God’s hand, and if in that unstruggling submission I have found that from His hand I have been upheld, and had strength above mine own infused into me, then my memory will give the threads with which Hope weaves her bright web. I build upon two things-God’s unchangeableness, and His help already received; and upon these strong foundations I may wisely and safely rear a palace of Hope, which shall never prove a castle in the air. The past, when it is God’s past, is the surest pledge for the future. Because He has been with us in six troubles, therefore we may be sure that in seven He will not forsake us. I said that the light of hope was the brightness from the face of God. I may say again, that the light of hope which fills our sky is like that which, on happy summer nights, lives till morning in the calm west, and with its colourless, tranquil beauty, tells of a yesterday of unclouded splendour, and prophesies a to-morrow yet more abundant. The glow from a sun that is set, the experience of past deliverances, is the truest light of hope to light our way through the night of life.

One of the psalms gives us, in different form, a metaphor and a promise substantially the same as that of this text. ‘Blessed are the men who, passing through the valley of weeping, make it a well.’ They gather their tears, as it were, into the cisterns by the wayside, and draw refreshment and strength from their very sorrows, and then, when thus we in our wise husbandry have irrigated the soil with the gathered results of our sorrows, the heavens bend over us, and weep their gracious tears, and ‘the rain also covereth it with blessings.’ No chastisement for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness.’

Then, dear friends, let us set ourselves with our loins girt to the road. Never mind how hard it may be to climb. The slope of the valley of trouble is ever upwards. Never mind how dark is the shadow of death which stretches athwart it. If there were no sun there would be no shadow; presently the sun will be right overhead, and there will be no shadow then. Never mind how black it may look ahead, or how frowning the rocks. From between their narrowest gorge you may see, if you will, the guide whom God has sent you, and that Angel of Hope will light up all the darkness, and will only fade away when she is lost in the sevenfold brightness of that upper land, whereof our ‘God Himself is Sun and Moon’-the true Canaan, to whose everlasting mountains the steep way of life has climbed at last through valleys of trouble, and of weeping, and of the shadow of death.

 

Therefore, I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.  From there I will give her her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she shall respond as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.  On that day, says the Lord, you will call me, “My husband,” and no longer will you call me, “My Baal.”  For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more.  I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety.  And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy.  I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.  On that day I will answer, says the Lord, I will answer the heavens and they shall answer the earth; and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel;  and I will sow him for myself in the land. And I will have pity on Lo-ruhamah, and I will say to Lo-ammi, “You are my people”; and he shall say, “You are my God.” Hosea 2:14-23

Justin Rizzo – Ever Present Help

Follow me

In our weekly small group this was greeted with a warm response – we will follow Jesus.  But what does it mean when Jesus defines what following Him looks like – deny yourself and take up your cross?  The room was very silent.

If our message to the Church is about following Jesus, many will follow.  If it includes taking up our cross we will lose some.  Even I get embarrassed sometimes, just like those who were with the blind man who called our Jesus’ name as loud as he could. It was this kind of hope from the blind man who saved him, not the embarrassed and ashamed people around him.

For in[a] hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes[b] for what is seen? – Romans 8:24

Someone came up with some hope values and one of them was generosity – “we love to give up things we love for the things God loves”.

Ultimately, to the Christian, this following of Jesus becomes the hope of heaven, since our leader has gone there (Heb. 6:19-20): but first comes the cross (Mark, p. 207). – Alan Cole

The hope of future glory encourages disciples amidst present suffering while following Jesus.
Following Jesus means that our joy and hope of a harvest of glory comes with our minds made up to sacrifice and to die to this world.  It is in the dying that we find life.

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?  Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?  Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”– Mark 8:34-38

You Are Mine – David Haas

 

Your reward

Those without hope of eternal life try to avoid the reality of death. They are, in fact, enslaved by the fear of death. Great amounts of money and effort are spent to conceal the ugly face of death. 

Death prompts each of us to get to the “bottom line” of what life is all about and what comes after death. Daniel chapter 12 speaks of death and of the believer’s hope beyond the grave.

No doubt, those in the Old Testament who received promises of God and those who spoke the word of God must have struggled with the idea of a suffering and ultimately dying Messiah.   How can the promised blessing of biblical prophecy bring hope to the believer who will die before they are fulfilled? There is only one way—resurrection. The promises of God which are not fulfilled in this life are fulfilled in the next. Resurrection is the means by which people pass from time to eternity.

Daniel 12 takes the believer to the high-water mark of Christian hope—the assurance of the resurrection of the dead. 

Of Daniel’s own prophetic word, he would be agitated by none of these troubles – disturbed by none of these changes, for he would peacefully slumber in the hope of being awaken in the resurrection. 

The hope of such a resurrection soothed the mind of Daniel in view of all the troubles which he then experienced, and of all the darkness which rested on the future, for what we most want in the troubles and in the darkness of the present life is the assurance that, after having “rested” in the grave – in the calm sleep of the righteous – we shall “awake” in the morning of the resurrection, and shall “stand in our lot” – or in our appropriate place, as the acknowledged children of God, “at the end of days” – when time shall be no more, and when the consummation of all things shall have arrived.

But you, go your way, and rest; you shall rise for your reward at the end of the days.  Daniel 12:13

Christ Is Enough – Hillsong Worship