Had to talk one more time of God’s care and protection coming from His character of unconditional love – read it on 66 Books.
I have really enjoyed looking at “hope” this year. Most of the time it was leaping off the pages and only a few times I struggled to find it in between the love letters I read each day from God.
It is my prayer that you also enjoyed your experience with God this past year and pray that you would consider joining me in 2018 as I take a different journey with His Word.
After 33 years of marriage, my wife and I still attend the odd marriage course that we feel will create growth and healthy change in our lives. Such was the case when we enrolled in one our church initiated courses that used the material from Paul David Tripp from his book, What did you expect?
As a result, I have felt led to look at my marriage this coming new year and to take action steps to cherish my wife every single day. I believe that our marriages represent the same relationship as the Trinity, I really am not where I need to be.
Please follow me if you can – https://evanlaar2018.wordpress.com/ – I look forward to having you with me on this new journey of a very specific hope.
Jehoshaphat is with Ahab and they are determining whether to go to war with Aram. The prophets of Baal has decided that this is the right course of action and it will end in success. Jehoshaphat wants to know if there is a prophet of the Lord that could inquire from God whether or not to go to war.
If one is hoping for the truth, the Lord will provide it. If one is looking for understanding, the Lord will provide it. If one is looking for clarity, the Lord will provide it. The word of the Lord is hope because it is living, true and crystal clear.
Poor Micaiah, he delivers such a message and is detained in prison as a result. All the prophets of God in these days seem to meet that same fate of being put into a position of no value even though they are speaking about true hope. Ezekiel and Jeremiah would face the same in the next generation of prophets.
Somewhere around 600 B.C. Jeremiah would be dealing with those in Jerusalem while Ezekiel, having already been deported, was in Babylonia.
Ezekiel was already being called by the Lord to give hope to the captives souls. Even though he had prophesied the fall of Jerusalem and when the news hit the exiles they realized the reality of those words – Ezekiel was called to cast a beam of light on another part of their future known only to God – they were messages of hope.
God used the metaphor of Himself being a compassionate shepherd looking after the wandering individual as well as His scattered people. Interesting that this was a backdrop for the references Jesus made to Israel as lost sheep and to Himself as the Good Shepherd. These were the messages of hope Ezekiel gave.
O hope of Israel! O Lord!
All who forsake you shall be put to shame;
those who turn away from you[a] shall be recorded in the underworld,[b]
for they have forsaken the fountain of living water, the Lord. – Jeremiah 17:13
Jeremiah says it even more clearly.
In English a “Jeremiah” is a person given to woeful complaining but, in fact, for all the denunciations of his people, Jeremiah sounds a note of encouragement and of hope.
If you are looking for direction, an honest assessment of right and wrong, clear direction and instruction, put your hope in the Word of the Lord. It will always direct your path and fill you with hope.
But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no other prophet of the Lord here of whom we may inquire?” – 1 Kings 22:7
At some point Ahab will be a leadership study for me on how OT characters are an example of putting God as priority in their lives. My daily devotions this week have been on Ahab and until this morning there was not much there.
Ahab, the most wicked king of Israel, has given all of us hope and incentive to humble ourselves before the Lord.
Our only hope is in Christ – our true source of humility. God continues to bring out meekness in me and somehow our world needs more of that these days.
While Ahab did not regard Elijah as a friend, in reality, he was his best friend and best hope. Jezebel, his wife, was not so much a friend as he thought. We are the best friends for many of those in leadership today. They might not see it and that is too bad, but we are the hope for many. It is why Jesus calls us salt and light. Once we are removed, and unfortunately some of us will be, we will be missed.
In our message to this world, we look at sin and divine judgment, but let us remember through the humbling of Ahab, that there is another message – mercy. If we are going to preach divine judgment, do it with hope and if we are going to promise mercy, remember to give the Gospel warning regarding repentance.
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster on his house.” – 1 Kings 21:28-29
It is a special place to be in when you find yourself content in a marriage that is loveless or a job where you are treated like dirt. It would seem that there is no hope – and yet there is.
I have talked with many who find themselves depressed, taking a blue “happy” pill and others have given up on God because He has not come through for them. These individuals have gone their own way – divorce, adultery, and loss of opportunity for advancement in the workplace. They have simply decided that there is no hope.
Maybe it is because I grew up as a follower of Christ in a very dysfunctional home that I have found myself centred in Him – and He has become my place of contentment. I can live in a loveless home because I am with Him. I can work in a place without respect because I am with Him. I can be anywhere, anytime, in whatever situation, because I am with Him.
I am reading the biography of Samuel Lamb, a Chinese pastor who went through 25 years of torture for his faith. He was able to sustain hope in himself and give hope to others that were with him because he found himself in relationship with Jesus through it all.
When I counsel followers of Christ who are so lost, and have no hope, that they want to end their life – this is the portion of scripture I use. There is only one safe place in this whole world – it is with Jesus – remain in Him.
Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever.[c] For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters. In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters,[d] there remain with God. – 1 Corinthians 7:21-24
While God steps into Elijah’s world on top of Mount Carmel and declares an end to the three-year drought, it appears that a spiritual revival is just around the corner as the people killed all the prophets of Baal – healing has come and hope has been restored.
Elijah sees something different. He sees that his life is now in danger and since he is the only person left on earth who is following God, faith is deceased and the people of Israel are lost. Elijah is driven to despair.
The God of hope takes Elijah under His wing and looks after him. He has to remind Elijah of who He is. Elijah still is looking at God as the one who sends fire down from heaven and consumes the sacrifice, He is the one who has a cloud the size of a man’s fist coming up out of the sea and in matters of hours a torrential downpour ensues.
No, God speaks in the power of silence, His voice crystal clear, succinct. He reminds Elijah in that very holy moment – there are 7,000 who bow their knew only to Him – all is not lost – there is hope for there is God.
Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him. – 1 Kings 19:18
Many times I have been asked to pray for people to be healed. I can tell you that I suck in my breath, pray and hope – but every single time the person has not had a miraculous recovery. I even wonder why people ask me to pray.
I can imagine Elijah on Mount Carmel asking God to send fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice. I do not think the challenge was all that big to him. The fact that he doused the sacrifice and the entire altar with water showed that he believed God was God and could definitely light up the sacrifice from heaven. But somewhere he had to be hoping that him and God were in good standing together and that there was nothing (sin) between them. Elijah needed God to respond.
He needed God to respond because if He did not, Elijah would have been dead. Instead of bringing that up, Elijah decides to go after God’s honour instead. Elijah new that God had to respond because the lives of the people were at stake. Then he thought – well no – they had all kinds of miracles take place, story after story, and yet they rejected God to follow idols that allowed them to be selfish, perverse, and not be accountable to any god but themselves.
Desperate hope made Elijah come and kneel before God, call Him by the title used by people of Israel and he asked for two things – for God to be glorified and he would be acknowledged as a servant of God. Best kind of prayer that one could hope God would respond to.
I have started to pray that way too – God be glorified by doing the miraculous when it comes to praying for a healing. Still nothing has happened, but I keep hoping because that is what hope does.
At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” – 1 Kings 18:36-37
For all those who have waited and hoped in God to take care of those who have sinned against you and Him – Amos the prophet is pretty clear in stated that God has not forgotten you and has not forgotten what others have done to you.
You may at some point come to a place where you have forgiven or have prayed for your enemies. Yes, God may have stayed His hand for a time, but He will have vengeance against those who have been against Him and His people.
Because of His promises, we do not have to take on the burden of responsibility to judge. Our task is to love. We can however hope that God will intercede and see our tears and hold those accountable who have caused us so much pain. While we are released from our pain, and God has heard our prayers, He will not hold back His punishment. As Amos clearly states four times, He remembers and those who have stepped into His path will be punished.
Thus says the Lord:
For three transgressions of Damascus,
and for four, I will not revoke the punishment;[b]
because they have threshed Gilead
with threshing sledges of iron.- Amos 1:3
Have you ever messed up so bad you just didn’t think there was any hope of getting out of the terrible situation in which you had placed yourself?
In Hosea’s day the people really messed up – idol worship, mistreating one another, lying, stealing and being violent against each other – even so, there is a glimmer of hope in chapter eleven that Jesus was coming to deliver His people.
“Life seems darkest when we see the reality of our sin. How dark it is in the light of God’s holiness!…But we have hope because we have forgiveness. We know that Christ shed His blood for the forgiveness of our sins, … And we know our consciences are cleansed by this same blood. Rejoice!” – Kay Arthur
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them up in my[c] arms;
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with bands of love.
I was to them like those
who lift infants to their cheeks.[d]
I bent down to them and fed them. – Hosea 11:3-4
If you find yourself hoping in the Lord and waiting for Him – you know that you love Him. Our Old Testament friends could not have known the things you and I know about Jesus.
My plans and thoughts may not be what God wants for me – that is not discouraging – I have hope that He has plans for me that I could never imagine. An adventure awaits.
Jesus will not leave us, it is because of Him that we anticipate heaven. Our hope does not come because of our good character or service, and we definitely have not earned the right to enter heaven. We will be with Jesus only because of our faith in His sacrifice on the cross.
But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the human heart conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him” – 2 Corinthians 2:9