Our hope

Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. – Romans 12:12

In our anticipation of the second coming of Jesus we need His own advice to pray always and to hope.  This is our attitude and our posture while we wait.  Paul echos Jesus comments and reminds us that with the approaching second coming there will be persecution.  Jesus was concerned knowing the enormous challenges that His disciples would face in the days leading to His trial and crucifixion, but it was His message to them as well that if they persecuted Him, they would do the same to them.  They would be opposed and marginalized – tempted to lose hope.

Jesus even wondered at the end of His parable of the judge whether He would find anyone with faith – in other words, anyone who had not given up hope and who continue to be persistent in prayer.

But our citizenship[a] is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. – Philippians 3:20

Considering that our citizenship is in heaven and that is where we will finally fit in – we know this world is not our home.  We are strangers longing for home. Our hope is not in social programs, or politics – our hope is in the second coming of Jesus.  To come and make all things new, to put an end to sin and death, for a glorified body rid of sickness and decay – our hope is to see Jesus.

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.  He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people.  In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.’  For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’ ”  And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.  And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?  I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” – Luke 18:1-8

OUR HOPE (O GOD, OUR HELP) – Nicole Elsey/Robert Sterling

Our Hope

 

Left with hope and confidence

When the ten lepers were considering their approach to Jesus, it would seem by their cry for mercy, that they were filled with expectant faith.  And when Jesus asked them to go and show themselves to the priests before He healed them, I believe they left Jesus with rising hopes and confidence. Knowing how we think, I wonder how long into their journey did they talk about looking foolish in front of the priests.

We are not told too much about how they responded or engaged in conversation after meeting Jesus.  But when hope is on the line and there is absolutely nothing to lose, the tendency is that you will do what you have to do.  Worse, when your self-talk goes from being silent and contained to being verbal and spoken out loud and that self-talk comes from an unhealthy source, you find ways to fail, to lose.  One can only pray and hope that someone will stay focused and remind every one – “I don’t know, but we must obey.”

The only hope of healing is Jesus Christ and God’s mercy

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee.  As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance,  they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice.  He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.  Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?  Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” – Luke 17:11-19

The Everlasting God

helenkeller1

Hebrews 11:1

The Blessed (Hope) Confidence

NOTHING CAN BE DONE WITHOUT HOPE AND CONFIDENCE

The Eleven Major Differences That Hope and Confidence Create

Faith, Trust, Hope, Confidence, Love, Attitude. What’s the difference? 

 

Future favour

Parable of the Manager…

I have always heard the interpretation of this story as one where the manager does act dishonestly, but is commended for quick thinking and action in the face of a crisis.  There seems to be a call for the commended act – to be imitated.

Problem with that is if this manager does act dishonestly, it actually doesn’t make sense that he would have hope for future employment from those who benefitted from his dishonesty since they would have all the reason to suppose that he would cheat them as well.  It would seem unlikely that this story would be told as an example of those who act dishonestly to have anything to do with the Kingdom of God. In fact, the manager does everything contrary to Jesus’ teachings as the manager clearly is thinking only of himself when he should have been setting aside his own self-interest, which is this case was set up as self-preservation (with no repentance).

It is safe to say that there was a relationship problem between the manager and his employer.  There might even be a note of laziness as we see the manager resolving his crisis – possible that the manager has not obtained sufficient return and for that has lost his job.  With that attitude moving forward, why not further the losses and then hope to find favour with the customers so as to win favour for employment once his termination is effective – turning his inefficiency into an imagery of being a Robin Hood.

“There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property.  So he summoned him and said to him, “What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’  Then the manager said to himself, “What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg.  I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’  So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, “How much do you owe my master?’  He answered, “A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, “Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’  Then he asked another, “And how much do you owe?’ He replied, “A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, “Take your bill and make it eighty.’  And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. – Luke 16:1-8

Present Privilege and Future Favour

Promises of future favour and prosperity

 

God will respond to your prayer

People pray because they need to.  We know that without God’s grace and favour, we may not be delivered from that need.  To pray is to expect that things will change.  Even though we may not see it coming to pass in the immediate, just by knowing that God has heard our prayer, there is hope that He will respond.

We must not think that when godly men and women at their parting or otherwise, desire our prayers, and say, “I pray you pray for me,” or, “remember me in your prayers,” that these are words of course (though I do not deny, but that many do so use them, and so doing they take the name of God in vain); but we should be persuaded, that out of the abundance of their feeling of their own wants they speak unto us, and so be willing by our prayers to help to supply them. This duty of prayer ought to be carefully performed when we have promised it unto any upon such notice of their estate. For as all promises ought to be kept, yea, though it be to our own hindrance, so those most of all that so nearly concern them. And as if when any should desire us to speak to some great man for them, and we promise to do it, and they trust to it, hoping that we will be as good as our words; it were a great deceit in us to fail them, and so to frustrate their expectation; so when any have desired us to speak to God for them, and upon our promise they would comfort themselves over it, if we should by negligence deceive them, it were a great fault in us, and that which the Lord would require at our hands, though they should never know of it. Therefore, as we ought daily to pray one for another unasked, as our Saviour Christ hath taught us, “O our Father which art in heaven,” etc., so more especially and by name should we do it for them that have desired it of us. And so parents especially should not forget their children in their prayers, which daily ask their blessing, and hope to be blessed of God by their prayers. Secondarily, if we should neglect to pray for them that have desired it at our hands, how could we have any hope that others whom we have desired to pray for us should perform that duty unto us? Nay, might not we justly fear that they would altogether neglect it, seeing we do neglect them? and should it not be just with God so to punish us? according to the saying of our Saviour Christ, “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Matthew 7:2. And I remember that this was the saying of a reverend father in the church, who is now fallen asleep in the Lord, when any desired him to pray for them (as many did, and more than any that I have known), he would say unto them, “I pray you, pray for me, and pray that I may remember you, and then I hope I shall not forget you.” Therefore if we would have others pray for us, let us pray for them.—Nicholas Bownd.

The LORD answer you in the day of trouble! The name of the God of Jacob protect you!  May he send you help from the sanctuary, and give you support from Zion!  May he remember all your offerings, and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! [Selah]  May he grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfil all your plans!  May we shout for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfil all your petitions! – Psalm 20:1-5

DOES GOD ANSWER OUR PRAYERS?

 

Radical faith

I had the opportunity of being involved with the production of the Gospel of John. I remember being in the audience during TIFF and seeing the movie for the first time.  Jesus was extreme.  I realized from John’s perspective that is why Jesus requires extreme. Jesus is not one to go half way – it is not  a lukewarm faith. If it is radical it is a radical faith of salvation, transformation, compassion, forgiveness and hope.  Following Christ is everything – it is powerful and thereby, compelling – there is nothing else.

The movie made me think twice about whether or not I would have been a follower Christ if I lived during His time on earth.  It takes courage to live the gospel.  Technically, you live a life of dying even before you die.  Courage is to move forward in hope knowing only one basic truth – whether I live or die, I am His.

That is why our past no longer defines who we are.  We are made new in Christ. My identity is no longer tied to anyone I have associated myself with, nor my experiences in life that I have lived without Christ and most unnerving is that I am no longer identified by my own family.  I am a follower of Christ, defined by the work I am called to do today and for my future hope.

The temptation is to disciple based on a formula or process – a project.  But the person being discipled cannot count on me – they must on their own, come to a place where they renounce all for God.  Looking at the hope of God’s coming reign requires us to look at it through the cross, resurrection, ascension and the power of Pentecost. Renunciation is the beginning, but the first gift is really the call and the hope for the journey.

Why do you fear to take up the cross when through it you can win a kingdom? In the cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection from enemies, in the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness, in the cross is strength of mind, in the cross is joy of spirit, in the cross is highest virtue, in the cross is perfect holiness. There is no salvation of soul nor hope of everlasting life but in the cross. –  Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. – Luke 14:33

Radical Faith

Practice a Radical Faith

Radical Faith, what does it mean?

 

Something honourable and better

Jesus, being the observer of character happening all around Him, perceived some interesting things happening at the dinner table. Since the society at His time was one of honour, the seat you sat in around the table carried significant meaning.  The best seats were given to those of prestige, those who could repay the honour when they invited you to a dinner party hosted by themselves and for those who hoped they could improve their social status.

What do you think God would say to a person who wants to look good in the eyes of others when he humbles himself with the hope of being exalted?  Normally we would say that person is guilty of false humility. True humility has no plans for being exalted by other people. It only desires the praise of God.

Yet, here we are engaged with some social etiquette from Jesus instructing us to do the very thing we know not to be true.  Unfortunately, most of us read this parable as one of counsel or wisdom rather than one trying to continue to bring us to a place of maturity.  Is it possible that Jesus was giving them seating advice or was it more like ironic advice? Instead of having them secure the best seats, maybe Jesus hoped that if they learned not to pursue what they desired, they might, in time, come to desire something higher and better.

 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable.  “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host;  and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, “Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.  But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you.  For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Luke 14:7-11

Romans 9:21

Prayer’s Practicality

 

What is the kingdom of God like?

How bold would I be to say that it is one of hope?

Jesus, in seeing joy manifested in the lives of the people He is talking to felt justified to giving two parables describing the glimpses of hope that comes on behalf of kingdom – the mustard seed and yeast.

If you’re like me, sometimes you get discouraged. What you’ve worked so hard to do seems so small and insignificant — so futile, so hopeless, so tiny. The disciples may have felt that way about the Kingdom of God. Here’s an itinerant carpenter-preacher speaking in villages in a minor Roman province. Not very impressive when you look at the big picture.

This was not the first time Jesus used the mustard seed as an illustration – in fact, both illustrations dealt with hope – He used the image to express the hope that He has on the disciples because with a minimum amount of faith – “faith like a mustard seed” – they could accomplish so much.

This parable of the mustard seed is about one being planted in a garden.  The tiny seed eventually grew into a sizeable bush so that the birds were able to make their nests in it. When these words were written the Church, the agent of Jesus’ mission, was still tiny but it had already begun to grow considerably from its beginnings with a handful of Jesus’ disciples. There is an air of hope and confidence that it will continue to grow in spite of the persecutions and setbacks it is facing and will continue to face. Within a single generation after Christ’s death, Christianity had spread all over the Roman empire and beyond, to India in the East, Ethiopia to the South, and Britannia to the West.  How amazed would those Christians be to know that the seed since has grown not into a shrub but into a huge tree! In our own time, we need to keep fresh the hope and confidence of this parable.

He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it?  It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”  And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God?  It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” – Luke 13:18-21

What Is the Kingdom of God Like?

 

Time and attention

The parable of the non-producing fig tree is intended to enforce the warning – if your life does not come to a place of repentance and turning back to God, it will be cut down and you will be lost.  God has already been patient, our hope is that He will be patient a little bit longer, but we know we cannot expect He will be patient forever.

Christ, as the gardener in the parable, is our Intercessor.  As long as there is hope, He does not want to see the tree cut down.

Jesus sees that maybe there is another way to cultivate the tree rather than eliminate it.  His hope is that time and attention will make a difference.

Why is Jesus so invested in the fig tree?  Why is He so invested in us?  This is an amazing parable of how much He loves us and wants us to come to Him for salvation.

Jesus invites us to repent and recognize that we are broken human beings – it’s the catalyst to our life and world looking differently.  Our changed perspective will enable us to see life as a gift, that God is seeking us out, and there is a lot of good we can do with the time we are given.  Life is short and we do not know how ours will come to an end, but we know it’s a gift and not to be squandered but rather spent in the pursuit of good things for God’s people. Jesus hopes that we will blossom and produce fruit that will last.

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’  He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it.  If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ” – Luke 13:6-9

Faith and hope

‘Faith gives substance to our hopes and convinces us of realities we do not see.’ – Hebrews 11:1

When our faith moves to hope and we are convinced, those convictions become our treasures and where our treasures are, that is where we find our heart.  Think about Abraham leaving his home in Ur with his entire family to seek a land that had been promised.  Then the following generations including Isaac and Jacob still walking that faith, in community that centred on God as their treasure, a place where they truly belonged.  That faith gave them hope to wait for the promise at the end of the journey.  That faith may have started as a grain of mustard seed, but touched by God became a foundation for the journey.

You can see why the love of the world excludes the love of the Father.  Love of the world is egocentric, acquisitive, arrogant, ambitious, and absorbing, and leaves no place for any other kind of affection. It’s a full-time job to love the world.  If our hope is placed there, on a world that will not last, best we book a bereavement moment because that experience will take place – because it boils down to only one question – will these worldly things leave us before our time comes to leave them.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit;  be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.  Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.  “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” – Luke 12:32-40

Zeke Duhon – Faith and Hope

Difference Between Faith and Hope

Difference Between Hope and Faith

The Interrelation of Faith and Hope

HOW FAITH AND HOPE WORK TOGETHER TO GIVE YOU CONFIDENCE IN GOD

Faith vs. Hope

What is the difference between hope and faith?

Repository of our hopes

To be rich in character is to be rich toward God. But we may be rich toward him by making him the repository of our hopes and expectations. – McGarvey and Pendleton

What difference does all this make? Simply this: You never know your worth to another person. Such is God’s hope.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight.  But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Luke 12:6-7