Meshing faith, hope and love

Lord, thank you for the stretching times. Thank you for moving us into situations that are new and sometimes scary with the purpose of helping us grow. Thank you for your loving debriefing. Thank you for new hope. Thank you for a chance to be part of your mission, to see your power move through our lives. Thank you. In your powerful and loving Name, I pray. Amen.

Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel, provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel. – Colossians 1:5,23

How am I to be an evangelist today?  I ask the question because it is asked not only for those who are called to be but is part of the role and identify of every follower of Christ.  It is not easy, but there are indicators of what an evangelist looks like as they share the Good News.  It starts with the awareness that the human heart hungers for God, whether they know it or not.  Then we had best leave the things we are attached to behind – have just enough so that there is little attachment to the things of this world.  Be confident but not overbearing. Do your sharing with joy.  Finally, be prepared to have a story to share, a testimony of hope you have in you when the appropriate moment for words open up.

You proclaim the Good News by every thought, action and deed that your surrendered heart will lead you to perform. The fire that is lit in you was given because of the gift of salvation and so you live with a love inside you that makes you unstoppable in expressing that love to others. We are invited to abide in that truth, meshing faith, hope and love into our actions.

When we personally exercise activity in doing good, we grow in Christian excellence. Love increases by loving.  Hope builds up just by hoping.  Zeal starts a fire and keeps the fire going and arousing the heat. Knowledge is sustained and established by the effort of teaching others as opposed to studying for one’s self.  To the person who uses their gifts and talents, extra talents and gifts are given to them.

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.  He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic.  Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there.  Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”  They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere. – Luke 9:1-6

Faith, Hope, and Love through Doubt in Tennyson ‘ s In Memoriam

Hope in God

When I stand and preach, when I sit in front of someone who has come for a listening ear, when I am discipling a follower of Christ and when I support missions with my financial gifts — the story of the demon possessed man being set free from the legion of demons is on my mind.  This is what God sends me to offer to every person I meet and on my lips with every piece of advice or challenge — rest from distraction, peace and tranquility, quiet of heart, conscience, memory, soul and hope, strength from self-control and freedom from the insanity of sin.

Why? We need to realize that no one is beyond hope – in fact, nothing is impossible with God.  If I can for a moment strip back the boundaries that someone has placed on their vision of human healing, and at times I ask Jesus to perform this miracle because I cannot, then I know healing has begun.  I need you to know that there are no boundaries anymore. My declaration is simply enough – “for the rest of your life you will remember this incident and you will always remember that nothing is impossible with Jesus.”

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my help – Psalm 42:5

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my help and my God. – Psalm 42:11

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my help and my God. – Psalm 43:5

All My Hope on God Is Founded

Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.  As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs.  When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”—  for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.)  Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him.  They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.  Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission.  Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.  When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country.  Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.  Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed.  Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.  The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying,  “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him. – Luke 8:26-39

Hope Bible Verses

Hope in God in Hopeless Times

Romans 15:13

Hope

Find Hope in Any Situation

 

Hope-filled future

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. – Romans 8:25

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

Patient endurance – the phrase has eluded me all these years as to the key to holding, growing and maturing in our relationship with God – and just saying it, sets me free.  It’s product is hope.
Together with faith and love, hope propels us towards a very sure future.  The horizon is still set with those things opposed, those illusory temptations of the world, and yet we are given daily doses of new momentum and strength.  Our decision each day is to refuse to be robbed of hope, or even to allow our hope to be dimmed by answers and solutions that will block us from moving forward.
For Pope Francis, time is greater than space because the pathway to authentic human progress is “process,” which is itself a function of time. Because time is fluid and in motion, it represents the key to avoiding getting “stuck” in space, so to speak. If we try to fill space with short-term solutions and stark and static answers to problems with no thought of how we can really move forward from that point, we short-circuit time itself and cut off ourselves from a more hope-filled future. – Jim Russell
Jesus Himself demonstrated the impact of patient endurance throughout His ministry but also in His death.  The product of His patience being obedience to His Father and His offering of mercy and forgiveness to those He walked with on earth.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth. – Isaiah 53:7
Let’s face it – Jesus attitude toward suffering was unique.  It was like He encountered it and death with eyes wide open, almost as if He embraced them as if He had a conscious preparation for them. Let’s be sure to note that not once did He mention this route as one to be desired. But He does speak of suffering as a reality that we should not ignore, avoid or cover up.  His example is how we learn to give up our right to success, recognition, wealth, health and maybe even happiness, so what we are and what we hope to be and have, is determined by and found in God.  A crazy thought, but it is spoken of throughout the New Testament, we are extended an opportunity – to participate in the sufferings of God at the hands of a godless world.

“A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up.  Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture.  Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it.  Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”  Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant.  He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that “looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’  “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.  The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.  The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away.  As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.  But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. – Luke 8:5-15

Compton choir sings of a hope-filled future

“A Hope-filled Future”

Hopes being crushed

Psalm 118 might have been one of the scripture references John the Baptist had in mind in regards to the tasks of the coming of the Messiah and the setting of His kingdom.  Verses that suggested that in all the elements of destroying nations, God would protect Him – I would imagine that this is how John prayed for – hoped for – and it was not happening.  Since the opposite was happening, John’s hopes were being crushed – his faith was weak – doubt took over.  Was He Jesus the One who comes in the name of the Lord?  John the Baptist, the greatest prophet since the era of the Old Testament, the one called to prepare the way of the Lord – began to doubt – doubt the very words of Jesus.

One thing that scripture never does – it never hides the saints as ideally faultless – there is no concern to conceal any sign of imperfection or weakness.  In this case, nothing is so naturally laid out than John the Baptist.  To whom received a partial revelation of Jesus as the Son of God – there should have been more calm instead of the deep anguish at the noiseless advance of the Kingdom.  But John was not alone – Elijah struggled in his faith, Job struggled in his trials and Jeremiah did the same when he was in prison.  As John drowned in his brief tragic career, he might have hoped to alleviate, by his question, the anguish that he felt. Maybe his question was more like – If Jesus is the Messiah, why am I, His Forerunner, suffering and worse still, by the hand of an evil tyrant?  Yes, John was just one of the many saints whose careers God, is His mysterious manner, has allowed to suffer and others to end in disaster to show us all how small we are in importance and how little we are to attach to what people may think of us, or for that matter, the rewards this earth has to offer such individuals.

And John, calling to him two of his disciples, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?”  And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?'”  In that hour he cured many of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many that were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.  And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.” – Luke 7:19-23

Proverbs 13:12-22

 

Rainbow

Imagine a rainbow set against the darkness of the clouds.  As beautiful as it is, it speaks as a sign of glory, grace and hope and it speaks of God’s guarantee to all the earth that there will never come another flood ever again.  The very elements that created the flood were now no longer in existence and instead this newly created ‘natural’ result was the very promise of God’s presence in our future storms and moments of darkness – a sign of God’s grace and glory.

I think heaven will be filled with colour.  Kind of wonder how many have the impression that heaven will be only white or mysterious opaque brilliancy.  While that could be true, I believe colour will also be part of heaven and the rainbow is just one example God has provided for us on earth as a taste of the beauty we look forward to. As a symbol of God’s promise to us on earth, the rainbow beams with the hope of heaven too.  The ultimate promise God makes is that for every believer, their home is in heaven.

That is the message I received as a ten-year old boy playing with my neighbour and friend after a storm.  As we were busy playing with mud, my neighbour’s dad came over and asked me if I knew what the rainbow meant and for every subsequent question my answer was always the same – no.  He stormed over to my parents, and the following Sunday was my first Sunday in Sunday School – the beginning of my spiritual journey – taken by our neighbours who introduced me to God via the rainbow.

God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:  I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds,  I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.  When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” – Genesis 9:12-17

As followers of Jesus Christ

These are the questions that come to mind –

  • what does it look like to love impartially?
  • what does it look like to help others in need when there is no hope of them ever returning the favour?
  • what does it look like to love in moments when the cost of that love will never be repaid?

It is my hope that as followers of Jesus Christ we live higher – we live on a whole different plane than the rest of the world.  If not, what would set us apart or make us different?  We were called to come out and be separate and how is that possible if we do the same things everyone else is doing?  Therefore the challenge is given – if we love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who spitefully use us – well then, we are standing out.  Most might think us mad, but at the end of the day they will recognize something they have always been searching for – love. Let’s not be just another social club – let’s give the love of Christ that we have received to those who have never heard and have yet to receive.

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.  Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.  Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.  But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;  give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” – Luke 6:27-38

10 Signs of a Jesus Follower

1 Peter 1:3

He would heal

When Jesus was being challenged in the temple regarding healing on the Sabbath, I am sure attendance had risen to an all time high.  Everyone knew if Jesus was coming and teaching that He would heal.  It is possible that hundreds or even thousands had been healed.  No one came to see if Jesus could heal – their hope was He would.  Unfortunately the Pharisees came so that in catching Jesus healing on the Sabbath, they could accuse, indict and prosecute Him.  They had come to a point where they needed to arrest and stop the most dangerous man alive – Jesus.  He was exposing their hypocrisy and causing people to follow Him.

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels.  Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”  Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?  He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”  Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”  On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled.  The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.  But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.  Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”  He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored.  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus. – Luke 6:-11

Faithful and Loving God, you have once again nourished with your Word. As people saved by our hope in you, we give thanks for the love you have poured into us. May this love flow freely from us to others as we carry your certain and saving hope into the world. Amen.

Free from hopelessness

Jesus met a man named Levi who happened to be a tax collector. The encounter was an amazing illustration of love from Jesus, not only meant for Levi but for all sinners and a clear model of how we followers of Christ are to live.  The story starts in a public setting and in front of this large crowd of people surrounding Levi who is doing business, Jesus calls him out to follow Him – Levi, a man from a particularly hated class of people – to follow Him.  One had to wonder what Jesus was thinking at the time because tax collectors were the scorn of the religious leaders and accordingly, Levi had no hope – he was excommunicated from all religious fellowship.

It was a simple enough invitation – and the invitation to come back into fellowship with God that set Levi free.  It set the scene for one big dinner party where Levi wanted all his friends and fellow sinners to meet the One who set him free from hopelessness.  The guest of honour was Jesus Himself and he never hesitated.  That was His pattern – if the religious leaders avoided, He and His disciples were pleased to attend.  How else was the Good News of the Kingdom of God to be shared with those who needed that good news?

You imagine our own scene today if were to gather at such a party.  Most of our trouble would come from those who are a bit overly devoted to legalism and the appearance of righteousness.  Unfortunately, many would not accept an invitation to such a dinner party.

Choice is rather straight forward – keep to those who are just like us or meet the lost and broken where they live, sharing the hope of the Gospel and the forgiveness of sins.  Jesus showed us how to live that night at Levi’s dinner party.  We are to share the good news with those who need it, in humility and gratitude that we have been set free.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. – 1 Corinthians 15:10

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”  Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:27-32

7 BIBLE VERSES FOR WHEN LIFE SEEMS HOPELESS

Scriptures Against Hopelessness

Psalm 146: The Source of Hope

Five Pursuits to Lead You Out of Chronic Hopelessness