Where then is my hope? Who will see my hope?

Job’s friends had pretended to comfort him with the hope of his return to a prosperous estate; he here shows that those do not go wisely about the work of comforting the afflicted, who fetch their comforts from the possibility of recovery in this world. It is our wisdom to comfort ourselves, and others, in distress, with that which will not fail; the promise of God, his love and grace, and a well-grounded hope of eternal life. See how Job reconciles himself to the grave. Let this make believers willing to die; it is but going to bed; they are weary, and it is time that they were in their beds. Why should not they go willingly when their Father calls them? Let us remember our bodies are allied to corruption, the worm and the dust; and let us seek for that lively hope which shall be fulfilled, when the hope of the wicked shall be put out in darkness; that when our bodies are in the grave, our souls may enjoy the rest reserved for the people of God. – Matthew Henry

The grace of hope which is in the follower’s heart, even though sometimes it may not be noticeable at any moment in time and maybe not even exercised at the appropriate times, can never be lost.  It is an anchor, keeps us sure and strong, always abiding, never disappointing and does not make us ashamed.  Our object of this hope is in eternal glory and happiness in another world – heaven – whom we are all looking forward to.  So what in this world, what comfort or hope in this world could match such a gift?  Why would I go to someone and encourage them in this way – hope of an outward happiness or having prosperity, family, friends – there is no place for these things in sustaining us and keeping us.  Cherishing the things of this world has no foundation to eternal life – one cannot build such a hope.

I was reading a new blog today that I started to follow.  It will be a story of someone who has suffered a stroke and has a lot of difficulty moving forward.  He talks about the support of his family and friends, but he wonders that it would have been better if he had just died and there would be none of this pain he is going through.  He is trying not to be consumed by his helpless situation or frustrated or impatient in his healing process.  He has some friends though that are better than Job’s friends.  They come and bring him hope that comes from God.  They come to tell him that God has a plan, that he is growing as a follower of Christ, and changing every day.  He is reminded to be appreciative of every single thing that he usually has ignored.  He ends up praising God and acknowledges that when the moments come when he momentarily lays aside his hope that God will hold him. So he is beginning to trust Him more. A great testimony indeed.

If I look for Sheol as my house, if I spread my couch in darkness,  if I say to the pit, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My mother,’ or ‘My sister,’  where then is my hope? Who will see my hope?  Will it go down to the bars of Sheol? Shall we descend together into the dust?” – Job 17:13-16

My Hope – Hillsong (with Lyrics/Subtitles) (Worship Song)

Obey God

With repentance, Jesus gives forgiveness – the word that brings hope to every heart since we have all sinned against God’s holiness.  Forgiveness means total forgetfulness, nothing will be brought forward against us in the day of judgement for Jesus paid the price that we ultimately deserved – spiritual death. There is nothing we can do about that – for God does not remove the guilt and penalty of sin, He holds our account through the actions of Jesus and now we stand before Him with His righteousness, completely clean.

Can you imagine Peter giving this message to the Jewish leaders when he was brought before them after the angel set them free from prison?  The encouragement he gave the murders of Christ was the hope of forgiveness – he preached repentance and the remission of sin – that Christ was ready to give them both.

Christ had to be taken to the cross, that is what most think about when Jesus was lifted up but Peter reminds the leaders of the temple that it was the resurrection and ascension of Jesus that placed Him with authority and power.  Because of this, no matter what the people of earth wish to do, nothing will hinder Jesus from fulfilling His mission – for He is the Saviour to those who put in Him their hope of salvation.

 

“We must obey God rather than any human authority.  The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.  God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.  And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” Acts 5:29-32

They were all cured

When it comes to healing in general, I find myself not too well versed in either ministering for healing or receiving healing.  So I feel for my friends who run from spiritual conferences to healing revivals in the hopes that some person of incredible ministry involving healing may pray for their loved ones who are slowly dying without any hope of surviving unless a miracle happens. The hope is real, the placement of the hope might have been misplaced.

So how does it work with Peter’s shadow?  Is that any different or what is the difference?

First of all, people are healed at these events and people were healed when Peter’s shadow fell on them.  Jesus healed by direct word, sometimes with no contact at all, and sometimes with the use of another physical material like His garment or mud.  All that seemed to be needed was faith from the one who had need and a person from which supernatural power of the Holy Spirit resided and then from time to time a physical representation like Peter’s shadow or Paul’s handkerchief and aprons.  Today, I believe we use oil as James instructs us along with the prayer of faith.

The difference expressed here in Acts was that Peter’s shadow was an expression of the Kingdom of God breaking into their world.  They knew they were surrounded by the glory of God and they hoped to be touched by the power of God, to be changed by it, saved by it and healed by it.  That faith gave witness to the fact that they were all cured.

Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women,  so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he came by.  A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured. – Acts 5:14-16

 

 

Prayer

But joyful are those who have the God of Israel[a] as their helper,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God. – Psalm 146:5

Since we have hope regarding the future – Christ’s return – we want to be found doing the work He has called us to do.  Since He has called us, we need to choose prayer and faithful proclamation of the gospel as our focus.

Not the prayer that includes gossip,whining or complaining or introduces negativity or criticism but one filled hope, supporting each other.

The Book of Acts starts with such a support.  Through chapter four there are repeated times where the author describes how much Christians shared together – one body, one Spirit, one hope and one profession of faith.

What would God have us do? Offer bold prayers that reflect a strong faith and secure hope. Let’s not just talk about prayer, and have seminars on prayer, and read books about prayer, and listening to sermons on prayer. Let us pray. The souls of men and women hang in the balance.

Our hope is that the message is heard and lives are changed.

After they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them.  When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them,  it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant: “Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things?  The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers have gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah.’  For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed,  to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.  And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. – Acts 4:23-31

This will be my salvation

(Showing Hypocrites to be the prime objects of God’s wrath—and the grounds of it—with the special lessons that we are to learn from it. Expressed in a sermon preached before the Parliament of England; upon their last thanksgiving day, being the 8th of October 1650, for that recent great victory which the Lord Almighty gave our army over Scotland’s army in a battle at Dunbar on September 3, 1650. By Thomas Brooks, a weak and unworthy teacher of the Gospel.)

The wheel of providence runs swiftly, and one glorious providence does but make way for another; which should heighten our hopes, and strengthen our faith, and raise up our souls to lay out all that we have received from God, for the helping forward the design of God. Worthy Senators, never had any men on earth such glorious advantages and opportunities to act high for God and his saints, as you have. Ah, how many are there now triumphing in heaven, who, when they were on earth, would have thought it a heaven to have enjoyed the least of those advantages and opportunities which you enjoy, so that they might have put out themselves for God and his people to the uttermost! Ah, sirs, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” Eccles. 9:10. Your time is short, your task is great, your Master is urgent, and your reward is sure. The devil makes all the haste he can to outwork the children of light—in a speedy dispatch of deeds of darkness, because he knows his time is short. He will not let slip any opportunity whereby he may do mischief. Oh may you not let slip any opportunity wherein you may honor a good God, and be serviceable to your generation.

Job reminds us all that we have the right to cleave to our testimony especially when our conscience backs up who we are.  Job depended completely on God for justification and for salvation – the two most important things we hope for and comes to us through Jesus Christ.  Temporal salvation was not high on his expectations, but eternal salvation was his confidence.  He knew he was not a hypocrite and knew that he should not be rejected as one.  God was his Friend even though at the moment He appeared to be his Enemy.  This is where the words come to us that we must believe that all things work together for our good, even when all seems to be against us.  It is our time to cleave to God even though at the very moment comfort cannot be found in Him.  We need to trust Him.

This is where Job excels above his friends – he does trust God unreservedly, in spite of the circumstances.  God Himself is the sinner’s hope.

This is the hope that those who reject God, in all of their narrowness and parochialism, have lost long ago.

I only shared the verse of hope below but maybe I should share verse fifteen as well —

“Behold, he will slay me; I have no hope; yet I will defend my ways to his face.”

Job is determined to defend himself and that expression of hope is so powerful in verse sixteen.

This will be my salvation, that a godless man shall not come before him. – Job 13:16

Rock of my Salvation (Teknobeat Mix) – Nitro Praise

I give you what I have

The encounter of Peter and John with the lame man at the gate of the temple was a testimony to the confidence, courage and conviction that had filled them both.  They knew it was their turn to start giving and with words that extended to the lame man hope, faith and confidence, they gave willingly and without hesitation.

People can be more open to a message of hope when their lives are shaken.  We need to be sensitive and recognize that we are in front of them because God wants them to hear the gospel and wants the Holy Spirit to do a work in that person’s life.

So it was with this lame man – a presentation of salvation – a broken state where God’s grace desires to touch and heal.  Our sins block us from God, but just as Peter reached out to the lame man, giving him more than he hoped or asked for, so Jesus has taken the initiative to come to each of us. God seeks us out.

It was many years ago in St. Louis, that a lawyer visited a Christian to transact some business. Just before the two parted, his client said to him, “I’ve often wanted to ask you a question, but I’ve been afraid to do so.” “What do you want to know?” asked the lawyer. The man replied, “I’ve wondered why you’re not a believer.” The man hung his head. “I know enough about the Bible to realize that it says no drunkard can enter the kingdom of God; and you know my weakness!” “You’re avoiding my question,” continued his friend the believer. “Well, truthfully, I can’t recall anyone every explaining how to become a Christian.” Picking up a bible, the client read some passages describing everyone’s guilt, but that Christ came to save the lost by dying on the cross for their sins. “By receiving Him as your substitute and redeemer,” he said, “you can be forgiven. If you are willing to repent and receive Jesus we should pray together now.” The lawyer agreed, and where it was his turn he exclaimed, “Jesus, I am a slave to drink. One of your servants has shown me how to be saved. O God, forgive my sins and help me overcome the power of this terrible habit in my life.” Right there he was converted. That lawyer was C.I. Scofield, who later edited the reference bible that still bears his name.

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at that gate of the temple which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the temple.  Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms.  And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, “Look at us.”  And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them.  But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.  And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.  And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. – Acts 3:1-10

Dwelling in hope

David, though a person of the Old Testament, was one who had a quiet, firm and full hope of the resurrection of the dead and of eternal life and glory.

Hope and confidence in God delivers a joy to the soul, a gladness that is found in speech and a quietness that comes from a body absorbed in peace.  To be destitute of the help of God can only result in sorrow and torment.  Trusting in God delivers us, and fills our hearts with joy – one that is promised, one that we can be full of, and one that cannot be taken away from us. It means that we fall under the protection of God – it is because of this that we are still anxious and tremble – for we still have sorrows, but in the midst of them we can rejoice for there are no troubles so great that can break the peace that God gives to us.  The promise of the resurrection goes one step further – the hope that is promised to the soul is also made to the body – so God protects them both.

That is what makes a Christian’s definition of hope – it is not a wish – it is a solid, concrete promise that is based on God’s Word.  

So Peter, noticed something in David’s writings too.  As David was expressing his own hope in God, it would seem that he expressed things that only the Holy Spirit could have expressed.  David saw things far into the future regarding the promised Messiah knowing somehow that he would still have the opportunity of experiencing something more in the future.

For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;  therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope.  For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption.  Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.’ – Acts 2:25-28

Great is Your Faithfulness – Martin Smith

Deeds of power

I think about the disciples reaction to the death and resurrection of Jesus often.  Even after seeing Jesus a few times and maybe even some of the 500 that came out of their graves, probably added to the confusion and lack of understanding.  I loved that they did the one thing Jesus asked them to do – stay in Jerusalem.  Add to that they knew they had to do more than just wait – they had to stay and pray together.  This group of women – single and married – this group of men from occupations so diverse – fishermen, tax collectors, Zealots – all devoted themselves to prayer.  I am sure they had no idea of the endowment they were to receive or the “powers” that would be manifested.  They came together only to celebrate their hope in God amidst their fears, anxieties and even uncertainties.

When the rushing wind blows through the upper room, suddenly God takes this close-knit group of followers and they go outside to draw in people from other cultures and different languages.  The pulling together, the drawing in that God promised Abraham so that all nations of the earth would be blessed, had begun.  Jesus’ living, dying and rising had started something that God had planned since the very beginning.  No wonder that the early believers could share all their possessions in common together.  Coming together is the great hope of Revelation – one city, one people, one God.

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.  Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.  Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?  Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,  Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”  All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”  Acts 2:4-12

Ashrei

Hebrew and English scripts

If we will only heed

We live in two words – blessing and curse.  They are real and they have real effects.  With them or behind them is the character of God – first came the blessing and only then followed by the curse.  God is slow to anger, swift to show mercy, delighted to bless.  It is better for us to be drawn into Him and His blessing by a child-like hope in His favour.  That blessing is promised as we listen, trust and follow in obedience the word of God.

 When this first appeared to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy, their hope totally depended on and was completely placed in the faithfulness of God and His promise.

So when we look at the law of God’s Word that produces blessings when we follow in obedience – which commandment is the first of them all?  That question asked by a lawyer to Jesus is still what lies at the very heart of what we believe.  Hard to believe for some of us that Bishop David Jenkins could quote such an orthodox statement, but it is quite the contemporary statement of our time —

There is God; He is as He is in Jesus; there is hope

 The feasts established in the Old Testament took moments out of the lives of the people and turned the concept of time being busy towards repentance and to one of hope.

God is trying to get His voice into our hearts to say to us that He will meet our needs – He is our source.  How many times do we see hope almost disappearing – feeling our source was running out – and God would rain from heaven, if you will, blessing us, restoring us.

If you will only heed his every commandment that I am commanding you today—loving the Lord your God, and serving him with all your heart and with all your soul— then he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil;  and he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you will eat your fill. – Deuteronomy 11:13-15

Filling our mouth with laughter

God fills our lips with laughter, so that we can face every obstacle and challenge with hope and excitement or is it that we have hope in God and therefore we can face our obstacles and challenges with laughter?

‘I saw the Lord always before me,
    for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;
 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
    moreover my flesh will live in hope.
 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
    or let your Holy One experience corruption.
 You have made known to me the ways of life;
    you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ – Acts 2:25-28

“See, God will not reject a blameless person, nor take the hand of evildoers.  He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:20-21