Hope in God

The way to forget our miseries, is to remember the God of our mercies. David saw troubles coming from God’s wrath, and that discouraged him. But if one trouble follow hard after another, if all seem to combine for our ruin, let us remember they are all appointed and overruled by the Lord. David regards the Divine favour as the fountain of all the good he looked for. In the Saviour’s name let us hope and pray. One word from him will calm every storm, and turn midnight darkness into the light of noon, the bitterest complaints into joyful praises. Our believing expectation of mercy must quicken our prayers for it. At length, is faith came off conqueror, by encouraging him to trust in the name of the Lord, and to stay himself upon his God. He adds, And my God; this thought enabled him to triumph over all his griefs and fears. Let us never think that the God of our life, and the Rock of our salvation, has forgotten us, if we have made his mercy, truth, and power, our refuge. Thus the psalmist strove against his despondency: at last his faith and hope obtained the victory. Let us learn to check all unbelieving doubts and fears. Apply the promise first to ourselves, and then plead it to God. – Matthew Henry

I think we do not ask ourselves enough times why we are feeling depressed or anxious.  When we rehearse the why we usually do not find sufficient reason for being so.  But in case we find that our fears are as bad as they are and maybe as overwhelming as we seem to feel, then, as always, we have to put and then keep our hope in God.  There are many promises we can remind ourselves of including God being faithful and loving – two good reasons for hope.  Our faith will kick in, victory is anticipated as we put our fear into His hands and we wait for Him to rescue us. 

“For yet I know I shall him praise
Who graciously to me,
The health is of my countenance,
Yea, mine own God is he.” – Presbyterian Church of England Hymnal

So our active praise and worship allows us to declare God as God – we will wait for Him! and we will hope in Him!  This is not mindless and is not passive but rather a spiritual confidence that God will participate because He always has. 

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. – Psalm 42:11

Voices of Hope – In God We Trust with Amy Grant

Words from an angel

My mom wishes she could have an angel come and visit her.  I think that is mostly because she knows it can happen – not just because of the experiences in the Bible, but both her mother and her sister had experiences with angels.

There are certain emotions that come with angel visitations I am sure – surprise, hope, expectation – all causing me to give special attention.

When the angel announced to Samson’s parents that he was coming and that they should make sure to have him follow all the nazirite traditions, they knew God was ready to do something special and that their son was being prepared to be used by God one day.

Another story of hope that God is with us even when it does not look like He is.

And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Although you are barren, having borne no children, you shall conceive and bear a son.  Now be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, or to eat anything unclean, for you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor is to come on his head, for the boy shall be a nazirite to God from birth. It is he who shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” – Judges 13:3-5

Jim Reeves – Whispering Hope

Deeply distressed

Distress is not a bad thing when it happens because you are confronted by people without hope.  For those of us moving in the area of missions and Christian witness this is a common expression – distressed for those who do not know Jesus for reality is not without hope.

As followers of Christ we are fully aware that life is held by God – it is also a life where we find ourselves finding our life and our being in Him and by Him.  Life is about the fruit of the Spirit in full display as we live out our faith as devoted disciples of Jesus and not in things that do not matter.  Since Jesus is the source of our being that enables to be agents of peace and hope to a hurting world, and since we have experienced the love of God and the good news of eternal life, grace and forgiveness, we have much to offer our world of hurt.

 When Paul was so deeply distressed when he met a people group who had no idea who God was, maybe Paul was giving us an attitude that modelled somewhat how we need to approach our culture today.  Maybe hidden in this is a biblical perspective of culture that we can use to navigate ourselves through it and what our objective should be as we approach our world.  Confronting culture starts by engaging culture.  Their is neither a blending in because with that we cannot challenge it and we cannot run away and hide for with that we lose hope of changing culture.

Paul did not normally use this approach – sharing his hope in Jesus.  Normally he would use an apologetic approach.  I like this approach much better – it is definitely a more engaging approach and as a result there were invitations to speak more and to more people.

When we ask the world about their experience of looking for God’s presence and how others have looked for it, we know that we all are looking for that hope that will enable us to face the realities of this world.  Imagine what that conversation looks and sounds like at a funeral and then a wedding or a birth of a child.  What does God look like – His love, mercy, or truth in the lives of those who sit next to us, talk to us, join us in worship – by listening we find the language to speak of Jesus – crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. 

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols.  – Acts 17:16

God raised Him from the dead

Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. – 1 Peter 1:21

 

In these simple words, “God raised Him from the dead”, repeated again and again on all possible occasions, was the great truth of Easter first preached to the world. The Resurrection was ‘an eminent act of God’s omnipotency,’ worked before the eyes of all in heaven and earth, and it has been the glory, the comfort, and the hope of the Christian world ever since.

“My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent.  Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him.  Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed.  When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb.  But God raised him from the dead;  and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses to the people.  And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors  he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.’  As to his raising him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “I will give you the holy promises made to David.’  Therefore he has also said in another psalm, “You will not let your Holy One experience corruption.’  For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, died, was laid beside his ancestors, and experienced corruption;  but he whom God raised up experienced no corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you;  by this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.  Beware, therefore, that what the prophets said does not happen to you:  “Look, you scoffers! Be amazed and perish, for in your days I am doing a work, a work that you will never believe, even if someone tells you.’ ” – Acts 13:26-41

Jeremy Camp – Same Power

God is our inheritance

 So that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints – Ephesians 1:18

When you think about the tribe of Levi receiving no inheritance except God – my first thought was wow – no place to call home.  Then you realize that home is where your heart is and what an honour to live and serve God wherever He has called you to be.  Imagine the hope this honour inspired in their hearts and strengthen their abilities to give.

But to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance; the Lord God of Israel is their inheritance, as he said to them. – Joshua 13:33

All Sons & Daughters – This My Inheritance

Instrument of choice

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,[a] of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.  He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again,  as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our[b] behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. – 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

These words penned by a man who used to seek and destroy the early church.  In one glorious moment, Jesus appeared and called Saul to follow Him.  To that call he responded and turned from Saul to Paul – to be an instrument for God to use to bring the gospel to the world.

A chosen instrument with a chosen purpose.

If Paul was the chief of all sinners for what he had done before Christ changed his life and that he owes all to the grace of God – we have a great hope for us all!  For those of us who think we have no value, are broken and are old, in our Father’s hand He can make us new.

 

Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”  The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying,  and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”  But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem;  and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.”  But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel;  I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”  So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized – Acts 9:10-18

Who is like you

One has to love the blessings that Moses gives to each tribe found in Deuteronomy 33.  If you have not compared them to the blessing that Jacob gave in Genesis 49, take a look.

We can look at these promises in light of spiritual values and understand the directions given to love God with all our hearts, to serve Him with the righteousness and holiness that He imparts to us and to not be afraid for the rest of our lives.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

In his blessings, Moses offers us hope in that we can have power over false gods and Satan’s stronghold – those things that have a hold on us.  Faith and God’s Word – our shield and our sword.

Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. – John 14:23

The blessings given to Zebulon intrigue me the most as their blessings came down to their dwellings.  Trying to look at the spiritual significance of this blessing I am reminded that our own bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we are encouraged to invite Him into our lives with His presence.  Buildings are only shells or if you will, tools.  We worship the Builder and not the building so our love is God and we keep His commandments.  I think about Jesus standing at the door of my heart too, knocking, and if I open it, He will come in.  It is this hope that invites me to practice the presence of God and to walk my life with Christ. 

Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you; and you shall tread upon their high places. – Deuteronomy 33:29

Laura Story – Who is like our God

My Redeemer lives

Amazing to find the Trinity here in Job.  The Holy Spirit has moved on the mind of Job and he as declared a good confession, soundness of his faith and assurance of his hope.  Somehow he knows that Jesus is his Redeemer and that his end hope is not in this world but in heaven. Somehow he knows that he is supposed to look for the resurrection and that his Redeemer would free him from the condemnation of sin and break the power and yoke of Satan.  His Redeemer was his salvation. This truth, this Holy Spirit quickening must be the root, as in a tree, in our heart too.  For this acceptance of grace in our heart will give us both the security and strength in our foundation as well as produce spiritual fruit in our lives as we live them today. Here he introduces God as his comfort and that God will avenge those who accuse him.

I can still remember the moment when I learned that love was a decision.  I am faced with a similar truth here too.  I am impressed with Job’s certainty.  This was a hope that he knew, and so in some way this was more than a hope but hope sprung from the truth that he declared about his Redeemer.

Other scholars are confident that Job anticipates the future resurrection of his body. Gleason Archer believes this passage “strongly suggests an awareness of the bodily resurrection that awaits all redeemed believers in the Resurrection” (1982, 241). Kaiser asserts: “Job was expecting a resurrection of his body! It was this which lay at the heart of his hope in God and in his vindication” (1988, 151). Andersen observes that: “The references to skin, flesh and eyes make it clear that Job expects to have this experience as a man, not just as a disembodied shade, or in his mind’s eye” (1974, 193).

In any case Job’s hope is in his present life, and in his vindication before God and man. This is not a messianic prophecy or expression of a messianic hope.

Job seems to perceive that the Redeemer who will advocate his case before God is none other than God Himself. It is hard to make sense of that except by the way we Christians know with God the Son as Redeemer standing before God the Holy Father as Judge. Job somehow—I suggest by the Holy Spirit—knows that his Redeemer lives and will advocate on his behalf, and that Job himself will see it in renewed flesh. That gives him hope—not mere wishful thinking but well-founded conviction, a knowing—of eventual vindication in eternal life.

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;  and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God – Job 19:25-26

Aria(soprano): I know that my Redeemer liveth

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

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