Gather His elect

My wife reminded my son and by being in earshot of the comment, she reminded me too, that all of us have been chosen by God – we did not choose Him.

So when we talk about the coming of Jesus, for the second time, and not as a babe but as a King with power, He is coming for only one reason – to bring home those whom He has called.

He gave us a bit of a heads up in Mark on what that day may look like, even sound like.  It is a rather emotionally strong convicted passage that really describes just how we cannot survive, even the best of us with the strongest faith, and keep the hope that we have in Him as a burning light within our souls.

While I am thinking of Christmas with my family, I am praying for peace.  I pray that when we face the reality of death, that we will be rejoicing in the hope we have of eternal life because of Christ’s death and resurrection and His promise to come again and take us home.

Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.  Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. – Mark 13:26-27

on christ the solid rock i stand

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God of the living

Having just completed two months of small group study on Kevin DeYoung’s book – Taking God at His word – having the right knowledge of Scripture is the fountain from where our faith is built and the surest way to step away from error.  When we confuse ourselves with matters of the world of spirits like the Sadducees when they confronted Jesus on the resurrection, we do so with a world sense. Abraham’s soul does exist even though it is currently separated from his body.  As my pastor shared this past Sunday – this is a dying world – let’s pass through it with a joyful hope of a glorious resurrection and eternal life.

You will notice in life those who do not believe in the resurrection.  They put their hope in this world.  Their “let’s party” mentality puts their rather tall building on shaky ground and they become slaves to their fear of death and unfortunately, live their life without purpose and meaning.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[a] Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live – John 11:25

For this, Jesus died and lived again. Praise the Lord!

 Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?  For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.  And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?  He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.” – Mark 12:24-27

Tim Hughes – Everything

Follow me

In our weekly small group this was greeted with a warm response – we will follow Jesus.  But what does it mean when Jesus defines what following Him looks like – deny yourself and take up your cross?  The room was very silent.

If our message to the Church is about following Jesus, many will follow.  If it includes taking up our cross we will lose some.  Even I get embarrassed sometimes, just like those who were with the blind man who called our Jesus’ name as loud as he could. It was this kind of hope from the blind man who saved him, not the embarrassed and ashamed people around him.

For in[a] hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes[b] for what is seen? – Romans 8:24

Someone came up with some hope values and one of them was generosity – “we love to give up things we love for the things God loves”.

Ultimately, to the Christian, this following of Jesus becomes the hope of heaven, since our leader has gone there (Heb. 6:19-20): but first comes the cross (Mark, p. 207). – Alan Cole

The hope of future glory encourages disciples amidst present suffering while following Jesus.
Following Jesus means that our joy and hope of a harvest of glory comes with our minds made up to sacrifice and to die to this world.  It is in the dying that we find life.

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?  Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?  Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”– Mark 8:34-38

You Are Mine – David Haas

 

Eating the children’s crumbs

“Is there hope for me here?” “Filled FIRST?” “Then my turn, it seems, is coming!—but then, ‘The CHILDREN first?’ Ah! when, on that rule, shall my turn ever come!” But ere she has time for these ponderings of His word, another word comes to supplement it. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

The infamous story of a woman who heard the words from Jesus as an invitation to hope.

Jesus looking for something deep inside this mother asking for her daughter to be healed suggested that the domestic nature of the home required the dogs to wait until the meal is over before they receive their portion.  But her need for Jesus to heal her daughter gave her a keen wit where she filled in a blank that He left on purpose – reminding Him that dogs are permitted to eat the crumbs even while the meal is in progress.  She knew there was more.

Just in case this story is new to some, it may seem that Jesus was being prejudicial against Gentiles.  No, this woman saw Jesus drawing her into His parable and her hope was in the word, first. The blessings of the kingdom of God did not exclusively belong to the people of Israel.

Jesus saw a woman before Him and saw that she looked to Him as her only hope.  He saw that she would not be deterred. She pushed through knowing that only Jesus could give her what she needed. Jesus loved her for this and gave her all that she asked for and desired.

For me, Jesus first sentence would have been a rejection and the death of any of my hopes – but for her it was life from the dead.  If Jesus had kept silent, only then would she leave unblessed, but He spoke and that turn of respect meant that she had the open door to hope for more.

Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.  He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”  But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”  Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” – Mark 7:26-29

 

Heard about Jesus

The woman who was seriously ill, heard reports about Jesus – they were enough for hope to rise within her.

Hope is a fundamental ingredient for faith – without hope, faith does not work.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1

Mark introduces this woman to us as someone who was lonely, isolated, impoverished, anemic and possibly dying – hopeless and desperate.  Most would have written her off.

Bless Mark for not taking too much time to interject hope – this woman heard stories of Jesus.  Maybe she heard of the  evil spirit leaving a man.  Maybe she heard of Simon’s mother-in-law taking Jesus hand, or the leper whom Jesus extended his hand to.  Maybe even the paralytic laid down through the roof of a home and Jesus forgiving his sins and told to pick up his mat and go home.  Most likely she did hear the story of the man with a legion of spirits and who lived in a cemetery, set free by Jesus. Somehow she is convinced that if she touches Jesus’ clothes, she will be healed.

Encouraged, she dared to hope for the same for herself.  Her new-found faith made her bold, determined. Since she was legally unclean and also shamed by her illness, she had to slip through the crowd to touch His robe without drawing attention to herself. She only had to touch the fringe of His garment.

She started a different thought pattern that day – this Jesus can cure me, this Jesus
can release me, and set me free. This Jesus can rescue and deliver me. This Jesus can put my life back together, can repair me, and make me whole”

She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak.  Mark 5:27

Hope for Humanity – Darlene Zschech – You are Love

Follow me

Do you ever wonder how Levi (Matthew) could leave his secure and well paying government job to follow Jesus?  Was it the tenor of Jesus’ call, was it His warm and inviting non-verbal communication or did Jesus’ “sell” the idea that is just not recorded in any of the gospels? What we do know is that the call was simple and poignant, clear and blunt and unapologetically pressing – either Levi watched Jesus walk away or he had to get up and go. The call to adventure had to be measured against risk and the hope against fear – but somehow he knew that the significance of his entire existence hinged on , follow me.

Jesus is looking for sinners, there are no righteous ones among us, and he is looking for them to repent.  His purpose was to seek and save those who had lost their way and this give all of us great hope as we all carry a burden of guilt from our sin.

I think Levi did have a chance to hear Jesus preach with authority and a new message of hope for people.  Maybe he was one at the back of the crowd and wondered if it was too late for him to begin again and leave his life of shame.  Maybe he saw Jesus with people the orthodox leaders rejected and had a glimmer of hope that he could be a friend of Jesus.  What we do know is that on the day Jesus passed by his booth and said, “Follow me”, Levi saw and took his chance to do just that.

As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. – Mark 2:14

You Are Mine – David Haas

From my youth

Not only is our hope in Jesus, but He Himself is our hope. He is the Author of it, and the Beginning and the End of it.  Our hearts yearn for a strand of hope and our ears want to hear the whispers of God in our hearts. This we know – our hope is not in heaven, joy, peace, rest, fulfillment of wishes, or contentment – it is in Jesus.

Here is David, saying a prayer in Psalm 71 – a much older man now – and in verse 5 he declares the words that inspire youth to be the men and women of God He has called them to be. David’s body may resemble that of an old man, but his faith is as strong as when he was a young man and proves to be his comfort. He hopes only in God – at the outset of life such a hope – imagine the testimonies he could share of God sustaining his hope.

“The world dare say no more for its device, than Dum spire, spore, ‘While I breathe, I hope’; but the children of God can go further and say, Dum exspiro, spero, ‘Even when I die, I hope’ –  Archbishop Leighton

At the very event that the world finds its demise, the follower of Christ have the gates thrown open for an eternity with Jesus.

For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. – Psalm 71:5

Days of My Youth – Dan Kartchner

Character produces hope

“Character that has been shaped by God through suffering has amazing abilities that non-character simply doesn’t. It’s capable of seeing beyond circumstances. It knows that God is faithful. It embraces the truth of the Gospel that if God sent His Son, He spares nothing for the good of His children. All this produces hope, that is, the confidence that God delivers on His promises. The stronger the character, the greater the hope…” Suffering, Endurance and Character; The Christian Worldview Journal.

We can joy in the midst of any circumstance because of where our hope is placed. Hope is the highway that keeps us moving and rejoicing through whatever circumstances life throws our way.

We have hope when our faith is resting firmly in Jesus. When suffering or persecution comes our way, hope lets us rejoice in the midst of it.

Most of us have questioned our salvation quite a few times in our journey of following Jesus – are we really a Christian? When your faith has been tried and you have persevered – does that not prove genuinely and authentically that you are? Does that not give you hope that you will inherit His glory?

In other words, one of the great obstacles to a full and strong hope in the glory of God is the fear that we are hypocrites – that our faith is not real and that we just inherited it from our parents and have been motivated by things that are not honoring to God. One of the purposes of afflictions in our lives is to give us victory over those fears and make us full of hope and confidence as the children of God. – John Piper

So God takes us through hard times to temper the steel of our faith and show us that we are real, authentic, genuine, proven, and in that way give us hope that we really will inherit the glory of God and not come into judgment.

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.          Romans 5:1-6

Tenth Avenue North – I Have This Hope

Cry out for help

Where does your hope come from?

The beginning of the story of Gideon only happens because the people of Israel knew there was only one place to go, one place to put their hope – God – and they began to call on Him and ask Him for help.  In the midst of our own trying circumstances, may we not wait seven years to do this as Israel did.

 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help. – Judges 6:6

Third Day – Cry Out To Jesus

 

Who have risked their lives

When I look at the national leaders who are going into regions of the world who have never heard the name of Jesus before, I see their passion for Christ as being the soul of this bold calling for their life, an interior thrust to serve without reservations, and always the fresh source of an indestructible hope.

Today, we can celebrate our Church because of those who have shown an example of heroic witness to the faith, who have known persecution, which in turn unites all Christians in their places of suffering and making our shared sacrifice a sign of hope for times still to come.

“The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the believers of Gentile origin in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings.  Since we have heard that certain persons who have gone out from us, though with no instructions from us, have said things to disturb you and have unsettled your minds,  we have decided unanimously to choose representatives and send them to you, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,  who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth.  For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials:  that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” – Acts 15:23-29