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

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Acknowledge our guilt

When people start complaining more about their sin in their life as opposed to what ails them, there is the beginning of hope for them, for they will start to seek God.  As they seek God in earnest and with sincerity, they will find Him and He will be a refuge.  With God, there is redemption for everyone who calls on His name – these is peace only where God is.

Hosea tries to lay that out for us in verse fifteen of chapter five reminding us of the hope made available for us but it is conditional. There has to be an acknowledging of guilt and there has to be a seeking of God.

Even in the very middle of a promise of impending judgment there is a note of hope. The hope of mercy for those who will turn from their “idols” to the Lord. It is the same God who made the promise of judgment as the one who offers hope through His mercy and grace.  There is a cost for this all and Jesus Himself would offer Himself in our place to be judged for our sin.

I will return again to my place
    until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face.
    In their distress they will beg my favor – Hosea 5:15

Inquire

There are a few stories relating to David’s ability to seek God and to hear from Him during critical junctures in his life.  He never was in doubt of success, yet he made sure to inquire of God and from others before moving forward. Assurance of hope in God’s promise give that kind of confidence in leadership. For David, it was rather simple, if he was to be given the crown, it would follow him, if it did not, then there was nothing for him to do.

The specifics of the conversation with David and God were shared with us at the death of Saul and they are remarkable – “shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” – God responds positively – “To which shall I go up?” – Hebron is God’s response. Another example of the fulfillment of God’s promise in going with him. If God was David’s sanctuary, look at the city of Hebron, a priest’s city, one of the cities of refuge and the burial ground of the patriarchs were buried nearby – the place where the promises of God gave them hope.

David was also not in a hurry to get going.  Loved his calm and reverent inquiry of the Lord.  He let his Shepherd lead him.

After this David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” The Lord said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” He said, “To Hebron.” – 2 Samuel 2:1

We are the Lord’s

This is the consecration to Christ of my life. To think, to study, to understand His will and to read His Word. To make Him the object of my love, joy and hope.  To use my mouth to speak for Him, hands to work for Him and my feet to carry His message. To be one with Him. 

So when I resign my life to Him, and its pleasure, to magnify Him, I can do so by living or by dying.  Even in death, I know I will be raised up to live with Him forever.  In the faith and hope of this, whether I live or die, it is for His glory and I know I am the Lord’s.

 The follower of Christ lives to the Lord – the most important reality in my life.  Jesus is the hub of my day-to-day existence – everything revolves around Him and my conversation with Him is in being thankful, confessing and asking with some meditative time to listen.  Jesus did model a life of prayer and our impact in the world would be extraordinary if our life were always pointing in a certain direction – Jesus. Wherever I am, whatever company I keep, or the day of the week – my heart is going to God in a spirit of dependence and hope.  I live because I belong to the Lord.

This is all I have to give to those who have fallen to addictions of some kind or have decided they no longer want to live. Hope is what they have coming from somewhere that they can change and I am right in front of them knowing where that hope is coming from. They can be raised up in Jesus who sits at God’s right hand and they can live with Him forever if they believe and put their faith in Him.

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.  If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.  For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. – Romans 14:7-9

We Are the Lord’s; His All Sufficient Merit

1. We are the Lord’s; His all-sufficient merit, Sealed on the cross, to us this grace accords. We are the Lord’s and all things shall inherit; Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

2. We are the Lord’s; then let us gladly tender Our souls to Him in deeds, not empty words. Let heart and tongue and life combine to render No doubtful witness that we are the Lord’s.

3. We are the Lord’s; no darkness brooding o’er us Can make us tremble while this star affords A steady light along the path before us– Faith’s full assurance that we are the Lord’s.

4. We are the Lord’s; no evil can befall us In the dread hour of life’s fast-loos’ning cords; No pangs of death shall even then appal us. Death we shall vanquish, for we are the Lord’s.

Who hopes for what is seen?

Hope in the future is of the very essence of the Christian’s life.  Hope, at the time when I first believed, made me realise my salvation. This is, indeed, implied in the very nature of hope. Its proper object is that which is future and unseen.

“Hope” signifies the grace itself, but here the object of it; which is represented as unseen, not yet fully enjoyed, something future, and to be hoped for; as the resurrection of the dead, which is the object of hope, and is unseen, and even incredible to carnal reason, and is to come, and good foundation there is in divine revelation, to hope for it; and the hope of it is of great use to the saints, whilst in this world of trouble: eternal glory and happiness is also the object of the hope of believers; it is said to be the hope of their calling, which they are called by grace to; the hope of righteousness, which the righteousness of Christ is the ground and foundation of; and that blessed hope, the sum of their happiness; and hope laid up for them in heaven, where it is safe and secure; all which is unseen, and yet to come; but good reason there is to hope for it, since the Scriptures of truth so clearly express it; and the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, lay such a solid foundation for hope of it: the Alexandrian copy reads, “why doth he yet wait for?” and so the Ethiopic version, with which agrees the Syriac version, reading the whole, “for [if] we see it, why should we wait for it?” – John Gill

So simply I am kept, preserved, sustained in all my trials, by hope. There are trials so great that nothing but the prospect of future deliverance would uphold us; and the prospect is sufficient to enable us to bear them with patience.

In essence, we are cheered on and sustained from sinking by the hope of certain deliverance and a complete redemption.  It is in the hope of eternal life, a promise of God. 

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is   seen?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:24-25

Hope’s Song: Rebecca St.James

Walk in newness of life

To have a new life and to move and act in that new life means we are now operating with new principles and under new powers as those who have been justified and have now a new hope because of a new birth.

This walk can be quite difficult – and it helps to know that the glory of the resurrection and the complete putting off of the flesh lies before us.

The Father pronounced His final victory over sin and over death as He raised Jesus from the dead.  We join in that victory as Christ leads us into our new life – not just a different lifestyle; rather one operating from a completely redefined perspective. We are actually made new by and through our relationship with Christ. Again, this does not take away what our walk looks like or the intensity of our struggle that we will encounter.  But it does determine that there is now hope and there is a promise of victory as Christ enfolds us into His resurrection.  Our new walk is one that is done daily with God.

That is why life that has been freely given by grace is not an invitation to sin.  Our hope in a future resurrection makes itself known with the life we live now – one where sin has been put to death and we walk in newness and righteousness of life.

 It is this very promise that one day we will share in this victory that gives us the desire and power to overcome sin right now.

 “Sin can’t enslave a person who is utterly confident and sure and hope-filled in the infinite happiness of life with Christ in the future.” – John Piper

1 Peter 1:3 reminds us that living means our hope is rock solid. Our salvation can be described in the past, present and future.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:3-4

Jesus Lives, and So Shall I – ChurchFolk

I do not count my life of any value to myself

There are many, many moments when I question God’s direction in my life when it comes to the furtherance of my education.  For some strange reason He has found His glory in my lack of education.  On the other hand, Paul, fully and completely educated, tried hard every day to ensure his life did not matter at all – he only wanted to make sure every person would have the opportunity of hearing the good news of God’s grace.

In light of that vision, nothing moved Paul, even the countless times he almost lost his life.  Even at his last trip to Jerusalem where he knew he would end his missionary journeys, his hope was in the Gospel, and the ministry of the word.  His faith was strong, he had no fear and he did not alter his purpose and knew he was completing his design.

There may have been even a sense of happiness that he was finishing his course well. He did not need an extra day or week to do more – his satisfaction and joy was in what he had done.  I am sure he was tired of the warfare in his journey and was looking towards the comfort he knew would be found being with Jesus.

So this message of grace, this message Paul preached everyday, what can we say about it? I found a sermon from Spurgeon on this and thought it might add some great thoughts..

Spurgeon in his sermon on this passage declared…

I shall try to proclaim that word, “GRACE,” so that those who know its joyful sound shall be glad, and those who despise it shall be cut to the heart! Grace is the essence of the Gospel! Grace is the one hope for this fallen world! Grace is the sole comfort of saints looking forward to Heaven!…Let me try to explain in a brief manner how the Gospel is the good news of Grace. The Gospel is an announcement that God is prepared to deal with guilty man on the ground of free favor and pure mercy. There would be no good news in saying that God is just, for, in the first place, that is not even news—we know that God is just. The natural conscience teaches man that. That God will punish sin and reward righteousness is not news at all and, if it were news, yet it would not be good news, for we have all sinned—and upon the ground of justice we must perish. But it is news and news of the best kind, that the Judge of all is prepared to pardon transgression and to justify the ungodly! It is good news to the sinful that the Lord will blot out sin, cover the sinner with righteousness and receive him into His favor—and that not on account of anything he has done, or will do—but out of Sovereign Grace!

Though we are all guilty without exception and all most justly condemned for our sins, yet God is ready to take us from under the curse of His Law and give us all the blessedness of righteous men as an act of pure mercy! Remember how David saw this and spoke of it in the 32nd Psalm—“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” This is a message worth dying for, that through the Covenant of Grace, God can be just and yet the Justifier of him that believes in Jesus! That He can be the righteous Judge of men and yet believing men can be freely justified by His Grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus! That God is merciful and gracious—and is ready to bless the most unworthy—is a wonderful piece of news, worth a man’s spending a hundred lives to tell! My heart leaps within me as I repeat it in this Hall and tell the penitent, the desponding and the despairing that, though their sins deserve Hell, yet Grace can give them Heaven and make them fit for it—and that as a sovereign act of love—altogether independent of their character or what they deserve! Because the Lord has said, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion,” there is hope for the most hopeless! Since “it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy,” (Rom. 9:16), there is an open door of hope for those who otherwise might despair!…

The Gospel message is of Grace because it is directed to those whose only claim is their need. (A Gospel Worth Dying For)

 But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace. – Acts 20:24

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

What must I do to be saved?

Are you willing to turn from what you have been trusting and transfer all your hope of heaven upon Christ?

What hope then do we have? God has made it possible for us to be reconciled to Him by providing a perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins. God sent His Son, Jesus, to live a perfect life so that He could die, not for His own sins, but for ours.  

How can we can receive forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life? The Bible’s answer is that salvation is a free gift of God’s grace which we receive through Jesus by responding to Him in faith.

 But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.  Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay.  He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God. – Acts 16:28-34

We believe

… through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved. Peter compares these two contrary points – to have hope in the grace of Christ and to be under the yoke of the law.  So if we cannot receive salvation until the yoke of the law is removed then it follows that salvation is not in keeping the law at all and it also follows that those who have accepted the grace of Jesus are not subject to the curse of the law.   So it is that we hope for salvation by the grace of Christ.

To speak of salvation it is assumed that one would need salvation from something.  Jesus said He had come to seek and to save the lost.  What does it mean to be lost?

  • To be without hope and without God in this world.
  • To not know what it is to live now, and have no hope for life to come. 
  • Those who were dead while they were still alive.
  • It means to spend eternity in hell.

We believe…our church is doing a sermon series on the Apostle’s Creed – here is a bit of a taste of why such a statement of faith was necessary for the early Church.  Peter here is declaring his first statement of faith – “we believe through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved.” 

“Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.  God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.  He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.  Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?  No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” – Acts 15:6-11

We Believe – Kenneth Cope.wmv