So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God. – Ephesians 2:11-22
Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralyzed. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!” And immediately he got up. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. – Acts 9:32-35
Turn to Jesus – Hermann Kim
From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
my suppliants, my scattered ones,
shall bring my offering. – Zephaniah 3:10
Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and do not let the eunuch say,
“I am just a dry tree.”
For thus says the Lord:
To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
I will give, in my house and within my walls,
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.
And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it,
and hold fast my covenant— Isaiah 56:3-6
The story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch is a powerful one. When I read it again I saw two sets of hope – Philip knew an adventure was coming when God asked him to go along a wilderness road and the eunuch made a long trip in hopes of finding more of God. Then I found the third and fourth hope, but I guess they count as one since the Holy Spirit inspired both Zephaniah and Isaiah.
The Holy Spirit was still trying to woo the Ethiopian as we saw his thirst in still reading the scroll of Isaiah. Here in the Old Testament, the revelation of Jesus as the sacrificed lamb was powerful enough to save.
But in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you – 1 Peter 3:15
When we think about opportunities to share the gospel, we can trust the Holy Spirit to already have gone ahead of us to prepare the heart that needs to hear. If you care about those who will be eternally separated from God, if you suspect and hope that you are a link in the many influences of a person becoming a follower of Christ and even if you are a bit nervous about pushing Jesus – sharing your faith is still something you want to do even if it is rather intimidating – it is your turn to trust Him – He will lead the way, you only need to follow and serve.
Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. – Acts 8:26-27
Go – Hillsong United
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
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
Following God is not something we do just once, or at certain times, it is a lifestyle that continually embeds all of our activities. It has faith and love as principles with the idea that our lives and all that we do will bring glory to God. Our strength to live such a life comes from Jesus. The underlying move of the Holy Spirit is to make sure that we never lose that fear of God, to have reverence for His name, and to regard His word for where there is no reverence for God will we really find faith, hope, and love? For if the Holy Spirit enables us to walk a walk that follows God, then we know that walk will be one that comes out of the sense of His incredible love and desire to bless us and keep us.
God is pleased when we come to Him with reverence for and fear in His divine majesty. He would like that to be in our lives always knowing that this is the move of the Holy Spirit in our lives that enables us to stay steadfast in our walk with Him. It is here that He can bless us as promised. God can transform us easily enough, but He is looking for that desire that comes from our will to follow Him even in the midst of our own nature. He is looking at us as His creation, designed to be rational and intelligent beings knowing that we are influenced by moral motives, reason and argument, persuasion and conviction and especially as seen in the life of Job that I have been reading lately, hopes and fears.
So out of the Old Testament we found ourselves in a New Testament world that proclaims good news. God has called us to walk with Him in a New Covenant through Jesus. It is now in Him that we have hope for eternal life and intimacy with God.
If only they had such a mind as this, to fear me and to keep all my commandments always, so that it might go well with them and with their children forever!
These cities set apart as a sort of asylum gave people a recourse to safety when their lives were in danger. The Greek translation speak well when describing them as “cities of flight.” Even the New Testament speaks about our hope that comes from our place of refuge.
So that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us. – Hebrews 6:18
Here the city of refuge, as a place for us to put our hope, is Jesus. He is our hope that will anchor us and will draw us into safety.
Lord, You are our refuge in times of trouble and You will never abandon those who seek You. You are merciful when we seek Your forgiveness and become our place of hope and restoration. We come with humble and contrite hearts. When we are surrounded by the wickedness of the world, we can endure because You are our fortress and our shield. Thank you for Your faithfulness. May Your Holy Spirit guide us in understanding how the cities of refuge that you established in the Old Testament with guide us in understanding You.
As these appointed cities were the only hope for those who had found themselves in the wrong, whether justly or not, Jesus has become the same for those who find themselves separated from God because of their sin, and the condemnation and punishment that comes with continuing in sin.
Even Zechariah made reference to cities of refuge by calling them prisons of hope. In the gospel there is no respect of persons. The soul who rejects Christ rejects God’s favour and the soul who decides to live their lives in the hope for salvation and eternal life in Jesus, finds refuge.
The towns that you give to the Levites shall include the six cities of refuge, where you shall permit a slayer to flee, and in addition to them you shall give forty-two towns. – Number 35:6
Good is only what happens when God’s glory is manifested. Good includes blessing, God’s promises recorded in the Bible and His purposes as we live out our lives in light of those promised blessings. It is in fact the very reason we can turn away from the world’s definition of blessing because we know our hope is not found in a world that is fading but in the light of the glory of God awaiting us.
Job was such a person of example – Job’s rock of refuge and hope when everything else seemed to be crumbling was the absolute sovereignty of God
It’s one thing to believe intellectually in the nearness of God to us; it’s quite another to experience that nearness. How can you learn to draw close to God and to derive hope and comfort from this relationship?
One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.” Then Satan answered the Lord, “Skin for skin! All that people have they will give to save their lives. But stretch out your hand now and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, he is in your power; only spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes. Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to go and console and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. – Job 2:1-13
Do we remember what is was like when we walked this life without Jesus? Do we remember how we acted like we had it all together – for those who came to Christ at an older age we may have even defined ourselves as successful. Jesus though saw our hearts. Saw our despair.
Remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. – Ephesians 2:12
Jesus saw us as part of His family. Yes, He had eyes of compassion when He saw us missing the meaning and purpose of life. So Jesus looks at this lost world and says that just as He brought me to Him He wants to bring them all to Him – not only does He want too, He says that they are ready to come. In order for us to understand, we need to see the world as Jesus does, look through His eyes to see how lost people are and then to experience the compassion of Christ to them. We need to have the expectancy and hopefulness of Jesus and anticipate this harvest time. I want to look at my neighbours, colleagues, classmates and associates and see them as potential followers of Jesus. We know the world is missing Him.
If you are like me, what is holding us back, what is paralyzing us to share who we are in Christ? God, by design, established the universe – whether you enjoy the stars in the sky or the trees of the forest – He knows them all by name, even knows the number of hairs on our head. There is hope, even in the midst of what we think is too big for us. Since we know the Lord of the harvest, we can ask Him to send out those He has called.
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” – Matthew 9:35-38
Jackie Evancho – To Believe
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities. – Psalm 130:3-4, 7-8
Messiah had come. God was among them. There was cause for hope.
And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, “Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—”Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings. – Matthew 9:2-8
Hillsong United – Oh You Bring
When you think you have done everything you can, understand that God loves to rescue those who think they have no hope, you are called to run to Him, His name, for it is a safe place, a place set where no harm can even come near.
This word is to the sinner who has not yet found peace. Do not you see, man, the Christian is not saved by what he is, but by what his God is, and this is the groundwork of our comfort—that God is perfect, not that we are perfect. When I preached last Thursday night about the snuffers of the temple and the golden snuffer trays, and the necessity there was for the lamps in the sanctuary to be trimmed, one foolish woman said, “Ah, you see, according to the minister’s own confession these Christians are as bad as the rest of us, they have many faults; oh!” said she, “I dare say I shall be as well off at the last as they will.” Poor soul! she did not see that the Christian’s hope does not lie in what he is, but in what Christ is; our trust is not in what we suffer, but in what Jesus suffered; not in what we do, but in what He has done. It is not our name I say again that is a strong tower to us, it is not even our prayer, it is not our good works; it is the name, the promise, the truth, the work, the finished righteousness of our God in Christ Jesus. Here the believer finds his defense and nowhere besides. Run sinner, run, for the castle gate is free to all who seek a shelter, be they who they may. – Charles Spurgeon
No doubt – there is an ultimate authority, a true constant, a rock beneath the quicksand, a protector and an absolute truth – His name is Jesus. In His name there is safety, rest, peace, and any attempt to find hope elsewhere will ultimately bring you back to Him for Jesus name is the surest hope for safety.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe. – Proverbs 18:10
The Name of the Lord Is a Strong Tower