Keeping promises and committed to love

When God promises to do something for ever, all of eternity is being shaped.  That is why our covenant with Him is so central.

Our hope is not in our ability – our hope is in His ability to hold us.  Our trust is not in ourselves – it is in what Jesus Christ has done.  Our faith is not in our good works – it is in His good work for us – that is why we say…”Lord, there is no God like you!”

This is the story with Solomon dedicating the temple – it is also a story of God’s unrelenting commitment to God’s people through divine words of hope, judgment, summons and warning – all because God is seeking to maintain this covenantal relationship with His people. A patient and merciful God awaits our response and listens to our prayers.

The promises of God – what we hope for tomorrow – changes who we are today.  These promises are foundational doctrines that colour all of lives as believers, both in times of temptation and in our trials.  These promises of God motivate holiness and awaken expectation and confidence in our pursuit of the Lord.

O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart – 1 Kings 8:23

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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

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

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.

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

Turn to the Lord

 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth,[a] 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[b] through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.[c]  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.[d]  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[e] 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

Go

From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia[a]
    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

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

 

 

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

Fear and hope in God

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! 

Deuteronomy 5:29

Fear of the Lord by Tommy Walker