Fear God and do what is right

Peter proclaiming to the house of Cornelius the good news is a truth right from heart of God with equity and love, sweeping away all the narrow-mindedness which, in this case, was the hope of salvation found in being circumcised or in the theology of the Rabbis.  For ourselves, we too may be wrapped up in the theology of our favourite theologian or in our faith’s dogmatism too.  What Peter preached was similar to the words Paul used in Romans —

 Because[a] if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. – Romans 10:9-10

We will only taste the full meaning of salvation when we call on the Lord by whom we shall be saved.

Believing in the name of Jesus does not refer to a general, vague sort of belief. Rather, it is specific and personal. To believe in Jesus means that I believe He is the Lord who gave Himself on the cross for my sins. I believe the promise of God, that whoever believes on Him receives eternal life as God’s gift, not based on any human merit, but only on God’s free grace. To believe in Jesus means that I no longer rely on anything in myself to commend myself to God. Rather, I trust only in what Jesus did on the cross as my hope for forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

When Jesus Christ arrived, He destroyed the effects of evil everywhere He went. He did this openly, before witnesses, where everyone could see. He came to a world that was lost and despairing, without hope. Everywhere He went He set people free and brought again to human hearts the hope that there is a way out of the desperate bondage of fallen humanity. 

 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality,  but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.  You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all.  That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.  We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree;  but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear,  not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.  He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead.  All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” – Acts 10:34-43

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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

God loves me

The redemptive acts of God were Israel’s great hope as they were a fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. They were the inauguration of the national covenant.

That covenant is also the same hope we have too.  It is not because we are special, or more wonderful or more deserving than anyone else – God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us so that we may receive the gift of eternal life with Him.  It was a promise He made to us in Genesis, even before the covenant made with Abraham. 

How deep and wide is that love that He has. It is a love I can place my hope in.

It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you—for you were the fewest of all peoples.  It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations – Deuteronomy 7:7-9

Chris Tomlin – Jesus Loves Me

Fear God and follow His instructions

But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
    in those who hope in his steadfast love. – Psalm 147:11

Ecclesiastes gives us two summary points – there is rampant injustice and oppression in the world and that the escape route we choose – basically false hopes that have to do with affluence – do not provide meaning or satisfaction in this life.  Wealth is a hot button – a gift from God and yet an awful curse when you have it and not God and still a major trial when you have Him.

The Word of God lays out the plan quite clearly, identifying what we are to learn and how hope comes to us through patience and comfort of His Word.  It was written to provide us with instructions on how to live life.  Without it, where would we obtain our hope?

I am of the age where I have lived a little and at different times of the day I will have a memory of something I said or did years ago that was just wrong.  The regret makes we say out loud, “Lord have mercy on me.” My whole family knows what’s going on when I do this.  So the final words of Ecclesiastes are not the final words of Scripture.  Jesus still steps in-between and His death and resurrection matters.

However, all Scripture is given to us as our love letter and our letter of instruction on what it means to love and what it looks like to love – both from God to us and us to God.  It is a person with wisdom who reads and obeys it.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Neighbour or friend is better

The Christian will form his closest friendships with men who share his faith in Christ and his hope of immortality. Such friends will continue to be our friends in the realms that lie beyond death. (R. W. Dale, LL.D.)

 

It can be used to motivate people to become involved in the physical and emotional assistance of members of the community who, for example, have lost a loved one. In the Zulu culture in South Africa friends and family are encouraged to visit those who have lost a loved one. Those who sympathize can assist in cooking, give advice on what to do next, maintain a state of calm and hope for the bereaved family and even spend the night with the family until the night vigil that is on the eve of the day of the burial. Professor Willie van Heerden, University of South Africa

 

and yes it still sucks, but don’t make that about you. Yes it hurts for a bit, but let that hurt heal…don’t linger in it, don’t pine after what isn’t. Celebrate what is. That is you. All of you. Every ounce, every tear, every anxiety and every glimmer of hope. Be the full you that you are meant to be. If your friends want the absolute best for you, why shouldn’t you? Be the amazing you and don’t let that crappy relationship be even a distant memory for you to dwell on. Sara Stacy

 

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts, and our cares.
We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again. – Sara Groves

 Do not forsake your friend or the friend of your parent; do not go to the house of your kindred in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is nearby than kindred who are far away. – Proverbs 27:10

Assurance

I am enjoying my discovery of Hebrews as a book on hope – setting hope up as the foundation of a life of radical, risk-taking, sacrificial love.

When I look at the examples that fall into chapter eleven, I clearly see that the future outlook, which included a reward of joy, was what made the difference.  It was moving in a deeper confidence of God’s promises so that we had the desire to turn from those sins that easily tripped us up and allowing us to live out that radical kind of love that comes from having my hope in God.

While verse one is a definition of faith – doesn’t it have all the components of the three – faith, love, and hope?  It all starts with faith – the foundation.  It has the future which ultimately points to what faith accomplishes and it speaks of radical life of love for God which is how our present lives should be lived out today.  Yes, faith is the very beginning of everything that really matters spiritually.

When I read these stories of people of faith, love and hope – it confirms what I already know – following Jesus is hard work.  I am so convinced of what God has promised is true that my actions will prove them to be so.

Faith itself becomes the proof of an unseen power – it cannot be generated – it comes from God. So the invisible God gives evidence of Himself through faith.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1

The Full Assurance of Hope

The Hope of Assurance

 

What you’ve been called to

Prayer is made for wisdom – asking to know God and His ways.

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:18-19

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 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,  and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. – Ephesians 1:17-19

I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we[a] may do for Christ. – Philemon 6

 So that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. – Colossians 1:10

I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself,[a]  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. – Colossians 2:2-3

In practice, that will be found in those who hide God’s Word in them, feeding on it daily, acquiring a habitual bent towards spiritual matters.  How hopeful am I when I preach that someone’s soul is listening.  When the heart applies to the Word and some portion of it enters in, it makes room for more.

My child, if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you,  making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;  if you indeed cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding;  if you seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures—  then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. – Proverbs 2:1-5

Ephesians 4:4

Called to Hope

The hope to which we are called

God Called Us into Life and Hope

Live worthy of your calling

 

Prayer prompts us to continue

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 – 2 Corinthians 1:10

Prayer prompts us to continue in hope —

I praise You God, my deliverer.

You have unlimited power over the enemy and the trouble I face. I invite You into this situation. Deliver me from evil.

Let Your love and truth be revealed. In Your great power, conquer all that is meant to harm me.

I believe You can do more than I can ask or imagine in love and in obscurity. You delivered people from lions and fire. You can certainly deliver me.

I believe You are already acting on my behalf to deliver me. You are where my help comes from.

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen

Prayer gives us hope today, and peace, and even joy and gratitude. Indeed, “taste and see that the Lord is good” can be our testimony today.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears – Psalm 34:4

Prayer for Hope and Strength

The Power of Praying God’s Words

 

His steadfast love

Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
    on those who hope in his steadfast love Psalm 33:18

It was Psalm 32 that God gave me when I was 14 years old, but it was Psalm 33 that expresses exactly what happened the night I read Psalm 32.

I started to go to Sunday School at a Presbyterian church, invited and taken by my friend and neighbour Mark Findley and his family – I was ten years old.  Two years later we moved and started to attend the closest church to our home, a Missionary church.  At twelve I knew something was missing and was just not sure what it was.  I knew though that I wanted God to be a very special part of my life.  At that time God was just beginning to be a resurrected interest in the life of my parents.

I started praying every night that God would take my life and use it and of course I wanted to know how He was going to use it so that I might prepare myself.  For two years He did not respond.

At fourteen, I remember that I had enough – praying every night and no response?  I fell across by bed and said to myself that there must not be a God and a split second later I remember telling myself, who was I kidding – He was real.  So I prayed what I thought would be my last prayer and asked God to show me what He wanted to tell me.

I picked up my Bible, opened it with my eyes closed, took my finger and landed on Psalm 32:8.  Could not have been more personal, could not have been more real, could not have been more perfectly timed – God had spoken.

Hope filled my soul – peace filled my heart – joy was deep and resident — this verse sustained me in years of hell. They were my anchor through the storms and in fact, may I dare say, they turned those years into moments of blessing because I always knew His eye was on me, guiding me, and loving me.

Could not have asked for more.  Today, those memories of hell are not remembered with ill-will.  They are remembered for so many teaching moments, so many moments when God’s love consumed by body and took me out of my hell for moments of incredible experiences with Him. I am today who I am because He instructed me, He taught me and He counselled me – and I put my hope completely in Him and Him alone.

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. – Psalm 32:8

His Love Endures Forever – Michael Smith + Lyrics.wmv

Psalm 147:11

THE STABILITY OF HIS STEADFAST LOVE

In His Steadfast Love, God Will Meet Me

The Pleasure of God in Those Who Hope in His Love

Hope in God’s Steadfast Love

HOPE IN HIS STEADFAST LOVE

Steadfast Love

 

Meshing faith, hope and love

Lord, thank you for the stretching times. Thank you for moving us into situations that are new and sometimes scary with the purpose of helping us grow. Thank you for your loving debriefing. Thank you for new hope. Thank you for a chance to be part of your mission, to see your power move through our lives. Thank you. In your powerful and loving Name, I pray. Amen.

Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel, provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel. – Colossians 1:5,23

How am I to be an evangelist today?  I ask the question because it is asked not only for those who are called to be but is part of the role and identify of every follower of Christ.  It is not easy, but there are indicators of what an evangelist looks like as they share the Good News.  It starts with the awareness that the human heart hungers for God, whether they know it or not.  Then we had best leave the things we are attached to behind – have just enough so that there is little attachment to the things of this world.  Be confident but not overbearing. Do your sharing with joy.  Finally, be prepared to have a story to share, a testimony of hope you have in you when the appropriate moment for words open up.

You proclaim the Good News by every thought, action and deed that your surrendered heart will lead you to perform. The fire that is lit in you was given because of the gift of salvation and so you live with a love inside you that makes you unstoppable in expressing that love to others. We are invited to abide in that truth, meshing faith, hope and love into our actions.

When we personally exercise activity in doing good, we grow in Christian excellence. Love increases by loving.  Hope builds up just by hoping.  Zeal starts a fire and keeps the fire going and arousing the heat. Knowledge is sustained and established by the effort of teaching others as opposed to studying for one’s self.  To the person who uses their gifts and talents, extra talents and gifts are given to them.

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.  He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic.  Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there.  Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”  They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere. – Luke 9:1-6

Faith, Hope, and Love through Doubt in Tennyson ‘ s In Memoriam