This morning I would like to talk about my hope. The hope I have in Jesus Christ. The strength and wisdom that comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I try to share the challenges of life that I experience as well as the mountain tops, but I am not sure that I adequately share my hope, and that thought keeps weighing on me. This morning I could ignore it no longer.
This morning it came in a devotional by Timothy Keller and a verse in Proverbs 14.
Proverbs 14:26 (ESV)
26 In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
and his children will have a refuge.
Keller reminded me that before Christ Jesus I depended on my intellect, my Dad, other guys I respected or brute force experimenting to solve problems, but all these methods, though familiar, fall short, and they cannot prepare you for all the storms that may enter your life. Only God can do that, and I place my Hope in Him.
My hope is in Christ Jesus. Though for a moment I may slip back into the familiar the Holy Spirit patiently directs me back to my true hope. Sometimes it takes only a moment, and sometimes it may be a few days, but God is faithful and patient, and He has opened my eyes to so much. He has opened His Word to me and my heart to accept things that I never saw. Every day is something new.
When the adversary tries to use a circumstance in my life, it is not long before the Lord reminds me of
Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
With that passage, I am reminded of all that Jesus did for me. He died that I might live. He took on my sin and the sin of all that I might be forgiven. John 1:1-5 flashes in my head.
John 1:1-5 (ESV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
What joy there is in this.
The other thing that Keller talked about is the next level of trust in God. This trust is different than trusting God to save. It is trusting His plan even when I do not understand it. This trust came to me about three years ago with the stroke.
Never in my life would I have believed that something that would take away my ability to work or to problem solve or ride a motorcycle or… would be a blessing. But it has been. God showed me a level of grace that I could not fathom and drew me closer than I thought I could ever be to Him. He showed me how to have true confidence in Him.
Yes, there are times that I fall back into what is familiar. But those things fail me now. Sure, I can write this blog, but that is at my own pace and with God to guide me at His pace. When the furnace goes out, and I get thinking about a solution I simply get distracted and wound up instead of trusting God to bring me through it. It is the truly little things in this world that are the easiest distraction because they are things that I, ruled over. I, (as in 10 feet tall and bulletproof), took care of when an issue arose.
When I say I took care of the others may disagree because I was not much fun to be around until they were resolved. To say I fretted over them was being kind. But God changed that using a stroke that I brought on with all that fretting to change my heart.
Though all that time he showed me the truth of Romans 8:28 and the fact that in trials we have two choices. We can draw closer to God or turn from Him. I am overwhelmed by how God worked through everything to change my heart. He used the Word, my church family, friends, circumstances and my wife Pat to soften my heart so that when my stubbornness brought on this stroke, I turned to Him. I see so much more in His Word now. I love Romans 8:26-28
Romans 8:26-28 (ESV)
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
But not only that passage, but 23-25 as well.
Romans 8:23-25 (ESV)
23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
That passage leads me back to Hope; hope and trust.
Reflections (Hope and Trust)
The gift that God has given us is so amazing. He gave His Son to die for the sin of the world that we might live. I love the way Paul explains it in Ephesians 2. It is a short chapter, but it is so powerful. He discusses grace through faith.
Faith in God’s promise. I also like the way Peter explained it in his first sermon in Acts 2 just after receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:37-41 (ESV)
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Our hope and faith rests in Christ Jesus.
In closing, I am taken back to Romans 8 beginning in verse 31.
Romans 8:31-39 (ESV) “God’s Everlasting Love”
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God is our fortress. He is our hope. If I can trust that he created this world, why would I not trust that he can see me through a financial issue or a furnace or car trouble? No, he does not want me to sit on my hands and wait. He wants to act but pray for guidance and trust in Him in His Word and know that He is God, and His promise is true.
In all things, my Hope and Trust is in God. I may falter, but God will not let me fall if I will always turn to Him prayerfully in His Word.
My heart is full, and my joy cannot be contained. Jesus is my King and His Word lights my path.
Father, today my prayer is a simple thank-you for all that you do every day. I praise you and give thanks that through Your Word You allow me to draw close. Forgive me on those days when I overlook your promise and fall back into old patterns. Thank you for the gift of repentance and grace. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen!