Archive for July, 2012

Rising Early For Hope

July 28, 2012

As I have stated over and over, I had No diffidence of assured HOPE in my life before Christ. I am an earlier riser which is a matter that I am sure most of you know by now. Most of the time, especially when school is in session, I am up around 3:00 a.m. Rising early has not always been a penchant for me, neither has having HOPE. I began rising early when I read Mark 1:35 where Jesus provides a model of how we should spend time with the Father to start our day. On the subject of eating well, I recently had someone tell me that they are eating to live while another told me “Why should I be more concerned with the quality of gas I am putting in my car than the quality of food I am putting in my body?” Similarly, yet more significant, why should I not spend time with God early in the morning feeding my soul. After all, the body will destroyed when we die; however, the soul or spirit continues on.

David had a keen since of how he needed to invest his time early in the morning. Let’s listen to what he said once more in Psalm 119:145-147. Here is what David said:

145 I call with all my heart; answer me, O Lord,
and I will obey your decrees.
146 I call out to you; save me
and I will keep your statutes.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
    I have put my hope in your word.

David, like Jesus modeled years later, was Rising Early for Hope. We must place our trust, confidence, faith, hope in the living Word of God. “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 If we engage God through His Word and prayer, He is able to impart HOPE to us long before the cares of the day bombard us. As the Falcons would say, “Rise Up” not for play but for HOPE.

HOPE in Suffering

July 27, 2012

There are times in life when we need to be verbose. Today is not one of them. We have been peering into the Word about the HOPE of God. We have seen that Jesus offers us HOPE from the wrath of God because of our disobedience. He offers us HOPE through the peace of God provided through Him. In our text today, Psalm 119:49-50, we see God’s HOPE being realized in suffering.

Whoever tells you that Christians will not suffer LIED (suffer). While believer’s suffering in America is relatively nominal in comparison to those in the universal church, it does not minimize our challenge to trust the Lord in the midst of our hardship. David in Psalm 119:49-50

49 Remember your word to your servant,
for you have given me hope.
50 My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life.

Ligonier Ministry tells us that memory plays a key role in the psalms (Ps. 77). When in distress, it brings healing to remember God’s gracious acts in the past. In this case, David beseeches God in prayer for that mercy and grace which he hoped anchored in God’s promise to preserve his life.
This was David’s experience. In our personal relationship, we find our own verses that have become personal and meaningful because God has walked us through the fires of our lives. Look back over your life in conjunction with promises from His Word that He gave you to carry you through in order to establish your comfort. If you have not those experiences, I suggest that you either search the Word of God for promises that speak to your circumstances or that you examine the depth and level of commitment that you have made to Jesus.
If you want HOPE in Suffering, you must stand on the Word of God.

Hope’s Foundation

July 25, 2012

Most of us know the story of the Three Little Pigs. The focus of the story is houses. Houses supposedly serve as protection – dare I say HOPE from harm. How the pigs built their houses determined the surety of their HOPE. Let’s reflect on how the pigs built their homes. One built his house out of straw. Another built his house out of wood, and the last pig built his house out of brick. We know about the wolf saying “I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in!” He was successful in blowing in the houses of the first two pigs because their houses were not firm. They were not solid. It is safe to say that their HOPE was not founded or centered in the right place. The last pig who built his house out of bricks was safe. The wolf could not blow his house in.

A parallel can be drawn to almost everything in the physical world that represents a spiritual truth. The story of the Three Little Pigs is no different. The surety of your HOPE determines your survival from danger or harm. In spiritual layman’s language, our HOPE is only as sound/solid as the one in whom we trust. In Psalm 119:41-42, we see what Matthew Henry calls the “two pillars” of HOPE surface. They are God’s grace and God’s promise of salvation both in the temporal and eternal. David shows his dependence on God’s grace and salvation. Listen to what David says:

41 May your unfailing love come to me, O Lord,
your salvation according to your promise;
42 then I will answer the one who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.

Grace and salvation are purported to be the two pillars on which our HOPE is built, and grace and salvation will not fail us. Among other blessings, the Word of God tells us that those who HOPE in Him will inherit the land, will not be disgraced, will renew their strength, and will not be disappointed. Titus 3:4-7 tell us “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Our salvation must be attributed purely to God’s mercy, and not to any merit of our own. Jude 1:20-21 20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”

We see that God’s grace brings salvation – salvation from present perils in this world and eternal perils in the life after. Without Christ, we are told in the book of Jude that eternal life will not be brought to us. John 17:3 says, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” If you want eternal life, you must HOPE in Christ. “11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” 1 Corinthians 3:11-13

When God comes to test your faith by His righteous huffs and puffs, will your house fall in? If you trust in Christ, it will not.

Hope to Share with our Children

July 24, 2012

Genesis 1:27-28 says “27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” First, let me say that I have read nearly an hour in efforts to help define “image” Over the years, there are theologians who have not reconciled their thoughts on this matter. Huge positions over image and likeness exist, so for me to think that I could succinctly provide a definition would be grossly unresponsible. Nevertheless, the point that we need to focus on is that God has called us to emulate His person, His character.

One characteristic of God is glory. God seeks to bring glory to himself.

Psalm 78 (NKJV)

Give ear, O my people, to my law;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.

For He established a testimony in Jacob,
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers,
That they should make them known to their children;
That the generation to come might know them,
The children who would be born,
That they may arise and declare them to their children,
That they may set their hope in God, (Then they would put their trust in God – NIV1984)
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments;

In the first verse of this psalm, the writer tells them to listen up to what I have to say. He says that he is going to remind them of the history of things – things told to him and he should tell to them. Likewise, they are to tell their descendants all in honor of who God is and what He has done. By verse 5, the call is to remember the 10 Commandments. Together with a history of how God has related to the people and with the 10 Commandments, the purpose of this is revealed. We should tell ourselves and our children, and anyone else as far as God is concerned, that they put their HOPE in God, and not forget the works of God that is that which He has done for His people as well as His work in creation.

According to Ligonier Ministries, the object of the history lesson is not merely antiquarian, but to deepen the faith and obedience of God’s people. I believe the expectation is that remembering those things would help us to keep his commands. God is honored by our obedience. God is glorified by our obedience. Moreover, our hope rises from remembering who God is and what He has done. As a part of our mandate to be fruitful, we have to impart our devotion and commitment to God to our children and to all in our horizon.

Tell someone about Jesus today. Let them know that Colossians 1 says that without Him they are alienated from God and hostile toward Him because of their disobedience, but that through Christ Jesus, God is ready to reconcile them to Himself to make them holy and blameless and beyond reproach— That is the image of God that He wants conveyed. At that point, we will be “like” God.

Hope since My Youth

July 23, 2012

For the past several posts, I have used Psalms as the backdrop of my writings. Today is not different. We are in Psalm 71 today. According to Matthew Henry, “David penned this psalm in his old age, as appears by several passages in it, which makes many think that it was penned at the time of Absalom’s rebellion; for that was the great trouble of his later days. It might be occasioned by Sheba’s insurrection, or some trouble that happened to him in that part of his life of which it was foretold that the sword should not depart from his house. But he is not over-particular in representing his case, because he intended it for the general use of God’s people in their afflictions, especially those they meet with in their declining years; for this psalm, above any other, is fitted for the use of the old disciples of Jesus Christ.”

Like David, most of us have experienced challenges in our lives where we longed for God’s help in dealing with the hardships. Hear an excerpt from David’s prayer to the LORD God. What does David say about HOPE.

For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord,
my confidence since my youth.

From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.

In verse 5, notice the attribute ascribed to the LORD God – O Sovereign Lord or as KJV says O Lord God. The double use of the words Lord God are reflected in Adonay Yĕhovih. You can look it up by clicking the link, but know that it is a reverential address of the Supreme God. I suggest that David is acknowledging that God is in charge and despite how difficult the times have been by having your son try to assume your kingship, David still trusted in the Lord. This is key because we have a tendency to blame God when things go wrong.

Our believe about who God is continues to drive how we respond when we face hardships. We will either be drawn closer to God in greater dependency, or we will be repulsed because of our disbelief. Confidence is defined as a sure and firm hope. Dictionary.com defines it as full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing. In this case, David is referring to the LORD God.

Do you have a full trust in God? David said that since his youth, perhaps he was referring to the time he faced Goliath, God has been his HOPE. The word used for hope in verse 5 is tiqvah which means to have an expectation. David has expected God to be his confidence since he was young. Now that he is old, nothing has changed. He is recounting that to himself all while reaffirming to himself who God is in his life.

Has the Lord God been your hope since your youth? Is He your hope now? If not, surrender your life to Jesus, who is the hope of God for us, to experience the unfailing love of God.

The Hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas

July 21, 2012

I have said and will continue to say that our hope is not in a favorable to our cry or plea to save us from a challenging circumstance or situation. Our HOPE is that we know God and more importantly, He knows us. By know, I mean more than the mere conscious awareness of someone, but an intimate knowledge of who we are, what are our strengths and our weaknesses, of what’s happening in our lives in this very moment. A knowledge that affords us access to petition Him about our concerns but realizing the HOPE is in knowing Him and His unfailing love for those who have surrendered to Him.

In Psalm 65, the LORD God gives us more insight through His servant David. Listen

When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave our transgressions.
Blessed are those you choose
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.

You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness,
O God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth 
and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
Those living far away fear your wonders;
where morning dawns and evening fades
you call forth songs of joy.

Verse four says, “Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.” This verse conveys what I opened with as well as what Psalm 16:11 says. The greatest blessing is the grace of God which He affords those whom He chose to enjoy His fellowship. This is the most significant HOPE and blessing we have: to enjoy the fellowship of the Almighty God.

God is not aloof. He is intricately involved in our lives. In fact, He is involved with all of His creation. Ligonier Ministries interprets verse 5 as that God answers prayer by intervening in history and in the lives of His people. The psalmist knows that the Lord is not simply another god among many; He is the God of the universe.

Whether people follow Jehovah or not, He is the God of creation. While many may call on other so-called gods, He is the one true God. The God of all power as is indicated in verse 6 and 7. Job said, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” We HOPE because we are not able, “24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:24-25

Refuge of Hope

July 20, 2012

Yesterday was my second day back in the school building after attending several conferences and family reunions. I received some personnel news that left me scrambling among all the other requisite tasks to complete. It is truly a challenge to stay sane or encouraged, but I reflected on HOPE unfortunately after experiencing a bit of dismay. Sometimes, I just want to crawl into a corner and hide. We all seek refuge from that which assails us, but those who trust in the LORD God are the only ones who will truly find refuge both now and in the life after. Like I have previously shared, seeing the LORD God as our HOPE is a momentary endeavor.

This brings us back to the Word of God in Psalm 62. It only has 12 verses. You should read it a couple of times to be blessed. I want to highlight the verses below.

Psalm 62:5-8

5 My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him. (NASB)

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge. (NIV1984)

Verse five is a repeat of verse one. It simply means that true contentment can only be experienced through a right relationship with God. For us, Christ has told us in John 14:6 that “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We must wait or hope in God in the midst of our challenging circumstances. They are the vices God has ordained to drive us to dependency in Him. Once more, our hope is only in Him. Verse 6 tells us that He is our foundation (rock), deliverer (salvation), protector (fortress) and stabilizer (not shaken). God is our Refuge of Hope.

Refuge of Hope is entirely different from Hope of Refuge. In the latter, one is looking for that which is his salvation while the former conveys a realization of your salvation is already possessed. For the believer, we already have a salvation – a hope- in God. For the nonbeliever, you are hoping of securing hope –  a salvation. Saints, God is our Refuge of Hope. Let’s run to Him today when life’s circumstances or challenges assails us.

Hope for Haters

July 18, 2012

The word “Hater” is a ubiquitous colloquialism. There have been poems, quotes,  t-shirts, bumper stickers, videos and even movies with some aspect of their foci dedicated to addressing ‘haters’, but what is a hater? According to the Urban Dictionary, a hater is a person that develops a strong dislike for another, solely basing their own opinion on personal judgment rather than objective merit. The formation of a hater’s contempt commonly arises from jealously and/or resentment.

While it appears that the word hater is a relatively new phenomenon, the concept of haters has been around since the first family. Cain hated on Abel. Leah and Rachel had an element of haterism in their sibling relationship. Likewise, Joseph’s brothers hated on him. Saul hated on David. The Pharisees hated on Jesus, but non of those describe the biggest hater of all. This triad has been hating since creation. The combination of satan, sin and man has demonstrated hate toward God from the beginning. Adam had a choice between good and evil, life and death. What did he choose? Evil and death. He chose to disobey God. Disobedience to God is the greatest form of hate of all time, and it has been consistent since satan was kicked out of heaven. He pulled Adam into hating God; yet, God has offered HOPE for Haters. In Psalm 38, we see David express HOPE for Haters. He had sinned bringing on God’s chastisement or God’s rebuke for disobedience. David begins this Psalm by acknowledging it was his actions that spurred on God’s reproof which manifested itself in Hating from other men.

Matthew Henry described it as such: “This is one of the penitential [expressing regret for one’s wrongdoing or sinning; contrition; repentance] psalms; it is full of grief and complaint from the beginning to the end. David’s sins and his afflictions are the cause of his grief and the matter of his complaints. It should seem he was now sick and in pain, which reminded him of his sins and helped to humble him for them; he was, at the same time, deserted by his friends and persecuted by his enemies; so that the psalm is calculated for the depth of distress and a complication of calamities.” David realizes that he is the greatest hater and is repenting for his sin against God. This is where our text shows Davids expression of Hope for Haters. Forgiveness of sin resulting in us having peace restored is the goal of forgiveness – having peace with God and internalizing the peace of God. That’s what David is longing for in this Psalm.

15 For in You, O Lord, I hope;
You will hear, O Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me,
Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.” (NKJV)

David clearly conveys what has been shared over and over – that God alone is our HOPE. Hope for Haters is to renew themselves to their intended position with God. Sin breaches the peace separating man from God. “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.” (NKJV) Isaiah 59:2 Furthermore,”21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation —” (NIV 1984) Colossians 1:21-22. Satan, sin and self (man) are the greatest haters. For man, Christ is the Hope for Haters.

If you want HOPE, seek forgiveness like David, like me.

Envy or Hope, which will you choose?

July 17, 2012

We use the word envy many times during our lives, but what exactly what does it mean? Harold Coffin is quoted to say that “Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” The KJV Dictionary defines envy as “to feel uneasiness, mortification or discontent, at the sight of superior excellence, reputation or happiness enjoyed by another; to repine at another’s prosperity; to fret or grieve one’s self at the real or supposed superiority of another, and to hate him on that account.” What are some thoughts about envy from the Word of God? Proverbs 23:17-18 tells us 17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. 18 There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” 1 Peter 2 tells us to rid ourselves of envy.

In Psalm 37, David challenges the believer not to envy but HOPE in the Lord. Like David, we see the unrighteous and those unconcerned with the things of God prospering. We are challenged not to count what appears to be the blessing of others. The problem with envy is that we never know what’s real in another’s life. In many cases, what appears isn’t what is. This is why David tells us:

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret —it leads only to evil.

For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

Famed commentator Matthew Henry said, “Good people have no reason to envy the worldly prosperity of wicked people, nor to grieve or be uneasy at it, (1.) Because the prosperity of the wicked will soon be at an end (Ps. 37:9): Evil-doers shall be cut off by some sudden stroke of divine justice in the midst of their prosperity; what they have got by sin will not only flow away from them (Job 20:28), but they shall be carried away with it. See the end of these men (Ps. 73:17), how dear their ill-got gain will cost them, and you will be far from envying them or from being willing to espouse their lot, for better, for worse. Their ruin is sure, and it is very near.”

Among the quotes of poets, men of God interpretation of the Word and the Word of God, we are continually challenged to choose the better between Envy or HOPE. If we are honest with ourselves, we spend more time looking at what others have that we don’t. This leads to envious thoughts which lead to sin. Matthew 27:18 tells us that Pilate knew it was out of envy that the Jewish leaders handed Jesus over to him. Once more, envy leads to the rejection of Jesus. We must have hope in Christ. If not, we are Without Hope and Without God in the Worldso Envy or HOPE, which will you choose?

Without Hope and Without God in the World

July 16, 2012

Who are the Eyes of the Lord on? Verse 18 of Psalm 33 tells us that God’s eyes are on those who fear him and on those whose hope is in his unfailing love. Why do we need HOPE? There is a greater reason beyond the day-to-day challenges of life. There is something greater than physical, financial or relational peril. You may be wondering what is greater than being terminally ill, totally broke, or a torn heart. Undoubtedly, those things are a not to be minimized as they really do hurt, but the greatest thing to fear is to be Without Hope and Without God in the World. The Word of God says “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Hebrews 10:30-31 says 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”[b] 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

The dread refers to having to deal with God because you did not take advantage of His grace which is Christ and His salvation. “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:12. I want to remind you that John told us that without Christ 18 … whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son, and 36 …whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” Clearly, the wrath of God evidences His condemnation of the one who remained separated from God because he failed to believe in the name of God’s one and only Son, Jesus.

I am not here to convince you. I have hard enough time of doing that for myself. I am simply here to provide you with that which frees me, the truth of the Word of God. All I can tell you is that once I was blind but now I see. I once was without power to say no to sin; now I can albeit not consistently enough. I once did not have HOPE, but in Christ, I have hope. This is how David concluded Psalm 33. In view of Who is God in this Big World?, we must have hope in Christ. If not, we are Without Hope and Without God in the World.

20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.

Whatever our circumstance is now, God may bring us out of it, or God may bring us through it even death. The greatest focus of our HOPE should be escape the wrath of God. John tells us that God’s wrath remains on him who rejects the Son, Jesus Christ. Where are you? Have you rejected the Son over and over again? Have you surrendered your life to live for the Lord Jesus Christ. Once more, I am not trying to convince you. The life is too hard for that. You must be convinced for yourself that “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” If you aren’t, you will continue to live separated from God. Don’t be deceived. You are only a child of God if you have surrendered your life to lordship of Jesus Christ. John 1:12-13 “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” As Jesus told Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Otherwise, you are Without Hope and Without God in the World and in the afterlife which is far worse than any condition, challenge or circumstance in this life.