Where Is The Hope I Need?

We read Scripture and want to be like this, don’t we? We want to be the ideal and perfect person we see there. We want to keep the laws immaculately, we want to be everything that God wants us to be, don’t we? But without exception our flesh is weak and alone we will never do it, and that repeated failure can create a hopeless feeling. We need help, and we need hope. 

Often people reminisce about years gone by and lament that they didn’t live in previous generations. Just think though, if we found ourselves living in yesteryear, in Old Testament times and under the Old Covenant, then we would be bound to keep laws that try as we might, we would never be able to keep. We would want to, so badly, but whilst the mind is willing, the flesh is so weak (Matthew 26.41). This Old Covenant, this old way of relating to God was rooted in what we needed to do; keep the laws, maintain righteousness (Deuteronomy 30.15-18, 1 Samuel 12.14-15).

The New Covenant, a new way of relating to God, was promised by Jeremiah and was brought into play by the death of Jesus (Jeremiah 31.31-33, Luke 22.20). It sits internally within us, it has the power to actually change you, but it is rooted externally. It no longer rests on you in order to be affective. Can you feel the burden lifted and the hope restored?

The hope we need is not found in anything we do,

in anything we can earn,

or in anything we deserve. 

The hope we need for the future is found in the promise and person of Jesus. He is the guarantor of this covenant, He promises better things for you;

Jesus promised rest (Matthew 11). Burdens are lifted at Calvary and hope came alive.

Jesus promised abundant to those who follow Him (John 10.10). Following Jesus brings us more spiritual fulfilment than we could have ever anticipated. We leave any traces of a boring, restless, unfulfilled life behind.

Jesus promised eternal life to those who trust Him (John 4.14). The Good Shepherd also promised to hold us securely.

Jesus promised that He will return for us (John 14.2-3). From then on, we will be with Him always.

No matter how many promises God has made, they are all yes and amen in Christ (2 Corinthians 1.20). 

Don’t look outwardly for hope as if it rests on circumstances, behaviour, or others. The world as we know it has just crumbled and melted away this past couple of months, hasn’t it? Everything we put stock in for contentment, fulfilment, or security has been found wanting. 

Don’t look inwardly as if it rests on you.

Where is the hope we all need? Look upwardly.

Whatever we are going through, no matter the circumstances, there is no greater hope for today and for the future than the hope found in Jesus.

There is no promise of a trouble free life, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. There will be hardship, there will be tough and troubling times, but, there is the promise that you will not go through it alone.

There is the promise that whatever you are going through, that He knows, that He cares, and that it is all working together to change you little by little more into the image of Himself.

The hope we need is found in the person and promises of Jesus. 

Social Distancing, Physical Distancing, and the Church

As much of the world now goes into lockdown meaning that voluntary social distancing becomes social distancing through government order, I wanted us to pause our study through Job and consider the difference between social distancing and physical distancing.

Rather than term what we are all doing social distancing,

would it not be better to refer to this as physical distancing?

Social distancing means that we are isolated socially, not in touch with anybody, alone, feeling abandoned, and definitely not part of a loving and living body of people (1 Corinthians 12.12).

Physical distancing is simply just that; you don’t get too close to people.

Small difference in choice of words, HUGE difference in understanding, acceptance, and practice.

For the sake of others, let us practice willingly and obediently physical distancing. The church is still the church despite physical distance. Jesus said that on the bedrock truth that He is the Son of God, that He is Divine, that He is the Messiah, that He is Almighty God,

I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

Matthew 16.18b

During times of adversity and tribulation and trial, we will see if the church is really the church.

We will see if this body of people is self-supporting, self-sustaining, and self-supplicating (James 5.16).

We will see if this body of people is Kingdom focused, or kingdom focused (Matthew 6.24).

We will see if the church is filling its God-given mandate to make disciples (Matthew 28.19-20).

We will see if there is fruit and a root (James 2.14-26).

We will see if this called-out-of-the-world group of people really are fully regenerate born again believers part of the living body of Christ, or just a group of consumers who turn up to watch a religious TEDTalk once a week.

This is going sting for some, turn some away (John 6.60), but for those truly in the body this is going to be a defining period of time, a call to action, a call to take up arms, a call to show that yes, we are the church, we aren’t going anywhere, we are here for each other and for the world. 

Brother, sisters, let us practice physical distancing but not social distancing, and let us show the world that we are the church today, tomorrow, and every day.

What Do Words Do?

In between Job’s last question and this one, Bildad interjects and says, basically, that Job ought to listen to the rebuke of his friends. Job then replies and says,

How long will you torment me
and break me in pieces with words?

Job 19.2

Words are so powerful, aren’t they. Here we see Job’s friends using harsh and hard words towards him. Remember that old saying that ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me‘? It’s not true, is it. Hard words hurt. Harsh words hurt. Even more so when tensions are high and emotions are frayed. Job is enduring the worst of all earthly circumstances and his friends have not chosen their words wisely, it seems. 

We read in Proverbs that 

Kind words are like honey—
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

16.24

Words have the power to cut people down, but they also have the power to build people up. We read in the book of James that it is so important that we choose our words wisely (3.1-12). Words are so powerful, aren’t they.

Try as we might, we will never make the right choice with our words 100% of the time. But, there was One who did. Peter described this One as having words of eternal life (John 6.68-69). 

There is only one place to go for words that always heal, always encourage, always edify, always build up.

There is only one place to go for words that are always sweet to the soul and are always healthy to the body.

There is only one place to go for words of eternal life.

In this time of global uncertainty, I would encourage you to make the same decision Peter does here,

…Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6.67-69

Faith – Hebrews 11.1

Yesterday at Saar Fellowship we had an all-age family service talking about faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, 

the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11.1

We talked about what faith is not, and then said that faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing.

Everyone put trust into action when they sat on the chairs provided; their physical senses told them that the chair was worth trusting, and our faith is what allows us to trust things of a Spiritual nature.

So far in Hebrews then, we have been encouraged to put our faith into the Word of God, and the work that Jesus did and does for us.

As Hebrews 11 progresses, we will see a great list of people who put their faith into action. The point for the Hebrews, and for us, is that because these regular people were able to put their faith into action, so can you.

Faith is so important, without it we cannot ever please God (11.6), and it is so important that everything rests on it.

Dr. John Lennox said this,

Faith is not a leap into the dark, but a step into the light.

Where do we step then, by faith?

Into the light, into the light of the world.

Where do we put our faith, our hope, our trust?

In God and in His Word, which all points to One person…

We have faith in the faithfulness of Jesus.

We have faith in how good Jesus is.

We have faith in how much faith Jesus has, how faithful He is, how full of faith He is, don’t we?

My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less

We love a hymn at Saar Fellowship, and we love a contemporary rendition. Hymns are (usually) so rich and full of strong, robust theology, and more often than not sing worship to God rather than sing about ourselves. Today, My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less.

Originally written by Edward Mote in 1834, it has been covered by a few people, maybe most well known of which are Hillsong Worship and the Norton Hall Band. 

The main chorus, or refrain, was (so I read) written to convey the truth of 1 Corinthians 10.4,

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

Scripture abounds when talking about Christ as our rock, the Cornerstone on which we stand, 1 Peter 2.4-6, Psalm 118.21-23, Isaiah 28.16, Matthew 21.41-43, Matthew 7.24-27 to name but a few.

Our world is always changing, our individual worlds are always changing, but in Christ we have a solid, sure, steadfast Cornerstone on which to stand, on which to build, and on which to lean. Our hope for the future is truly built on nothing else than the shed blood of Jesus for us, and we dare not stand, build, or lean on anything else.

Today, no matter what is going on, let us keep this front and centre in our minds,

On Christ the solid rock I stand,

all other ground is sinking sand.