Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"But as for me, I will always have hope!"

Day #165:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - June 11th

Scripture Reading:  Psalms 69 - 71 …

"Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck" (69:1).  What a vivid expression of the circumstances of life that inevitably flood the souls of all who live in this world at one time or another.  Where do you turn at those times?  Where HAVE you turned at those times?  Where ARE you turning, if you are in one of those times at this moment?  David is not the only one to experience such agony of heart and spirit.  Countless situations pour into my mind … the death of a child, the break-up of a marriage, untold abuse … so many possible scenarios.  And inside it feels like the waters have come up to your neck and you are about to "go under" for the last time.  You can scarcely breathe and you almost long for your next breath to be your last.

David explains further:  "I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.  I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched.  My eyes fail looking for my God" (69:2-3).  In his case it was enemies that were rising up again him.  Then he begins to pray in verse 5 and asks that those who hope in God would not be ashamed or disgraced because of him.  "For zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult YOU fall on ME!" (69:9).  Those words were applied to Jesus when He cleansed the temple of the money-changers with a holy anger before the Father.

But David knew where his hope was.  "I pray to You, O LORD, in the time of Your favor; in Your great love, O God, answer me with Your sure salvation" (69:13).  David relied on the goodness and mercy of God and knew he would not be disappointed.  His was a faith that endured through the trials because his was a faith that was grounded in the promises and character of the God he loved and who loved him.  "I will praise God's name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving" (69:30).

In each of these three Psalms we hear the plea for God to act "quickly."  "Answer me quickly, for I am in trouble" (69:17).  "Hasten, O God, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me" (70:1).  "Be not far from me, O God, come quickly, O my God, to help me" (71:12).  I find these requests to be somewhat strange because if God had come quickly, the pleas wouldn't be so desperate.  The fact is that sometimes God waits to act.  Why would He do that?

Think about Lazarus, the friend of Jesus, who died and was in the tomb four days before Jesus got there.  Jesus was told that Lazarus was sick, but He waited.  Why?  So that God would receive glory when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead!  You and I want God to answer quickly, on our time … and preferably in the way WE think is best.  Yet that type of praying doesn't lead to hope.  Hope is the expectation that God WILL act and the comfort of knowing that when He does, those who trust in Him will be delivered, will be saved … 100% of the time.

While many today have the idea that God exists to serve them, the truth is that we exist to bring God glory, and we do that best when we find our HOPE in HIM … not in what He can do for us.  So David writes, "I will praise God's name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving" (69:1).  That's a far cry from the way David began this Psalm isn't it?  From "Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck" to "I will praise God's name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving."  You get the idea that David was inspired to write these Psalms for people throughout the centuries to turn our attention to the only sure source of hope - to the God who alone is able to save us … not only from the suffering and trials of this life, but from the eternal suffering of His wrath against sin!

There is more at stake in life than most ever imagine.  David writes, "May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in YOU; may those who love your salvation always say, 'Let GOD be exalted!'" (70:4).  Always honest, he immediately says, "Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God.  You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay" (70:5).  David expected God to help him and He prayed that it would be soon, yet he found his hope in God.

While Psalm 71 does not claim to be a Psalm of David, it certainly supports the truth that David himself knew:  that God was his hope and his salvation.  "In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge" (71:1).  "Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go" (71:3).  "For You have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD" (71:5).  And verses 14-15:  "But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more.  My mouth will tell of Your righteousness, of Your salvation all day long …"

Do you have HOPE today?  Have you read Hebrews 11 lately … the list of those who went before us who lived by faith in the God who reveals Himself in His Word and in His Son Jesus Christ?  It begins with these words:  "Now faith is BEING SURE of what we HOPE for and CERTAIN of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1).  How can you be sure of anything in this world?  Truthfully, you can't be … unless you know the one true God who has a perfect track record for keeping His promises.

I know some people who believe God let them down, that He failed them, that He DIDN'T keep His promises.  That's a horrible place to be … spiritually, emotionally, mentally, even physically.  There are many things that happen in this life that we don't understand, yet God is faithful to those who call out to Him, as the Psalmist does so often.  Where else would you go?  It's not like there are a lot of other alternatives … a lot of other places to find true hope!  If there is no God and He is not in control of all things, and if He is not merciful, compassionate, loving and faithful, then despair is the only natural result and a lot of people go there.  Despair is the absence of hope.

The early Christians and the Apostle Paul certainly knew what it was to face trials and suffering, and even death!  Paul writes, however, "we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.  For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (II Corinthians 4:5-6).  In the Gospel of Jesus Christ God SAVES us!  He delivers us from our bondage to sin through the blood of Christ and saves us from His just judgment that is yet to come.  As Peter writes, we have "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials" (I Peter 1:5-6).

So Paul goes on in his letter to the Corinthians:  "But we have this treasure (God's promise of eternal life in His presence … the Gospel … God's light shining in us) … we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed" (II Corinthians 4:7-9).  And finally, he concludes in verses 16-18:  "Therefore, we do not lose heart (we do not live without hope!).  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!"

Is YOUR hope in the right place today?  Are you trusting in the God who can and will save all who put their trust in Him through faith in His Son Jesus Christ?  TODAY is the "day of salvation!"  And "as for me, I will always have hope!"

"Heavenly Father, Your grace is sufficient for my every need and Your love endures forever!  Tear my heart away from anything or anyone I may find my hope in besides YOU, for You alone are my Savior and my God.  Help me to find comfort in Your presence and rest in Your promises, so that I may be an ambassador of hope, pointing the way for others to find in YOU the hope THEY need in times of trouble.  To You, O LORD, do I give my praise, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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