Friday, June 17, 2016

"Where hope finds its source!"

Day #170

Scripture Reading:  Psalms 128 - 130 …

You cannot live long in this world without hope.  The spirit of man was not created to live without hope, yet those who do not know God are described as "without God and without hope in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).  Through Jesus God offers a sure and certain hope that is "an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19).  Even before He came, the writers of the Psalms found this hope in the God who makes promises and keeps them, and Who promised to send a Savior.

Psalm 128 declares again what we have heard so often:  "BLESSED are all who fear the LORD, who walk in His ways … Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD" (128:1,4).  To be "blessed" is to have your eyes opened to see God, to know God and to "fear" God.  The "fear" that is often referred to in the Psalms is the reverence that comes from awe and respect.  No one can or should casually approach the God who shakes the earth (literally).   To know God is to realize that He is holy and that you and I have sinned against Him, that our sin separates us from Him, and that there is nothing we can do to bridge the gap.  It is to know that we deserve the just judgment of a holy God and so to confess our sin and to humble ourselves before Him.

The "blessing" of God begins with knowledge and truth, which then exposes the darkness within us and moves us to seek the light!  So the Psalmist reveals that true "blessing" has one source:  God Himself!  "May the LORD bless you …"  The Psalmist prays for "peace" to be upon Israel (128:6), because true "peace" comes only from the God of peace, who Himself makes peace on the cross with all who believe as His Son pours out His blood, His life, in our place.  "Therefore, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).  There is no peace, no blessing, and therefore no hope, apart from God.  Every other “peace” is temporary and leads us to place our hope in things that won’t last.

While "hope" will be fully realized when we leave this world and are transformed into the image of Jesus Christ and enter into the new heaven and the new earth, we who know God long for hope now, as we live in this world.   Those who know the source of hope can say, "They have greatly oppressed me from my youth … but they have not gained the victory over me!" (129:1-2).  Those who believe in Jesus Christ know something the rest of the world cannot imagine:  that we have peace with God, that our sins are forgiven, that we HAVE eternal, everlasting life!!  Still, we struggle as we live in the weakness of the flesh and our sinful nature.  That's why we need the Spirit.  

For us, believing in Jesus gives a hope that the world cannot take away because "we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us … for … neither death nor life … nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord" (Romans 8:37-39).  The wicked have no power over us.  The wicked will not receive God's blessing.  They will be turned back in shame.  And were it not for the grace of God that would be us.  So many people today do not understand God's grace.  God doesn't just throw His grace around and forgive anyone and everyone, whether they know Him or not, whether they believe in Jesus or not, whether they have been born again by His Spirit or not … God's blessing IS knowing Him, believing in Jesus and being born again by His Spirit, thereby receiving new and eternal LIFE!!

Living with hope in this world is a constant work of the Spirit within us.  We are easily weighed down and distracted by the temptation to doubt and to be discouraged.  Satan wants nothing more than to discourage those who believe by tempting us to doubt God's Word, to doubt God's presence or His power that is at work within us.  It is so easy to do what the people of Israel did, to doubt God, to complain and murmur and to rebel against God at the precise moment when you realize how much you need Him.  People ask, "Why is God letting this happen to me?  Where is God when I need Him?"  … and on and on.  In I Corinthians 10 Paul uses Israel as an example of what NOT to do, and then he says, "So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!  No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (I Corinthians 10:12-13).

THERE is the source of HOPE!  So the Psalmist writes,  "If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?  But with You there is forgiveness; therefore You are feared (honored, loved, respected)" (130:4).  Our response to the knowledge of God:  "I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His Word I put my hope!" (130:5).  Hope comes from knowing the truth about God, about yourself, about sin and salvation, about judgment and grace … about a Savior whose name is Jesus toward whom the Psalmist points:  "O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption.  He Himself will redeem Israel from all their sins" (130:7-8).  

In His written Word and in the living Word, Jesus Christ, you can find hope … the hope that is "an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19).  Are you living with that hope today?  Do you know the God before whom all flesh must bow down in worship?  He is the only true God and He offers hope to those who draw near to Him through faith in Jesus.  HE is the source of all true hope, for everything else and everyone else will disappoint you and me.  We even disappoint and frustrate ourselves!  But He never lets us down.

HE is the blessing you seek and HE is the source of hope!!

"My gracious heavenly Father, I praise You for revealing Yourself and the way of redemption through Your Son Jesus Christ and by the work of Your Spirit within me.  I find in Your Word the pure spiritual milk and the solid food I need to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus and therefore to have hope.  Because of Your grace to me I live with hope daily and rest in Your unfailing love.  Help me to share this hope with all I meet, that they, too, may find You faithful!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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