July 21 - Hope in Eternal Things

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July 21 – Hope in Eternal Things

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:24-25)

Who hopes for what they already have?

Paul has stated the obvious again.  But it still is a powerful statement.

There is nothing more difficult to do than to give a gift to someone who has everything.  Carol tells me that I’m difficult to buy for, but the truth of the matter is, I’m desperately trying to stop the influx of ‘stuff’ into my life.  Anyway …

What is one thing in your life that you hope for the most?  True love? Good health (for you or someone else)?  Happiness? A new job? Financial security? A beautiful home?  Happy Children? Release from stress?

There are so many things that could happen in our lives that will give us momentary satisfaction; some will even give us long-term satisfaction.

Eternal satisfaction comes from the hope that Paul writes of in the previous verse: “…we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”  The glory that will come to us in the future as freedom surrounds us because we are children of God.

We have no concept of that right now.  All we can focus on are the needs that we have: love, health, happiness, finances, home, children, stress.  These things fill our thoughts, our hopes and our dreams.

God calls us to look beyond the immediacy of our concerns to eternal things – the glory and freedom that will be found in His presence.  That will change our perspective pretty quickly.

July 20 - Suffering Leads to Hope

July 20 – Suffering Leads to Hope

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)

It’s hard for most of us to make the leap from suffering to hope.  We do everything in our power to avoid suffering.  Not only that, but we do everything in our power to help others to avoid suffering.

But, this verse tends to decry our actions.  Suffering produces endurance.  Endurance produces character and character produces hope.

Spend a few moments and think about that process.  Paul nails it, doesn’t he!

If life is easy and we have everything taken care of for us, we don’t face much suffering.  When something hits us, we don’t know how to handle it because we’ve never learned to endure tough times. 

There is a lot of commentary about the last few generations and their attitude of entitlement.  Because their parents have insisted that all their needs are immediately met and have never allowed them to face any type of suffering, there is no independent sense of endurance built into them.  Life was too easy – they expect life to continue to be easy and when it isn’t, they tend to throw tantrums.  Not great in the character department either.  And they end up with a sense of hopelessness.  They never learned to endure until the good stuff comes.

This verse is incredible to me because the insight into the human condition is so plain.

We must face suffering to get too having hope-filled lives.

I read amazing stories about early Christians who lived through horrendous persecution for their faith.  Each of them died with great hope.  That hope spread like wildfire throughout the world and Christianity was born.  Without that great suffering and the hope that it created among people, Christianity would probably have stayed a small sect in the region surrounding Palestine.

If you read stories about world-changers, you will find that there was a point in their lives (or several points) where they had to face uncommon suffering.  Because they faced it, endured it and became strong because of it; they are able to offer hope to many.

Suffering leads to hope.  Wow.  Hard to imagine, but it really is true.

July 19 – Believe. Hope.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

July 19 – Believe.  Hope.

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’” (Romans 4:18)

At eight years old, I was in the middle of dealing with a health crisis I didn’t understand.  For no reason at all, my heart would begin to race upwards of 200 beats per minute.  I would sweat, get headaches, stomachaches and wear out in moments.  We lived in a small town in southeast Iowa and the nearest doctor was a half hour away.  One night, after hours, my heart spasmed and my parents couldn’t get it to slow back to normal – we dashed to Iowa City and they were told that if I lived through the night, there would be no hope of me ever living a normal life.  My heart would be so severely damaged that it would barely support me.

Against all hope, my parents believed that I would be fine.  They spent the night praying and holding on to me – not in fear or panic, but in strong belief.

They believed that God had something bigger planned for my life than deterioration due to a damaged heart.

The next morning when my doctor came in to check on me, he couldn’t believe what was happening.  My heart was strong and healthy and I went home the following day.

Against all hope, Abraham believed.

What do you need to believe today?

July 18 - Christ: Hope for the Nations

Monday, July 18, 2011

July 18 – Christ – Hope for the Nations

Here is my servant who I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. In his name the nations will put their hope. (Matthew 12:18, 21)

We really have it all messed up.  We think that our country should be a Christian nation, but generally when we speak of this, we have a set of rules we believe everyone in the country should adhere to.  We want the entire nation to believe as we do.  The problem is – all of us have different beliefs on what Christianity should look like and how it should rule our lives. 

It is never a good thing when a country or ruling party aligns themselves with religion because religion is very different than Jesus Christ.  Religion tells us what we can not do, Jesus tells us what we can do.

If Jesus had wanted all of the countries in the world to become a government ruled by Him, He could have done it – with little to no effort.  He could have come into the world as a ruler on a white horse and established a reign over all the peoples of the earth – but He didn’t.  He came as a servant.

As a servant, He is able to traverse the classes of society, meeting the needs of everyone – poor or rich, powerful or powerless.  He offers hope to everyone and He brings hope to nations that call on Him.

It isn’t about the ruling government of the nation calling out to Jesus – it is about the people of that nation believing that He can bring hope.

One of the greatest things we can do as Christians in a country like the USA is to continually offer His hope to people around us.  This is what makes us a Christian nation – not that our leaders proclaim our Christianity as a whole, but that we proclaim Christ.

Religion on a national scale will never offer hope.  Christ on a personal level will always offer hope.

July 17 - God's Faithfulness Offers Hope

Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 17 - God’s Faithfulness offers Hope

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23)

One of the great things about spending a lot of time in the Revelation is seeing that the Lord shows His love for humanity right up to the very end.  He doesn’t begin annihilating the evil from the face of the earth until it is too late to save it from itself.

His compassion for us never fails.  There is never a time that His mercy is not available to each person in creation.  His faithfulness to His creation is eternal. 

Each morning when we wake up, God is there awaiting our decision.  We get to choose whether the day will be one in which we spend it with Him or not.  But, just because we make a selfish decision one day doesn’t mean that He is not waiting in the same manner the very next morning.

We give up on each other. We give up on ourselves.  But the Lord never does that.  He is always merciful to us, always wanting us to be in full and complete relationship with Him.  He doesn’t reject us because we forget about Him.  He is faithful to us … always.

July 16 - Hope for the Future

July 16 – Hope for the Future

“ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)

“ ‘So there is hope for your future,’ declares the Lord. ‘Your children will return to their own land.’”

Exile.  Far from everything that was familiar.  Far from the land they had been promised.  Far from the temple where they worshiped God.  Far from everything they had ever known.

God’s people had betrayed Him so much and their punishment was so great.  They were stripped away from the life He had offered to them to be subject to a foreign king.

The Israelites felt as if their sin had taken them into a hopeless situation.  They couldn’t imagine how there could possibly be redemption. There was nothing more they could do – they’d already done too much.  They had turned to foreign kings for assistance and alliances.  There was nothing left.

The prophets had told of these days and they had finally come.  What more did they have to look forward to.

It sounds pretty familiar to many of us.  We just wait for God’s punishment to rain down on us for our sins.  We know what they are even when we don’t speak them aloud.

We try everything to alleviate our concerns that we have sinned too much and God can’t forgive us.

Even in the midst of the worst moments in Israel’s history, God sent word of hope.  He knew what their future looked like and they wouldn’t be stuck in Babylon forever.  His plans were greater than their sin and their own discouraged outlook.

His plans are greater than our sin and our own worries about the relationship we seem to have messed up with Him.  He knows what our future looks like and we won’t be stuck here forever.

July 15 - Water and Hope

July 15 – Water and Hope

“O Hope of Israel, its Savior in times of distress, why are you like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who stays only a night? Why are you like a man taken by surprise, like a warrior powerless to save? You are among us, O Lord, and we bear your name; do not forsake us!” (Jeremiah 14:8-9)

There are several metaphors in these verses, but the first one isn’t quite so obvious in translation.  The imagery of the word used for hope is that of water in a parched land. 

That is the Hope of Israel that Jeremiah was calling out to.  Like a cool glass of water on a hot day is the Lord God.

The Israelites were in the middle of a drought.  They couldn’t see beyond the immediacy of their problem, and Jeremiah was trying to call them away from their sin and back to their relationship with God.

The Lord was done with Israel by this point.  In the next verses, He tells Jeremiah to cease praying for the well-being of the people.  Jeremiah tells Him of the false prophets who encourage Israel by lying to her about the terrible things that are happening – that they will soon end.  The Lord promises that the false prophets will meet their own ends, but that Israel must face her own sin and repent.  Then she must recognize that hope can only be found in the Lord God.

Though we look for hope in all of the things around us, true hope can only be found in God.

July 14 - Alive and Hopeful

July 14 – Alive and Hopeful

“Anyone who is among the living has hope – even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!” (Ecclesiastes 9:4)

That’s just kind of an odd verse isn’t it?  But, it’s quite true.  And obviously, dogs weren’t as highly thought of then as they are now.

The next part of the thought process for me has to do with what we are hoping for.

Are we hoping for a longer life or are we hoping for eternity?

The way I see it, once we cross over from life on earth to eternity, we no longer have need for hope, we will be living within the glory of the Father.

Hope is something that motivates us to move from day to day.  If we look at our lives on earth, without hope, the rest of our life would be quite bleak.  Hope is that glorious thing that allows us to imagine things can be better tomorrow than they are today.

Every moment that we are alive, we have hope that the next moment will be better.  If it fails to live up to our hope, we start all over again and hope for yet another moment to grow in goodness.

When we are dead … hope ends for us, but not for the rest of those alive.  It continues for them. 

The transition we make from a life filled with hope to eternity is quite an interesting challenge.  What do you think about hope and eternity?  Will we need it then?

July 13 - Wisdom and Hope

July 13 – Wisdom and Hope

“Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 24:14)

Wisdom is more than knowledge.  James Bryce says, “wisdom grows out of the temper and heart of a man as well as out of his intellect.” 

Solomon sought wisdom and because he did so rather than wealth or power, God granted him immeasurable amounts.  I think that it was also an incredible request because he was still in his youth.  When I was young I didn’t understand the difference between knowledge and wisdom.  I wanted to understand things like my parents did and make decisions based on the information that I had.

What I didn’t realize was that they were also basing their decisions on experience and understanding of the world – they used everything they knew to make good decisions … they used wisdom.

It has taken me a lot of years to begin to grasp the vast difference between the two.  I look for wisdom as often as I look for knowledge.  I want to understand what is at the heart of a situation rather than just understand the situation.

This is where we find hope.  With wisdom we begin to look for understanding in the heart of God.  It is greater than just knowledge of God and His creation.  When we get to that point, we find that our hope is based in a foundation that wrought the earth and the heavens … humanity and all that is around us.

July 12 – Hope Deferred = Discouragement

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 12 – Hope Deferred = Discouragement

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)

This is one of the reasons the Bible will always be able to meet the needs of humanity, no matter what century or civilization.  Sometimes it just says things as they are.

We get terribly discouraged when our hopes are tossed out and we feel as if we can live again when those hopes are met.

Even Solomon in all his wisdom understood how fragile our hearts are and how easily discouraged we are.

Maybe the best thing we can do is to listen closely to each other and do our best to ensure that hopes are fulfilled.

July 11 – Hope in Unfailing Love

July 11 – Hope in Unfailing Love

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. 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.” (Psalm 130-5-8)

There was absolutely nothing worse than having to sit down with either Mom or Dad and hear those devastating words, “I’m disappointed in you.”  I would have preferred to be punished in some awful way – a flogging would have been easier to take.

Then there was the day that Mom was furious at me for some stupid high school thing I had done.  I have no memory of my action, but I remember her telling me that she could no longer trust me and wouldn’t be able to for a very long time.  I was going to have to figure out how to regain her trust.  That conversation destroyed me.

We can’t avoid it – people will disappoint us and break their trust with us.  As much as we try to be loving and wonderful, we will do hurtful things to each other.

The most difficult thing to accept is that there is really no one on earth that can say they’ve never disappointed another.  We don’t have a perfect human model to aspire to.  We fail in our love and in our relationships.

That’s why it is so good for us to have a God who does not disappoint, who never fails, who sets before us a model of perfect love.  When we lose hope in each other, we don’t have to lose hope completely because God offers love and notice that right after that, the Psalmist tells us that in God is full redemption.  When we fail – there is redemption. 

July 10 – Promises Lead to Hope

July 10 – Promises Lead to Hope

“Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.  My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise renews my life.” (Psalm 119:49-50)

When I was young someone gave me a little book filled with promises from Scripture.  There are so many!  I spent hours poring over the book, soaking up the blessings that were promised to me (and to anyone who believes in God).

I’ve long since set aside that little book because I thought it would be easier to just have my Bible with me.  I think I should find it again, though.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to focus on the promises of God over and over when we feel out of sorts with the world.

The Psalms are filled with them, Paul’s letters are filled with them, Jesus words are filled with them and honestly – our lives are filled with God’s promises, but fulfilled and unfulfilled.

If we pay attention to our past, we see the fulfillment of so many promises of God.  Things might not have been all that we expected or hoped for. Even though we would like our lives to be easy and without suffering, the truth of the matter is that we have to find our place in God’s hopes and expectations for our lives.  They are usually so much greater than anything we can imagine.

Then He promises that He will fulfill the desires of our heart.

July 9 - Always Hope

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 9 – Always Hope

“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, though I know not its measure.” (Psalm 71:14-15)

It really is difficult for me to spend extended periods of time with people who enjoy wallowing in their trials and tribulations.  When I use the word ‘enjoy,’ I’m not kidding.  It’s as if they enjoy describing every problem that has brought them to this point and they don’t ever see their lives getting any better.

See, the problem I have with that is that in my extended group of friends, I have many who live with terrible things and you simply don’t know about it unless you are close to them. They never complain, they don’t talk about themselves unless pressed and every moment they are overcoming their trouble with joy. It is almost an honor to get close enough to these people to have them confide in you, because it is so rare for them to do so.

They always have hope.  Hope that tomorrow will bring a fresh joy, hope that the pain they live with will abate, even for just a few moments, hope that they can impact someone else’s life for the better, hope that they can be a witness to the joy that God brings to them every moment of the day.

I will always have hope.  Some days I don’t express those words as clearly as I should and when I focus on myself and the things I have to face, I ignore the call to praise God.  Fortunately, that hope that is part of my relationship with Him brings me back to Him all the time so that I am reminded of how great His gifts to me are and how much I adore Him and I praise Him.

July 8 - Rest and Hope

Friday, July 8, 2011

July 8 – Rest and Hope

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.” (Psalm 62:5)

I wonder what it takes to rest our souls?  I have found that a minimum of eight hours of sleep is required to rest my body.  I used to try to get away with 3-4 hours and think I was doing well, but come to find out, it was never enough. 

With only a little sleep each night, I found that I was always desperate for quiet time, for peace, for rest.  Weekends came and went too quickly, I spent much too much time in the evenings trying to regain my sanity after a long day that had nearly trampled me.  The nights that I had time to sleep were filled with many things as I attempted to manage the days.  Sleep and rest were simply not part of my life.

Exhaustion supplanted sanity and I never seemed to be fully myself.

If physical exhaustion can do that to me – what does spiritual exhaustion do?

Psalm 37:7 says, “Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him.”

Resting in the Lord just isn’t that difficult, even though we try to establish guidelines and rules around it.  It simply means allowing ourselves to be open to Him, in peace and quiet.  We don’t need to chatter our prayers at Him, hoping He will respond, but we need to rest and find quietness within ourselves.  There in that quiet, still place, we can rest in His love. 

Restoration comes with rest.  Hope can be found once again when we are content and confident that the Lord cares for us.

July 7 - Self-Pity or Hope

July 7 – Self-Pity or Hope

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5)

Can you sense when you’re beginning to lose control of your sensibilities and you are spiraling into a period of defeat and depression?

For some of us at certain ages, it is hormonal. There seems to be absolutely nothing I can do about it.  I see it coming on, I recognize that the thoughts I have are completely insane, but I can’t seem to manage them.  I lash out, I cry (a lot), I feel sorry for myself.  It can get ugly and miserable.

Fortunately, I also know that in day or so, the hormones will relax their control of my emotions and I’ll be back to normal. 

There are times for many of us, though that depression and misery refuses to subside. Wallowing in self-pity and despair seems to be an appropriate response to the world that presses in on us.

As a kid, I didn’t get much sympathy if I wanted to wallow in the depths of my misery.  Mom just refused to put up with it.  She knew that there was a necessity for grief and anger, but she also knew that it needed to be set aside at some point.  If distractions (work, reading, getting out of the house) didn’t work, her next step was a rather stern discussion (she yelled at me).   Some days I wish she were still here to force me out of my malaise – it’s difficult to do it all by myself.

David was having a chat with his soul.  It just didn’t make sense to him to be in misery when God was there.  It doesn’t make sense for us to lose sight of the God who is our creator, sustainer and savior.  God will always be there.  We can put our hope in Him.

July 6 - Hope in Wealth?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

July 6 – Hope in Wealth?

“Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.  But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Save me from all my transgressions; do not make me the scorn of fools.” (Psalm 39:6-8)

We do everything in our power to avoid being caught unawares at the end of our lives, don’t we!  There are trust funds for our kids, funeral plans are all made, along with cremation and burial plans.  The last thing we want to have happen is leaving this world without ensuring everything is in its place. 

For the most part, the only surprising thing about death for many of us is how and when it is going to happen. 

Most financial planners would tell you that this is the only way to live well.  Fully assured of how everything will continue after we have died.

The problem is – this is not the legacy we should be leaving our family and friends.  Sure, they’ll think good thoughts of us as they see our families continue to live in the manner in which they are accustomed.  We can look forward with pride to the nice things they’ll say about us.

Is that really what we want to be said in our memory?  That we provided for our family, that we made sure all of our bills were paid and had planned well throughout our lives?

When each of my parents died, we received a lot of mail and phone calls from people who had been touched by those two people throughout their lives.  The three of us kids didn’t get any large financial inheritance and while that might have made our lives easier for the moment, it would only be temporary.

The joy of their lives was the fact that there are many people whose lives were changed because my parents shared the glory of God’s love with them.  These people have gone on to touch others around them and the network of changed lives has expanded throughout the years.

Our hope doesn’t lie in the fleeting things of this world.  Our hope lies in the Lord.  Our time spent creating wealth and bustling around only serves to anchor us to a very temporary life – one that will end some day, with or without notice.

Mom knew her death was approaching; Dad was probably surprised by his, but both had invested their lives in people and in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ – the hope for eternity with God.

July 5 - A Horse Offers No Hope

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

July 5 – A Horse Offers No Hope

“A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength, it cannot save.  But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.” (Psalm 33:17-18)

“A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!” (King Richard III in Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III’)

Even Shakespeare knew that the horse wasn’t going to do Richard much good at that point.

David acknowledged that no king is saved by the size of his army and no warrior escapes by his great strength. (Psalm 33:16) 

We have a hard time believing that we can’t do things simply because we will them to be done.  A man with great strength has a weakness that will fell him.  Even Samson – the strongest man ever known at the time was undone by cutting his hair.  The greatest of all the kings and kingdoms have fallen – none has withstood the ravages of time.

Great strength can take us so far, but we are still human and have limitations.  Great knowledge will take us far, but we are still human and have limitations.  Great amounts of money will take us far, but we are still human and have limitations.

These are the things we count on daily to help us overcome the world around us.  We count on our strength and stamina, our knowledge and would love to count on money.  But, these things can only take us so far – and if we are satisfied with limiting ourselves that way, we will never amount to anything more than our limited resources.

This Psalm promises that hoping and trusting in the Lord’s unfailing love will take us far beyond human limitations. 

You see, God has none of those limitations.  It’s quite safe to place our hope in Him.

July 4 - Hope. Don't Panic!

July 4 – Hope. Don’t Panic!

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:24)

David understood hope.  He had been through a lot and would continue to face difficulty throughout His life.  He knew that God would always be there in the end, even when He couldn’t see how it would be possible at the moment.

Just a couple of verses prior to this, he said, “In my alarm I said, ‘I am cut off from your sight!’ Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.” (Psalm 31:22)

We do get easily alarmed, don’t we?

I have tried to train myself not to overreact at first glance when an emergency faces me.  Now, that isn’t to say that I don’t freak out.  Sometimes I just can’t help myself. 

One day, Carol and I were in our basement doing laundry.  I reached into the utility sink to pull the lint out of the trap – I hated that wet, soggy lint, but it had to get out of there, and I was in place to do it.  Carol was transferring some clothes from the washer to the dryer as I was reaching in.  I put my hand in, grabbed the lint and immediately began screaming.  In my hand was a drowned mouse.  Carol had no idea why I was screaming, but she joined me without thought.  The two of us then broke into uncontrollable laughter at our insanity.  Then I dealt with the stupid mouse.

Her reaction to my scream was to join me.  She had no idea why, but she was alarmed because I was alarmed.

That probably isn’t what David would want to happen, but it’s exactly what he did.  When he got frightened, he automatically assumed the worst and believed that God was gone from him.

God hadn’t gone … David was blinded by his panic.

God isn’t gone, but sometimes we get blinded by the panic of the moment.  If we could just learn to look back on our lives and see the many ways that God continues to be there for us, we’d quickly realize that we can be strong and take heart.  If we hope in the Lord, He will always be there.

July 3 - Hope Won't Perish

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July 3 – Hope Won’t Perish

“But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.” (Psalm 9:18)

There is not a one of us who hasn’t felt needy or even afflicted.

We feel forgotten and left out.

We experience loneliness.

For me, those are the times when I scream and cry out to God – asking where in the world He is and why doesn’t He care at all about me! 

Every year that I grew older, though … I began to recognize something about those times. 

They ended.

The knowledge that they had ended in the past – every single time – gave me the hope that the current period of loneliness or pain would also end.

No matter my need or affliction. No matter that I have been left out or forgotten by my friends or the loneliness that seems to surround me, I always carry a sliver of hope that never perishes. 

God is always going to show up.  He has never failed me in all of the times I have called on Him.  Never.  Even when I give Him no good reason to show up and care for me, He continues to be there.

My hope is based on experience – the experience of living in the love of a God who fulfills the promise – the Covenant that He made with His children.  He loves me.

July 2 - No Hope in Us

July 2 – No Hope in Us

The book of Job is all about hopelessness and hope.

Just after Satan begins testing Job, his friend Eliphaz says, “Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?” (Job 4:6)

Just like Eliphaz, we spend much of our time hoping that our hard work and good character will be enough to get us through our lives. If

By chapter seven, Job feels hopeless and says, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope.” (Job 7:6)

As he continues working through it all, he says in Job 13:14-15, “Why do I put myself in jeopardy and take my life in my hands? Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.”

Throughout the story of Job, we watch him go back and forth between hope and hopelessness. When he seems to understand that God will take care of him, his friends remind him of how little he is.

It is when God finally speaks and reminds Job that only God is in control of everything, from birth to death, creation and life.  It is God that is omnipotent and omniscient.  It is God who own everything and cares for everything. 

It is in God that Job has hope – not in he, himself.  Job’s life, the life of everything around him is in God’s hands.  And in God’s hands is where hope for the future, for blessing and protection is found.

July 1 - There is Still Hope

July 1 – There is Still Hope

“We have been unfaithful to our God … But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel.” (Ezra 10:2)

The children of Israel had returned to Jerusalem after their long exile under Nebuchadnezzar.  Without daily interaction of the priests and the Temple, they had not only left their homeland, but many had set aside their beliefs.  There was a great deal of intermarriage with neighboring peoples and they had not kept themselves pure as God had called them to be.

Ezra was pretty upset and in great mourning over this sin, praying and weeping before the house of God.  Soon others joined him.  Then Shecaniah said these words, pledging to send the women and children back to their homeland and to separate themselves once again according to the Law.

Israel had been through terrible years filled with sin and lawlessness.  Their exile and removal from the Promised Land had still not brought them to a point of compliance with God.  No amount of punishment seemed to work with them.  There was always another way for them to sin against their God.

The one thing they learned, though, was that there was always hope with God.  He never gave up on them.  When God made the Covenant with Noah to bless his descendants and to never destroy the earth, but to allow them to fill it – He followed through.  No amount of sin committed by the Israelites could stop that Covenant.  He would punish them, but never destroy them.  There was always a window of hope for them.

This is the promise that God offers to each of us.  Hope.  No amount of sin can stop the Covenant that God has made with us through Jesus Christ.  He will always love us.  He may punish us to bring us back into relationship with Him, but He will always love us and will always move us toward what is best for us.

Hope.  That window is always open no matter what we do.  There is always hope for us.