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Faith, Hope, and Love

November 8th, 2017

Hope is a picture in your heart of a desired future.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.” Hebrews 10:23 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Faith, Hope, and Love.”

The Biblical concept of hope has been sorely diluted. Biblically, hope is a powerful force, even described as, “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hope is a picture of a desired future. God places hope in your heart – of what should be and therefore could be. Incorrectly, it is easy to think of hope as not dissimilar to wishful thinking, something you wish would happen, but really doubt it will. We assume hope is something unlikely, anything but certain. To the contrary, the Bible places hope in the esteemed company of the dynamic, spiritual forces of faith and love. (Reference Hebrews 11 and I Corinthians 13). “Now we see things imperfectly . . but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now. There are three things that will endure – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 NLT.

For now, yours and my personal knowledge is limited, imperfect, and incomplete. Why would you rely upon such unreliable things? Yet that limited, imperfect and incomplete knowledge seems to most often be the foundation for our feelings, fears, and expectations. Those offer only an uncertain foundation. In contrast, the Bible describes hope this way, “We who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:18-19 NIV. Strength and stability is found in Biblical hope.

Such hope is not fragile, but our assurance and conviction can be. Learning to, “walk by faith and not sight,“ is challenging. “We were saved in this hope, [the redemption of our body], but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Romans 8:24-25 NKJV. Are you learning, “to eagerly wait with perseverance.” There is a dynamic tension between those two character attributes that results in each being stronger than it could be alone. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He Who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 NIV.

God’s Word is filled with examples. Let’s just look at Abraham, an elderly man with a barren wife who was told by God that he would be, “the father of nations.” The Bible shares Abraham’s story in both Old and New Testaments. His story is a story of indiscourageable hope. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed . . he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.” Read Romans 4:18-21 NIV. With God, present truth trumps previous facts. Abraham faced the facts but believed the truth of God’s promise. Read Jeremiah 17:7-8 NKJV.

The sum of the matter is the Apostle Paul’s clear instruction, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV. I am not sure the latter two attitudes and actions are possible without a joyful hope. How do you and I develop a joyful hope? Hope rests on truth. Truth that is eternal is found in God’s Word and character. “That we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4 NKJV. The Bible is clear, “Heaven and earth may pass away, but My Word will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to know and trust the integrity of God’s Word, in spite of all else.

Christian Communications 2017

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Contradictions and Inconsistencies

June 30th, 2017

Never allow your life to contradict your values

For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing” Romans 7:19 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,Contradictions and Inconsistencies.”

Keep your convictions clear and your contradictions few. “To thine own self be true and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” William Shakespeare. Musically, the effect of incongruity is dissonance. Relationally, the result is discord. Spiritually, the consequence is disunity. When behavior contradicts professed belief, your integrity and reputation are diminished. From my Dad I learned, “A man is only as good as his word.” James, the brother of Jesus, made it simple and clear. “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” James 5:12 NIV. James’ instruction is about far more than vocabulary. James’ words are about living with clarity, consistency, and integrity. Always do more than you promise, never less. Be true. Be real. Be consistent.

Never allow your life to contradict your values. As a young minister, I was challenged by a probing question that Jesus asked. “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46 NIV. That is a glaring inconsistency to which all of us have to plead guilty on occasion. Jesus then told a story contrasting a man who built his house on solid rock and another who was content to build his house on shifting sand. Which do you think succeeded? Read Luke 6:47-49 NIV. Whatever its momentary circumstance, the safest place in the world is in the center of God’s will. Your future rests securely on that which will neither change nor fail – the Word and will of God.

Jesus told another story about two sons. One promised something to his father, but never did what he said. His action was inconsistent with his words. The other at first refused but later complied. Read Matthew 21:28-31 NIV. Which did the will of his father? Perform above your promise; God does.

Paul identified our common dilemma but also pointed us to the only One who gives us success and victory. “I do not understand what I do . . For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is [a sin nature] living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me . .  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Then, Paul shares the only answer to his victory and ours. “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Read Romans 7:15-25 NIV.

James wrote of this same spiritual/carnal contradiction, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? James 3:9-11 NIV. The inconsistency is consistent! “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Read Luke 6:43-45 NIV.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT. That is achieved only by allowing the Word of God to dwell within you. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.” Colossians 3:16 NIV. If God is Sovereign – and He is – His Word is absolute and His will is final. “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11 NIV. My desire and intent is to never allow my life or words to contradict the faith I profess and the Word of God I preach.

Today, I pray for you to walk before God and man with integrity and authenticity.

 

Christian Communications 2017

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