Hope does not disappoint us. It doesn’t disappoint, according to the very Word of God in Romans 5:5, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. How can we be disappointed by God’s love? It’s the most powerful thing in the world. Verse two says we’re to hope in the glory of God. God’s glory is revealed in the redemption of everything. Christ’s death on the cross and then rising again, the restoration of all creation. These are acts that reveal the glory of God. We cannot be disappointed in the hope offered us through Christ. God’s full redemption plan will come to completion. It’s a hope that cannot disappoint.
Psalm 136 begins, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” Then it recounts the Lord’s good works. He led them through the wilderness. He made them to pass through the Red Sea. We need to give thanks for the going through. It’s part of His lovingkindness towards us.
What if when Jesus said, “This is My body,” he wasn’t referring to the bread, but the people. The disciples were to become the Church, The Body of Christ. Communion isn’t something that can be done alone. It’s in the definition of the word. Communion is done in community. They were being rebuked for not thinking of others, for not putting others first when they came together, saying even that they were being judged by God because of it. The point was loving each other. What if the point of communion is recognizing that we have been reconciled to God, making us One.
Get up. God’s prepared a work for you to do. He prepared good works for you in advance so that you would walk in them, so that you would do them. But you have to get up first. Feeling like you should invite that family over for dinner or feeling like you should offer to babysit or feeling like you should take your family to local food bank to help out doesn’t accomplish anything unless you get up and make it happen.
God is the most other-focused being in existence. A non-believer might see Him like Mao, a megalomaniac putting up posters of Himself, wanting everyone to worship and obey Him, or like Darius wanting everyone to pray to Him, to worship Him. Those men had their eyes on themselves. God has His eyes on us. He not only sees each of us, He sees all creation. He knows the number of hairs on our heads, the thoughts hidden in our hearts, and when a sparrow falls to the ground. Above all that, Jesus is praying for us. He is Life itself, and He gives Life itself to us. I feel puny in my attempts to express any gratitude or praise to Him. He is worthy of more than all of us could ever offer in return.
“The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.” Isaiah 45:7
He is Lord over all, controlling the good and the bad. There’s absolutely nothing out of his control, so we might as well surrender our lives to Him, instead of living with fear of darkness or calamity. Besides, this is the same Lord who says to His people, ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!” Isaiah 43:1
For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:32-33
I feel like I have a long list of needs. I keep bringing them up with God. I have even felt desperate that I have them met. But God is not a God of desperation. He gives us the ticket to getting our needs met. We stop seeking them. We stop making them important. We make the things of God most important. We seek Him. We seek His ways and bringing about His kingdom. We seek His life being made whole in us. And the rest just falls into place. It doesn’t need us. The NIV says, “For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Don’t run after the things of the world. Run toward Him who can give you more than you could even think to ask for.
“Follow Me,” Jesus calls to each of us. How do you know where He’s leading? You don’t, and you don’t need to. How do you follow someone? You don’t look at paths and choose one to take. You look at the person. They don’t even have to take a path. They can weave in and out and go up and over. And if you knew where you were going, would there really be a point to following? You could just get there. But that’s not the way it works, because as a Christian, the getting there is training and preparation for the arrival.
Hezekiah was one of those good kings. He was a king of Judah described in the Bible as one who “did what was right in the sight of the Lord.” In fact, it’s also said of him:
He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. 2 Kings 18:5-7
Living by faith and obedience to the Word of God had blessed Hezekiah just like the law had promised. But then something happened. Hezekiah watched Israel get taken captive by Assyria. Hezekiah watched as Judah’s own fortified cities were overthrown. Only Jerusalem was left.
It says that Hezekiah had “rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.” Hezekiah had a previous victory over Assyria. But that past victory wasn’t enough when the king of Assyria returned.
He didn’t remember the previous faith victory. He didn’t trust. After all, it seems faithful and upright living wasn’t working for him anymore. His cities had been overthrown. It was already too late. Faith hadn’t worked. He digs down into his own resources and relies on himself for salvation from the Assyrians. He pays off the King of Assyria. He uses the temple gold. Assyria is pleased, and as I always point out to my children, “Bad guys are bad; you can’t trust them.” The King of Assyria returns, encouraged by how Hezekiah backed down earlier. This time, however, Hezekiah has no resources of his own left. He had no way of saving himself, or even trying to. There was nothing or no one else he could turn to. So he turns to God. And God saves him and the city. They didn’t even have to fight. God did the whole thing on His own.
It turns out that faith does work. Faith did work. There are times when the tribulation increases, when it seems like things have already gone the wrong way and that faith hadn’t stopped them or turned things around. But it’s here God gets to see your heart. Will you rely on yourself or will you trust Him? And if we aren’t ready to trust Him, then these tribulations can keep knocking us lower until we have no where else to turn but to God.
Why does God knock us down until we turn to Him? Because we are saved by faith and salvation is what He wants for you. It’s all out of His abundant love and grace that He allows us to endure trials to purify our hearts and perfect our faith. So the next time it seems like faith didn’t work, hunker down, cry out to God and don’t allow your situation to confuse the truth. God is faithful and cannot fail you. Faith saves.
The truth is. God loves me. The truth is. God loves you. While you were yet a sinner, Christ died for you. God, the Father, gave up His only Son for you. Jesus gave up heaven to come to earth, to take on a body for the rest of eternity, just so he could be with us, to be with you. Our only calling is to love Him. That may look like obedience, like sacrifice, but it’s really a display of overwhelming love for a God who loves us in overwhelming ways, doing things we couldn’t even possibly ask for or imagine, like choosing us to be His and dying for us before we were even born, before we ever said a prayer, before we ever did a kind or good deed. He chose to love you. He chose to love me.