Friday, September 27, 2013

Hope in Christ

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

Waiting can often lead to restlessness and even anxiety. There is something about uncertainty that can easily leave us wanting. This is true for both good expectations and bad ones. It is frequently not as much the expectations as it is how much we tie ourselves to them and where our ‘hopes’ or even our ‘hope not’s’ are established.

As I read through the Bible, and particularly the words of the apostles, I read a lot about them hoping to do this or that or to go here or there, but every single one of these hopes is based in their relationship with Jesus Christ and their submission to His will. They hoped these things knowing that God was the one who would ultimately bring those hopes to pass according to His will, and should He do otherwise they were content with that. This is because they lived seeking to align their desires with those of God, and they lived in trust of Him for their daily provision, direction, and even their words.

Paul spoke of living this kind of life throughout his letters. In Colossians we read, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6–7, ESV) … “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1–4, ESV) … “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:15–17, ESV)

When we focus and fret over our daily needs we lose sight of our God who meets those needs. It is very difficult to not let these pressures put the squeeze on us as their presence is so real, but it is important that we not view these pressures bigger than they really are. Even the biggest anxiety inducer here in this life pales in comparison to the size, power, goodness, and faithfulness of our God. God may not step in and miraculously solve every issue, but He has promised that He would strengthen us to endure whatever trial might come our way. It is in this, as in all things, that we are called to firmly fix our eyes on God and find our rest in Him.

I know I’ve shared this before, but this following paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a reminder to me as I move through my day to set my hope in God and not in the desired outcomes of my circumstances.

“There is no test, no trial, no temptation to sin, no pushing, pulling, prodding, or anything else that comes my way that makes me any different than anyone else. We all experience these things, maybe in different ways and at times to different degrees, but I am no different than anyone else.

“BUT GOD…. He is always faithful in all things. With every trial, test, or temptation—no matter how big or how small; with all of these things He has set a limit to them. He will not allow anything into my life beyond which He also has not given the ability to victoriously endure. With every single test, trial, and temptation He has provided a way of escape, and He will keep me from being crushed, and He will bring me out standing on the other side. This is true whether that other side is realized in this life or ultimately in His presence. This is a certain fact.

“Therefore, I will place my trust in Him and look not to the size of the situation, BUT to the size and faithfulness of my GOD.” [Joe Burgess]

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (9/27)

Relax in My everlasting arms. Your weakness is an opportunity to grow in awareness of My Almighty Presence. When your energy fails you, do not look inward and lament the lack you find there. Look to Me and My sufficiency; rejoice in My radiant riches that are abundantly available to help you.

Go gently through this day, leaning on Me and enjoying My Presence. Thank Me for your neediness, which is building trust-bonds between us. If you look back on your journey thus far, you can see that days of extreme weakness have been some of your most precious times. Memories of these days are richly interwoven with golden strands of My intimate Presence.

“The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and He drove out the enemy from before you, and said, ‘Destroy!’” (Deuteronomy 33:27, NASB95)

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13–14, NASB95)

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