Tag Archives: Hope

Jesus is restoring Shalom

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God,” (Hebrews 6:19–7:1 ESV)

Melchizedek means king of righteousness and he was the king of Salem, which has the same Hebrew root word as Shalom (peace).  The best Hebrew word to describe our ancestor’s existence in Eden is Shalom.  There was a restful rhythm to life in the garden that was free of frustration, futility and conflict.  The garden was a safe and prosperous place; it was good, friendly, healthy, perfect and the welfare of everyone was ensured – justice, fairness and equity reigned.  Jesus came to take back this rebel world from the throughs of sin and evil; He came to conquer our rebel hearts and set up His rule and reign in them – He came to reestablish shalom.  This is God’s mission in His Son:  to reconcile rebel hearts to Himself and reestablish shalom for His glory and our joy.  There is coming a day when King Jesus, our high priest, makes all things new, and reestablishes Shalom on a global & cosmic scale.  The safe, just, fair, meaningful existence marked by prosperity, goodness, health and perfection that we all long for will return.  Our hope is a Person: Jesus, who is a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul; this Hope is returning us to the restful rhythm of a life lived in the presence of our Creator.


A fruitless faith can’t deliver hope

“Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:9–12 ESV)

This section is on immediately following one of the most difficult passages of scripture in the Bible (Hebrews 6:4-8).  Though the previous section was difficult and perhaps a bit harsh, the author is confident that there are better things in store for His readers.  Why?  Because he has observed their lives – He has seen things that belong to salvation.  It is important to recall that we add nothing to the gospel and that it is the finished work of Jesus alone that saves and sustains us, but the saved person has a regenerated heart that has an increasing appetite for God and godliness and their lives begin to bear fruit.  If there is not fruit – often times seen in an affection for God and fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) then there is no evidence of regeneration.  Tim Keller says that “you are saved by faith, not fruit. But you will never be saved by fruitless faith. Real faith will inevitably lead to growth” (here).

God never overlooks our faithful efforts to obey when driven by a heart that is surrendered to Him. The author wants them to have the “full assurance of hope until the end;” this is inextricably tied to their authentic faith.  The theme of perseverance, a major theme in Hebrews, again comes in view.  This sounds similar to Paul in Romans 5:  “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3–5 ESV).  The call is to endure difficulty “so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:12 ESV).  Apparently, according to the scriptures, suffering, hardships and difficulties are a prerequisite to hope.  Despite the degree of difficulty and suffering in this life, stay faithful, patient and have your hope strengthened.  Fix your eyes on things to come when things are made new!

Need some Rest?

“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.
For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.”
Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:1–13 ESV)

The seventh day rest that existed in Eden still exists today and the offer of reconciliation and rest still stands to all who will abandon self willed, self reliant effort and trust completely in the finished work of Jesus (v3-5).  The Sabbath day rest of God is centered around the completed work of God in creation, just as the eternal rest of God is centered around the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  Both are finished and provided for by God to those who will believe and receive (v6-7); this means resting in the certainty of the finished work of Jesus on the cross – all spiritual striving which reflects our uncertainty of our ultimate home now ceases.  The joy of being reconciled with the Creator ensues. The same contentedness of soul that Adam & Eve experienced in Eden before the fall is now being restored to humanity; this abiding, peaceful, safety (shalom) in the presence of God is being returned as those who trust have been reconciled with the Creator of the cosmos.  We begin to taste this now as the rule and reign of the Messiah is set up in our hearts, but will be ultimately culminated at the end of time when Jesus himself makes all things New (Revelation 21:4-5).  We see this offer of rest being extended to the Israelites in the rest extended in the promised land, but they did not enter into God’s rest because they did not have faith; belief is the activator of this rest.  There should be a sober mindfulness in us regarding those who have not yet entered in to the rest of God.  Do you have rest in your soul?  It is still available TODAY!  Persevere in your faith, battle against unbelief, lean on God’s revealed word for conviction, encouragement and assurance of His rest for you.  Let us strive to enter the rest of God by fortifying our belief in Him and His promises.  We must remember that we are not saved or sustained by our own good works, but rather by the finished work of our preeminent high priest, Jesus.

Approved & Accepted

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.” (Galatians 1:10–17 ESV)

There are two ways in which we can live our lives: to please people or to please God. Living for the approval of man is tiring. When we drive what we drive, live where we live, work out, eat, parent, interact, respond all for the approval of others we are easily tired, easily angered and plagued by a sense of hopelessness. Proverbs tells us that “Fear of man will prove to be a snare” (Proverbs 29:25). We know this to be true, but we find it so very difficult to get away from. It is as if, we are hardwired for approval and acceptance. But the approval and acceptance that every soul longs for is not found in good marriages or close friendships; as good as those are, they still cannot deliver ultimate approval because that is not what they were designed for and are lived out in a fallen and broken world.

If you have been in the church very long, then you know the answer is that we should live to please God and not man. Paul says as much in the opening verses of Galatians: “am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Being a Christian and seeking approval from others are not compatible courses. The problem is that we bring our same hard charging, approval seeking effort in to our relationship with God. We quickly turn our efforts to a list of activities, hoping that they will pacify God and earn His approval. Our view of God, of times, is one of a harsh task master who demands absolute perfection in our obedience to Him. If we found it difficult to live up to the demands of imperfect people, how much more impossible is it to live up to the demands of a completely perfect Creator?

What must we do to gain God’s acceptance and approval? What are the the things that we should be doing that God finds pleasing? The disciples asked Jesus this very question in John 6:28, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus’ answer might shock you! He said, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”” (John 6:29). What? The work that we must do is one of faith? How can that be? The bulk of us have been told (normally indirectly) our entire Christian lives that to be acceptable to God that we must be clean – not lying, cheating, gossiping, lusting, coveting, etc. This is the very heresy that Paul is addressing in the book of Galatians. A works based righteousness is what Paul abandoned (Galatians 1:11-17) because no one is approved of based upon their performance (Galatians 3:11). When we quickly move to a flurry of activity attempting to earn God’s approval and acceptance the same hopelessness ensues that we experienced when we try to earn the acceptance of others. We can’t do anything of significance to earn God’s acceptance and approval. If we have trusted in Christ’s perfectly lived life and substitutionary death on our behalf then we are accepted – WE DON’T NEED TO DO ANYTHING ELSE TO BE ACCEPTED. Hebrews tells us that our faith (alone) is what is pleasing to God: “without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6).

Jesus is the one that God finds pleasing: ““You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”” (Luke 3:22 ESV). God is pleased with Jesus, and this same approval and affection is now ours because Jesus gives it to us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He gives us His perfect righteousness and takes the just punishment due us because of our rebellious hearts. He did it because we couldn’t get it done. When we are drowning, the answer is not paddle harder, kick faster – the answer is to latch on to the life preserver of Jesus. Martin Luther said it like this: “the devil is forever attracting people to good works to ensure that they don’t reach the point of thinking that the need the grace of Christ.” Fix your eyes on Christ the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). When we come and present our good works as an acceptable sacrifice before God; He views them like a pile of nasty rags (Isaiah 64:6). The sacrifice that is acceptable to God is a broken and contrite spirit (Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 57:15, 66:2). The only way in which we can find God’s approval is to humbly rest solely upon the sacrifice of Christ and abandon all confidence in our own abilities. Rest in the truth that you don’t have to work to attain God’s approval and acceptance – it has been secured. Allow this truth to irrigate your soul.

Hope in Hard Times

Despite difficulty, oppression and injustice, victory is sure as Isaiah paints the picture of a God who is mighty to save, deliver and redeem.  Judgement, ultimate justice and redemption is at hand, but our God delivers those who are His (Isaiah 63:1-4).  Judgement is a reality.  All injustices will be made right by the One who is able to judge – the Creator of the cosmos.  We don’t like to wait for justice, we want vengeance now, especially when we are the ones that are being unjustly treated.  Yes, we should always fight for justice and truth, but ultimately we must remember that the Creator is the One that will make all things new and reward those on His earth for their deeds – good and bad.  verses 5-6.

It is hard to hope in God and His ultimate deliverance when all that surrounds us is difficulty, injustice and oppression.  We are so prone to walk by what we can see instead of what is unseen.  How do we have hope when this is the case?
1.  Recount, recall and remember God’s steadfast love towards you.  This is often times difficult, but we must strive to reflect on the fact that we have nothing that we have not received from His hand according to His bountiful mercy.  Do you have a home, friends, family, a job, leisure time, freedoms, food, clothes?  Are you His?  Reflect on the fact that you deserve none of these things and it was not by your own efforts that you have received them.  You could have just as easily been born without your intellect in a 3rd world country where the gospel is not preached.  You were not, you were placed in the home you were placed in with the natural abilities that you possess, were afforded the opportunities that you have had and are a child of God according to His sovereign rule and reign, not according to randomness and your hard work (or failures). verse 7.
2.  You are His child.  Despite your failures and shortcomings (like Israel’s), He determined before He formed the world to set His affections upon you and call you to Himself.  Despite the health or dysfunction of your earthly family, God has called you His – you are kin to the King, a child of the Creator.  He will make all things new, restore the brokenness, and redeem you and this fallen creation.  verse 8.
3.  God is with you, even in the darkest points of life.  God is sorrowful over the sufferings, hardships and difficulties of His children – even when they are brought on by their own sinful actions.  He is not far from His children, He acts personally and directly to comfort and deliver in His time.  verse 9.
4.  Despite our failures, rebellion and short comings, there is hope in the future.  Just as God delivered the people in Egypt, He will deliver His children.  We must walk by faith, not by what we can see – our sight is limited, skewed and dim.  Despite the things that seem to be around us, the all powerful, all orchestrating Architect of all things is working and redeeming.  This hope is not fixed on us, our worth or performance, but in God’s ultimate goal of glorifying Himself.  It is liberating to see the promises of scripture through the lens of God’s glory rather than through the lens of our performance or worth – one is burdensome, the other is freeing.  v10-14.

A Living Hope

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” (Revelation 21:1–7 ESV)

There is coming a day when God will make all things new.  Do you have an enduring & living hope?  Listen to The New Heaven and the New Earth by Tim Keller

The genuineness of faith is proved by endurance

“The way to fight sin in our lives is to battle our bent toward unbelief.  We are prone to drift away from a hearty confidence in who Christ is, what he has done for us, and all the promises that are sure because of Christ.  We must never let go of the blood and righteousness of Christ as the ground of our right standing with God and guarantee of all God’s promises.”

“There are church-attending people who believe they are saved because they once prayed to receive Jesus, not realizing that the genuineness of that experience is proved by endurance:  “The one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

Battling Unbelief by John Piper (page 89-90)

Messiah is Coming!

The messiah is coming and He will transform the world:  Isaiah 11:1-16.  Characteristics?  “And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,” (Isaiah 11:2 ESV) “And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD,” (Isaiah 11:3 ESV) “with righteousness he shall judge,” (Isaiah 11:4 ESV) “Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins,” (Isaiah 11:5 ESV) “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,” (Isaiah 11:6 ESV) “The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.” (Isaiah 11:8 ESV).  Empowered by the Spirit, delighting in God, judging rightly, faithful, peace will reign, oppression will end.  God will restore his dispersed people from across the globe!  God is mighty!  “And the LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt, and will wave his hand over the River with his scorching breath, and strike it into seven channels, and he will lead people across in sandals. And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant that remains of his people, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt.” (Isaiah 11:15–16 ESV)