Thought for Today
“A heart without hope
is like a sail without wind”
“A heart without hope
is like a sail without wind”
“But when the morning was now come,
Jesus stood on the shore.”
The long night seasons of life with its discouragement and shattered dreams lay heavy upon the souls of His disciples. Each in their own way had failed to stand in the great testing and trial of the crucifixion of Jesus. Each one fled in the face of the fury and hatred of the moment. No one had felt the bitter sting more than Peter whose grandiose confession seemed to be so genuine and bold just a few short days before.
In their discouragement they had returned to their former occupation with an inner desolation and a sense of hopelessness. It is here that Jesus appears and meets them in the morning hours. It is here, though at first hidden from their eyes, He first comes to bring the power and hope of His resurrection. It is in His resurrection we have hope to arise from the fresh failures of life. It is in His resurrection we can feel Him invigorating our hearts and our hopes, moving us forward unto a greater sense of His purpose in our lives.
Though the nights be long, our efforts seem futile, and the world about seems not to even notice the starless sky, Jesus will come in the morning; and in His coming the fires of our hearts are rekindled. Rest assured He keeps His own. He watches over the objects of His Love even though the night is dark and the way seems uncertain, He will come with the wonder of His presence and, though we may not recognize Him at first, the truth will dawn and joy will break over our hearts as the morning sun upon the mountains.
“…weeping may endure for a night,
but joy cometh in the morning”
“I call to remembrance my song in the night”
The real purpose and value of our history in God is to give us hope in our present circumstances. Many times in the Psalms those who knew God would call to remembrance His former graces to lighten their current situation. The God who answered them in the night seasons of life would surely answer again. He who gave songs of hope in the past will surely arise now. The songs of former times are to be unto us present encouragement. How good God is!
“I call to remembrance my song in the night”
Note here it was not just a song that the Lord gave unto David in a specific night season; it was HIS song given to him for future strength and provision. Faith always takes the truths of God and makes them personal truths. The Song of the Lord becomes MY song by the living faith of Christ within.
Whatever our present circumstances are in this day there are resources to call to remembrance whereby we may arise renewed and strengthened in Him.
“Who delivered us from so great a death,
and doth deliver: in whom we trust
that he will yet deliver us”
2 Corinthians 1:10
Delivered – past tense
Does deliver – present tense
Will yet deliver – future things to come
“I had fainted,
unless I had believed to see the goodness
of the Lord in the land of the living”
The living hope of seeing Him in this life is the source from which faithfulness draws its strength. A living hope is one that produces life within the hearts of those who are held in its grasp. While many hold to a hope after death, a living hope is found in those who are alive in Christ; from its well flows faithfulness and purity of heart (1John 3:3). We see Him in proportion to the purity in which we walk. A living hope facilitates a life of growth and stability. It speaks of holding fast, of feeding others when we are hungry, giving water to others while walking in desert places, of rising up when we are close to fainting and of worshiping Him even when “…the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls.”
Our Faith is revealed in these times. We hold our course and we faint not in a “dry and weary land, where there is no water”. It is in times of loneliness and separation that we are most tempted to yield to despair. These are the times we look to our forefathers who endured great hardships and we see the faithfulness of God meeting them in the “land of the living”.
We read of Moses who endured “as seeing Him who is invisible”; Sarah “receiving strength” to conceive being well past the age of child bearing” because she judged “Him faithful who had promised”. We read of the “endurance of Job and the end of the Lord”. All these things are written for us that we may overcome as they did to the Glory of our God.
“Thou therefore endure hardness,
as a good soldier of Jesus Christ”
“And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel,
one of the sons of Elam,
answered and said unto Ezra,
We have trespassed against our God,
and have taken strange wives
of the people of the land:
yet now there is hope in Israel
concerning this thing.”
Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that the things that happened to Israel throughout their history are written for our admonition and learning. Human nature does not change but the good news is neither does our God! We read here that Israel was subjected to the judgments of God and taken captive in a strange land. The temple and the Holy things of the temple had been taken and as time went on they began to CONFORM and become integrated WITH the people among whom they lived. God in His mercy began to stir the hearts of some with strong prophetic words and powerful unction to a rebuilding and restoration of the people to His Glory. Whenever God begins to move in the face of His peoples’ failure the call to repentance is ALWAYS coupled with the power of HOPE. Hope is more than just a faint intellectual concept; hope is a power that enables men and women to respond to the call of God. In spite of tremendous failure hope gives the assurance of God’s forgiveness as a response to those whose hearts have responded to the call of God. It is inconsequential how deep and how complete the apostasy, how indoctrinated the people of God have become by a dead religion, how infiltrated by the world the church has become; the message of the hour is THERE IS HOPE. The “strange wives”* spoken of here speak spiritually of God’s people embracing worldly ways, of deep affections with the world and the things of the world around them, and covenants of compromise personally and corporately. In response to the prophetic word of God we see the sons of Elam responding BECAUSE there was a hope ministered into their hearts! These men RESPONDED…
let us make a covenant with our God
to put away all the wives,
and such as are born of them,
according to the counsel of my lord,
and of those that tremble
at the commandment of our God;
and let it be done…”
True repentance is fueled by a living hope in the God of mercy and truth. Shechaniah responds “yet NOW THERE IS HOPE”! There is hope in spite of what we see. There is hope that pulsates within the darkness and confines of a religious system that functions like any other worldly corporation. There is hope even as in Jesus’ day of the money changers being expelled from the very temple of God. There is hope against the religious pride of men who have taken the ministrations of God and made them positions of a hierarchy. There is hope for the people of God for whom words like “victory” and “overcoming” have been replaced by a gospel that tells them this is as good as it gets. There is hope for the church that has been divided by the strivings of men to propagate their own “church” and “ministry” over that of another. There is hope that the LOVE of God can invade our carnal hearts to such an overwhelming extent that even the world will have to declare this love is beyond all human origin.
Let us embrace the power of this HOPE calling us to respond to HIM regardless of the failures and hopelessness of our situations. Let those who have been defeated, backslidden, and faithless hear the call of HOPE arising in their hearts and join themselves to others who by faith are arising in this hour; for such is the response of Shechaniah…
for this matter belongeth unto thee:
we also will be with thee:
be of good courage, and do it.
Then arose Ezra,
and made the chief priests,
the Levites, and all Israel,
to swear that they should do
according to this word”
Hope is the anchor
That holds us in our plight
Hope is the womb
That births fresh life
Hope is the beacon
That shines in the darkest night!
*NOTE: Articles on this to follow
“For the time is come that judgment
MUST begin at the house of God”
1 PETER 4:17
The judgment of God IS COME to America. She has been weighed and measured and found wanting. Great division and strife will be the outcome. Desolation and burning will be the reward for her ways and her works. God is Holy, He is Pure and Righteous. In order for His righteous judgments to proceed He must begin at His Own House; it would be hypocritical for Him to do otherwise. He must have a purified house before He can rightly judge the world (II Corinthians 10:6).
The “church” of today in America has become worldly and wise with a wisdom that is of the earth. She has forsaken the CALL to be a light unto the world and a revelation of the Living Christ; she has become worldly, trading her heavenly call for a worldly one. Rather than standing in prayer for the nation she has become political, secular and adversarial. She has forsaken the spiritual weapons which are mighty and taken on carnal weapons to fight within the realm of politics and reason. Rather than praying for the leaders of the nation this church has become carnal, contentious and rebellious. The weapons she now wields will bring judgment and persecution upon her and this is GOD’S DOING.
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all,
supplications, prayers, intercessions,
and giving of thanks,
be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority;
that we may lead a quiet
and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
For this is good and acceptable
in the sight of God our Saviour;
Who will have all men to be saved,
and to come unto the knowledge of the truth”
1 TIMOTHY 2:1-4
Not once in the entire New Testament did Paul ever mention Nero, the Roman leader who was ferociously persecuting the Christians of his day. Not once did Paul mention the Roman assault on Jerusalem; for the Kingdom Paul and the rest of the Apostles were preaching WAS NOT OF THIS WORLD! Jesus said to Pilate…
“My kingdom is not of this world:
IF my kingdom were of this world,
THEN would my servants fight…”
The “church” of America has in large part declared, by her actions, that in fact her kingdom is of this world. She has declared this by taking up the carnal weapons of political warfare, by speaking evil of dignitaries and seeking to influence the world around her by legislation rather than by the revelation of Jesus Christ. She has sought to change the world by political force instead of spiritual reality. Jesus said to render to Caesar that which was Caesar’s, and to God that which is God’s. We are plainly told this world is passing away and we are to look toward the Day of His Kingdom. We are not to become entangled in the affairs of this world. When the Church ceases to be a light to the nation, darkness and deception will readily fill the vacuum.
God must judge a church that has become worldly and carnal. The idea of God judging His House is a foreign concept to the church of our day (read the Book of Revelation chapters 2 and 3)! Yet we read plainly in 1 Peter 4:17 that the Judgment of God MUST BEGIN AT HIS HOUSE! WILL WE NOT LISTEN, WILL WE NOT TURN AWAY FROM THE CARNALITY, WORLDLINESS AND SIN that so plagues us? JUDGEMENT MUST BEGIN AT GOD’S HOUSE. Let us read this as a dire warning of what is about to unfold.
There is a persecution that is about to break forth in a fury of unprecedented proportions. It is because the church has failed to represent HIM and instead has become proud and arrogant. She has become “rich and increased with goods… and has needed nothing” from God. She is unaware of her own spiritual condition and the horror of her wantonness and worldly desire. She has settled in this world with an ease and comfort as the result of the “deceitfulness of riches”. Her kingdom is of this earth, her power has become political and, like Samson, she has laid her head in the bosom of the world and lost her anointing and forsaken her call.
(A PICTURE OF HOPE AND RESURRECTION)
Like Samson she has been blinded and bound and great will be the fall. The world will make sport of her. She will be mocked and her persecution will be a sport to the world; a means of entertainment for all to see. Yet in her humiliation and brokenness there will be a turning and a repentance. She will remember her call. She will return to her place as a beautiful bride willing to sacrifice her life to see the will of God fulfilled in the earth! She will arise anew and great will be the power and glory that results from the Judgment of God upon her. The fury of the Judgment that is about to fall will be devastating and horrific. The savageness of it will be beyond comprehension. Many Christians will take up arms to fight against that which is coming and they will fall as surely as all who have done so throughout the history of the church. However, there will be a people who will turn and repent, who will humble themselves under the hand of the Almighty GOD to find grace and mercy in this time.
“And when these things BEGIN to come to pass,
then look up, and lift up your heads;
for your redemption draweth nigh.”
The judgment and humbling of the Church will result in the purification and restoration of her place of authority in God. When this is finished, when our obedience unto Him is complete and full, then God will Judge the Nations with a Rod of Iron. The Judgments* linger UNTIL the Obedience of God’s people is complete.
“…having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience,
WHEN YOUR obedience is fulfilled”
2 CORINTHIANS 10:6
A FINAL WORD
“Gather yourselves together,
yea, gather together, O nation not desired;
BEFORE the decree bring forth,
BEFORE the day pass as the chaff,
BEFORE the fierce anger of the LORD
come upon you,
BEFORE the day of the LORD’S anger
come upon you.
SEEK ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth,
which have wrought his judgment;
SEEK righteousness, SEEK meekness:
it may be ye shall be hid
in the day of the LORD’S anger”
*NOTE: The Judgments of God are predicated upon His People and their obedience and spiritual condition. This is why God must Judge His Own House first.
1. Jesus said that His coming would be as it was in the days of Noah (Luke 17:26) “God waited while the Ark was preparing…”(1Peter 3:20). God waited for Noah to complete the building of the Ark before the Judgment of God could fall in Noah’s day.
2. Jesus said that His coming would be as it was in the days of Lot (Luke 17:28-30). God’s Judgments could not fall on Sodom until Lot had come out of her… (Genesis 15:19-26)
“But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom
it rained fire and brimstone from heaven,
and destroyed them all.
Even thus shall it be in the
day when the Son of man is revealed”
We see in the Book of Revelation the voice of God calling His people to come out of her (Babylon)… for if we partake of her sins we will surely partake of her plagues…
“And I heard another voice from heaven,
saying, Come out of her, MY PEOPLE,
that ye be not partakers of her sins,
and that ye receive not of her plagues.
For her sins have reached unto heaven,
and God hath remembered her iniquities.
Reward her even as she rewarded you,
and double unto her double
according to her works:
in the cup which
she hath filled fill to her double.
How much she hath glorified herself,
and lived deliciously,
so much torment and sorrow give her:
for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen,
and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
Therefore shall her plagues come in one day,
death, and mourning, and famine;
and she shall be utterly burned with fire:
for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her”
“And he said, About this season,
according to the time of life,
thou shalt embrace a son”
II KINGS 4:16
Opportunities for enlargement are often shrouded in the dark clouds of obscurity and silence. What seems to be a dead end and a place of helplessness is often the very gateway into the Glory of God. While men linger in resignation, God waits in expectation.
In the story presented here in II Kings there is an unfolding of a relationship between a prophet of God and a kind woman who provided a place for him and his servant to stay as they passed through from time to time. Her motive was right and she did not expect anything in return. She was simply accommodating a servant of God. After some time it came to Elisha to bless her for the kindness shown and in which the revelation of her barrenness came to light. Her husband was old and the desire for a child must have been a strong cry within her heart. Upon discovering Elisha spoke that living word of promise that she would embrace a child much to her own disbelief. The hope of such a thing had long passed as her circumstances dictated otherwise. The years of fading hope had succumbed to the defacto of her experience. The cry for fruitfulness had been quenched and subdued to the point of a pragmatic outlook on life. It is in such places and such times that God will send the opportunity for His Grace to find us if we will simply remain open to the appointment afforded us; one that is wrapped up in the “everydayness” of life and clothed in the simple outworking of our lives.
The promise of this son, given by a living word, would in itself be a testimony to us who should believe hereafter of THE SON being brought forth in the power and REALITY of our lives. It is incumbent upon us to remain open to the opportunities around us and not allow the experiences of life to harden our hearts nor shrink the world in which we live. It is a day to lift up our eyes “unto the hills” and to ever live with an expectancy of His moving afresh in our lives. The power of a living HOPE chases away the seeming treadmill of our existence. It lifts our eyes from the dusty footsteps of our path unto the horizon where the “Sun of Righteousness” is arising with healing in His wings. The dark night of sorrow and the dim grey shadows of a lifeless dawn must and will give way to HIS ARISING. May we live in the knowledge of HIS Character and not give way to a religious existence of doctrine, rote and tradition. Let us remember that He who has promised cannot lie and the desire to bear fruit out of our own lives is the result of HIS planting and HIS promises.
“Trust in the LORD, and do good;
so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the LORD;
and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the LORD;
trust also in him;
and he shall bring it to pass”
PSALM 3 7:3- 5
“And her lamp does not go out by night”
Literally in the Hebrew language “does not go out” is best translated “not extinguished or quenched” (see Song of Solomon 8:7). In the New Testament we find that the Lamp of God is not merely an understanding of the intellect, it is in fact the VERY LIFE OF THE SON living and shining within our hearts.
“In him was life;
and the life was the light of men”
We see clearly here that it is HIS LIFE that is the light of men. His Life in me is Eternal Life not a doctrinal statement that I ascribe to, not some formula that I recite, but the very reception rather the very conception of Him within my heart. It is this “Light of Life” (John 8:12) that we hold by the precious faculty of Faith to illuminate our way, to hold us to the path and purpose of God, and to keep us pure in a dark and contaminated world. The lamp spoken of here is a light that the darkness ever seeks to extinguish, pervert and stamp out. The stratagems of the darkness are many and powerful and come at us in a variety of attacks; bitterness, unforgiveness, temptation, compromise, weariness of the way and disappointments to name but a few. However, the Word stands true “HER LAMP DOES NOT GO OUT BY NIGHT”!
It is as we face these things that we are made OVERCOMERS. The lamp burns in the night seasons, the lamp burns in dry places and the lamp burns in and through the storms of life.
We live in dark and ominous times and the Word tells us the “…love of many, shall grow cold”. Religion, traditions, the programs and the institutions of men seek to replace the simplicity of relationship with the Lamb of God and adherence to doctrines seeks to replace the life of obedience. We have ceased contending for the faith and have succumbed to a life of passivity and impotence. Men like John the Baptist are considered uncouth, the zeal of Paul untactful and the burning statements of James, Peter and Jude out of touch with the “seeker friendly” atmosphere being presented today. It is in such an hour as this that we must be held by the precious LIFE of Him. His Life never fails to keep us safe and secure within the cords of His Love and because of this…
“…her lamp does not go out by night”
“He who breathes into our hearts the heavenly hope,
will not deceive or fail us when we press forward to its realization”
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”
Throughout this Psalm we read of Him leading us to places of quiet waters and green pastures, in paths of righteousness and yet in the midst of all this we read here of walking “through the valley of the shadow of death…”! How can these things be? Is He not our Shepherd? Is He not in charge and in control of all the things going on around us? We are so struck with the contrast and the suddenness of this verse that we rarely embrace its context within this Psalm. We often hear it quoted because we see all around us God’s precious people walking in, enduring and experiencing this valley that is to them the very dark and real “shadow of death”. How difficult it is to relate this to the purposes of God, to relate this to “Our Shepherd” in whom we are to place our absolute trust. We question, we struggle and we wrestle with the “whys” and the “purposes” of such suffering and often in these experiences we know silence and a seeming sense of aloneness. It is here that we must draw upon HIS character and discover that the “Valley of the shadow of death” is really an extension of the “paths of righteousness” and that HE who loves us most is not deterred in His purpose to MAKE us sons of God by causing us to walk in the same paths that HIS only begotten Son walked. HE walked in them to “become” the Captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10); we walk in them to “attain” the reality of HIS life and salvation!
“…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection,
and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead”
The “power of HIS resurrection” is the life that springs forth from identification with HIM in HIS death. May God work in us the growing realization that the “valley of the shadow of death” is the door way into the knowing of HIM and the power of HIS resurrection! It is the means by which we experience the greatest depth of fellowship with and in HIM! The life of the true Christian is one filled with contrast and contradiction; strength OUT of weakness, beauty FOR ashes, the oil of Joy FOR mourning, light shining OUT of darkness, victory OUT of seeming defeat, love IN the midst of hatred, forgiveness IN the face atrocity and hate, and resurrection life OUT of death! Who is sufficient for all these things? ONLY JESUS the RISEN CHRIST! It is HIS life in us that gives us hope for the dawn. It is HIS life that is the resurrection life and as we walk in the “paths of righteousness” we are found walking in the way of the discovery that HE is in fact “our hope of Glory”.
The “valley of the shadow of death” is the way by which we come to know and trust in HIM in all things. Such knowledge is not learned quickly, it is not learned by sermons and teachings, it can only be known in personal identification with HIM as we WALK with HIM who is “the WAY, the Truth and THE LIFE”.
We (if we have “tasted of the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come”) are all pilgrims and fellow heirs of this life and this walk and as such we must discover the need for greater depths of fellowship and relationship than what we see around us today. For if we are truly in fellowship with HIM it must be revealed in fellowship with those who are walking in this way! “If we walk in the light in the light AS HE is in the light we HAVE fellowship one with another”. The verity of one is revealed in the reality of the other.