“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful”
Hope is the ability to see through the darkness and to know that beyond the thin veil of this present world (which is passing away) there is an eternal city shining with the Glory of our God. Its citizens have already passed through great trial and temptation and are watching our progress with great anticipation for us to complete that which God began with them* (Hebrews 11:39-12:1). We read of Abraham who lived in a strange country sustained by hope; “for he LOOKED for a City whose builder and maker is God”. We see Moses who endured great trials for 40 years because he saw Him who is invisible! We read of the lives of those who made a difference in their day not because they were strong but because their God was strong on their behalf. This present day of small things will and must give way to the dawning of His Life within His own who feel the pulse of His Hope and His purposes. It is in such a time as this that those who long for more of God, who thirst for more than just another Sunday sermon, will know within their hearts that God has something greater than what we see today.
“And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope”
We live in a time when the fire of God in our land has grown dim. The hearts of many have grown cold, where iniquity (self-will) abounds and sin is marginalized. Many see the horror but say nothing at all for the sake of grace! This is a grace which is presented as a sentiment to ignore the sin and the loose living of those who call themselves by His Name. It is a word synonymous with compromise and hypocrisy. How we would do well to reacquaint ourselves with the unmerited Grace of God freely given to us in Christ Jesus…
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid…”
Is this the Grace of God?
Was it not Grace that caused the Son to “cleanse” the Temple in His Day? Is it not Grace that stands for the glory and honour of God in the day of apathy? Surely it is the true Grace of God which ministers a pure pursuit for holiness in all who call upon His Name (Hebrews 12:14). It is grace that produces a burning desire to overcome sin within our own hearts and to know the heartbeat of the Love of God for one another. It is Grace that must confront the complacency with sin and carnality in His House. A grace which is content with the current state of things in our land is not the grace of God. Instead it is a word used for compromise by those who rejoice “in the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10). Grace has become a byword to justify sin, lethargy and wickedness. It is a word used to attempt to stifle the life and fire of God out of those who would contend for the faith. It is a word used to drown out the voices for truth and righteousness.
The True Grace
The true demonstration of Grace is when His people reveal Christ in such power that the hearers are brought to repentance (Acts 2:14-38). It is Grace that convicts us of our waywardness and worldliness, and Grace which moves us to the blessedness of broken and contrite hearts. This is the Grace which brings us into the life and the wonder of our God.
“And he shall bring forward the headstone
amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it“
The Grace of God working powerfully in the heart of Zerubbabel brought the completion of the House of God in the midst of all the opposition from within and without.
The Grace of God is given to complete His work within our hearts, not to comfort us in our sin and complacency.
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world”
“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
The depth of our conversion determines the divine enablement to strengthen our brothers and sisters. At times “our” faith falls short in the situation in which we find ourselves, and our seeing impacts our believing. It is in these times we discover our Great High Priest interceding for us; that which the enemy has meant for our destruction becomes the means to not only strengthen us but to enable us to love and pray for our brothers and sisters.
What He is to us we are to become to others.
There is a conversion and a transformation whereby we are freed from ourselves to strengthen and uphold others in the wisdom and grace of God.
Jesus did not pray to remove the situation in which Peter would fail. He prayed Peter through the failure so that he would become a ministration of Christ unto others.
As we go on in our journey, we will slowly discover that there is more grace in God to go through situations in life than there is to be delivered from them. Grace is given to strengthen us that we may in turn know how to strengthen others.
“The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary”
“For indeed we who are in this tent do groan, being burdened; not that we desire to be unclothed, but that we desire to be clothed, that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life”
2 Corinthians 5:4
Life, whether earthly or heavenly, is by nature filled with longings, desires and pursuits. As the natural life is filled with unholy lusts and affections so the heavenly life is filled with holy pursuits and desires.
“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other”
The nature of the life of an individual is known by the thing it covets and pursues. Just as the lust for the things of this world is the expression of the worldly man so is the desire in the life of the believer to be “swallowed up” in the LIFE of the SON.
Where there is no cry for heavenly things There is no heavenly life
“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son,”
Love is the essence of the Christian Life. It is from Love’s dominion within a heart that true gifts are given. Many give from their abundance of various means, but it profits little. An individual may give without love; but one cannot hold the Love of God within and not give.
“And if I give out all my goods, and if I deliver my body that I be burned, but I do not have love, I am not profited anything”
1 Corinthians 13:3
Wherever and whenever there is giving, with Love as the origin, there will be a corresponding touch of God upon the giver. When we give out of God’s heart there is a sense of fellowship in God; the source of the thing we are doing is God Himself. In these transactions we become participants in the very wonder of heaven. We are dispensing His grace into the life of another. How blessed is the economy of His Kingdom!
“It is more blessed to give than to receive”
Love seeks no remuneration. Love gives because that is the very nature of God. He is the fountain and source of all good things. His fullness is never depleted, and His riches are infinite. He invites us to participate in the glory and wonder of His life.
“Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…”
Ephesians 3:20 (WEB)
Faith is not belief. Faith is not a commodity or the product of a self-generated religious philosophy. Faith is the “substance” of things hoped for. It is the actual “evidence” of spiritual realities. It is not empty, make believe or unsubstantial. Faith is rooted in God Himself. It is the divine enablement to reach into the very heavens where God dwells and appropriate divine realities. The ability to expect the greater things of God is proportional to the “power that is at work in us”. Within the life of every believer there is to be a power at work; a power received and held within the heart of His own. Obedience is the revelation of that power at work within our lives. It is God moving within us to fulfill His purposes for us.
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear”
Noah was moved by faith; the impetus to do was the offspring of that faith. Faith is the mover. There is a relentless press of faith to do God’s work in those in whom that power is at work. The degree of its expression in our lives is revealed by obedience and the works which faith alone can produce. Where there is no living faith, the works of faith will be missing. Faith is the power of God at work within the life of the believer. The life which one lives is their true statement of faith. It is not merely something we believe; it is revealed in the life we live and the things we do.
In our day the faith of many rests in the words and wisdom of men and not in the power of God.
“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God”
1 Corinthians 2:5
Faith in the wisdom of men is powerless and lifeless; it leaves its adherents looking to someone or something outside of themselves. It is a faith which lacks the reality of present day living. The faith that stands in the power of God knows that the secret of its fulfillment lies in our obedience to His Will.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed…”
“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil”
Time is one of the most precious commodities given to humankind. The experience of every moment becomes the very fabric of our human existence. Every day, every moment, and every breath are God’s gift to us. Each minute that passes is one less left in our journey here on earth. We are exhorted by God to see these gifts of time as opportunities in our walk with Him.
“So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
In Jesus’ life here on earth, no time was squandered. Each moment was filled with purpose and design. He was here to reveal the Father; to please His Father. He came that we might live our life with the same intensity of heart. His Life was active, yet ever at rest. His hands were busy in destroying the works of the devil. His words were filled with power and wisdom. His thoughts towards God’s fallen creation were pure. His feet took Him from the darkness of the synagogues to the lost woman at the well. In each situation men and women were struck with the very light of God. In short, His Life was not His own. John declared:
“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written”
The Son of God was always engaged in the “now” of life. His heart was and is ever attentive to the will of His Father. Nothing was arbitrary or lost in His short 33 years. The secret of our life is to discover this same perspective. It is the surrendered life, free from our own pursuits, wherein we discover the divine enablement to be sensitive to the opportunities around us. It is here we “redeem the time” allocated to each of us. Discipleship is a journey of following in the Way of the Master; a life of cultivating and developing a sensitivity to His Spirit in our daily lives. The opportunities to extend His Love into the world are all around us.
“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest”
Life is to be lived in the moment. The deception of religion is that it concerns and consoles itself with either past or future concepts and ideas; Christ was always in the “now” of His Father. While people were and are looking toward an event, Jesus told His disciples to lift up their eyes to see that now, in the present, the fields are white unto harvest.
The secret to redeeming the time is discovered in the “now” life we live.
“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
– C.T. Stud
“Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness”
God does not keep His own from the dark places, but He does keep His own in the dark places. There are treasures to be discovered in the fearful and gloomy paths we must sometimes walk. As we hold on and walk uprightly even in the darkness, we can trust that the God of all grace will cause His Light to arise in those circumstances.
The Christ of our hope and our strength, the Christ who cannot fail will come to us in unexpected ways. There will be an unveiling of Himself which could not have been appropriated in the light. There are graces to be formed within our hearts which require dark and foreboding places. Courage and tenacity find their roots in the testings of life. In these perilous experiences we learn our weakness and discover His strength.
This is how character is built within the hearts of the upright. It is in these places that the disciple sees and hears of the greatness and mercy of our God. As the metal of a heart is forged and the reliance on other things purged, God’s work of preparation is accomplished.
“He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord tried him…”
Has God spoken a word to you? Has that word been a trial and a source of consternation? Have you felt the fetters of confinement, the rejection of friends and family? Have you sat in darkness alone and seemingly barren? Rejoice in the ways of God! Let His light arise in the darkness. Trust in Christ alone and walk uprightly before Him. Do not let despair rule; stay strong and purposed in God. The Word whereby He has caused you to hope will surely come. As the night must give way to the dawn, so will He surely arise in thee.
“O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful”
Lost within the gospel message of today lies the true purpose of God in Christ. The great work of the Spirit is always to exalt the Son. He is given without measure to so fill us with the heavenly power that in this earth (our bodies) Christ may be revealed in complete fulness. We are not here to sell Jesus we are to present Him within the everyday life we live.
The above scripture is prefaced with the phrase… “…called me by his grace”. A grace which does not bring us to the place of being a revelation of the Son is a grace wrongly received. Grace must always lead us to Christ like living.