Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hope, Jesus Is My Unchanging Hope!

- "Even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed."-- "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 5:10) Christians have suffered persecution since back then and even now for professing Christ & His Gospel and for living for God & obeying His Word. The persecuted are blessed because they suffer for what is right...for the cause of righteousness. Martyrdom is a real blessed honor! When we are on God's side, nothing can really harm us. "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in Hell." (Matthew 10:28) "If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord." (Romans 14:8)

- "Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord."-- Do not be troubled or terrified! How appropriate this verse is for us when terrorists/Islamic extremists are persecuting Christians left and right! Peter was quoting Isaiah 8:12b, "Do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it." Peter was encouraging the persecuted Christians not to be afraid. Why shouldn't they and you and I be afraid? Isaiah 8:13 says, "The Lord Almighty is the One you are to regard as holy, He is the One you are to fear, He is the One you are to dread.When you fear God, you fear nothing else. Fear God, not men. Here Peter was pointing people to "revere Christ as Lord" in their hearts. We are to honor Him as the King/Ruler/Master of our hearts. Give Him the supreme place in your hearts. He is our Priority. He is holy. We are to bow down to Him with devout awe, utmost reverence, humble submission, and wholehearted devotion. Some people just want Jesus to be their Savior but not their Lord. They want Jesus to save them from Hell but they still want to run their own lives & do whatever they want. It doesn't work that way. Christ's followers must die to self and live under the Lordship/authority of Jesus Christ. Interesting fact: "The New Testament calls Jesus 'Lord' 663 times and 'Savior' 16 times. Jesus expects to be Lord of your life." (Dr. Grant C. Richison) We show Him love and honor by unreservedly yielding every area of our lives to Him, believing His Word, and obeying Him. Proclaim Christ and praise His holiness. 

The presence of Christ makes all the difference in the world. Knowing that He is always with us and for us makes us bold and keeps us calm. The remedy for fear is firm faith in Jesus Christ and confident rest in His presence, love, wisdom, power, goodness, sufficiency, and faithfulness. When we remember that this life is not our own but is His and this world is not our home but Heaven is, why worry, why fear,...He is in control, He's got our back, and He can do whatever He is pleased with our lives. "Do not let your heats be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me." ~Jesus (John 14:1)

- "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."-- The unsaved live without hope and need to hear about the hope of eternal life made possible by the Gospel of God's grace. We Christians must always be prepared/ready to explain why we believe what we believe...why we have this living hope. Our faith is not blind faith and our hope is not wishful hope. Compared to other religions, Christianity makes the most sense and has solid evidence to back it up. Truth, facts, and logic are all on our side. Diligently study God's Word and if you have a chance, study apologetics, too. Do not let the opportunity of sharing your faith slip away. Some people are truly curious to know/understand why you choose Jesus, why you believe the Bible, why you think God exists, why you can smile & be joyful in the midst of sufferings, why you can have peace when you're diagnosed with a terminal illness, why you forgive the person who killed your daughter (as in the case of my pastor), etc. Are you ready to answer these questions? Your answer doesn't have to be elaborate or complicated (most unbelievers would not understand the Christian terminology, anyway). Every Christian should be able to give personal testimony to Christ. Tell others what Christ has done for you and in you. 

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." (Hebrews 6:19a) Christ is our Hope, not good works or governments. He is the Anchor for our soul! 
Because of Christ's immutability, we maintain stability even in the midst of adversity and uncertainty. What do we do with this marvelous hope? We should be artisans of hope, radiating hope everywhere we go. Many people in this world struggle with hopelessness (just look at the suicide and attempted suicide statistics). Tell them about Jesus!  "Hope in the Lord is not a wish but an absolute assurance that man can be snatched from the fire of destruction and be saved into new life--changed by the mercy of Jesus Christ and declared righteous before His throne of grace." (Billy Graham) 

-- "But do this with gentleness and respect."-- When you share the Gospel or tell others about your belief, do it with gentleness (meekness and grace) and respect, not with haughtiness and contempt. Don't get into a heated argument and become angry, mean, harsh, violent, or disrespectful. Show them respect even if they disagree with you and/or are disrespectful to you. Christians should never look down upon non-Christians. We should remember that we are also sinners and we are saved by God's grace alone. We cannot win people over to Christ with arrogance. Let's do our part of sharing our personal experience with Christ and leave the result in God's hand. We shouldn't get upset or discouraged if they don't receive our sharing the way we expect/wish. Only the Holy Spirit can open people's spiritual eyes and soften their hearts.

-- "Keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."-- We are to keep our conscience clear. Aim to please, honor, and glorify God always in our attitudes, words, and deeds. Live the Gospel out in your daily life. Our good/godly behavior in Christ will prove wrong their slander/malicious talk about us/accusations against us. Meet criticism with a life beyond reproach. Living a godly life with consistency and integrity establishes credibility with unbelievers. "I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man." (Acts 24:16) We uphold our witness with our conscience, our commitment, our character, and our conduct that's congruent with our confession. "Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God's grace." (2 Corinthians 1:12) The authenticity of our transformed life will silence slander and give the critics nothing to say against us.


Elisabeth said...

Beautiful! I think we have gotten complacent in the United States. We are so used to being able to practice our faith that we have taken it for granted. I have heard there are actually missionaries from China coming here to the U.S. to try to revive our faith. Now doesn't that just say it all?

I think a day is coming when our right to practice our faith will be severely curtailed and at that point it will be a shock for many people who are not expecting it.

Angela Holland said...

I enjoyed reading your post today. It was full of a lot of good verses. Thank you for sharing.

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