Hope is crucial for survival! Hope strengthens us. It empowers and drives us. And hope causes us to have peace even during the storms this life throws at us. As followers of Jesus, hope inspires us to be and do what God wants. It helps us to be effective ministers in a world that tries desperately to undermine and steal our hope with bad reports from Drs, terrorism threats, financial burdens or relationship crisis. These are not imaginary schemes. They’re very real issues in our society. So how do you keep your hope on?
The early church in Acts 2 is a great example of “keeping your hope on” in the midst of troubled times! The Romans occupied Jerusalem and treated the Jews with disdain. The Jewish religious leaders weren’t happy with the church, either. And yet, the church was filled with excitement and anticipation. They were an incredibly effective force in their city and surrounding area.
How was this possible? I believe it was because the church had just experienced firsthand the plan of God. This plan that caused hope to arise as Jesus came on the scene, preaching and teaching the truth of the Good News of the Kingdom of God. This plan that brought hope for today through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Hope because through faith in God’s plan our sins can be forgiven, our relationship with God restored and knowledge that the devil is a defeated foe! This plan brought hope for the future because Jesus ascended to heaven to be seated at the Father’s right hand, interceding on our behalf and preparing a place for us. And the final part of God’s plan, hope forever. The pouring out of His Holy Spirit on the disciples: “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of advice and power, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord”(Isa 11:2). The Spirit who is our Helper, our Advocate, our Guide, our Comforter, our Teacher and the One who sends us out to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ!
What a plan this was and still is! This plan brought hope to a people whose outward circumstances hadn’t changed. It brought peace, excitement and anticipation for something more. Something better! God’s plan is the same for us today. It is just as powerful and effective as it was then! When we believe in God’s plan we will be able to “Keep our hope on” no matter what the situation around us. “Keeping your hope on” brings enthusiasm, purpose and greater opportunity for today’s church to effectively share the Good News of the Gospel! The world needs us to keep our hope on!
Never forget Gods promise in Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope.”
Do you know that God is closer now than ever before? I just finished reading the book of Exodus! It starts out pretty exciting with the story of Moses delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Once they get to Mount Sinai and the 10 Commandments are given the action slows down and it gets into various laws and the plans for the tabernacle. Most of the last 15 chapters in Exodus describe this tabernacle. I admit I was kinda skimming through this part but when I got to the last chapter there were a few things that struck me.
- The Building Itself
What an amazing accomplishment! The detailed plans that God gave Moses included the exact materials needed for every part along with precise dimensions. These materials included the finest linen and animal skins, the brightest yarns and an incredible amount of gold, silver and bronze. Even though it was a tent, it was made using the best materials. It was colorful and extravagant!
- God’s Love for His People
I wondered why God would have them go to all this intricate work for a portable “church”? Why not wait till they were in Canaan and build a permanent structure? God cares so much about His people and the tabernacle was His presence among them. Everywhere they went He was in their midst. They were never alone. It was His presence with them that set them apart from every other nation on earth.
- The Glory of God
At the end of Exodus 40, when Moses has finished setting up the tabernacle, precisely according to God’s instructions, a remarkable thing happened. The cloud that led them through the wilderness by day, covered the tabernacle and the glory of the Lord filled the place! What a powerful visual declaration of God’s presence and glory among His people.
Sometimes I think that it would have been awesome to be in that place and time to see God’s glory fill the tabernacle. Yet what we have today is even better. In the Old Testament, God was in the physical tabernacle, today as Christ followers, we are the tabernacle of God (2 Cor 6:16). God lives in us when we choose to believe and follow Him. What incredible love He has towards us. Because He is in us, naturally, His glory is seen on us (Isa 60:1). And I think He was just as detailed and extravagant in creating us. (Ps 139:14) He knit us together in our mother’s womb; no two people exactly alike. How amazing is that? He really is closer now than He’s ever been! We are a blessed people indeed!
To find out more about the glory of God check out the “SOMETHING MORE” sermon series on our website www.vcrd.ca.
Do you want to do something more with your life?
I believe God has put within each of us the desire to do something more to impact our world for good! He says in John 14:12,“I can guarantee this truth: Those who believe in me will do the things that I am doing. They will do even greater things…
The problem is, we talk about it but rarely do anything about it! Why? Because we have taken for granted the greatness and glory of our God. This principle of our faith needs to be more than just head knowledge. We need to get this understanding into our hearts and then let it implode into every facet of our being. Understanding is power. True understanding opens doors, not just to new possibilities but to endless possibilities. Like when you finally understand the principle of “carrying” in math addition; suddenly you realize you can add any amount of numbers!!
Understanding the greatness and glory of God opens doors for us to do something more. Instead of simply taking for granted the power of God, stop, and reflect on it for a while. He(God) spoke the world into existence (Gen 1) and He holds it together (Heb 1:3). Take time to meditate on His majesty, splendor, & greatness. His unconditional love (John 3:16) and the fact that He’s eternal; forever He was and forever He will be God. I could go on but you get the picture. Our God is amazingly awesome; undeniably great and glorious.
This understanding drives us to action (Col 1:9-10). It motivates us to do something more.
First, it gives us the ability and desire to deal with our issues. Issues that keep our focus on ourselves thereby diminishing our impact on the world around us. Understanding the greatness of God gives us the strength to walk in forgiveness, repentance, and victory. We will make right choices in regards to sin and hurt in our lives because our ultimate desire will be to show forth the glory of God (Isaiah 60:1).
Then we will “let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:16). This can be as simple as making a connection with a neighbor or co-worker. Being friendly and real. Jesus set the example for us in this area. He made connections with people by genuinely caring for their needs. He built trust by meeting needs. We should be doing the same. Choosing to respond with love to the brokenness and sin around us will open doors of opportunity. Showing compassion and healing to broken people will cause God’s glory to be evident in us!
This is the something more that’s in us to do. This is how we impact the world for good.
*Today’s blog is a summary of Sunday’s message at Victory Church of Red Deer. If you have been trying out Red Deer churches, we welcome you to join us. Check out our website www.vcrd.ca