December 20, 2009 The Birth of Hope

The Birth of Hope

 

The more things change, the more they remain the same.  Despair, depravity, defeat, dissipation, drunkenness, death, deception – before Jesus’ birth and today. 

Isaiah 35.3-4 can be read in both time periods by only changing ‘will come’ to ‘came’ in the last sentence.  The hope that God foresaw, He brought to reality and now burns with intensity within every person who accepts Jesus as Savior.  This gift of hope to us we are to give to others, especially those depressed by deficiency at the end of this decade.  What hope do we have for ‘weak hands’, ‘tottering knees’, and ‘fearful hearts’?  Let’s see what we can give;

1 Peter 3.15.

 

Hope is the capability for victory.

  • In Romans 4.21, the Apostle Paul states that Abraham was ‘fully convinced that what He had promised He was also [capable] to perform.’  His old age did not matter; Sarah’s ‘dead’ womb did not matter; God had said their children would be innumerable!  He did not ‘waiver at the promise of God’ (verse 20) but was ‘strengthened in faith, giving glory to God’.
  • Follow Abraham through his struggles against discouragement as Paul describes in Romans 5.3-5 how to grow in confidence in God’s capability to do what He says.  Notice that the Holy Spirit walks the path with us to remind us of God’s promises and faithfulness.  Romans 8.14
  • Consider how other writers expressed their hope in God’s capability:
  • Psalm 119.147;   Psalm 138.2;   Psalm 71.4-6;  
  • Psalm 39.7;   Psalm 38.15;       Isaiah 64.4;    
  • Lamentation 3.25-26

 

Hope is victory now!

  • The context of Paul’s declaration in Colossians 1.27 is the persuasion of all mankind that Jesus Christ is Lord of all!  ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ describes the dynamic life of the Christian and the source from within.  We discussed this recently in our consideration of Mark 16.20. 
  • Disciples are to repeat the pattern given in Matthew 10.7-8, and Jesus will work through our words and hands to produce the results – now!
  • Paul explains in Romans 8.10-11 how this occurs to us.  So, the Holy Spirit reminds us of God’s promises and faithfulness and gives divine life within our fleshly bodies to believe and to receive the promise.  It is as though He speaks through our voices (Matthew 10.19-20, 1 Peter 3.15) and touches through our fingers (Acts 28.8-9).  He’s inside of us now!
  • What do we want now?  Victory over despair, depravity, defeat, dissipation, drunkenness, death, deception, and deficiency!  God gave victory to us through Jesus! 
  • 2 Corinthians 2.14

 

Hope is victory for Heaven.

1      Substitute your name in Paul’s salutation in Titus 1.1-3, because he describes the Christian life.  ‘Hope of eternal life’ is a certainty because ‘God, who cannot lie, promised before time began’.  Jesus’ declaration in John 3.16 is true, as are verses 17-18!  Note Titus 3.7 also.

2      The Apostle Peter stirs our imaginations of the ‘living’ nature of Heaven in

1 Peter 1.3-5.  Paul reminds us that this is ‘laid up’ for us in Heaven;

see Colossians 1.5.

3      Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2.19 that sharing Heaven with people who have believed his message about Jesus will be his ‘crown of rejoicing’.  How big will your ‘crown’ be?

4      Best of all, we will see and live with God, our Father – forever!  You can almost hear the excitement in the Apostle John’s voice as he wrote 1 John 3.1-3.

5      Remember what Paul wrote to Titus: this is a certainty!

 

Praise God for His Hope that He birthed to us on Christmas!  Jesus is Hope!

December 13, 2009 Bit Parts Connecting Past With Future

Bit Parts Connecting Past With Future

 

In the theatre and movies, how important are the people who are seen but not heard in the action?  More important are those minor characters who speak a few words.  They seem to be the conjunctions connecting or promoting the main characters and/or different scenes.  Thus, they are critical to the flow and meaning.  So were Simeon and Anna in the temple when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus for circumcision and entering His name in the book of first-borns in Israel (i.e. given to God).  What can we learn from them to grow our faith?  Follow along.

 

Simeon revealed Jesus as Messiah

  • Luke 2.25-35 tells us his part in His-story.
  • Some conjecture that he was the son of Hillel, a president of the Sanhedrin in 13 AD, and father of Gamaliel the Pharisee who taught Saul who became the Apostle Paul.
  • Thus, he was not an old man when he met Jesus, as some have presented his character.  They have, perhaps, misunderstood his words.
  • Verse 25 describes him as just (before men) and devout (before God).  These are worthy of our aspiration.
  • Further, he was ‘waiting for the Consolation of Israel’.  This phrase is better understood from Isaiah 40.1-2.  It represented a throwing off of the misery of the past and an anticipating of a glorious future.  We might view this as a contrast of life on Earth against life in Heaven.
  • Most important, the Holy Spirit was upon him.  This may help to substantiate that he was a young man.  Note the unique message to him in verse 26.  If you had been him, how would you have received and understood this message?  Choosing him may have been prophesied when Hillel named him Simeon, because it means hearing or harkening; here, to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
  • He was led to the temple by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8.14) for this unique meeting with Jesus.
  • Verse 28 indicates that he knew at first sight that Jesus was the promised Messiah, Consolation of Israel.  The Holy Spirit identified Him and proclaimed this within Simeon.
  • What words would we use to speak his words in verse 29?  He is not evidencing old age; rather, he is reveling in the fulfillment of a promise made to him earlier.  Likewise, we are excited to see the fulfillment of the Bible promise when we experience its result.
  • Notice how Simeon’s statements in verses 30-32 fulfill

Exodus 19.6, Acts 4.12, John 3.16, and

Ephesians 2.11-16.

  • To explain, in response to her facial expression and implied words in verse 33, the Holy Spirit expounds on Jesus’ ministry purpose in verses 34-35.  Many Jews will follow Him to salvation, but the very thought of Him will turn many away.  There will be no in-between.  Jesus is the litmus test for eternity.
  • Simeon’s parenthetical statement in verse 35 projects her agony. 

Psalm 42.9-10 expresses this, too, and verse 11 gives the best comfort for any distress we may experience.

  • Simeon revealed Jesus to Mary and Joseph and all who heard him speak.

 

Anna heard and told others who listened for the good news.

  • She was old, as verses 36-37 make clear.
  • Verse 38 shows the right action for us at this Christmas Season.
  • Someone always notices the supporting actors on the world’s stage; you.

December 6, 2009 Words Fulfilled When Spoken and Later

Words Fulfilled When Spoken and Later

 

Luke 1.1-56 tells of events nine months before the birth of our Savior, Jesus, the Messiah.  But, His birth had been the subject of prophecies for centuries, as we shall see in the study below.  Note the mission and vision foretold for His incarnation.  From birth to death, He established a kingdom that continues to overcome satan’s attempts to weaken the nations and peoples – through us followers.  Jesus saves!

 

We will focus upon the following three verses because they speak of information foretold centuries earlier.

  • ‘And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’  (Luke 1.33)
  • ‘…that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’  (Luke 1.35)
  • ‘…As He spoke to our fathers….’  (Luke 1.55) 

God always sees the end from the beginning and moves toward the glory He sees.  He chooses to involve people to speak in the present what He knows about the future.  Omniscience on display, as seen in the following timeline.  Note, especially, the increasing detail of His revelation.

  • In 1920 BC, God spoke the future blessing of Jesus’ incarnation to Abram in Genesis 12.1-3.
  • In 1911 BC, God made a general covenant with ‘Abraham and his seed’ in Genesis 17.7 that He made specific about Jesus in verse 19.  The Apostle Paul would later write in Galatians 3.29 (58 AD) that we (2010 AD) were included in Genesis 17.7 and, thus, inherited the blessings of God to Abraham, including eternal life through faith in Jesus
  • (John 3.16;  Acts 4.12).  
  • In Psalm 132.11-12, David remembers God’s covenant that included Jesus, as Matthew 1.6-16 confirms.
  • In 1872 BC, God affirmed Abraham’s faith with the words of Genesis 22.18: ‘In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.’  Similarly, your family, friends, church, employer, and United States are blessed when you obey His voice.
  • Mary’s Song (Luke 1.46-55) was sung after she received Cousin Elizabeth’s blessing in verse 45.  Enjoy and engage in her worship of the powerful, yet personal God, Who remembers His promises stated centuries earlier.
  • Sometime in the period 1045-1015 BC, David penned God’s prophecies regarding Jesus in Psalm 2.7.  Although present with the Father, God calling Him Son foretold His birth in human form on Earth to Mary, about a thousand years later.
  • Also in the period 1045-1015 BC, the sons of King David’s song leader penned Psalm 45.6-7 as a contemplation for the worshippers.  Their inspiration described Jesus Incarnation and eternal rule.  As Jesus’ body today, these verses include us.  Contemplate their meaning personally.
  • Would you turn God down if He asked you to give the sign that would identify the fulfillment of the birth of Jesus?  King Ahaz did.  So, in 742 BC, God gave the sign in Isaiah 7.14 that only He could produce: a Son born to a virgin girl!  We call Him Jesus (Luke 1.31).  God’s Son is the Ruler Whose kingdom is ordered and established with judgment (of satan and sin) and justice (righteousness and its rewards) forever.  God, Himself, would see to it!
  • In 740 BC, a favorite affirmation of Christmas was written in Isaiah 9.6-7 by God to give the people more detail about this powerful Ruler whose reign would last forever.  Note His characteristics.  The end of verse 7 should encourage us about other promises to us from God.
  • In 710 BC, Micah 6.5 was written by God to encourage His followers to remember His faithfulness; something we, too, should do.  He would be faithful to fulfill His promise to Abraham 1200 years earlier!
  • In Micah 5.2, God identifies Bethlehem as the birthplace for ‘the One to be the Ruler of Israel…Whose goings forth have been from of old, the days of eternity.’  Foretelling is another miraculous identification of God (Exodus 34.10 ).  Results still confirm Him!
  • Micah 4.7-8 was inspired by God to reassure the people to look to the future kingdom glory.  Although the peace achieved by David and mostly enjoyed by Solomon had ended with the rule of wicked kings, the Lord would reestablish Jerusalem, and His rule would never be overcome.  Israel was reborn on May 14, 1948!
  • In 603 BC, Daniel 2.44 explained King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about the statue made of different materials and the stone that would ‘break in pieces and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.’
  • Jesus was born to of the virgin teenager, Mary, to reestablish the conquering kingdom of King David and to reign forever over Israelites and non-Jews who accept Him as Messiah and Savior (Luke 1.32-33, John 6.47).
  • When God declares something, it is certain from that time forth and until is accomplished.  You can depend up what He has revealed to you!

What words of yours do you want future generations of your progeny to identify as leading them to know Jesus better?  Isaiah 55.5 is even true in the future! 

 

Live in the present with the future in mind!  Heaven is coming soon!