Wait and Hope

Wait and Hope

Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:13

Colossians 3:12-17

 12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

The Count of Monte Cristo is an adventure novel by French author Alexandre Dumas. The story takes place in France, Italy, and the Mediterranean islands. It is an adventure story that focuses on timeless themes of hope, justice, vengeance, mercy, and forgiveness.

Edmond Dantes, a merchant sailor, is betrayed by a friend, is wrongfully accused of treason, arrested, and imprisoned without trial in the Château d’If, a grim island fortress off Marseille.

A fellow prisoner, Abbé Faria, befriends him. Over the next eight years, Faria gives Dantes an extensive education in language, culture, mathematics, chemistry, medicine, and science. And tells him the location of a vast treasure on the small island of Monte Cristo. After a near miraculous escape, he is rescued. When he acquires the fortune, he vows revenge.

He changes his name to the mysterious and wealthy Count of Monte Cristo and returns to France to exact his revenge. There are many twists in the plot. He discovers that Albert, the son of his former fiancée Mercedes, is actually his own son. This changes everything and allows him to forgive.

The story ends with one final thought: “Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.’”

Him The Count of Monte Cristo had many justifiable reasons for hatred, resentment, and a desire for revenge because of the wrongs which he suffered. He successfully carried out almost all of his longed-for vengeance.  But then suddenly, in a moment he has a change of heart.Rather than the expected words, ‘Wait and get revenge,’ the story ends with the surprising, upbeat words, ‘Wait and Hope.’”

REFLECT & PRAY

Because the Lord Jesus Christ has forgiven us, He has set us free to forgive others.

Father thank you that when we were in hopeless despair and Your enemies, You reconciled us to Yourself, forgiving us at the moment we accepted the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.

INSIGHT

The Father calls His children to provide allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends them. However, it seems that this is just simply not in our human DNA. But to our delight and wonder, we are given a whole new series of spiritual DNA, when we are born again as children of the King. This offers a whole new way of life for us.

Without the supernatural motivation and strength of the Spirit of God we will always fall short. But He has exchanged our stony cold hearts, with warm hearts that are capable of forgiving. We now have the choice to make it so.

Jeremiah 31:31-33

 31 “The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.

 32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD.

 33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart,

Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength and dries up the bones.

There is a strong correlation between spiritual and physical health. Our physical well-being is impacted and altered by our inner life, our heart. A cheerful heart translates two Hebrew words that are rendered “a happy heart” in Proverbs 15:13. A crushed spirit is equivalent to being depressed or saddened. Bitterness and a desire for revenge even affects our bones (Buzzell).

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Black Swan event

Black Swan event

[The Lord Jesus Christ] was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 1:4

1 Peter 1:3-5

 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,

 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

The Black Swan Events have become a metaphor for events that comes as a surprise, and often have serious, major consequences. The term is derived from an old belief which presumed black swans did not exist. All swans that Europeans ever saw were white and only white. When Dutch explorer Willem de Vlaming went to Australia, he discovered black swans on January 10, 1697.

In 2007, Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote a book called the Black Swan Theory. He explained that Black Swan Events are metaphors. They describe incidents that are hard-to-predict, and rare events. These events are far beyond the realm of normal probabilities and expectations. They come as a surprise. No one expects them. They often have serious, major consequences and influence history, science, finance, and technology.

Is all of the concern regarding the spread of COVID-19 a storm in a teacup? Apart from the fish, a smoked herring which turns a reddish color, a Red Herring is something that misleads or distracts and draws attention away from more relevant or important matters. In the catchphrase of Fox news, “We Report. You Decide.”

On March 11, 2020, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, general director of WHO, declared, COVID-19, the coronavirus a pandemic. It was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019. By March 11, 2020, the virus had spread to every continent except Antarctica and infected more than 121,000 people, causing 4,300 deaths.

WHO defines a pandemic as “the worldwide spread of a new disease.” “Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death,” Tedros said.

The coronavirus disease was first discovered infecting humans in Wuhan, China in December, 2019. Many people could not help but observe eerie parallels with a fictional novel by Dean Koontz, The Eyes of Darkness, published in 1981. In the novel, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) develops a deadly virus called Wuhan-400. It is created in a secret laboratory in the Wuhan suburbs in Hubei Provence. The virus is a bioweapon. In the novel, it is highly infectious and 100 percent lethal. Has fiction become reality? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Biblical prophecy is not fiction or works of the imagination. It is written history before the events occur. Only the living God can do that. And that is exactly what the Father God did.

Isaiah 48:3,5

 3 Long ago I told you what was going to happen. Then suddenly I took action, and all my predictions came true.

 5 That is why I told you what would happen; I told you beforehand what I was going to do. Then you could never say, “My idols did it. My wooden image and metal god commanded it to happen!”

REFLECT & PRAY

Black Swans are alive and well throughout the Scriptures. They demonstrate the reality and existence of the living God. The Father has repeatedly and miraculously intervened in the time-space continuum. The things that then occurred were improbable, and in many cases impossible. Today we call them miracles.

Father thank you for predicting in the Old Testament the greatest, most improbable and impossible events of all human history: the virgin birth and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. You accurately predicted them, and through Your supernatural intervention, they came to pass.

INSIGHT

The Scriptures are replete with Black Swans. They have had massive influence on the history of the human race. I want to focus on just two.

The first was a remarkable birth, a virgin birth. That in and of itself was highly improbable, if not impossible apart from divine intervention. But on top of that, that child was the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. He had humble human origins. Yet He was indeed God’s Son aand the Messiah of Israel. By all accounts, He lived a regular, “normal” life right up until the time that He was baptized by John the Baptist. John recognized Him as, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

As a result of His birth, an entire new calendar system was created. The timeline was split. A whole new reckoning system was created. New terms were introduced: B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini – “In the year of our Lord”).

“He died upon a cross of wood, yet made the hill on which it stood.” Death by crucifixion was a fairly common form of execution carried out by the Romans. What was unpredictable, improbable, if not impossible was the historical fact of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. That was the greatest and most significant Black Swan Event in human history. Through His death and resurrection He brought salvation and redemption to the human race. Eternal life was now available to anyone who accepts Him as their Savior and Lord.

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What is expected?

What is expected?

What does the LORD require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

Deuteronomy 10:12 What does the LORD your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the LORD your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul.

How do new players become part of an NFL football franchise? Every spring, the NFL teams draft new players that have the potential to become permanent members of their squads. About a month before, the NFL conducts a Scouting Combine. It has become the “Path to the Draft.”

Around 300 prospects participate. What is expected? They demonstrate for the team scouts their strength, speed, and overall movement skills. They show off their ability to run, and where appropriate, their ability catch passes.

Most prospects at the combine perform as expected. Some not so much A few “winners” exceed expectations. The point is to rate each player and rank the most valuable players for each playing position.

The combine is only one part of a robust evaluation process. Teams also evaluate prospects’ game tape, all-star game performances, interviews and background checks to determine their final grade.

Many people wonder what the Lord expects of us. It is only natural for us to think that we are in some type of tryouts for heaven. Rather than show off our skills, strength, or speed, surely there is some high expectation of performance that we have to measure up to.

In ancient Israel, at the time of Micah, religious Jews thought that was all about sacrifices and offerings. The more the better. But how would they ever know what was enough? That is always the problem about merit based on personal effort. How do we know we’ve done enough?

The Father speaks specifically regarding this. He defines what is good and acceptable in His eyes. The Father is also quite clear regarding His expectations. It’s not about what we do or give that matters to Him. Rather it’s about who we are on the inside and how we live it out.

Hosea 6:6 I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.

Micah 6:6-8

 6 What can we bring to the LORD? What kind of offerings should we give him? Should we bow before God with offerings of yearling calves?

 7 Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins?

 8 No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

In simple terms, we are to be just, righteous, and fair. We should be characterized by a love for mercy and kindness. We must be humble, and make walking with the Father our highest priority.

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father desires His children possess courageous faith, good and tender hearts. Who we are is all about Who He is, not by how other people act or react.

Father Your loving kindness is better than life. How I long to love lovingkindness and live it out. Please make it so.

INSIGHT

Yet regardless of what the Scriptures say, it seems like our DNA is programmed for action not attitudes. Somehow, we think it’s about doing rather than being. Sadly, we have it exactly backwards.

1 Samuel 12:24 Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.

Micah 6:8 What does the LORD require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

The qualities which Micah speaks of are descriptive of the very heart of God. He is just, righteous, good, and kind. He is intensely loyal and devoted, He is characterized by lovingkindness, grace, and mercy.

What does the Father ask us to do? What does He expect from us? He asks us to be like Him! We are to emulate Him. Our heart attitudes and sensibilities should be just like His. When our hearts are right, what’s on the inside is revealed and acted out in everyday life.

You want to talk about sacrifices and offerings? We are required to be living sacrifices! We are to present our bodies as a sacrifice, alive, holy, and pleasing to the Father, this is truly the way to worship Him (Romans 12:1).

The Father wants His children to do justice. In other words, be fair and honest. He asks us to “Do the right thing.”

He does not want us to just be kind, He wants us to love kindness. The word translated kindness is a very special and wonderful word in Hebrew. The Hebrew word is hesed. It is often translated kindness, lovingkindness, mercy, or loyalty.

No modern English word fully captures the meaning and significance of hesed. Perhaps the closest equivalent would be loyal-love. Hesed is “love that will not let me go.” It is the kind of love, which is firm, certain, faithful, and unwavering.

Hesed is the very essence of the Father’s heart. He wants each of His children to love hesed, (loyal-love)and live it out.

Our lovingkindness, or the lack thereof, may be the only lovingkindness that others ever know.

Thy Loving Kindness – by David Lewis

Thy loving kindness is better than life

Thy loving kindness is better than life

My lips shall praise Thee

Thus will I bless Thee

I will lift up my hands

I will lift up my hands

I will lift up my hands in Thy name

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Reborn to reproduce

Reborn to reproduce

You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. – John 15:16

John 5:24 I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

John 1:12 But to all who have received him – those who believe in his name– he has given the right to become God’s children

On the afternoon of June 18, 1956, ten people were in a power boat on Schroon Lake. Suddenly a wave struck the boat, hurtling two of them into the water, a young girl and Dawson Trotman. Dawson held the young girl above water long enough for her to be rescued. Dawson however, drowned. Time magazine published his obituary, with the caption under Dawson’s picture, “Always holding someone up.”

The Father took Dawson home at the time appointed by Him in eternity past. Dawson had spent 30 years in Christian ministry. He founded the Navigators which focused on discipleship and Bible memory. But things did not begin that well for Trotman.

His father was an atheistic cowboy who wound up living in Arizona. Trotman was on a  fast gallop down the same dusty trail, until the Father intervened. He was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. The policeman asked, “Do you like this kind of life?”

Trotman replied, “Sir, I hate it.” Three hours later, he sobered up. He made a pledge to do better and the policeman returned his keys to him.

He soon found himself in a church and began memorizing Scripture. He memorized John 5:24. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life . . .” He realized that he did not have eternal life. He prayed, “O God, whatever that means, I want to have it.”

A verse flashed into his mind, “But as many as received Him [Jesus], to them he gave the power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” Immediately, Dawson pleaded with God, “Whatever it means to receive Jesus, I do it right now.”

His life changed. And he began to devour the word of God, memorizing as he went. He taught a sailor named Les Spencer how to live for Christ. Another sailor asked Spencer what was the secret that changed his life. Spencer brought the man to Trotman and asked him to teach the other sailor. Trotman told Spencer, “You teach him!” That was the beginning of the Navigators. It was 1933.

Spencer and his shipmate were soon teaching 125 men aboard the USS West Virginia. They in turn, taught others aboard many other ships. Lamentably, several of those ships were destined to be sunk at Pearl Harbor.

At the core of his ministry were many important scriptures, one that stands out is, “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My Name, He may give it you” (John 15:16)

Dawson Trotman was born and then reborn to reproduce.

What about the rest of us?

REFLECT & PRAY

“Soul winners are not soul winners because of what they know, but because of Who they know, and how well they know Him, and how much they long for others to know Him” (Dawson Trotman).

Father thank You for choosing us to be Your children. Thank you for inviting us into the family business of redemption. Please enable us to go and bring forth lasting fruit.

INSIGHT

John 15:15-16

 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.

 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.

Attempt to try to grasp the magnitude of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done. It is seemingly incredible! He has invited us to be friends with Him. More than that, He has already made friends with us. He declares succinctly, “now you are my friends” (John 15:15). He initiated the friendship. How should we respond to such a magnificent offer of friendship with the Son of God? At the top of the list is shouting out, “Yes! A thousand times Yes!”

I can’t think of a better, BFF, can you?  

What kind of fruit is the Lord Jesus Christ talking about? Perhaps we need to ask another question first. It will help us to gain a better perspective. What kind of business is the Father God in? He is in the redemption business! He desires that no one should perish, but that everyone would come to possess eternal life. He offers eternal life to all.

Revelation 22:17 Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.

The Father has invited us to become His partners in His family business of inviting His children to come to Him. We have been appointed to go and produce lasting fruit. Lasting fruit are people just like us. They hear the message, and come to the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in faith. “Jesus chose us, first to come to him, and then to go out to the world. And that must be the daily pattern and rhythm of our lives” (Barclay).

Do you think it is possible for us to make the Father happy? Is it possible for us to bring great glory to the Father? Can we glorify Him by our actions? And if so, what actions would they be?

John 15:8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

What do we have to do to bear much fruit? Jesus told us how to do it.

John 15:1-5

 1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.

 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

In some remarkable way, we have become fused to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the vine and we are His branches. We are united with Him. Grapes only grow on the branches, not the central stalk or vine. In order for there to be fruit, branches are necessary. But what must the branches do?

Just be branches and “hang in there.” He does the rest. “Continue to be a part of me even as I am a part of you” or “continue to be joined to me even as I will remain joined to you” (UBS). The result is much fruit.

“He called us to be his partners. Slaves could never be partners. A slave was defined in Greek law as a living tool. The master never opened his mind to a slave. Slaves simply had to do what they were told without reason and without explanation. But Jesus said: ‘You are not my slaves; you are my partners. I have told you everything; I have told you what I am trying to do, and why I am trying to do it. I have told you everything which God told me.’ Jesus has given us the honor of making us partners in His task. He has shared His mind with us and opened His heart to us. The tremendous choice laid before us is that we can accept or refuse partnership with Christ in the work of leading the world to God” (Barclay).

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How to become Real

How to become Real

The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness to myself.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Zephaniah 3:17 For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

The Velveteen Rabbit is a British children’s book written by Margery Williams in 1922. A stuffed rabbit sewn from velveteen is given as a Christmas present to a small boy. He is given several other presents that are modern and mechanical. The boy plays with his other new presents and forgets all about the Velveteen Rabbit.

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by and by, their mainsprings break, and they pass away. He knew they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “But when you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are Real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

“The boy’s uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

The rabbit is awed by this idea; however, he thought that his chances of achieving his wish were slight. One night, the boy’s nana gives the rabbit to the boy to sleep with, in place of a lost toy. The rabbit becomes the boy’s favorite toy, enjoying picnics with him in the spring; and the boy regards the rabbit as Real. Time passes, and the rabbit becomes shabbier but happy. He became Real because of love.

In this story, do you see yourself? Are you the little boy, the uncle, the Skin Horse or the Rabbit?

In truth, I think we can identify with all four of them a bit. I am envious of the Skin Horse. But more than likely, I am most like the Rabbit who wants to become real.

The Father is more like the uncle. He is “older” and wiser and has been really, really loving His children for a very long time.

REFLECT & PRAY

“God rejoices over you, though He knows you are in the process of becoming all that He has planned for you to become . . . God is patiently molding and shaping you into the image of His Son” (Stanley).

Father thank You for loving me with Your everlasting love and drawing me to Yourself. Thank You for taking special delight in me. You literally shout for joy as You embrace me in Your loving arms.

INSIGHT

Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness to myself.”

Because of His abounding love, the Father draws us to Himself. That makes us His children, but it doesn’t make us real. In order to become real, we have to experience His love for a very long time. Like the mechanical toys, many of us seem to break easily, have sharp edges, or an seem to require a lot of special handling. So in fact, He has been “handling” some of us for a long, long time. Some of the rough edges have been the knocked off. We have received a few dings, but have not been shattered. Eventually we began to enjoy His loving touch and embrace.

But there’s more.

The Father desires to make Himself known to us in a very special way. Wherever we are, He wants to be right there in the midst of it all. In fact, He is.

Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

But there’s even more.

Zephaniah 3:17 For the LORD your God is living among you . . . He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

This verse expresses the Father’s sentiments regarding His children. He takes “delight” in us. This is could be translated “He will be very happy with you” (UBS). “The great God not only loves his saints, but he loves to love them” (Matthew Henry). “God takes great delight in loving us because we are His very own” (Jerry Bridges). Are you losing any fur yet?

The phrase, “You will rejoice over us with loud singing,” could be translated, “He will sing and be joyful over you” or “You will make his heart full of joy, and he will sing loudly” (UBS). He is so delighted that He shouts for joy! Much like when our favorite team wins a game. We shout and cheer and literally jump for joy.

Think about when you are at an airport and see close friends or family, or a husband and wife that have been apart for a long time. When they catch sight of each other, they run towards each other with exuberant joy. They hug, they dance around a bit, and perhaps a tear or two roles down their cheeks.

That’s the word picture of how the Father makes us Real.

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