We hear a lot about hope — from politicians, from numerous books, from tapes and other media. But what is offered in each of these messages doesn’t seem to last.
We may get fired up and encouraged by what we hear in such messages. Indeed, we may find ourselves refreshed and hopeful for a season. But what is offered isn’t a fixed, experienced hope, and soon it fades away.
The whole world yearns for a steadfast hope. The inner cry of multitudes around the globe right now is, “Somebody, somewhere, please, give me some hope, something that will last.”
It was the night before the crucifixion of Christ. Jesus had gathered his disciples in an upper room to prepare them for his departure from the earth. After they shared a meal together, the Lord took a towel and proceeded to wash the men’s feet.
That evening, Jesus told these devoted followers he was going to be “lifted up” (meaning crucified) by the hands of wicked men. When he told them this, he was forewarning them about what was to come.
“This cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause” (John 15:25, my italics).
Jesus said he came to seek out and save the lost. This was the same man who had power to subdue the very winds and waves. At any time Christ could have sent fire down from heaven to destroy the wicked. Yet instead Jesus came as a humble servant.
I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12, my italics).
Here are the words of a dying man. The apostle Paul was addressing his pupil, the young minister-in-training, Timothy. Later in the same letter, Paul confides to Timothy these difficult words: “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (4:6-7).
Jesus was ministering to a great multitude when the people began getting hungry. He took his disciple Philip aside and asked him an important question. "He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do" (John 6:5-6).
Scripture says a day will come when God shakes everything that can be shaken. The only thing that will remain after this great shaking is that which can’t be shaken. What is it that can’t be shaken by God’s judgment? It is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I have been saying that I believe the present shaking in America and throughout the world is a manifestation of God’s wrath. The Lord is laying bare all the foundations that men have so trusted. The Psalms speak of this:
“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).
We Christians struggle so hard to find the will of God for our lives. Once we believe we’ve found his will for us, we labor hard to see it fulfilled in our lives.
I am convinced this struggle to find God’s will — to live in it, walk in it and see its fulfillment — can become our greatest battle. And the battle intensifies whenever we find ourselves in dire circumstances.
This message is about the almighty power of God’s presence and how his children can lay hold of that power. Scripture provides endless examples of how the presence of the Lord empowers his people to live for him. One of the most powerful examples is the life of Moses.
“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, my italics). The phrase I emphasize here is familiar to Christians all over the world. For centuries “living by faith” has motivated the daily decisions of believers in every generation.
The writer of Hebrews says to his readers, “By this time you ought to be teachers” (Hebrews 5:12, my paraphrase). These are strong, bold words. Who exactly is the writer addressing here? In short, who is he rebuking? The book of Hebrews shows us he is speaking to believers who have been well-schooled in biblical truth. In other words, those reading this letter had sat under powerful preaching by many anointed ministers. Consider all these Christians had been taught: