God With Us

Faith in Jesus generates hope. Hope is not a fatalistic “what happens happens” attitude. Hope looks forward and expects God who is good will show up.  Hope is with us when we look forward and wonder how one child could change the world.

Mary was pregnant. Miraculously. And here’s how they understood that bit of history:

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).  Matthew 1:22-23

Jesus is our hope. He is Immanuel. He is “God with us.”

You may wonder if you have reasons for hope.

If you have Jesus, you have at least one:

God with us.

Immanuel.

 

Healing ~ Why aren’t we hoping for it?

24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. I Peter 2:24-25

 

My wife’s phone is broken. It doesn’t hold a charge. In other places around the world my first response may have been, “Let’s repair it.” But here, I must confess, I just thought, “Oh we should get a new one.” That’s what we do with broken things: we set them aside and get a new one.

 

We have a fear I believe in our consumer culture of admitting we are broken. Problem, most of us don’t value broken things. If its broken we believe it has lost its value. So we throw it out and get another. And that I fear is what we are doing to people as well.

 

And for that matter we are really not sure about “the healing of our souls.”

 

An admission of brokenness is a an admission that we might not to be useful. Its an admission of need. Its an admission of what has been done to us, of what we have done, and even what we just couldn’t seem to fix on our own.

 

We couldn’t fix our anxiety, our pain, our narcissism, our doubt, our jealousy, our envy, our hate, our addiction, our pride, our selfishness, our guilt, our shame, our fear, our drivenness, our laziness, our anger, or our lack of direction and passion for life.

 

Yet, following Jesus is not a self-improvement venture. Following Jesus is about living in the care and governance of the Lord who suffered for our healing. By His grace we can now die to sin and live to righteousness.

 

Broken; you are of immense value to God.

 

The healing; it starts with an admission and a divinely motivated move toward Him.

 

The prayer: “Heal my soul Lord Jesus; be the Shepherd of my soul.”

Washroom Graffiti, Bones, and the Spirit of God

1 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:1-6

 

Holy Spirit renewal dynamics begin with a question from God. “Son of man, can these bones live?”

 

Ezekiel’s answer leans back into God. “O Lord God, you know.”

 

Recently I read these words on the washroom wall, “Life on earth is just a death sentence.” That’s a hopeless, desperate sentence.

 

I have a friend who has lived on the edge of violence and semi-functional drunkenness in leather and jewellery always reminding him of death: skulls and wings. I tell him his skulls remind me of Jesus’ Lordship over death and His question, “Son of man, can these bones live.” My friend laughs.  And then I tell him, his wings remind me of the Spirit of God who truly brings life even to the most desperate sack of bones through faith in Christ Jesus. My friend hesitates.

 

That day God reminded Ezekiel of His power in a dramatic vision. I am hearing the question and even asking it of the Lord, “Can these bones live?”

 

Of this I am sure. God is changing lives through the Gospel of Jesus. The Word of God can accomplish the renewal of our souls for we shall hear, we shall be caused to live, and we shall know that He is the Lord.

The Tenacity of Faith

6I said, “Let me remember my song in the night;

let me meditate in my heart.”

Then my spirit made a diligent search:

7“Will the Lord spurn forever,

and never again be favorable?

8Has his steadfast love forever ceased?

Are his promises at an end for all time?

9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?

Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”

Selah
Psalm 77:1-9

 

When we hear these words we need to pause.

 

“Selah”

 

We  join in the psalmist’s search.

 

We remember God’s goodness towards us.

 

Because if we are not now,

 

someday we may find ourselves in the dark,

 

awake and wondering,

 

“Has God forgotten me?”

 

As a follower of Jesus our worship,

 

our declaration of His immense worth,

 

is not based on how good today is,

 

but on how good God is, always.

 

My memory in the difficult days

 

can move me forward to Him in hope

 

as I recollect the stories of His faithfulness

 

from the “good days.”

 

Hope in the Dark

Scripture:  2 Peter 1:19-21

19And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Observations:

Peter commends the prophetic word of the Old Testament to His readers.

It is a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts.

The Holy Spirit catalyzed the prophetic word by the will of God.

Application:

I love the picture here.  Waiting for morning.  The Word of God is like a lamp brightening the dark places of my heart, until “the morning star rises” and a new day dawns casting out all the darkness.  Jesus is the morning star, He is the new day.

The Word of God encourages me to wait on the Lord.  To look expectantly for His deliverance.  To pray with the Spirit, “Come Lord Jesus.”  The Word of God shows me how waiting can be active.  And it is divinely inspired to reveal Jesus Christ in a broken world and even a broken heart.

Prayer:  

Heavenly Father, some of my friends need hope today.  May they see the promise of a new day in the company of your Son.  AMEN.