Acts 12, John 16, Romans 5, Romans 8
In the seemingly worst situations-- where you cannot see a way out, an end to the trial, nor beauty but only ashes-- where is your source of hope? When you lay awake in bed at night, where do you find your rest?
Peter was in a pretty sticky situation in Acts 12. He was thrown into prison to be executed the following day after just watching his friend, James, be martyred. Acts 12:4 tells us, “And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people.” Yikes. Not only was he in prison, but each of his arms chained to a guard, and he had four squads of four soldiers each watching him.
By all humanly expectations there was no hope for him to escape.
As the story continues, it was the night before Peter was to be executed, martyred for his faith and perseverance in spreading the Gospel, and in verse 6 we find Peter “sleeping between two soldiers.” Sleeping? At a time like this? At a time where all hope seems to be lost? Yes, in this moment we see the “Rock” sleeping like a rock. But how?
Peter was able to rest in the midst of this terrible time because he had hope in the One true Savior. He knew and believed what his what his eternal life held. He had unwavering hope in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
In John 16:33 Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
No matter how dark, scary, desolate, or painful our tribulations are, those who know Jesus are already victorious! How matter how sick, sad, or knocked down we become in our trial, we are to take heart! We are to take hope! For hope does not disappoint(Romans 5:5).
In the midst of trials we can rest and hope in the fact that God loves us and is for us. And if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31). In the tough times and in the good time, proclaim God’s victory, goodness, and abundant love. Remind yourself who your Rock is, and rest in Him.
Psalm 71, Romans 6:14, Philippians 3, Isaiah 56
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” How sweet and true these words are.
It is often easy to get lost in the disparity of past sins. In fact, Satan often tries to discourage us and condemn us by bringing up past sins and tempting us to dwell on them. However, because of Jesus, we are no longer under the condemnation of the law but instead we are now under a new law of grace (Romans 6:14). How hopeful that WE ARE WASHED ONCE AND FOR ALL!
Someone who knew this truth personally was the writer of Psalm 71. This psalm lays out situations that most of us experience on a regular basis. He is going through hard times, refining times and sharpening times.
No matter our past, current, or future circumstances, we have a permanent hope in Jesus’ work on the cross.
Psalm 71:14 I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.
Psalm 71:5 You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust.
Psalm 71:8 My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.
Paul reiterates this truth in Philippians 3:13-14. “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God I Christ Jesus.”
Isaiah 56:6-7 And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to Him, to love the Name of The Lord, and to be His servants… These I will bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My alter; for my house shall be called a house of prayerfor all people.
Is my hope built on His righteousness?
Hosea 2:8, Isaiah 41:3
The summer before my senior year, my small group leader suggested I read a best-selling book called Redeeming Love. One thing you should know about me is that I do not read for enjoyment; being an ENTJ as defined by Myers Briggs, I find pleasure in bettering myself through self-help books. So me reading it in 3 days says a lot. If you don’t know much about the story by Francine Rivers, it takes the Biblical characters Gomer and Hosea and puts them in a 1800s California Gold-Mine environment. I was brought to tears to see how someone who was rescued from a life of dishonor and sadness could turn away a chance of a new life. A prostitute taken into marriage with a Godly virgin man; yet she picks to go back to the place that’s so much worse than what is possible for her. It wasn't until the end of the book that I realized this is my relationship with the Father.
Hosea 2:8 (NIV) She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold – which they used for Baal.
Wow....let me put myself in that verse.
Abbey has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished her in silver and gold - which she used for a golden idol.
I don’t know about you, but that is so convicting. As women we are drawn into love stories and the thought of men providing above and beyond for their ladies. So how is it that when it comes to God giving us all things under the sun, we choose the life we think is better and deny His gifts?
If you read the book of Hosea, you see that is this not all that the prophet discusses. Honestly, it seems hopeless. Israel has turned away from God and refuses to repent for their wrongdoing. Just like the prostitute they have broken their sacred covenant with God. This sets the stage for Hosea to share what is to come for Israel, using his own life as the example. God isn't saying all these things because He is let down by His people, rather He is a holy God that cannot stand for sin. Hosea actually translates to "salvation", so just like we see throughout the Bible, God is pointing us to the cross and gospel of Jesus. Talk about hope for Israel!
Love stories today typically don't involve all that we see in the relationship of Gomer and Hosea, but it is by far my favorite. It promises that my past and rejection of love does not disqualify me from the amazing grace that can be found in a relationship with a Holy God. Wow, let that sink in. Francine Rivers chooses a word to be used often in her book that is inspired by the second chapter of Hosea, "Beloved". When I read that I immediately feel like it is genuine, purposeful. That’s what our Lord calls us. We are so treasured and He wants what is best for His beloved, just as you would want the best for those you care about.
Isaiah 43:1 (NKJV) But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
Praise God I am redeemed and forever His.
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