Posts Tagged ‘Ezekiel’


When I owned an Asphalt Paving company we decided to get into concrete, and so we did in a big way. We even did footings, slabs and walls for new construction. I learned a great deal about foundations for commercial buildings. You don’t just dig a trench and pour concrete. You must consider where the main support beams are placed, what the weight load of the walls will be, what type of soil the foundation is on, and many other factors. The foundation is a really big deal that I had taken for granted. Good concrete alone is not enough for a solid foundation. You must use steel re-bar, and the amount and configuration of the re-bar depends upon the load at that point. Even concrete slabs have to consider the weight of the objects they will support. As part of our foundation work we did some banks which had bank vaults. Most vaults nowadays are actually pre-fab concrete units that are shipped in and moved in place. The vault door is added later. But the slab of the vault is poured 12″ to 24″ thick, with 2 to 3 layers of 3/4″ re-bar tied on 12″ centers. (We did one with 6″ centers). They do not want the vault going anywhere! It also indicates the weight (and importance) of the bank vault. Before concrete, I never thought about foundations. Now I consider them wherever I go. I even took this picture of some awesome re-bar for a building going up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Judging by the re-bar pile, they still had a lot of tying to do!

The church of today is so often about programs. We need programs to keep drawing crowds and making people ‘feel’ like they are Christians. So often ministry programs for children, seniors, life groups, special events, and whatever must pass the “feel good” test. Will it “minister to a felt need” and make everyone “feel good”. Modern ministry must have an emotional draw or it usually dies.

The church that Jesus began and the Apostles modeled was centered around discipleship, making disciples. Emotional feelings quickly fade in the face of persecution. There must be something more about being a church than “feel good” programs. That more is true discipleship. We tried to get a “discipleship program” going within a year after coming to my present church, Pleasant Prairie. But we were only 3 years removed from a tragic ‘split’ that nearly destroyed a church that had been there for 36 years at the time. The people were not ready for a discipleship program that did not meet the need to rebuild their emotional being. There were emotional scars of bitterness and unforgiveness that needed attention before discipleship could begin. Inward hurts hinder the ability to look upward and outward!

God has recently burdened me that it is time to more clearly define the mission of our church. God has been sending some great men and families our way, but we need to have a clearly defined discipleship path. Our church is ready to stand and embrace discipleship as our core value, but I do not want it to be a “program”. Discipleship does not automatically have a “feel good” component that builds excitement. Most Christians seem to view discipleship as something for Paul’s and Timothy’s, people who serve in a major capacity. Even leaders in the church seem to shy away from intentional discipleship. Too often Christians are ‘comfortable’ where they are at. Convenience and comfort are often core values of most American Christians.

The Holy Spirit was leading me to preach on the Life of King David. He is a great example of a man of God. There is no more transparent life in the Bible than King David. But the Holy Spirit was also burdening me with the need for a clearly defined discipleship path in our church. For some reason He led me to the ‘last saying’ of King David in 2 Samuel 23:5. I won’t get it to it in this writing, but through this, the Holy Spirit is revealing some awesome revelations about discipleship and how the church can embrace it, accomplish it and even have a “feel good”  component at the same time. 

So the next few posts will be the “Laying of the Foundation” of what I am calling “David Discipleship”. We don’t often associate King David with discipleship, but I believe his life is the very definition of discipleship, beginning with the revelation of His last words.

Now to bend and tie the “re-bar” of David Discipleship:

If the church is not to be about “programs” but about making disciples, what is a disciple? 

Disciple: One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another. In the New Testament, the word is Mathētés. Here it means more than a mere pupil or learner. It is an adherent who accepts the instruction given to him and makes it his rule of conduct[1]. The general designation of mathētés was given to those who believed on Christ. Jesus clearly defines disciple in John 8:31: (ESV) So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples”.

What is Discipleship?

If a disciple is an adherent of another person’s teachings, what is discipleship?

A consensus of definitions produces this: Discipleship is the process of learning about the teachings of another, internalizing them and then acting upon them. Most discipleship programs focus on the learning process, with the emphasis on knowledge.

Peters Perspective on the Discipleship Process

Peter turned out to be the most dynamic of the early disciples of Christ. He had learned a great deal after spending three years at the feet of the Master Teacher. Yet when it was time for the rubber to meet the road, Mighty Peter failed, and denied his Master in a dramatic fire. Where was that knowledge then? What good did his earlier confession do at the moment when it mattered most? Peter sheds a glaring light upon what a discipleship program should be about.

2 Peter 1:1 (ESV) Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ…

2 Peter 1:3-5 (ESV) 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge (epignosis)[2] of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge(gnosis) …

Peter’s Insights into Discipleship:

1. Equal Faith <–> Righteousness of Christ

  • Discipleship grows from Faith that is provided by the righteousness of our Savior Jesus Christ. That faith makes each believer equal in the sight of God. That equality is not based upon knowledge, but upon the righteousness provided us by our God and Savior Jesus Christ!

2. Growth <–> Relational Knowledge

  • Our growth in life and godliness is by His divine power and only through knowing Him in His glory and excellence.

3. Growth <–> Precious Promises

  • Our growth is only by His divine nature becoming our nature through the power of the Word and His precious promises.

4. Growth <–> Focus on His Virtue becoming our Virtue

  • Discipleship must focus on His Virtue becoming our Virtue. We first add virtue to our faith, and knowledge to virtue.

VIRTUE is the Greek “areté” which denotes in a moral sense what gives man his worth[3]

Why is Virtue Important to Discipleship?

There are four synonyms to Areté in the Greek according to Zodhiates…

  • dóxa – glory;
  • dúnamis – power;
  • chárisma – gift;
  • ōphéleia – usefulness[4]

Virtue is a quality that is difficult to define, but definite in its impact. From the synonyms we glimpse the power of this little word. Here is my humble attempt at a definition.

Virtue is the strength of the character of Christ internalized into my life as I follow Him. Virtue brings worth and value to my life. Without His virtue I am weak and ineffective.

Virtue grows from an obedient relationship!

Discipleship programs are not effective if their focus is primarily upon knowledge (ginosis). It must be knowledge that grows from a personal on-going relationship with Jesus Christ Himself! (epiginosko). I know far too many graduates of Christian Schools and Colleges that display little if any of the life of Jesus Christ. A surprising number no longer go to church. Knowledge is not enough to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Look at Judas. He had three years of instruction from Jesus Christ, and yet there was no changed life!

Discipleship is Life-Changing only if it is Life-Giving!

Discipleship must lead believers into a life that is above the natural, a life that is empowered by the Righteous Life of Jesus Christ. His virtue of LIFE becomes our virtue by our dying.

We Have No Virtue worth Propping up

Discipleship is not a self-improvement course. It is not a way of “improving” your Christian walk! We are ugly before we are saved, we are ugly after we are saved. The only beauty we can ever have is the beauty of Jesus Christ.

COULD YOUR HEART PASS THE HOLE IN THE WALL TEST?

God told Ezekiel to dig a hole in the King’s wall. He was startled by the abominations being committed by the ‘supposed’ righteous leaders of Israel.

Ezekiel 8:8-13 (ESV) 8 Then he said to me, “Son of man, dig in the wall.” So I dug in the wall, and behold, there was an entrance. 9 And he said to me, “Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here.” 10 So I went in and saw. And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel. 11 And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up. 12 Then he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.’ ” 13 He said also to me, “You will see still greater abominations that they commit.”

No matter how ‘spiritual’ we pretend to be, or how much ‘Bible knowledge’ we possess, no one can pass the “Hole in the Wall” test. Our hearts are full of abominations through sin. The harder we try to be a good disciple, the further we alienate ourselves from the heart of God! The heart of God is centered around the virtue of His Son, Jesus Christ! The only virtue worth having is not man-centered but Christ-centered!

Discipleship finds all that we need in Jesus Christ

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (NIV) 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Discipleship which focuses on knowledge will always lead to pride and self-effort. Discipleship which focuses on virtue will always lead to humility and dependence.

Therefore I define Discipleship as:

Discipleship – “the intentional process of making the virtue of Christ my own, through submitting to His Lordship and Direction, and the daily Hope of Gaining Christ”

Discipleship is simply gaining by trading (diapragmateúomai)[5];

The King will demand an accounting of what you have GAINED by trading

Luke 19:15 (ESV) When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business.

I believe we will be judged at the ‘bema seat’ and our judgment will simply be an accounting of what we traded to gain for the sake of becoming like Jesus Christ! We will be judged for how we ‘gained’ Jesus Christ! Christians are to be about the business of trading their lives to gain Jesus Christ!

Paul said it best in Philippians 3:8: Philippians 3:8 (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

So the ‘re-bar’ of discipleship is the Virtue of Jesus Christ! Any substitution or absence of His virtue will result in a foundation that is weak and doomed to fail.

Our Hope of Glory is Christ IN me

Colossians 1:27 (ESV) To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 936.

[2] Epígnōsis: In the NT, it often refers to knowledge which very powerfully influences the form of religious life, a knowledge laying claim to personal involvement. When used as an obj. (Eph. 1:17; 4:13; Col. 1:9, 10; 2:2; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25; 3:7; Titus 1:1; Heb. 10:26; 2 Pet. 1:2, 3), it shows the relationship of the learner to the object of his knowledge (2 Pet. 1:8). Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 624.

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 252-251.

[4] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 252.

[5] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “megauploaddiapragmateúomai”.

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In one of the All in the Family episodes that aired some years ago, Edith and Archie are attending Edith’s high school class reunion. Edith encounters an old classmate by the name of Buck who, unlike his earlier days, had now become excessively obese. Edith and Buck have a delightful conversation about old times and the things that they did together, but remarkably, Edith does not seem to notice how extremely heavy Buck has become. Later, when Edith and Archie are talking, she says in her whiny voice, “Archie, ain’t Buck a beautiful person.” Archie looks at her with a disgusted expression and says: “You’re a pip, Edith. You know that. You and I look at the same guy, you see a beautiful person, and I see a blimp. Edith gets a puzzled expression on her face and says something unknowingly profound, “Yeah, ain’t it too bad.” Do you see Jesus Christ as the True Light? 

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world”. John 1:4,5,9

Jesus confirmed this truth: John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In His confrontation with the Pharisees over the woman taken in adultery, Jesus revealed how His light reveals the truth that He can free from sin, from satan, from the law and from judgment. In effect, through His light, God was able to write upon the dust of our sin-damaged lives, that there is now “No Condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1)

True Light of Hope

Matthew reveals another side of the True Light.

Matthew 12:18-21 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

In the True Light of Jesus Christ, we find Hope!

John the Baptist

In Matthew 11, we find John the Baptist imprisoned by King Herod. The man who shook the nation of Israel is now quiet, and despairing that he will die as a failure. After all, Jesus of Nazareth did not come to free him. Therefore, he sends some of his disciples to ask Jesus:

Matthew 11:2-6 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Jesus didn’t say yes, he merely told them to remind John of what he was doing. Blind, Lame, Lepers, deaf, dead, the poor. Then he added, “blessed are the ones who are not offended by me”. Jesus was saying: “John, do not despair, do not give up hope, look what I am doing in fulfillment of Scripture. Just because things do not happen the way you think they should, do not be offended. Never give up hope! I am He! But do not get offended if things do not go the way you think they should! I am Lord and you are not! Vaclav Havel before he became the democratically elected President of the Czech Republic was imprisoned by the communist regime. During one of those imprisonments, he wrote:

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well. However, the certainty that something makes sense. Regardless of how it turns out.

You may react to his definition of hope, because as Christians, we are taught that all things will work for good to those who love God. However, what we usually think is that it will work out for my good. It certainly did not work out for John the Baptist’s good to have his head cut off. It certainly did not work out for Stephen’s good when he was stoned to death. But we do know that everything that happens, regardless of how it works out, will make sense! Why? Because Jesus is Lord and He is in Control!! The only ones who lose hope are those who believe God is not in control!

Job

Job 17:11 My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart’s desires are broken.

Job thought that God was treating him unjustly. He could not understand God doing this to him. He imagined that God was making a mistake, that He was not in control. He had all kinds of questions and arguments he would lay before God if he could only get the chance. Finally, God spoke to Job, and Job was silent. Job encountered the great I AM, and knew that He had been in control the whole time, and it all made sense.

I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” Job 42:5-6

Does your life make sense? Have there been times when you were like John the Baptist, wondering what was going on, wondering where God was, wondering if He was in control? Or were like Job, thinking God was unfair, wanting to argue with him. Did you get offended at what was going on? Did you get angry, hurt, upset? Did you lose hope and give in to despair or depression? Did you moan with Job “My hopes have disappeared; my heart’s desires are broken?” Let us look into the Light of Jesus and discover why we should never lose hope, no matter how dark things get.

Matthew 12

Jesus finds himself at odds with the Scribes & Pharisees, because his disciples have picked & eaten corn on the Sabbath. He replies to them:

Matthew 12:3-8 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

1.Jesus is Lord, even of the Sabbath!

  • If we rest, we rest in Jesus, for He is Lord!

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

  • Do not get offended at Jesus. What He does is right, it is just, and He is Lord!

2. He desires a heart that is yielded to Him rather than ‘outward conformance’ or even performance.

  • Only yielded hearts will survive the trials and tribulations of this life!
  • Fake people always wilt under pressure.

Just because you put on a good show of being a Christian does not mean that inwardly you are struggling with doubt, with fears, with despair and with depression, with sins. You can put on a good show, but Jesus knows your heart, He knows whether you are real or fake. Peter presents the heart of a true Christian in six simple verses. This Christian has a new heart, with a new hope, a hope that endures through the fire of trials!

1 Peter 1:3-9 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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

A heart that is yielded totally to Christ is a heart in Love with Jesus, it is a born again heart with a living hope! A fake Christian is putting on a display because of what he thinks he will get-favor from God. A yielded heart is confident that Jesus is Lord of whatever situation you go through! Next, we see a man who is lame in his right hand.

The Man with a withered hand

Matthew 12:9-14 He went on from there and entered their synagogue. In addition, a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”— so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand”. And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

The Lesson here is the Lord of the Sabbath will always be mindful of your needs. His mercy is to be trusted.

DAVID

Psalms 13:1-6 How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? Forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

David endured hardship after hardship, near death experiences one after another, yet rather than lose hope and get offended at what was happening to him, he strengthened his heart in the Lord. He trusted in the Sovereignty of God, therefore he could rejoice in His salvation.

Apostle Paul

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.”

He wrote this three chapters after stating 1:8-9: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself…” Paul had those moments when things were so dark, so desperate that he despaired for his very life. How did Paul go from one who despairing of life itself to one who is hard pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, struck down, but not destroyed, never feeling that God had abandoned him.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
  • 2 Corinthians 4:11 … so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

Paul’s Hope was in God, Paul’s Purpose was that the life of Jesus would be manifested through his life-regardless of what he went through.

The Nation of Israel

God brought horrible judgment upon his own people because of their continual sins against Him. First the Northern and then the Southern kingdoms fell to foreign Kings. Jeremiah was there to witness the fall of Jerusalem and Judea. Here are his own words about his experience:

Lamentations 3:19-24 The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

His heart was in God’s hands, and therefore He trusted in Him! He trusted in God’s tender mercies!

Ezekiel and the Valley of Bones

I love the vision of the dried bones God gave Ezekiel out in the valley:

Ezekiel 37:11-14 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

Matthew quotes the Old Testament when he declared: “and in his name the Gentiles will hope”. We share in the Hope of Israel!

Before Jesus we were without hope

Ephesians 2:12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.

  • Jesus is the True Light that brings the Light of Hope to the Gentiles!

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

THE HOPE OF THE BRUISED AND SUFFERING CHRISTIAN.

Matthew 12:20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

Bruised Reed: People used reeds to make into pens in ancient times. The reed is hollow and would hold the ink. If the reed was bruised or bent, the ink would leak and become useless. The writer would break the bruised reed and throw it away. Like a pen, the reed was an instrument of expression. Therefore, I like to think of the reed as representing our voice and ability of expression. Only a dead person does not voice his opinions or share his feelings. The first thing Satan wants to do is to stop us from sharing and expressing our ideas, especially when we speak for the kingdom of God. He will make every effort to cut off our network of friends and isolate us so that we will be discouraged. SMOKING FLAX: A smoking flax or a smoldering wick symbolizes our usefulness and the ability to shine for the Lord. It is no doubt that we have been created to shine for Jesus but when we fall into sins, our wick would become smoldered. We would not shine that brightly anymore. That is when the enemy of our souls seeks to terminate that light. He does that by encouraging people around us to say disparaging words or spread malicious rumors about us. When we allow all these words and rumors to enter our hearts, we would become bitter and angry. Please take note that it is not those gossips or criticisms that smolder our wicks but how we react to them that would terminate our light.

Jesus Christ is the True Light of Hope for Mankind.

By his death for us, he has ‘faithfully brought forth justice’ (Isaiah 42:3) by suffering the justice of God in our place once and for all. Look now to Jesus and find mercy for your bruised and weakened soul. Receive his tender comfort, cleansing, healing and all-sufficient grace. God’s great mercy in Christ is for us ‘bruised reeds’ and ‘smoldering wicks’.

This Hope is the Anchor of Christianity

Hebrews 6:17-20 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Gods Promise to Us

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

The Despair of Mary

After answering the angels, Mary turned around. Suddenly she saw Jesus standing there, but she failed to recognize him. Like the angels, Jesus asked Mary, “Why are you crying?” He then asked her, “Whom are you seeking?” Assuming he might be the gardener, who cared for the tomb, she again poured out her heart’s despair. “Sir, if you indeed have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him away” (literally carry him). Her desire to find Jesus’ body and her loving concern to give him a proper burial in a good resting place so consumed her that she never considered that she herself could not possibly carry Jesus’ body to a final resting place. Then Jesus turned her night of gloom into the light of joy. He spoke her name, “Mary”; in such a way, that she knew instantly who he was. From despair, her heart rose to soar in the clouds. “Rabboni!” she exclaimed, which is an Aramaic term of special respect that means, “My Master”. The experience of seeing Jesus alive, risen from the dead, lifted her spirits to a profound joy. Grieving and despairing, she had searched for her dead Jesus, but with joy, she discovered instead her living Savior. He had risen! He was alive! Nothing else mattered to her. Nothing would take away her newfound joy. She threw her arms around him to cling to him, she was so happy to see him and to have him back. Jesus rose! He lives! Our faith clings to, not a dead man who was crucified and buried, but a living Lord and Savior who rose from the dead. We rejoice that he who died to save us lives. Our hearts hold the joyful hope that with our very own eyes we will rise from the dead to see him and hold him who loves us and gives us eternal life. We can rejoice with Job:

Job 19:25-27 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

Fanny Crosby

Fanny Crosby probably wrote more hymns than anyone else in history. She wrote over 8000 hymns, and many are in our hymnal today. Fanny gave the Christian world such songs as:

  • A Shelter In The Time Of Storm,
  • All The Way My Saviour Leads Me,
  • Blessed Assurance,
  • Close To Thee,
  • He Hideth My Soul,
  • I Am Thine 0 Lord,
  • Jesus Is Calling,
  • My Saviour First Of All,
  • Near The Cross,
  • Pass Me Not,
  • Praise Him Praise Him,
  • Redeemed,
  • Rescue The Perishing,
  • Safe In The Arms Of Jesus,
  • Saved By Grace,
  • Saviour More Than Life To Me,
  • Take The World But Give Me Jesus,
  • Tell Me The Story Of Jesus,
  • The Lights Of Home,
  • Thou Mighty To Save,
  • To God Be The Glory,

When Fanny was six weeks old, she caught a slight cold in her eyes. The family physician was away. Another country doctor was called in to treat her. He prescribed hot mustard poultices to be applied to her eyes, which destroyed her sight! It was later learned that the man was not qualified to practice medicine, but he had left town and was never heard of again. Fanny never felt any resentment against him, but believed it was permitted by the Lord to fulfill His plan for her life. Though blind, she wrote over 8,000 hymns. About her blindness, she said:

It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow, I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.

After a visit to the most renowned eye doctor in the world determined her blindness was incurable, she said:

“Mother, if I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind … for when I die; the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour.”

“And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story – Saved by grace.”

Whose face do you see in times of darkness and despair? Whose hand do you see reaching for you when things look hopeless? When you see a difficult situation do you see the Beauty of Christ, or do you just see an Ugly Blimp on your back? Let me assure you that Jesus is still Lord! He is the one who can be trusted completely! He is the anchor of our HOPE that this life does make sense to the source of life!

My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.
When the last trumpet’s voice shall sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found; Robed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.

Jesus Christ TRUE LIGHT of HOPE!