‘Hope’ is a curious thing. I have always wondered at it. Where is the ‘space’, the reality of ‘living hope’, or living in hope? The obvious block to my mind and spirit is the linear in this life, the passing of time and the facts of things lost or gone. It is easy to ‘hope’ for tomorrow, because it has not yet come and gone. In fact, regarding ‘tomorrow’, one does not know if one is actually ‘hoping’ in any spiritual sense, or just hoping in the sense of wanting and waiting to see... But how does one ‘hope’ for that which is already lost? Is there such a hope? In the spiritual sense we just referred to, is there any other kind of ‘hope’?
When I read scriptures I see stories of people who hoped for what was dead and gone, and it came back to life. I read of people who saw realities - things true here and now - that no one else could see or fathom or experience. There are moments where the facts said one thing (and people said it also), but God defined it differently - like someone being ‘dead’, but Jesus saying it was, in fact, ‘sleep’. There was a moment right here, for example, if we could stop the clock, where a man would be looking on a dead loved one, but Jesus was challenging him to see, say, believe, that this was not death, but sleep. (Mt 9:24)
The prophet Ezekiel was led by the Spirit to the Valley of Dry Bones. (Ezekiel 37) This valley was full of dried bones of people long dead and gone. Then the Lord called Ezekiel to prophesy to these bones, and call them to life. The bones rattled together, and before Ezekiel’s eyes sinews and ligaments and skin came over the bodies, and breath into their lungs. This act of creating before the eyes of a man, reminds me of the act and process of Jesus actually creating eyes in the eye sockets of a man. (Mk 8:22-26) When Jesus died, also, we read an account of tombs breaking open and people who had died coming back to life and moving back into the community. (Mt 27:51-53) When I think of ‘hope’, of Spirit-led and Spirit-filled ‘living hope’, I think and wonder about the truth and reality of these people, i.e. that person who saw their lost loved one placed in the Valley of Dry Bones, who wept and resisted and said, ‘No! No! This person lives, he lives!’ I think of the child of the buried man in Jerusalem - who later was to come alive - who at the funeral would not cry, and would say to people quietly, under their breath, that their father was not dead, that he was alive, that he would still see him and spend time with him. I think of the mother of the blind man - that Jesus was later in life to heal - who, when he was born without eyes, refused to ‘see’ it this way. She loved him and insisted that her child did have eyes, that he did see, that he was perfect.
It is easy to look back and see who had ‘hope’. But what interests and challenges me is not who had hope, but what reality of truth the hopeful were living in when the rest of us simply grieved and lamented. Their ‘living hope’ was, in fact, a different reality, a different universe, and it was the truer one. Their hope for things lost was truer that our acceptance of things lost. Their reality of things alive, was a truer reality than ours of things dead. This is what intrigues, challenges, and now speaks to my soul.
Job spoke a truth about himself, but only came true for the rest of us thousands of years later. But Job’s words and vision - impossible and unconsummated in his lifetime - were never truer, higher and more eternal. In many respects, they preceded him, and flowed to and through him, and continue to flow from the heart and throne of God, to and through all of existence, purpose and purity. His timeline was impossible (‘after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my skin I will…’); his vision blasphemous (‘I will see God [the unseeable] with my own eyes’). And yet what does an earthly profession sound like when it captures and expresses the Eternal? What does a ‘living hope’ experience feel like in the bounds of the limited, broken and mortal?
‘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 will see him with my own eyes. I and not another. How my heart yearns within me.’ (Job 19:25-27)
So here’s my ‘free fall’ on this issue, my ‘soaring’ - and I define it this way because it is more like a boundless space of the Spirit, than a ‘point’. Jesus often called us to walk in faith and in hope, on paths that were not of this world or timeline. He unveiled to us through miracles paths that were ‘other’, like walking on water. (Mt 14:22-33) Through encounters Jesus revealed to us timelines that were ‘other’, like transfigurations and out-of-body realities. (Mt 17:3; Rev 1:13-18; 2 Cor 12) God revealed spiritual ‘armies’ that were present and strong, surrounding physical armies that were threatening and unseeing. (2 Kings 6:17)
I know the love and will of God is pure, life-giving, holy and beautiful. I know that anything outside of this reality is not his will. (1 Jn 3:8; 2 Pe 3:9; Mt 18:14; 1 Tim 2:4; Ps 45:7; Heb 1:9; Jn 10:10; 1 Jn 1:5; Mk 3:22-30) I believe that to ‘live in hope’, or to have and live in the reality and truth of Christ’s ‘Living Hope’, is to believe that even when a man dies, he lives; when a man is born without eyes, he has eyes; when a child is hurt, he should not have been hurt, and will one day have never have been hurt. (Jn 11:25-26; Ez 36:26; Rev 21:5; 2 Cor 5:21) God’s will and ways are never thwarted. Things happen that should not, and are not allowed by God, not his will. But ‘living hope’ in Jesus Christ says that God’s defeat of the grave is going to race back through time and un-do all hurt and sin that has been done. God does not just move forward and patch up, cover up, and leave things to be forgotten. No! God, through the suffering of Christ, makes all things ‘new’ - does not just repair all things. (Rev 21:5) This is impossible for us to know and fathom. Impossible. We only have a one-way timeline, and that is forward. This is why - perhaps the best reason why - we take hold of ‘hope’. Not just any hope, but a ‘Living Hope’. (Rm 5:1) We take hold of Christ’s power over Time, and his ‘blood that speaks a better word’ than blood spilt through sin (Heb 12:24), and we hope in Christ to race back through time and change everything, make everything perfect again, and delete the history of sin not just from our minds, but from history. Who can fathom or understand such a reality at work, such a truth in force? Not me. So I live in hope.
‘Your daughter is dead. Why bother the teacher anymore?...
‘Don’t be afraid’ Jesus said. ‘Just believe.’ (Mark 5:35-36)
For more on connecting with the source of eternal life, Jesus Christ, please visit the ‘First Steps’ page at: https://1peter1three.weebly.com/first-steps.html
Have you ever been ‘stood up’? Ever arranged to meet someone special, crossed land and schedules to get there, and they’re not there? The heart sinks when you realize they are not just late, but not coming. You thought this meeting meant something to them, that it did not. You thought you meant something to them, that you now realize, you might not…
Jesus said he would be coming back again to meet us in a very particular place. He will be there. Will we be there to meet him? Jesus tells us exactly where he will come to find us...
The ‘meeting place’ is not a physical, geographical place; it is a ‘place’ of the heart, of the soul. It is where the heart is full of faith in Jesus Christ, and where we have not ‘taken offense on account of him.’ (Mt 11:6) What is meant by ‘taking offense’ on account of Christ? Well, it is where we have become disappointed, doubting, discouraged, and walked away from the meeting place. To ‘take offense’ is ultimately to lose faith - to lose faith that Jesus is with you, that he loves you, that he is the Son of God and that he is coming for you. Because we lose faith, we wander from the ‘meeting place’, and when he comes for us, well, we’re not there. Jesus speaks of this time and time again, and calls us to hold tight, hold fast, and be found standing in faith! (Luke 18:8; Mt 25:1-13)
‘... put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.’ (Ephesians 6:13)
For more on ‘First Steps’ with Jesus, and walking in faith, please visit: https://1peter1three.weebly.com/first-steps.html
God never allowed you to be hurt. God never permitted it. God never agreed to it. God hates what was done to you. Jesus weeps even as you weep. God will judge and punish the people that did this to you.
God stepped down from heaven and comes to you now. Jesus is his name. Jesus comes to you now, to heal you. He comes to take your hand and walk you into healing, purity, beauty, power, newness, confidence, quietness, perfection, peace. Jesus comes to take your suffering and sorrow away. He comes to destroy every shred of hurt and darkness that touched you, and to put in you a new heart and a new spirit. Jesus comes to you now to make you completely new - the old you (hurt you) gone, and a new you standing, now and forevermore.
You might ask Christ, ‘Where were you when I needed you?’ You might cry, ‘If you can save and heal me now, why did you not protect me then?’ Jesus looks into your eyes as you cry, and he cries, too. His eyes well up with tears and he listens. He loves. He understands. He does not answer you with words, but with his own self. He does not judge you. He looks into your eyes and loves you. When you wipe your eyes, his head still hangs, his tears still drop to the floor. Jesus never gets over it. He never moves on. He never explains it away. He ‘hates wickedness’, and has no darkness in him. Nothing he has ever done - in your life or in anyone’s life - has hurt in it. He has always been with you, when man was against you and failed you. Jesus knows your pain and your story, because he was the only one who did not turn his face away. When men failed you and abandoned you, they abandoned him, too. When men hurt you and betrayed you, they hurt and betrayed him, too. When they abused you, they abused him, too. When those you had loved were not there for you in danger, they fled from Christ also. When we left you to be crucified, we left Jesus to be crucified, also.
It was not Jesus who failed you. When we crucified Christ, we crucified you with him. He is the only one that actually was with you, that stayed with you, that suffered and died with you. The rest of us fled, turned, denied. It is we who cannot be trusted. It is mankind that abandoned you.
Jesus will meet you here and now and walk you out of the tomb. He died with you, but rose again to life, and will walk you out of the tomb. This is where Christ meets you - here, in the grave where man left you. Here - today and now - Jesus asks you to trust him. Jesus asks you to believe that he has not failed you, and that he can walk with you into a new life, a new ‘self’, a new creation. Jesus knocks on the door of your heart to come in. Jesus offers you his hand to walk out through his door of eternal life. (John 10:9)
For more on ‘First Steps’ with Jesus, please visit: https://1peter1three.weebly.com/first-steps.html
‘I will put in you a new heart, and a new spirit.’ (Ezekiel 36:26)
‘Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil.’ (1 John 3:8)
‘In Christ is no darkness at all.’ (1 John 1:5)
‘Jesus hates wickedness.’ (Heb 1:9; Ps 45:7)
'Everyone in Christ is a new creation.' (2 Cor 5:17)
'Everyone in Christ - their old 'self' is crucified with Christ and gone!' (Gal 2:20)
‘A tree is recognized by its fruit…A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.’ (Matthew 12:33,35)
‘Jesus said, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom to prisoners, to give sight to the blind and to set the oppressed free.’ (Luke 4:18)
‘A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out!’ (Matthew 12:20/Isaiah 42:3)
No work of Christ has a shred of evil in it! (Mark 3:22-30)
Other scriptures to look up and allow to soak into your soul, to define the heart of Jesus and the Jesus you know: Matthew 18:6-9; Matthew 21:12-13; Acts 23:3 (and see verse 11); Luke 13:31-32; John 19:10-11; Matthew 12:22-32; Romans 12:15; John 11:35; Luke 19:42; Eph 3:14-21; Isaiah 32:17; Isaiah 1:18; Matthew 25:40; Rev 21:1-5; Rev 22:1-5.
'God says, 'You call me unjust? Is it not you, mankind, that is unjust?' (Ezekiel 18:25)
We live to leave a legacy! We can't help it, we just yearn to find and nail down that 'purpose' of life, before life ends. Salman Rushdie said it so poignantly through his character in 'Midnight's Children' (1981): 'What I fear most is absurdity.'
What can I 'do' here, that will last beyond the grave? I'm not just talking about what others might remember, or might be carved on a gravestone - because people's memories will eventually fade, and gravestones will eventually disintegrate... What work is there for me here, that builds an 'eternal kingdom', invests in an 'eternal portfolio'?
Jesus came - God in the flesh (Jn 1:14) - and offers us 2 incredible things. First, Jesus offers us his very self, which is the presence and person of God in our hearts, minds and souls. Jesus was given the name, 'Emanuel', which means, 'God with us.' (Mt 1:23) When we lift our eyes to Jesus and believe in him, and turn away from our sin (repentance), he comes into our hearts by his Holy Spirit. In this precious moment of faith in Jesus, you are saved by him, and his Spirit pours in over your soul, now and forevermore. And this 'work' of faith (Jn 6:40), is the very first of your many works that will last...
Secondly, Jesus opens to us the Kingdom of Heaven, and allows us to start building that Kingdom - a 'work' that will last. Jesus even taught us to pray for this, '... your kingdom come... here on earth as it is in heaven.' (Mt 6:9-13) In Jesus you can do 'works' now that last forever. What are these works?
The 'works' of Jesus that last forever, are works we do through 'faith'. (Heb 11:6) The works of Christ that honor God and have eternal value, are works that come from a heart full of faith in Jesus Christ. God's works are not simply a list of 'Do's and Don'ts' - even good 'Do's and 'Don'ts'! If our works in Jesus are not works of faith, and works done in the Spirit of God's grace, they are not works that have eternal value. This might surprise you, but if you look through the 'Gospel' writings of the bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), you will see time and time again that Jesus often confronted people - people who did lots of good works - and told them that their works were not good enough. Jesus called people to step off their 'grid' of 'good works', and first and foremost come through the door of faith in him. (Jn 10:9) After coming through the door of faith in Jesus, the 'works' we do thereafter must be in and through his Spirit of grace, truth, love and leading.
'Everyone's work will be shown for what it is...' (1 Cor 13:3)
For more on taking that first step of faith in Jesus, in order to start building his Kingdom in your life, visit: https://1peter1three.weebly.com/first-steps.html
Yes! You are a good person! There are a number of instances in the bible where people - just ordinary people like you and me - are referred to as 'good'. (one is Acts 11:24) You are made in God's image (Gen 1:27), and the 'goodness' you 'do' and 'are', come from that image in your soul.
However... when it comes to the question of 'eternal life' - in other words, forgiveness of sin and being made right with God now and forevermore - your 'goodness' has nothing to do with it. Your 'goodness' is good, but not relevant - and not of any help - in getting right with God, having your sins forgiven, and going to heaven.
A 'rich young ruler' approached Jesus one day and asked what he had to do to have 'eternal life'. He started by addressing Jesus in this way, 'Good teacher!' (Mark 10:17) Jesus quickly took this 'focus' off the table. He said, 'No one is good but God alone.' (vs.18) Jesus is not here nullifying people's general goodness; he is making sure that we do not think our own goodness has any part in the discussion about - and doorway to - eternal life.
Jesus asked him about his general adherence to God's commandments, but then said he lacked one thing: to sell his possessions, give the money away, and follow Jesus. (v.21) The man could not do this, and went away sad.
Jesus calls each of us to not let anything - our possessions, our relationships, our sin - get between us and him. Jesus - God in the flesh (John 1:14) - calls us to believe in him, and get 'practical' about following him. He challenged this 'rich young ruler' to put his 'money where his mouth was' - literally!
If you want the eternal life that Jesus offers, you need to put your own notions of your 'goodness' to the side, and actually 'follow' Jesus. This is a step of repentance and faith.
For more on 'First Steps' with Jesus, please visit: https://1peter1three.weebly.com/first-steps.html
John the Baptist was a prophet who prepared the way for Jesus. How did he do this? Well, he came preaching to people that they needed to 'repent of their sin', because the Kingdom of God was near. (Mt 3:2)
Jesus said that John was the greatest prophet and greatest man born to woman! (Mt 11:11a) Although Jesus was paying John a high, personal tribute, Jesus was also making a very, very important point about truth and about you and me!
Jesus said that all the prophets, up to and including John, were 'prophesying' - or preaching and teaching the truth of God - 'until now.' (Mt 11:13) 'Now', however, the time of Jesus Christ, was time for something completely new, completely separate, completely different. Jesus said it was so radically different that even in light of how 'great' John was as a prophet, the very least of someone (you and me) in this new 'Kingdom', was even greater than John! (Mt 11:11b)
What did Jesus mean by this? It is, in fact, very simple. So simple, that Jesus said unless we became like children, we would actually miss this truth! (Mt 18:3) What Jesus meant is that there is now nothing between you (or anyone) and God himself. There are no longer traditions, commandments, prophets, or 'laws', between man and God. John came as a prophet, 'pointing' at Jesus as God. But the person who 'points' to the prize is not as 'great' as the person who actually gets the prize. The person who points to the door, is not actually as significant, so to speak, as the person who goes through the door.
The 'Law' (the Old Testament books of the bible), and the prophets, exist to lead us to Jesus. (John 5:39-40) John was the last of these prophets. (Mt 11:14; Mal 4:5-6) John and the bible leads up to Jesus himself. Now, standing here before Jesus, God in the flesh, we need to make a decision. Do we believe the Law, the prophets, and actually repent and believe in Jesus Christ? If we do, we pass 'beyond' the Law and the prophets, and pass through a door into a 'new humanity'. Do you want to be part?
'Jesus said, 'I am the door, and anyone who believes in me will be saved...' (John 10:9)
'His purpose was to create in himself a new humanity...' (Eph 2:15)
For more on taking 'First Steps' in a relationship with Jesus Christ, please visit: https://1peter1three.weebly.com/first-steps.html
We all need a break from each other, sometimes! Even from people we love. We need space, and quiet, and peace. Let's face it, you need a break from them... and they need a break from you!:)
But there is something deep down in all of us, that actually wants everyone to get that break. Have you ever gotten away somewhere, and while you're enjoying the peace, the quiet, maybe the wind or the waves, you wish that other person - the one you're getting a break from - would also get this peace, this quiet, this chance for rest? Maybe you actually feel a little guilty when you're getting that escape, because although you know you need it, you deep-down feel everyone else needs it, too!
Jesus was eager to preach his message because, as he said, it is 'good news to the poor.' (Luke 18:4) Jesus came and spoke loud and clear into our short, toilsome life, saying that heaven awaits, and that the last here will be the first there! (Mark 10:31) We are told that those who repent and believe in Jesus, and go through him as the 'door' of God, will never really die, only pass into the arms of God, rise to meet him in the air, and live in his mansion, where streams of water flow through heaven's city, where youth is eternal, where there is no pain, suffering or tears. (Jn 10:9; 11:25-26; 14:1; 1 Thes 4:13-18; Rev 21:1-5; 22:1-5)
You can't take everyone with you when you get that vacation here on earth. But there is one place - heaven - where all can go, all can be invited, where the rest and the replenishment is perfect and everlasting.
For more on 'First Steps' with Jesus, and for that 'doorway' to heaven, please visit:
Simply put, it's not 'what' you see, it's 'how' you see. This is the point, of any 'point of view'!
We all know this intrinsically, and live it in absolutely everything we do. That's why we obsess about 'perspective', perception, vantage point, outlook, glass-half-empty/full, attitude, 'Life Is Good' stickers, etc. Let's get to the most important person and important point, about 'point of view'...
Jesus - 'God with us' (Mt 1:23) - said that some of us would see him and 'perceive' truth, and others of us would not. When you see - or hear about Jesus - do you see God, do you stop and worship, or do you walk on by? Two of us, side by side, can both be looking at the same person, at Jesus, but only one of us actually sees God. (Is 6:9; Mt 13:14-15)
Jesus told us that the eyes are the 'lamp of the body', and that if our eyes are good, our whole body is full of light... (Mt 6:22-23) Jesus is the 'light of the world', and he tells us that if we believe in him and follow him, we will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12) Jesus also told us - and modeled for us - that the only way to really see truth in this life, and to understand things like rules and regulations and values and motives, is when we are soaked in his Spirit of Truth. (Jn 8:19; Jn 5:19; Mt 22:29; Jn 5:39-40; Mt 4:1-11; Jn 8:1-11; Jn 8:31-32,36; Jn 14:6; 2 Cor 10:5)
To have life's truest, purest, eternal 'point of view', we need to see and believe Jesus Christ, and see the rest of life through the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
For more on 'First Steps' with Jesus, please visit:
Peter Walker. I hope you enjoy these reflections. Please feel free to comment!:)