Great Expectations

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By Jeff Foerster

My expected delivery of a short treatise on how the philosophy behind Star Wars has infiltrated the Christian church has been pushed back past its opening date. This coming polemic will simply have to wait, as I myself uncovered, and will here reveal, something simpler and much greater: hope. In this age of Islamic terrorism, economic instability, and frequent natural disaster, hope has by many been relegated to the category of “four-letter word.”

You may not be able to accomplish all that you ever dreamed, but you will be able to accomplish all that God has planned for you! He knows the end from the beginning and knows you better than yourself. He has plans that are greater than you can imagine or could ever craft if you had a thousand years for planning and another thousand to execute; but, do you believe this? Will you trust that being the servant of all here on Earth can lead to greatness for eternity? (Luke 9:48, 22:26-27)

I tell you these words with truth, but true hope does not originate with me; neither does it come from you. This is good news! Being a hope-filled person doesn’t require boundless energy, nor a gregarious personality brimming with enthusiasm. It doesn’t require me to listen daily to talks from motivational speakers or to make lists of happy things. I am not the source. Nor are you. God alone is the source of all hope, for hope requires promise, and promise requires power to fulfill it; He alone is able.

JeffLastWordI have hope because of Jesus. I have hope because our Savior was promised from days of old. I have hope because Jesus lived a life bent not on His own glory, but to seek and to save the lost, declaring the great news of the Father He was sent to deliver. I have hope because Christ despised the cross, but went willingly, becoming a slave to the will of the Father. I have hope because He died, showering the ground with His blood in order to shower me with forgiveness and mercy. I have hope because Messiah rose from the dead so that you and I could have life eternally! I have hope because Jesus is coming back again for all those who love Him. I have hope because heaven and earth will one day become one as God makes His dwelling among men forever and ever, amen!

I wanted to stop writing there. I wanted to end with an exclamation point, and where do we go from here? But “go” we must. Inspiration without action is futility; it is a love song never given voice.

Just as thankfulness is a choice, so too, embracing hope requires the will. Hope requires bending the will to focus on what is not seen (Hebrews 11:1), Living in hope is faithfulness of the heart. It requires an attitude, a pathway of conscious decisions to divide thoughts into two camps, those that please Christ and those that should be crushed, bound, and burned.

How do we “choose” hope? Again, hope is not all butterflies and lollipops and Cheshire smiles. It is lived out among struggles, and difficulties, and sorrows. It requires a firm adherence to the truth, and a reliance upon God to administer it with integrity. Choosing hope announces the unstoppable power of our Creator and affirms the loving-kindness and persistence found in His grace.

It is a choice – a choice to see the day not as a set of circumstances with dictates defining reality, but as a series of opportunities to express thankfulness, trust in His promises, and take action in steps small and large. If you find yourself staring into broken circumstances and listening to voices telling you, “It doesn’t matter …” or, “No one will know …”, or “How many times do I have to …?” At that point recall the words of God, what he has said about you and His promises for you: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17). In addition, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). God has plans for us, for good, and we can demonstrate our faith in Him and hope in these promises.

Choose obedience like Abraham did. He was a man who “went forth” from everything known when God called him to do so. Now, God has not called all to travel to unknown lands or to sell all that they own and give to the poor, but He has called each of us to obedience to the clear commands of Scripture. Allow me to engage you in two practical steps:

  1. Pray for God to reveal His commands as you read the Scriptures. Pray for His power to obey those commands He lays upon your heart by your eyes and through your ears.
  2. Refresh your view of the Ten Commandments as Jesus describes them -asking God how you might step out in faith to obey from the heart, honoring God when no one else may know, when you don’t see a reward on the horizon, save for pursuing a closer relationship with the Almighty, even if you’re not sure how obedience and trust work together toward that end.

Embrace obedience for sure, but above all know your Bible and keep your eyes and heart fixed upon our Savior (Hebrews 12:2). May your adoration forever be poured out to the One who loved you before the foundations of the world!

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The Last Word I Didn’t Want to Write!

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By Martin Schlomer

“Overwhelmed” describes my emotions this week. There are no easy outs to the painful dilemmas many people we know are facing. Their only option is to endure. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s just neither easy nor pleasant.

Our lives are both fragile and short. I know it doesn’t always feel like it, but they are. James said that this life is like a vapor; here today and gone tomorrow (James 4.14-15). How often do we ask, “Where has the time gone?” Honestly, this truth is unsettling! Why? I realize that I make a big deal over this very short earthly existence. This is not unreasonable. This reality is all I’ve experienced. Therefore, it seems reasonable to make a big deal over it, to hang on and fight for it.

However, there is another perspective, which I am trying to bring into my experience. This is the hope and reality of eternity. Instead of making a big deal over a very short and fragile period of time—70 years if we are fortunate—I want to loosen my grip on the here and now and make a big deal over our eternal existence. Eternity will never end! This is what counts! Preparing for this reality and living in light of this truth is the big deal! Without this perspective we easily lose hope.

At Elim, we enjoy the presence of those who are confronted with these painful realities of their immortality. Nancy and Doug Ide, to mention just two, are right there as they continue to fight the cancer in Nancy’s body through prayer and medicine. As they fight this battle, one can easily despair. However, as I pray for her I ask God, in addition to her healing, to overwhelm and speak to them with His presence—through His Holy Spirit—in a way that surpasses what human words can accomplish. This is what is happening! Nancy continues to hold onto Jesus as He holds onto her! While her circumstances are difficult, her peace is compelling! I want that kind of peace!

Please, continue to pray for Doug and Nancy along with Bethany, Taylor, Brian, and Andrew and his wife, Micha. Pray that God will meet them in this sacred time in those places words cannot touch!

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. — 1 Peter 1:3-8

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Turn your eyes upon Jesus

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by Jeff Foerster

Turn your eyes upon Jesus…

…and the things of earth will grow strangely dim.

From the beginning of the Bible to the end, it is all about Jesus and the wonderful love of the Father in Him. The Scriptures are soaked in pictures of Jesus the coming King, Messiah, Redeemer of the lost! He is the Seed that would crush Satan’s head. He’s pictured in Melchizedek, the priest of God Most High.

He’s foreshadowed in the account of Abraham and Isaac, his “one and only son”. Representing a type of Christ, Joseph, when in prison, alongside the baker (bread) and the cupbearer (wine) echoed beforehand the words of Jesus at the last supper, as Joseph asked them to, “Remember him”.

Mike this past Sunday led us in another look at Judges 11 and Jephthah’s sacrifice, once again bringing us back to the cross of Christ. Jesus is the Rock in the wilderness, struck and from whom flowed life-giving waters.

As the details of this life disappoint, use that gift to turn to Jesus. I urge you, I implore you, I beg of you; turn your eyes upon Jesus. As you become engrossed and enamored with God’s magnificent and abundant love for you, live the final lyrics of the song:

“Then go to a world that is dying,

His perfect salvation to tell!”

This is my hope for you. This is my only hope.

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