Living Hope

Yesterday, I heard a sermon from 1 Peter entitled “A Living Hope”.  Last night, I talked with a friend who shared her excitement that she may be able to adopt a little 1 year old boy after the first of the year.

my-life-gods-story

She knew that was the hook I needed to keep me on the phone when the Survivor China finale was on!

She and her husband have two other adopted children and they have been praying for a few months about this particular little boy and how all the finances and other considerations might be worked out.

Well, the “God story” piece of this call was that the little boy has an inheritance!  His college education will be paid for as well as all the adoption costs!  When my friend protested that this was not necessary…the response she got was, “You don’t understand, you cannot say ‘no’, it is an inheritance!’

That conversation must have been meant to seal the sermon on 1 Peter deeper in my heart because I have pondered it all morning.

This letter written to exiles whose lives were anything but hope filled was built around the idea of the sure hope that one can have in an inheritance.

Peter’s heart was as full as my friend’s when he spoke the truth to suffering saints as deep encouragement and powerful help to persevere.

He wanted them to see with the eyes of faith to the other side of the persecution and alienation that they were enduring.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:3-9

I was struck by the interweaving of hope and faith in Peter’s words.

Hope has come to us as part of the new birth–we do not have to work it up–it is a grace gift!

  • it rests not on a vague feeling or wishful positive thoughts–it rests on the sure evidence that death was not the last word for Jesus–He was resurrected victoriously over death!
  • since He lives eternally–we have a living hope–one that knows no end.
  • since the inheritance is being guarded by the power of omnipotent and eternal God, we need not fear loss or that we will come to the end of our days and face bankruptcy.
  • he describes the inheritance as imperishable, unspoiled, and gloriously and permanently brilliant — life eternal.
  • Peter assures the readers that their hope is as secure as an inheritance–and gives them perspective on the present by reminding them that an inheritance is something you wait to receive.

However: The life he was promising as an inheritance contrasted with the reality they were living in the moment–their eyes saw people perishing, beauty and goodness spoiled by evil and light fading into suffocating darkness.

  • Faith is introduced as the instrument that would give these suffering saints the “eyes” to  “see” a greater reality than the one before their physical eyes.
  • Faith would be the instrument through which they would receive God’s sustaining grace as they suffered and anticipated their secure inheritance that was being shielded and protected by the power of God.

Why?  Peter’s answer is that what we cannot see is more precious to God than what we can!

  • We don’t have eyes to see the dross of unbelief mixed in with faith–God does–faith is precious to Him so He refines it with the fires of suffering.
  • We don’t have eyes to see the praiseworthiness of the Living One–Jesus —God does and He uses persevering faith through suffering to gain praise and glory for His precious Son!

How grateful I am for my friend’s phone call!

God used her words to reorient my vision…there was a real Survivor finale that took place over 2000 years ago and His victory–having survived death– secured my inheritance—I have a Living Hope!

Though I have not seen Him — I love Him and the unbeckoned joy that wells up and generates inexpressible delight as I ponder Peter’s words is evidence that I am receiving in the present an installment on my future inheritance.

I can’t say “No” it is an inheritance!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Create in me a clean heart, O God

cave1.jpgMan, made more like God than any other creature, has become less like God than any other creature.  Created to reflect the Glory of God, he has retreated sullenly into his cave–reflecting only his own sinfulness.

A.W. Tozer

“Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”  This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: “I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 

I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.  Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes?

You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.   Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.”
This is what the LORD says: “Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 

You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.”
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

2 Samuel 12:7-13

It was the mercy of God that pursued David and did not allow his sin of arrogant self-centeredness to have the last word! 

What a horrible thing it would be if God allowed us to sin successfully!  How tender is our Father who would send the Nathan’s into our lives so that we might acknowledge the truth–a truth that sin’s lies blind us to.

David’s awareness of his sin occurred when there was a clash between 2 narratives.  He was writing his life story differently than God intended.  His story line had him at center stage, allowed to grab and possess anything he wanted without regard to any authority outside himself. 

The story gets radically redirected when God’s prophet Nathan corrects David’s plot line!  He brings to bear on David’s story a greater, truer narrative.  His story is supremely God centered and highlights the great generosity of God. 

It seems clear in this clash that God called his anointed back into right relationship–back into the reality that God and His word will rule!  It is glorious when David agrees with the correction and says, “I have sinned against the LORD”!

Father, I see in your Word that when I believe the words of my sinful mind–the thoughts that suggest that I need to grab and possess and consume– that you receive that activity as if I am despising you.  I cringe at the thought of how little I weigh my self centeredness and how much you are grieved by it. 

I write my story line as though there is no cost to writing you out and sending you off stage.  I yield my thoughts and embrace your truth once again.  Help me feel the weight of that moment by moment today so that my love of comfort, my desire for ease and convenience and immediate gratification would not have the last word.  Lord, I want the last word to be “I love you!”  AMEN

Entertaining Angels Unawares

October 29, 2003

Hey Friend,

The child we were with yesterday is adorable–his parents are dead and he has been staying in an army barracks with Ugandan soldiers.  The man who took him in has been called up north to Gulu to fight the rebels there.  What that has meant is that Yoweri is being passed around like a football and maybe even taking care of himself.Visiting with Yoweri

When Carolyn and I picked him up to go for a blood screening, he was living at a “restaurant” with people who seemed not to care for him at all.  They must have hoped he would come to stay with us because they did have him dressed and clean so he would make a good impression.

This little boy has lost both parents to HIV and we are praying that his test is clear so he can come here.  We had an enjoyable morning with him,  I could tell that he had absorbed the male influence as he lived the soldier life. Beer sign (Small) As we drove through Kampala, he pointed out every beer billboard to us yelling excitedly, “Look, bee-ah”.  When he urinates he also knows how to aim and hit the target, hitting the center of the toilet rather than the wall and the seat or the floor is no problem for him! That is a skill we are hoping he will share with our other boys–after all it is a training center!  We will take the bad with the good!DSCN3942

We had a school conference at Heritage International school last week.  Casey’s teachers told us she is remarkably adjusted for someone who has been uprooted and brought to Africa.  Her Bible teacher says she regularly puts in prayer requests for the ministry here and that she sees herself as part of it.  She says that is rare–MKs are notorious for resenting being dragged into ministry by their parents.  It was good to hear.

BrighterMolly Carolyn and I are off to Sanyu this morning to set our eyes on a little girl named Molly.  We hope to bring her to Rafiki if her tests are all clear.  Finding adoptable girls is not easy–families will struggle to keep their girls since the future promises a bride price when she marries.  We got the 2004 Rafiki calendars yesterday and our kids are well represented. Samson Kisekka is on the front cover and others throughout.  It was fun to see.Molly1

Oh dear one, in your thoughts about wanting God’s mercy regarding giving–that subject stays in my living here.  You know God has mercifully protected us from taking pride in all that we have “given up”.  He brought us here and placed us in the midst of a people who stare in wide eyed wonderment at all the stuff we have.

I really saw this last week when Carolyn invited a very old woman to come and visit us in the village.  She is a neighbor who lives right outside the main gate.  I keep thinking how rich she would be if she could sell the loofas off her big tree to Bath & Body stores!  This JjaJa (Grandmother) has been very offended that we came and built right in the middle of “her” garden path and have not even allowed her in the gate to greet and visit.  She sat in Carolyn’s sparsely furnished living room looking around and said, “You have many things.  When someone comes to visit they would not have to fear there would be no space to sleep–your floor is very large!”

So to these having a large floor is a luxury much less a washer, cold box, radio, automobile, coffee maker, mattresses, and multiple changes of clothes.  It is very easy to see we have not given up much at all!   Carolyn served her a Coke and she broke out in a huge smile and said, “You have made me a party!”  She is probably in her late 60’s–a real JjaJa– she is somewhat of a character around here and her more upstanding neighbors make fun of her love of banana wine and resist associating with her.  I was glad we did not know it was scandalous to entertain her!  She reciprocated by sending two sugar canes to the children for them to chew on. DSC01433 (Small)

All I know my friend is the grace to give is like all the others–a gift — and I pray that more missions committees will begin to long for the gift rather than fear it.  I also know how huge the temptation to want more is when there is more around–I am not noble in not wanting a larger wardrobe here–I just am hemmed in because there is nothing to be tempted by!  My Ugandan sisters hold my heart in check by saying –“Another new dress JjaJa?”   I have worn the same dresses out of the suitcases we brought for these 3 months.  Now that our boxes have arrived and I have more options, I am ashamed of having so much!   DSC01469 (Small) Well, I need to get ready to take Chloe to the clinic for immunizations.  Carolyn is pressing to get little Yoweri here with us by the end of the week.  We both have been haunted by his face when we returned him to the restaurant.

His mercy —my hope today!  Oh, as we went over John 6 emphasizing that salvation is God’s initiating mercy–that no one comes unless the Father draws him.  Mama Jenipher said, “Es-chuse me JjaJa–there is something I have failed to ask.  I know that it is God who decides who will believe and who will not –but does that mean that it is not the unbeliever’s fault that they do not believe?”  Needless to say, we jumped off into Romans 1 and had a thrilling time marveling at the mystery of all that is revealed there.

Tis mercy all!
lissa

High Esteem

mood-faces2In Day Four of the study, Jennifer Rothschild is hammering home the point that our feelings are not reliable guides in life.   When I think of the many moods of any one my days I know she has hit the nail on the head in this lessonThe principle that I want to hold onto from this lesson is:

What we hold in high esteem will eventually govern us, but what we hold in low esteem, we will govern.

The encouragement not to bow to feelings but to enlist God’s grace to have them bow to His Word was faith strengthening this morning.  I am reminded once again that feelings are real but they are not always in line with reality!  I often say to my kids, “Just because you think a thought does not make it true!”

Waiting…

Psalm 130 shouts to my soul that waiting is a purposeful attitude of the heart!

 “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord…”

waiting.jpg

So many times my inner thoughts shout back, “Lord, why so much waiting–what have you got against “now”?’ 

My impatience is conclusive evidence of how much unbelief still lives within.  Impatience has become a siren that lets me know that I am resisting and rejecting the truth. 

In waiting, I have noticed that my faith mushrooms from childish, spoiled ranting to a settled, secure confidence that no matter how long it takes my God is worth waiting for! 

That movement of the soul is from wanting something to wanting the all-satisfying someone!  Waiting whets my appetite for God and what I hunger for is to know Him better.  When that happens Warren Wiersbe says, then living becomes not a mirror in which I see myself better but a window through which I see the Almighty!