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March 11, 2009
Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,
Before the election here in the USA there was a lot of talk about hope and change. Since the inauguration of our new president, that talk has turned more punitive, leaning to dire warnings of doom and gloom if certain actions are not taken immediately. Somehow, it's all a big rush. Hopefully, it doesn't rush everyone right over the cliff into the abyss. Some people are waking up; they are seeing that the rhetoric of hope is not the same as that hope called "the hope" in the Word of God. So as people are becoming disappointed, feeling duped, and despairing even of life, they need change all right-to a better hope.
With God, there is a very different kind of hope, a hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5.5), a hope that believers inesus Christ have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast (Hebrews 6.19), the better hope of the New Covenant in Christ's Blood (Hebrews 7.19). Believers were saved in this hope (Romans 8.24); and we are to rejoice in hope (Romans 12.12).
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
That you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
God turns the Valley of Achor (trouble) into a door of hope. (Hosea 2.15) Hosea wrote this long after a time in Israel's history when everyone did what was right in his own eyes-the time of the judges. Ruth lived during the time of the judges. Her story is a story of hopelessness turning to hopefulness as God moved in hesed, His enduring love. Let her story encourage you today if you are one of those waking up to the need for a better hope, a hope in the God who does not change.
Because of a famine, Naomi's husband moved the family from Bethlehem-Judah to Moab. Naomi's husband died and so did her two sons. That left Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah (Moabites). Naomi decided to return to the land of Judah, but soon she told Ruth and Orpah to turn back to Moab. Naomi said, "If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also tonight, and should also bear sons; would you tarry for them till they were grown…?" (Ruth 1.12, 13a)
The situation looked hopeless; and Naomi was bitter, saying that "the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty." (Ruth 1.20, 21) The culture required that a woman be attached to a covenant man. Widows had no means of support except that Hebrew law gave them the right to glean the grain remaining in the fields after the harvest. With the death of her husband and sons, Naomi lost property rights. It looked bleak, except for this.
If a woman's husband died and she was left without children, her husband's brother was required to marry her to leave an heir. Naomi's sons had died. Naomi's husband had no living brothers, so Naomi looked to another law allowing the sale of the land belonging to her husband and two sons to the nearest kinsman. This kinsman-redeemer would be given the first option to buy the land but would also be expected to marry Ruth in order to provide heirs to her dead husband. There's more, of course, and you can read the great romance story of Ruth in the Old Testament. I'm only whetting your appetite!
I said all this to give you the first occurrence of the word "hope" in the Bible and to show that it is in the context of hopelessness. Grief, loss, bad circumstances, anger at God, bitterness, an appearance of all things bleak…all this contributed to Naomi's diagnosis and prognosis of her situation. Only as God moved in His enduring covenant love did Naomi's hope revive so that she could say, "Blessed be he of the Lord, who has not left off His kindness (hesed) to the living and to the dead." (Ruth 2.20) At the end of this story, Ruth (whose name means humility) married Boaz (whose name means strength), her kinsman-redeemer, and had a son. That son was Obed (whose name means worshipping/serving God), the father of Jesse, the father of David. And Naomi's life was restored by the Living God, the Hope of Israel.
The Bible exhorts us to hope in God, hope in God's Word, hope for God's salvation, and hope in God's mercy. God is the Hope of Israel. (Jeremiah 14.8, 17.13, Acts 28.20) God doesn't change.
"The hope" in Scripture is an abiding hope (1 Corinthians 13.13), the hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5.8), Christ in you the hope of glory (Colossians 1.27). It is the hope of eternal life (Titus 1.2, Titus 3.7); something for which we should eagerly wait (Galatians 5.5). We are to partake of this hope; plow and thresh in hope (1 Corinthians 9.10). The Word of God describes this hope as:
- That blessed hope: For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2.11-14
- A Living hope: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1.3-5
- A good hope: Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work. 2 Thessalonians 2.16, 17
Jesus Christ is the hope. The hope is the gospel of Jesus Christ in all its fullness. We are to hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Hebrews 3.6) We are heirs of the promise and God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us, which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…(Hebrews 6.17, 18) The hope is laid up for believers in heaven. We heard about it in the word of the truth of the gospel. It brings forth fruit since the day we heard and knew the grace of God in truth. (Colossians 1.5, 6) We are to continue in the faith grounded and settled, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel (Colossians 1.23)…that we may be presented every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
Paul was called into question "of the hope and resurrection of the dead." (Acts 23.6) Later, before Agrippa, Paul would say, "And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly served God day and night, hope to come; for which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews." (Acts 26.6, 7)
"Solid" is another big word these days. Banks want you to think of them as "solid." The word is showing up in all kinds of advertisements, articles, and speeches to boost consumer confidence. But as the Holy Spirit moves to shake everything that can be shaken, we will find that the only "solid" foundation is Jesus Christ.
Will you stand on the solid foundation of the Word of Truth, the Word of God, and hold fast to the hope of the gospel? "For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." (Gal. 5.5) By faith in Christ we have His righteousness laid to our account, our debt note of sin paid for, canceled, forgiven. Hold fast to the hope, for one day the Holy Spirit will finish His work in you of making you what God has declared you to be-holy, blameless, and undefiled. Not only will you be justified freely by God's grace through faith in Christ, but the Holy Spirit will finish His work in you of sanctification, and you will one day be glorified-- Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands,
Having this seal. The Lord knows them that are His,
And, Let everyone that names the name of Christ
Depart from iniquity. 2 Timothy 2.19
Rev. Jim Craig, the MCM Board, and I thank you for your generous support. As you give generously, gladly, graciously, and as the Holy Spirit guides, you enable us to minister in Christ's Name to the lost, to the hungry, to the thirsty, to the broken, to the displaced, to the forgotten, to the orphaned, and to the poor. I am called with an MCM mission team to Iceland and Greenland in June. We have been previously to Antarctica; now we are sent to the Arctic region. Help us go! God bless you!
Trusting in the God of Hope,
P.S. Go to www.marycraig.org. Order books from our Catalog section using PayPal. Worship with us 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Grow and flourish in small group ministry at Craighouse®, located in the Pompano Plaza at 114 E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. Log on to www.craighouse.org for a map and more events and Bible studies. Reach MCM at 954-491-7270. Send in your prayer requests.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with
Through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have
Access by faith into this grace wherein we stand,
And rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that
Tribulation works patience; and patience, experience;
And experience, hope; and hope makes not ashamed;
Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts
By the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans 5.1-5
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