Set your hope fully…

Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ—Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

We groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all… But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.—To this He called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (!)

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised…we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace—This is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.

I Peter 1:13 ESV; Ps. 42:5 NIV; Rom. 8:23-25 NIV;  II Thess.2:14 ESV; Heb. 6:12, 18-19 NIV; Heb 13:8-9 ESV;  I Pet.5:12 ESV

I hope…

How are you finishing this sentence these days? What do you want to see happen? What are you hoping for?

I’ve been arrested in my study of Peter’s first letter by his admonition to “set your hope fully on a grace that is yet to come, when we see Jesus in all His glory.  Other hopes rise and fall, often crushed by disappointment. But the hope of His coming to redeem all that is broken, to right all that is wrong and to make us truly holy, THIS is a hope that will not disappoint!  This is where our hearts can safely rest.

In the meantime life throws up obstacles, disappointments, and troubles galore which we will navigate best when we realize that the true grace of God isn’t one that exempts us from trials or makes them magically disappear.  True grace accompanies us through them with the assurance that all will be well in the end.  God’s Spirit joins us on the journey enabling us to live in such a way that God’s great goodness is seen shining in our wake.  He turns our troubles into exhibits for His glory.  This is the true grace of God.  Stand firm in it.





If only there were a mediator…

If only there were a mediator who could bring us together,
but there is none. —Job

The mediator could make God stop beating me, and I would no longer live in terror of His punishment.  Then I could speak to him without fear, but I cannot do that in my own strength…How can a person be declared innocent in the eyes of God? If someone wanted to take God to court, would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times?—Whatever happens, I will be found guilty!

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all—But he was wounded and crushed for our sins.  He was beaten that we might have peace.  He was whipped, and we were healed!

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin—He holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 

Job 9:33-35,3,29 NLT; I Tim.2:5,6 ESV; Is.53:5 NLT; Heb.4:15 ESV; Heb.7:24,25 ESV

Job attests to his own innocence in the face of  his friends’ accusations, but He also knows that noone is righteous in comparison to our holy God.  He knows God is his only hope and yet…he sees his life fleeing away filled with tragedy and pain.  And in his perplexed anguish he longs for a mediator…

I’ve been a Christian for a long time, pretty much a lifetime, so the doctrine of salvation through faith in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice can seem commonplace, obvious. The tangible fear of God and awareness of my native unworthiness to exist in His awesome presence can fade.

But story has a way of awakening us to things we take for granted.  I’ve just finished James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in which he explores the inner workings of the soul of an artistic lad reared in the shadow of the Irish Roman Catholic church of the last century.  Hellfire sermons such as I’ve never heard were common fare.  Confession to a priest was obligatory.  Guilt and sin were constant conscious realities for this intensely conscientious introvert. He knew the fear of God. He knew conceptually of the love of God, but he lived in fear of judgment. He slunk to the confessional in hopes of ridding himself of his immense burden of guilt.  And he adopted rigorous asetic habits in hopes of evading sin.  But alas,  the priest would pronounce absolution of his sins  only to demand a repeat confession at a subsequent meeting… His forced contrition failed to provide relief from the humiliation, shame and restless guilt that dogged his days. And in his heart of hearts he knew he did not, and could not love God by his own effort.  Obedience to the Church’s standards was the only hope he knew–more penance, more confession, more prayers of contrition, but no actual freedom from guilt. No life!

A Portrait was a dreary tale, with a bleak ending.  The young artist’s ‘coming-of-age’ declaration was “I will not serve that in which I no longer believe!”  Abandoning church and family he determined to strike out to express himself in some mode of life or art as freely and wholly as possible.  This conclusion would appear triumphant and courageous if it weren’t such a pitiful delusion.  For in fact what this young man needed was a Mediator with God to bring him peace with God.  No human priest could suffice.  Serving the church was not sufficient.  Pursuing freedom on his own terms would only lead to further bondage.  What was needed was a Mediator to plead his case with God and set him free to serve God wholeheartedly with his art.

Against the backdrop of this autobiographical story the reality of the peace and freedom I possess because of Jesus is tangibly profound. There is a Mediator!  I will gladly yield my life in service to this awesome God.  And lately there have been new songs in my heart that reflect this glory. In fact, we had the unexpected delight of standing in the mosh pit at a recent music festival where “My Story” was performed.  It is my story too. Turn up the volume and enjoy this praiseworthy re-make of an old hymn!!!  And praise God for our Mediator!


My Story lyrics:

If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine
If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
If I told you my story
You would hear victory over the enemy
And if I told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life overcome the grave
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
For the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
Songwriters: Michael Weaver / Jason Ingram

Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy;

no shadow of shame will darken their faces. Ps.34:5

*A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce, 1916
If I have peaked your interest in this book, hop on over to my  Quotes and Notes blog for more details and some timeless quotes.

I am counting on the LORD

Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive?
But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.
I am counting on the LORD; yes, I am counting on Him.  I have put my hope in His word…—Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!

Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man [Jesus] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about: “‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.'”

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.—But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ. 

Hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is unfailing love and an overflowing supply of salvation.  He Himself will free Israel [and me] from every kind of sin.  

Ps.130:3-5 NLT;  Ps. 19:12-13 ESV; Acts 13:38-41 ESV;  Acts 16:31 KJV; Gal. 3:22 NLT; Ps.130:7-8 NLT

It’s too good to be true, and yet, it is so because God has said so.  We are forgiven through faith in Jesus.  We are saved from ourselves by reliance on the Son.  And this salvation goes on and on uncovering the depths of our depravity—our helplesslesss to live this life only Jesus has lived perfectly, our proneness to wander into paths that end in death, our bereft condition without Jesus… But as each failing is uncovered, there is an abundant salvation that covers this too. And we are called to keep believing that this salvation that is ours through faith in Jesus, covers all our sin, past, present and future.

I’ve been freshly struck this week by the hazard of being born and reared to be ‘good’.  With this privilege comes the risk of depending on a moral upbringing and a relative ‘righteousness’ rather than on the righteousness of Christ.  There are after all greater sins than murder, theft and adultery… This has been brought home to me in the character of the ‘pious woman’ in Graham Greene’s novel: The Power and the Glory.  The main character is a bedraggled priest whose moral failure has humbled him not only to acknowledge how depraved he is apart from the mercy of God, but to begin to truly love other sinners with God’s love and care.  In contrast is the pious woman imprisoned with him.  Thinking herself good she exudes merciless scorn for the sinners around her all the while oblivious to her own condition. It is a soul-searching story well penned, that points me back to the Word–“Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive?” and to the only One I can count on to save my soul!

“I am counting on the LORD; yes, I am counting on Him.”

May we be found in Him, blameless when He comes again!


If you haven’t read Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, I’ve offered some thoughts and quotes at my Quotes and Notes blog here, in hopes you’ll give it a read!

Everything God does is just and fair

He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is! 

…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will know… how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is. 

But those who brazenly violate the LORD’s will…blaspheme the LORD, and they must be cut off from the community. Since they have treated the LORD’s word with contempt and deliberately disobeyed his commands, they must…suffer the consequences of their guilt.  

The tassels will remind you of the commands of the LORD, and that you are to obey His commands instead of following your own desires and going your own ways , as you are prone to do.  

Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods! —Your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD.  

Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. 

Deut. 32:4 NLT; Rom.12:2 NLT; Numbers 15:30-31 NLT; Numbers 15:39 NLT; Rom.11:33 NLT; Ps.36:6 ESV; Ps. 25:5 NLT

What a counter-cultural mindset–God is always right, His ways always best.  It cuts against the grain of my own selfish heart, when things aren’t quite going as I’d like…And yet, the truth is here (whether I choose to believe it or not) and herein lies my salvation.  God is always right.  I can trust Him with my life. Amen?


As you come and go remember the One you serve…

The Tabernacle with all its gold and skilfully woven and embroidered beauty has been set up according to God’s specific requirements. The leaders of the tribes of Israel have brought their gifts for the dedication of the altar over the span of twelve days–silver platters and basins full of grain, gold urns of incense, bulls and rams and yearling lambs, oxen and goats for burnt offerings and sin offerings and peace offerings.  And now it is time for the dedication of the Levites. They are a special offering to the Lord from the people in lieu of sacrificing their firstborn sons.  They will belong to the Lord, living offerings, set apart from the rest of the nation to serve him in the Tabernacle.

As I read these detailed procedures, at first I thought how foreign to us as ‘New Testament believers’ all this is, and then how familiar–the Sacrifice has been made, purifying us for service.  The work we are assigned may be mundane, a daily rhythm of ordinary comings and goings, but we are the Lord’s own possession, His servants!  As you do your work today, whatever it entails, keep in view the One you serve ( :

“After this, they may go in and out of the Tabernacle to do their work, because you have purified them and presented them as a special offering….They will serve in the Tabernacle on behalf of the Israelites and make atonement for them so no plague will strike them when they approach the sanctuary.

…our Saviour 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–

He died once to defeat sin, and now he lives for the glory of God.  So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God.  Let them be a living and a holy sacrifice–the kind he will accept.  When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?  Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is–You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people.

Num.8:15,19 NLT; Titus 2:13-14 KJV; Rom.6:10,11 NLT; Rom. 12: 1,2NLT; I Cor. 6:19-20 NLT; Col.3:23 CSB