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Hope Eternal

"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests."  Luke 2:14

“Glory to you oh, God, for through you I have hope and peace!  The world cannot give me peace but only unfulfilled desires and longings.  The world relies on the seen and external for their hope but faith is through the unseen and eternal! Today as the world spins out of control I place my peace and hope in you, God. Amen”

I promise myself each day that I won’t check in with the chaos of the world and yet time and again I find my fingers creeping over my keyboard to read the latest news.  As a Christian and a citizen of this world it’s been difficult to find the balance of my responsibility as a “not yet.”  By that I mean I’ve been saved but not yet home with God.  I long for the day to see Jesus’ face and be free of this chaos.  But Jesus clearly wants us doing God’s good works while here on earth.

"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." John 14:12

So that means we have a responsibility to be good citizens of our communities.  Spreading God’s Word through deeds and words.  It means we need to know what stresses and pains our world is experiencing so we can be God’s message of hope and therefore glorify Him.  

In the book of Jude he admonishes to take steps to help those who are new believers and not yet believers.  It’s important to note the danger he warns of by getting too close to the fiery chaos of the world.  

“…save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Jude 23

Mixed with fear.  I think sometimes we Christians like to dabble in the world of chaos thinking a little bit is ok.  But each time we turn on the news or start discussing politics we should first give thanks to God for where our eternal hope lies and then proceed with a bit of Jesus’ Teflon surrounding us.  He let the Pharisees ignorance and at times evil ways bounce off Him.  Because He knew who He belonged to.  And He consistently gave glory to God when speaking back into the chaos.

Friends, it’s not wrong to be actively informed or involved with the goings-on of the world.  Jesus and the apostles jumped in with both feet to tell the world about the Father.  They didn’t turn away from the troubles of the world, they came to spread hope and glorify God.  But we must always remember the Kingdom awaiting us. 

 

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After Eden

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

During December of 2020 many people kept announcing that “next year will definitely be better.”  I could understand the longing, the hope and desire.  Let’s face it, 2020 was rife with fear, loss, despair, and worry.  I told people around me to be careful romanticizing the turn of a calendar.  Who knew what 2021 would bring – floods, fires, more plagues, death, political uprisings? And it certainly didn’t disappoint.   A short walk through say, the book of James or Jude, reminds us that trials of many kind befall us each and every year.  It’s our response to those trials that set us apart from the world.

So often when we think of “new beginnings” we can think of them as an adventure, something exciting to embark upon.  Probably something God will guide you through to success.  But what if your new beginning is a result of a terrible trial?  A loss?  Will you still seek God and see Him at work in the midst of it all?

If there’s one man whose new beginning exemplified having to start all over, having lost it all, it was Adam.  He had everything you and I could ever want.  A beautiful home, plenty to eat and drink.  No worries except what to name the next animal.  His yoke was light.  He was to be the way maker for all of us.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.  Genesis 2:15

And when Adam failed to honor his end of the covenant he did what so many of us do when we fail God – he tried to hide.   Instead of running to God asking for forgiveness He compounded his sins by acting shamefully. But God.

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:9

Millions of Christians and non-believers know the story that took place in the Garden of Eden.  But when we look at God’s actions we see His loving care for humans, His unique creation.  He knew Adam had failed yet notice He didn’t let him go.  He sought Him out with a gentle question.  He could have immediately wiped the slate free of humanity after the betrayal.  Instead, God clothed Adam in new garments and gave him new skills then sent him off on a new beginning.  A chance to be the first step in the long path toward the new Adam – Jesus.

And Adam, by all accounts accepted the results of his sin and moved forward into his new beginning.  A life outside the walls of Eden but one in which God was fully present.  Adam and Eve didn’t step outside the gates, plunk down and give up.  They didn’t choose to live in shame and despair.  No, they knew God.  They knew God still loved them and cared for them. So they took the new direction God gave them and made a new life.  I love the last few lines in Genesis 4 in which Adam and Eve are mentioned:

At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.  Genesis 4:26

Adam and his family never stopped worshipping God and talking with Him even though they had suffered a great loss.  They brought their first fruits to Him and stayed close to God.  And their work, their new beginning, brought others to God as well.  If not for their commitment to God’s new beginning laid out for them there wouldn’t have been their son Seth.  And Seth led to Noah. Without Noah there wouldn’t have been a righteous man left to continue humanity.  God’s plan at work.  God’s plan working even when it comes out of sin or loss.  It’s our job to keep trusting Him and accepting Him at His word.

I’ll be honest, for most of my life I’ve been an avowed pessimist.  It’s taken a lot of work by our triune God to help me see Him in my trials.  To see how He is working a good, new thing in our lives.  When circumstances go wrong around me my new attitude is that God is in my midst.  He does want all things to work for good.  I may never know how my commitment to Him will affect the Grand Plan.  But I do know He never left Adam and He will never leave you.

Have you been tempted to give up on God after a trial or loss? God is still working in your life. He’s asking you to trust Him. Call on Him today for strength to live in your new beginning.