Shepherd's Staff

Christ Offers Hope

Romans 8:24-25

Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope,

because who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see,

we eagerly wait for it with patience.

Please take the time to first read the entirety of the eighth chapter of Romans from your copy of the Scriptures.  In this chapter, Paul emphasizes the benefits of being “in Christ Jesus” as opposed to outside of a personal relationship with the Lord and Savior.  Those benefits include: (1) No condemnation through faith in Jesus, (2) No obligation to the flesh because of Jesus, (3) No separation from God’s love in Christ Jesus.  God offers us HOPE in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Help through the Holy Spirit:  God gives us His presence and power through the indwelling Spirit.  The same Spirit who indwells the Christian also intercedes for the believer.  The presence of God in your heart is also who inspires you to live in true spiritual, physical, and emotional liberty.  Have you received the help of the Holy Spirit in living for Jesus Christ?

Opportunities for God to be glorified:  The world system in which we live is designed to bring glory to humanity and nature while denying glory to God the Creator.  God is glorified not because of sin but in spite of sin.  God is glorified through:  (1) Christ’s atonement for sin, (2) Our adoption as sons, and (3) Creation’s anticipation of salvation.  Are you seeking opportunities for God to be glorified through you?

Patience through suffering: Paul does not skirt the reality of suffering in the world and neither should we.  Christianity is not a free pass to avoid suffering, but becomes a means of persevering in spite of suffering.  Patience, which is the key to survival, is not merely “toughing it out”, but trusting that God is “working it out” for the good of those who love God: those called according to His purpose…to be conformed to the image of His Son.  No one ever has or ever will suffer more than Jesus nor has shown more patience than Jesus in the midst of sufferings!  Are you patient through suffering?

Eternal perspective: We need to take a better look at the here-after versus the here-and-now.  Paul reminds Christ-followers of every century, continent, country, and culture that there is no close comparison between our earthly struggles and our heavenly reward.  I have heard it said: “You can be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.”  However, I understand Paul to actually emphasize the reverse:  “You should be so heavenly minded that you are of greater earthly good.”  Do you let a Biblically based view of eternity affect your earthly existence?

I invite you to find HOPE in a personal relationship with Jesus.  Problems in life will overwhelm you.  People around you will disappoint you.  Prideful and pleasurable pursuits will leave you empty.  Personal efforts at seeking to gain God’s acceptance will leave you lacking at the judgment.  The Bible clearly reveals that hope is found in Jesus!  He will navigate your problems with you.  He is the most dependable person you will ever know.  His kingdom of righteousness, joy, and peace brings fulfillment.  He has done all that is necessary to make you acceptable in the sight of God.  Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He is also at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.  Have you received Christ’s offer of hope?

 

Become What You Behold

Danny Smith

As I write this column, I am with members and leaders of the Tunica Community Youth Group at Centrifuge Camp.  On Monday evening our camp pastor remarked that we become what we behold.  He stated that our goal this week is to BEHOLD God so that we BECOME like Him.

I began to think about passages in the Bible that speak of “beholding” a person or object and the possible “becoming” that results.  So, please get your copy of the scripture and look up these verses and read their context as you consider that we become what we behold.  The realities and possibilities might surprise you.

Behold who you really are: “Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” (James 1:23-24) By beholding the word of God, we see ourselves for who we really are.  We discover the areas where we are obedient to God’s truth and become convicted in those areas where we are falling short.  It is always good to look in the mirror and behold who we really are so that we can make the necessary changes that will make us more presentable.  God empowers us through His presence in our lives to make the sometimes difficult yet necessary changes in our lives that make us more like Him.  When is the last time you beheld yourself according to God’s Word so that you could become what He designed you to be?

Behold who you can become: We all, with unveiled faces are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) You were created in God’s image and likeness.  However, because of sin in our hearts and in the world, we fall short of God’s magnificent glory.  Thankfully, God does not leave us hopeless and helpless.  He invites us to behold the glory of Himself in the Son, Jesus Christ.  Christianity is the process of transformation that shows us who we are and who we can become in a relationship with Jesus.  Whenis the last time you beheld Jesus in the pages of the Gospels and discovered that you can become more and more like Him in your thoughts, words, and deeds?

Behold how you can begin again: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’”(John 1:29)  The process of becoming begins with an awareness of personal sin and accountability for sinful choices in our lives.  Our wrestling with evil should bring us to a conclusion that we do not hold the solution within ourselves.  The remedy for sin came through God’s divine intervention when He sent the perfect Son of God to this imperfect world to deal with lost humanity’s sin once and for all.  Jesus appeared at the time He did in order to take away sin’s power, penalty, and one day its very presence.  When is the last time that you beheld the Lamb OfGod as He became your sin and bore your sin so that He could bless you with the gift of His righteous standing with the Heavenly Father?

What and who are you beholding?  What and who are you becoming?  Honestlyevaluate and confess the realities of your beholding and becoming.  Hopefully consider and adapt to the possibilities of beholding and becoming someone new.  Hold on loosely to the old influences, but tightly to the individual who can cause you to become someone new by beholding Him…Jesus.  Behold who you really are so that you can become who God destined you to be.  Behold who you can become in a faith-based relationship with Jesus Christ.  Behold the path to new beginnings in Jesus Christ who Himself is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.  What /who you behold is what/who you become.