Monday, 29 April 2013

Romans 8:28-30 (Part 5) - Assurance.


Romans 8:28-30:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Here we are, up to v30.
"Predestined" - chosen by God. He has determined our future, and if we are his people it is because he chose to save us before time began (Ephesians 1:4-5). What an awesome God! He did not choose us because of anything we have done or will do, he did not choose us because there was anything good in us. He chose us entirely for his glory and he chose to love us. We hated him, we rejected him, and we all deserve hell. Everyone sins and God is holy and perfect. He is the opposite of sin and therefore sin is a personal attack on his character. Yet he chose to love us, he chose to save us. How has he saved us? Jesus. He sent Jesus, who is God, and Jesus came and died for us so that we can live. 1 John 4:10 has been popping up everywhere for me lately and it fits in well right here - "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." Jesus came and died for us, to turn away God's wrath which we deserved for our sin. He took that wrath, the punishment we deserved so that everyone who turns to him by repentance and faith can be saved. Repentance = being sorry for sin and changing, faith = complete trust in God and Jesus as the only way to be saved. What an awesome God! Turn to him if you havent! If you have questions then ask people! Write a comment or email me! No question is too stupid if it's a genuine question!

"He also called". So God chose to save us, then he called us to be saved. He didn't just decide to save us and then leave us, no he chose us then he followed it through by calling us to him. God doesn't just choose for us to choose him, No he chooses us and then actively saves us - we have no part in it, we don't deserve any of the praise for it! It was all God! "Those he called he also justified". He didn't just choose to save us and then do it, but he made it right for him to save us. God is just and therefore he has to punish sin. We all sin (Romans 3 goes through that) and we all deserve God's wrath for it. How can God save us justly? Well as I said before, he sent Jesus to take our sin, so that we are forgiven and 'justified'. Jesus took our place and our guilt has been removed - thats what justification is: it's "Just as if i'd never sinned". "And those he justified he also glorified". he doesn't only choose to save us and go through with it for no reason. We aren;t just saved here on earth - he also glorified us. He will bring all his people into heaven and we will be with God eternally - that's the whole point. He has forgiven us and he will bring us into his presence eternally. Heaven is where God is - we will be entirely satisfied in him there and we will praise him eternally and he will be glorified by us. It will be awesome. How do we know God will do this? Well, back to Jesus - he didn't just die, he rose again. He paid for our sins in full and therefore was no longer condemned to death, so he rose again and he has gone to heaven to prepare a place for his people - John 14:3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." He has done all the other stuff, we can trust him completely to bring it all to completion and save us in heaven.

Our sins forgiven, we will be made entirely pure in heaven. Adopted as God's children, co-heirs with Christ, united with him and with all other Christians. What more glorious thing could there be? What else could we want? This is love! God is awesome! And we don;t have to fear - God has predestined it. Every genuine Christian is chosen by God and will be saved and bought to heaven eternally. If God has done the other three things for us, he will certainly do the last! He does not forsake his people (Hebrews 13:5), he does not forget us. Trust him! Praise him! "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)

God Bless!
Nat.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Romans 8:28-30 (Part 4) - God's grace and sovereignty


Romans 8:28-30:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Before we jump in, I spent the weekend at KYCK, and it was awesome. 6 sermons on 1 John and God's love for us and how we need to respond. It was exactly what I needed to hear and be challenged on, and it tied perfectly to what I've been reading from Romans 8 - God is awesome, he knows what he is doing, he is faithful, he is loving. Worship him and him alone!

Onto verse 29 then.
"Those God foreknew he also predestined". There are two ways to read this verse I think, but one seems to me to be more biblical in the implications.

1.  We can read it as if God looked forward in time, saw who would choose him and then chose them. I have a number of close friends who would read it like that.
2. The second option which I agree with (since it seems to have more biblical support) is this: God chooses who he will save and who he will condemn justly. 

Did God choose us, or did he simply see that we would choose him? One seems to give him the power and glory (though it's much harder to swallow) and it seems to me that the other makes it much easier for us to seem like the good ones. From Ephesians 2:8-9 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." If we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, and if it is "the gift of God", then how can we have any of the glory? How can it be us choosing God? Looking forward to Romans 9, the whole chapter is about God's sovereignty in choosing who he will have mercy on and who he will condemn. Isn't that unjust? Unloving? Well for starters it cannot be if God is who he says he is in the bible. God created us, he sustains us, and every moment we have on earth is because he allows it. Therefore he has the right to do whatever he wants with us - to glorify himself by saving us or by condemning. Why does he condemn? Because we sin. Matthew Henry has a good quote on this:

"Whatever God does, must be just. Wherein the holy, happy people of God differ from others, God's grace alone makes them differ. In this preventing, effectual, distinguishing grace, he acts as a benefactor, whose grace is his own. None have deserved it; so that those who are saved, must thank God only; and those who perish, must blame themselves only"

To give you the gist of that: God is just and those he saves are saved only by his grace. Those he condemns only have themselves to blame for their sin. We all deserve hell and God would be just to condemn us all, yet he chooses to save some to show forth his attributes. It sounds unjust and we don't like it, but it is just for God to condemn and in Christ he can also show mercy on those he chooses while still being just. I know that isn't a comprehensive answer, but it's a good thing to think about and to start working through (whether you accept God as sovereign or not). 

One point of application from God's sovereignty - we don't have to fear the future! If he is totally in control then he can keep his promise from v28 that he will work everything for the good of his people, and we wont have to fear or worry about what is going to happen. We can trust him that his will is the best for us and for his glory and that he will sustain us and protect us. That no temptation will face us which we cannot overcome by his strength (1 Corinthians 10:13). That should be a massive comfort to us!


"To be conformed to the image of his Son" - God calls us to be like Jesus. He doesn't just save us and that's it - he saves us to be like Jesus. One of the sermons from KYCK outlined that knowing the truth about Jesus and holding to it, genuine love for God and obedience all are tied strongly together. You cannot have one without the others - if genuinely christians we will love God and know his love, we will believe the truth, that Jesus is God, that he died and rose again and has paid for our sins so we can be forgiven, and it will show itself in our lives through obedience to him and us becoming more like Jesus. Are you like Jesus? What sin is in your life? Where are you falling short? For me there's plenty - especially pride, anger/frustration and not sharing the gospel (it's easy to do it online, but I find it so hard to talk to people in person about Christ). Are you like Jesus? Are you trying to be more like Jesus? Why do you obey God - is it fear of God's wrath? Is it fear of people and wanting them to think good of you? Is it just because you think obeying God is the right thing to do? Or is it out of love for God? Is it genuinely flowing from trust and love for him? That's another thing I've been challenged with - what's my motivation? What's yours? So what was Jesus like? Well he is God - so a good question to tie to that is what is God like? He is good, just, merciful, loving, kind, faithful, compassionate, perfect, pure, holy, righteous. (note: they're all absolutes). We fail and all, but that needs to be our aim - to be like Jesus. How do we know how to be like Jesus? Read the bible. Pray. Talk with fellow Christians and go to church! Spend time in God's word - how are you meant to be like him if you don;t spend time getting to know him from his word?

"That he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters" - The firstborn has a lot of significance in the bible. They got the biggest inheritance, yet we learnt before that we are co-heirs with Christ! Jesus, who is God, who is eternal, all powerful, perfect, etc, came to earth and lived as a man, and not only did he give up his infinite glory, but he came and was born in a stable, lived like a normal person and then was murdered ny those he came to save. He came to save us who hate him, reject him, who sin and mock him. He came to save us so we can be forgiven for our sins and so that we can share in his glory and so he can share in his eternal inheritance with us. Why? There was nothing in us he could want, nothing we can do can make us right before him - if he wanted he could have just created more people who would love him. No, he did it for his glory and out of love for us. What an awesome God and saviour! He was first, and we will follow - he rose again, and we also will rise again after we die and go to heaven. We have that sure hope to hold onto. (Check out 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 and Romans 8:18).

God chooses us, we don't choose him. He doesn't need us, it is us who need him. It's all about him, all about Jesus, not about us. We did nothing to save ourselves, all we bought to the cross was our sin which nailed him there - we have nothing to boast in. It is all Jesus. Through him we are forgiven, loved by God, adopted as his children and made co-heirs with Christ. What an awesome saviour! What a mighty God!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Nat.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Romans 8:28-30 (Part 3) - Loving God

Romans 8:28-30:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

I commented on "those who love him" in part two briefly, but I want to talk about it again. We need to love God. If we are his people (Christians) then he loves us, he loves us so much that He sent his one and only son to die for us (John 3:16), he loves us so much that he adopted us as his children even though we are wicked sinners and we reject him. His love for us reaches to the heavens (Psalm 56:5). It is bigger then we can imagine. He not only loves us, but he is also faithful: he does not change, he will always love us if we are his people and we can trust him that he will. Do we love him? Do you love him? Do I love him? This has been a question which has come out a lot in the last week - do I love God? Do I love him more then the world? More than my friends? More than my family? More than myself? The answer so often is No. But yet I need to - we need to. He gave up his one and only son for us so that we can live. He adopted us as his children, making us co-heirs with Christ (discussed earlier in Romans 8). He loves us. We need to love him. The question then is: How do we love God more? To that, I don't really know. At the moment I'm just praying about it daily and spending time in the bible and trying to remember all Christ/God has done for me more often. Do you love God? Is he the centre of your life? Is he your King? Your Lord? Your saviour? If he is, then do you treat him like it? Jesus himself said the greatest commandment is to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ (Luke 10:27) - Do you? Do I? I think the answer is no. But are we working at it?

To clarify: God doesn't need our love. He doesn't need us - he created us, and if he wanted he could create more people and have them love him. But he calls us to love him and his mercy and grace allows us to. God doesn't need us, we need him. But he is glorified through us and in saving us.

"Who have been called according to his purposes" - If we love God, then we have been called according to his purposes. All Christians are those who have been chosen by God before creation and therefore we are all called according to his purpose. So what is God's purpose? What is God's plan? We don't know entirely, but we know that he has saved us and that will never change if we are truly Christians (shown by our love for him) and that in all things he works for his glory. Therefore we need to be working in everything to glorify him - 1 Corinthians 10:31: "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." In Everything - eating, drinking, walking, sleeping, everything, work for God's glory! Do we do this? Do I do this? Another problem of mine is pride, and it's definitely one which gets in the way of this. We need to constantly be seeking God's glory, constantly be looking to serve him and to honour him in absolutely everything we do. How can we do this? Well one question we can ask is how am I portraying Christ in what I do? Am I taking his name in vain by not living like a Christian when I call myself one? Or even less then that, do my actions and words show explicitly that I am a christian? Am I sharing the gospel at any and every opportunity? (Thats a challenge and a half!).

I hope they were some helpful thoughts! v28 is done - onto v29-30 next!

God Bless.
Nat

Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out! 
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen.



Monday, 15 April 2013

Romans 8:28-30 (Part 2) - Sufferings.

Continuing on Romans 8:28-30:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

"We know that in all things..." How do we know? Well the bible of course. We need to be readin it, we need to spend time reading God's word and spending time with him in prayer. Often people talk from experience and not directly from the bible - experience has worth, but it has no worth when compared to the words of God who is in control of all things and created the universe. He knows everything, our experience and our knowledge is nothing compared to the bible.

"All things" Everything. There is absolutely nothing which is out of God's control. Good times, hard times. Wealth and poverty, sickness and health, death, life, friends, family, pets. God is in control of it all, of every situation, of every moment of every hour of every day since creation. There are those who would disagree with this, and perhaps I am wrong about it all (I am human after all), but it seems to me that this is clearly shown throughout the bible and is consistent with the whole of scripture. God is in control, and that should be a great comfort to us! If he is in control then we have this promise ringing through any situation we are in: He works in it all "for the good of those who love him". Surely knowing that promise from a faithful and unchanging God should have us shouting for joy! Yet it's so easy to read and not apply to our lives. So what's going on in your life at the moment? Sick friends? Dying family members? Family Breakdowns? Broken bones? Financial hardship? Or is everything great? Is life easy at the moment? Whatever the situation, it is from God, for our good if we are his people. 

How can he possibly use hardship for good? In plenty of ways! He never lets a needless tear fall from the eyes of his people. Whatever sufferings we are facing, he will use them for his glory, to help us, to grow us and develop us. It may not be good for us materially or physically, but it is good for us spiritually, and that is what matters most - our eternal state before God matters far more then health or wealth or any sort of earthly prosperity. God never promises his people wealth - in fact he promises us that we will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12 - In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted)

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
If we know God is in control and working it all for our good and for his glory then we can rejoice! If he wasn't then what reason would there be to rejoice? But we can rejoice because through trials and sufferings God will test our faith, making us persevere and thereby making us mature and complete.
1 Peter 1:6-9
In all 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 the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—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 end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Again, we can rejoice in sufferings because by them God purifies us - he gets rid of our sin and makes us love and trust him, instead of loving the world and sin. He shows us it is only by his power we are sustained and by them he brings us to eternity with him in heaven.
Psalm 119:67
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
    but now I obey your word.
Again: by sufferings we learn to trust God and obey him instead of living our own way.

There are countless verses on the topic! God is in control and he allows sufferings. We suffer because of sin, we live in a sinful world, and to end our suffering God would have to deal with sin. It is his mercy which stops him from returning to judge yet, giving people the chance to repent and calling in all his elect. We have comfort in our sufferings though - God is in control and he works for our good in all of them! What an awesome God! Heres a common passage which has the same theme: Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

But does this apply to all people? No way. Not at all - he works for the good of 'those who love him'. We either love God or we hate him - we either follow him and submit our lives to him or we reject him. We are either Christians or not christians."The devil owns the fence". So the obvious challenge: Are you a Christian? Do you personally submit to Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, as the only way that we can be saved? Do you repent of your sin and put your faith in him? Are you sorry for disobeying God? We all deserve God's wrath (i.e. hell), and we will all get it unless we turn to Jesus. So have you? Or are you still under condemnation?

  1. The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15)

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Genesis 5

A brief interlude from Romans 8, here is a thought on Genesis 5


Genesis 5, a list of the people from Adam to Noah. It's impossible to ignore - this is all we know about these people. We don't know their feelings, their ideas, their hope or dreams, their thoughts, who they loved or who they were loved by. We simply know how old they were when they had their first child and how old they were when they died. We cannot set out hope on this world. We will die. Everyone aside from two people recorded in the bible has died, and we will also - don't fix your hope on the earth or on the world, life here is temporary and nothing in our lives matters except this: Do you, do I, know Jesus as Lord and saviour? As our God and king? As the only one who can save us, and the one who has provided a way to save us by dying in our place? Unless he is your saviour you are going to hell: thats what we all deserve for disobeying him (Romans 3, 6:23) That is the only thing that matters. No one will remember you or I once we die, and even if they do it means nothing - but God is the eternal judge and his judgement is everlasting.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Romans 8:28-30 (Part 1)

Romans 8:28-30: 
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

There is so much depth in these verses and I won't be able to bring it all out, but I hope this is encouraging! I only have limited time, so there may be a number of parts to this.

To begin: "We". Christians. Those who are adopted as his children (Romans 8:14-17), who are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), who have the Holy Spirit in us. We who were sinners, who were stuck in our sin, who are no better then those who still are. Who don't seek God, who aren't good (Psalm 14:1-3, Ecclesiastes 7:20), who rebel against him actively by sinning - and we have all sinned (Romans 3:23, 6:23). We who deserve God's wrath, his eternal punishment, hell. We who murdered his son - or at least who are no better then those who did, who mocked and despised him by sinning, who still sin, who are weak and frail. Yet back to the start - we who are saved, though we were 'powerless' and 'ungodly' 'sinners' (Romans 5:6,8)! Forgiven! Freed from slavery to sin and death and united with Christ (Romans 6). Who are righteous in Christ, saved 100% in him, who have the promise of heaven eternally, who are God's children and who have the Holy Spirit in us. What an awesome God! What an awesome saviour! Jesus came tho earth as a man, though he was God. He gave up his glory (Philippians 2), and willingly came and died for us - who hated and mocked him. He suffered in our place, he faced God's wrath and took our sin if we are his people. Why? To save us, so that we can be forgiven, restored to a perfect relationship with God through him alone and so that we can live eternally with him. So we can be adopted as God's children and share in his inheritance. So God will be glorified. What an awesome saviour and God! First point of application/challenge: Are you a christian? Is this you? Do you belong to God's people? Are the promises in these verses, and the whole bible of God's blessing yours? Or are you still under his wrath, stuck in your sins, a slave to them and needing salvation? Are you a christian? Jesus is the only way! Repent an believe - Turn away from sin and be genuinely sorry for it and put your trust entirely in Jesus, not in yourself or anything else.

To be Continued... (We got through one word, thats pretty good!)

Soli Deo Gloria! 
Nat.




Friday, 5 April 2013

1 Peter 1


1 Peter 1
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Praise to God for a Living Hope
3 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, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealedin the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 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, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you,when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

Be Holy
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s workimpartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply,from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,
“All people are like grass,
    and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25     but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Romans 8:24-25 - Hope


Romans 8:24
 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.


Back into Romans. Sorry that I havent been posting, for one I'm in exams at the moment, and have been studying hard and the other thing is that I havent really known what to write about from Romans 8:19-23. This section has been about creation being renewed, though a number of commentaries say that creation should be interpreted a 'creature' and thus refers to the Gentiles or the Christian. Its all been a bit confusing, though useful nonetheless.

To understand this verse though, it is useful to look at Romans 8:23

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
This verse says that we will be adopted as God's children, and our bodies will be 'redeemed' which I'm pretty sure refers to the restoration of our bodies at the end and therefore heaven and eternal life with God. Paul continues by talking about this hope we have. We know we are adopted as God's children, and we know that if we are Christians then we are going to heaven and will have eternal life with him, but the truth is that we only hope in these - we have not received either of them in full. It can be argued that we have received our adoption in full, and that is true - in God's sight we are totally forgiven, we are his children, he loves us and cares for us, he watches over us, he teaches us and rebukes us and trains us and he leads us where he wants us to go. But we have not been announced as his children, we are not in his presence eternally, and we do not have all the benefits of it yet. Likewise we are holy in God's sight, yet we live in a sinful world, we sin and we are surrounded by sin. We are holy and we are becoming holy - we will be in heaven. We are God's children and we will be God's children. It's kind of that we are, but we aren't quite yet.

So whats stopping God from just dashing our hopes? Why are we 'certain of what we do not see"? (Hebrews 11:1). Well because God is faithful. He has promised us heaven, being in his presence for eternity and without sin, mourning, pain or death (Revelation 21:3-4 and many many other verses), he has promised that we are forgiven he has promised that we are adopted as his children and he does not change his mind, he does not lie and he is faithful. Here's some verses so you know I'm not just making this up:

Psalm 33:4
For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.

Psalm 36:5
Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.

Psalm 115:1
Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
1 Corinthians 1:9
God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
Numbers 23:19
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
Malachi 3:6
“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.

Isaiah 46:10-11
declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=6819446093626472865calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

God is faithful and he does not change, therefore our hope is certain. But why do we have hope in the first place? What is our hope based on? Well thats the gospel isn't it? In the beginning God created everything, and it was perfect. We then sinned and as a result there is sin and death and sickness and pain throughout the world. For worse then all that for us, we deserve God's wrath because he is just and hates sin and "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Roman 3:23). As a result we deserve death - not only physical death but spiritual death and therefore God's eternal wrath (i.e. hell) - "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23a). Yet there is hope: Jesus is God, and he came to earth as a human. He lived among us, giving up his eternal glory for a time for us. He lived with us and then he died - he was murdered by those he came to save, but that also was his plan, so that by his death he could save us. He died when he alone did not deserve to die, since he was perfect. In his death "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21) - we are, through Jesus alone, counted as righteous in God's sight - not by what we do, but by what Jesus did for us. How do we accept it? Repentance and faith - Romans 10:9 and Mark 1:15. We need to turn from our sin and say sorry to God, and we need to genuinely believe that he has saved us. We are no more deserving of heaven then anyone else in the world - we deserve it as much as the liars, the murderers, the rapists. We are sinful, and in God's eyes no matter how much sin we have committed, we are in rebellion to him and deserve his wrath. Jesus is our only hope - we don't deserve it. Thats the beauty of the gospel. We don't deserve it, yet God offers it freely. His mercy and grace are far greater then I can fathom.

So why does this hope involve waiting patiently? Well Barnes linked this passage and the preceding verses to the suffering we face here, and I think it fits. We hope in heaven and we fix our eyes on God and his promises and that enables us to wait patiently and persevere when we face hardship here on earth. We will suffer if we are Christians, Paul affirms this in 2 Timothy 3:12 - "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted". We will suffer like anyone else, and we will suffer for our faith in Jesus. But it will be worth it, and our hope is a certain hope. It will be worth it - Romans 8:18 and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 come to mind: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." and "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." We will suffer here. No where in the bible are we told that we will not suffer. But God is with us (Hebrews 13:5, Zephaniah 3:17), he is in control (Romans 8:28), he will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13) and he will keep his promises. 

We have hope, and we have a hope which is worth waiting for. We need to desire heaven and hope for it strongly, and we need to wait patiently, serving God in our lives here and enduring suffering - trusting him also that he is using it for our good (1 Peter 1 and James 1:2-4). We have hope as Christians. So are you a Christian? Do you have this hope? If you are a Christian, do you believe this hope? Do you trust God that he is honest and truthful and will save? If you do then be encouraged! Be joyful, even in sufferings, because our suffering is nothing compared to the greatness of heaven and being in God's presence. It will all be worth it in the end for those who are in Christ! This is as much a lesson for me to learn from as anyone else who reads this.

God Bless!
Nat