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Tag Archives: hope

The Ark of God Captured

And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. In those days the Philistines mustered for war against Israel, and Israel went out to battle against them; they encamped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines encamped at Aphek. The Philistines drew up in line against Israel, and when the battle was joined, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the field of battle. When the troops came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord put us to rout today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, so that he may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” So the people sent to Shiloh, and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. When the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. When the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, “What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come to the camp, the Philistines were afraid; for they said, “Gods have come into the camp.” They also said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before.Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, in order not to become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; be men and fight.” So the Philistines fought; Israel was defeated, and they fled, everyone to his home. There was a very great slaughter, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. The ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died. (1 Samuel 4:1-11, NRSV)

I sit and wonder what one can say about this? Is there good news here?

And I’m struck with no. There is no good news here for the people of Israel. The Philistines have taken the Ark of the Covenant and those who brought it to Ebenezer have died.

It seems as though all is lost. But if you know the song Come Thou Font, you know the second verse is here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I come. And an Ebenezer is a good thing so our story here today is obviously not the end of the story.

And that is the hope we have every day. That in God the story of this day is never the end of the story.

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rejoice in suffering

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?” Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good. (1 Peter 4:12-19, NRSV)

Do not be surprised people are putting you through a fiery ordeal. Or that the world seems to be against you.

You need to rejoice in suffering for the way for the way of the Cross.

Seems a little backwards, rejoice in suffering!

Be glad you are being persecuted?

For God’s glory is shown through this. He will give you strength to withstand. Because you are delivering His message of hope, mercy and grace to the world and they just can not take it, so they make you suffer. So rejoice that you are following after God and know that He will never leave you nor forsake you!

 

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shake off the dust…

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 9:35-10:23, NRSV)

Jesus called the disciples to go and to share His message. And the instructions were clear. Take nothing with you, receive without payment and give without payment. Only wear what you need nothing more. When you enter a town find one place and dwell there while you are in that town. Give your peace to that place and if it will not accept your peace, take it back. And if they will not listen, shake the dust off your feet so you take none of that place with you and go on to those who will listen.

Seems a little harsh, but Jesus was trying to help the disciples I think. And He was saying if people won’t listen, it is ok, and it is there lose not yours. Do not get hung up on people not being perceptive to the message of grace, just move on to those who will be.

So when you encounter those who don’t want to hear the good news, just shake off the dust and move on…

 

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things not seen

Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet “in a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay; but my righteous one will live by faith. My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.” But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. (Hebrews 10:35-11:2, NRSV)

Faith is knowing that what we can’t see is for real. It is not shrinking back when the going gets tough, but it is walking faithfully knowing the things we can not yet see will be there. That the promises made to us are real. And that everything He said is true.

That is faith. Take a step and know He is with you!

 

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Worship and doubt

170109Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20, NRSV)

Is it possible to doubt and worship at the same time?

Verse 17 says “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” Funny thing is the word for some is not in the original Greek. But some scholars say because of the construction of the sentence it is implied. But in all other instances of this in extra-biblical writing, as this construction is not found anywhere else in the bible, the some is never added. So the disciples gathered on the mountain, and they saw Jesus and the worshiped and they doubted what they saw.

But this should not be a problem for us. Because they were still worshipping even though they were wondering how what they were seeing could possibly be. So next time you wonder or question, don’t worry, just hold on to faith, and hope and keep on worshipping!

 
 

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Hope!

170102Thus says the LORD:
A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.
Thus says the LORD:
Keep your voice from weeping,
and your eyes from tears;
for there is a reward for your work, says the LORD:
they shall come back from the land of the enemy;
there is hope for your future, says the LORD:
your children shall come back to their own country.
(Jeremiah 31:15-17, NRSV)

There is hope for your future!

Hope is expecting things when there is no reason to expect them.

Hope is believing that God will always be there, even when we can not see God.

Hope is that which keeps us going on days when we would otherwise give up.

Hope is the promise of God.

Hold on to hope!

 

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not because

161228But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7, NRSV)

Not because of what you have done or didn’t do.

But because of His mercy!

Through the inpouring of the Holy Spirit and through the rebirth of His mercy we are made heirs to the kingdom according to the hope of eternal life!

So know it is not because of you, it is a because of Jesus.

 

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