Hope for the Future – December 2013

Kristina and I were listening to the news and having one of those, “Can you believe how bad things are getting,” talks recently. Actually, evil has been in our society for a long time. We would be outraged if we lived in a society where people had slaves. Yet Americans, including many Christians, lived with slaves and justified their actions for two hundred years.

I get upset because many Christians do not read the Bible consistently. Because of biblical ignorance, they lack wisdom. They get manipulated by the media, and intimidated by prevailing cultural attitudes. In Germany in the 1930’s, the nominally Christian population was so swayed by anti-Semitism that they allowed the Nazis to persecute the Jews. If they had read and believed their Bibles, they would have realized that God chose the Jews, and he loves the Jews. Though the Jews were rejected and reviled in Europe, they were not forsaken by God. Out of the Holocaust, Israel was reborn. The Jews now have a homeland that will never again be taken away from them. The purpose of God can, and will, be fulfilled in spite of wickedness in men.

Many people are pessimist when it comes to our country. They’re alarmed by our national debt, the costs of our unfunded entitlement programs, and our new healthcare obligations. They believe our ship of state is heading for the rocks. Yet there are other realities besides the pessimistic ones which drive our news cycles. In the midst of recent recession, I have several friends who made bold investments. Some of them bought real estate when prices were way down. Others bought stocks when the stock market had sunk to the bottom. When others took their losses and pulled out, they doubled down and made investments in our comeback. Those who believed that our economy would recover have been rewarded.

I do not know the economic future of America, and I’m not much of a financial investor. However, I do have talents to invest, and I know God’s kingdom is the best investment we can make. God has given talents to each of us. We are commanded to invest those talents to bring a return for God’s kingdom. In the same way that an economic downturn can provide opportunities for wise investors to make quality purchases at bargain prices, a spiritually dark environment can enable our gifts and talents to shine brightly and multiply significantly.

In 60 AD, the Apostle Paul wrote to believers living in the darkness of the Roman culture. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 16:13)
God gives us joy and peace as we trust Him in all circumstances. I pray you will trust God this New Year. As you trust God, He will fill you with hope, so that you can shine like a light with your family, at work and among your friends. We can have hope because we know the word of God is true. We know that Jesus Christ is Lord, and God’s kingdom will always advance.

Jesus is the Word made flesh. He also has the last word. He has spoken about what is right and wrong, what is true and false. People cannot make up their own rules about who enters God’s kingdom and who does not. If you believe in Jesus, you have been chosen to make your light shine in this world. It is our privilege to serve the Lord and to love Him with all our hearts.

Sunday Preview

December 12, 2013

I just returned from a fruitful ministry trip to Ecuador, a South American nation in the midst of great transformation. I was able to speak to hundreds of ministry leaders from churches stretching from Guayaquil to Cuenca. In the weeks to come I’m looking forward to sharing with you some of the amazing things I saw the Lord doing in this tropical land.

This Sunday my sermon is called, “A Grace Filled Life” from Luke 1:26-38. This passage tells the story of the angel Gabriel’s visit to a humble Jewish girl named Mary. Mary was told that God had chosen her to be the mother of Jesus. She was initially very disturbed by Gabriel’s message. Her life was about to be turned upside down. She had dedicated herself to being a servant of the Lord, so she chose to cooperate with a plan that was more amazing than she could have ever imagined. Mary was not chosen because she was sinless, beautiful, wealthy or powerful. She was transformed by the grace of God. Her child has brought salvation to the world.

Mary’s life is a pattern for our lives. We too have been chosen by God and transformed by his grace. As we cooperate with God’s plan, Christ is formed in us, and we bring the grace of salvation in Jesus’ name. Let’s pray that the Lord’s presence will be revealed as we come together to worship this weekend. God has great things in store for Living Streams in the days to come.