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Thursday, June 22, 2006

"A Fixed Hope"

"Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:2,3).

When Brooksyne and I got married in 1976 we lived near a small town in Southern Missouri called Pleasant Hope. In fact our very first joint checking account was at the Bank of Pleasant Hope! I don't know the basis of this name but the names of many geographical locations have a religious significance, as they were settled by devout people.  One of the interesting village names here in Lancaster County is Mount Hope.  Since devout religious immigrants settled this area in the 18th century it likely represents an expression of faith.

Hope is one of the greatest of God's blessings.  Our relationship with God always involves faith, and active faith in Him always leads to hope.  When our faith in God is weak, inactive or non-existent we will either have no hope or a misplaced hope. 

As children of God there's a lot about our future, both the immediate and distant, that we just don't understand.  I believe this is the sense of the expression, "it has not appeared as yet what we will be."  I recall to this day a line from an old gospel hymn, "many things about tomorrow, I don't seem to understand, but I know who holds the future and I know who holds my hand."

The aged apostle John writes with such assurance, "we know that when He appears." His future appearance, although mocked and scorned by the world, is a fixed reality. At that time we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is!  Elsewhere the Scriptures refer to the return of Christ as the "Blessed Hope" and it truly is.

Today I am so blessed and challenged by the latter phrase in our daily text, "And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."  This hope is not a mere wish but an absolute certainty and leads to an unshakable confidence concerning the promise of God.

As a result of this we as God's children will purify ourselves because our coming Lord is absolutely pure. A study note on this passage states, "The Christian life is a process of becoming more and more like Christ.  This process will not be complete until we see Christ face to face, but knowing that this is our ultimate destiny should motivate us to purify ourselves.  To purify means to keep morally straight, free from the corruption of sin.  God also purifies us, but there is action we must take to remain morally fit."*

Genuine Christ-directed faith leads to a real hope and that leads to an amazing, unexplainable ability to rejoice whatever the circumstances.  Surely some of you are facing very trying circumstances as you read this.  Today I encourage you to focus on the hope we have in Christ and I end with a thought-provoking saying I really like.  "Man's way leads to a hopeless end, but God's way leads to an endless hope."  Amen!!!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen C. Weber

Brooksyne's Prayer: Jesus, we share the sentiment Paul expressed when he wrote, "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men."   But our hope is not limited to this earthly existence, but rather it flourishes and yields growing anticipation as we contemplate the blessed future event of our Lord's soon return.  Being so aware of our unworthiness and inclination to sin reminds us to fix our hope on You rather than the sins that so easily entangle leading to the broad road of destruction.  Purify our thoughts, actions, and conversation as we with renewed determination fix our hope on You.

In the message I referred to the song, "I know who holds tomorrow" by Ira E. Stanphill.  Many years ago Ira Stanphill pastored right here in Lancaster County! This morning I called the church to make sure. The church secretary affirmed this information.  In fact she remembers him personally since she attended while he was their pastor.  She is to be commended for her faithfulness to the Lord and her faithful attendance in this church. Here's an audio version (mp3) This music is from the website of the Decatur Baptist Church in Decatur, Alabama.

* Life Application Bible note for this passage.

Photo of stillwater cove on Raystown Lake
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Both photos today were taken by Nancy Martin, a friend of ours at Raystown Lake in central Pennsylvania .  I encourage you to click on these photos for a larger image and both also make great desktop backrounds for your computer screen.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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