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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cape Sebastion (photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt)
Cape Sebastion in Oregon
(photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt)

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"Living Hope"

"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" (1 Peter 1:3).

In my Scripture study this Easter season I went through the New Testament and compiled all the verses dealing with the resurrection of Christ beginning in Acts.  I want to share just one of these today with our readers.

The daily Scripture provides a rich assurance to all believers and reminds us that the source of our authentic hope is founded in Christ. The apostle Peter opens his epistle with a content-filled praise toward God and I am genuinely blessed by the simple phrase "a living hope."  This phrase has become a popular name for churches and ministries although this is the only place in the Bible where it is used.

Hope is a powerful emotion we all have need of, though many allow their thoughts to petrify into feelings of hopelessness. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians concerning those "who have no hope." Hopelessness and despair can easily take a grip on our emotions and affect our outlook can't they?  The great hymn writer Isaac Watts provides an interesting description: "Despair tells us that difficulty is insurmountable."

The "living hope" for the follower of Christ is a result of God's great mercy and the new birth He has given us, which is grounded in the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  The apostle Peter wrote these words to encourage believers undergoing various trials and persecution.  Some thirty years after Christ's resurrection the church entered a time of horrific persecution during Nero's reign.  It was shortly after this that Peter was likely martyred for his faith.

What a tremendous encouragement this reminder of their present standing with God was for these early believers!  They, like us, had come to faith on the basis of the testimony of Peter and other eyewitnesses to the resurrection.  They, and everyone since, are among those referred to by Jesus when He spoke to Thomas: "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).

All of us who trust in Christ have this living hope.  As we live out our lives we have many of the same problems as others.  But our perspective differs based on an empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  Our hope is alive and our eternal future awaits us, no matter the present circumstances. Billy Graham characteristically states it so simply: "As a Christian I have hope not just for this life,  but for Heaven and the life to come."

Today we need to take hold of our living hope.  Don’t lose sight of it. The writer of Hebrews spoke of this hope as "an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."  As God's children we have a living hope and an assurance that God will see us through.  I encourage you this day to keep the presence of our living hope ever before you!  I promise you, in doing so you will be encouraged!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, help me not to waste my time and energy in futile or wishful thinking.  Instead I want to fix my thoughts upon the living hope I have in Jesus Christ my Lord.  I anchor my soul in the bedrock of Your Holy Word so that when other viewpoints counter the truths prescribed in Your Word my anchor remains firm and secure.  When difficulties appear insurmountable remind me that I serve an extraordinary God who does not rely on natural solutions but works in the supernatural realm to meet each one of my needs.  Your solutions to my problems are not subject to my scrutiny but rather I conform to Your leading and accept Your plan for my life.  In doing so I am not tossed to and fro by wishful thinking but I am firmly grounded in the living hope of our resurrected Lord and Savior.  It is in His name that I pray, Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"The Solid Rock" Lifespring Hymn Stories podcast We recently discovered this well produced podcast that features the stories of great hymns along with a quality audio version of the hymn, although in a style that may very well surprise you (such as today's!).  Here's the podcast main page.

"The Solid Rock"  Audio  Another version.

"My Life Is In You Lord"  Audio from here.

"I Know Whom I have Believed"  Audio instrumental

Here's a great story illustrating bold faith!  Video

Today's photo is by Howard J. Blichfeldt and is used with his permission. His website is here. Howard has given me permission to place a Scripture verse, hymn portion or part of a quote on his work (as I did today).  These work great as desktop background photos to reinforce your faith and encourage others. To make this (or any photo) a desktop background merely right click and select "set as background"

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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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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