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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Early Summer Scene
This farm is along our favorite walking trail about 1/2 mile from our home.
(Click here for a larger version.)

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Today's message is the first in a 3 part series from Romans 12:12

"Joyful In Hope"

"Be joyful in hope" (Romans 12:12).

When people ask where I live, I often tell them Lancaster County, Pennsylvania since many in America are somewhat familiar with our area and can mentally picture our beautiful rural region of the country.  Less familiar is the name of our small town, Mount Joy, which I really like to identify with (though we do live outside the borough limits.)

Mount Joy sounds as if its name might have originated from Scripture and prompts a consideration of many verses conveying joy.  However Mount Joy was actually named after an Irish ship rather than a mountain (since we are not on or near any mountain)! Another interesting village name here in Lancaster County is Mount Hope. It would be interesting to explore the derivation of this name.  Since many devout religious immigrants settled this area in the 18th century it is not unlikely that it represents an expression of faith.

There are many sources of joy in one's life; a newborn baby, a wedding, a milestone or accomplishment such as a graduation, job promotion, or retirement. People also find joy in activities such as sports or being a spectator at sporting events such as the current World Cup soccer matches.

Paul expresses, in the four words in our daily text, a blessed outlook for those belonging to Christ to "Be joyful in hope."  These four words prompted a personal study of the Word regarding our hope which I find very spiritually refreshing. Let us consider three reasons (even though there are many more) that prompts us to rejoice or to be joyful in our hope in Christ:

We have an anchor that keeps the soul1) Our hope in Christ is a secure hope. "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19).  The anchor theme is popular among songwriters but this is the only place in Scripture that anchor is used figuratively denoting the firm and secure hope we have in Christ. Many things on earth claim to be secure but only in Christ do we have real lasting security.

Sunset On Chesapeake Bay
2) Our hope in Christ is a constant hope.  The Psalmist wrote, "My hope is in you all day long." (Psalm 25:5).  Our spiritual hope in Christ doesn't diminish or fluctuate due to the vagaries of life. "Where morning dawns and evening fades You call forth songs of joy" (Psalm 65:8).  This verse is the basis of a song many of us have sung written in recent years titled "Your Name".

Soaring eagle3) Our hope in Christ is a strengthening hope. "Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31).  This is the great passage that speaks of mounting up with wings like eagles. The struggles and disappointments of life can be wearying and drain us of hope.  If we go forth in our own strength and wisdom we will soon exhaust ourselves of joyful hope and discouragement will set in. But when our hearts and our hopes are mounted in Christ, we will be carried above the difficulties.  We will be stronger in our faith and in our resolve to remain faithful no matter the circumstance.

Indeed hope is one of the greatest of God's blessings.  God's relationship with us always involves faith, and active faith in Him will always lead to hope.  When our faith in God is weak, inactive or non-existent we will either have no hope or misplaced hope.  Just consider the attitude of many toward the stock market, retirement accounts, world peace, etc.  Surely the Apostle Paul lived very simply, particularly compared to today's standards, yet what richness we find in the daily Scripture portion as he simply says, "Be joyful in hope."

Genuine Christ-directed faith leads to a real hope and that leads to an amazing, unexplainable ability to rejoice whatever the circumstances. That's why Paul could write in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, "Rejoice evermore."

Surely some of you today are facing very trying circumstances.  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 & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, our hope is steadfast and secure as we trust in You for everything we have need of.  We are grateful for Your divine presence and daily provision as we meet the challenges of each new day.  Our hope is not diminished with these challenges, for we depend not on our own strength or wisdom, but on the One whose hope is secure, constant, and strengthening. Help us to be patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

As I studied for today's message I examined qualities of hope in the Scriptures and want to share some additional verses I didn't use.

Sufficient hope: Psalm 65:5, "The hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas."

Fulfilling hope: Isaiah 49:23, "I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed." Romans 5:5 "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."  (Note: It's a challenge to find an antonym for disappoint!)

Comforting hope: Jeremiah 14:8, "O Hope of Israel, its Savior in times of distress."

Good hope: Lamentations 3:25, "The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him;

Overflowing hope: Romans 15:13, "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."

Saving hope: 1 Timothy 4:10, "We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe."

Living hope: 1 Peter 1:3, "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."

Amish barnraising (photographer unknown)Today I have been invited by an Amish friend to visit the building of a new Amish school near our home. I expect to see the same cooperative labor as the Amish are well-known for in barn building!  Here's another larger photo (not mine) of a barnraising.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

Today's suggested music is based on the three points security, constancy and strength.

We Have An AnchorSecurity:
"We Have An Anchor"  Video Sung by Robin Mark.  I am so very blessed by this grand old hymn and this is an especially beautiful version musically and includes photos. (This version only has one verse).  

Here's a more traditional version with more verses. Video

Verse 1
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.

Verse 2
It is safely moored, 'twill the storm withstand,
For 'tis well secured by the Savior's hand;
And the cables, passed from His heart to mine,
Can defy that blast, thro' strength divine.

Verse 3
It will firmly hold in the straits of fear,
When the breakers have told the reef is near;
Tho' the tempest rave and the wild winds blow,
Not an angry wave shall our bark o'erflow.

Verse 4
When our eyes behold thro' the gath'ring night
The city of gold, our harbor bright,
We shall anchor fast by the heav'nly shore,
With the storms all past forevermore.

"Your Name"  Video  Paul Baloche  This is the song referred to in today's message based on Psalm 65:8.

As morning dawns and evening fades,
You inspire songs of praise
That rise from earth to touch Your heart
And glorify Your Name

"Run"  Video  A song I heard for the first time this morning based on Isaiah 40:31.

"Everlasting God"  Video  Another song based on Isaiah 40:31.

Mountjoy  Photo of a replica of the sailing ship "Mountjoy" that is displayed on Main Street in Mount Joy, PA.

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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