The prophet Isaiah wished to make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the Lord (Isaiah 63:7). Truly, our God is great in every way and in the area of compassion He is no less great.
We live in a world full of trouble these days. That is probably a statement that every generation has been able to truly repeat. There have been wars and rumors of wars since the day Jesus walked the land of Palestine (Matthew 24). He also warned of famines and earthquakes; He could just as easily have included volcanoes and tornadoes. All of these things have continued just as He said they would for the last 2,000 years. And each new round of socio/political or even climatological catastrophes brings out modern-day prophets who claim to have figured out the day and the hour of Christ’s return, which He Himself said was unknowable (Matthew 24:36; 25:13).
Whatever the future holds, there is one thing we know and One Source of comfort upon which we can depend, and that is Jehovah God! Yes, dear prophet, tell us again of the lovingkindnesses of our Lord. In these difficult days, my friends, look to Him and remember: He loves you and so do I.
Yesterday, our Scripture reading before the evening sermon was Psalm 90:1, 2: Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. What an encouragement it is to know that our God is God!
Recently a line in a movie caught my attention. A character was asked why his army was defeated when fighting against the “weak” Israelites. His response: “Their god is God!” That’s a great line for a movie, but it just so happens to be true.
Our hearts go out to those affected by so many weather-related catastrophes as we have seen this year. However, there are many other tragedies that have befallen people all around the globe. Perhaps you are one of them. Through it all, our God is God!
The right legislation from Congress will not solve your problems. Political maneuvering will not take away all your suffering. God stands ready to help you through the suffering in this life in preparation for the next. He’s ready because He loves you, and so, by the way, do I.
Scripture teaches that Christians have been saved in hope (Romans 8:24). It’s an easy statement to understand. However, sometimes hope seems fleeting. We suffer from this problem, or at the hands of that enemy, and we wonder where hope got off to.
The problem may be a failure to look at the problems we have in this life from the right perspective. We may be using our human reasoning too much in trying to understand why we suffer.
When we suffer, we want answers. We want to see (reason, understand) all the “whys” and “wherefores.” However, look at all of what Paul said on this: For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it (Romans 8:24, 25).
So, our hope of salvation is not dependent upon what we see (suffering, or a perfect understanding of it), but upon what we do not see (the promise of victory in the end).
You may not be able to see it, but God really does love you and so do I.
When I’m suffering, I don’t like people telling me that there is a reason, or that I need to look at the big picture, or that it could be worse. I want sympathy and I want it full of expressions of how completely undeserving of this suffering I am!! Makes you want to rush right over to my side when you hear I’m suffering, doesn’t it? NOT!!!
The apostle Peter gives us a great perspective on suffering in 1 Peter 1:3-9. The fact is, there is a reason for our suffering; perhaps many reasons. The basic reason is that we are still in this life where suffering exists. The apostle’s point is that how we endure that suffering is of paramount importance in our being happy in the next life. Yes, we are distressed for a little while with various trials, but if we prove to be faithful in enduring these trials…well, the future looks bright!
So, I guess I do need to look at the big picture, after all; and not focus on myself and my suffering, but on what lies ahead. I may be undeserving of my suffering, or I may be the chief cause of it. Either way, God gives me strength (and responsibility) to endure. He does that because He loves me. And He loves you, too, and so do I.
The apostle Paul begins his epistle to the Colossians with praise, telling them that he gives thanks to God in his prayers for their faith and their love for the saints (fellow Christians), which he says is a result of the hope laid up for you in heaven, which they found in hearing the Gospel (Colossians 1:3-5).
His statement teaches us that hope facilitates faith and love. In other words, by hearing the Gospel, and obeying it, we can have hope; and with hope, having the faith to continue to live according to the Gospel’s instructions, and loving others becomes much easier to do.
In encouraging others, we want to offer hope to the hopeless. The greatest hope, hope of eternal life, comes through faithfulness to the eternal Gospel of Jesus Christ! With that hope in place, the faith to endure difficulty in life and the ability to love, even our enemies, is “doable.” I “hope” you find that as encouraging as I do. I also hope you know that God loves you and so do I.
The words that form the title of this post come from Romans 5:5. However, I would like to offer some words of encouragement from another passage that gives strength to Paul’s statement that hope does not disappoint.
In his great lesson on the resurrection, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19: If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. His point is very clearly that we can also hope in Christ for a resurrection to be with Him throughout eternity. I actually keyed in on the little, seemingly unimportant word “only” in this verse. I say “seemingly” because this word is far from being unimportant.
Without ignoring the great promise of the resurrection that faithful Christians look forward to, that word “only” means that we do have hope in Christ in this life, as well as, in the life to come. The hope of the resurrection makes living this life easier, to be sure, but I know the strength to endure this life and have that hope comes from Christ, and it comes now through the promises found in Scripture that I can endure (James 1:2-4, et. al.).
Remember: God loves you and so do I.
In 2 Chronicles 30 King Hezekiah invited all of Israel and Judah to come to Jerusalem to re-institute and celebrate the Passover as part of his reforms as the new king. In verse 22 we read: Then Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good insight in the things of the LORD. The word the NASB translates as “encouragingly” literally means “to the heart.”
True encouragement connects. It is true that part of the responsibility for that connection is on the part of the one being encouraged. Some people simply refused to be encouraged and the connection is not made. However, a genuine effort to encourage from the heart is more likely to succeed in connecting to the heart of someone who needs encouragement.
From my heart, I want you to know that God loves you and so do I. I have ended every Barnabas Notes with that statement. I hope that it connects to your heart. I do not say it just because it’s now the tag line for BN. I say it because it’s true and I truly believe you need to know it. I encourage you to love Him back (John 14:15).