The End. Of the Beginning.

February 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Videos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1eIMZePiNM

He Came To Me!

December 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Message of the Month

Read Luke 10:30-36

The message of Christmas, which is the message of Christianity, can be summed up in a sentence taken from a popular gospel song: “When I could not go to where He was, He came to me!”  Nowhere is this truth illustrated as tangibly and powerfully as in the story Jesus gave that we call the “Good Samaritan.”  By primary interpretation, Jesus never gave this parable for the purpose of telling the Christmas story. Yet by secondary application we see it fleshed out in the deeds of the Good Samaritan. Jesus is the ultimate, original Good Samaritan. In Jesus, God made humanity His neighbor, when the Word became flesh and pitched His tent among us! 

The Miserable Lost  

We read in Luke 10:30: “Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” Mindful that this is not the primary interpretation of this story, permit me, for the sake of analogy, to allow the man who was assaulted in the story represent Adam, the first and foremost representative of our entire race. In the Garden of Eden, Adam turned his back on the Heavenly Jerusalem, the place of God’s presence and peace, and headed down to Jericho, the place of the curse. But he no sooner turns his desires toward the world, than he falls under the power of him who is a robber, a murderer, and a destroyer — the Devil (John 8:44). In Adam’s tragic fall, we sinned all! In him we were: (1) robbed of our true nature; (2) stripped of our right standing; (3) mortally wounded by sin; (4) and unable to rise in recovery. 

Sin and Satan have robbed man of his honor, defaced the image of God in him, deprived him of the glory of God, and stripped him of his original covering of righteousness.  

The Merciless Law  

Luke 10:31-32, “Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.” 

The moral law, as represented by the priest, and the ceremonial law, as represented by the Levite, combine to inform us that no mercy is to be expected from the law. It must pass by on the other side for it has neither pity nor power to resolve our plight. It cannot make any allowance for the fall and weakness of man. It is perfect and will not accept the imperfect. It is deaf to all repentance, remorse, and tears. There is no mercy for a soul naked of the robe of righteousness. By the law is the knowledge of sin. Through the agency of the law there is no healing for a wounded conscience; no pity from it, no justification by it, no pardon through it, no atonement of sin by obedience to it, no word of comfort is spoken by it. When the law of God comes with power, it opens up the wounds of sin, fills the conscience with wrath and terror, destroys all man’s former hopes of happiness, and leaves him where he found him! 

The Merciful Lord  

In John 8:48, the Jews called Jesus a demonized Samaritan. Although he wasn’t a Samaritan by birth, by choice he was, for like the Samaritans, He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Despite man’s attitude toward Him, he came to me! He journeyed to earth. He came down. 

A father was quizzing his young son about the content of his Sunday School lesson that was taken from the book of Daniel and the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and their experience in the fiery furnace.  “Look,” cried the king, “did not I cast three men into the furnace?  But there are four, and the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:24-25). The father’s questions were met with the usual nonchalance of a dispassionate young pupil.  “Aw,” the boy said, “it was all about three men who fell into the fire.”  

“But,” the father persisted, “God helped them out, didn’t He?”  

“Naw,” the boy answered, “He fell in, too!”  What a profound insight! 

One incredible night, almost two thousand years ago, God fell into the fire of our human dilemma. Condescending to leave the glories of Heaven, He condensed Himself to fit the confines of a Virgin’s womb and be born in a foul-smelling cow stable in an obscure little town called Bethlehem. This birth was the inauguration of the “Good Samaritan’s Mission.” 

God became man. Yet, although He became what He was not previously, He never ceased to be all that He was before, that is God. He was just as much God if He were not man and just as much man as if He were not God. As a Son of Mary, He rested on her bosom without a human father. As the Son of God, He rested on the bosom of the Eternal Father without a Mother. As the Son of Mary, He is held in the arms of His frail mother. As the Son of God, He upholds all things by the Word of His power. As the Son of Mary, He lived in a simple house making furniture out of wood. As the Son of God his garment was space, his house was the universe, the clouds his chariots, the stars his diadem. This universe was spoken into existence by the Word of His power. 

1. HE CAME WHERE I WAS  

In order to fulfill His assignment as the “Good Samaritan,” He had to come to us. In order to get to us the Son of God must experience the eclipse his choicest glory; for this, God must be made a man, eternity must suffer death, the Lord of angels must weep in a cradle, and the Creator of the world must hang like a slave.  He must be born in a manger in Bethlehem, and die upon a cross on Calvary; unspotted righteousness must be made sin, and unblemished blessedness must be made a curse. The Righteous was given for sin, the Innocent for criminals, and the Glory of Heaven for the dregs of earth.

Jesus had to come down from Heaven’s glory, down to Bethlehem’s stable, down to Gethsemane’s agony, down to Calvary’s horror, down to the grave’s incarceration. Jesus uncrowned himself to crowns us; he put off his robes to put on our rags; he came down from Heaven to keep us out of Hell; he came down from Heaven to earth that he might take us from earth to Heaven when we die!  And Jesus did what he did without our deserving it or even desiring it!

When I could not, yea, would not, go to where He was, He came to me! 

2. HE SAW ME WITH COMPASSION  

Luke 10:33, “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.” Christ saw His fallen people before the fall, as they were chosen in Him, and given to Him, in all the glory they were brought into; when He loved them, and His delight was with them. When He came down to earth to redeem His Bride, He saw them lost, weak, wicked, ungodly, enemies and children of wrath — yet in compassion and love for them, He clothed Himself in their nature, took their law place, and bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood! Sealed my pardon with His blood! Hallelujah! What a Savior! How deep is the love of Christ? It is deep enough to reach the lowest, the meanest, the vilest, the least, the loveless, the most lost of sinners. 

In Luke 15, Jesus gave a three-part parable of the lost sheep, the lost silver, and the lost sons which revealed an amazing portrait of God.  It portrays Him as the grieving, seeking, loving, finding God who rejoices when a lost soul is brought back into relationship with Him. This special love of God obviates recrimination, reproof, and remuneration and offers full reconciliation and restoration. Luke 15:20, “When the father saw him a long way off, he ran to meet him and fell on his neck and kissed him.” 

The song writer said in such a soul-stirring way as he testifies, “I was lost, but Jesus found me; found the sheep that went astray.  Threw His loving arms around me, drew me back into His way.”

 Francis Thompson, author of the classic poem, “Hound of Heaven,” was an opium addict in London who was on the run from God. During the day, he would get high on dope and then go to the Thames River to sleep on its banks. Often he would prowl around in the trash until he found a newspaper. After reading it, he would write absolutely brilliant articles the editor. One day while rummaging around in the trash he came across a Bible and begin to read it. He was especially enthralled by the story of Jacob and how God finally ran him down and came to where he was. 

As he continued to dwell on that story day after day, something miraculous happened. Francis describes his conversion in the poem, “Hound of Heaven”: “Yea, in the night, my Soul, my Daughter, Cry ?? clinging Heaven by the hems; And lo, Christ walking on the water not of Galilee, but Thames!”  He came to where Francis Thompson was and captured his heart forever. 

3. HE HEALED ME UP  

Luke 10:34, “So he went to him and bandaged his wounds.” 

Our “Good Samaritan” came to make us whole. There is more to being whole or healthy than not being physically sick.  There are many different types of sickness and thus the need for many different types of healing. For example there is a healing of the spirit, a healing of the hurts of the past, a healing of the demonized, and a healing of the body.

Healing of the Spirit begins with a miracle — a spiritual heart transplant (Ezek 36:25  “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. (26)  “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.(27)  “And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”)

We need to be healed of the hurts of the past. These “soul?bruises” affect our relationship with God by producing false concepts of what he is like. This causes the person to be tormented by guilt, unworthiness, and fear of God’s judgment. It affects relationships within ourselves. The hurts of the past cause us to become angry, bitter, and rejected. It causes an inability to give and receive love. Soul-bruises leaves its victim chronically depressed, physically ill, and neurotically perfectionistic. Hurts of the heart affects relationships with other. Fearful of others finding out about our past. Fearful of getting close for fear of being hurt.

All of us have a desperate need to feel important to someone that really matters; to feel valuable, loved, admired, accepted, approved, and affirmed in life. But our inheritance of a sin principle, the things that happen to us or are done to us, coupled with our own personal involvement in sin causes us to spin webs of inferiority, inadequacy, guilt, rejection, unworthiness, and insecurity. This causes us to be guarded, protective of our emotional turf, withdrawn, feeling unloved, unaccepted and making it very hard to show and give love. This produces the barriers of personal inferiority, spiritual insecurity, and relational incompatibility. But our “Heavenly Good Samaritan” comes to bind up the broken hearted and set at liberty them that are bruised.

4. HE FILLED ME UP

Luke 10:34, “… pouring on oil and wine;” In ancient times wine was sometimes poured into wounds. Its alcoholic content served to aid in the healing of sores and wounds by killing bacteria which had infected the lacerations.  The blood of the Lord Jesus heals our sores for “by His stripes we are healed.”  I think we might say with Chrysostom, that the wine is the blood of the Passion and the oil the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

The old life of sin leaves many wounds, but He who was wounded for our transgressions can heal the deepest of heart wounds. If the sin-scars are not removed, the sin-fester is cleansed by the oil of the Holy Spirit’s presence. “Such were some of you,” says the Lord, in reminding the saints in Corinth of their former associates in iniquity; but He also says, “but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, by the Spirit of our God” ( 1Cor 6:11).

The oil of the Holy Spirit’s grace comes to us because of the “Good Samaritan’s” atoning sacrifice. The olive oil had to be beaten out of the fruit or pressed out by the mill. This serves to remind us that in order for the gift of the “oil: the Holy Spirit to be poured upon us, Jesus had to pressed by awful sorrow in Gethsemane, beaten by wicked hands at Gabbatha, and crushed by Divine wrath at Golgotha. Pentecost is made possible only by the Passover.

5. HE PICKED ME UP

Luke 10:34,  “… and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”

“Oh amazing truth to ponder, the Lord Jesus, sinking to our deepest dishonor, raises us to His highest glory. Sinking Himself with our fallen humanity, He raises us to union with God. Substituting Himself for us, He makes us one with Himself. The love of our Good Samaritan has lifted us up from the dust of our sinful past, from the ash heap of our impoverished positions as bankrupt prodigal sons, and has washed us from our sins in His own precious blood and made us kings and priest unto our God.

The love of Jesus has lifted us out of the kingdom of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son where we have been made fellow members of the household of faith, heirs of the Father and joint heirs with the Son.

His love is high enough to exalt us from guilty sinners awaiting execution on death row to glorified sons enjoying eternal life in the present ?? all the while we are waiting to enter the never ending bliss of Heaven!

“O amazing gift to ponder. He whom angel hosts attend, Lord of Heaven, God’s Son, what wonder, He became the sinner’s friend.

O glorious gift of Christ my Lord Divine, that stooped to save a soul like mine! My song will silence never, I’ll worship Him forever and praise Him for his glorious love!

6. HE SET ME UP

Luke 10:35, “On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him;”

King David graphically depicted man’s plight in sin and God’s rescue from that condition in Psalm 40:1-3a, “I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. {2} He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. {3} He has put a new song in my mouth; Praise to our God;”

Hallelujah! Jesus came down into the pit of our fallen condition to get us, brought us up, cleaned us up, set us up, and tuned us up — putting a new song in our mouths, even praise to our God. He has set me up and I shall not be moved. He’s my rock; He’s my fortress; He’s my Deliverer, in Him will I trust!

7. HE WILL TAKE ME UP

Luke 10:35b,” and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.” He came to me! When I could not go to where He was, He came to me! And guess what? He is coming again for me! He left behind a note that reads: “Dear Son, I have gone to the Father’s house to prepare your dwelling place. Will return soon. Jesus”!

The Christmas story is one of love coming to the rescue. No human illustration can ever begin to come close to capturing the full import of the redeeming mission of our “Good Samaritan.” With this “inadequacy” in mind, Ravi Zacharias, in his newsletter, tells a true story of love coming to the rescue of the rejected:

“Born in an impoverished home in Romania, little George came into the world without any arms. His distraught parents, believing George’s condition to be the results of a curse upon them, and being too poor to raise him with this handicap, gave him up to an orphanage. Laying in a crib, in filthy conditions, with several other babies, as people would walk by they would abruptly turn their glances away from baby George, for to them, too, his condition bespoke of an evil omen. Unloved, unwanted, helpless and hopeless seemed baby George’s plight. But God in His in His mercy had other plans. A Christian adoption agency heard of baby George’s condition and ran his story in their newsletter — a newsletter that had world?wide circulation. A lovely young couple in Connecticut, upon reading the story, felt impressed to adopt the baby. After several weeks of working with the adoption agency, the couple was told that in order to adopt the baby they must come to Romania and answer the questions of George’s mother.

After the two families met, through an interpreter the mother expressed fear and puzzlement at their interest. She said, “I have heard that in America they use babies like George for spare parts. Why do you want my severely handicapped child?  The young American couple had brought with them a Romania Bible just in case they got an opportunity to share their faith, so rather than attempting to answer, they opened the Bible to Psalm 139 and held it out to the mother to read. Quietly she begin to read, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made … my frame was not hidden from you … How precious to me are your thoughts O God! How vast is the sum of them.”

As she read those majestic words, the tears flowed uncontrollably down her face, and clutching the Bible to her heart she said good?bye to her son and handed him over to the keeping of his new parents.

The baby that nobody wanted; the baby that when the Americans came to adopt him, was one year old and weighed only nine pounds; that baby is today a fully contented, normal weight, bouncing 18 month old boy, with an extraordinary mental capacity, and with an ability to use his toes that most children of his age do not have with their fingers.

When baby George was weak, helpless and hopeless, they came to him from a foreign country, lifted him up from his condition as an armless, unwanted orphan; cleaned him up, clothed him up, and took him to their home to live as their beloved son!

That is the message of Christmas — Jesus has come to where you are. He wants to heal your wounds, clothe your nakedness, and fill you with his presence and power, set you up in safety and security, with the promise to never leave you nor forsake you. All those whom he picks up in salvation, He leaves in the care of the Heavenly Innkeepers, the Church. The Church is directed by the Universal Innkeeper Manager, the Holy Spirit with the promise to eventually personally return for us.

Glory to God in the Highest!

Prisoners of Hope -Part One

January 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Message of the Month

Recovering All the Hope Available

in the Age of Advantage!

 

The Text for our Recovery of Hope: Rom 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

The Confession for Our Recovery of Hope: “I am Recommitting myself to Father God in order to be Reawakened by the Spirit of God to Rediscover the Supremacy of the Son of God for the Recovery of ALL the HOPE Available in this Age of Advantage!”

 

Prisoners of Hope! –Part 1

Zech. 9:9-13

 Intro – In the first eight verses of this chapter, we are shown a prophetic vision. This Holy Spirit-inspired revelation was fulfilled some two hundred plus years later in the conquests of Alexander the Great, especially over the Syrians and Persians. During these events, we are told that favor would be shown to Jerusalem, and God’s vengeance would be exacted against the enemies and oppressors of His people, along with His protecting care over His people themselves. This happened as prophesied.

 Contemplating these soon to come events, and the career of that mighty pagan prince and warrior – Alexander the Great – Zechariah the prophet is moved by the Holy Spirit to see down through the corridors of history to a King and a Conqueror of a very different description. He sees Yeshua Hamashiach – the Messiah – the Christ– King Jesus! That these verses point to the first advent of Christ is an opinion entertained both by Jewish and Christian expositors. Matthew 21:4, is the fulfillment of this prophecy as King Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem.

The people of Zechariah’s day were still prisoners under the yoke of a foreign government. They had waited so long for the fulfilling of the promises of God that they were no longer “standing on these promises” but just sort of “sitting on the premises”! Their dreams had been shattered, the future appeared ever so shaky, and hope seemed to mock them! Through the prophet, God says, “View yourselves, not as prisoners of horrible governments, but as “prisoners of hope” in Holy God!” “Prisoners of hope” is a description applied to the Israelites because they had by way of God’s blood covenant the hope of redemption. They were captives who have good hope of deliverance because they are still in covenant with God.

 Some of those under the sound of my voice have lost heart and hope over a promise God gave you; over a personal dream that hasn’t been fulfilled; over the future of the church; over the future – period! You have come to feel that pessimism about the future is your best defense against further disappointment. If so, it’s time to let hope arise and do a little of the “Messiah’s Math” on your outlook on life. Let Him divide “disappointment”: and subtract a “d” and add an “h”! This will cause you to see the happenings of life as “His – Appointments” that will bring you to seeing His will done, His name hallowed, and His kingdom coming more fully in you and through you for His glory and your good! You then will become a captive, a detainee, a Prisoner of HOPE!

 I. We are Prisoners of Hope to an Undefeatable Gospel – Cols 1:23; 2 Thess 2:16

A. Captivated by the Good Hope of Christ’s Promises

 II. We are Prisoners of Hope to an Unseen and Unclear Vision of Christ – 1 Cors 13:12

A. Captivated with the Greatness of Christ’s Person!

 III. We are Prisoners of Hope to an Unredeemed Body – Roms 8:23-25

A. Captivated by the Glory of Christ’s Provisions!

 IV. We are Prisoners of Hope to an Ungathered Family – Rev 7:9

A. Captivated by the Gathering of Christ’s People!

 I. We are Prisoners of Hope to an Undefeatable Gospel – Cols 1:23; 2 Thess 2:16

 A. Captivated by the Good Hope of Christ’s Promises

Cols 1:23, “If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;”

 2Thess. 2:16, “ Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 2:17  comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”

Let’s review our definitions of HOPE — Biblical Hope is the Confident Expectation and Desire for Something Good from God in the Future with the Expectation of Receiving It!

Biblical hope is a future security and certainty grounded in a present reality – and the present reality is the indwelling, infilling presence of the Holy Spirit – who is the Other Jesus without a body. Cols 1:27b, Christ in you the hope of glory.

 Prisoners of hope see the gospel as God-authored, Christ-centered, Cross-shaped, Resurrection-empowered, kingdom-based, devil-defeating, world-impacting, and God-glorifying

Rom 1:1  Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.  God is the author of it and the One who puts it into effect. It achieves what He wants it to, and in the way He determines. It deals with the problems that He perceives and defines. It doesn’t primarily deal with our needs as we perceive them-how can I live a better life, overcome my hang-ups, have purpose and meaning in my life, be successful, miss hell and make heaven when I die – although it includes these. The gospel is God’s way of dealing with His “problem” of how He, a holy and just God, can justify and accept sinners like you and me. Only God’s wisdom and work is great enough to devise a plan that will achieve this.

 The gospel of God in Christ overcomes ever enemy that would rob us of the Joy of the Lord:

It overcomes divine wrath, as he becomes a curse for us; real guilt, as he becomes forgiveness for us; lawbreaking, as he becomes righteousness for us; estrangement from God, as he becomes reconciliation for us; slavery to Satan, as he becomes redemption for us; bondage to sin, as he becomes liberation for us; pangs of conscience, as we becomes cleansing for us; death, as the becomes the resurrection for us; hell, and eternal death, as he becomes eternal life for us.”

 The gospel is a good news announcement of total victory, immeasurable power, and exhaustless provision.

 Beloved, for the most part, few of us are “Prisoners of hope to an undefeatable gospel”! We believe the gospel is big enough to keep a few us out of hell and get us into heaven, but doubt that it’s big and powerful enough to defeat the world, the flesh and all the forces of hell that are arrayed against it.

 Baptist pastor, Charles Spurgeon, was a “prisoner of hope in an undefeatable gospel!”

 Preaching from the text of Mt. 8:11-12,“And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” – he shows himself to be a prisoner of hope in an undefeatable gospel:

 “Some narrow-minded bigots think that heaven will be a very small place, where there will be a very few people, who went to their chapel or their church. I confess, I have no wish for a very small heaven, and love to read in the Scriptures that there are many mansions in my Father’s house. My friend, do you think that Christ will let the devil beat him? That he will let the devil have more in hell than there will be in heaven? No: it is impossible. For then Satan would laugh at Christ. God says, that “there will be a number that no man can number who will be saved;” but he never says that there will be a number that no man can number that will be lost. There will be a host beyond all count who will get into heaven.

 They are to “come from the east and west.” The Jews said that they would all come from Palestine, every one of them, every man, woman, and child; that there would not be one in heaven that was not a Jew. And the Pharisees thought that if they were not all Pharisees they could not be saved. But Jesus Christ said there will be many that will come from the east and from the west. There will be a multitude from that far off land of China, for God is doing a great work there, and we hope that the gospel will yet be victorious in that land. There will be a multitude from this western land of England; from the western country beyond the sea, in America; and from the south, in Australia; and from the north, in Canada, Siberia, and Russia. From the uttermost parts of the earth there shall come many to sit down in the kingdom of God…

 Now he has said here, “many shall come.” The devil says, “they shall not come “but “they shall come.” Their sins say, “you can’t come;” God says, you “shall come.” You, yourselves, say, “we won’t come;” God says, “you shall come.” Yes! there are some here who are laughing at salvation, who can scoff at Christ, and mock at the gospel; but I tell you some of you shall come yet. “What!” you say, “can God make me become a Christian?” I tell you yes, for here in rests the power of the gospel. It does not ask your consent, but it gets it. It does not say will you have it, but it makes you willing in the day of God’s power. Not against your will, but it makes you willing. It shows you its value, -and then you fall in love with it, and straightway you run after it and have it.

 They shall come! They shall come! You may laugh, you may despise us; but Jesus Christ shall not die for nothing. If some of you reject him, there are some that will not. If there are some that are not saved, others shall be. Christ shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. They shall come! They shall come! And nought in heaven, nor on earth, nor in hell, can stop them from coming.”

 Scottish missionary to Africa, David Livingstone wrote: “That the salvation of men ought to be the chief desire and aim of every Christian.” He said, “I hope to be permitted to work as long as I live beyond other men’s line of things and plant the seed of the Gospel where others have not planted.”

 With the firm belief in an “undefeatable gospel”, he set sail for dark, dangerous Africa in 1840. It took him 3 months by sailing ship to reach Cape Town and another 4 months by ox cart before he even reached Robert Moffat’s mission station at Kuruman where he would begin his work for the Lord in Africa.

 During his first missionary journey with his wife and children, their 4th child, Elizabeth, was born. Within a few weeks she had died and the rest of the family were sick. He received much criticism for the “irresponsibility” of taking a wife and 4 children on a missionary journey in the wilderness. Later he was criticized for sending his family back to Britain while he pioneered the remote regions of Africa. When his wife rejoined him for his second great missionary expedition in the Zambezi valley she died of malaria.

 “I shall open up a path in to the interior or perish.” He declared. “May He bless us and make us blessings even unto death.” “Shame upon us missionaries if we are to be outdone by slave traders!” “If Christian missionaries and Christian merchants could remain throughout the year in the interior of the continent, in 10 years, slave dealers will be driven out of the market.”

 Battling rains, chronic discomfort, rust, mildew and rot, totally drenched and fatigued, laid low by fever, (he suffered from Malaria alone 27 times!), and attacks by lions, and hostile natives, Livingstone continued to persevere across the continent. Hostile tribes demanded exorbitant payment for crossing their territory. Trials tested the tenacity of the travel wearied team. As he wrote: “Can the love of Christ not carry the missionary where the slave trade carries the trader?”

 After 2 years pioneering across the remote regions of Africa, Livingstone reached Luanda. The “Forerunner” ship was ready to take him to England. However, Livingstone chose to return overland to bring his guides and porters back to their village. Rather than risk their being sold unto slavery in Portuguese West Africa, he preferred to take another 2 years crossing the continent that had almost killed him, on his first journey! However, had Livingstone chosen to return he might well have ended his ministry. The ship sank with all hands lost (and with his journals)!

 “These privations, I beg you to observe, are not sacrifices. I think that word ought never to be mentioned in reference to anything we can do for Him who though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor.”

 Yet for all his gospel efforts, he saw very little fruit, but remember he was a “prisoner of hope!”

 Here the ring of victory in his hope of the gospel of Christ: “We work towards a new state of things. Future missionaries will be rewarded by conversions for every sermon. We are their pioneers and helpers. Let them not forget the watchmen of the night, who worked when all was gloom and no evidence of success in the way of conversions cheers our path. They will doubtless have more light than we, but we serve our Master earnestly and proclaim the same Gospel as they will do.”(see Zeph 2:11 and Zech 14:9)

“A quiet audience today. The seed is being sown, the least of all seeds now, but it will grow into a mighty tree. It is as if it were a small stone cut out of a mountain, but it will fill the whole earth!” (Dan 2:34-35, 44), Matt13:31-32)

 “We work for a glorious future which we are not destined to see, the golden age which has not yet been but will yet be. We are only morning stars shining in the dark, but the glorious morn will break – the good time coming yet.” (Rev 2:26-28).

 II. We are Prisoners of Hope to an Unseen and Unclear Vision of Christ – 1 Cors

    13:12

1Co 13:12  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

A. Captivated with the Greatness of Christ’s Person!

 An amateur painter once tried to develop his own version of Leonardo daVinci’s “The Last Supper”. After giving it his best shot, he showed his efforts to a few friends. He was broken-heartened when one remarked, “My, what exquisite detail you have given to the cups the disciples are holding!” Realizing he had failed to make Jesus the central focus of his painting, as he had intended from the outset, he tore up the canvas and started all over again.

 Christians are like painters, passing along various images and impressions of Jesus, and if more detail is given to us, or stuff we have, and doesn’t leave the impression that Jesus is Central and Supreme; that He is the One who is to be prized, praised, and proclaimed, then we are failing in our mission.

 1. God has NO HOPE for Us beyond who His Son is!

 We need to see how our great and good God has guided history to a day when all the hopes of the ages past were fulfilled in one man. This one man represented humanity as the last Adam. He represented Israel as the ultimate Israelite, the Messiah. He took the sins that separate and forever settled the issue. He took the judgment the world’s rebellion deserved and drained it of its accusations. He invaded death’s dark prison house and blasted a cross-shape hole out the back so that although death takes us, it can’t keep us!

He has endowed us with the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, and given us the legal right to use his name to obtain the resources needed to get the job done. He has given us time to embrace this call and begin to work generationally. If we can see Him more clearly and hear Him more obediently, we will become prisoners of hope who are captivated by this good news. Prisoners of hope will find themselves caught up in a whole new way of living — living to give, longing to serve, loving to worship, leading outward to speak — and ready to die in this wonderful experience of the hope of eternal life.

 If we are to be “prisoners of hope” we must go on being re-converted and refocused to a real, radical, yet biblical vision of the Man, Jesus Christ. We need to see Him as fully God, fully man, fully sovereign, fully redeeming by his substitutionary, wrath-absorbing death, fully alive by His bodily resurrection and fully reigning via His ascension and heavenly enthronement. We need to see Him manifestly present in the throne gift of Heaven that He gave to men on the Day of Pentecost – the Other Jesus without a Body – Holy Spirit. We need to be fully committed to proclaiming Him in His fullness with sound biblical truth followed by Spirit-demonstrated miracles, signs and wonders!

 The Glory of His Person should Captivate My Heart!

The Thrill of His Mission should Dominate My Plans!

The Wonders of His Grace should Regulate My Life!

The Future of His Plan should Alleviate My Fears!

 We need to see Jesus’ coming in a greater soul-saving, heart-transforming, culture-impacting presence and power even now, right where we live so that His kingdom comes more fully and His will is done more freely. We need to ask for foretastes of what will some day fill Heaven and earth. We need to stay focused on His worthiness as the Son of God, the only Savior of Sinners and the Satisfier of the heart-hunger of the saints. We need to see Him in a fuller, personal, experiential way that heightens our awareness of the riches, resources, and reaches that are available in Him as the Revealer of God’s Person and the Redeemer of His people.

 We need to see that the fullness of all His gospel riches and resources flow to us so that they can flow through us to the ends of the earth. We need for Christ to fire us with His zeal for the enjoyment and deployment of the glory of God. We need to begin now to see, savor, and share His life and love so that the People of God become a showcase of His majesty and glory before the nations.

We need to declare that Christ is ALL!

We need to ask him to give us the power to stay hopeful about our future, yet happy right now even with certain dreams and desires unfulfilled.

Christian, are you feeling as though you are hopeless? Well, you aren’t, but you very well may be helpless. God puts us in a position of helplessness or complete dependency in Him. The natural response is to struggle to gain back some measure of control over your life. The pain from this experience feels like hopelessness, but its really the condition of helplessness that is causing you pain. God wants you completely dependent on Him. Prisoners of hope no that they are shut up to Him.

Here’s the word you need — Zec 9:12  Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.  Your stronghold is seeing, savoring and trusting in the loving Lord Jesus Christ. Trusting Him in spite of all the reasoning of your mind; in spite of all the circumstances that surround you; in spite of all the people that have hurt you. You were content to give God control of your life until He decided to do something with your life you did not like. You were happy to surrender all to Him, until He decided to give your promised job or promotion to someone else; until the healing of your loved one didn’t come; until your mate left you or your children turned to the world. You believe in God’s sovereignty, until His sovereign will conflicts with your will. Then you want to run from Him, but He is your refuge. So, run to Him and not from Him — return, child of God, to your stronghold, your fortress and remain a prisoner of hope in the assurance that all that God has promised to be for you in Jesus – He will be!

 There is in our text a great picture of the non-Christian in three aspects:

 I. SELF-RUINED –Joseph, Daniel, Jeremiah, were cast into “the pit” by wicked hands. The sinner has himself to blame. If there is gloom, chains, and misery, it is because of revolt from God. It is not the body but the soul that is “in prison,” and no soul can be imprisoned save by its own deed and consent.

II. GOD-PITIED —Though we have cast off God, he has not cast off us. He is long suffering and merciful. His voice to us is fall of pity and inspires hope. “Prisoners of hope.” Why? Because for some, He issued a call that has roused to a sense of danger and encouraged them to to seek deliverance.

 III. CHRIST-RESCUED Zec 9:12  Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.  Refuge is provided. The “Stronghold” is Christ. He is near,  open to all and there is grace and space available for the reception and defense of all who come. Hence the urgent and loving appeal, “Return” and happy they who have responded, “who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the Hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:19)!

 

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