God of Hope

There is a passage in Scripture addressed directly to “the aged women” to which class I must confess I now belong! We are even reading the Daily Devotional “Traveling Toward Sunrise” which has been in our library for years but, until now, never felt it was appropriate. Now that we are embarking on the fourth quarter of a century, it is certainly appropriate. However, I am encouraged by, and concur with, today’s reading:- “Edwin Markham, the great poet, at age 80 wrote a poem entitled, “The Look Ahead.” I will spare you the poem, but its message is essentially,

 “I am done with the years that were . . .

Now I turn to the future for wine and bread;

I have bidden the past adieu.

I laugh and lift my hands to the years ahead;

‘Come on, I am ready for you!'”

There is rarely a day or a week goes by but that I am blest by some words of Divine inspiration and encouragement, and I am thinking that this blog would be a good way to share them. Perhaps in that way I can fulfil my assignment (Titus 2:3-5) to encourage and teach particularly young mothers.

I know that some of you are being faced with very real challenges, concerns and problems; and the enemy of our souls is going forth “having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.” (Rev. 12:12) But the same verse also tells us to “rejoice” – and we do rejoice in all that our Heavenly Father has done, is doing, and will yet do, for all who love Him.

Because my middle name is Hope, I am drawn to words from our Father which speak of Hope. Psalm 42 came to my attention recently, and speaks so reassuringly when we are tempted to be discouraged: “…Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? HOPE IN GOD, for I shall yet praise Him for His help. . .O my God, my soul is cast down within me. THEREFORE will I remember You. . .The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. . . HOPE IN GOD, for I shall yet praise Him Who is my health, and my God.”

Looking back on my travels over the hills and dales of life, I can vouch for the faithfulness and trustworthiness of our Heavenly Father. He not only loves and is loving, but IS LOVE (‘Agape’ in the original Greek), in the very essence of His being, and He will always literally wrap His arms of love around us when we turn to Him in simple child-like trust:- “Help, Daddy, I need you!”

“Now the GOD OF HOPE fill you with all joy and peace in believing. . . (Rom. 15:13)

This blogging is an entirely new idea to me and I’m not sure where it will go, but I would like to visit you this way on a somewhat regular basis. I invite you to write me any time if you need a listening ear or a word of encouragement.

Day by Day

Dear Friends,

“…..we do not lose heart; but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen;  for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  ”   (2 Cor. 4:16-18 NASB)

The following hymn is both a testimony and a prayer, inspired by this passage of Scripture.

May it bless you as it has me over the years:-

Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best –
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Ev’ry day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He wants to bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As your days, your strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in ev’ry tribulation
So to trust Your promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Your holy word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the Promised Land.

Lina Sandell Berg, 1821-1903

Trans. By Andrew L. Skoog, 1856-1934

I pray that God, who gives HOPE,
will bless you with complete happiness and peace
because of your faith.
And may the power of the Holy Spirit fill you with HOPE.

(Romans 15:13 Contemporary English Version)


In Agape, Eulene

Dear Friends,

There is a passage in one of Jesus’ discourses with which most of us are very familiar.  It is found in Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 6:

“…Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink;  nor yet for your body, what you shall put on…..Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature?  And why are you anxious concerning raiment?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;  they toil not, neither do they spin;  and yet I say to you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

“Therefore be not anxious, saying, What shall we eat?  Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?..…for your Heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.  But seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”” 

The reason our Lord gives against anxiety for the future is that we have nothing to do with the future.  God gives us life by days – little single days.  Each day has its own duties, its own needs, its own trials and temptations, its own sorrows.  And its own joys and victories.  God always gives us strength enough for the day as He gives it, with all that He puts into it.

If we insist on dragging back tomorrow’s cares and piling them on top of today’s, our strength will not be enough for the load.  God will not add strength just to humor our whims of anxiety and distrust.

So the lesson is that we should keep each day distinct and attend strictly to what that day brings us.  Charles Kingsley says, “Do today’s duty, fight today’s temptation, and do not weaken and distract yourself by looking forward to things which you cannot see, and could not understand if you saw them.”  We really have nothing at all to do with the future, except to prepare for it by doing with fidelity the duties of today.

No one was ever crushed by the burdens of one day.  We can always get along with our heaviest load till the sun goes down – and that is all we ever have to do.  Tomorrow?  Oh, you really have no guarantee of tomorrow.  If you are here God will be here too, and you will receive new strength sufficient for the new day.    (Adapted from “Come Ye Apart” Daily Readings, 1907)

One day at a time.  A burden too great
To be borne for two can be borne for one;
Who knows what will enter tomorrow’s gate?
While yet we are speaking all may be done.

One day at a time, – but a single day,
Whatever its load, whatever its length;
And there’s a bit of precious Scripture to say
That according to each shall be our strength.

–                  Author unknown

In Agape,


As the Dew

 “The LORD by wisdom has founded the earth; by understanding He has established the heavens. 

By His knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.”  (Prov. 3:19,20)

“My teaching, let it fall like a gentle rain, My words arrive like morning dew, like a sprinkling rain on        new grass, like spring showers on the garden.”  (Deut. 32:2)

Recently I have been learning about “dew.”  Inspirational thoughts have come to me from three sources, and I would like to share them with my readers.  First of all, I needed to understand what “dew” is; its definition, or description.  It is a physical phenomenon with which most of us are familiar and since, in Scripture, it is also applied in a spiritual sense, I thought it would be worth meditating on it.

Simply put, dew is the name given to the glistening beads of moisture that often appear on grass and vegetation early on a clear morning.  Dew forms when air near the ground cools to the point where it cannot hold all its water vapor.  The excess water vapor then condenses on objects near the ground.  During the day, objects absorb heat from the sun.  At night, they lose this heat and, as they cool, the temperature of the air around them is also reduced.  Colder air cannot hold as much water vapor as can warmer air. If the air continues to cool it eventually reaches the dew point, which is the temperature at which the air contains as much water vapor as it can hold.  If the air cools further, some of the vapor condenses on the nearest available surface.  (When it freezes, I discovered, it is called frozen dew – or frost!)

Moist air drawn in from the sea is largely responsible for dew-fall in western Palestine, especially in the districts near the coast and on the western slopes of the mountains.  The maximum dew occurs in the beneficial summer months when the plants need moisture most.  Dew is beneficial to summer crops.  This has been proved conclusively by agronomical field studies made over the last 60 years.  The ancients therefore were not exaggerating it as a source of blessings, and the absence of it was considered a cause of severe plight.   To the Hebrews, according to the Talmud, its preciousness was taken up as an emblem of resurrection:  “The dew of resurrection!”

“I will be as the dew unto Israel:  he shall grow as the lily, and cast  forth his roots as Lebanon.”  (Hosea 14:5)

Quoting Watchman Nee, “these words describe the beginning of everything in the experience of God’s children.  Dewfall is altogether vital to the life and growth of trees and flowers, and to us the Lord Himself promises to be as the dew. Everything in our life as Christians comes down to us from Christ as the Source.  He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, holiness – yes, everything, and there is no human need that we shall find unmet as we receive Him, nor indeed will anything be given to us as a separate gift apart from Him.

Then this thought from Malcolm Smith:  “The dew is God’s method of daily reviving and renewing His creation in the midst of death…His mysterious act of His love to the creation.”  In places like Israel, everything would wither in the heat of the sun, if it wasn’t for the gently falling dew that quietly waters the plants during the night.

From Frances Ridley Havergal, I gleaned this truth:-  “You look out some dark night after a hot dusty day;  there is no storm, no rain, there is not the least token to your senses of what is going on.  You look out again in the morning, and you see every blade and leaf tipped with a dewdrop; everything is revived and freshened, prepared for the heat of the day, and smiling at the glow.

“Just so, His words are silently falling on your souls in the darkness, and preparing them for the day.  They do not come with any sensible power, nothing flashes out from the page as at other times, nothing shines so as to shed any pleasant light on your path, you do not hear any sound of abundance of rain.  You seem as if you could not take in the words; and if you could, your mind is too weary to meditate on them.  But they are distilling as the dew all the time!”

Springs of life in desert places
Shall thy God unseal for thee;
Quickening and reviving graces,
Dew-like, healing, sweet and free.
Springs of sweet refreshment flowing,
When thy work is hard or long.
Courage, hope, and power bestowing,
Lightening labor with a song.

We have seen in Hosea that, first of all, Christ is the Dew.  As we are united with Him, members of His Body, we are His representatives to the world.  As He is, so are we in the world.  His purpose is that we should be the channels of Divine Dew to bless, refresh, revive and restore the needy ones around us.  If we are to “live Christ” as Paul exhorted, then we shall indeed become as dew in a needy world, a refreshing for the thirsty hearts of those around us.

Now may the God of HOPE
fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
that you may abound in HOPE
by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Romans 15:13, NKJV)


In Agape,


Dear Friends,

Our Lord Jesus identified Himself with the prophecy of Isaiah (61):  “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek;  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;…to provide for them that grieve in Zion, to give unto them beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair, that they might be called trees of righteousness, THE PLANTING OF THE LORD, that He might be glorified.”

The blessed man of Psalm 1 is “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, his leaves do not wither, and whatever he does prospers.”

Another reference from the Psalms (92:12-15):  “The righteous shall flourish like the Palm Tree; they shall grow like a Cedar in Lebanon.  Those that be planted in the House of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.  They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and green;  to show that the Lord is upright…”

One commentator indicates that Palms and Cedars are “trees of the Lord,” and it is by His care that they flourish; they are not trained and pruned by man!  They are evergreen, and are beautiful in every season of the year.  Everywhere these trees are noteworthy; no one can gaze upon a landscape in which there are either Palms or Cedars without his attention being fixed upon these royal growths.  I well remember, on my first trip to Washington, Oregon and California many years ago, how we were transfixed by the lush growth of the Cedars on the West side of the mountains, and then the Palm Trees when our bus entered California.  Having grown up on the bald Saskatchewan Prairie, I have a particular penchant for trees of any kind, but the magnificence of the Cedars and the Palms overwhelmed me.

The renowned Cedar of Lebanon is a true Cedar, unlike those of the Cypress family with which we North Americans are more familiar. The upper slopes of the Lebanon Mountains were once covered with these majestic trees.  In centuries past, the Cedar of Lebanon was sought after for its attractive, fragrant, durable wood.   Unfortunately, there is now but a grove of these ancient and beautiful trees surviving in the northern mountains.  The people of early Middle East civilizations used them for building palaces, ships, temples, and tombs. You may recall that, when Solomon built that first magnificent temple in Jerusalem, he ordered Cedar trees from Lebanon.

The Palm, on the other hand, is found in warmer climates, especially in the tropics. It is important in tropical regions because it provides food, clothing, and building materials for the people.  Most Palms grow straight and tall, with long fan-like leaves clustered near the top.  There are many varieties of Palm trees, bearing different fruits such as dates and coconuts.

It is interesting to note that the Lord refers to these magnificent trees as a type of His people who are to be “called trees of righteousness, THE PLANTING OF THE LORD.”

Those who are His shall grow like the Cedars of Lebanon “that brave all storms, and grow near the eternal snows, the Lord Himself filling them with a sap which keeps their hearts warm and their boughs strong.”  Such is the work of the Holy Spirit dwelling within.  The child of God flourishes like a Palm tree, which pushes all its strength upward in one erect column without a single branch.  It is a pillar with a glorious crown.  It has no growth to the right nor to the left, but sends all its force heavenward, and bears its fruit as near the sky as possible.

It is by His care that they flourish;   they are trained and pruned by His loving hand;   they stand in the beauty of His Righteousness under all kinds of weather.  The storms of life serve only to deepen the roots and strengthen the tree.   Indeed,

The wind that blows can never kill
The tree God plants!
It blows from east, it blows from west,
The tender leaves have little rest,
But any wind that blows is best.

The tree God plants
Strikes deeper root, grows higher still,
Spreads greater boughs, for God’s good will
Meets all its wants.

There is no storm has power to blast
The tree God knows;
No thunderbolt, nor beating rains,
Nor lightning flash, nor hurricanes;
When they are spent, it still remains,
The tree God knows.

Through every tempest it stands fast,
And from its first day to its last
Still fairer grows.

                         (Author unknown)

“Lord, let it be so with me, I pray!

In Agape,


Dear Friends,

There is an interesting reference in Hosea where the Lord says, “I will be as the dew unto Israel.  He shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.”  (Hosea 14:5)

Though said primarily of Israel, these words also describe the beginning of everything in the experience of God’s children.  Dewfall is altogether vital to the life and growth of trees and flowers, and to us the Lord Himself promises to be “as the dew.”  Everything in our life as believers comes to us from Christ as our source.  He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, holiness;  He has given us all things that have to do with His Life and His Likeness;  He has given to us exceeding great and precious promises, enabling us to partake of His Divine Nature.  Yes, everything!  (1 Cor. 1:30;  2 Peter 1:3)

“I will be as the dew,” He affirms, and in the latter part of the verse Hosea shows how life, with this as its supply, takes on a mysterious dual character.  In it the blossom of the Lily is wonderfully linked with the roots of the Cedar:  frail beauty and massive strength united in a single plant!  Such miracles are wrought by Heaven’s ‘dewfall’ alone.  Here, united in the child of God, are two contrasting characteristics.  Above ground, as it were, is the simple life of trust and faith represented by the Lily. That is what people see.  Yet buried deep down out of sight, giving to this frail plant a wholly unsuspected strength, are the massive roots of the Cedar.  Here surely is the paradox of a life in which the Cross is known.  Outwardly it appears fragile as the Lily blooming on the earth, but secretly there is much more hidden in the soil.  How much of our lives is seen?  When others look on the surface, do they see all there is?  Or is there something more?  Do we have in the unseen a secret history with God?  Others take account only of the Lily blooming in its weakness.  God is concerned with the roots, that they shall be Cedar-like in strength.  (Adapted from Watchman Nee)

Roots are essential to the life of a plant.  Most roots grow underground, anchoring the plant in the soil.  They also absorb water and minerals that the plant needs to grow.  In addition, many roots store food for later use by the plant.

This is another picture the Bible uses to help us understand the workings of God in our lives.  Remember the blessed one whose TRUST and HOPE is in the Lord, described by Jeremiah?    The Prophet goes on to describe him thus:  “…he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, that spreads out her ROOTS by the river.   He shall not fear when heat comes, but her leaf shall be green;  he shall not be anxious in the year of drought, nor cease from yielding fruit.”  A Proverb assures us that “the root of the righteous shall not be moved.”

(Ps. 1:3 & Jer. 17:7, 8;  Prov. 12:3)

The Apostle Paul found this to be a very appropriate analogy when he admonishes us in his letter to the Colossian Church:  “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, ROOTED and built up IN HIM, and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”  And again, to the Ephesian Church, praying “that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that you, being ROOTED and GROUNDED IN LOVE, may be strong to apprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to experience the Love of Christ which passes knowledge…”

(Col. 2:6,7; Eph. 3:17-19)

Isaiah used an interesting prophetic phrase concerning Judah, but nonetheless appropriate to our subject:-  They shall “take root downward, and bear fruit upward.” (Isa. 37:31)

As the believer’s spiritual ‘roots’ grow ever deeper in the Life and Love of God, drawing sustenance from His Word and strength from His Spirit, the life flows upward to produce the beautiful ‘blossoms’ or flavorful ‘fruit.’   Through the Holy Spirit the Lord provides all things necessary for our growth, development, maturity and fruitfulness.

Rooted in the Love of God,
And grounded in His Word,
Drawing Life from richest sod;
Agape from the Lord.

Anchored in Amazing Grace,
And in His Word secure,
Held in His Divine Embrace,
Safe from the world’s allure.

Settled in the Peace of God;
Fixed in His Faith made mine;
Strengthened by His Guiding Rod;

Kept by His Pow’r Divine.

(c) Eulene Hope Moores

As we place our TRUST and our HOPE in the Lord, we shall be like that tree planted by the waters of Life, rooted and grounded by the river of God, and we shall not fear whate’er may come.  (Jer. 17:7)

In Agape, Eulene

Some Better Thing

Dear Friends,

In my last Letter, I recalled a number of examples of troubles and trials working together for good, the Valley of A’chor representing not only ‘trouble’ but also a ‘door of Hope.’  “And what shall I more say?  For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae, of David also, and Samuel, and the prophets, who through faith
  subdued kingdoms,
    wrought righteousness,
      obtained promises,
        stopped the mouths of lions,
          quenched the violence of fire,
            escaped the edge of the sword,
              waxed valiant in fight,
                turned to flight the armies of the aliens,
                  women received their dead raised to life again.”

The world was not worthy of such people of faith.  (Heb. 11:32-35a)

However, the author of the book of Hebrews continues on to recount also the list of those who, though they “obtained a good report through faith, did NOT receive the promise!”

“Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance…..and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yes, moreover of bonds and imprisonment.  They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword.  They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated.  They wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Heb. 11:35b-38) We think of Jeremiah, Obadiah, Elijah, Stephen, and Paul.

These all had witness borne to them of faith, but the promise to them was that they might obtain a “better resurrection…They received not the promise, God providing some better thing for us, that they, without us, should not be made perfect.” (Heb. 11:35, 39-40)

Not all were rewarded in this life, but they were “looking for that blessed HOPE, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a people for His own possession, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:13,14)

Job, though he received great blessing during his lifetime, is typical of the Old Testament saints who died, not having received the ultimate promise, but Job knew his day would come:  “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, and…in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19:25,26)

The Apostle John, writing in his Revelation, encouraged all of those going through tribulation:

“Fear none of those things which you shall suffer.  Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison that you may be tried;  and you shall have tribulation ten days.  Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)

Peter, Paul and James, as well as John, all described crowns awaiting all faithful believers:

James assures, “Blessed is the one who endures temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love Him.” (James 1:12)

Paul proclaimed, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:7,8)

Peter promised that “when the chief Shepherd shall appear, you shall receive a crown of glory that would not fade away.” (1 Peter 5:4)

Peter also referred to a glorious inheritance. Read these wonderful opening words in his first letter addressed to the Believers then scattered throughout Asia minor:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who, according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a living Hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations, that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:  Whom, having not seen, you love;  in Whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls…..Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:3-9,13)

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.  But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. (1 Cor. 15:19,20)

As for ourselves?  “…let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (and Who is our supreme Example), Who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So we continue “looking for that blessed HOPE (confident expectation), and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ….” (Heb. 12:1, 2; Titus 2:13, 14)

In Agape,


Door of Hope

Dear Friends,

My attention has been drawn inexplicably to some references in the Scriptures to the Valley of A’chor.  From what I can determine, it was a valley, or deep ravine, south of Jericho on the northern boundary of Judah.  That would be just near the North-West coast of the Dead Sea.

It was there that Achan was stoned because of his deliberate defiance of the Lord’s instruction, in stealing and hiding some of the banned treasures, thus resulting in defeat and humiliation for Israel in the battle at Ai.  After Achan’s sin was discovered and dealt with, Israel continued the victorious take-over of the Promised Land.  (Josh. 7:24-26)

In view of the trouble that Achan (his name means ‘trouble’) brought upon his people and upon himself, the place assumed a typical character, symbolizing an accursed desolation, and it was because of this that the place was called the Valley of A’chor (also meaning ‘trouble’ or ‘troubling’).

However, it would not always remain so.  Such desolation would be redeemed at the coming of Messiah.

The prophet Isaiah spoke of a time when Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of A’chor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.” (Isa. 65:10)

Also Hosea prophesied a time when God would give Israel the Valley of A’chor for a “door of Hope.” (Hosea 2:15)

We are reminded that all of these things recorded in the Old Testament were written for our admonition, and there is a truth hidden in this story that can encourage us today.

Our life’s experiences sometimes take us through the ‘Valley of Trouble’ but, as the Holy Spirit “makes intercession for us according to the will of God,” we know that He makes all things (even our troubles) work together for good, giving us a Hope and confident expectation of the outworking of good.  Instead of the picture of death and desolation, Isaiah gives us the picture of peace and tranquility, and Hosea a “door of Hope,” so we find Hope and expectation of that which is good.

The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Church at Rome, reminds us that “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

(Rom. 8:27,28) Even ‘troubles’ can work together for Hope and confident expectation of good.  There in the valley of A’chor, the place of our deepest wounds or worst failures, the Lord has placed for us a door of Hope.

One of the most outstanding Scriptural examples of troubling circumstances resulting in much good and blessing is the story of Joseph.  As we follow him through the betrayal by his brothers, the years of servitude in the foreign Egyptian court of Pharoah, the seduction and betrayal by his master’s wife, and the consequent years of imprisonment in an Egyptian dungeon, we wonder what his end could possibly be?!

“But God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform!” In the working out of His purpose, Pharoah’s favor was gained, Joseph was promoted to Prime Minister, and the whole nation of Israel was saved from the terrible famine that decimated the land!

We have other examples of troublesome experiences working ultimately for good, such as Esther, an innocent Jewish girl taken captive with her people to Babylon, being made a member of the King’s harem, but eventually becoming the Queen of the Persian Empire, wielding a great influence in effecting the deliverance of her people, and thereby carrying them further along the path of God’s purpose for them.

Then what about Job’s years of loss upon loss?  But God blessed his latter end more than his beginning, and he regained double all that he had lost.  He was able to say, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You.” We have David, the lowly shepherd boy, scorned by his brothers, but exalted by the Lord to rule over Israel.  And consider the three Hebrew Children, taken as captives to Babylon, served as slaves in the king’s palace, but ultimately promoted to high Government positions.

The Apostle Paul, after suffering beatings, stoning, shipwreck, and perils of every kind, as well as lengthy imprisonment in a Roman prison, could say, “I would have you understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel…for I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ…so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (2 Cor. 11; Phil. 1)

“When I cry unto Thee, then shall mine enemies turn back:
this I know, for God is for me.

In God will I praise His Word;
in the Lord will I praise His Word.

In God have I put my trust;
I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”

“The Lord is on my side;
I will not fear:  what can man do unto me?”

(Psa. 56:9-11; 118:6)

In Agape, Eulene

Dear Friends,

New beginnings often inspire us to set new goals, make resolutions for a new year.  We might resolve to spend more time in the Scriptures and in prayer;  determine to lose some weight;  do what is necessary to improve our health;  spend more quality time with family and friends;  take more steps to improve financial status, etc.

The first recorded Olympic contest took place in the Stadium of Olympia in Greece in 776B.C.  In the beginning the only event was a footrace of about 180 meters.  Over time many other competitions were added:  the Pentathlon consisting of the discus throw, javelin throw, long jump, a sprint, and wrestling. Boxing followed, and by 680 B.C. the four-horse chariot race was added.  Of course, many more have been added to the modern Olympic Games, such as skating, skiing, swimming, etc.

The Apostle Paul, being familiar with the Olympic Games, wrote about goals, using the analogies of running a race, or contending in a boxing ring.  He knew that anyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.  And they do it to receive a corruptible crown, or perishable wreathe, that soon fades.  He was after an incorruptible, imperishable crown.

Paul ran, not being in any doubt as to his goal.  He did not claim to have already won the race, or already reached perfection, but he said, “I press on, if that I may lay hold on the prize for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus…..I count not myself yet to have laid hold, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the goal, unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus…..” That is how I run, not being in any doubt as to my goal.  I am a boxer who does not beat the air, but I buffet my body and bring it under control.  Having preached to others, I myself do not want to fall short of the goal.

What was the goal to which he referred?  It was to receive the “prize of the high calling of God…..to know Christ and the power of His resurrection,” and to attain to his own resurrection from among the dead.

Paul admonished his readers to forget the past – the disappointments, the mistakes, the failures, the hurts and injustices – and to stretch forward to all that lay before them, with their eyes fixed on the goal of (experientially) knowing Christ.

Therefore,” he wrote to the church at Philippi, “let all of us who are mature believers cherish these thoughts…..And at whatever point we have already reached, continue to persevere in the same course.” May this be our goal for this New Year.   (1 Cor. 9:24-27; Phil. 3:10-16)

The words of the following lovely old hymn express beautifully the thought that “My Goal is God Himself.” After a considerable amount of research, I discovered that it was authored by Frederick Charles Brook who was killed in Europe in World War 1.  His name may be found on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing near Passchendaele, in Belgium.  This may be the only poem he wrote or,

at least one of the very few, as I could find no others.

My goal is God Himself; not joy, nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God;
’Tis His to lead me there – not mine, but His—
‘At any cost, dear Lord, by any road.’

So faith bounds forward to its goal in God,
And love can trust her Lord to lead her there;
Upheld by Him, my soul is following hard
Till God hath full fulfilled my deepest prayer.

No matter if the way be sometimes dark,
No matter though the cost be oft-times great,
He knoweth how I best shall reach the mark;
The way that leads to Him must needs be straight.

One thing I know—I cannot say Him nay;
One thing I do—I press toward my Lord;
My God, my glory here, from day to day,
And in the glory there my great Reward.

– Hymn by Frederick Charles Brook

Now may the God of HOPE

fill you with all joy and peace in believing,

that you may abound in HOPE

by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Romans 15:13, NKJV)

In Agape,  Eulene

Throughout this season when the birth of the Son of God has been celebrated around the world, by saints and sinners alike, I have been impressed more than ever by how profound an event was the Incarnation.

It is beyond human comprehension that Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe, the Source and Cause of all that is, should choose to incarnate Himself – that is, to assume a human bodily form and condition – especially that of a helpless infant.

John wrote “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing that exists came into being.” (John 1:1-4 Weymouth)

In his letter to the Church at Philippi, Paul continued the story, that “Christ Jesus…being in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped;  but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a bondservamt, and was made in the likeness of men.” In other words, He laid aside His Divinity, and allowed Himself to be confined to a human body, even that of a newborn baby! (Phil. 2:6-8)

Before His birth into the human condition, both Mary and Joseph were instructed to call His name “Jesus” indicating that He would be a Savior, to save His people from their sins; also “Emmanuel” meaning, “God with us.” (Luke 1:30-33; Matt. 1:20-23;  also Isa. 7:14)

In the fullness of time, Jesus humbly stripped Himself of His Glory, and took on Himself the nature of a bondservant by becoming a man like other men.  And so “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Though “in Him was Life, and that Life was the Light of men…” He humbled Himself further and even submitted to death.  But not an ordinary death!  Rather, the most ignominious, shameful death of crucifixion on a Roman cross!

As we know, that was not the end of the story; it was only the beginning.  For “…The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.” (John 1:4,5)

Death could not defeat Him!

The grave could not hold Him!

The darkness could not extinguish the Light!

So, “we behold Jesus, (Who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death,) crowned with glory and honor;  that He, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man.  For it became Him, for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

(Heb. 2:9,10)

As believers, we are among those “many sons” who have been born into God’s family through faith in His Name.  Though, as yet, the world cannot receive the Spirit of Truth, “for it beholds Him not, neither knows Him,” we know Him, for He abides, not only with us, but in us, as He promised.  With the outpouring of His Holy Spirit, Christ now indwells all who have been born of His Spirit.  (John 14:16-20; Gal. 2:20)

As the result of His obedience to the Father’s will, God highly exalted Him, and conferred on Him the Name which is supreme above every other name.  It is at His name – the name of Jesus, “that every knee shall bow, in heaven, and in earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue shall confess that He is Lord.” (Phil. 2:8-11)

While we await the fulfillment of that marvelous promise, we are instructed to let His mind be in us; an attitude of humility and obedience to the will of our Heavenly Father. May this be our goal as we begin another new year of living the Christ Life.

“The reward of humility and the fear of Jehovah is
riches, and honor, and life.”

(Prov. 22:4)

“Seeing you have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth
unto unfeigned love of the brethren,
love one another from the heart fervently.”

(1 Peter 1:22)

In Agape,