The hope we are given as believers in Jesus is an inheritance that will never fade away. This restoration of right relationship with God is the culmination of the longings of the prophets and the direction of the law, the pinnacle of the hopes of heaven. It's not just a past event or a future hope, but a present reality that is available to us only by faith.
Strength to live as exiles in a foreign land doesn't come from self-esteem, good parenting or a well-organized life. Peter reminds a scattered and persecuted church that strength for living will only come through an understanding of God's work in our lives, the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in us, and the holiness that comes through the sacrifice of Jesus alone.
When faced with a world gone mad and a culture that seems to be opposed to God's Word and ways, how will we react? Our immediate tendencies are either to separate or assimilate, but Peter calls us to become ambassadors. The call of the gospel is not to separate from culture or become like the culture, but to live counter-culturally.
Prayer is the fundamental activity of the Christian, and is at the heart of what it means to live the Christian life. Through worship, repentance, thanksgiving and intercession, the heart of God is formed in those who pray. Prayer re-centers us around the holiness of an Almighty God, dignifying and humbling us at the same time.
The ascension of Jesus is not the end of the story. In fact, Jesus’ promise is that His presence, so evidently experienced by the disciples throughout His earthly life, would never depart from His faithful followers. As we go into the New Year, we can be assured of one thing: Jesus will never leave us!
The mysterious journey to Emmaus was marked by the presence of the resurrected Jesus. His conversation with the two men cited Moses and the prophets in order to explain the life and death of Jesus. The story he told must have been a glorious recounting of the presence of God that is represented in our midst.
Lives of obedience to Jesus are full of righteous suffering that is often unjust and horrific. If we endure it with patience, we have opportunity to meet Jesus in powerful ways. By standing against the tide of culture, we may face dire consequences—but Jesus meets us in the midst of the suffering and, consequently, we experience His resurrection more fully.
In our darkest times, the presence of Jesus reminds us that there is still hope. However, in order to hear Him, we often need to discern His voice in the midst of the noise and chaos of the world around us. While we long for God to appear in the grandiose and fantastic, He most often shows up in the quiet and still. We must make room if we're to hear Him.
In this world, we are faced with many battles--some facing enemies around us and some battling enemies within us. In every battle, Jesus shows up as the often unseen warrior, and we are invited to trust Him for victory. He does not ask us to fight our battles alone, but He does call us to join Him in the fighting.
The promise of Eden, so rich in Genesis 2, gives way to the bondage to sin in Genesis 3. In the same way, the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, typified in the character of Joseph, gave way to brutal slavery in Egypt. However, God does not leave His people in slavery—He hears them, has compassion on them, and moves among them for their deliverance.