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Week of Hope – Friday

Today is Good Friday.

It’s important to remember, however, that we see it as Good Friday by looking back. The disciples saw it as anything but good. For them, hope was dying with their Lord on the cross. But hope is for the difficult, devastating times.

Hope Looking Forward

Hope allows that which is “not yet” to remain in clear view. Biblical hope is the confident expectation that God will be faithful to do what He said He would do and then choosing to live today as if He had already fulfilled that promise. That means we reach forward into the future, grab hold of that joy of blessing and pull it towards us so that we rejoice in that joy today! The actual fulfillment of God’s promise does not come sooner – but we choose to act as if it did because of the certainty that God will fulfill all He has promised. In essence, we borrow against future joy, but with the certainty that what we are borrowing will become reality.

… Hope compels you to reach into the future and pull that joy back towards you and when you do you can walk in that joy in the present. In other words, your future experience of joy is actualized
through hope so that it can be experienced today!

Deborah L. Roeger, The Power of Hope, p. 233

Weeping and Paradox

“Weep not,” Jesus said. But how could these women not weep? These women and men had put so much hope in Jesus. They thought that he might possibly be the Messiah, the promised one of God, come to set them free from their bondage to Rome. Now look at him. He was bearing a cross; his back was cut and bleeding from the whipping by the Roman soldiers. A crown of thorns was pressed tightly around his brow. He was stumbling in the street under the weight of his cross, eating the dust of the street, and hearing the curses and ridicule from the soldiers and likely from many in the crowd of people along the sides of the street as well. It was hard for the people to see Jesus treated this way for they had seen his miracles. He had healed the sick, given sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, made the lame walk and lepers clean. He had even raised the dead. He had reached out to the untouchables in society, not only the lepers, but publicans, prostitutes, slaves, sinners, and other outcasts of society. He had been a friend to the poor, women, and children as well as the needy. He had taught them that God’s kingdom was at hand and had boldly challenged the religious leaders. Why should they not weep? All their hopes seemed to be dashed to the ground as this young carpenter was led to a cross. The man they believed was the promised one from God was being led away to be crucified. Why not weep? What else could they do?
. . . .
The death of Christ has always been a great paradox. In one sense, the life of Jesus was a life taken by the Romans as they crucified him, but it was also a life given. Jesus was a victim but also a victor. Here we see horror and glory, wickedness, and sacrifice. The cross showed humanity at its worst and humanity at its best. The cross represents, for us, sacrifice and the One who is the high priest. It represents despair and hope, murder, betrayal, and rejection, but it also depicts love, sacrifice, and grace.

William Powell Tuck, Jesus’ Journey to the Cross, pp. 21 & 57

No Condemnation!
(Based on Romans 7:19-8:4 – rapper style)

I’m no good! I’m no good!
Sins of omission! Haven’t done what I should!
I seek relief in the pages of The Book –
What will God say, and where should I look?
Opening the Bible, I am sitting still.
His message describes the way that I feel.
Just like Paul, I love God’s commands,
But I keep on falling – I cannot stand!
I’ve come to the end of the proverbial rope,
I’m reaching out to Jesus – I must have hope!
I read about Paul who felt deep despair.
He cried for deliverance, and Jesus was there!
The words leapt off of the page I read,
“There’s no condemnation for you,” He said!
I knew He had spoken, and I breathed a sigh.
I’ll love Him forever till the day I die!
He died for me, paid for all my sin;
By His Spirit I’ll walk and the victory win!
Yes, He threw out a rope, and I grabbed it fast –
His Word made the difference, and I’m no longer sad.

February 17, 2014

Nancy Petrey, Habitation of Honey, p. 7

“Well, do you remember the way the Prince went looking for a bride, and when he first met Cinderella, she was a poor pitiful little thing, with no father, and an abusive step-mother and step-sisters?” Grace asked.

Sarah replied, “Yes, I do remember, because I remember crying a lot because it seemed like I felt the same way.”

“Right. She knew she wouldn’t be able to go to the ball and meet the prince, and she was sitting beside the fireplace, with her broom, and she began to pretend that she was at the ball dancing with the prince.”

“Then, in hope against hope, suddenly her desire became a reality when her fairy godmother appeared. Well, something similar happens to us when we don’t lose hope. Of course, we don’t have a ‘fairy godmother,’ to turn a pumpkin into a carriage, but we have something even better.”

“We do?” asked Sarah.

“Yes, hope in itself does not disappoint. Even that hope is a gift from our Heavenly Father, who puts that hope and faith into our hearts, and suddenly, we find ourselves believing that He has something better for us than we have ever imagined.

“Our hearts are then filled with His love, and we realize that we really want what we have never dreamed we could have. We begin to desire what God desires for us. We begin to see that we could become an heir to a Kingdom.

“Just as Cinderella realized that it was indeed possible for her to go to the ball, we also realize that God will accept us just as we are.

“And even our rags can turn to a beautiful, white gown. It’s like a parable. When we realize that He wants us, and that Jesus His Son died for us, we are clothed with a garment of righteousness.”

Sarah was listening intently to Grace’s parable version of Cinderella, and quietly whispered, “Wow.”

Hannah May, Grace Across the River, p. 70

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