Matthew 11:13; 13:16-17; Hebrews 1:1-4
Ever been whitewater rafting? Maybe you were bold enough to climb into an inflatable raft and push out into turbulent water only to be tossed about in the competition between water and rock. A narrow gorge with millions of gallons of water pushing through is a rush of adrenaline. Hang on for dear life!
Massive hydraulics, towering liquid walls, deafening sound, class V rapids—powerful enough to stand your raft straight up in the air with you and your comrades in it—maybe! You are there to experience adventure, to behold beauty, to stand in awe, to feel the power.
Prophecy is the whitewater of the Bible. Listen carefully and you will learn respect, stand in awe, feel the power. The competition between majesty and mercy, doom and gloom, hope and help is unparalleled, unequalled, unrivaled. It is God speaking in his loudest voice. He has important things to say.
The Name of the Lord comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire; his breath is like a rushing torrent, rising up to the neck (Isa 30:27-28).
Why would God speak this way? Maybe like a coach, when the players ignore what they were told and end up losing the game, God can become pretty upset, even angry. But also like a coach, he can be the quintessence of patience.
For many years, Lord God, you were patient with them; by your Spirit you warned them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention (Neh 9:30).
Probably more so than any other place in Scripture, we learn in the prophets how God thinks, how he has acted, how he will act. It’s fairly important information! Duh! Unfortunately, the prophetic portions of Scripture are probably the least understood.
For you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves (Mal 4:2). That’s energizing language, but exactly what is it referring to? Maybe we don’t need to know. The point is we’re supposed to get excited! Feel the power!
Even the prophets themselves did not grasp the full significance of what God was saying: Many prophets longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it (Matt 13:17). Would it be fair to say that the prophets spoke better than they knew?
Life Application Questions
1 Peter 1:10-12
Peter’s sentences shine through Heaven’s windows revealing thunder and lightning. He sees redemption’s certainty and for disciples, contrasting mystery. “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care…Even angels long to look into these things.” Peter’s words accurately describe God’s hiddenness (1 Peter 1:10 &12).
Reading the Bible means you are opening profound certainty as well as mystery. The long term strategy of God playing out in day-to-day events intrigues us; but there are also concealed truths. Disciples can be challenged with questions such as, “Why are these things (as in certain events) happening?”
Some apparent disciples will claim, at various points along the way, “God is doing this or that because….” Such disciples typically mean well, but they are not to be accorded the authoritativeness of Scripture.
We trust redemption’s certainty while accepting mystery, in following Jesus. Truly, there are uncomfortable and disturbing times of waiting while wondering, “Why is this happening?” Using our deepest faith, we seek the peace which passes understanding.
Travel to the city of Indianapolis, Indiana. The hospital is accessible from 10th Street near downtown. Nearby is White River Parkway. Riley Hospital serves children. It is a Level-One Trauma Center and provides a resource for the Indiana School of Medicine.
There is an Emergency Department, a Newborn Intensive Care Unit, numerous specialty surgeons, oncology teams, tropical disease specialists and additional outpatient clinics serving more than 2,500 patients each week. Why do we need such institutions? Because children, the most innocent among us, are suffering. Disciples know, “Even angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:12).
Which of faith’s certainties bring you great confidence?
Which of life’s puzzles trouble you most?
When the innocent suffer, how do you understand their suffering?
Are you becoming more aware some questions will never be answered outside of God’s presence?
1 Peter 1:8-9; John 20:24-29; Romans 15:13
“As we call out to dry bones, come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts, come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes, let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones, come alive God of endless mercy, God of unrelenting love
Rescue every daughter, bring us back the wayward son.
And by Your Spirit, breathe upon them, show the world that You alone can save
As we call out to dry bones, come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts, come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes, let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones, come alive!” (lyrics by Lauren Daigle)
How do dry bones relate to a living hope? What is more hopeful than our living hope – salvation in Jesus? It’s easy to get discouraged with our world and COVID, but God…but God has a plan for such a time as this.
The first step in experiencing living hope is believing the Gospel. Thomas would not believe unless he had seen the scars of Jesus’ crucifixion on His resurrected body. We may not physically see, but we can believe with faith and hope. For you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Pet 1:9).
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13). “’The God of hope. ’What is hope in the abstract? Nothing! It may mean anything. But the Christian hope is a definite thing; it is the hope!... “There is no other place where joy and peace and fellowship and unity can be had” (Alva J. McClain and Herman Hoyt, Romans - the Gospel of God’s Grace, pp. 242-43).
Step 2 is fellowship together. The church is a powerful place. “People need the church more than ever before. If you’ve gotten in the groove of bacon, eggs, and PJs on Sunday morning you’re not in a groove, you’re in a rut. Come home to church” (Kevin Green, “Airborne Church” Sunday, 8/29/21).
Why should I physically attend church? “I don’t need to go to church to have a relationship with Jesus,” you may say. When you are saved, and you resist attending church, you are left as prey from the enemy without the benefits of the church body. Freedom from gathering together is not freedom! It rather leads you to rebellion. Jesus is building His church today. He said, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matt 16:18). Is that not a living hope?
Life Application Questions
1 Peter 1:6-7, James 1:2-4,12-18
How do you respond to receiving a gift? We give and receive gifts for a variety of occasions. Some people spend time in creating the gift; others have the ability to wrap the gifts creatively and some of us are really good at finding the right gift card. In James 1:17, we read “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” What kinds of gifts should we anticipate from the Father of heavenly lights?
Gifts we receive from our Abba Daddy may come wrapped in many ways. We should expect gifts of trials and expect temptation struggles on our faith journey through life. Read James 1 and 1 Peter 1: What various (picture the word, variegated-many colors) trials and temptations do James and Peter write about? “…though now for a little while, you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” (1 Peter 1:1) Trials are varied. God has grace sufficient to meet the need. God matches the trials to our strengths and needs. These “gifts” are good and used as preparation for our future ministry in eternity. One of the enemy’s tricks is to convince us that our Father is holding out on us, that He does not really love and care for us; That these “gifts” are not good after all. Have you ever felt like God was unresponsive to you during a time of trial? What trials can you identify in your life? How did you respond to these “gifts”? These gifts from God may not appear wrapped in pretty paper and tied up with a bow. They may arrive in the guise of an unmarried child’s pregnancy. It may masquerade as cancer or be wrapped in the plain brown paper of betrayal. These “gifts” can be filled with tears and pain and yet the Father of lights gives good gifts and does not change like shifting shadows.
There is purpose in the pain and there is a way through the trials and temptations. “These (trials) have come so that the proven genuiness of your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7) God keeps us in the furnace of suffering so we can reflect the glory and beauty of Jesus. A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) Read Daniel 3. After the Hebrew boys walked through the fire, the king declared: “They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” (Daniel 3:28) What fire have you walked through that Jesus revealed himself to you or others? “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2) God says we will pass through. Life as a Christ follower means that obedience will gift you with, and take you through some difficult places. BUT “…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1) How do you view the “Father of lights” good gifts? “Faith enables a man both to live and to die without fear.” (Charles Spurgeon)
1 Peter 1:3-5; Ephesians 1:9-14
The thing about inheritance is that someone has to die for the heirs to receive it. You may not even know that you're going to get anything until an attorney writes or phones to tell you the good news that you have been included in someone’s will.
Think of it this way. Your Father (Yahweh) has included you in his "will." But in order for you to receive the promised inheritance, his Son, Jesus had to die. The Apostle Paul explained it this way: And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit. . . . The Spirit is God's guarantee that he will give us [you] the inheritance he promised . . . (Ephesians 1:13b-14a). Did you notice that the entire Godhead is involved in your inheritance (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit)? And the best news is, the only thing you have to do to receive this wonderful legacy is to be "born again" into the family of God.
Do you have the assurance that you have been born into God’s family? How did your new birth come about?
As you anticipate receiving your inheritance, do you wonder how you will be cared for until you actually receive it? Does it come with a guarantee? Is there some kind of provision that you can draw on while you’re waiting? Yes, verse 14 above assures us that the very Holy Spirit of God is the guarantee. He is in you, a constant companion, counselor, comforter, and guide.
Are you drawing on the amazing provision God has made for you in the Holy Spirit? If so, how? If not, how are you going to begin?
When you know that you’ve been included in someone’s will, aren’t you curious about what's in the inheritance? Again, Paul tells us: God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth (Ephesians 1:9-10). God graciously planned to include Gentiles in the family by offering salvation to the nations, not just to his chosen people, Israel.
What’s more, the plan includes bringing everything together under the authority of Christ at the right time. Does this include wars, hurricanes, the death of Christians, and pandemics? Yes, it does! Or does it mean that you won't be persecuted for your faith? No, it doesn't! There is no way of knowing what God may allow in your life or the cause of your death. But, like the persecuted church around the world today, the Holy Spirit will be with you every step of the way. Peter assured the exiles he wrote to that ... through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation . . . (1 Peter 1:5a)
Your inheritance is ready. In the meantime, how are you living in the expectation of your inheritance? And how can you share this great hope with those who are not aware of this amazing legacy? gmd & jbd