This week, I have my close friend Anthony Moore bringing you the Monday Minute. Anthony has a heart for genuine encounter and presence with Jesus. May you be challenged and encouraged as he shares today's devotional.
Well….here we are.
The slow re-emerging from a long dark season. Like most, if not all of you, the last 16 months have been a veritable potpourri of emotions and circumstances for me. There have been ups and downs, questions without answers, pleasant surprises, frustrations, disappointments, conflicts, joys, sorrows and change, change, change, both forced and voluntary. To say that this past season has been one of refinement is not only true, but it also feels to me like an understatement. None of us could have anticipated the scope and scale of how we would be affected. Some things in our lives will inevitably return to some semblance of normalcy, some things have been irrevocably changed.
Our culture has changed. Things are accelerating. Lines are being drawn. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to blend in as a follower of Jesus, but I am utterly convinced that this is a good thing. Not only is it good, but it is also necessary though it certainly comes with its share of difficulties. As the cultural chasm between the ‘way of the world’ and the ‘way of the cross’ become increasingly evident, many will find relationships strained to the point of breaking. Many will experience more suffering, not less. Many will find themselves feeling isolated and alone, clinging to a (seemingly) fragile sense of what is right and wrong while voices of friends and even family deride an ‘archaic’ and ‘outdated’ way of living.
This should not come as a surprise.
The Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 2 that the flesh (worldly, natural) is completely incompatible with the spiritual (Godly, heavenly) as verse 14 says, “But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.” (NLT)
In Matthew 10:21-22, Jesus utters these words: “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers" (NLT). And in John 15:18-21, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.... They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.”
If you have read these scriptures before and have a modicum of historical awareness, then you will at least know (intellectually) that there are, and have been, real-world consequences in following Jesus and standing on His Word. The sobering reality is that, in our western culture, these consequences are becoming increasingly known (experientially). We would be wise to expect this trend to continue, and as things get darker and more challenging it seems like there is a myriad of reasons to despair.
This is where the hope comes in.
The following words are true and I know (experientially) them deeply. We are not alone. We are not abandoned. We are not orphans. We have a Great High Priest (Jesus) interceding on our behalf who has promised never to leave us or forsake us. We have an advocate, a Helper who is with us and in us - the very Spirit of the Living God. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:15-17)
Jesus Christ, the son of the living God, came to live perfectly as one of us, die and rise again to redeem us, and ascend so the Holy Spirit would live in us, and it is on this basis that we build our hope.
This hope we have is not a wishful thing. In the culture of our day, hope is squarely fixed to wishfulness. When people say, “I hope this thing goes well for me”, what they are really saying is some form of “I don’t really know, but I really want this to go well for me." This is not biblical hope! Biblical hope is filled with certainty, it is filled with confidence, it is filled with expectation. Yes, culture is shifting, our relationships may strain and break, but this hope is not dependent on our earthly circumstances. It is the joyful expectation of good because God is eternally good. We cannot fake genuine biblical hope, we cannot force it, we cannot think it into existence. There must be a spiritual transaction where we surrender everything that we are and receive everything that Jesus is.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
May you know (experientially) a hope that you cannot explain because you have received Jesus and may his presence fill you with a deep confidence that your best days are ahead of you regardless of your circumstances.
Filled with His hope,