Add a headingMaking PASSIONATE Disciples for Christ: HOPE 


Our second Advent book, Finding Hope Under Bethlehem Skies,  is based on the book of Ruth and how it relates to Jesus, not least because Ruth appears in the genealogy in Matthew that Steve will be preaching on in a couple of weeks’ time (he chose it for himself by the way….!)

Ruth epitomises hope in the face of the hopelessness of her mother in law , Naomi. Having travelled with her husband from Bethlehem to Moab and bearing two sons, Naomi faces triple loss when her husband and sons all die. She is a widow with no family and decides she must return to her homeland and see what living she can muster. She renames herself “bitter” as she goes.

She has two Moabite daughters in law. Naomi insists that they go home and continue life without her. Hopeless, Naomi can see no good for them in staying with their in-law.

Ruth has other ideas.

Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me. (Ruth 1:16-17)

As we often see in the New Testament the witness of a Gentile believer stands out amongst the hopelessness of those who surround her. Ruth trusts in the Lord sufficiently that she is willing to leave her home, her family, all that she has known, to accompany Naomi.

Think of the Centurion at the cross proclaiming “Surely this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39) or another Centurion, called Cornelius,  who followed God’s command, sent some messengers that in time taught Peter a valuable lesson (Acts 10) or the Samaritan woman who had revealed to her the true nature of Jesus’ calling and through whom many believed (John 4:39). The list is very long. Of hope-filled people among those with little hope.

We are called to be hopeful people.

We don’t need to leave the UK and trek to a foreign land. We do need to look to the same God that Ruth adopted (or who adopted her!) The same God who spoke to the woman at the well and spoke about everything she had done. The same God who knew every step of the plan to open Peter’s eyes – from the dream vision to the instruction to the invite to the meeting to the change of heart – God’s gentle hand ushering them all along.

The bible story starts with goodness and awesome creation and despite entering darkness and despair and shame within 2 short chapters the work of redemption begins in earnest. God promises. God delivers.

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty, (Isaiah 55:8-11 extract)


All in God’s good time. Every good thing happens at the right time – the Kairos. God’s perfect timing. And that requires patience. Sometimes days, sometimes weeks, sometimes weeks, sometimes decades, sometimes a lifetime.

But in the end, and at the right time, God delivers. Literally. Not just bringing something into being but takes us from the stuff we would rather not be in – deliverance.

Hope is not a vain thing. Its not a speculative thing.

John Mark Comer again, on faith.

“The scripture writers constantly advocated for a faith that isn’t opposed to knowledge but is based on knowledge” (Live no Lies p43)

Jesus prayedNow this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

Paul wrote “because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able..” (2 Timothy 1:12) and My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2-3)

So,  if hope is based on knowledge rather than speculation, we need more of that knowledge and assurance. And assured people are passionate people.

Passionate for more of what we know.

Passionate that others should have this free gift.

Weeping passionate tears for those who don’t.

Burning with the urgency of the task.

How is your hope?

How is your passion?

Just believe …and know it’s true.

Wishing you every blessing

Doug

Vicar@christchurchpurley.org.uk

MAKING passionate disciples …..TRUTH