Devotional 170. 1/1/16. New Year’s Day 2016 (Hope).
Happy New Years! Yesterday (Devotional #169) we talked about 2015 and had a reflective, maybe even sad, view of it. And it’s important to do that sometimes. However, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).
So now we turn with a hopeful, maybe even happy, view of 2016!
Yesterday I used verses from the book of Proverbs and mentioned that there are 31 chapters so you can read a chapter each day of each month. I challenge you to do this and you will grow in the Lord, in your faith and in your understanding of the responsibilities you have to the kingdom of God.
God is a God of hope. Let’s read 1 Peter 3:8-17. Peter has just finished telling husbands and wives how they should behave and now he moves to the whole church. If you are a Christian than this applies to you:
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For
“‘He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
Let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers;
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’”
That last part Peter was quoting from Psalm 34:12-16, which he uses to back up his prior statement. God wants believers to be unified (“love as brothers [and sisters]”). The non-believing world (who are angry and hurting) will see this and be drawn to it. Unity brings hope.
God also wants believers to “turn away from evil and do good.” Training up our self-control and developing a love for the Scriptures will help us fight evil temptations. This isn’t something we can do by ourselves but requires we pray and petition the Lord to help us. One person turning from evil and doing good gives hope to multitudes.
That prayer I just mentioned will be heard since God’s “ears are open to their prayers.” The Lord promises to listen and act on our prayers but it’s followed with a warning that He will be “against” us if we “do evil.” Our prayer and the Lord’s action brings hope.
Now let’s finish the section with 1 Peter 3:13-17…
“And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’ But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
We are told it’s not rational for us to be hurt for doing good but if we are (since there are people in sin being used by Satan) then we will be “blessed.” We won’t be worried by “threats”, as we learned yesterday, the Lord is with us. The “hope that is in us” is a blessing.
If we separate and dedicate (“sanctify”) our heart to the Lord and are always ready to defend our “hope” then the sinful world will “be ashamed.” With some people it takes being put to shame in order for them to come to truth. God uses any means necessary to show a person how much He loves them. The “hope that is in us” may cause shame in others.
We are only responsible for how we behave. Isn’t it better to follow the “will of God” for our lives and “suffer for doing good” than to suffer for “doing evil”? For the Christian, this is a no brainer but sometimes we need it put like this for us to see the reality of our life. We are only responsible for how we behave. The “hope that is in us” may cause us pain.
As for me and my house, in 2016, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).
Lord, we know that 2016 will have its share of bad things that happen because there are people controlled by sin and Satan is constantly working. But we pray that You would give us hope. Help us to love our brothers and sisters in unity of hope. Help us to turn from evil and place our hope in You, doing good through us. Help us live a godly life for it is our hope that You hear and act on our prayers. Help us bless You in hope that You will be well pleased and bless us and others. Help others to receive Your hope even if that means they may be put to shame by their sin. Help us as we suffer for Your hope to live in others. Thank you for being a God of hope, sending Your Son to die for our sins so that the world might receive everlasting hope!