Hope for the Future

As we end 2015, we’d like to be able to face 2016 with hope. The question is, what’s the basis for your hope? Is it your determination to do better? Is it somebody’s promise that you’d be promoted? Is it founded on past performance? Those may be valid reasons; but they don’t carry foolproof guarantees. We need something more reliable upon which to build our lives.

The book of Lamentations was written in the aftermath of the fall of Jerusalem. As the title implies, it is a collection of 5 poems mourning the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and the exile of the people. It explores the devastating pain of being under God’s wrath. God, who had been their covenant Lord, and who had been their protector and provider over the years was now acting as their enemy [3:1-9]. Such was his wrath toward them that he is compared to ferocious wild animals lying in wait [3:10-11] and to a hunter [3:12-13]. To make matters worse, he knows that God’s...

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When The Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box

Is it true that 'if you aren't prepared to lose all of your friends during a game, you aren't playing hard enough'? Well, on Saturday, February 28th, 2015, members and friends from our congregation had an opportunity to test that theory. Our Evangelism Task Force organized a games-filled afternoon of Taboo, Apples to Apples, Scattergories, Mad Gab, and others, as opportunities for players to test their skills, and forge alliances with or against other players. I had the chance to teach and facilitate a few games, demonstrating my obvious nerdy game prowess.

It was a joy to see members of all ages and all walks of life being able to let go and just enjoy each other's company for a few hours. It was a rare chance to see usually reserved members like sister Ruth, really impress with her descriptive genius during a game of Taboo. For some teams, their command of the English language was challenged while playing Mad Gab which required reading the strange...

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Called To Suffer

One of the most glaring expressions of the contemporary church’s deviation from the gospel of Jesus Christ is pointed out by Os Guiness, when he observes, 

“Theologies compete brazenly to rationalize wealth, success and material blessing. Prosperity doctrines gush forth from rallies, radio and television (God’s got it, I can have it, and by faith I’m going to get it”). Even Psalm 23 has been revised (The Lord is my banker, my credit is good…He giveth me the key to his strongbox. He restoreth my faith in riches. He guideth me in the paths of prosperity for his namesake”).” 

Certainly, this baptized covetousness is inconsistent with the stance taken by the believers described in Hebrews 10:32-34

“But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For...

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Working as Christians

Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for, it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps

Endure suffering? You might be thinking something along the lines of, “You’ve got to be kidding. You don’t know my boss. He tries to squeeze every last bit of work out of us for as little pay as possible. And no matter how hard we work or how well we do, the only reward we get is criticism and more work.” That may be the case, but if you think your situation is so bad Peter’s admonition couldn’t possibly apply to you, realize that...

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Christians' Civic Responsibility

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing ‘good’ you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”

Honor the emperor? That doesn’t sound strange, until you realize that the emperor Peter was referring to was probably the cruel egomaniac named Nero. Then you wonder if this is the same Peter who stood up to the Jewish authorities and told them “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

To be sure, the biblical account affirms that both statements came from the apostle Peter. At the same time, the entirety of biblical teaching recognizes the truth of both statements....

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Need For Change

I once asked a friend at the beginning of the year, "What is the most humanly impossible thing you are asking God for this year?" My friend's reply was simple but heart wrenching: “A new family." It was also highly perceptive. It recognized the human need for real transformation. It's a need that is obvious in the popularity of anything that's called "new & improved" as well as our instinctive (and, dare I say, desperate) clinging to anything that promises personal growth & self- improvement. It's a need that lies at the heart of many people's striving to better their financial & social situation. Unfortunately, even when people have reached their goals, they eventually learn that the change accomplished is not enough. It is this dynamic that makes the following lines from the movie Enemy At The Gates so truthful:

Man will always be man. There is no new man. We tried so hard to create a society that was equal, where...

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Keeping Our Focus

Imagine yourself to be an Israelite on the night of the first Passover, eagerly anticipation your deliverance from Egypt: you eat the roasted lamb hurriedly, wearing your sandals, walking stick in hand. You have your loins girded. Huh? If that last phrase doesn’t quite make sense, don’t worry; it’s one of those things that make sense when you remember that during those times, people were dressed in long, flowing robes so they would tie their robes around themselves before any physically demanding activity so as to be able to move freely. In other words, to have your loins girded means to be ready for action.

The Lord Jesus Christ picked up on this imagery in Luke 12:35 when he told his disciples “Let your loins be girded about and your lights burning” to emphasize the need for them to be always alert as they await his second coming. In turn, the apostle Peter borrows the metaphor when he writes in 1 Peter 1:13 “Wherefore gird up the loins of your...

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The Context of Our Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Peter 1:3-5

Magnificent promises aren’t they? They’re almost too good to be true. As a matter of fact, that’s why they’re sometimes so hard to believe, particularly when the pain of your circumstances is so overwhelming that you’re on the verge of giving up. Promises like these can seem hollow and unreal, unless we recognize the life situation of those who originally received them.

In this case, the succeeding verses give us the harsh realities of Peter’s original audience:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been...

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Aliens in the World

Let me begin with a confession: I am an alien; I even have papers to prove it. Of course, those who know me would probably say that comes as no surprise, since I’ve always been just a tad weird. Mind you, I’m not the kind of alien Will Smith chased around in the Men in Black movies. Rather, when I was pastoring in Jamaica, the Jamaican government called a “resident alien” - a foreigner living in Jamaica.

That reality in which I lived has helped me appreciate more fully the apostle Peter’s words in 1 Peter 1:1-2:

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”

In case you haven’t realized it, Peter is writing to Gentile believers from very...

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A Living Hope

We call ourselves Living Hope Baptist Church. Sometimes, I wonder if our name isn't a cruel joke in these difficult times. However, I remember that our name is taken from a letter the apostle Peter sent to believers going through severe persecution that threatened their very lives and brought severe hardship and deprivation. It begins this way:

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord and Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and...

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