Awake in His Likeness

As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness– Psalms 17:15. This is a future promise of God revealed to us by King David, a promise that many past believers had hope in; it is the promise to wake up with thy likeness, the likeness of the Savior ― this same future promise is promised to all believers who will ascend up in their Savior’s likeness; Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body– Philippians 3:21.” ~LMJ~

When I Awake

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

Psalms 17:15:
As for me {David}, I will behold thy face {his Savior’s face} in righteousness: I shall be satisfied {big time!}, when I awake, with thy likeness.

David died years ago (I Chronicles 29:26-28), yet he spoke of waking up to behold his Savior’s face. How can this be except for resurrection? The words when I awake breathes David’s essential beliefs in his personal resurrection, and with thy likeness is the likeness of his Redeemer, Christ the Lord. King David and all believers who will awake will have the integral likeness of Christ, and will embody the fullness of life everlasting for eternity.

The Christian believer will be in what the Scriptures define as the “gathering together” and we will be taken up through the clouds above. This is the beginning of entering into our heavenly inheritance that will be enjoyed throughout an eternal lifetime in the heavenlies. We are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17), and when Christ returns, “we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2).

We will have his likeness, for our bodies will “be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21), having perfect synergism in his likeness. Being joint-heirs with Christ is sharing fully, whereas Israel’s inheritance in the Promised Land will be divided amongst them. However, the Christian believers’ everlasting inheritance in heaven will be given to all of us to equally enjoy.

Acts 2:22-27:
-22: Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
-23: Him {Jesus}, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
-24: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
-25: For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
-26: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
-27: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One {Jesus Christ} to see corruption.

King David always kept the hope of his Savior alive in his heart hundreds of years before the first coming of Christ. David continuously held in reserve Jesus Christ before my face, meaning he at all times looked towards Jesus and his day of deliverance. The end result for looking unto Jesus was that Jesus was his guaranteed hope (as well as ours), for eternal life – as David confessed – “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.” Knowing Jesus Christ personally through knowing the Scriptures assured David of his eternal life which daily allowed his heart to rejoice and as he spoke of Jesus, his tongue was glad which also gave others the hope of Christ’s return.

Psalms 28:7-8:
-7: The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.
-8: The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed.

The anointed of God is Jesus Christ, and God is the saving strength of Jesus Christ (See Acts 2:22-24 above). Jesus is our interceder (between God and man), and Jesus Christ reveals to the heart that searches for God, the magnificence of God Himself.

Knowing Christ causes our hearts to greatly rejoice, and a glad tongue comes to us by speaking about the accomplishments of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Witnessing to others that Jesus died for our sins, that he was resurrected and seated at the right hand of God, that he is returning for us at some future moment to take us home surely causes the tongue to be glad.

Acts 2:28:
Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance {presence}.

Coming to personally know Jesus Christ gives to the believer understanding about the ways of life, such as how to genuinely walk with God. Jesus Christ was always pleasing to God (Matthew 3:17). As we ourselves look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), he will also teach us how to be pleasing to God, for Jesus is always present within our hearts, showing believers the ways of life, which actuates our entitlement of being full of joy. “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me” (Psalms 49:15).

Hope of resurrection is written throughout the Scriptures, and the followers of the ways of life may ascribe to abiding in this eternal truth, “that when they awake in resurrection, they awake in the likeness of God’s Son.”

You Could Go Back in Time and Hear This Call!

Interesting to note that in the Old Testament King David WAS a man after own God’s own heart (I Samuel 13:14, Psalms 89:20, and Acts 13:22), but today, in the New Testament, in this age of grace, God IS a Spirit after OUR OWN HEART (John 4:23-24)! He has been trying to reach you and me from the beginning, and in truth, He called us from before the world began (Ephesians 1:4, II Thessalonians 2:13), and perhaps we have answered and become children after God’s own heart.” ~LMJ~

Giving Our Hearts to God

Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

In this study, we are going to be looking at one of most misunderstood sections recorded in the Gospels regarding a statement that Jesus made about a woman who gave all she had. But before we quote the passages and begin looking at what Jesus was teaching, I want to make the point that giving is a spiritual principle that will always return blessings back to the one who is the giver. God is the “possessor of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:19, 22), and He honestly does not need financial support from His children to make His ends meet, but much more what He desires of us is our love and respect, prayer and faithfulness. There are spiritual and physical reasons for giving; giving proves to ourselves that God is real and caring for us by blessing us in multiple ways. When we know for certain that He has blessed us, then giving from a cheerful heart (which is offered in thankfulness) becomes a way of life that bountifully reaps. “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (II Corinthians 9:6), and God’s desire is that His children reap bountifully.

In the Book of Acts, we have the story of the Apostle Paul who walked up on Mars’ Hill in Athens to preach the Word of God.

Acts 17:22–25:
-22: Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
-23: For as I passed by, and beheld {and I looked on all of} your devotions {Paul is referring to all their idols, deities, statues, and altars that the Athenians had set up along the walkway leading to the top of the hill}, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him {the unknown God} declare I unto you.
-24: God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
-25: Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing {emphasis supplied}, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.

The altar with the inscription to the unknown god was set up by the Athenians because they were so into worshiping any and all the gods of the world that they had set up an extra altar just in case they may have forgotten anyone. If so, then they had that situation covered; thus, they hoped to not offend the peoples of the world who came to study and worship in their philosophically academic city, “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). They were more into political correctness in Athens than we are these days. Paul was able to use the unknown god altar and theme to introduce to them the true Lord of heaven and earth, and the first thing he teaches them is that God does not dwell in manmade temples, but rather He dwells in the hearts of people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior who said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” (I Corinthians 3:6). Indeed if a believer happens to be in a temple, then so is God, but He does not dwell in empty buildings without His people being present, “the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts 7:48). Could the Scriptures be more explicit? The Scriptures teach “for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (II Corinthians 6:16).

Please, do not get me wrong, places of worship are needed and inspiring to the hearts of believers who gather in His name; as well, those places are blessed by God, but this does not change the truth that WE are the actual “habitation of God!” Indeed one can find God anyplace and miss Him anywhere, although “in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). When the heart turns to Him ― then He is discovered within “written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (II Corinthians 3:3). His most sacred abode is in His beloved children, as we read in Ephesians, chapter 2.

Ephesians 2:19–22:
-19: Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
-20: And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
-21: In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
-22: In whom ye {YOU!} also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

As far as giving directly to God, Paul taught in Acts 17:25, above, that, “Neither is {God} worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” There is nothing you can bring to the altar that emanates from the works of the flesh that God requires of you; NO, not your money or other gifts are required by God to prove your worth to Him because you have been already made worthy by the offering of Jesus ― on your behalf, and his gift suffices for all ― forever (Hebrews 10:12–14). Interesting to note that in the Old Testament, King David WAS a man after own God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), but today, in the New Testament, in grace, God IS a Spirit after OUR OWN HEART (John 4:23–24)! He has been trying to reach you from the beginning, and in truth, He called you from before the world began (Ephesians 1:4, II Thessalonians 2:13).

It is TRUTH that makes us free (John 8:32) rather than our finances and/or the amounts we give away in any capacity. Christians are not instructed in the Scriptures to be tithing simply for the sake of giving, or to give because they have been threatened with the supposed retribution of God or to hold to the false mindset of “give to get,” but much rather we “want to give” because we have received, then you have something to give. We can be inspired with the love of God to become cheerful givers who have placed our believing trust and hearts into the care of our heavenly Father.

Mark 12:41–44:
-41: And Jesus set over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
-42: And there came a certain poor {humble} widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
-43: And he {Jesus} called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor {humble} widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
-44: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. {This is also recorded in the Gospel of Luke 21:1–4.}

The treasury reference above is not in relation to the tithe outlined in Old Testament Law, but rather, this treasury was for many reasons, some religious and some secular, for donations such as giving to community needs for relief. (In the Companion Bible, page 1414, the footnote on this verse reads, “the treasury. Situated in the woman’s court, occupying about 200 feet square, and surrounded by a colonnade. Inside, against the wall, were thirteen receptacles, called ‘trumpets’ (from their shape): nine being for legal dues, and four for voluntary contributions. All labeled for their special objects.”) For instance, one container may have been given to help support the homeless, another for widows and the fatherless, another for disaster or famine relief, another for public works, and so on. We still have these kinds of fundraising containers today, such as for The United Way, The Salvation Army, The Red Cross, the latest catastrophe, and so forth.

Yet, unscrupulously, the standard teaching about the verses above from Mark 12 has been interpreted that this poor little widow caught the Savior’s eye ONLY because she had given away all that she needed to live on, while the rest of the people were merely giving only out of their abundance, and were not really true believers because they were not making any real sacrifice for the Lord. Then, folks like these imply in sundry ways that the more poverty we endure on earth, well then, the greater and richer our eternities will be with heavenly rewards. Oh – baloney! Come on – really? This kind of preaching may instigate a real roof-raising experience at meeting – in temple – at worship, but it completely negates the true teaching of Jesus and of any common sense or decency.

Jesus saw all the people who were giving, not just the widow. Jesus simply observed that of all the donations he personally saw that day coming into the treasury came from people’s abundance, except for that one “poor widow.” Please note that Jesus never said that everyone else was wrong, nor did he say that those people who gave of their abundance were going to hell for giving only what they didn’t need anyways, as I have heard this passage qualified. Nowhere in the Gospels did Jesus preach that giving of one’s abundance is a bad thing; besides, all those people were giving to the Temple treasury (which was a good thing).

Sometimes those who desire more money from believers to make church-ends meet, who come to see their parishioners only as “their cash flow” can fall away from what is important and that is that God is our sufficiency as much as He is theirs. They can often rise up to becoming people like Ezekiel 22:27 references, “Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.” Now I know that people like this are not everywhere, they are few and far between, but we do come across them from time to time who think that our finances are in reality theirs to coerce out and gather up in the guise of “good works for the Lord.” The shedding of blood in Ezekiel 22:27 is in reference to taking away what one honestly worked for through their efforts by way of blood, sweat, and tears.

If we ever come across their paths, then God’s Word wants us to be aware of their motives as well as their end and ours if we become their enablers by hook or crook. Leaders are instructed to, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind” (I Peter 5:2), and filthy lucre is dishonorable gains of cash that are extracted by greed. People who are motivated to this kind of gain are “destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (I Timothy 6:5). “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want {more and more although acquiring less and less}” (Proverbs 22:16). If we give to corruption what will we reap (Galatians 6:7–8)?

Please Consider!

Haggai 1:5–7:
-5: Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.
-6: Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.
-7: Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

This is what happens when filthy lucre is extracted from the children of God ― everybody involved comes up short! Even the funds collected from the innocent are so named filthy lucre. “Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous” (Deuteronomy 16:19). And yet, once I was told by a church leader to only witness to people who met two requirements, 1) they had to have a good paying job, and 2) they had to own a car. Why? Because on average, people who owned a car and worked hard gave more money at church and they were considered nothing more than numbers for balancing the ledgers. I’m sure Jesus never looked at one’s finances before helping them; in fact, he spent much more time with the sick, sinners, and the needy, with those society would throw away, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17), and he was “a friend of publicans and sinners” (Luke 7:34).

Presenting: God’s way of giving, “Every man shall give as he is able, according {ACCORDING} to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee” (Deuteronomy 16:17). We never are instructed to “give to get”; that is not the kind of trade-off God desires; we “get to give!” We all too often reverse God’s will by trying to out-give Him or bypassing His will altogether and never truly receive all that we could. The Bible reveals “freely ye have received, {THEN} freely give” (Matthew 10:8). All we own from God’s perspective is His to begin with, but until we really come to that realization, our stuff is still ours. The wise path is to use our stuff for His glory, then we are all in, and that is all in to receiving our personal needs met by God. Paul questions “what hast thou that thou didst not receive” (I Corinthians 4:7)? You see, all we have is either ours or His, and if you give what you need away, which was given to support you, then why would He give you what He gave you again if all you do is give it away? That is not being a faithful steward, but is an unwise act. There is nothing wrong with giving regardless of how much one gives because when one gives from the heart, then God certainly is blessed, and as well, one will always receive back more abundantly when their heart is in the gift given. But giving should never be done as payment in the hopes of receiving blessings of healing or abundance in return; it’s not tit-for-tat.

The widow in Mark 12 was most definitely giving something beyond her abundance, something no one else gave that day, but what? She had no extra money to give; in fact, she gave very little, two mites. Yet this humble widow was giving something much more precious than money, for she gave to God all her living. The key to understanding the point that Jesus was making to his disciples is in knowing the meaning of the word living, it means one’s life, she was committing herself, her life to God as her sufficiency in life.

This is what Jesus was referring to when he said that she, “cast more in than all they which have cast into the treasury” for she was casting all her cares upon God! She realized that her life was the greatest gift that she could return to God. In the Greek Text the word for “poor” is the word for humble, she was humble before God. She had recognized what so very few people do and that is that God uplifts the humble.

James 4:10 reads, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” She realized that the greatest thing that she could give was herself to God, and acknowledged Him as the real source of her happiness and her true sufficiency in life.

The notion that she gave even what she needed to live on is ridiculous. What kind of blessing or benefit would it really be if she literally starved to death? None, whatsoever!

I could say, “Gee, I wished that God would just give me a million dollars, but my true need at this very minute is that I really need a hot meal!” So if I could thank God for that, well then He can go to work and “do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). Then dessert will be forthcoming, and that is the abundant life in spades!

Do you know what the difference is between one dollar and a million dollars? The amount of zeroes used. God can add zeroes to anyone who gives from the heart to bless others because zeroes are no big thing to God and are something quite marvelous when someone gives with a cheerful heart to others in need. Then He can go to work blessing their account for counting on Him as their true sufficiency in life.

When one commits their ways to the Lord, what they will receive is true spiritual freedom and the desires of their hearts, which is something one does not pay for but receives from God (see Psalms 27:2-6). One desire of the heart is to be a blessing to others, to give help or support when that is needed. All too often Christians cannot help because they are way too strapped in both time and resources, but when God gives time, redeemed time (Colossians 4:5), and the power to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18), then giving finds a godly way to be supportive of the needs in our communities and in our fellowship or church outreach programs.

Receiving first, as a biblical principle may seem counterintuitive to common sense but it is a principal to godly receiving. “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee” (Proverbs 4:5–9)

I Peter 5:6:
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

Our Comfort in Hope (The Longer Version)

 Written by Larry M. Jaynes:

There are hundreds of promises written in the Bible, and these are available to those who know they exist, obtainable to those who have found them, and they are most certainly reachable for those who will believe to receive them. In II Peter 1:4, we read that God has “given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,” and these promises are given to believers in order that we may partake in the bountifulness of God’s divine nature. Still, there are other things that the Bible reveals that are totally out of our reach, and thus even with believing we cannot receive them, such things as having our heavenly treasures now or receiving our new heavenly bodies. We cannot spend and enjoy any of our heavenly currency that we have laid up (in heaven, Matthew 6:20; Colossians 3:24) until we arrive, nor may we have our new and indestructible, eternal bodies until Christ returns, neither can we believe for Jesus to return any quicker and arrive on a timetable of our choosing.

Whenever we cannot believe for something that the Bible promises we shall receive, then the Bible tells us so by placing them in the category of HOPE, which is to be a future reality, a definite certainty, but we just cannot have them now. All of the hope that God reveals in the Bible is given to bring comfort to believers as we read in Jeremiah 29.

Jeremiah 29:11 (The Amplified Bible):* 
For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for {your} welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.

I Corinthians 9:10 declares, “he that ploweth should plow in hope,” because we do not reap the harvest at the moment we have plowed, rather the produce comes in after the ground is prepared, the seeds have been planted, the soil has been watered, the weeds have been pulled, the temperature cooperates, and the sun has supplied its energy. Still, the hope was also planted on the very day of tillage in the heart of the farmer, for he has expectation for a future crop, to give him hope in his final outcome. A farmer sows and cultivates with the hope that there soon will be a bountiful harvest for him to reap while his work continues (see Romans 8:24–25, below).

Whenever it is available to receive an immediate promise from God, then the Bible tells us to have believing faith to realize that promise. But whenever we find promises in the Bible that we cannot presently have, then these are always in the category of hope, and hope is always future. Yet even hope will come to fulfillment when in the course of time we do reap, but the receiving of these are always on God’s timetable; believing is on our timetable and given to us by God at the precise moment in time that we truly believe to receive the promises in the Bible, promises that we have claimed in Jesus Christ’s name (Mark 9:23).

So then, Christians who are “only hoping” for God to bless them in the present tense rarely do receive any abundance (from God), while Christians who believe really do receive abundance (from God). Our needs are truly supplied as soon as the biblical requirement of believing is applied; thus, the descriptive term for Christians is “believers.” Jesus taught, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24). Believing is so much more satisfying than simply hoping that something might happen for our immediate needs. Believing is for now – hope is for later, believing is powerful – hope is quiescent, believing appropriates the promises of God – hope is anticipating the future promises of God, believing is something you are in control of – hope is coming in the future and in God’s hands, believing is receiving – hope comforts with upcoming expectation.

There is also a third category that I like to call “impractical beliefs or hopes.” If one was to believe or hope for a slice of cheese from out of the moon, they would not receive it because the moon is not made out of cheese. We could believe or hope for awful, bad things to happen to people who have wronged us in the past, but this is really an ineffectual use of our time and effort. James 4:3 calls this asking amiss, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss.” We would be better off not believing or hoping for things that the Bible does not promise us; for instance, believing or hoping for someone to change their mind and “fall hopelessly in love with us” because God will not tamper with someone’s free will and force them to love. But, thankfully, we can inspire someone with the love of God to want to love without crossing any of the boundaries of one’s free will.

 Romans 8:24-25 (The Amplified Bible):**
-24: For in [this] hope we were saved {this hope is referring to “the redemption of our body” Romans 8:23, which will take place at a future moment, and thus it is called hope}. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For how can one hope for what he already sees?
-25: But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure.

Notice that the Text says we were saved, yet the redemption of our bodies is still to happen, but with the hope, we have a definite salvation, it is our ever present hope for a glorious future, for it is already ours. We were saved is in the past tense to assure us that the hope of salvation is always ours, and that we cannot change this eternal truth no matter what we may believe, for God gives the hope, and that hope is in His hands to give. Thank God that hope is in His power to give, for I am sure we would mess it up along the way if it were up to us. Colossians 1:5 reveals that “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven,” is ever presently waiting, but out of our reach, for the hope is laid up for us in heaven. Yet the fullness of this hope will be a wonderful future experience for all believers, and thus we are encouraged to wait for it with patience. Hope is always to receive a future of blessings for our walking with God today. We will, after the return of Christ, be given all the blessings promised, yet today we patiently wait in hope to receive, and this hope is given to us now as it is Our Comfort in Hope.

I Thessalonians 5:8 encourages us to, “let us, who are of the day {i.e., enlightened by God’s Word}, be sober {minded}, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” This helmet is our future hope of salvation, for hope encourages the mind of the believer to “take the helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17) into our lives to the point that we are assured of our eternal destiny. This helmet helps to protect the mind wherein your believing emanates, for when doubts come at you about your true destiny of redemption, the helmet, your hope of salvation, is given to you to prevent those outside distractions from penetrating or disheartening your God-given hope in your future glory to ever be with the Lord (Colossians 3:4).

Is not God quite awesome to have given us promises to believe in for our immediate needs, and as well, other promises for our future that we may hope in and look forward to their fruition? And as we learn of these, our hope will continue to grow while we, with excited anticipation, look forward to these lovely things God has prepared for us.

Romans 15:13: 
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing {for our immediate needs}, that ye may abound in hope {for our future}, through the power of the Holy Ghost {holy spirit}.

Hope is not an elusive concept of speculation about our future, but something that can powerfully abound in our inner souls, for abounding hope allows the believer to enjoy this life without a doubt about their eternal destiny.

Romans 5:5: 
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost {holy spirit} which is given to us.

Where shame or doubt once lived in one’s soul, hope now can occupy that space, for where shame would have festered in one’s heart ― hope now permeates with the joy of experiencing the love of God. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed” (Philippians 1:20).

How many Christians are there who feel almost reticent or guilty just for being a believer, or embarrassed because they go to church, or ashamed for being associated with others who are of their same belief who have wrongfully abused their religion? But on the other hand, the Apostle Paul taught, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). Hope is what invigorates the believer to stand with God and fellow believers through adversity, and to help us endure the difficult times in life, because we have been given the hope of a blissful future.

The greatest hope that the Christian has is the return of Christ to gather us up together with him in the clouds.

Having hope, especially the hope of Christ’s return and our gathering together unto him maketh not ashamed, meaning just the opposite of shame, giving us something that we can indeed be so very proud of, as hope fills the desire in our hearts to want to tell anyone who will listen that Jesus is coming back. Paul said in I Corinthians 15:19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” The context of this verse is that if we hope in Christ and our gathering together to be with him for eternity, and if he were not to return, then we should be the most wretched people on the planet for hoping in vain. However, and thank God, our hope is that Christ indeed is returning and then we will be gathered up and blessed for all eternity. For the present time, God has given to us His own love and the permission to believe His promises to us which will help sustain our lives as we continue to believe and enjoy His healing Word that guarantees our pleasurable expectations of divine hope.

I Thessalonians 4:12-13:
-12: That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without {without hope}, and that ye may have lack of nothing {by believing}.
-13: But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

Whenever you read in the Bible that God would not have you ignorant, it is because He wants you to be knowledgeable of something. In the upcoming verses from I Thessalonians, you will learn what God would have you to understand. You see, your God desires that you have, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling” (Ephesians 1:18). The hope of his calling relates to being risen up to enjoy eternal life with your Savior. That ye sorrow not is the very reason that this section in I Thessalonians 4:12–18 is written, for we have been given a tremendous hope to ever be with the Lord.

Today we are spiritually risen with Christ (Ephesians 2:5–6), but in the future our God-given hope is to be physically changed and risen as Titus 2:13 confirms that we should be, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Looking for this blessed hope (rather than being fearful of that great and glorious day), so we may humbly thank God because we have been given such a wonderful hope for that splendid day!

 Philippians 3:20-21 (The Amplified Bible):**
-20: But we are citizens of the state (commonwealth, homeland) which is in heaven, and from it also we earnestly and patiently await [the coming of] the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [as] Savior,
-21: Who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty, by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself.

See our wonderful hope in these verses? We will have our bodies completely changed, from short-term vessels to everlasting vessels that can sail through the heavenlies, and that, my friend, will be with a new, changed, glorious body! This is our assured hope.

I Thessalonians 4:14:  
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him {with Jesus}.

God in this verse is comforting the living, letting us know that the sleeping believers’ hope of the return of Christ is still true and still a future event and God has not forgotten them and He will bring them with us into heaven at the “gathering together” (II Thessalonians 2:1–2). The phrase sleep in Jesus refers to the believers who have passed away, believers who did have the hope of Christ returning for them will God bring with him up to heaven. We, the living, who also believe that Jesus died and rose again, will also be gathered up when Christ returns.

Psalms 17:15:  
As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.

This is a future promise of God revealed to us by King David, a promise that many past believers had hope in; it is the promise to wake up with thy likeness, the likeness of the Savior ― this same future promise is promised to all believers who have fallen asleep.

I Thessalonians 4:15: 
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord {by revelation}, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord {Christ Jesus} shall not prevent {precede} them which are asleep.

This verse shows us the order in which believers will rise, the sleeping believers will be the first raised, and then we which are alive and remain here on earth will follow them up as the next verse will further detail. The Bible uses the word asleep for believers who have passed away, and it is an accurate translation, because Christ indeed will raise them from the dead. At that time, they will feel as though they just woke up from a good night’s sleep, only they will have new bodies that live for eternity! I Corinthians 15:42–44 sheds some tremendous light on this, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is {to be} a spiritual body.” What an amazing hope we have! “And as we have borne the image of the earthy {body}, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly {body}” (I Corinthians 15:49).

I Thessalonians 4:16: 
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first;

When Christ returns, the sleeping (passed away) believers shall rise first; this is the order which the Bible reveals to us. When Christ returns during this “gathering together,” only he himself comes down as far as the clouds above, and the believes who were once alive will be raised up and out from among all the rest of the dead to meet Christ in the clouds. This is why the angel said to the Apostles in the Book of Acts 1:11 “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” This is what the Apostles saw “while they beheld, he {Jesus} was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). Thus, the return of this same Jesus will be similar because believers will be gathered up in like manner to the gathering in the clouds, and from thence, it’s off to heaven ― oh, what a glorious hope we have!

Christ returning only as far as the clouds has nothing whatsoever to do with his return to earth, which will occur later. The events of his returning to earth are revealed in many Scriptures such as in Daniel, the Gospels, and Revelation. But this return should not be confused with our gathering and rising upwards, which is our expected hope. You see, Jesus’ literal return to the earth “cometh as a thief in the night” (I Thessalonians 5:2), totally unexpectedly. BUT, thankfully, we have been assured with the comfort of hope that we will be with Jesus (in heaven before II Peter 3:10 happens), and before he as the King of kings and Lord of lords returns to the earth, and that day will not “overtake you as a thief” (I Thessalonians 5:4). Thus, the day of the Lord cannot – will not – and is impossible to overtake you as a thief!

I Thessalonians 4:17: 
Then we {believers} which are alive and remain {here on earth} shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

This is the “gathering together;” this is your hope, to ever be with the Lord where everlasting reunions with families, loved ones, and friends will commence and never end. This is the hope that God in Christ has given you for your comfort, for your future goals, for at that time God will dry all your tears in the warmth and love of His divine presence. Your body will also be transformed from an earthly to a heavenly body, and from a mortal to an immortal being!

I Thessalonians 4:18: 
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Hope is sort of like having a life insurance policy underwritten by the bank of God (offices located only in heaven), and delivered to you by God’s agent, Jesus Christ, and you, yes, only you will be doing the collecting! Oh what a glorious day for you to anticipate, the day when you gather up all the dividends you have coming, and mind you – with accumulated interest – talk about a rollover – wow – you will be rolling over with extreme joyfulness! Thus, we are encouraged to comfort one another with these words.

I John 3:1: 
BEHOLD, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

To BEHOLD is to admire, to recognize, and to fathom the actual love bestowed upon us by our heavenly Father. We are called the sons of God; this is an all-inclusive noun for all the children of God, male and female, young and old. God, being our Father, has given to us His own characteristics, namely (from the above verse) His love, of which the world has never known because the world has never really known or understood the Father. Jesus said, O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these {referring to believers} have known that thou hast sent me- John 17:25, and Jesus made known God (John 1:18) as our righteous Father, and His love He has bestowed upon us and this love we are encouraged to BEHOLD. Where is the fear? Where is the shame? Where is the doubt? Undoubtedly – not in God’s loving words to us, and truly – not in our comfort of hope, and certainly – not in our never-ending future!

I John 3:2: 
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and {in the future} it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

You and I could spend all day just considering this first word beloved, we are beloved of God, the Creator of heaven and earth! All I can say about this is, what a privilege we have been given! You see, we do not become the actual sons of God at some point in the future because Beloved, now are we the sons of God! However, in the future what it will really mean to be His sons and daughters is beyond our comprehension, thus, it doth not yet appear what we shall be. A great illustration of this can be observed from the Epistle of Romans 8:17, where it emphatically states that we are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ,” yet how can we truly grasp this awe-inspiring reality? Being heirs of everything that belongs to God is unfathomable, yet this is a part of our splendid hope; this hope is ours because we are not only heirs of God but we are also joint-heirs with Christ! God has made us heirs of heaven’s throne with every right and privilege that genuine, beloved sons and daughters deserve for their believing today.

The details have yet to be revealed on the significance of all that we truly have, but it would not hurt to look up at a night sky and at least look over some of our future inheritance. This we can know will be ours and hope for, because when Christ returns for us, then we will be just like him, “fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). For then we will clearly see him as he currently is, as we look over and enjoy our complete inheritance.

When Christ was raised from the dead, he had a new body of unimaginable splendor. He could travel the lengths of the universe in the blink of an eye, appear and disappear at will, and be recognized only when he wanted to be recognized. This is how he is! This is how we will see him when he returns. This is how we will be when he returns. What an amazing, glorious hope we have been given! This makes life go from just manageable to downright exciting ― this is given to us for our daily Comfort.

Just knowing the outcome makes it easier to not fret the small things, and the larger things easier to believe positively to overcome in today’s world. II Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” What this verse means is that every pressure we endure today ― called, our light affliction, is in reality minuscule in duration (is but for a moment), compared to the amount of everlasting blessings that we will receive in heaven for enduring through all the pressure of this current hour. Corinthians continues, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:18).

Our example is Jesus who saw his ultimate destiny, which made it possible for him to endure the pressures of crucifixion. “Who {Jesus} for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising {setting aside or ignoring} the shame, and is {now} set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus’ seat at the right hand of God was his hope, was the joy that was set before him, as it is our hope. Jesus was enabled to ignore the shame of being nailed to a cross. He was perfect and sinless and always had done only good, yet he was despised, cursed, beaten, and ridiculed, and what strengthened him was hope, the helmet of salvation, for this showed him the joy that God set before him. We have been given this same amazing hope, the hope that displaces shame, as this same hope with joy is now set before us.

 I John 3:3: 
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

To become what God’s Word promises we will become ― that is our hope, and as we put our trusting hope in this, we become purified (today) as much as Christ is pure. The hope of Jesus Christ’s return purifies the hearts and souls of believers today because the hope itself is a pure hope, inspirationally uplifting. You see, we can sometimes mess up when we believe (see the third category above, “impractical beliefs or hopes”), but we cannot mess up our glorious hope, thank God.

Hope in Christ’s return for you will continue to purify you equally and proportionately to the purity of Christ himself. The hope that purifies assures the believer that he or she can presently enjoy wonderful days of hoping. The believer can know that he or she already is destined to be an elite member of God’s heavenly family (Ephesians 2:19–22), because the believer has been called by His Excellency, the Creator of the heavens and earth to be His very own child who may enjoy His love that is currently within our hearts. How many people are there out there, even in Christendom, who fear their future? But what an awesome calling and hope we have been guaranteed! As we continue anticipating the hope, our hope of Christ’s return for us, we will continuously purify our heart and mind to the pure healing Word of God ― this in truth is Our Comfort in Hope.

II Timothy 4:7–8 (The Amplified Bible):**
-7: I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith.
-8: [As to what remains] henceforth there is laid up for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me and recompense me on that [great] day ― and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His appearing (His return) {our splendid hope}.

*Scripture taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE, Old Testament copyright (c) 1965, 1989 by the Zondervan Corporation.
Used by permission.

**Scripture taken from THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE.
The Amplified New Testament copyright (c) 1958, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation.
Used by permission.