HIGH HOPES and GREAT EXPECTATIONS
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
JANUARY 16, 2011
HOPE – PEACE - LOVE
“Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” (Eph. 1:18)
The New Year has arrived and with it new opportunities, new glimpses into God’s plan for our lives, new chances to share the hope that is within us to anyone God puts in our path to hear it. Last week, we shared our niece Angie Blattner’s Blog with you, which many of you found inspiring. This week, her account of feeding the hungry children near Manilla, in the Philippines, broke my heart as I felt the pain of these little ones. Later, as I prayed for Angie and the others ministering to them under the adverse condition of not having enough food, medicine, or other bare necessities, the thought came to me that somewhere along the way, some of us have drifted off the path Jesus called us to walk. We have been too overly concerned with helping people to live righteous lives so they can qualify for heaven when they die, rather than following Jesus’ example of helping them live better lives now. This is what Angie and all missionaries are doing far from hearth and home, family and friends.
Two little children being fed and introduced to Jesus.
When He was on earth, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal, to kill and to destroy, but I have come to bring them life in its fullness.” (John 10:10, Phil.) The sin condition has brought the world to the pitiful state we find it in today. Where governments are corrupt, the people have no option but to survive by whatever means they can. Thus, in so many countries, they sell their young girls as sex slaves; people starve; human rights are nonexistent. That is “business as usual” in many parts of the world today. These hopeless people are not worried about their eternal existence, because they are too busy trying to find food to eat and a roof over their heads today. All of us need hope to thrive, and Christ is the only hope mankind has of a better life. Paul wrote that Christ in us is our hope of glory. Without hope, there is no vision, and without vision, the people perish.
Over the years of being on the Internet, many have questioned why we bother to send missionaries or preachers to pagan lands if Christ is going to save everyone anyway. Why? What’s the point? Because God loves us all unconditionally right where we are now! He died for everyone, not just the righteous, for after all, “None is righteous, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:10) The abundant life of hope and expectation comes only in Christ. People who do not know Him, even the wealthiest people, are already in hell now, here on this earth.
CNN’s Hero of the Year Award went to a tiny woman who has spent her life rescuing girls in India who were sold as sex slaves by their parents, because they needed money to live. She herself was sold as a young child and now, her passion is to set others free. She is not a Christian, so the freedom she offers is for this life. That is not to discount her work, but merely to point out that Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) It is THAT eternal freedom that Christ alone offers which draws all men unto Him.
And yet people need to eat in order to live, and I was moved by Angie’s conviction to ask the Lord to multiply the food they have to feed the starving children in the Manilla area. Many of us have hungered to see that which Isaiah declared: “The Glory of Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” (Isa. 40:5) That promise raptured me decades ago, because there is coming a day when the power of God will be available today, just as it was in the First Century, to His ministers, missionaries, to all declarers of the Good News. I hope and pray along with Angie and her fellow ministers to these children and others that this day is coming soon. That “all flesh” shall see it speaks to life on this earth, not the next life after we die. We need Him now to fulfill the great and precious promises declared in scripture, upon which our high hopes and great expectations rest.
This is Jesus’ definition of His ministry: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Lk. 4:18-19) His ministry in and through us is still to deliver the sick and addicted, the mentally and physically afflicted, the needy, greedy, and fearful from their bondage.
It is our great hope and expectation that 2011 will be the acceptable year of the Lord in all our lives that we may flow out to others, filled up, pressed down, and running over with the glory of God to all flesh on this earth. Father, we glorify Your name in all the earth as You give us opportunity and freedom to do so. We love and adore You and worship You as You unveil Your perfect will for Your children. We rest in Your absolute sovereignty and unconditional love. In Christ, we live and move and have our being, amen.