DAY THIRTEEN -- HOPE OF GLORY
Eternal Expectation, Pleasurable Anticipation,
Eager Longing, Joyful Prospect
Begin today by expressing your heart toward God concerning the blessings of your salvation. Meditate upon 1 Peter 1:3-5 below, phrase by phrase, offering words of worship in response, as you go. (To meditate, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth as you ponder questions such as: What does this mean? What does this say about God? What does this say about my life? Ask, Lord, What do you want me to know, to understand, to embrace, to do as a result of this truth?)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord 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 undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Paul wrote these words to the church in Colossae: Christ in you, the hope of glory. Spend a few minutes in quiet meditation, considering what this really means to you on a daily basis, or what it could mean. When you have finished, read the devotional.
They were a normal missionary family, traveling by houseboat up and down the Amazon River to bring the gospel and humanitarian aid to villages along its banks. One fateful day as they flew home from conducting business in the city, Peruvian narcotics agents began to fire at their small bush plane, mistaking them for drug-runners. One bullet hit both 35-year old Veronica Bowers and the baby daughter she held, killing them instantly. In a dramatic crash landing on the river, her husband Jim, their 7 year old son Corey and the plane's pilot somehow survived.
Amidst the political finger-pointing and massive international publicity, the quiet faith of Jim Bowers sparkled like a precious jewel from the ash heap of grief. In one interview with a major TV network, the host struggled to understand how Jim could be at such peace under the circumstances. Finally with obvious incredulity, she asked how he could have faith in a God who would take a baby's life. Jim responded:...I have an easy answer, even though I don't understand most of what God does. The real life isn't here on earth. There's going to be billions of years -- that's the real life. She had her little 7 months here and now she's with Him in eternity, in perfection.
With those simple words, Jim Bowers articulated a truth concerning a mystery the Bible calls our Hope of Glory. The Greek word hope literally means to anticipate with pleasure, affirming that those who experience the glory of Christ on this earth will live with joyful expectation of what is to come. That Christ dwells within our hearts by His Spirit will fill us with purpose so profound that we can endure suffering with joy, and find hope even in a baby's death.
Paul saw this as his lot in life, having been warned by Jesus from the start of the many things he would suffer for the sake of His name (Acts 9:15-16). But instead of fatalistic resignation or bitter resistance, Paul received it as a gift, challenging Timothy to join him in the holy calling of suffering for Christ (2 Timothy 1:8). After years of every imaginable form of physical, emotional and spiritual torment, Paul concluded that what he'd experienced wasn't even worthy to be compared to the glory that would be revealed one day (Romans 8:18).
Peter wrote of the inheritance reserved for believers, challenging them to rejoice in suffering, knowing that through it their faith would be perfected, resulting in praise, glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. He described his feelings about that day as joy inexpressible and full of glory (1 Peter 1:7-8). These and millions of others who have suffered for Christ throughout Christian history testify by their lives that they have tasted of something so glorious, so wonderful, that it is worth losing everything for.
The Hope of Glory within ever reminds us that this short season we call life is only a prelude to that moment when every knee will bow before the beauty of this One who has saved our souls. This is the wonder that wakes us each morning with expectation and hope, even amidst the darkest hours of our humanity. Because Jesus is our destiny, once we taste of Him, the glory that lies ahead becomes for us the real life.
Steve Saint, whose father was killed along with Jim Elliot and three others while bringing the gospel to the Auca Indians some 40 years ago, spoke at the memorial service for Veronica and Charity Bowers. Addressing his words to young Corey, he reminisced over the funeral for his own father. Remembering conversations with his mom as she tried to explain that his dad would never come home again, he shared:
So, I asked her, ‘Where did my dad go?’ And she said, ‘He went to live with Jesus.’ And you know, that's where my mom and dad had told me that we all wanted to go and live. Well, I thought, isn't that great that Daddy got to go sooner than the rest of us? And you know what? Now when people say, 'That was a tragedy,' I know they were wrong. (From a message given at the Bower's memorial service, text on: www.abwe.org/family/memorials/service_michigan.htm).
This mystery -- Christ in us, the Hope of Glory -- transforms every tragedy into a glorious triumph. We live with the pulsing reality that though some go sooner than others, our destiny is a moment when time will be no more, when we will see Jesus face to face, when anticipation will be at last eternal fulfillment. What a day, glorious day that will be.
Every redeemed soul is in-dwelt by the presence of Christ through His Spirit, who desires to fill us with joyful anticipation of what is to come, both now and in eternity. This is the hope of glory. How does your life demonstrate that your hope lies not in this life, but eternity? Would those who observe the decisions you make about time, money, possessions and relationships assume that you are living for this world or the one to come? Why?
Heaven is the real life, this earth only a temporary journey. That we might know the hope of this calling was Paul's prayer for us. We will long for eternity and translate all our experiences in light of that longing to the degree to which we have tasted of the glories of Christ on earth. Have you learned how to taste and see that He is good? Does your life reflect the spiritual discipline of prayer, of drinking from the well of His presence as your continual source? Ponder this and write a response.
O hope of glory, You have filled my soul with delight and I find myself daily craving more. I long to know You, to see You, to taste of Your goodness and then proclaim Your worth to this superficial world so caught up in its temporal treasures. I wonder why, in the light of Your glory, I ever settle for lesser things. How is it that this life can so consume me when I am headed for eternity with You? When I am only a vapor while You are forever? Draw me O hope of glory, to the place where I can see Your beauty and live with a holy desire to see it exalted. Let the riches of my inheritance in glory explode within, until filled with pleasurable anticipation of eternity, I forget the past and press on toward You my precious Jesus.
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