Aloha Friday Message – February 21, 20020 – Our Hope is Perfect

2008AFC022120 – Our Hope is Perfect

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   Matthew 5:48 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today’s Key Verse is really short, but it leads to many additional verses that are also Key Verses. In Matthew 5:48, we have a command that is easily skimmed over because [1] it is short, and [2] it is – in practical terms – pretty much impossible. Who do you know that can be perfect? I’m not asking “who do you know who thinks they’re perfect,” I’m asking if you know any human alive today who is or could be perfect right this very moment. For most of us, the only way to perfection is through the saving Power of the Blood of the Lamb, and even that power is something we ourselves cannot generate, so how in the World does Jesus expect us to be Perfect? To answer that, we need to look at what “perfect” meant to Jesus, to the Apostle Paul, and to us today.

What do you think of when you try to imagine someone – any person who is not part of the Trinity – who is perfect? One of the words that might come to mind is kind of “old-fashioned”: Blameless. That would be someone who is holy, without faults, righteous – someone like we might find in the Bible. Here are a couple of examples we could consider:

Genesis 6:9 These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. צַדִּ֛יק (ṣad-dîq) { tsad-deek’} just, righteous, blameless, innocent

Genesis 17:1 1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty [El Shaddai]; walk before me, and be blameless. תָּמִים (tamim) {taw-meem’} complete, whole, entire, intact, unblemished, known for integrity, mature

Another characteristic we might think of is the ability to live-through being in the presence of God. In the Old Testament, such a person is Moses. He and his brother, Aaron, gave old Pharaoh quite a lot to think about, and even more gave the Nation of Israel a future. Here’s an example: Exodus 33:9-11 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. 10 When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down, all of them, at the entrance of their tent. 11 Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent. We know we can talk to God in prayer, but who of us can speak to him “ face to face, as one speaks to a friend“? Who but Moses spoke with God face-to-face? That takes some towering Faith – Faith that is filled with everlasting Grace.

These men acted on the basis of Faith. What is it about Faith, what characteristic do we see in people of Faith, that makes such things possible? It is Hope. Let’s take a look at the Apostle Paul’s take of Faith and Hope: Hebrews 11:1-3 1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. And there is even more about hope in these passages:

Romans 8:24-25 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. These two aspects of life – hope and patience – seem to me to be wholly connected. Like that old song “Love and Marriage” says, “Ya can’t have one without the other.” Here’s what I mean.

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. The term “endurance” here is hupomone {hoop-om-on-ay’} which is patient continuance, steadfastness, constancy; not swerving from our deliberate purpose and loyalty to faith and piety; perseverance despite opposition because there is hope to sustain one’s faith that the future holds a better outcome for us. In fact, I have often seen that without hope one cannot be patient, because there is nothing to wait for, no expectation of relief from suffering.

Conversely, one cannot sustain hope if one is not patient. Hope is for those things we cannot see, but can expect because of Faith. Hope and Patience are inextricably bound together. And Belovéd, we have often seen that when we lose one, the other often fails as well. We lose hope because our patience is exhausted when we wait for a long time. We lose patience because our perception of hope fades when we see less and less hope that change will bring favorable outcomes. If we are to be capable of waiting for a very long time, we must be capable of extraordinary patience. Think of the Hebrews in Egypt. They went down to Egypt during a famine while Joseph was the Vizier and named as Governor of Egypt. They waited for a very long time for God to take them out of Egypt and restore them to their ancestral lands. Do you remember marveling at this passage in Exodus 12:40-4? – 40 The time that the Israelites had lived in Egypt was four hundred thirty years. 41 At the end of four hundred thirty years, on that very day, all the companies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. That is an outcome of patience borne out by hope and hope that bears the spiritual fruit of patience. There must have been a HUGE hope sustaining and nurturing their patience! FOUR-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY YEARS LATER, So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me. (See Exodus 10:3 and 5 other passages in Exodus 5 – Exodus 13 – the story of the Plagues in Egypt) What could be so inspiring that a nation would wait 430 years for it to happen? How about returning to God; returning to the land God had given them; to holiness in life, and blessings from their Creator? That would be a perfect outcome.

Aha! Finally the connection between being perfect, hope, and patience! God had given them the Land of Milk and Honey, Canaan. God had been the source of their military victories. God had sent them to Egypt to mature into a Chosen and Holy Nation:

Exodus 19:5-6a Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. This is later confirmed by the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. God has called to Perfection everyone who has become his child: John 1:12-13 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. Because of this, the Apostle John later says in 1 John 3:1-3 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. Those who are pure are blameless, holy, without faults, righteous – someone like we might find in the Bible. We could imagine – or even better recall – that God has given us foreshadowings of this perfection by showing us people who are complete, whole, entire, intact, unblemished, known for integrity, and mature in their face-to-face, and Heart-to-heart, encounters with Jesus, the Lord.

What did God require of Noah, Abraham, and Moses? He commanded them to walk before him and be blameless – perfect. HE IS COMMANDING US TO WALK BEFORE HIM WITH THEM! Is that BIG enough to hope in, to walk under the gaze of God for all eternity? Is that BIG HOPE enough to make us patient, patient enough to wait 2,020 years and more for him to come back in Glory to take us to the Place he has prepared for us? John 14:2-3 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. Jesus IS our Hope and our Hope is Perfect. Read about it in Hebrews chapter 7, especially Hebrews 7:18-19 18 There is, on the one hand, the abrogation of an earlier commandment because it was weak and ineffectual 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); there is, on the other hand, the introduction of a better hope*, through which we approach God. * a better hope = the joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation.

Belovéd, it is my hope that your hope will be complete in your patience as you do justice, and … love kindness, and … walk humbly with your God. Be, therefore, Holy in the sight of your God! (See [again!] Micah 6:8)

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Go ahead and read John 17:11 and 1 Peter 3:13-15

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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