Dear Friends,

Who or what are you hoping in? And what are you hoping for? “Some people have no hope because they believe that life is meaningless. Others have an illegitimate hope, trusting in the promises (lies) of this world. They may be “circumstantially” happy but blind to ultimate reality — death and judgment, not realizing that all our actions (or inactions) have eternal consequences for believers (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) as well as unbelievers. (Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-15) Some Christians have a divided hope (double-minded), believing in heaven but not truly believing and obeying Jesus’ words on how to live now in this life (e.g., Luke 14:33). Others have a legitimate and Biblical hope as they live each day in light of eternity and the promises of eternal blessings and rewards for sacrificial obedience in this life. (Hebrews 11:24-26) A Biblical hope does not negate hoping for and praying for temporal blessings. But if we hope in temporal blessings more than in God, Who alone ultimately knows what is best for us and Who alone is in control of our lives, then we become idolaters.” (From Walt Henrichsen’s Diary of a Desperate Man)

In Psalm 62 and many other psalms by David, he exhorts us to hope in God alone. We are exhorted and even commanded not to put our trust in man – ourselves or others. “This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.” (Jeremiah 17:5, 7) “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in man.” (John 2:24-25) “Never trust anything but the grace of God in yourself or anyone else. If I put my trust in human beings first (before God) I will end in despairing of everyone; I will become bitter.” (Oswald Chambers) Cynicism has its roots in humanism. Humanism is the belief that the end of all things is the happiness of mankind (rather than pleasing and glorifying God) and that mankind can bring about this glorious state. And this lie and sinful desire remains in us (the flesh) even after becoming new creations in Christ as Paul laments in Romans 7:14-25. Cynics have lost hope in the goodness of mankind because they have no hope in the power of God to change man (ourselves included) to manifest the goodness of God. Again David speaks to us: “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13) David had a confident trust in the goodness of God in spite of the evil of mankind seen in Psalm 62 and 27. Therefore, like Jesus, David remained hopeful and loving rather than becoming bitter and self-protective.

Why don’t people trust in the goodness of the Lord like David did? We can’t deeply trust someone unless we know them intimately. And we can’t know someone intimately unless we spend much time with them. And we don’t spend much time with God because we wrongly but stubbornly “hope in” other things and other people more than in God to meet the needs and desires of our heart. It is amazing how much pain and disappointment people can take before (if ever) they finally surrender to a loving and trustworthy God Whose will is “good, acceptable and perfect.” (See Romans 12:1-2)

We need to pray for God to lovingly but firmly break us of our pride and independence and deliver us from this delusion of finding hope, rest, satisfaction in anything or anyone but Him alone. But Biblical brokenness is more than weeping over the anguish of trials or the disappointments in our lives (though it is Biblical to do so as the prophets and Jesus did (Habakkuk 1:13; Lamentations 1:21-22; Matthew 27:46). Biblical brokenness is weeping over the pain of seeing how far we fall short of God’s glory (character) and Christlikeness. And how little we treasure God as the supreme good but prefer His gifts (temporal happiness) more than the Lord Himself. We see this process of brokenness explained by Jesus in His first and longest Sermon about what a citizen of the Kingdom of God looks like: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (satisfied).” (Matthew 5:3-6) We must sacrifice (lose) our life, the self-life, the flesh (die to self, daily) to find it (true life in Christ) and dying is painful but necessary. (Matthew 16:25) So as seen in the first four beatitudes above, we confess our poverty of spirit, mourn over our sins, humbly trust God’s pruning and chastening and beg Him for His righteousness and goodness. The flesh still operates in us to try to control and fix our lives and problems blaming God and others when life doesn’t go our way. Whereas a person broken by God still struggles with the pain and disappointments of life but has an intimate and trusting relationship with the Lord and wrestles through his trials in prayer. But he trusts God even when he doesn’t understand what the Lord is doing.

“For this is what the high and lofty One says– he who lives forever, whose name is holy: I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isaiah 57:15) There is a great blessing from Biblical brokenness — revival — coming back to the place where God Himself is our highest desire and joy and pleasing Him is our highest goal. And there is a deep satisfaction in intimacy with Him that no other person or thing can ever give us. But it requires truly believing He is worth our pursuits, day in and day out, year after year as seen in David’s life.

“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)

“LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of (but rests on) his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever.” (David – Psalm 131)

Hope in the Lord,

Len and Kristen

I’ll begin a new study called “The Quest for Authentic Manhood” beginning in mid September through March. We will meet at Atlanta Web Printers in Stone Mountain on Wednesdays from 6:30-8:00 a.m. The cost for material etc., is approximately $50. Due to space, we will have to limit it to 16 men. Please call or e-mail me asap if interested. See info below. On Friday September 17, Derrick Moore, chaplain for the Georgia Tech football team, will share about his work and his testimony at our Men’s Fellowship now meeting at Piccadilly Cafeteria in Tucker. Come and bring a friend and enjoy Derrick’s message and a delicious all-you- can-eat breakfast. Please call or e-mail me by September 10. 770-925-9524 – [email protected]

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