“Therefore since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” 2 Corinthians 3:12
Our God is soooo good! I have been contemplating the goodness of God lately. Something that in my 40 years of walking with Him I have never done. I’m not sure why not, but here we are… I have been awed by a definition I heard of love in a class I am taking, “Living Life Live” at WOW- Women on Wednesday. “Love always wants the very best, the most excellent, and the most profitable for another to benefit them for their own sake.” In other words since God is love, He wants the most excellent, the most profitable, the most beneficial for me. Mind blown. Especially if for some reason you have lived your life with a distorted image of God, looking at Him as a taskmaster of sorts. One who demands work from us in exchange for His blessing that He occasionally doles out to keep us plodding along like a donkey following a carrot on a stick so it will pull a cart. Not so with our Loving Heavenly Father who has set His affections on us and gives so many rich gifts of love, joy, and peace to the heart who is open to receive.
This leads me to the verse above: “We have such a hope…” hope- the confident expectation of Good. Our God is the God of Hope- when we trust Him and believe Him He pours out a confident expectation of GOOD- Hope because all His ways are GOOD toward us, EVERY single one! He never acts as the false gods of ancient times did. They were known for manipulating their subjects, punishing harshly for any misstep or act that displeased them. Their ways were not able to be known because they simply cared only for themselves.
Our God is good! And He is our hope, confident expectation of Good, because Good is the essence of who He is. This goodness makes us “bold”- free from timidity, confident, brave! We are told in the word we can approach God boldly because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. We can be confident of His heart towards us, because it is filled with His great love. And Our God is always good!
I’ve been asking the Holy Spirit to fill me with Boldness the past few months: Boldness to obey God fully, boldness to say whatever He places in my spirit to say, boldness to do whatever He asks.
Yesterday I was in a break out session at the Inspire Women’s Retreat and this verse was one of a section of scriptures being discussed. It stood out in my heart as I heard it read: God’s hope- my understanding of just how GOOD He is and expectation of that GOODNESS to be poured out in my life moves me. It makes me free, free from timidity and fear. It makes me BOLD! It makes me willing to go wherever God leads me, to do whatever He asks. Because I am living a life close to Him, basking in His goodness. I am anticipating with hope His love has gone before me, goes behind me, and is in me. It makes me unable to fail! That Hope truly does make me bold!
“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
Matthew 10:38-39 NIV
The cross was well known in Jesus’ day. Not as a decoration we hang on the wall of our home or set upon the top of a church steeple, but an instrument of execution and torture used by the Romans. It was used to punish the most hardened criminals. Jesus had not yet been to the cross when these words were spoken, but it was understood that a prisoner sentenced to death must first carry their own cross to their site of execution. It was a way of showing total submission to the ruling authority, Rome.
Jesus speaks of His followers being willing to follow Him in His act of total submission, not to Rome because at any time in His own execution He could have called a legion of angels to rescue Him from the cross, but to God and God’s will. Jesus knew what it would cost for Him to fulfill His purpose for which He came, a humiliating and horrendous death. He did so for the “joy set before Him”- you and me.
He requires no less in wholehearted devotion and commitment from us. All we are, submitted to God and God’s will- For all He is Life, Joy, Peace, wholeness. That is a life lived “taking up our cross and following Him”. Living in submission to Jesus and His will for us. With the promise that if we “die with Him (spiritually) we shall surely live with Him and reign. (2 Timothy 2:11-12).
“Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.”
Matthew 12:9-13 NIV
It amazes me the heart of the Pharisees, the Jewish leaders of Jesus time. First of all, they were looking for a reason to arrest Jesus so they could stop Him. He didn’t fit their religious mode. They could see the miracles Jesus did, but did they really see? In this miracle they watched a man’s hand that was “shriveled” be “completely restored, just as sound as the other.” I can’t imagine watching in an instant a hand that was obviously messed up restored right before my eyes. But what blows me away even more is how the Pharisees didn’t stand there with their mouths agape saying “WOW!!!” Instead, they watched, they saw, and they “plotted how they might kill Jesus”. That is unbelief!!
Now before I get all self-righteous saying, “I would NEVER do that!” The question that I am dwelling on today is “Would I NEVER do that?” Would I NEVER see the hand of God in circumstances around me and still refuse to believe? Would I NEVER try to discredit God’s miraculous in my own life?
Here’s what the Pharisees and me have in common: the desire to be in charge/ rule me.