Posts in The Best Things About
The Best Things About Hope - Saxon Williams

Ezekiel 37-11:14 (NLT) Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’”

There is a common them that runs throughout scriptures and is highlighted in this passage. And it points to one of the most exciting and compelling ideas in all creation. That is hope.

GOD IS THE SOURCE OF OUR HOPE

  • Hope requires an object, or an anchor for the hope. Hope does not exist without something to fulfill that hope

  • Misplaced Hope: Relationships, Career, Success, Acceptance/Belonging, Wealth, Health, Drugs & Alcohol, etc.

  • The entire book of Ecclesiastes is about how nothing but God, satisfies our hope.

  • He sent His son, Jesus as a guarantee of that hope. Colossians 1:27 (ESV) “…Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

  • Romans 15:13 (ESV) May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

HOPE IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR DISAPPOINTMENT

  • Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

  • Romans 8:24-25 (NLT) We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

  • “Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” – Stephen King, The Shawshank Redemption

  • Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

3. HOPE ENCOURAGES

  • Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV) Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

  • Psalms 3:2-6 (MSG) God! Look! Enemies past counting! Enemies sprouting like mushrooms, Mobs of them all around me, roaring their mockery: “Hah! No help for him from God! “But you, God, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, you lift my head high; With all my might I shout up to God, His answers thunder from the holy mountain. I stretch myself out. I sleep. Then I’m up again—rested, tall and steady, Fearless before the enemy mobs Coming at me from all sides. ROCKY THEME SONG!

  • Isaiah 43:1-2 (ESV) But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

  • In all of the passages there is an acknowledgement that the situations that you face will not always be ideal but, take courage! We will overcome!

HOPE POINTS US INTO OUR FUTURE

  • 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (ESV) For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

  • 1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

  • Lamentations 3:21-24 (ESV) But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

You may feel like you are without hope or that hope has been lost. But, despite how it may look or feel, hope is never really gone. When it looked like Jesus was defeated, he rose from the dead proving that nothing is impossible for him. Attach your hope to someone that will not fail.

The Best Things About Water Baptism - Steve Parrish

Scripture: Acts 8:34–38 (ESV) And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

Baptism is a significant and sacred act that has power for a believer that has too often been reduced to an optional ceremony that some believers participate in! Not in this house!

Phillip:

  • one of the first disciples, immediately inviting others to follow - John 1:43–46

  • preached, signs, wonders, impacted a city (Samaria) – Acts 8:6–8 (ESV) And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.

  • tuned into heaven’s voice - Acts 8:26–29 (ESV) Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”

  • Acts 8:30–33 (ESV) So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”

  • Acts 8:34–38 (ESV) And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

BAPTISM defines our formal starting point with Jesus.

  • possession without contract… lots of grey areas!

  • salvation is a covenantal act – an agreement with God

  • baptism is the public signing of our agreement with Him

  • everyone has a different process of being drawn into a relationship with Jesus, but everyone should have the same process of formalizing the relationship with Jesus - Mark 16:15–16 (ESV) And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

  • Examples of People Formalizing Their Relationship:

    • Day of Pentecost - Acts 2:41 (ESV) So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

    • Saul, Paul - Acts 9:17–18 (ESV) So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized;

    • Peter & Gentiles - Acts 10:47–48 (ESV) “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

    • Paul and Lydia - Acts 16:14–15 (ESV) One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

    • Paul & Silas, singing in prison - Acts 16:33 (ESV) And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.

    • Crispus - Acts 18:8 (ESV) Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.

    • Ephesus - Acts 19:5 (ESV) On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

BAPTISM is a powerful prophetic declaration that impacts your future.

  • declaration – what we say sets the tone

  • prophetic – agreement with what heaven says, pulling heaven to earth

  • the symbolism: His death, His resurrection

  • the symbolism: Your past, Your future! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

BAPTISM is an act of obedience that unlocks next things.

  • formalizing your commitment to God, unlocks next things, like buying a house, purchasing a car, getting married

  • Jesus Baptism - Luke 3:21–22 (ESV) Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

  • Obedience Leads To Blessing: Deuteronomy 28:1–3 (ESV) “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.

  • Disobedience Leaves You Less Than What God Intends (cursed: slight, unimportant, insignificant, trivial, minor) - Deuteronomy 28:15–16 (ESV) “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field.

Follow Jesus & Get Baptized!

The Best Things About Following Jesus - Steve Parrish

John 1:35–39 (ESV) The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.

Jesus went a lot of places, met a lot of people, did a lot of miracles, and taught a lot of lessons, but if you were to condense everything into one primary message, He invited people to FOLLOW HIM!

  • follow: akoloutheō

    • a – alpha, first letter of the alphabet and first number

    • keleuthos – a road to follow

    • conjunctive: not just a road, but the first road

The Best Things About Following Jesus:

1. PEACE – no longer enemies with God

  • Philippians 3:18–20 (ESV) For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

  • John 3:36 (ESV) Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

  • constant tension because our sinful actions are directed at God - Acts 9:1–5 (ESV) But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

  • he reconciles us at our worst, what will He do after we are friends - Romans 5:8–10 (ESV) but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

2. COMPANIONSHIP – He will never leave you!

  • our lives are a constant revolving door of people who leave for circumstance, rejection or death.

  • Hebrews 13:5 (ESV) Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

  • Matthew 28:19–20 (ESV) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

  • Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

  • Ezekiel 37:14 (ESV) And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

  • 1 Corinthians 3:16 (ESV) Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

3. SALVATION – rescued, again and again and again!!!

  • from sin - Matthew 1:21 (ESV) She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

  • from sins - 1 John 1:7–9 (ESV) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

  • from situations - Isaiah 43:1–5 (ESV) But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.

  • Psalm 91:1–16 (ESV) He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

  • saved in diverse and amazing ways!

4. ACCESS - to everything within the Kingdom of Heaven while here on earth

  • the earth is currently under the rule of the god of this world who has come to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came to lead us into the Kingdom of Heaven, on earth…. giving us access to everything heaven has!

  • Luke 10:9 (ESV) Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

  • Matthew 6:10 (ESV) Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

  • Matthew 13:11 (ESV) And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

  • Matthew 16:19 (ESV) I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

  • 2 Peter 1:3–4 (ESV) His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

  • learning to access is a process… but it’s a reality

2 Peter 3:18 (ESV) But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

  • grow by saying Yes to Following Jesus

  • grow by working your current step

  • grow be seeing (Word, Spirit) and taking your next step