Waiting Lessons (1 Thess. 1).

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1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 ESV

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. 2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

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In today’s text, the apostle Paul described the work that the church at Thessalonica was doing after they turned to God from idols. He specifically said that the church was doing two things: serving God (vs. 9), and waiting (vs. 10).

For the Thessalonians, it was not the serving part that was the problem; it was the waiting part.

You and I may have the same problem. We need waiting lessons.

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The Bible is filled with stories of saints who proved their commitment to the LORD by waiting for him to save his people. Noah waited for God to bring the judgment of the flood, and then waited for God to rescue him and his family from that judgment. Moses waited for God to rescue his people from Egypt, then waited patiently for his people to prove that they were worthy of the miracles God did on their behalf. The prophets waited for God to bring judgment upon their own people for rebelling against God, and waited for the restoration and blessing that God promised when their people repented. For generations the Israelites waited for the promised Messiah, and he came quietly to a little town called Bethlehem.

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Seen in the light of biblical history, our long wait seems perfectly consistent with how God works in the lives of his people. In fact, there appear to be some lessons God is teaching his church that are only learned through the slow process of waiting for what he has promised.

The early Church had only been waiting for a few years when they began to be discouraged by the fact that the Savior they were proclaiming had not returned. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians responds to that feeling of discouragement. In these five short chapters, Paul reveals some important lessons for those of us who find ourselves waiting.


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Merely longing for “pie in the sky by and by” is not a Christian thing to do. We are right to expect an eternal life, because the Bible promises it. But part of the significance of that eternal life is the relationships with others that we will have then – relationships that can begin now. This is what Paul was getting at in 1 Thess. 2:19-20, when he said “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” For Paul, the joy of eternity consists of the chance he had to win people to Christ, so that they could share eternity with him. The Thessalonians were important to Paul because he had befriended them, enjoyed their friendship now, and looked forward to the mutual eternal relationships they could give each other.

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In light of this, Paul explained in chapter 4 that the believers in Thessalonica who had already died were not going to miss out on the great reunion. He explained that Jesus was going to return visibly, publically, and gloriously. When he returns, the first thing he will do is raise the believing dead (4:16). Then the reunion begins “in the air” (4:17). What makes this event so special is not just that you or I as individuals will be “with the Lord” but that all believers will be together with the Lord, and that that eternal togetherness will never end.

The friendships we enjoy with believers today are destined to be eternal relationships. This is all the more reason for us to pray for our friends regularly, to invest ourselves in their lives. We may have encountered these people “by chance” but God was working behind the scenes, bringing about those chance meetings. He has a plan for us, and his plan includes our being part of each other’s lives. So, while we wait, we have an opportunity to invest ourselves in these eternal relationships.

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Often a long wait causes people to get distracted, and forget matters that were important to them at the beginning of the wait. Many of the New Testament epistles were written because the churches had gotten sidetracked by false doctrines, or internal conflict, or fear of persecution, or things like that. That appears to have been part of the problem in Thessalonica.

Paul encourages the Thessalonians with this prayer: “and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” (3:12-13). The prayer reflects a key idea in the theology of Paul: that true faith produces reciprocal love which in turn produces holiness.

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Look anywhere in the writings of Paul to the churches and you will see this theme.

Paul tells the Romans of being justified by faith (5:1), and then tells them that because of our faith “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (5:5). He tells the Corinthians “if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2). He tells the Galatians that what counts is “faith working through love” (5:6). He commends the Ephesians because “because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints” (1:15). He prays that the love of the Philippians “may abound more and more” (1:9). He praises the Colossians for their faith in Christ and their love for all the saints (1:4). As for the Thessalonians, Paul is grateful that Timothy has informed him of the good news of their faith and love (1 Thess. 3:6).

Christians between the two advents should be people who allow the Holy Spirit to transform them. Our long wait should not be spent on selfish pursuits or mindless ritual. Instead, we should concentrate on loving one another, and loving the watching world. This is what it means for the Master’s servants to “occupy” until he comes (Luke 19:13 KJV).

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In chapter 5 of 1 Thessalonians, Paul described the time we are living in as a long night, in which Christ may return at any time suddenly as a thief. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to live in such a way that they would never be caught off guard by the Lord’s return. The world around them will be lulled into sleep by a false sense of security, or distracted by drunkenness. But the church of Jesus Christ is not to live in that darkness. The day of Christ’s return should not surprise us like a thief.

As we wait for our Savior, believers have the opportunity to learn how to live soberly. We should “stay alert and be clearheaded” (5:6 NLT). By doing so, we testify to the world around us that the second coming of Christ is a serious matter, and should be prepared for. Sadly, for most of the world Christ’s second coming will not be a day of joy and praise. It will be a day of destruction and pain (5:3).

The world around us is busy entertaining itself into a state of drunkenness – or drug induced deadness, unaware of this tragic destiny that awaits them. They are the walking dead. Believers should live differently. We should live intentionally, not just from weekend to weekend. Every day of our lives should be invested in eternity. While we wait for justice from on high, we should be sowing justice and kindness in our personal fields. While we wait for the restoration of all things, we should be seeking broken things and broken people to reconcile and restore ourselves.


slide 10These are just a few of the waiting lessons found throughout the word of God.

If we have to wait for another 150 years for our Master to return, may he find us living by these lessons. May he find us waiting faithfully.

LORD, teach us how to wait for your Son from heaven, whom you raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. Help us to live soberly, and to invest ourselves in eternal relationships by loving others.

5. The Heart of Hosea (2:18-23).


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Hosea 2:18-23 ESV

And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD. 21 “And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, 22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, 23 and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.'”

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The prophets had a very difficult job. They had to say what God wanted them to say. It was tempting just to say what the people wanted to hear. There were plenty of “prophets” who did that. The Bible calls them false prophets. Jesus said that this age in which we are living now would have a lot of false prophets. The false prophets are big on good news, but never get around to the bad news.

True prophets, like Hosea, said both. It was usually bad news first. For Hosea, the message was that God’s people were going to divorce themselves from them. The good news is that God was going to bring them back to himself.

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Hosea prophesied during the reigns of several of the southern kings (from Uzziah to Hezekiah) and Jeroboam II of Israel, so that puts him in the 8th century BC. His message fits within the first period, before Israel fell to the Assyrians.


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Hosea was instructed to marry a lady named Gomer, who bore him three children. The marriage was a testimony from God to his people. Gomer was a prostitute, and remained unfaithful after her marriage to Hosea. Hosea loved her anyway, and that dysfunctional relationship mirrored the one of the people (who went after other gods) and the LORD.

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Hosea was the last to prophesy to Israel in the north. They were a prosperous and arrogant people who were certain that God wouyld never judge them. They were happy to claim the name of the LORD as their God, but they also wanted to fool around with the gods of the other nations as well.

Hosea’s message was that things were about to get really bad, and then they would get better. The names of his three children serve as a testimony from God about both the bad news and the good news.

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Hosea 1:4-5 And the LORD said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”

The name Jezreel means “God will sow.” God was going to sow his judgment upon Israel for its former violence. The result will be that the northern kingdom will come to an end.

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Now, skip into the future and look at God’s good news:

Hosea 2:21-23 21 “And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, 22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, 23 and I will sow her for myself in the land.”

The blessing matches the judgment. God’s plan is that judgment will bring repentance, which will bring restoration.

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Hosea 1:6-7 6 She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. 7 But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”

God’s patience with unfaithful Israel had given out. That’s the bad news.

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Hosea 2:23 “And I will have mercy on No Mercy.”

God will restore his patience with the people of the north after a period of punishment.



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Hosea 1:9 And the LORD said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”

The bad news is that the people had forsaken God, so he forsook them.

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Hosea 2:23 and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.'”

The good news is that after the punishment God has a plan to not only bring his people back to the land, but also to restore their relationship with him.

Hosea 1:10-11 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” 11 And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head.

God’s plan includes reuniting all his people again under one head, and that is Christ.

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Now let’s hear the apostle Paul on this text:

Romans 9:22-26

“What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory- 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.'” 26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.'”

God’s message to both Jew and Gentile is the same: Repent, and I will restore the realtionship!

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Today’s text is God’s covenant vows to us – as if he is marrying us as his bride. Notice the “I will’s” in the text:

1.In vs. 18, God promises to restore our dominion over the animals. In an agrarian society, that is the same as restoring our dominion over our bank accounts. The same idea is reflected in vs. 22, where the earth will restore the grain, wine and oil.

2.In vs. 18, God promises to abolish war from the land and make us safe. This safety will allow us to return to the promised land (vs. 23a).

3.In vs. 19-20, God promises to restore a right relationship with us. The same for vs. 23.

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LORD, give us a heart like the heart of Hosea. Help us to call people to repent of their sins, and be faithful to God, so he can restore them.

ACST 28. Sin: The War



The phrase “spiritual warfare” is often used in evangelical circles to denote attempts to deliver those oppressed and possessed by demons. The phrase actually has wider implications than that. It is a metaphor which describes every aspect of the Christian life.

Paul described his personal struggle with sin as a battle between the law of his mind and the law of his flesh. He said “I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”[1]

Like Paul, all humanity is involved in a war with a formidable Adversary whose goal is to enslave the human race. He utilizes a variety of strategies which have proven over the millennia to be quite effective. Each attack that Satan and his kingdom workers perpetuate against humans is designed to cause an ever-increasing progression from sin to bondage to further sin and further bondage.


The Christian life is described as a war.[2] The means by which we live out our faith in the midst of the enemy is called doing warfare.[3] It is not an easy life, but a struggle, a conflict.[4] To succeed in this life is to fight the good fight.[5] By God’s grace we are more than conquerors.[6] He will ultimately destroy all of our enemies, and his. But the battles today are very real. If one chooses to ignore the conflict, she is liable to become a casualty of war.

What the Adversary Wants

John 10:10 has been mentioned in chapter 1 of this book as an example of how the context of a statement in Scripture helps interpreters understand the statement. The thief in that text is not Satan, but a false shepherd, in contrast to Jesus, the good shepherd. While it is true that Satan can be described as a thief, it is not good theology to derive from John 10:10 that Satan’s strategy is to steal, kill, and destroy. The ultimate result of Satan’s warfare upon humanity will be just that. All who are not rescued by Christ will eventually suffer the second death: permanent destruction in Gehenna hell.

What the adversary wants today, however, is not our destruction but our bondage. He wants to control the lives of every human being on this planet, and bring as many with him to the fires of Gehenna as possible. He has organized a battle plan – a set of methods[7] and designs[8] that he uses to enslave and keep enslaved. The more one knows about these strategic means that the devil uses, the more likely she may prevail in the battles that ensue throughout her life.


God is sovereign over the universe he created, and he deserves to be honored and worshipped by that creation. Satan does not have to convince humans to rebel against God. He merely has to convince humans to make themselves the center of their own universe. The sins recorded early in Genesis bear this out. Taking of the tree did not seem like such a bad thing. The act was being judged on the basis of human desires, human assessment, and human goals. Once Adam and Eve had taken of the tree they saw what the sin was from God’s perspective. As Cain was bashing his brother’s head in – he was obviously not thinking about what this act would do to Able, or to Adam and Eve for that matter. Selfish pride, depression and anger blinded Cain to both the reality and the consequences of his sin.

Selfishness is the method that keeps people addicted to substances that slowly destroy them. It makes people stop and stare when they should be running like the wind. At its heart, selfishness is rebellion against God’s sovereignty. It leads to sins which are enjoyable, and cause the sinner to seek more and more of the same. At the same time, it blinds the sinner to the consequences.

Acts of selfishness progress in a continuum from sin to sinful lifestyle to sinful obsession to sinful addiction. The further along in the continuum the harder it is to break the bondage. The Bible warns that “for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”[9] The world says “if it feels good, do it.” But there will be consequences to living selfishly.


Another of the major strategies in the war against humanity is the pitting of falsehood against some other belief. It is not always a simple issue of truth against deception. Satan often pits lie against lie. In doing so, he need only convince his victim that one lie is not true, and the victim swallows the second lie. Notice how deceptive the serpent’s words were in Eden:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

There are three lies in this passage, and each of them is hidden within a truth statement. First, Satan asked if God had prohibited all the trees in the garden. The answer is no, and the woman was correct in pointing out that it was only one particular tree that was prohibited. The deception, however, began at that point. Satan was beginning what would become Eve’s preoccupation with the forbidden fruit.

The second lie is Satan’s as well – but it comes out of the mouth of Eve. She stretched the truth a bit when she responded by saying that God had forbidden even the touching of the fruit. Perhaps the serpent then touched the fruit to show Eve that he suffered no ill effects.

The third lie was the clincher. It too was hidden in a truth statement. Taking of the forbidden fruit would endow the humans with god-like knowledge of (experience with) good and evil. Who would not want their eyes to be opened? Who would not want to be like God? Who would not want an experience that has never been experienced before? The falsehood was found in what Satan did not say. He did not tell of the banishment and painful consequences that humanity would have to endure. Satan is the liar and the father of lies.[10] Falsehood is another of the mighty weapons in his arsenal against human beings.


Cain’s sin of murder was at least partially motivated by his damaged self-image. God had accepted Abel’s offering, but did not accept Cain’s. The story is told in Genesis 4:

In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.[11]

Cain’s anger was a manifestation of embarrassment depression. It so wounded his self-image that Cain disregarded the sanctity of his brother’s life. God had warned Cain that sin was crouching at his door. His depression put him in a dangerous position – like someone who has a vicious animal waiting to kill him. Cain did not pay attention to the warning.


Another major strategy that Satan uses in his war against humanity is fear. Fear can cause a person to forget to do what needs to be done, or to do something she would never do otherwise. When someone is intimidated, she can lash out in an attempt to embolden herself. The result is often violent and harmful. The Bible says that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”[12] It also says that “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”[13] Love is the emotion that we ought to exhibit, but often fear gets the best of us.

Fear was the motivation behind the Babel incident. That story is found in Genesis 11:

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.[14]

The people at Babel were afraid of being dispersed over the face of the whole earth. That was what God wanted from them. Their fear gave them unity, and eventually caused their disunity. Satan was at work behind the scenes at Babel to get the people to give in to their fears and go against God’s will. Today, Satan uses fear to organize one nation to war against another. He uses fear to embolden us toward violence – or to paralyze us and prevent our acting in faith.

[1] Rom. 7:23-25.

[2] 2 Cor. 10:3; James 4:1; 1 Pet. 2:11.

[3] 2 Cor. 10:4; 1 Tim. 1:18.

[4] Col. 1:29; 4:12; 1 Thess. 2:2; Heb. 10:32.

[5] 1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7.

[6] Rom. 8:37.

[7] Gk. methodeias (Eph. 4:14; 6:11).

[8] Gk. noemata (2 Cor. 2:11).

[9] Rom. 2:8.

[10] John 8:44.

[11] Genesis 4:3-8.

[12] 2 Tim. 1:7.

[13] 1 John 4:18.

[14] Genesis 11:1-9.

Margaret’s Hope



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, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 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. 8 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, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

It is customary at services in which we honour loved ones to share a text of scripture and meditate on its words. Christians believe that the Bible is the word of God, and that it can help us when we go through times like this. When I thought of Margaret, I was drawn to this text from 1 Peter 1. I’m not sure why. I think it is because in this text Peter encourages believers to stay true to their faith for a long time when that faith would be tested. I can imagine that Margaret experienced many times during her 91 years that challenged her faith in Christ. She persevered and finished well. She had been born again to a living hope.

A Hope in God

Margaret was not always in total control of the things that happened to her in this life. She did not always hold the reins. But that’s alright. God held the reigns. The phrase that reminds me of that fact appears in verse 5: “by God’s power.” It is a fearful thing for most of us to be dependent – to rely on someone else, or to rely on circumstances to dictate where we will be, what we will do. It takes a very special kind of person to submit to God’s will and let him hold the reins – to let him call the shots. Margaret was that kind of person.

At some point in her life she responded to God’s call for her to surrender her will to his. When that happened, God “caused her to be born again” (3). God’s power drew her to himself, and God’s power caused her to be reconciled to him. God’s power began to sanctify her so that she would conform to the image of Christ. And God’s power gave her a new hope.

A Tested Hope

Over the years, the genuineness of Margaret’s faith has been tested by the circumstances God has allowed to come into her life. It happens to all of us. In verses 6-7 of this text, Peter talks about the Christians who have been grieved by various trials. He says that that happens “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.”

Margaret’s faith and her hope are precious things. They are more important to God than anything she ever owned, and more precious to him than anything she ever did. Yet God did allow the fire to come into her life. Just like gold is purified under fire, so Margaret’s hope was tested. It survived the fire. Margaret loved the LORD, and testified that she was thankful for the life he gave her. She came through the times of testing and proved more precious than gold.

In fact, it was some of those things that Margaret did not expect that she learned to appreciate all the more. It sometimes works out that way. The Bible says that “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28 NET). You all probably know that my wife and I are here in New Zealand because David Burge – the pastor of this church – was stricken with Leukemia, and died in July. When we found out that David was sick, we wanted to come and help for his sake. God did not choose to heal David. But out of that tragedy, God did choose to give us the joy of getting to know the members of this church. Befriending Margaret and others like her is one reason that we will remember this time here with gratitude.

A Living Hope

The hope of a Christian is also described as a living hope (3). When we read the word hope in scripture, it rarely means something that you wish to happen. You might say, “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow” or “I hope to win LOTTO.” But when the Bible uses the word hope, it means something more substantial than just wishful thinking. For example, the Bible calls God “the hope of all the ends of the earth” (Psalm 65:5) and “the hope of Israel” (Jer. 7:13; Acts 28:20).

Usually the Bible uses the word hope to describe the destiny of the believer. When the apostle Paul was on trial before the Sanhedrin, he said it was because his hope was in the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6). He prayed that the Ephesians’ hearts would be enlightened so that they would know what the hope was to which they had been called (Eph. 1:18).

Christians have a destiny. It is that destiny which Paul calls the hope that is laid up for us in heaven (Col. 1:5). Peter calls it an inheritance that is kept in heaven for us (1 Pet. 1:4). Jesus will bring this inheritance back with him when he comes back to earth. That’s why Peter called it a “salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:5). When Christ comes back, the people who are going to matter are not the rich, the powerful, or the famous. The people who are going to matter then are those like Margaret, whose genuine faith is going to result in praise and glory and honour (1 Pet. 1:7).

Margaret’s Hope Can Be Ours

So, Margaret lies before us today as a challenge. She dares us to have the same hope that she had. She has fought the good fight, she has finished the race, and she has kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for her the hope, the destiny, the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to her on that Day, and not only to her but also to all who have loved his appearing ( 2 Tim. 4:7-8). Margaret’s hope can be our hope.

So, I am going to ask you to do something that Margaret did years ago, and it made an eternal difference in her life. I am going to ask you to give your life to Jesus Christ. If you want the hope that Margaret had, you will find it in Jesus. If you want the ability to turn the trials of your life into something more precious than gold, come to Jesus. If you want the joy that Margaret is going to experience when she hears her Saviour call her name, come to Jesus. If you want the crown of righteousness like the one custom fitted for Margaret, do as she did: surrender your heart to the king of kings.

Are you tired of carrying life’s burdens? Jesus said “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28 NLT). Are you spiritually thirsty? Jesus said “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37 NIV). Are you afraid to be a Christian because you might fail? Jesus said “the one who comes to me I will never send away” (John 6:37 NET). Margaret found the peace that you may be looking for. She was born again to a living hope. Because Jesus lives, she also will live. Because Jesus lives, her life matters.

It is fitting that we honour Margaret today. She was a wonderful lady, and we will all miss her. It is fitting also that we carry fond memories of Margaret into the rest of our lives. One of the things that I will remember is how Margaret reacted when she learned that she might not recover from the consequences of her recent accident. She was thankful for the life that the LORD had given her. She was ready if it was her time. It was her time. I am thankful for having met this beautiful, courageous lady.

4. The Heart of Amos (6:1-8)



Amos 6:1-8 ESV

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes! 2 Pass over to Calneh, and see, and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are you better than these kingdoms? Or is their territory greater than your territory, 3 O you who put far away the day of disaster and bring near the seat of violence? 4 “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, 5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, 6 who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! 7 Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile, and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away.” 8 The Lord GOD has sworn by himself, declares the LORD, the God of hosts: “I abhor the pride of Jacob and hate his strongholds, and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.”


One of the functions of the prophets is to help the people see how they actually look to God. It is so easy for us to compare ourselves to others. We tend to defend our actions, while at the same time we might criticize others who are doing the same things. We also tend to defend our inaction – our lack of activity. We go on, business as usual until some catastrophe happens – and hopefully God can use it to get our attention. In Amos’ day, Israel had been hit by an earthquake. Amos tried to get his audience to see that even worse things were yet to come.


Amos prophesied during the reigns of king Uzziah of Judah and king Jeroboam II of Israel. That dates his ministry between 767-753 B.C.





Amos had been a shepherd and he also tended an orchard in the Southern kingdom. At some point in his life, he was called into the prophetic ministry, and sent to the Northern kingdom. His first prophecies were about the doom of the nations that surrounded Israel, so he was probably well received for a while. But as his message started hitting closer to home, he was probably not too well received. He probably saw the people of God as stray sheep that needed to be brought back because they were in danger of being destroyed.


Amos was sent to Israel and found it to be prosperous and hypocritical. Jeroboam I had replaced all the priests and Levites since they had loyalty to Judah. The religion he set up was for show only. The people had grown complacent, and believed that they were immune to disaster because the LORD was on their side.

His message was also a warning to Judah as well, because they were guilty of the same attitudes.


In verse 1 of today’s text, Amos mentions two mountains: Zion, which represents the kingdom of Judah, and the Mountain of Samaria – which is Mount Gerazim, and it represents the kingdom of Israel. Amos pronounces a prophetic Woe upon the mountains. It is a way of saying that these two lofty high places are going to fall. Other nations are going to invade, destroy, and plunder the lands and kill and enslave the people.


Amos knows that the people of Israel are saying, “God would never bring disaster on us … We are his people.” What they mean is, “We have it under control. Nobody is going to challenge us.”

In verse 2, Amos mentions Calneh, Hamath and Gath. These were three stronghold cities of the surrounding nations. They trusted in their fortifications. Amos is reminding Israel and Judah that when God judges, no human strength can protect from it.


Amos says that the people are “at ease.” They “feel secure.” They are lying on their ornate ivory beds, and stretching themselves out on couches. Judgment is coming when there will be no rest.

They are eating lambs and calves and drinking wine in bowls when judgment is coming and there will be no food or drink.

They are singing and making music and inventing musical instruments (entertaining themselves) when they should be mourning over their coming ruin.



Can I ask you to do something? Would you stop what you are doing sometime today, and in the privacy of your own heart can you ask yourself these questions?



1.How different am I from my non-Christian neighbours?

2.Where am I placing my trust?

3.Do I spend more time pleasing myself than seeking God?


LORD, give us a heart like the heart of Amos. Help us to see what other people do not see. Make us different from the nations around us. Help us to put our trust in you, and not in ourselves. Help us to spend our time seeking you instead of entertaining ourselves.