Anthem Camarillo is part a family of churches helping people find their way back to God. The Anthem family of churches is united around shared mission, vision, values, and submission to the Lordship of King Jesus. In our cities, we are working to obey Jesus in helping people find their way back to God.
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.
You guys ever have a week where you feel like everything is just clicking? This doesn’t happen for me all the time, but you feel like things at work are firing on all cylinders, you are getting good family time, you get some good relational time, you are engaging with God and his Word, you're sleeping better, etc. You ever have a week like that? I had a week like that last week and it felt great!
Then Monday came. It started off ok, but everything that seemed easy and natural the week before felt like such a chore. Engaging with God and his Word, if I’m to be honest, wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to search for a good cyber monday deal, watch a Star Wars movie, or at points just do nothing. Engaging with my kids was hard, and my patience and fuse was short. Then I had a meeting Monday night that wasn’t bad–it just wasn’t great either. Ended up staying up much later than was beneficial. Wasn’t a great start to the week. Then I would find myself sitting down at my computer trying to write a devotional about hope, and I would find myself getting distracted with just about anything. Then what starts coming in my mind next? Guilt, frustration, self doubt, and pity. You ever have a week like that?
Then the last two nights I made the conscious decision to go to bed earlier and wake up and make space for Jesus and I to engage first thing. I wish I could tell you this was solely motivated by holy thinking. I have rhythms (community group and DNA group) that involve other brothers and sisters where we stir one another up toward faith and good deeds. They are not just for the benefit of the others in our group; they are necessary for me too.
These rhythms are so important, and it’s so silly how quickly we can fall out of rhythm. Jesus reminds us of having these rhythms, yet we regularly choose to think we’ve got a better idea than him. In Matthew 6:33 he reminds us how key it is to spend time seeking him and his kingdom first. We see Jesus gathering with his disciples throughout the week, and each week in the synagogue together. We alI need these rhythms even when we don’t feel like it.
These rhythms and community are so helpful in bringing things back into perspective, and realigning under the kingship of Jesus. They also protect us from going too long without being reminded of the goodness of Jesus. Getting up and spending time with Jesus and his word isn’t a magic bullet to take care or fix every single one of your issues, but there is no better way to start your day.
It's here that I was reminded of how important hope is. It is not just optimism; it's more than having a positive outlook on life; it's more than having a week that feels good. It is believing in a reality to come in the future that is better than today. It’s believing in a God who’s been faithful throughout the ages as he promised a redeemer as soon as sin entered the world. He entered into a covenant relationship with his people, delivered them from slavery in Egypt, promised a messiah who would bring an everlasting kingdom and would actually suffer and shed his blood to bring peace and be seen clearly in the person of Jesus and in the kingdom reality that he has ushered in and one day will bring in full.
The hope that we have is not a foolish hope—it’s one rooted in a God who has been faithful throughout the ages, all the way back when sin entered the Garden in Genesis 3. God promises that he will send one who will come and crush the head of the serpent.
In Genesis 12 we have a promise from God to Abram that he will multiply his offspring to be as numerous as the stars. And he provides Abram at age 90 an offspring for the first time.
God promises to deliver his people from slavery and we see him accomplish that throughout Exodus.
God promises that he will send a promised messiah who would establish his kingdom forever in 2 Samuel 7.
In Isaiah 9:6-7 we see more of what that promise will entail.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
- Isaiah 9:6-7
In Isaiah 53 we see the promise of a suffering servant who would be pierced for our transgressions and would bring humanity peace through his shed blood.
That's why the angel in Luke 2 declares, “Behold I bring you good news of Great Joy for all mankind. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord!” This proclamation connects Jesus to the line of David. The one whose kingdom will be established forever!
Jesus is the hope of the world. The hiccup in the story is 33 years later Jesus, the hope of the world, dies. But praise be to God Jesus didn’t stay dead, but rose again! And in doing so ignited a hope that will never be put to shame.
The story is not over! God is still in the process of bringing heaven to earth, and has given the Holy Spirit to everyone who calls on the name of the Lord to carry the kingdom of God with them.
3 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
- 1 Peter 1:3
God is not done, he is still in the process of redeeming and restoring this beautiful world and we can trust and hope that he will do it! If he was faithful enough to send his son to go to the cross on our behalf to make peace with God possible through faith in Jesus, we can believe that he will be faithful to finish the work he started!
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.
- Revelation 21:1-6
This is what we are still hoping for.
So when we have a funky week like I had this week, we need to choose to hope in Jesus in what he has done, what he’s doing and what he will do. I need not panic and freak out in spite of my circumstances and sinfulness. My hope is not in how much I accomplish on my own. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and I can trust in him and his word.
6 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.
- Philippians 1:6
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
- Romans 15:13
What do we do with the hope we have?
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
- 1 Peter 1:13
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
- 1 Peter 3:14-15
Like anything that we receive from God, God invites us to share that with others. All followers of Jesus have a hope that will not disappoint no matter what comes our way. We have the hope of eternal life with God forever in his Kingdom. That is definitely something worth sharing!
Think with your family, friends, Community Group: what does it look like for you to share the hope of Jesus with those around you? How can you help show them glimpses of what His Kingdom will look like?
Sometimes we find ourselves so content with the things of this world, we stop longing and hoping for the Kingdom of God to come in full. Have you fallen too in love with this world? Take some time to journal about this. If you have found yourself in this spot take some time to confess and repent. And ask God to reignite you with the living hope: Jesus himself.
Father, thank you so much for being faithful all the time! Thank you for fulfilling your promises and thank you especially for Jesus! Would you help us to hope in you and in what you’ve already done, and would you help us hope, pray, anticipate and participate in your Kingdom come, your will being done on earth as it is in Heaven. In Jesus name Amen.
But Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well.
- Matthew 6:33
Be intentional this week and watch what God does as you take some time at the very beginning of your day to engage with Jesus. It may be a minute, it may be an hour; whatever amount, take a moment to seek first Jesus and his Kingdom.
Take time throughout this week, maybe around the dinner table to share something about the Kingdom of God that you are excited about and hopeful for. This could be things that are present that we can press into. This can also be what we long for when his Kingdom come in full.