Called to Hope

Being called to hope sounds so passive, doesn’t it? Most of us would much rather be called to DO something, with given parameters and expectations we are to fulfill.

But Ephesians 4 begins this way:

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.

Ephesians 4:1-6 NLT

You and I are called to the same glorious hope that Paul wrote about in his letter to the church of Ephesus so many years ago. Our hope is not aimed at something we are in competition over, nor is it a wishy-washy-maybe-it-will-happen kind of thing.

Followers of Christ have all been called to a confident expectation that the end of this life is not THE end, but merely the gateway into eternity with our Savior.

Other scriptures speak more about this hope:

“We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 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.)” (Romans 8:23b-25)

“This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began.” (Titus 1:1-2)

“We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.” (Colossians 1:3-5)

Since we are all confidently looking forward to the fulfillment of this same promise, doesn’t that mean we should all be headed in the same direction? Should our focus not be on living with a Kingdom mindset? We are all of the same Kingdom, under the authority of the same King, who has guaranteed our inheritance (Ephesians 1:14).

I don’t know about you, but knowing that God is in control of my life gives me a great deal of peace and hope! If I was in charge, what a mess I’d make of it . . .

This eternal hope that we all share should have an effect on us in this life. While we rub shoulders with one another, and at times grate on one another’s nerves, we need to keep the eternal perspective and strive toward unity. Let’s look again at what Paul wrote, this time keeping in mind the hope that we have:

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is ONE body and ONE Spirit, just as you have been called to ONE glorious hope for the future.

There is ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.

Ephesians 4:1-6 NLT

Do you see the theme of unity woven through these verses? Of course we’re not always going to agree about how everything should be done on this earth. We’ve all got different perspectives and experiences affecting how we think and feel.

But in spite of our differences, our goal should always be to grow together in humility, gentleness, patience, love, and peace as we serve our one Lord, Jesus Christ, and wait for his return.


Feature Photo by Pinakeen Bhatt on Unsplash

Well what do ya know.

I learned a bit about trees while reading through the book of Ezekiel. Who would’ve thunk it?

Here’s what I read:

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take a branch from the top of a tall cedar, and I will plant it on the top of Israel’s highest mountain. It will become a majestic cedar, sending forth its branches and producing seed. Birds of every sort will nest in it, finding shelter in the shade of its branches. And all the trees will know that it is I, the LORD, who cuts the tall tree down and makes the short tree grow tall. It is I who makes the green tree wither and gives the dead tree new life. I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will do what I said!”

Ezekiel 17:22-24 NLT

Well, wouldn’t you know, we’ve got three cedar trees in our front yard! That was my first thought.

My second thought went something like this: “Is this true? Could I really take a branch from the top of one of our cedars and plant it in the ground??”

So since I like to find answers to my questions, I went searching. Here’s what I found out:

  1. Yes, you can plant cedar trees native to North America from cuttings. It takes a little work and a lot of patience, but it is possible. (Check out Sasha Degnan’s article on SFGate, or Mike’s Backyard Nursery for a few tips.)
  2. My cedar trees are imposters. They’re not real cedars at all! If I’ve identified them correctly, they’re called Northern White Cedars, but are actually included in the Cypress tree family.
  3. The cedar trees Ezekiel would have been familiar with were the Cedars of Lebanon, vastly different from the “cedars” I’m familiar with. They are extremely challenging (but not impossible) to grow from cuttings, so are usually grown from seed instead.

“But,” you ask, “what does it all mean??”

There’s a lot to dig out of this passage from Ezekiel, but I’ll just touch on a few things.

  1. We are reminded that God is able to do what is nearly or completely impossible for us mere mortals. Yes, this is a figurative passage, but if God wanted to do it, He could!
  2. This passage looks forward to Christ, the new Branch spoken of by both Isaiah and Jeremiah. What a great reminder as we near the Christmas season!

Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. He will delight in obeying the LORD. He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay. He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited.

Isaiah 1:11-4 NLT

In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

Jeremiah 33:15 ESV

3. Christ is for everyone, the world over (“birds of every sort“). No one is exempt from calling on his Name.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.

Psalm 91:1-2 NLT

4. God is faithful to his promises. Not seeing it yet? You will! He will do what He said. Maybe now or maybe later, but it will happen. Just you wait! This promise in Ezekiel was fulfilled when God sent his own Son to reconcile us to himself.

And one final thought. This passage reminded me of another verse which says,

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

2 Timothy 3:16 NLT

Scripture is useful . . . even when learning about cedar trees. How much more useful might God’s Word be when applied to our spiritual lives?