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

 

Hope is an interesting idea. It seeks the future and anticipates a positive or a good outcome for that dream or desire. Hope has its feet planted confidently on a basis of truth and experience that leads to consideration of that future outcome without giving today’s situation or circumstances much consideration or weight. So, hope may seem to defy logic, and it might appear foolish or unproductive to people who do not share in faith in the same foundation and source. Hope takes us from the cares and trials of today and grants to us a vision of the potential for redemption in the future. When hope is founded in Christ, it leads us out of the slavery to fear, doubt, and guilt that attempt to stifle our ability to love and that attempt to defeat our capability to serve the Lord with our gifts and talents.

 

Christ brings healing for all that is broken in us. He pours out grace upon our battered hearts, minds, and souls, and He guides us out of the darkened places where we have been dwelling so that the light of truth can cover us and show us the path into service to God in our world. Christ’s healing touch is applied to each and every area of our lives that has been damaged by sin and by its effects and consequences. This includes things that we have done and the many other things that come our way because we live here in a world where Satan and his agents are actively seeking to deceive, damage, and tear down all that is good, just, righteous, and holy. Christ guards us and guides us through this earthly and spiritual battleground so that we can know true peace and dwell in the deep-seated joy of the Lord’s presence.

 

Although hope might seem insubstantial and even dream-like in its lack of firm definition and tangible substance, it, in fact, brings with it great power. For hope that is grounded in a relationship with Christ is established upon the singular truth of eternity, a truth that overcomes all of the deception and lies that press down upon us. Hope frees us up to receive love, and grants to us the gift of love to give away to others. Hope steps through and beyond difficulty and even past pain in order to allow us to see God’s plan for us with a clarity that propels us forward. There are hard days, and there will always be challenges to face, but hope in Christ and a view of tomorrow that is set upon His promises and guided by His love and grace will move us forward into His joy and peace.

 

Advertisements

There is really nothing that is worth saying about this new year that we have just entered. The world is in a sorry state of affairs. Pick a country and its government is out of synch with its people and is failing to secure their futures. There is no peace to be found in the regions of the globe, and the level of terror that is coming from our warlike bent is increasing to levels that have seldom been seen in history. Across the face of the earth there are people who are needlessly starving, being taken down by preventable illness, and are homeless, and this does not even consider the millions of others who have been made into refugees due to the animosity of others and as a result of our humanity’s unchecked violence toward itself. This planet was not born into this harsh and troubled state, but its nurture under the influence of evil has taken it down this degenerative path so that by this point in its story it is very hard to see the light of hope on the horizon of the coming days.

 

Yet, this is not how God sees us or the way that He views the world where we live. He is made very sad by the way that we have taken the beautiful perfection of His creation and twisted and tortured it into the tangled mess that it is today, but that does not change the Lord’s view of what His hands crafted, and it does not cause Him to abandon His unceasing hope for our redemption. In fact, God has taken action to change it all, for He was not surprised or set back by the way that we turned away from Him in order to seek after our own way of travel through life. The need for Jesus’ sacrificial work of redemption was known by God from a point in time that precedes all of the history of our world. God’s plan for effecting our return to Him and into His righteousness was set in motion before our first ancestors were devised and created. Now each of us is called to enter into that hope for ourselves and for our world. We are invited to join with Christ in seeing this new day and the future through God’s eyes, and we are led by Christ into acting upon that hope as He desires for us to do.

 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10: 23

 

As followers of Christ we are led by Him to love people in a manner that sacrifices all for the sake of others. We are implored to set aside violence as our answer to differences and to seek to know and to understand those who we believe are opposed to us and to our beliefs. The Gospel of Jesus Christ directs His people to seek after the restoration to relationship with God and with ourselves of everyone without regard to any internal or external concerns or issues that we may hold or have. This means that we need to be the ones who step across the barriers and boundaries of our world and reach out in peace and reconciliation to these people, cultures, and nations with whom we are at odds. As we hold fast to our confession of Christ, we are trusting in Him for the protection, courage, strength, and wisdom that this course of travel requires. In so doing, we set aside our own natural tendencies and understandings so that the greater truth of God’s way of living can prevail. There is, in fact, hope in the air as this new year begins; however, it does not come from looking to political solutions or leaders, it is not found in the news of the day, and hope is not grounded in the skills and the technology of our culture. Rather, hope is found and is given expression as we look fully and singularly on Christ. Hope is given expression as we follow His way and renounce the ways of this world. Hope is tendered as we join our Lord in sacrificing all for the sake of the redemption of others.

Blessings for this New Year.

 

 

 

Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5: 5

 

When we become totally and completely committed to something or to someone there exists a very real element of risk. For commitment should lead to an open proclamation of the relationship and the deliberate exclusion of contradictory ones; thus, it also puts us in a position where that decision is open to scrutiny and to question. As regards this aspect of life we are on public display and we are open to being challenged and questioned on the validity of that decision.

 

When we have placed our hope in the new car that we have purchased, we are guaranteed that there will be disappointment as it ages and its parts start to fail. When that hope is liked to our portfolio of stocks and other investments, well, maybe yours are doing better than mine; if so, do you have any tips for me? Our broken nature as people makes it certain that hope that is founded in human relationships will be tested and will disappoint. It seems that any time we creatures turn to the created as the foundation and the source of our hope we experience the sense of shame that is caused by disappointment, heartbreak and loss. This is the natural and the inevitable result of turning to that which is more readily understood and grasped, that is the creation, rather than surrendering our selves to the seemingly unknowable God, the Creator.

 

Yet, it is in and through this act of surrender that we become known. In Christ our true selves are revealed. A commitment to God is singular in the entire universe in that it is effected through a contract that was executed by another, by God Himself, paid for by Christ alone, and carried out through the on going actions of the Holy Spirit. The cure for the brokenness of all of creation is found in Christ; yet, God does not ask most of creation to respond to the great question of acceptance and surrender. That opportunity to risk all yet to gain everything through commitment to Christ is something that He grants only to the pinnacle of His creation. For it seems that God desires to pour His love out upon humanity; so, He seeks the opportunity to flood our hearts with His unbounded love. As we hope in Christ, His Spirit fills us with the love of God that sustains us through everything that we will encounter. It is this love that heals us and that makes us God’s agents of healing in the rest of creation.

We have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

1 Timothy 4: 10

 

Most of us need something to hold onto. We want to believe that there is a future that will be better than the past and that will exceed the present in quality, too. This thing that we call hope becomes an anchor point for us that helps hold us upright when things get crazy in our world, and it gives us the will to face the new day when, otherwise, dawn promises little beyond frustration and futility. Yet, many of the things that we can attach our hope to prove to be weak, temporary, or futile, themselves. Christ is the only point of attachment that is anchored at the center of all Creation. Thus, when we seek to find our hope in Him and hold onto the things of God as its source, we are looking to hope’s true author and its only real Creator.

 

God has made this same potential for living in a hope filled reality available and possible for all people. He brings the brightness of His glory into the lives of everyone who will turn to Him. The Lord does all of this with a willingness that indicates His great desire to have people live in the fullest expression of peace and love. However, in order to truly know the hope that God brings into this harsh world, we need to accept His gift of grace that leads to salvation through a relationship with Jesus. For some people this means turning their lives around and submitting them to the great, sovereign King of Glory. For those of us who know Christ, it means accepting and submitting to the fact that we still must surrender control and allow that our hope is in His hands.

 

When we have come to know and to be blessed by this eternal hope that is found in a relationship with Christ, it becomes our responsibility to spread the word about the peace, joy, and freedom that we have found in and through Jesus with people who are still seeking their hope in the things that they can do, the work that they perform, and in the status that they can achieve. We live in a darkly hopeless world. People who may seem to have all of life under control surround us, but they are desperate for real peace and joy on the inside. Hope in Christ is a gift from God to be accepted, pursued, embraced, enjoyed, and shared with others.

 

 

Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given us.

Romans 5: 5

 

People need hope. It is the objective or the anticipated results that can start our day and keep our feet moving forward through out it. Our hearts hope for love, peace, and contentment; then, our minds draw a picture of what that might look like. Life’s harder times are redeemed by the hope that there is better to come. Yet, hope in the tangible world and in its system of rewards and the treasure that it promises can be brutally deceptive. The rules of this world’s game are written in sand, and its payoff is tendered in decaying currency. So, where is my hope to come from?

 

When I hope in Christ there is permanence to the desire. This does not come about due to any strength of will or character that I possess. Instead, it is the direct result of God’s total faithfulness and absolute loving care. In the earliest days of humanity’s history God granted his creation the hope of salvation and of restoration through the promise of the coming of Christ. Not only did God follow through with that promise, but He continues to seek after all of humanity with His gift of grace and its outworking in restoration of relationship with our Creator.

 

Thus, hoping in Christ will never cause us to experience true shame. This world may attempt to cast that faith as futile, weak, or to ridicule it and us in other ways, but these words are the mutterings of the deceived. Our culture may cast followers of Christ off as unnecessary or as antagonistic to community peace and harmony; however, it is Christ who brings about the only true and lasting peace and reconciliation in our world. As followers of Christ we do have hope. We live in the certainty of tomorrow, a certainty that has little to do with circumstances or with earthly outcomes. As Christ through His Spirit brings this imperishable hope to our hearts, so we can bring it to those of our neighbors. So, where does my hope come from? It comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Romans 15: 4

 

God must have an amazing drawer filled with writing tools; there would be a stylus for etching stone, some quills for dipping into ink, fine and broad tipped markers, and all manner of electronics. He also uses His breath to speak His Word into existence, He uses the softest touch imaginable to write love onto our hearts, and Christ came out of eternity and into my life to scribe my tale of salvation..

 

The Lord did not want any of us to miss what He has to say. So, He wrote it everywhere. God’s truth is found in the light and the darkness of every day, it is found in the power and the subtlety of nature, it is written across the pages of the bible, and it is spoken from the mouths of His people. The Spirit of Christ reaches into the depths of the human heart and implants the literal presence of God. We frail and sin weakened humans are lifted out of the darkness of this world and into the glory of Lord.

 

The thing that God wants me to understand is that there is no obstacle, no fear, no insecurity, no pain, and no condition of my heart that He does not have a perfect and a timely answer for. If I will continue to seek him and desire to know Him ever more intimately through the word of truth that God has literally surrounded me with, I will find the deep joy and satisfaction, and the undeniable hope that Christ desires for me.