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.

 

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 amazing thing. It can take a seemingly impossible situation and bring a person through it when all tangible evidence would suggest that surrender was the only rational option. Hope seems to generate a sort of power for life and living that comes about out of that proverbial resource known as “Thin Air.” It is such a glorious thing that it is often likened to the sun and attached to the sense of possibility that arrives with its radiant appearance at dawn. Hope breathes life into the weak, it grants reprieve to the condemned, fills empty hearts with love, and defies reason and logic in doing it all. Hope is a gift, and its greatest expression in all of history is found in the Risen Christ as He goes from death into life and in so doing grants to us that same prospect and potential.

 

It is this hope, which is fulfilled in knowing Christ, that brings true joy and real peace into our hearts and minds. Although many forms of what is called joy surround us and its sources are made out of a very wide array of causes, none of them truly transcends all that life may throw at us over the course of our days. Also, if joy in its truest form is found in and through Christ, even more so this is true for that form of peace that settles deep in the soul and passes the through the tests that come to us all so that it is found to be genuine, enduring, and sound. This is a peace that redefines reality in terms that are framed in eternity and that are thus taken out of the realm of our control and management and are placed into the far more capable and caring hands of God. The presence of Christ in me has become the reason that I even begin to know and to dwell in the safety and the freedom that come out of knowing these gifts from the Lord that are identified as joy and peace.

 

So, back to hope. This is something that God has granted to us out of His unceasing and infinite love for us. The Lord is fully aware of the great challenges that each of us faces in life, and He desires to provide us with something that both takes us through those times and that grants to us the ability to endure all that comes our way in a manner that is distinctly different from the rest of the world around us. Christ’s hope places His followers into a new and a redeemed reality that looks beyond today into a future that is reshaped into the perfection of God’s creation plan. The joy and the peace that Christ infuses us with are resources that invigorate and revitalize us as we reach those points of great stress and strain that are a guarantee that comes with living in our world. They become most tangible as we turn our focus and attention away from ourselves and look upon the face of Christ so that the reality of His great love for each of us becomes the source for that enduring hope that releases us from the situation and the circumstances that surround us.

 

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

 

I wonder what hope would look like if it could be packaged in a bottle so that it was available for purchase? It might be bright and shiny with some sparkles and glitter mixed in, or perhaps in would be frothy and foamy and swirl about like ocean waves inside of the glass. The packaging itself should be very special. It needs to speak of the importance and the rarity of the contents. I think that it would probably command a steep price, and it would be hard to keep on the shelves of the shops that were fortunate enough to secure the rights to sell it. Everyone desires to be hopeful, and most of us seek out its comfort and its courage in our own ways. Still, in these days and in this world it is becoming scarce and may even be on its way to that list where things facing extinction are enshrined.

 

Yet, this lost cause, this rare gem of the human spirit is as readily available as is the air that we breathe. It has existed from a place in the past that precedes the creation of this world, and hopefulness is a quality that is granted without cost to anyone who has the faith to believe in its giver. Hope is as simple as the wants and needs of a newborn baby, and it is an expression of the complexity of the nature of God, Himself. As humans we are often challenged by the fact that nothing that we do, plan, or design can bring true and lasting hope. It eludes our grasp, and the harder we try to hold onto it, the more slippery it becomes. However, when we let loose our grip so that it rests gently and peacefully in the fingers of our hearts, hope swells and grows in ways that are magical in their capacity to meet the needs that we personally possess.

 

This desirable state of mind that is called hopefulness is produced through the faith that leads to deep trust in Christ. As Paul tells us it is granted to us and it is maintained through the infinite and unstoppable power of the Holy Spirit. It comes about within us as we immerse our lives in the reality that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherein all who believe are made right in the eyes of the only one who actually matters, that is God. The real hope that comes from knowing Christ is not conditional upon earthly situations, people, or events. It was birthed among us in the miracle of Advent, it gained a fleshly telling in Jesus’ life, was brought to culminating victory on a cross with its empty tomb, and dwells among us today in the lives of people who are filled with Christ’s Spirit. Hope is here. It is more magnificent than any jewel or work of art. Hope is gained through knowing Christ deeply, and its joy and peace are tangible signs of the presence of Christ within the hearts and the minds of His people.

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

 

Filling things seems to be a gift that I possess. At least this is true with many of those places and things that you actually don’t want to overfill or to fill with the wrong items. For instance, my garage is loaded with things to the point that the cars that are intended to be inside it need to reside on the outside. The bookshelves in both of my offices are loaded to the point where books are laying on top of other books, and the sandwiches that I make need to be taped shut so that I can get them to my mouth without causing a landslide of tomatoes and pickles that is of epic proportions. However, as much as I may like to fill things to overflowing, the Lord seems to delight in doing this even more.

 

There is a very great difference in what God does and my actions. The filling that I do is frequently engaged in for personal reasons and might have a better result if I did the task differently. God has a plan for all that He does, and His purpose in filling His people is directed toward bringing life to each of us and the hope of eternity into this world. In Christ we have a hope that goes beyond the moment and is greater than the situation at hand. With Christ we are given the gift of a joy and a peace that come from the halls of Heaven and that settle deep within the soul so that they grant to us a perspective on life that brings Godly wisdom to the transactions of daily existence. This joy and peace remind us of the hope that is ours in Christ.

 

Still, God does not fill us with His presence so that our hope is focused solely on an eternal future. Instead, He fills us with His presence so that we can live in this world as people who know truth, share it boldly, and demonstrate the gift of hope in the face of the bleak and troubling vista that is a portrait of this world’s landscape. This is where God’s filling up resembles that overstuffed sandwich that I made, for He too fills us beyond our capacity to retain within. The hope that we have in Christ is bigger than the pain and the grief of this day, and the giver of that hope, Jesus Christ, seeks to grant that same joy and peace to others through us. So, through our loving engagement with people, the abundance of hope that Christ has poured into us can be poured out into their lives as well.