What is Hope?

I probably should have written this post earlier in the month, but better late than never!  According to the Bible, hope is an important component of faith.  My Bible dictionary defines it as:

“reliance on God’s blessing ad provision;  the expectation of future good.

The author of Hebrews puts it this way:

 “”Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Hebrews 11:1      

 

In other words,  our Christian hope is not just a wish, it is a confident belief that God’s in charge and he is working all things for our good.       

This hope is based upon the Scripture:

“For whatever was written in former days , was written for our instruction, that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we may have hope.”  Romans 15:4

and on the promises of God:

” … in hope of eternal life, which God who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted …. ” Titus 1:2-3

It is described as living (1 Peter 1:3), good (2 Thess.2:16), sure and steadfast (Hebrews 6:19) and is listed as one of the great virtues in 1 Cor. 13:13.  It produces purity (1 John 3:3), patience (Romans 8:25), courage (Romans 5:4-4), and joy (Romans 12:12).  It imparts salvation (Romans 8:23), assurance (Hebrews 6:18-19) and stability (Col. 1:23).

What a wealth of blessing are wrapped into this one word!  No wonder it is mentioned so frequently in the Psalms, as the Lord is praised.

“Let your steadfast love, O Lord be upon us, even as we hope in you.”  Psalm 33:22

Readers, may you always have the hope of the Lord in your life!

The Hope of Christmas

The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity–hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory–because at the Father’s will Jesus became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross.”

– J.I. Packer

Hoping for Something New?

I finished my lectio divina study of Philippians and started Ecclesiastes.  Quite a contrast, since Philippians has been called a book about joy and Ecclesiastes — well, it’s more doom and gloom.  However, an author I read recently said Ecclesiastes isn’t depressing, it’s simply realistic.  Maybe you would like to study along with me and see what you think.

Here’s what stood out for me in chapter 1:

“Is there a thing of which it is said,  ‘See, this is new’?

It has been already in the ages before us.”  Ecclesiastes 1:10

I read a lot of historical fiction, and this has occurred to me recently.  We live as if our time is unique, and we like to think that people and life in general are getting better and better, but that’s not true.  It’s not realistic.

Take slavery.  We fought a Civil War to rid ourselves of this evil.  However, slavery existed in Bible times, and it’s still going on today.  In fact, most of us profit from it, through the goods we use and the clothing we wear.  Or genocide — this makes us think of the Holocaust, but it’s far from an isolated occurrence.  Stalin killed millions of his own people;  native Americans were slaughtered by Europeans;  Armenians were massacred during WWI.  Even the pandemic, which seems new to us, has happened before.  What about the plague?  Or the Spanish Flu epidemic in the 1900’s?

The fact of the matter is, we and the world around us are infected by sin.  It’s not going away.  It won’t get better.  That’s why we needed a savior.  That is the one new thing that has happened in the whole history of the human race.  God became a man.  He did that to save us from the same old things we keep repeating over and over.  He is our only hope

As Paul said in the book of Ephesians:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. ”  Ephesians 1:18-19

For more on the book of Ecclesiastes see these posts:

God Moments in Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes 3:3

Another Blast from the Past

 

How Do You Hope to Die?

Maybe this seems like a morbid topic, but for all of us, death may not be imminent but it is certain.  I lost a close family member recently — he died unexpectedly, in his sleep.  I said to my husband, “isn’t this the best way to die?  No drawn out painful last illness, no time to dwell on what we’ve lost or won’t get to accomplish.”   His answer was, “not really.  I think I would prefer to have a chance to say good bye and tell people all the things I hadn’t gotten around to saying.”

That made me remember Jesus.  He knew he was going to die.  He told his disciples clearly, over and over, although they never seemed to quite believe Him.  On his final day he took some specific actions:

  • He spent time in fellowship with his loved ones, the disciples.  He clearly planned this ahead of time, securing a place for the Passover Supper. (Luke 22:8-13)
  • He washed their feet, as a way to emphasize once more the important values of humility, sacrifice and service he had been trying to each them. (John 13:13-17)
  • He established an important tradition that would continue to evoke His presence with them and love for them. (Mark 14:22-25)
  • He prayed for them, and for the believers who would come after them. (John 17:1-26)

We’re not Jesus and we don’t know exactly when our last day will arrive:

“No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death.”  Ecclesiastes 8:8

However, in all things, we should strive to imitate Him.  John tells us:

“By this we may be sure that we are in him:  whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way as he walked.”  1 John 2:5-6

Death is a sure thing.  Let’s focus on Jesus and make our death a good one, whenever it comes. Say and do the things that are important, now.  Don’t wait.

For more about death see these posts:

The Darkness of Death

“Even unto death”

Your Dash

 

 

 

Billy Graham on Hope

“I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”

Billy Graham

For more quotes about hope see:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Hope

Martin Luther on Hope

 

 

The Hope of Heaven

The Thessalonian believers were troubled.  They wondered what would happen to those who died before Christ came again. Here are Paul’s words of comfort to them and to us:

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”  1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Notice, he does not say do not grieve;  of course, we will mourn the loss of a loved one.  What he does say is this:  in spite of our sorrow, we can have hope.  Our brothers and sisters in Christ are not lost to us forever.  We can be assured that the God who resurrected Jesus is keeping them safe until He comes again.  At that time:

“…. the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.” 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

We don’t have many details, but we know that heaven will be a lovely place.  The City of God, the new Jerusalem will be:

“… prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”  Revelation 21:2

God will live with us.

” They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night.  They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.”  Revelation 22:4-5

Best of all:

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

So, whatever your situation, be encouraged.  If you are in Christ, you have something to hope for.

 

For more about heaven see these posts:

Living in Heaven

Martin Luther on Heavenly Blessings

The Beginning of Heaven

 

 

 

Another Hopeful Hymn

While visiting with our daughter over Thanksgiving, we attended a small Presbyterian church near her home.  They used this hymn during the worship service — it was new to me, but I like it, and it goes along with our theme this month of hope.  I “hope” you like it, too.

For more hopeful hymns see these posts::

My Hope is Built on Nothing Less

A Blast From the Past

 

 

 

 

YBH?

Years ago, I came across a Christian author (sorry I don’t remember her name), who said she often made the notation “YBH” in the margins of her Bible or other devotional reading.  The initials stand for “yes, but how/”  In other words, I agree with this, but how do I go about accomplishing it in my own life?  That’s a serious question.  We may know all about the Bible and our Christian faith, but if we can’t put it into practice in our lives, that knowledge is fruitless.

The Bible does have some practical words about how we will obtain hope in our lives.  In the book of Romans, Paul says that since we have been justified and reconciled with God through our faith:

“… we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:2

He then goes on to explain how this hope will develop:

“…we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  Romans 5:3-5

We don’t have to go looking for suffering in this life — it will come to us sooner or later.  We will experience illness, turmoil and loss.  However, if we bear with those things by continuing to do God’s will, we will not only gain good character, we will experience renewed hope.  (For more on character see Personality or Character).

True hope is not being an unrealistic Pollyanna — it is trusting in God, who loves us and gives us good gifts even when times are bad.  So when suffering comes, meet it with equanimity and persevere in doing what is right;  hope will come and it will not disappoint you.

For more on the topic of hope see these posts:

Faith vs. Hope

Hopeful Saints

Mere Hope by Jason G. Duesing — Book Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Hope

“Good Friday and Easter free us to think about the things far beyond our personal fate;  about the ultimate meaning of life, suffering and events;  and we lay hold of a great hope.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

For more Dietrich Bonhoeffer quotes see:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Christian Freedom

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Death

A Quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

New Month/New Theme

This month our theme will be hope.  The Christmas season is a time when we remember the birth of Jesus, who brings light to our dark world and hope for eternity.

What are you hoping for this year?  An end to the virus?  A restored relationship?  A new job?  Healing?  A child? A friend?  Marriage? Renewed faith? Economic prosperity for our country?  Are you hoping to start something new?  Finish with something old? We all have hopes and dreams.  Hope is what keeps us moving forward and makes life worthwhile.

Sometimes our hopes are dashed.  Sometimes our hopes change.  Sometimes we receive something different and better than we hoped for.

Wherever you find yourself right now in regard to hope, here is my prayer for you today::

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,  and his incomparably great power for us who believe”  Ephesians 1:18-19