Character produces hope

“Character that has been shaped by God through suffering has amazing abilities that non-character simply doesn’t. It’s capable of seeing beyond circumstances. It knows that God is faithful. It embraces the truth of the Gospel that if God sent His Son, He spares nothing for the good of His children. All this produces hope, that is, the confidence that God delivers on His promises. The stronger the character, the greater the hope…” Suffering, Endurance and Character; The Christian Worldview Journal.

We can joy in the midst of any circumstance because of where our hope is placed. Hope is the highway that keeps us moving and rejoicing through whatever circumstances life throws our way.

We have hope when our faith is resting firmly in Jesus. When suffering or persecution comes our way, hope lets us rejoice in the midst of it.

Most of us have questioned our salvation quite a few times in our journey of following Jesus – are we really a Christian? When your faith has been tried and you have persevered – does that not prove genuinely and authentically that you are? Does that not give you hope that you will inherit His glory?

In other words, one of the great obstacles to a full and strong hope in the glory of God is the fear that we are hypocrites – that our faith is not real and that we just inherited it from our parents and have been motivated by things that are not honoring to God. One of the purposes of afflictions in our lives is to give us victory over those fears and make us full of hope and confidence as the children of God. – John Piper

So God takes us through hard times to temper the steel of our faith and show us that we are real, authentic, genuine, proven, and in that way give us hope that we really will inherit the glory of God and not come into judgment.

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.          Romans 5:1-6

Tenth Avenue North – I Have This Hope

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Hoping against hope

In other words – having my faith grounded on hope – that subjective hope that is found internally in me is strong even with there are no objective reasons for hoping.

Faith is past oriented. Faith is trust in a Person, God, but it is trust in God to be and to do what he had promised to be and do because of what He has already been and done.  Hope (future oriented) and faith are overlapping convictions. Faith is trusting a person, and when you trust that person for something they promise to do in the future, it is indistinguishable from hope.

True faith that saves us is a sustained trust in God and His promises, despite some tough circumstances.  God told Abraham that they were going to have a son and Abraham hoped against hope. He didn’t waver in believing God. He was fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

The faith of Abraham bore an exact correspondence to the power and never-failing faithfulness of God.

If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.  For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.  For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us,  as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.”  He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.– Romans 4:14-25

Jesus, Lover of My Soul – Charles Wesley (sung by Michelle Bailey)

Comes with mercy

David prays and looks to God for help, especially when he is surrounded with enemies.  In fact in Psalm 57, in the very first verse, he repeats the request twice because he is fully aware of how great the danger he is in, and not just twice but with intensity and those two things implied just how much hope and trust he had in God’s mercy.

His argument – God has helped me in my past distresses and that is why he has hope in his present situation.

David supports himself with faith and hope in God, and prayer to Him.

This is not to earn the mercy of God; mercy can’t be earned. He said it to tell God that He was David’s only hope. His soul trusted in God and nothing else; there was nothing else to trust in.

“How can the Lord be unmerciful to a trustful soul? Our faith does not deserve mercy, but it always wins it from the sovereign grace of God when it is sincere.” – Spurgeon

So what will I do – I too will put my life in God’s hand – my immortal spirit knows no other portion than God. Even when I need a speedy answer – immediate relief – I can expect the mercy and grace of God.  My great act of faith is to only trust God in such circumstances – not just a profession of trust – but one that is sincere – all my heart and all my soul – and that makes a reason or argument for mercy seeing that His mercy encourages my faith and hope.  I believe the Lord takes pleasure in those that hope and trust in Him. 

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by.  I cry to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.– Psalm 57:1-2

Magnificent God – Big Daddy Weave

This I know

There is a story line in Pilgrims Progress where the way becomes hard for Christian and Hopeful and they decide to take an easier path called Bypath Meadow. As night falls they become lost on this ‘easier’ path and fall asleep in the grounds of doubting castle. This castle is owned by Giant Despair and he finds them and throws them in his dungeon. For days they are tormented by Giant Despair. When all hope is gone, and they are due to die the next day, Christian suddenly says to hopeful… ‘what a fool I have been lying in this stinking dungeon when I can freely walk away! I have a key in my bosom called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle…’ And so they were free, escaping the clutches of Giant Despair and went on their way praising God.

It is impossible for any human speech to express the full meaning of this delightful phrase, “God is for me.” He was “for us” before the worlds were made; He was “for us,” or He would not have given His well-beloved son; He was “for us” when He smote the Only-begotten, and laid the full weight of His wrath upon Him–He was “for us,” though He was against Him; He was “for us,” when we were ruined in the fall–He loved us notwithstanding all; He was “for us,” when we were rebels against Him, and with a high hand were bidding Him defiance; He was “for us,” or He would not have brought us humbly to seek His face. He has been “for us” in many struggles; we have been summoned to encounter hosts of dangers; we have been assailed by temptations from without and within–how could we have remained unharmed to this hour if He had not been “for us”? He is “for us,” with all the infinity of His being; with all the omnipotence of His love; with all the infallibility of His wisdom; arrayed in all His divine attributes, He is “for us,”–eternally and immutably “for us”; “for us” when yon blue skies shall be rolled up like a worn out vesture; “for us” throughout eternity. And because He is “for us,” the voice of prayer will always ensure His help. “When I cry unto Thee, then shall mine enemies be turned back.” This is no uncertain hope, but a well grounded assurance–“this I know.” I will direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up for the answer, assured that it will come, and that mine enemies shall be defeated, “for God is for me.” O believer, how happy art thou with the King of kings on thy side! How safe with such a Protector! How sure thy cause pleaded by such an Advocate! If God be for thee, who can be against thee? – Charles Spurgeon

Then my enemies will retreat in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me.  In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I am not afraid. What can a mere mortal do to me?– Psalm 56:9-11

Martha Munizzi – I Know The Plans – Live!

People of God held in honour

Trying to find something important and not being able to find it – how many of us would try to find a man or woman of God so that they could tell us?

Other than today – it never dawned on me just how weird that was for Saul and the boy with him to consider. 

Maybe they did not want to know where the donkeys were, maybe they were thinking more generally like – should they go home or continue to look for the donkeys?

I think there was only one prophet at the time – Samuel – and would one really tie up Samuel’s time with such a question?

What I did like was the distinction clearly made between a fortune-teller and a person of God. However, if people of God could respond as Samuel responded, maybe there would be more people seeking the advice of our people of God who serve today in the church. Maybe even how to help reach the lost who have yet to hear the gospel.

Hope can come from other people.  In this story, it was never about the lost donkeys, it was about a future king to be made into the hope of Israel. However, the principles still matter – may God put people of honour in our lives that can be of support and deliver of hope as they share the Word of God with us.

When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to the boy who was with him, “Let us turn back, or my father will stop worrying about the donkeys and worry about us.” 6 But he said to him, “There is a man of God in this town; he is a man held in honor. Whatever he says always comes true. Let us go there now; perhaps he will tell us about the journey on which we have set out.”– 1 Samuel 9:5-6

Wisdom

If age doth speak of wisdom learned,
And battles won, and sorrows earned,
Then youth doth boast of hopes to come,
Of strength to waste, and wisdom shunned.

But if youth could seek instead the wise,
and see life through more vintage eyes
And turn to God while still they sow
The seeds of harvest they’ve yet to know,
They might then be blessed to reap
A bounty they’ll delight to keep,
And share with those who come behind
A harvest of a richer kind.

—Vicki Baird

Helps and upholds

We can hope because God helps us in extraordinary manners and His helps is as sure and as certain as our prayer.  He upholds our lives through His encouragement of our faith and our hope not only exists but is sustained.

So when David prayed such prayers we not they were not random but offered in the exercise of faith. He knew God was at his side to defend him and with that faith he knew he could handle the obstacles as they came, even the moments of despair when they appeared. What gives us hope is that we know David’s life. He was all over the place but could still speak of God being near him and could recognize the gracious presence of God. Where did David get his hope from? God was glorified in every act of every man who was with David and even though they were few in number, possessed little power, had more fears than David had – David knew and believed that under the guidance and protection of God that would be superior and God’s help would more than abundantly compensate for all.

The Lord then becomes the champion of all champions, friend and confidant.  He upholds us using the efforts of friends who support us.

 Oh Righteous God,
Bring relief from the pain and suffering of my life.
Help us to look to you to show us good in the midst of bad.

Let your face shine on us. Bring hope and joy to my heart once again.
Allow my sleep to one again be peaceful.
Let me dwell with you in safety. Amen.

The 1719 hymn O God, Our Help in Ages Past by Isaac Watts and William Croft, reminds us that God has been our help in the past and will continue to be our hope in the years to come:

O God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come; Be Thou our guide while life shall last, And our eternal home.

But surely, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. – Psalm 54:4

Westminster Abbey – Oh God Our Help in Ages Past

With boldness

When you have the hope for everyone and then are chained for sharing that hope – most of us would probably quiet down a bit.

Not so with Paul.

We get a glimpse into his character through the second of two letters he wrote to the church in Corinth.  He writes to them of the promise God made that our sins have been forgiven because Jesus gave His life for us on the cross. Paul’s boldness came from that belief in God’s promise that Jesus had forgiven him for fighting against God Himself as he persecuted the early church. Paul’s whole life existed around that declaration of God’s love.  How often we read of his thankfulness to God for having mercy on him and bringing him into God’s family. Our lives revolve around the same, does it not? God gathered up all of our sins, every single one of them, and put them on His Son when He was on the cross. Our hope is in His promise that we will spend eternity with Him and that is why Paul is so bold and why we can be so bold.

 Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness. – 2 Corinthians 3:12

 The promise of the Spirit is in the resurrected life of Christ and brings us into the fulfilled promise of God. Our hope is in the resurrection.

Therefore boldness does not mean insensitive, brash, rude or aggressive – it means, speaking up, giving hope, caring, loving and action.
  As Paul continues to share the good news that put him in chains to those who would listen – even though they did not believe right away – they kept coming back because of the message of hope. It was clear, from OT passages of scripture, that the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus pointed to Him as their Messiah.

I wondered why Paul had to go to Rome in the first place. Part of Paul’s boldness came in knowing the will of God and the courage it would take to follow Him when the moments came with hard decisions.

 Paul knew as much about the OT as any religious teacher of his time.  The fact that he missed the Messiah in all of those passages made him more determined that others would not. Everything hinged on one act in particular – the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. 

 

He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. – Acts 28:30-31

Bethel Music- Walk in the Promise ft. Jeremy Riddle

Call on Me

Psalm 50 is about God holding people in court, on trial for insulting Him, and it is in that context that He is offering them hope.

I am not sure just what a day of trouble looks for you, but for me it cannot get much worse than being in God’s presence and on trial.

Basically, we are talking about prayer and the worship of our heart – something God desires more than anything else.

When we pray, God answers and brings Him glory. It shows that He is a reality to us.  There is in a sense a spiritual connection that is made.

Prayer is filled with a manifest hope in God exhibiting a clinging affection to Him and a sure confidence.

 The law brings us into bondage, but grace proclaims hope.

Even so with this promise – we need to be patient. It might seem that God has ignored us or that we have to take up the case ourselves – but the one who feeds the sparrows will provide everything we need. Hope – and in the arms of faith as we are in our sea of trouble – God will deliver us.

Our emotions can become waves of resentment and fear for the future – in those moments life seems darker as the storm rages on and on.  Even so – we must remember that the only secure place to put our hope is in the character of God. Our breath prayer needs to sound like this – “my hope is in You and I hope in Your unfailing love.

Robinson Crusoe has been wrecked. He is left in the desert island all alone. His case is a very pitiable one. He goes to his bed, and he is smitten with fever. This fever lasts upon him long, and he has no one to wait upon him—none even to bring him a drink of cold water. He is ready to perish. He had been accustomed to sin, and had all the vices of a sailor; but his hard case brought him to think. He opens a Bible which he finds in his chest, and he lights upon this passage, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” That night he prayed for the first time in his life, and ever after there was in him a hope in God, which marked the birth of the heavenly life. (favorite portion of Charles Spurgeon’s)

 

Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.  Psalm 50:15

All My Hope On God Is Founded

Do not be afraid

We talked about leadership last week around our devotional table at work.  Interesting comments as to what a leader looks like.  I think that there are times when previously unnoticed people will be people of prompt decision, resource and confidence and will take command, regardless of their position.  Weapon of choice could be hope in that situation.  However, as much as hope is powerful, there is a choice to go with timidity and fear as well and they are just as infectious.  In hope, one cheery voice will revive the drooping spirits of a multitude. It is amazing how hope infused by faith gives us a new set of lenses to see our world even though the circumstances have not changed – truly one of God’s amazing miracles.

Paul couldn’t keep his hope to himself. He had to pass it on to both the believers on board the ship and to those who had not yet believed.

How can we put ourselves in similar situations? I believe for Paul, it was because he stayed connected to God.  Of all people, I do not think Paul needed to have an angel come to him with a message, but the circumstances were pretty bleak and God created the tangible connection as an anchor of hope for not only Paul to hold too but for the entire ship. Even if we are not anywhere on the leadership scale – our ongoing choice to press into God through prayer, the Word and fellowship will infuse us with divine favour and solutions for those in our lives. 

 I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.  For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship,  and he said, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’  So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.  But we will have to run aground on some island.”  – Acts 27:22-26

You Are Mine (with lyrics)

 

I will deliver you

If there is hope for those who are on trial for insulting God – there is hope for you and I. We are only to believe.

Hope in such times can only come from the One who can give hope.

Here are three truths —

  • Command – “call on me in the day of trouble”
  • Promise – “I will deliver you”
  • Purpose – “and you shall glorify me” 

Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. – Psalm 50:15

Vertical Worship – Call on the Name

(Live Performance Video)