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)

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

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)

 

Downcast no longer

DESPERATE CIRCUMSTANCES
• Hannah was a married woman who had no children and was unable to have children.
• She was married to a man by the name of Elkanah and she was one of two wives.
• The other wife seemed to be very fruitful and had several children.
• Hannah had none.
• In that time a large family was seen as a sign of a blessing and the lack thereof was seen as a curse.
• Hannah had to endure ongoing humiliation and shame.
• To make matters worse, the other wife constantly harassed and taunted her.
• She had desperate circumstances and there appeared to be no hope and no end in sight.
• She really had a raw deal.
• Her name, Hannah, meant ‘woman of grace’ or ‘gracious woman’.
• But it must have been very difficult to be what her name meant when she was surrounded by such desperate, on-going circumstances and issues.
• We know that she often cried and wept and that she would not eat because of all that was going on.

The story of Hannah receiving a kind word of blessing from Eli the priest as a prophecy was a like a gift of faith to fulfill her incredibly earnest desire for a child, dispel her sadness and fill her with a confident hope.

What hope can we receive from the trials we go through and how does our own understanding of who God is give us hope in times of great hopelessness?

  “When we make self the end of
prayer, it is not worship but self-seeking.”
—Thomas Manton

As followers of Christ, we need to choose prayer, not hopelessness.

“It is narratively significant that neither Peninnah or Elkanah will
suffice for hope any longer. But in a moment of decisive action
she turns from both her sociological hope the hope of Peninnah
and her psychological hope her hope with Elkanah to identify
with God alone. – Robert Alter

  Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”  She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. – 1 Samuel 1:17-18

Marty Nystrom – Why So Downcast (Live)

 

Promise made by God

God gives a reason for us having hope. The hope that we have allows us to be men and women of God in the midst of trying times where we feel we might not want to give honour, or subdue to the temptation of flattery or worse, be afraid of someone.   Even as our hope may be strong, we must remember to still be men and women of virtue, not chargeable with any open vice or profaneness, and sound in our faith.  These things to do not justify us before God, but they give us our reputation around people.

The hope of the resurrection of the dead and eternal life can be found in the Old Testament ( Job 19:26-27 ) ( Isaiah 26:19 ) ( Daniel 12:2 ).  Funny how the Jews had brought a prisoner to a Roman judge accusing him of a belief they all had.   

And now I stand here on trial on account of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors, a promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship day and night. It is for this hope, your Excellency, that I am accused by Jews!  Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead? – Acts 26:6-8

God Loved the World

Put your hope in God

Hope and confidence regardless of the present circumstances because of our respect for the future – God is my health and my salvation. 

 Biblical hope doesn’t deny the pain of the present. Nor is it wishful thinking. Rather, true hope is “in God,” in the one god who is fully and finally reliable.

In our blue moments, we wait for God who is working out our purposes.

God is the only one who is perfectly capable and faithful to do the right thing every time. 

Psalm 43 identifies a lists of hope in its first four verses –

  1. God’s power to deliver – He is faithful and will continue to walk with us
  2. God’s presence and protection – His being our fortress of truth
  3. God’s direction – the Word gives us the answers that we need 
  4. God as our joy – Joy in Him and His Word and we will experience hope even in hopeless situations

My hope is in God. Even though I don‘t feel like it. Even though I don‘t feel as if
He were here. He is. My hope is there

Maybe it is time to speak to our soul when we find ourselves down.  Speaking God’s Word in particular fill us with hope and encouragement.

 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 43:5

Find Rest (Audio) – Francesca Battistelli

Hope in God

The way to forget our miseries, is to remember the God of our mercies. David saw troubles coming from God’s wrath, and that discouraged him. But if one trouble follow hard after another, if all seem to combine for our ruin, let us remember they are all appointed and overruled by the Lord. David regards the Divine favour as the fountain of all the good he looked for. In the Saviour’s name let us hope and pray. One word from him will calm every storm, and turn midnight darkness into the light of noon, the bitterest complaints into joyful praises. Our believing expectation of mercy must quicken our prayers for it. At length, is faith came off conqueror, by encouraging him to trust in the name of the Lord, and to stay himself upon his God. He adds, And my God; this thought enabled him to triumph over all his griefs and fears. Let us never think that the God of our life, and the Rock of our salvation, has forgotten us, if we have made his mercy, truth, and power, our refuge. Thus the psalmist strove against his despondency: at last his faith and hope obtained the victory. Let us learn to check all unbelieving doubts and fears. Apply the promise first to ourselves, and then plead it to God. – Matthew Henry

I think we do not ask ourselves enough times why we are feeling depressed or anxious.  When we rehearse the why we usually do not find sufficient reason for being so.  But in case we find that our fears are as bad as they are and maybe as overwhelming as we seem to feel, then, as always, we have to put and then keep our hope in God.  There are many promises we can remind ourselves of including God being faithful and loving – two good reasons for hope.  Our faith will kick in, victory is anticipated as we put our fear into His hands and we wait for Him to rescue us. 

“For yet I know I shall him praise
Who graciously to me,
The health is of my countenance,
Yea, mine own God is he.” – Presbyterian Church of England Hymnal

So our active praise and worship allows us to declare God as God – we will wait for Him! and we will hope in Him!  This is not mindless and is not passive but rather a spiritual confidence that God will participate because He always has. 

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. – Psalm 42:11

Voices of Hope – In God We Trust with Amy Grant

Words from an angel

My mom wishes she could have an angel come and visit her.  I think that is mostly because she knows it can happen – not just because of the experiences in the Bible, but both her mother and her sister had experiences with angels.

There are certain emotions that come with angel visitations I am sure – surprise, hope, expectation – all causing me to give special attention.

When the angel announced to Samson’s parents that he was coming and that they should make sure to have him follow all the nazirite traditions, they knew God was ready to do something special and that their son was being prepared to be used by God one day.

Another story of hope that God is with us even when it does not look like He is.

And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Although you are barren, having borne no children, you shall conceive and bear a son.  Now be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, or to eat anything unclean, for you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor is to come on his head, for the boy shall be a nazirite to God from birth. It is he who shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” – Judges 13:3-5

Jim Reeves – Whispering Hope