Monday, November 10, 2014

Hope- Filled

                I am a hopeful person. I am what you would call an optimist. When I look at a glass of water, I see that glass half-full. I see the potential of what it could be. I focus on the good parts of the glass and try not to focus on the bad. But not everyone is like me. Not everyone sees the glass of water the same way I do. My husband for instance, he would look at that glass of water and tell me it was half empty, and that more water needed to be added. This conflict in our personalities sometimes results in a conflict in our marriage. Being a hopeful person can cause more than one conflict with the people in my life. It sometimes affects my relationships with friends, and other family members. This has caused me to question and examine my heart before the Lord. Am I wrong in being so optimistic and hopeful? Do I have expectations that are wrong, or misdirected? Should I have hopes and
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expectations at all? I mean, for me, to not have hope would be the same as not having life! I can’t imagine living this Christian life without hope, because our entire salvation and redemption is based off the hope of the promise of Jesus Christ’s resurrection.  Therefore, hope (for all my optimistic brothers and sisters out there), is not wrong, and there is nothing wrong with hoping in God. In fact, it is exactly how He wants us to be. He wants us to be Hope-filled Christians.
                First of all, let me explain to you what hope actually is. Hope is a trust and confidence in the abilities and promises of God. Hope confidently expects deliverance and blessings from God. A hope-filled person knows and believes that nothing they have, or will ever have comes from any other source but God Himself. A hope-filled person knows with complete confidence that if her God said He would do it, He will do it. She puts her hope in His promises and His abilities, because she believes that He is God. Even the Psalmist agrees with this, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope.” (Psalm 130:5) Hope trusts, believes, and confidently waits with expectation for the blessings and promises of God to be poured out into them. From this definition, hope sounds a lot like faith; which leads me to my next point of understanding what hope is.
                Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.” Our hope in God develops our faith. Hope is simply our faith being directed toward the future, the blessings and the promises that God Himself has given to us. Our faith in Jesus Christ’s death on the cross gives us hope that the promise of Salvation is true. Our hope in the promises of God produces in us faith, which grows into hope, which grows into more faith to believe God for even the impossible.
                Now, let me clarify something. I am not a “faith” movement believer or follower. I do not believe that if you go and lay your hands on a Lexus that God will give you a Lexus because you had enough faith. The Bible is clear that when we ask for anything, we must ask it according to God’s will. James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” The hope that I am talking about is directly related to the faith that we have in the promises of God, not in the hopes that we may consume our lusts for pleasure, but in the hopes that all our desires are fulfilled in Him.
                You see, I am that person that has hope, even in the most hopeless of situations. I know what my God says in His word. I know that He desires to give me the best that He has to offer me. This does not mean that I will have riches to spend as I desire, or new cars, or new houses. But what I will have will be greater than anything the world can offer. I will have life eternal, and heavenly riches that cannot compare with what is on this earth. Hope shows me that I have nothing to worry or fret about, because my God provides, and I can have faith and hope in His provision. Hope shows me that when I am sick or in trouble, I can have faith that my God will heal me and be with me every step of the way. Hope teaches me that I can have joy in every circumstance, no matter the outcome. Hope teaches me to have faith, and faith teaches me to have hope.
                Because I am an optimist and full of hope, I get a lot of people telling me “don’t get your hopes up”, or that I shouldn’t have expectations. This saddens me because without hope what kind of Christian would I be? If I can’t get my hopes up in God, than what is the point in living this Christian life at all? Even the Psalmist, when his soul was cast down into despair cried out and said “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” (Psalm 42:5) Why are we so downcast and living without hope when we serve a God who is full of hope?
          Our God is a God of hope. He hopes for us, He waits with confident hope for those who will believe in Him. He does “get His hopes up” for His people. (2 Peter 3:9) Our hope in God is directly connected to our faith in God. If we have faith in God, then we will also hope in His promises and hope for His blessings, and hope for the promise of eternal life that is to come. The more hope we have in Him, the more confidence we will have in His abilities, and that results in more faith to walk out this life in joy. Without hope you cannot have joy.
                Today, I want to ask you to examine yourself before the Lord. Do you have hope? Are your hopes based off His word, or your own lusts? He gives according to His will and His pleasure. Our hope is not based on our desires, but the desires that He has for us. If you are hoping for something, if you have been praying and asking the Lord for something in your life, ask yourself if you are asking in hope? Is your hope grounded in the goodness and care of your God? Is your hope confidently expecting to receive from God all that He has promised? Or, are you without hope? Are your days filled with joylessness? Are you disquieted within your soul? Perhaps you have lost hope, perhaps you have turned away from hope because the expectations you did have were to fulfill your own desires and not God’s.
                “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (Romans 8:24-25) Hope is one of the three Christian characteristics that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “faith, hope and love”, without hope we cannot have faith, without faith we cannot know love, and without love, we have no hope.

                It is my prayer today that we would step out of our disappointments that we have created through our own lusts, and put our hope back in our God, who gives us the desires of our hearts. I pray that we would see that hope does not leave us ashamed (Romans 5:5). If our hope is in God and in His promises then nothing that we hope for will leave us disappointed, for our God is a God of hope. I pray that we would see that hope brings joy and without hope we are lifeless, for without hope we have no faith. I pray that if you find yourself without joy in your heart, then I pray that you would turn to His Word and see the hope that you have in Him. I pray that our faith may be strengthened by the hope that we have in Him and in His promises. I pray that the Holy Spirit would show us what it means to have hope;  hope in His word, and hope in His promises. Father, show us that if our hope is in You, then we shall never be disappointed or ashamed, for all our expectations come to life in You. Father, I pray that we may be a Hope-filled people in You. May all these words which were written bring glory and honor and praise to You alone, in Jesus Name, Amen and Amen.