I hope the pizza has the extra sauce we ordered.
I hope that guy stops at the traffic light.
I hope this washing machine keeps working.

 

In our culture, the word “hope” often parallels thoughts of “it would be nice if…”.  And often, it conveys a weightier concern the opposite of what we hope for may occur:

I’m afraid the pizza won’t have extra sauce.

It looks like that dude isn’t going to stop!

Ugh. This washing machine is about to croak.

The overwhelming majority of our thinking and verbiage regarding “hope” can weaken our ability to grasp the depth and beauty of what biblical hope is.

And we shouldn’t want to rely on any ‘wishful thinking’ kind of hope; it’s subject to circumstances. We need the steadfast hope which is founded on the unchanging character of God.

Join me in a little trip to an outdoor picnic table in Arizona; It’s a great place from which to begin looking at true hope and the God behind it.

* * *

We could say it had been an ugly hot day. Yet the furnace-like heat of the high desert sun slowly gave way to a breath of coolness as night finally, refreshingly, took center stage.

The commercial kitchen I’d been calling home the last few days while cooking for a large ministry team was sparkling clean and put to bed for the night. My next appointment: time under the stars.

There was an empty picnic table outdoors, a perfect spot from which to perch, feel the deepening night, and absorb the majesty around me. As anticipated, the heavens were stunning. The Milky Way resembled a flagrant overhead river of lights in the midst of stars so vivid it seemed I should be able to touch them.

A woman whose name I failed to recall sat down with me and together we enjoyed the glory of the Arizona night sky. I never tired of such opportunities or lost my awe of the indescribable beauty of God’s handiwork. I believed John 1:3 which proclaims, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”

My stargazing companion finally broke the silence by whispering, “I’ve never seen anything like this before. I had heard about how beautiful the stars were here and seen pictures. But to be here, to experience this…” She was unable to finish.

I didn’t have to glance her way to know why; like me, she had lost her breath in the midst of wonder and worship of God Almighty.

Hope from God is like that. It isn’t to just be read about or reiterated. It’s personal, intimate, and meant to be experienced… by you (Psalm 34:8). And God never forgets your name.

* * *

What captured our hearts that night under the stars was much more than the view. It was the immensity of the universe and the smallness of us, the recognition of our shortcomings before an unimaginably powerful Creator. Our understandable feelings of insignificance dissipated in the overwhelming, biblical knowledge that we were cherished by God. Psalm 86:15 states:

“But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.”

The triumphant message of the Bible is that sin-stained humans have the option of entering into a loving and secure relationship with the holy, all-consuming God of creation (Romans 5:8). And we aren’t the ones who initiate this relationship or make it come to pass; it’s God (John 3:16). We’re just fortunate to have the option of responding appropriately to it.

Biblical hope is about a jaw-dropping God who knows the taste of tears (John 11:35). It’s about a God of mercy who picks us up when we’ve failed miserably (I John 1:9). It’s about a God who knows and understands our deepest hurts (Isaiah 53:3; Hebrews 4:15-16). It’s about the beautiful relationship we can have with God through Jesus Christ, His Son (Romans 5:1-2). It’s about truth we can count on, every minute of every day (John 8:31b-32).

This is hope redefined! A living hope based on what God has done and will do. I Peter 1:3-5 is so encouraging and clear:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

* * *

In bright daylight or under cloudy skies, we can’t see the stars. But, of course, they keep doing what stars do. They’re shining all around us in continuous, dazzling array, independent of our ability to view them—and we know that.

When we come to know God, we know He’s there. We know He’s trustworthy. We learn from His Word that what God says He will do, He will do. We accept by faith He’s Who He tells us He is in the Bible.

It’s the permanence of God’s truths which provide the rock solid foundation for the Believer’s hope. And our hope—trust and faith—is founded wholly upon Him.

Perhaps it’s a good time for us to remember that God has a 100% success track record. And will, throughout eternity.

This means our hope in Him is wildly, perfectly risk free!

* * *

Psalm 16:9

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope.

Psalm 119:114

You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.

Jeremiah 17:7

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD.

Romans 5:5

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 15:4

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Romans 15:13

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Colossians 1:27

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

* * *

Like a stirring breeze carrying a trace of coolness after a hot summer day, let hope birthed and sustained by truth touch you. Come to the table under the stars, so to speak, and meet with the Creator whose power and love for you is impossible to explain. Because God never intended for you to merely read or hear about the transforming hope available to His followers. He intends for you experience it first hand. Every hour of every day.

Encouragement That Lasts exists because God gives a better hope! He provides us with truths which stand firm, no matter what we see happening in our world or in our lives.

But is this rich hope evident in my life and yours?

* * *

If we’re going to be filled with the breathtaking, biblical hope available to us through God, we must be intentional and proactive in putting—and guarding—it in our minds.

How?

Through habitual Bible reading. There are many excellent reading plans to choose from; please take measures to start one if you haven’t already. And if/when you get behind, don’t give up! Just resume reading for the day you’re scheduled to be on.

Through Scripture memorization. Okay, I struggle with this and maybe you do, too. But I invite you to join me this year in memorizing the verses we covered above—about the hope God gives His children. We’re talking about a mere seven verses, and some of them are really short. This is just over one every two months!

Psalm 16:9

Psalm 119:114

Jeremiah 17:7

Romans 5:5

Romans 15:4

Romans 15:13

Colossians 1:27

Through spending time with people whose hope is in God Almighty. Yes, find ways to regularly spend time with imperfect people who are in love with a perfect God. Arrange to have coffee with them, invite one or two over to your apartment or house for snacks, do the FaceTime or Zoom thing. Just be proactive!

Most importantly—through spending time with the One whose hope in God Almighty is the flawless example: Jesus Christ. If you’re not sure how to get to know and spend time with Jesus, begin by reading the book of John in the New Testament and talking with Him. He’s the God who knows your name, your needs, and loves you with power and perfection. And He’s the very same God who created the beautiful, starry host and invites you to know Him intimately.

* * *

Hope—Redefined.

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name!

            On Christ the solid Rock I stand

            All other ground is sinking sand.

            All other ground is sinking sand!

[Edward Mote, pastor and hymn writer,1834—whose hope has become sight.]

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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