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Great Themes of the Bible
Everyone needs hope, because without it our spirits would die within us. We see this happening in the life of Solomon. He said,
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 NIV)
Hope that doesn’t fail cannot, however, be attained by what the world places its hope upon.
Worldly hope is more like wishful thinking, than it is in accordance with God and His Word. We say, “I hope so,” or “I hope it’s true.” Further, the world defines hope rather pessimistically. One person said it like this: “It’s wishing for something that you know you ain’t never gonna get.”
But hope as defined in the Bible isn’t wishful thinking; rather it’s a confident expectation and certainty.
So why the difference? Well, it all comes down to where our hope is placed.
The world places its hope in the human race; that the human race is somehow evolving and getting better. But over these countless centuries, humanity isn’t getting better, rather it’s getting worse.
• We’ve got wars and rumors of wars, along with acts of terrorism on a daily basis and in every continent.
• The economy around the world has tanked and isn’t getting better.
• We’re seeing one epidemic after another, new diseases are increasing, and old diseases are finding new life, and
• Natural disasters around the world are on the rise.
And while there are glimpses of humanity as God intended, along with great advances in technology and medicine improving the quality of life, the human heart still remains wicked.
In other words, the human heart hasn’t changed. Look at what the Lord said in the very beginning that caused His judgment to fall.
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5 NKJV)
Just the thought of the world getting better would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragically false. The crime rate is up, acts of terror and environmental disasters are up, immorality is on the increase, and diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases, are up.
Therefore the world can offer no hope at all, because the object of that hope, humanity, is seriously flawed.
But the object of biblical hope is steadfast and never changes. The object of biblical hope is the Lord God, and He does not change, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8.
This hope is seen in the life of David. It started when he was a shepherd boy. On several occasions David was confronted with a bear and a lion. Now most shepherds would have never faced these threats; instead they would have probably asked if they wanted mint jelly with their side of lamb.
But not David! His hope was in the Lord. His hope wasn’t in his weaponry, that is, rock verses lion and bear, but rather it was in God, that is, God verses lion and bear. And when you put it like that, David couldn’t lose.
It was such hope that gave God room to do another miracle, the defeat of the giant, Goliath. We see this hope on full display when David faced Goliath.
“You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand.” (1 Samuel 17:45-46a NKJV)
He goes on to say, “The battle is the Lord’s,” or its “God verses the giant.” David lived his life in faith and the hope of God, not in the circumstances he faced.
As I said before, biblical hope is sure and steadfast, and that’s because it’s in the Lord, but for the Christian our hope is in Jesus Christ and the hope of the resurrection.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3 NKJV)
Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and His resurrection, and therefore it’s a living hope. It’s the hope of eternal life through Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s a hope that supports our confidence and assurance, and invigorates our soul and spirit.
We see this same hope in the life of Abraham when the writer of Hebrews said, “For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10 NKJV)
Abraham had faith in God and in Him alone. It was Abraham’s hope in God that brought forth a miracle birth of Isaac. At this time Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was in her 90’s, yet Abraham beyond all hope in hope believed, and it was accounted to Him as righteousness.
It says that Abraham beyond all hope believed, and that it’s, “God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” (Romans 4:17 NKJV)
Biblical hope, the hope we have as Christians isn’t based upon what’s going on around us, but rather it’s in the Lord God who is in control of all these circumstances.
So our hope comes from the Lord God, and it’s a hope that will carry us through both the good and bad times, and it’s a hope that will overflow into our lives joy and peace.
“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.” (Romans 15:13 NKJV)
What will help us then secure this hope?
1. God’s Presence
Gods’ is constantly watching over us.
As I get older I realize how much of my life is out of my control. But I can still have hope.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV)
Regardless of what may happen, we don’t have to go through it alone. God will be with us through it all and give us strength. Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NKJV)
Life and people are going to let us down, but Gods’ promise is that He never will; that He will never leave or abandon us, Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5. So our hope is not in our circumstances, but it’s in the Lord and in His promises.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you,” (Psalm 32:8 NIV)
While we don’t have control of our future, the Lord does, and He will guide and advise us along the way. It’s in this hope that we live.
There are going to be things that none of us are ever going to be able to figure out. But our hope isn’t within ourselves or in our abilities. Our hope is in the Lord, because He knows, understands, and will guide us along the way.
And so because God’s presence watches over us, we can have this tremendous hope.
2. God’s Purpose
God is working out His purpose in us and through us.
Good and bad things happen, even really ugly things, and while they make no sense, knowing that God is working out His purpose through them gives us hope.
“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NKJV)
Notice that it doesn’t say that everything is going to work out the way we want them to, or that they will have happy endings. Instead it says that God will work them all together for good. And it is here that optimism and hope part company.
Optimism believes that no matter what things will work out, while hope says that things will make sense no matter how they turn out. (REPEAT)
Optimism is the glass half full; hope is God is holding the glass.
Paul says that all things will work together, the good, the bad, and even the really ugly. Further that God will work them out for good, not that they are good.
Consider your favorite cake. Individually the ingredients really don’t taste all that good, but when blended together it tastes great. That’s what God does for our lives; He blends all of our experiences together, both the good and the bad and transforms us into the image of His Son.
God takes the bitter and distasteful, along with the good things that happen in our lives and blends them into His grace and mercy making a life worth living.
And so we can have this confident hope …
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 NKJV)
And so we can be confident that what God starts, He’ll finish, and while you think that whatever you’re facing is beyond hope, it isn’t.
The last thing that helps secure our hope is
3. God’s Place
God has a place waiting for us.
Our hope isn’t here on earth, but it’s in our eternal life in heaven.
The Apostle Paul said that if we place our hopes on Jesus Christ for this life only, then we’re going to end up miserable, 1 Corinthians 15:19. There’s more to this life of faith than right here and now. We also have as our ultimate destination a place Jesus has especially designed for us.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1-2 NKJV)
Those who make a decision to believe in Jesus Christ, to have that personal relationship with Him, Jesus is going to prepare a special place in heaven for them.
Heaven isn’t some state of mind, but a real place, a place the old spirituals call, “The land of no-mores.” It’s a place where there will be no more tears, sorrow, fear, pain, conflict, problems, or death. Rather it’s a place of pure peace, joy, and contentment.
Biblical hope is not some abstract concept, rather it’s real, and hope’s name is Jesus Christ.
No matter what you may be going through, either now or in the future, or how dark it may become, please know that it’s not a cave; rather it’s a tunnel you’re walking through. And the light you see up ahead isn’t a train coming at you, rather it’s Jesus Christ, the light of the world coming for you.
Where there is resurrection and life, there is hope. Jesus said,
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 1:25-26 NKJV)
And when we believe in Jesus and in His promise, then our hope will always shine, and we’ll be like that city set upon a hill for all to see the glory of God through.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study