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A Christian’s Heart
“A Hope-Filled Heart”
It safe to say that all of us have had bad days, and some of us have had a long line of bad days and it doesn’t seem like they are ever going to end.
It’s been said that a person can go 40 days without food, three days without water, and three minutes without air, but we can’t last a single second without hope. Hope is to our spirits what oxygen is to our bodies. When we don’t have enough oxygen to breathe, we die. When we don’t have hope, our spirit dies. Hope is then an essential to life, because when hope is gone then life, for all intents and purpose, is over.
Hope, good solid biblical hope can help change our outlook on life.
Have you noticed that life comes with list of side effects. It can be full of fun, adventure, excitement, and joy. But it also comes with illness, abuse, broken relationship, betrayal, sorrow, loss, injuries, disappointments, heartache, crime and death.
Like any product, therefore, life should then come with a warning label, which is actually what Jesus gives us.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
Yes troubles, trials, and tribulations are going to come, but Jesus tells us to have a heart filled with hope because He has overcome. Jesus’ plan and purpose for our lives far exceeds our understanding and expectations, and supersedes our present reality, that is, our present difficulties.
There is hope because Jesus is an overcoming Savior.
Hope Springs Eternal
The reality is that most of us don’t deal well with life’s disappointments. We tend to draw a curtain of protection around us trying to the keep the hurt out and bury our troubles and difficulties in the process. Further, we question everything we’ve done along with our motives for doing it.
Every one of us, however, have dreams and plans as to what we want to become and what we want to in life. The problem is that life just seems to get in the way, and hope gets lost in the process, and things just kind of goes downhill from there.
Solomon tells us
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 NKJV)
When hope is lost or deferred, our dreams are shattered, left dormant, imprisoned, manipulated, or paralyzed due to heartbreak.
The unfortunate part of this is that people don’t turn to God during these times to have their hope restored. Rather they turn to methods to alleviate the pain, which in turn does greater damage by exasperating the problem bringing on depression. Or they turn to such things as alcohol and drugs.
But this doesn’t need to be the end of the story. God has great dreams and plans for our lives, dreams to give us a future and a hope.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)
Abraham had this hope and he held onto this hope when circumstances would have led most to despair.
Abraham had been promised by God descendants as numerous as the stars in heaven and sand upon the seashore, Genesis 22:7. But he and his wife Sarah were well past their child making years. And on top of that, Sarah was barren.
But Abraham never lost hope because his hope was in God’s promise.
“Who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be.’” (Romans 4:18 NKJV)
Abraham could have easily fallen into despair and depression. He would have no one to carry on his name, his legacy. But Abraham knew where his hope lay, and in Who his hope was in. So instead of turning to wine to numb his lost hope, he turned to the Lord, remembered God’s promises, and his hope was restored.
Abraham’s hope was in the Lord and he continued to believe giving his frustrations and fears over to the Lord knowing God’s thoughts and plans were to give him peace, a future, and hope.
All of us have dreams and visions. God Himself put them within us. God created a dream inside all our hearts. He created us with a divine design in mind. Therefore, it is in the Lord God and in Him alone that hope springs eternal.
When looking at a hope-filled heart, there are three characteristics that stand out.
In this world hope seems to be in short supply.
As we look at what is going on around us we tend to lose a lot of enthusiasm and energy for life, and we begin a dangerous spiral into darkness and despair. But God wants to bring to us a scent of hope to see us revived and blossoming again.
When I was a Boy Scout our troop would take on various projects to help the environment. One year a really bad wild fire ravaged the mountains North of Las Vegas. Acre upon acre were burnt and all that was left were the burnt trees whose blacken charred remains stood like silent sentinels over what was once lush green wilderness.
One day it looked like it would rain. In fact, you could smell the rain in the air. So we began to hurry trying to get as much done as we could. We were building dams to prevent further soil erosion due to run off.
What amazed me, however, is that I started to see green sprouts begin to emerge from the blackened charred remains. I thought these trees and bushes were dead, but as they sensed the rain they rallied. They smelled the scent of rain and began to reach out for new life.
I also remember these old tree stumps that surrounded our mountain cabin. To my eyes they were dead, but when the rains came new green shoots would start sprouting.
Even though they were chopped down their roots were still grounded in good soil, and when the water came, or even the scent of water, so did new life.
This is what we all need, a scent of hope.
This same idea is found in the book of Job.
Job not only talked about the frailty of life, but he also talked about hope, which didn’t seem possible given Job’s present circumstances. He literally lost everything. Job was like a tree cut down in the prime of life with only an old stump left.
Yet even though Job felt this way, there was still hope in his heart.
“At least there is hope for a tree: if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.” (Job 14:7-9)
Life is hard and unrelenting, and many people feel like an old dead tree stump. They’ve been cut down by the trials and tribulations of life. They’ve been cut down by illness and disease, the loss of a loved one, abuse, divorce, bankruptcy, foreclosure, evictions, or they’ve been cut down by the loss of a job or a career. They feel like they have no hope for the future, and that’s because they have no external source of life that they can hold on to.
But at the scent of rain, at the scent of hope, there is life and there is joy.
To receive this hope, to get that scent of hope so we can grow, blossom, and flourish, Jesus says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38 NKJV)
The only source of true hope, that which we can send our branches upward and our roots downward is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only source of true hope, a hope that will overflow our lives with peace, joy, and hope.
This brings me to the second characteristic of a hope-filled heart and that is
There’s a verse found within the Bible that few would ever make this connection, especially given the circumstances Job experienced.
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21 NKJV)
This is not what most people would normally say under such horrific circumstances. Not only did Job lose everything, including his flocks and herds, but he also lost his children to a freak storm. Later he was smitten with a horrendous disease of boils from the top of his body to the souls of his feet. And these were not the little one, but form altering huge boils.
You might say that Job is where many people either have been or are today, as they likewise have experienced loss, the loss of job, home, finances, family, or health.
What holds this story out amongst so many, however, is that in the midst of these horrendous circumstances Job didn’t criticize or complain against the Lord. Instead, what we see from our verse is he worshipped God through it all.
But how could he? It was because Job knew God.
While everything may have been taken away on the physical side of the equation, Job still possessed a faith and hope that are too often missing in our culture and society.
Society teaches us to place our hope in others, on humanity, or upon science. It believes we can come up with the solutions that have plagued our world since the beginning of time. But what humanity has pegged its hopes upon has proven to be false, because scientist and philosophers have yet to find the cure for what plagues humanity, and that is death.
But Job’s hope was not in himself, his friends, nor in humanity. Job’s hope was in the Lord, and it was in the Lord that he placed his hope. Job knew death is the inevitable outcome of life, but he also knew that this life isn’t all that there is to life.
Job knew one day he would die, but he also knew that after his death he would one day be in the presence of the Lord with a completely restored body.
And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God (Job 19:26 NLT)
So in the midst of his tragedy Job blessed and thanked God, having faith in Him. And it was this a faith and hope that not only saw health and prosperity be returned to Job, but also a new and expanded family as well.
King David also knew God, and knew that it was in the Lord he received his strength to survive and handle the sorrows of life.
In Psalm 6:6-7 he said, “I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears. My eye wastes away because of grief.”
But even in the midst of some of life’s most horrendous moments, David knew God and possessed a hope that would see him through these times of grief. A hope that no matter how dark it may seem, there’s always light and joy at the end. A hope he encourages us to possess.
“Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord (Psalm 31:23-24 NKJV)
When these problems and difficulties occurs that so devastate us, like the sudden and violent loss of a loved one, a life threatening or depilating disease or illness, a betrayal or divorce, the loss of a job or career, life will never be as it was.
But when we know God and know that He will never leave or forsake us, we can have a heart filled with hope that will allow us to face whatever life throws at us.
The last characteristic of a hope-filled heart is that it’s
This hope-filled heart, however, cannot be achieved through what the world calls hope. The world thinks hope more as wishful thinking saying, “I hope so,” or “I hope it’s true.” It’s all a gamble as to whether it will come to pass.
Hope, as defined by the world, is an abstract thought with nothing to substantiate or support it, whereas the Bible defines hope as a confident expectation and certainty.
Why the difference? It all comes down to the object in which hope is placed.
The world and society places its hope in the human race evolving and getting better. But as it has been proven throughout the centuries is that humanity’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.
Now there are glimpses of humanity as God intended along with great advances in technology and medicine that has helped, the human heart is still the same and remains just as wicked as it ever was, Jeremiah 17:9.
Frankly the whole concept of the world getting better would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragically false. The crime rate, acts of terrorism, and environmental disaster are not only up, but are adding up.
The world can offer no hope, and that’s because as we have seen that the object of its hope, humanity, is flawed. But the object of biblical hope is steadfast and never changes. The object of biblical hope is God who doesn’t change and is the same yesterday, today, and forever, Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8.
Christian hope is distinguished from worldly hope because it’s based upon the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
“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)
A Christian’s hope isn’t a dead hope, rather it’s a living hope because it’s based upon Jesus Christ who is alive. It’s the hope of eternal life that keeps our hope alive. It’s a hope that quickens the spirit, supports weakened confidence, and invigorates and inspires the soul to do greater things.
Hope is therefore not some abstract concept, but it is real and its name is Jesus Christ. It isn’t a dead hope but a living one, and it’s not just for our future redemption, but also for our present redemption and abundant life.
Looking at the resurrection of Jesus will help us gain perspective for recovering our hope through the tragedies, troubles, trials, and tribulations of life.
Three days after Jesus death and burial, several women arrive at His tomb. They had come to finish preparing Jesus’ body, something that the men could not do several days earlier because the Sabbath and Passover was upon them.
When they arrived at the tomb, however, the last thing they were expecting was for it to be open and empty. The last thing they expected was a resurrection.
While trying to figure out what had happened two angels appeared. They were so overwhelmed they fell to the ground. The angels then delivered the very first Easter morning message.
“Why do you seek the living among the dead? (Luke 24:5b NKJV)
This must have puzzled them because the Romans didn’t make mistakes when it came to killing someone. They were experts in executions. So when the angels talked about Jesus living it was probably somewhat confusing.
The angels then gave the main theme of every Easter message and sermon.
“He is not here, but is risen!” (Luke 24:6a NKJV)
The resurrection of Jesus is the last thing they expected.
When we receive news of some tragedy. We struggle to understand and make sense of it, and we’re often paralyzed with uncertainty and confusion.
But like these women and the disciples, when we encounter our risen Savior, Jesus Christ, our hope is recovered and we’re able to make a lot more sense out of the tragedies that occur.
In the end it’s the Lord’s love for us that fills our hearts with hope.
This was the hope that Solomon held onto when it seemed like it was all for nothing.
“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23)
Whatever we’re going through, let’s let the mercy of God fill us with hope to see us though the dark times and into the light and love of Jesus Christ.
There is a hope for our world, and that hope is Jesus Christ Who rose from the dead and is alive.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study