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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

God of hope

It's one of the most precious commodities that exists, and it's completely free. We can get it, and we can lose it. Having it can make us feel good. Not having it can make us feel lousy.

What is this valuable commodity? Hope.

There are many things and people desiring us to invest our stash of hope in them. Some will reward our hope, some won't.

Politicians want us to put our hope in them. They promise us the moon, and deliver us cheese. Classic bait 'n' switch. No, the moon isn't made of cheese, but politicians' promises are. Moldy cheese that they won't touch, but that they expect us to devour with a smile. When you put your hope in a politician that can't even get elected to office, your hope goes unrewarded, and usually dies. Or you reluctantly transfer your hope to the person who beat your guy out for the office of Chief Cheese Distributor.

All kinds of religious leaders want us to place our hope in them. Some of them are pretty good at taking your hope and buying a fifth home in the Caribbean with it.

There are countless "gods" that want us to hope in them. They offer all kinds of rewards for our hope. Can these gods deliver? Are they even there? Helloooo? god? You there? 

We place our hope in doctors to fix us when we're broke. Sometimes they can. Sometimes they can't.

We place our hope in the pills we take every day. We hope they make us feel better in the area we're suffering - like toe fungus - while simultaneously hoping that they don't cause nine other areas of ailment by harmful side-effects - like death.

Some people just try to put all their hope strictly in themselves because they don't trust anyone else to be worth giving their hope to. This can be done in a limited sense, but we're all dependent on others to some degree.

Where you put your hope is an important decision. Will your hope be rewarded by the one you invested in? Time will tell. 

We need hope for today and for the future that is sure and solid.

Can you get any more sure and solid than our Creator and God, the Father of Jesus? Your hope, and what you hope for, can only be as sure of being met as the object of your hope. The strength and solidness of the thing or person who says to you, "Put your hope here ... put your hope in me," will determine the end result of your hope. 


Hope past the grave


We all have hopes for short term things and long term things: "I hope the fries are fresh at McDonald's today." "I hope I find a hot girlfriend who can cook like my Mom." "I hope I find a high-paying job that's not too much work." "I hope I have lots of perfectly-behaved grandkids. "I hope my stocks quit losing money."

The things we have hopes for are innumerable and very personal. Some of the things I hope for may seem stupid to you, and vice versa. 
   
What are your hopes? What does your future look like? Do you have any hope at all? 

What or who is your hope based on? Is the source of your hope as solid as God?

Do your hopes and dreams go beyond this short vapor-like life? Or will all of your hopes and dreams die when you take your last breath?

God can give us hope for today and for the future - even beyond our grave and the grave of our loved ones.
Putting your hope in God doesn't mean you have to wait 'til the next life for all of His blessings, just some of them.

I want so much for you to experience hope in the God of hope.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:13)

Are you full of "joy and peace"? Do you currently "abound in hope"? Are you believing in God?


The key to hope


But as it is written, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him."
10 But God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
11 For what man knows the things of a man, except the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2)

God has prepared some great things for them that love Him (v.9). Would you like to know "the things which God has prepared for them that love him?" You can - with the key.

A person apart from God isn't even aware of the things God has prepared (v.9). But God reveals these things to the person who has His Spirit dwelling in him (v.10, 12).

This is the key to hope - God's Spirit in you.

When you have God's Spirit in you, the things God has prepared for you enter your heart and give you hope. And this hope is backed by the power of the unchanging Almighty God. You can "abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost" as "the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing" (see Romans 15:13 above).

The Spirit is like your wi-fi connection to God. If you're connected to God through the Spirit, you can access God and the benefits of knowing Him*. If you're not connected, you're not even aware of God and all that comes with knowing Him (v.14).

Because the things of the Spirit of God are foolishness to the natural man - the man without the Spirit (v.14) - he puts his hope elsewhere: in himself, his friends, his spouse, his children, his money, his job, his health, his political candidate, his legal (or illegal) drugs. But all of these things will perish in time. Why put your hope in things that can't last and are weak and frail while they do exist.

Make no mistake, God has prepared things - marvelous things - for them that love Him (v.9). And they are all FREE (v.12)! But even freebies need to be accessed. And the Spirit of God is the key to your accessing the hidden things of God.

How do you get the Spirit? I'm glad you asked. Jesus told us how in Luke 11:9-13,

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

All hope will eventually end


All your hopes will eventually die, or will eventually be satisfied.

24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. (Romans 8)

Hope is the invisible, encouraging link to the thing we desire. When we get what we desire, we no longer hope for it.

God is immortal, and you'll also eventually be immortal**. Thus the hope you put in Him will last until all that is hoped for is obtained. Because He is ever-living, if you know Him, you're born into "a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3). Your "living hope" in God will not die. And it's not dead hope like so much of the hope offered by the world today. Your living hope is fueled by God's accomplished work of the resurrection of Jesus. Our living hope is not based on the future, but on the past - the resurrection. It's as if God says to us through the resurrection, "Put your hope in Me. I don't expect you to do it blindly. See what I've already done by overcoming death. It's proof of what's coming."

What will be obtained for certain is God's will. Line your will up with His and all your hopes will eventually come to pass, because He'll accomplish all of His will.

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure." (Isaiah 46)

Jump on God's bandwagon, adjust your will to match His, and you can be confident to get all you hope for.
 
14 And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us:
15 And if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him. (1 John 5)

What a great and encouraging promise from the Scriptures.

Examine your hopes. Do they line up with God's will? If not, change them. There are things I've hoped for in my life that are no longer desires of mine because I've changed. Some of our current hopes may be short-sighted, or just plain foolish. It's OK to adjust on the fly. It's wise to let go of hopes you have that contradict God's will.

If you don't yet know God, when you do come to know Him, some of your hopes will change. The things you once thought were foolish will become some of your heart's greatest desires. And some of your former hopes will fade away as you see the smallness of them compared to the greater things God has in store for you.


Are your hopes making you sick?

 
When we don't get what we hope for, it can make us sick.

Delayed hope makes one sick at heart, but a fulfilled longing is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12)

If we put our hope in things or people that can't deliver, our heart will remain sick. What a horrible feeling that is. I know, I've been there.

But I've also had my hope in the right place and it still took a long time - several years - for the hope to be met. We must have patience.

True hope comes from above.
If we have hopes beyond our grave, and we realize that all of our hopes won't be met in this life, it actually brings us peace. The sickness we feel in our hearts from unfulfilled dreams can lessen, knowing that we can put that particular hope on ice until the time of its fulfillment comes.

Even some famous faithful people from the Bible didn't receive in their short lifetimes all they had been promised by God. Did God fail to deliver? No.

Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samson, David and even Jesus have unfulfilled promises and hopes. But their hope and faith in God and His plans will eventually be rewarded, along with us who have the same faith and hope in God.


39 And these all [famous people listed above], having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11)

We who know God will get to see His promises fulfilled along with these people. That will be awesome.

God's timetable is bigger, and usually different, than ours. When we have His Spirit we can understand this, even though it may at times be frustrating. Chill, dude, chill.


The baby's a comin'!


Can you hear it? Can yo feel it? The entire creation is sighing together in unison. It's a song. A sad song of despair that won't make the top 40. But a song everybody knows.
  
Due to unmet hopes, and the frailty of this life, there is a silent, painful groan that echoes through all of creation. Some people sense it. Most probably aren't even aware of it because it's all they've ever known. The futility of life is normal to them, and they have no vision for something better. But the universal groan is there. The entire creation suffers from depression. Bones break, people get sick, relationships fall apart, plans don't work out ... oh, and there's also this annoying thing called death.

 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8 - New King James Version)

The Sad Sighing Song plays on today. But all the futility of life will someday come to an end when the hope of all creation is satisfied by God.

God subjected the entire creation to futility (v.20). That's why this world can't truly satisfy us. Everyone has problems - even Johnny Depp. Even those who now have God's Spirit groan with the rest of the world in anticipation of His work being completed (v.23).

Those who don't know God can't place their finger on the reason for their frustration and dissatisfaction with life. So they continue to chase after things that won't truly satisfy them.

We'll all groan and labor with birth pangs together until all creation is delivered from slavery to corruption when the children of God (those who know Him) are revealed (v.19, 21). We must wait for that day. Until then, put your hope in God. Only He is able to give you supernatural peace and joy in this life - and the next.

What will be end result of this hope we have for deliverance from futility and corruption? Look at verse 21. Glorious Liberty! This is the name of the bundle of joy Jesus will bring forth in all of creation when the birth pangs end and the Sad Sighing Song plays its last note. The baby's a comin'! When you hold baby Liberty in your arms, all the pains of the past will quickly melt away. And this will come about when the sons of God are revealed in the future at the return of Jesus to reign on the earth.

Whatever the world ails from, Jesus can fix that. Jesus will fix that.

20 And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3)

I want you to have living hope today that this day (v.21) will come. It all depends on God, "the God who gives life to the dead and speaks of things that don’t yet exist as if they are real." (Romans 4:17 - Easy-to-Read Version - ERV)

Put your stash of hope in the God Who can and will make all of His plans reality.

If you don't yet know Jesus, call on Him right now. Ask Him to give you His Spirit. When His Spirit comes to dwell in you, you'll see marvelous things you never imagined before. Things that you can solidly hope for because they're backed by Almighty God Himself - the One who asked rhetorically, "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for Me?"


Sincerely,
Wes

P.S.

Psalm 146
 Praise you the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul.
While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.
Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
Happy is he that has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God:
Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keeps truth for ever:
Which executes judgment for the oppressed: which gives food to the hungry. The Lord looses the prisoners:
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind: the Lord raises them that are bowed down: the Lord loves the righteous:
The Lord preserves the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked He turns upside down.
10 The Lord shall reign for ever, even your God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise you the Lord.



85 awesome benefits of knowing Jesus 

**You will be immortal! 


 

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