Monday, November 23, 2009

When Counting your Blessings Be Thankful for Hope

Thankful for Hope
By Barbara Henderson

As we approach the day set aside to give thanks to our God, the Christian has far more for which to be thankful than those who do not know Jesus Christ. Most Christians can say they are thankful for their salvation, their families, their freedoms, and whatever material possessions they may have. Christians can also be thankful for the love of God, a love that is immeasurable and eternal. In His immeasurable love, God has given us more. God has given us hope.

For the Christian, ‘hope’ is not a feeling. Hope itself may produce a feeling that things are going to turn out right, or that we will get something specific, or be able to accomplish some specific task. But hope in itself is not a feeling. Hope for the Christian, is, at least in part, fore-knowledge of events or actions that are going to eventually come to pass. Hope is the encourager, pushing the Christian to leave behind the thoughts and actions of their old life, and go forward into a closer and purer walk with Jesus Christ. Hope is the catalyst that spurs the Christian to forward actions. Thank God for hope.

Here is what the Bible says about hope.

Hope of immortality is confirmed in scripture.
‘And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.’ Acts 24:15

Hope of heavenly rewards
‘For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;‘ Colossians 1:3

Hope of the second coming
‘Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;’ Titus 2:13

Hope that anchors the soul
‘Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;’ Hebrews 6:18

Hope based in the resurrection of Jesus Christ
‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,’
1 Peter 1:3

Hope that abides forever
‘And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity’
1 Corinthians 13:13

Hope that inspires the believer to clean living
‘And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.’
1 John 3:3

Now, where does one gain hope such as this? Where else can a hope that endures through emotional highs and lows be found?

Hope is gained through scripture
‘For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.’ Romans 15:4

If you have already become a Christian, this life changing hope is available to you. You will find it through hiding the words of God in your heart. The more of God’s words and teachings you know, the more hopeful you will become. It really is that simple.

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your savior, then this hope is NOT available to you.
The Bible tells us, ‘But the natural man receiveth 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 2:14

The hope available to Christians is clearly not available to the ‘natural man’, which is to say unbelievers.

Seeing that we Christians have such hope through Jesus Christ, should we not pray to be able to direct those without hope to the Giver of Hope? The hope that is in us should make us bold to proclaim salvation to the lost, that they might have hope also.

Hope that makes believers bold
‘But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:’ 1 Peter 3:15

We Christians have hope not based on the world system, which is made up of government, economics, mystery religions, and the society these things produce. Our hope is not of this world. It cannot be crushed or defeated by events occurring in the earthly realm. Our hearts may be broken, but hope in God and His promises will abide.

The hope of the Christian is built on the solid rock of Jesus Christ and His abilities to make good on the promises He has made to us in scripture. (Romans 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.) Hope based on performance by any human being is risky. The thing is, even when someone has the best of intentions in fulfilling a promise, circumstances beyond their control may prevent it. But hope in God is sure. In Psalm 42:5 says, ‘Why are thou cast down, O my soul? And why are thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God” for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.’

Do you find that your hope is faded or even fainted? Maybe I should ask if occasionally it seems your hope has ‘passed out entirely’? It happens to Christians. Their hope seems gone. The problem often lies in taking our eyes off our source of hope, which is God Almighty. We begin to hope in things of the world. We hope a political election will change things, or a new medicine, or a new boss at work, or more education, or less education, whatever the case may be. What really changes things is hope in God. Let your soul hope in God.

Sometimes to continue to hope is hard or close to impossible. Consider Psalm 119:81 which says, ‘My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.’

This poor psalmist said his soul was fainting for the salvation or deliverance he was seeking: but, he refused to see hope as a feeling. Instead he hoped in or relied upon the sure word of God. His hope in God defended him against Satan’s attack. When we despair to see the deliverance of God, we are to go back and encourage ourselves through scripture to continue to hope in God. When the chips are really down, you don’t need the emotionalism of worldly hope to help you get through whatever is going on in your life. You need the hope in God that is greater than ‘how you feel’ at the moment. Thank God He is greater than our feelings.

This is my ‘Thanksgiving Prayer’ for you.

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

The song for this article is ‘My Hope is Built’. This is a song of encouragement for those, who like the psalmist, are fainting in the flesh, but continue to hope it God.

Barbara Henderson

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.