Hope for Today - and for Tomorrow!
“HOPE for Today – and for Tomorrow!”
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
Though the calendar has switched from 2020 to 2021, the challenges around us are still numerous and daunting. What we hear in the news is not encouraging. The changing cultural conditions are becoming less favorable to Christians. The temptation might be, then, to hide out and avoid interacting with those around us. After all, this past year we have heard, in many and diverse ways, that those around us might be dangerous to our physical health. There are also forces that are dangerous to our spiritual health. So how should the person of God respond to such a situation?
In his book, The Conduct of Life, Lewis Mumford says the following: “Without food man can survive for barely thirty days; without water for little more than three days; without air hardly for more than three minutes: but without hope he might destroy himself in an even shorter time.” This is a stark challenge, and yet an important one for us to consider. As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we should be the most hope-filled people around. But how can we live as hopeful people in today’s world, especially since we are surrounded by so much hopelessness and despair? I believe God has given us answers in His Word. So, in this article of The Contact, I want to talk a little bit about this important subject. I will do so using the acronym H.O.P.E. As you follow along with me, my prayer is that you will take time to think about how you can live as a person of hope.
The ‘H’ stands for holiness. We know that holiness is the fundamental attribute and characteristic of God. Everything that we know and learn from God is founded in the fact that He is holy. Holiness has two primary meanings in the Scriptures. First, holiness is separation from sin and from all that is unclean. Second, holiness is the state of moral and ethical perfection in all that one does. God is both. He is separated from anything impure and unclean, and He is perfect in all that He does. The Christian, in Christ, is declared to be holy in his position before God. From that solid position, in the power of Christ, the Christian is to become more and more holy in his practice before God and people. There is much more to be said on this matter, and perhaps that can be the subject of a future article in The Contact.
If we are to live as hopeful people, we must become holy people. As we grow in our faith in God and walk with Him, we will become more like Him in our own character. “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Pet. 1:15-16). This holy God is the source of all hope. As we grow and become more like Him, He fills us with His hope, which then shows itself in our lives. As we draw closer to His true character, the result will be holiness. This will show itself in the regular confession of our sin, in daily repentance from our own ambitions, in placing our trust in Him and His power, and in a growing desire to please Him in all that we do. Heb. 12:14 says that holiness is required to see God, and yet it is that holiness that fills us with hope.
The ‘O’ stands for optimism. I do not mean a humanistic optimism which says that all things work out in the end. I mean a biblical optimism that is secure in the knowledge that good will ultimately triumph over evil. A biblical optimist does not bury his head in the sand, ignoring the reality of what is happening around him. No! He is one who sees what is happening in full color, but rests in the power and truth of God. He has a peaceful confidence in the knowledge that God will win the day. The biblical optimist is not shaken in trials because he knows that there is an empty tomb on the outskirts of Jerusalem. He knows that the One who came out of that tomb is the ultimate Victor, who will return one day to bring ultimate victory over all of creation. The Christian is optimistic because He knows, with certainty, that God will win one day, and all will be made right under the eternal rule of Christ. Thus, he can walk in hope today – even in the face of challenge and hopelessness!
The ‘P’ stands for prayer. The Christian longs to be in contact with his Heavenly Father as a way of life. The way we speak to Him is through prayer. In prayer, we lay open the concerns of our hearts, we seek His face and His guidance, we call upon Him to show the power of His might, and we reply upon Him for all that we need in our daily affairs. Our only hope of overcoming the wickedness all around us is by praying to the One who ultimately can do something about it. Our hope is not placed in other things that begin with ‘p’ such as politics, the peace process, our pension, or our profession. Our hope is in the God who hears our prayers and responds to them for our good and His glory. Prayer is the pipeline that puts us in direct connection with God. That connection grounds us in the truth and calms our anxious hearts, because we are speaking to the One who rules over all. Pray to God, my friends, and you will be filled with hope.
The ‘E’ stands for evangelism. If we have encountered the Living God, we have experienced peace with him, and we have the assurance of eternal life. If that is so, then we have the great responsibility, and great privilege, to share that good news with those around us. It is intriguing to me that so many believers are afraid to share the Gospel with others. If we have the truth, and we know that we have it, then why are we afraid to share it with those who desperately need to hear it. Perhaps we need to ask if we really believe the words of Rom. 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” If we believe that to be true, then we will long to share that with others in our words, because, as Paul reminds us in Romans 10:17: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ”? I have found that nothing builds my faith more than sharing the Word of God and watching it take hold in the lives of others. If we live in hope, then we have confidence in the LORD and in His Word. Therefore, we will share what we know to be true with others.
These four things: Holiness, Optimism, Prayer, and Evangelism, are connected to each other. Holiness produces optimism, which prompts prayer, leading to evangelism. The world is in desperate need of hope, and we alone have the message that brings it. My friends, prayerfully consider these things for yourself. In this new year, 2021, I vow to live as a hopeful person. That means that by His grace, I will pursue these four things in my life and ministry. I am confident of God’s willingness and ability to help me do so. I know He can do the same thing for you. So, what are you waiting for? Live as a person of HOPE!