“But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” (Romans 8:25)

We go through life always with hope for many things. Today I awoke with the hope that it would not rain as it is my yard day. Or I hope that the milk in the refrigerator is still fresh and not sower as it has neared the expiration date. But these are not really hoping but wishes. Webster defines wish as a strong desire for something that is not absolutely attainable. It could be that our wish may never happen. Hope is commonly used to mean wish and often it is built on the strength of a person’s desire. So sometimes our wishes do not come true and if our hope is on something that might not come true then it is not secured. When we look at the way the word hope is used in the Bible it becomes an assured event. The word hope means to confidently expect and implies a trust in its reality. Our hope is built on the confident expectation of God’s promises. The strength of our hope is our faithfulness towards God.

My definition of hope is that where there is a breath of life there is hope. I have felt this in uncertain times when faced with a person who was facing death. But my hope was that as long as the heart was beating and they had breath then there was hope they might not die. But as I have read the Scriptures I’ve come to see that the godly thought is the opposite of mine. God’s view is where there is hope there is life. “For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten.” (Ecclesiastes 9:4-5) If we are alive then we should have hope because we still have an opportunity. For our purpose, our hope is for our redemption. With all the things of this world, our hope for redemption is the greater. As the Psalm points out at death the opportunity is lost.

We have come into this world as strangers, pilgrims traveling from birth to death and many have a shallow expectation. They are busy hoping for the things of this world. Education, employment, financial security, and a great retirement. All good aspirations that we should have. But for the whole of life, these expectations are far short-sighted. The greatest expectation is to have our ultimate hope in the blooming of life in the Kingdom of God. The greatest hope that we have is in our salvation and redemption. Most in this world live their lives in the fear of death but the Christian lives his life in the hope of eternal life with the King of kings.

The natural man he sees the progress of his work, all the things that his mind and hands have accomplished, and he finds hope in that. That is good for all of us as a society. The accomplishment one achieves brings hope in reaching higher and stretching further. This labor gives hope and purpose to life. Christians as members of the society should busy themselves in the progress. Unlike the natural man, the Christian is also involved in a greater growth process that has an eternal reward. That work is their salvation. We are saved by the grace of God through faith but we are also sanctified to holiness by the work of the Holy Spirit. Salvation comes at conversion but sanctification comes by a process of work. The Christian must be involved in that work in the power of the Holy Spirit to renew their mind. (Romans 12:2) This progress of work builds our hope. “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)

This is the primary goal of the Christian, to become in the image of our Savior and thus the image of God whom we were created in. The Christian must progress towards that goal in order to not lose purpose and therefore degrade their hope. We must seek God to rekindle our hope, God is always instructing us to remember the good works He has done. “I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.” (Psalm 77:11) The hope that we find in God’s good works is the light that disperses the darkness of our souls.

Our greatest hope is found in Jesus, as the old hymn sings. “My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness.” That hope is founded in Jesus who overcame the world that we struggle with. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) The hope we have in Jesus transcends through eternity. His promises in His Word endures forever and the words of men will always fail.

Too many new believers in Jesus think now that He is the Lord of their life here in this world will be a walk in the park. There are teachers that preach that to cause the people to come and hear their feel-good prosperity message. But it is a lie and deceitful and many will see the truth in that and turn away. This is a tragic loss for the disciple and the teacher will be held accountable for false teaching. “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” (James 3:1)

The Christian still lives in a fractured world and has a sin nature that desires the evil lust of the flesh. The Christian will stumble into sinful behaviors along with their journey and the only comfort is that God knows that. He has made provision and through Jesus, all your sins were forgiven, past, present, and future. Jesus stated on the cross “it is finished.” We are often surprised to learn that the great men of the Bible were also sinners before they met God and after. A great example of that is King David a man after the heart of God. David was also a murderer, adulterer, and often guilty of seeking to go his own way. David would always come to the well of God’s forgiveness and receive mercy. David knew one thing well that there was no hope for him anywhere other than in the Lord. “Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24)

The Christian follows Jesus. Jesus does not coax and He never pushes. He calls us to follow Him. If we follow Jesus and act in faith on His commands, then we as other disciples will learn the way to go. Jesus is the way and His Words are the truth. He will lead us on the way to the Kingdom of God and He will assure our safe arrival. Along the way, we will grow in His example and when the journey is done we will be as He is. “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus prayed to the Father on the evening of His crucifixion that the Father sends the counselor to guide His disciples. At first, He told His disciples to wait for the Spirit in Jerusalem that they would receive power. Today we can have that same Spirit, the Spirit of God, empowering us to do the good work of the Kingdom. Every Christian is indwelled with the Holy Spirit to aid in the ministry and to equip in the walk with Him. The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit we are His. “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Romans 8:16) The power of our true hope comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:23)

Today we are laboring to wait for our complete redemption. That marvelous day when our spirit and body both will be free from the corruption of sin. We wait for it in our faith and perseverance. “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4) The commentator Morris states this on the subject of the Christian perseverance. “It is the attitude of the soldier who in the thick of battle is not dismayed but fights on stoutly whatever the difficulties.” (Morris) If we endure the race through life here in this world we have the assurance that we will receive all the Lord has promised us. “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” (Hebrews 10:36)

Knowing this through our faith in God’s Word we joyfully struggle through the trails of this world. It is but a wisp of time in exchange for an eternity of bliss. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2-3)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, January 30, 2019

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