Week Five: Hope

My hope is built on nothing less

than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,

all other ground is sinking sand;

all other ground is sinking sand.

—Edward Mote, 1797-1874

 

Reflection Scripture: Hope

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13 ESV

Day 1: The Heart of Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1 ESV

Carol says:

I don’t think of myself as hope-full.

The world has left its mark. Turning me into a pragmatic glass-half-empty sort of girl. Disappointments in yourself and others can do that to you.

But as I studied hope this week, I see evidence of it in my life I haven’t necessarily felt.

Every time I step out in faith to write words for an unfinished Bible study we’re already teaching and set firm dates for beginning and ending, I’m manifesting hope.

If I had no hope, I would never put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, or ready paper to print. If I truly were hope-less I’d quit. Say: We’re done. It’s just not happening.

Seeing this evidence of hope in me, which is at the heart of faith, makes me begin feeling hope-full.

I may have to redefine my self-image.

Stacy says:

I have a friend whose daughter was born with a heart condition, one that has brought the little one to a place of severe heart failure. She’s been in the hospital weeks now, and I keep up with her condition through her mom’s social media posts.

Last week’s post told of her worsening condition, a mother’s heart wrenching plea for prayer. I felt my own hope waver a bit, wondered how to continue hoping in the face of what feels hopeless. At the end of the post, the girl’s mother proclaimed her hope. How she would never give up hoping for a miracle, never quit asking God to work a medical wonder.

I was reminded of David praying for God to spare his son. The little one born to Bathsheba as a result of David’s sin.

And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.

2 Samuel 12:15-16. ESV

There are times in life when all seems hopeless. Times when the world shouts for us to give up. It’s hard to continue to believe, to take a faithful step to pray when all hope feels lost.

When I finished reading my friend’s post, and considered God’s reminder of David, I made a decision then and there. I choose hope too. Hope for a miracle, hope for healing, and hope for her little heart to be fully restored. Hope fuels the faith I need to continue to pray for her and others. I’ll not give in or give up.

At the heart of faith is hope.

Read Hebrews 11:1

What is faith?

Faith is being sure of what you hope for, certain of what you do not see (Hebrews 11:1 NIV84). To possess faith, live by faith, is to be filled with hope. Our faith is fueled on hope. You cannot have one without the other.

Hope is an elusive creature. The means and timing of its fulfillment unknown. By its nature, it is intangible.

Read Romans 8:19-25

What is creation’s hope?

Who else is waiting? Why?

What is the overarching quality of hope?

Hope is unseen. And when we see or receive our hope, guess what? We no longer hope for it!

Who hopes for what he sees?

All creation is waiting on, hoping for, what it does not see: freedom from the bonds of corruption through the full redemption of the children of God. Believers, those with the firstfruits of the Spirit, are waiting on the same thing. It is our hope of salvation.

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

How does it make you feel to understand hope is waiting on something unseen? What does it mean for you to wait on something you can’t see?

Hope is inextricably linked to waiting. Not just waiting, but expectant waiting.

The Hebrew word translated numerous times in Scripture as hope means: to wait, hope, expect (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as hope means much the same: hope for, an attitude of looking forward to, usually, as a trusting, confident hope (Dictionary of Biblical Languages). In a religious sense, hope is to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).

To put it simply, we don’t wait unless we expect what we are waiting for to happen. Faithful hope is to wait on what is unseen with anticipation and expectation. To lose hope is to give up and walk away from faith.

Read Romans 4:13-21

What was the promise to Abraham? By what means would the promise come?

For those who share the faith of Abraham, what is he called?

What was at the heart of Abraham’s belief? What was he fully convinced of?

Abraham was old and his wife barren when God promised he would become the father of many nations. In all their years of marriage, a child had never been conceived. The promised heirs would come through faith, not the laws of nature.

Abraham is called the father of the faithful because of his extraordinary belief. A belief fueled by hope. He would not allow unbelief to weaken his faith in God’s promises and his faith grew even stronger. At the heart of Abraham’s faith was hope.

In hope he believed against hope.

Hope-full waiting in the promises of God and the gospel fuel our faithfulness to Him.

Read Ephesians 1:15-21

Why does Paul give thanks for those in the church at Ephesus and remember them in his prayers?

What does he pray for them?

Paul was thankful for the faith of those in Ephesus as evidenced by their love toward all the saints. He prayed for their spiritual eyes to be open to see the hope to which they were called, its glorious inheritance, and their access to the same power which raised Christ from the dead. For them to see their unseen hope in Christ, would increase their already growing faith.

When we get a glimpse of the unseen hopes of being in Christ, our faith is strengthened. As we read in Romans, Who hopes for what they have? Hope is a temporary faith action we need to be faithful to the Day of Christ.

Hope may not get the spotlight when it comes to faith, but without having some idea of what we are waiting for, some sense in something happening in response to our faith, we would not be faithful.

  • Abraham would have never left home and family if he didn’t have hope in arriving at the unseen place God was leading him (Hebrews 11:8).
  • Abraham would’ve never taken Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice him if he didn’t hope in an unseen salvation for his son and the promised heirs to come (Genesis 22:6-8).
  • The priests carrying the ark would not have stepped foot in the flood-stage Jordan to cross over into the Promised Land if they did not have hope of being able to cross by an unseen way (Joshua 3:14-16).

Can you think of others in the Bible whose faith was grounded in hope?

Hope is at the heart of faith, without hope we have no faith.

There is something worth waiting on…

For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.

Galatians 5:5 ESV

Talk It Out

Talk it over with yourself:

Do you consider yourself hope-full? or hope-less? Why?

In your faith journey to date, can you identify places your obedience has revealed hope you may not have felt? Name the specific hope which fueled your faith.

Talk it over with God:

Ask God to help you see the extent of your hope behind your current level of faithfulness.

Then ask Him to show you someone in the Bible who will encourage your faith and increase your hope to a level of full assurance as you prayerfully meditate on their life.

And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Hebrews 6:11-12 ESV

Exercise Your Faith

Hope:

Be an unseen hope for someone else today.

Ask Holy Spirit to direct you in an act of anonymous kindness. An encouragement for someone you know who is discouraged.

The key. Keep it unseen. Don’t tell anyone. Keep it between you and God.

Let this exercise give you a feel for the unseen nature of hope. We really don’t know what it will look like when it comes. But that should not keep us from being hopeful.

Reflection Scripture: Creative Journaling

This week’s reflection exercise might feel like a returning to kindergarten. Remember your first box of crayons or colored pencils? A fresh sheet of construction paper waiting with potential for your small fingers to create? Recall the hope and anticipation of what might appear.

What are you waiting for? Grab your crayons, water colors, or freshly sharpened pencils.

Before you dive right in, ask God to come. Breathe deep and gather yourself: mind, body, spirit. Let the noise of the moment fade into the background.

Now read the Reflection Scripture… maybe more than once.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13 ESV

What does hope look like to you?

Put your “kindergarten” tools to use. Draw, doodle, or write the Scripture in your own handwriting. Maybe you’ll create shapes or patches of color. Don’t get caught up in your artistic skills, whether you can actually draw hope. Instead, enjoy the journey… the process.

This is a process, not something to be completed today. You’ll add to it each time you reflect on the week’s verse. Continue as the Spirit leads you. Tuck your creation somewhere safe, or put it in a place where you will see it throughout the week.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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