I feel like we’ve come full circle. Isn’t that just like God? Completing what He’s begun? What began open-ended is now fully closed… yet open to all at the same time.
The very first session of this two-part study on faith began with Hebrews 11:1.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
And here I am looking at what I never saw coming. Wrapping up the ten faith actions with the same verse and finding it completely intertwined with the beginning.
The Heart of Faith
Read Hebrews 11:1
At the heart of faith is hope. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.
What does it mean to you to have unseen hopes? Have you always clearly seen the hope in the things you’ve done by faith? Felt hope-full?
I find myself stunned at seeing hope manifest in my life through acts of faith, yet not feeling hope-full or having any idea what the hope looks like.
To see myself as hopeful in faith, truly does turn my self-image upside-down.
We talked about those in Scripture who revealed their unseen hope through steps of faith: Abraham’s journey to a place he didn’t know where; then taking his son up the mountain to sacrifice him, sure but unsure how God would provide the way for them to both walk back down; and the Levites stepping into the flood-stage Jordan river with the ark of the covenant, hopeful of an unseen way to cross.
Did you think of someone else in Scripture whose faith was motivated by an unseen hope?
Read Luke 5:1-9
What do you suppose Peter was hoping for as he faithfully let down his nets at Jesus’s word? He must have had some hope or he wouldn’t have cast his net one more time.
Peter’s hope may have been in Jesus sending him on home, since He was finished preaching from his boat. Another empty net, just might have been the ticket to bed. But when the unseen hope became seen, something he never expected, it floored him and humbled him before God.
Unseen hope by its nature is not clearly defined. But it’s what compels our faith and moves us to act. We don’t necessarily know what it looks like. Yet, when it comes to biblical hope, we could substitute the word expectation or certainty. It is sure to come to pass.
Sometimes we don’t recognize hope fulfilled, because we’ve wrongly defined it in our hearts rather than leaving it unseen.
The hopes in our flesh and our understanding of what’s best don’t always match up with God’s hope for us. These places are the birthing ground for a faith crisis.
Read Luke 24:13-35
Where were these disciples of Jesus going? Where had they been?
What were they talking about when Jesus joined them on the road?
How were they feeling? What did they say about their hope or expectation in Jesus?
But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel.
The men on the road explaining Jesus to Jesus were sad. They told Him how they hoped He was the one to redeem Israel, yet He was crucified, so clearly those hopes were dashed.
Jesus began to explain the way things really were as they walked along the way. Beginning with Moses and the Prophets He interpreted Himself through the Scriptures to these disciples who still did not see Him for who He was. Either on the road or on the cross.
These two disciples had a misunderstanding of the hope Jesus brings. They were focused on a fleshly national redemption. But He came for something so much greater. The redemption of all creation. An eternal redemption.
We can find ourselves disappointed in Jesus if we aren’t hoping solely in Him, but hoping in our interpretation of His promises.
Think about your hopes in Christ. Are they centered on the natural realm or the eternal?
Can you translate your hope into an eternal perspective? Is it something for which you still hope? Take a moment to write down your answer.
To hope in Christ alone, is to trust His sovereignty in how He fulfills His promises in your life and the lives of your loved ones. It is not interpreting the promises to mean things will turn out well in this world or in a favorable way according to human standards.
We need to let Jesus interpret our hopes, so we do not miss His fulfilling of them.
The week before it came to you, the five days of study on Hope were nonexistent. As I began to study and write, I saw the manifestation of hope in my life. Something previously, I would not have identified as hope.
Continuing to study, I recognized misplaced hope. Instead of hoping in Jesus, I was hoping in what He would do for me or my loved ones. So I began to reassess what it means to hope in Him alone.
When it came to writing the study of Hope, I put down my hope in finishing it, and placed my hope in Him. What He would do with it, finished or unfinished. I did not work any less diligently. I worked with my eyes on Him. Hoping He would use whatever came for His glory.
If more glory could come from failing to finish it, then Amen! If it was finished or even half-finished, well, Amen! By placing all my hope in Him, I experienced freedom rather than fear in the process of writing.
I find the same thing happening in my attitude regarding hopes for my loved ones. As I begin shifting my hope to Him rather than continuing to write my own interpretation of hope in what He will do for them, I find freedom from anxiety over where they are now.
What I’m discovering is, if I interpret what hope looks like, I may actually miss the hope fulfilled, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus. It is a battle to continually evaluate where I’m placing my hope, but it is one I think worthwhile.
A key to the battle is remembering His victory on the cross. What looked like disaster in the temporal realm was a glorious success in the spiritual realm. This is the hope I truly want for those I love. Eternal hope.
I’m choosing to set my hope in Him for what will come from what He’s allowed.
So, the next time you find yourself disappointed in your hope in Christ, take time to evaluate where your hope was or is actually placed.
I spent a few hours considering the teaching of this week’s subject: hope. When I glanced down at my watch it was time to head to lunch with the sister. We spend time on Mondays reviewing and discussing what God has taught us, and where He is leading us as we approach the next session.
I drove into the parking lot and the words sort of appear in my mind. How One Perceives Eternity. The words flutter down and take root in the few seconds it took to walk to where she sits. We greeted each other and as we began talking I dug into my bag for a pen.
Hold on, I have to write something down.
I put the paper in front of her questioning eyes, Do you think this is true?
In the four words, How One Perceives Eternity, lies the truth of hope. Believers understand the truth about eternity, but the world doesn’t. If we’re not careful we can find ourselves somewhat near-sighted. Taking on the teaching of this world and limiting our hope to what we see this side of eternity.
Some believe marriage to the right person will lead to happily ever after, but when the honeymoon is over and the toilet seat is left up for the hundredth time, disappointment sets in. Others see retirement as the one sure thing to satisfy their discontented hearts, but another day at the golf course or the lake leaves them empty. For some the job promotion, the perfect house, or a fat savings account is the end all and be all, but promotions come with increased stress, roofs eventually leak, and the account is always a little too lean no matter how much it holds.
When we place our hope in anything other than eternal life with God, we will be disillusioned, disappointed, and ultimately hungry for more.
Read Proverbs 13:12
What makes the heart sick?
How is a fulfilled desire described?
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life! This is an important reason to make sure we are hoping in the right thing, and not deceiving ourselves by believing we have put our hope in Christ.
Every time our hope doesn’t come to pass, we may blame Him and risk a heart sick with discouragement. God will never allow us to be satisfied with anything less than hope in the One who can satisfy all our needs. This eternal perspective pushes us past the here and now, past our earthly future, and into eternity.
How One Perceives Eternity.
Do you believe the HOPE acronym is true?
Where in your life is your perception of eternity near-sighted?
Correcting our world-view can give us a clearer picture of hope.
We talked about instilling hope in our lives through praising God, seeking His wisdom, trusting His goodness, remembering His promises, and being in His Word, because without hope in our lives we have no hope to share.
Read Psalm 9:16-20
What reasons do we see in this psalm to place our hope in God?
Whose hope shall not perish forever?
God’s judgment against the wicked nations who oppress the poor is a reason to hope when circumstances seem hopeless. The hope of the poor shall not perish forever…
The Hebrew word translated as hope in this psalm is tiqvah. In addition to meaning hope, expectation, ground of hope, it literally means “cord” (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).
Through this word nestled at the end of Psalm 9 we discover: He is the only sure ground, the only One worth tying ourselves to, the only One worth waiting for, and the only way worth following.
Our hope in Him is our lifeline. We find this Hebrew word tiqvah in another story of hope.
Read Joshua 2:17-21
These are the parting words the spies gave Rahab after she saved them from discovery and made a deal with them for the salvation of herself and her family when they returned to defeat Jericho.
Why do you think she hung the scarlet cord from her window the moment the spies left, when it would be weeks before the Israelites attacked Jericho? What was it a symbol of?
Rahab’s hope of salvation was tied up in the scarlet cord, the same Hebrew word translated as hope in Psalm 9. As soon as the spies left she tied the cord in the window. It was a symbol of hope. A reminder of promised salvation.
Clearly a foreshadowing of the blood of Christ poured out for the forgiveness of sins, our lifeline for salvation. The only means of deliverance from God’s judgment.
Through His Word we discover infinite reasons to hope in Him. Instilling Christ-centered hope in our hearts fuels our faith to wait for His promises to be fulfilled. In turn, we are moved to pray for others, instilling hope in their lives as well.
The Blessing of Hope
We talked about the blessings which come from placing our hope solely in Jesus: joy, peace, holding loosely to the things of the world.
Read 1Peter 1:3-9
What kind of hope has our spiritual birth given us?
We are born again into a living hope. The Greek translated as living means: active, blessed, endless in the kingdom of God (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).
The things of this world will all pass away, but we have moved into the eternal realm with an imperishable, undefiled, unfading inheritance in heaven.
What picture of the blessings of hope do we see in this passage?
It is guaranteed and guarded by God’s power through faith. It is something to rejoice about and makes the trials of life bearable.
What is not seen now, is coming. It’s worth waiting for and finding joy in, even while we wait. The eternal blessing of faithful hope, far outweighs any blessing in the flesh.
Have you been approached by someone because they saw blessings of hope in you? What did they want? How did they let you know?
I never thought about it until the sister pointed it out. Others see a blessing of hope in me through my prayer life. They see it as a blessing they want.
Not everyday, but fairly regularly, people ask me to pray for them or their loved one. I’m always surprised when it happens, because often times it’s people I don’t know very well. But they see something in me which is different. Something they don’t think they have.
Because they are moved to step out and ask me, I’m blessed with the opportunity and privilege to intercede on their behalf. It’s never fails to humble me.
Living hope blesses others as well as our own lives. Not just in this moment, but for eternity.
Hope: Our Glory
No other place we plant our hope will bring us glory, honor, and praise, except Christ.
It is the hope of Christ in us which draws others to us. Hope fuels our faith to love others in His name. It is those we bring along because of our hope in Him, who become our treasures in heaven and our hope of glorifying Him.
We talked about the three things which abide: faith, hope, and love (1Corinthians 13:13). Our hope in Christ is what fuels our faith for us to fulfill the law by loving Him, which is loving others.
Read Romans 12:9-13
What does it say about love?
How many ways do you see listed in this passage which we have covered in our faith study on loving others? Respect? Share? Give? Encourage? Hope?
The hope of faith should move us to love others in His name.
It took a few months to slowly step out of the ministry I led for over two decades. We headed to church and I knew there would be some type of recognition of my service during worship. To my surprise, my husband and daughter invited family and friends to gather with us. I sat down next to my brother and he leans closer, points to the right, Look down there.
I glance over and there he is smiling back at me. We motioned for him to come join us and we sat side by side through the entire service.
It wasn’t the first time. For many years we worshipped together. He was a student in my youth ministry. The student I visited in juvenile detention after he made some bad choices. The student I prayed for as he served out a seven year sentence in prison. Bad choices don’t make a bad person. He still has the same heart I knew when he was a teen. His early adult life took him on a journey I would have never hoped for him, but I never gave up hope.
Hope is the fuel that has propelled me to share the gospel over the years. And every once in awhile I am blessed with the opportunity to sit and relish in the glory of what God has done.
I’m tempted to think eternity will look a lot like sitting on the pew that Sunday. I’ll stand in the midst of those who shared Jesus with me and those I’ve shared Jesus with and we’ll turn our attention toward the resurrected King. We’ll stand shoulder to shoulder singing praise to the Author and Finisher of our faith. Oh what a glorious day that will be!
We explored hope through Creative Journaling of our Reflection Scripture. What was your experience?
I’m not showing you because I’m proud of it or think it’s great, but because of what He showed me through it. Day 5 asked us to look at our creation and consider: What do you see? Ask God how this relates to hope in you, in God, in others.
As I considered and asked, the movie Castaway came to mind. In the movie, Tom Hanks works for FedEx. The freight plane he’s on crashes and he is the lone survivor on a deserted island.
Several packages wash on shore, which he gathers. He opens most of them to see if there is anything useful. But one… he never opens.
It is his unseen hope. His hope wrapped up in being rescued and having an opportunity to deliver the package. By the end of the movie it was tattered and torn, but still in tact, and ultimately delivered.
The way he held onto that package through years of loneliness, storms, and being tossed around on a raft in the sea, is the way we are to hold onto our hope in Christ. It is unseen, but vital to our faith, until we are delivered to Him.
Although we’ve come to hope last, it is essential to our walk of faith. However, it is something we mature in, moving our hope from the things of the world to the things of God. As we increase our hope in Christ, we grow in our love for God and others.
Hope is what causes us to: Believe, Pray, Trust, Obey, Love. It moves us in our faith to: Respect, Share, Give, Encourage, Hope.
In our process of growing faith, our increasing maturing hope moves us deeper into loving God and loving others.
Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.
Nurture your hope in Christ, it is the fuel for your faith, the catalyst for love.
The quote for the week of Hope was the first stanza from the hymn Solid Rock. Sing the hymn yourself. All four stanzas: [See YouTube video below.]
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.
When darkness veils his lovely 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 supports 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, O may I then in him be found!
Dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne!
So grateful you’ve joined us for Sister Talk. We’ll be taking a break for the holiday season, but we’ll be back in January, Going Deeper into Loving Others.