We’re glad you’re here! Do you have a brother or sister to talk it out with? Your Bible? journal? favorite pen? Well let’s get started.
Lord, thank You for Your presence with us today. Thank You for Your Word which blesses us with hope. Open our hearts to what You have to teach us.
Read Reflection Scripture:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23 ESV
How did the Reflection Scripture speak to you when it comes to instilling or increasing hope into your life?
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope… The need to hold fast implies something can slip away, get loose or lost. It’s something which tends to escape our grasp, therefore we need to pay attention to make sure it doesn’t get away.
The Greek translated as “hold fast” is one word: katechō. It means to hold back, detain, retain from going away; to restrain, hinder the course or progress of; to check a ship’s headway; and to keep firm possession of (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).
Bill Hybels, a preacher who has taught leadership for many years, says: Vision leaks. When he says this, he is reminding leaders to beware losing sight of where they are headed. Make sure others remember too. Because everyday life and the hard work involved in achieving a vision wears on our emotions and spirits. People forget the point of the sacrifice, the discipline, the cost.
What we hear in this verse when we look at the definition of the original language is: Hope leaks. There is a connection here as well because vision is based on the hope of change. We see something new and better, and we hope to make it a reality.
The world’s mission is to steal our hope. Stall us out with discouragement and temptation. The journey is far and often times hard, because life in Christ is a battle. We’ve made ourselves enemies of the world in which we live, and we work against its powers for the increase of God’s Kingdom: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).
Instilling hope requires holding fast to what the darkness of the world leaches out of our lives. We do this by holding fast the confession of our hope.
…for He who promised is faithful. Holding tight the confession or profession of our hope is holding tight to Jesus and His faithfulness in fulfilling His promises.
The other picture the original language gives us for holding fast is to make sure we are headed in the right direction, see to it our ship is not drifting off course and heading for the rocks.
Read Hebrews 2:1
The letter to the Hebrews begins with a warning. Therefore pay much closer attention to what you have heard, lest we drift away… The “therefore” should by now send us back to the Scriptures leading up to this point. We need to know what the therefore is there for. What is the reason which should incite us to pay closer attention to what we have heard?
Read Hebrews 1:1-2:1
What are the reasons given for paying closer attention or holding fast our confession to keep us from drifting away? wavering?
First and foremost, God is speaking to His people in a new way. Before He spoke through the prophets, but now, in these last days, He speaks to us through His Son. The reasons the Son is a better spokesman for God is because He is the exact imprint of God and upholds the universe with His mighty word. He is the One whom God has appointed as an heir of all things and through whom He created all things. The Son has the pedigree and the power to fulfill the promises made.
Second, the Son has completed the work of making a way for purification of sins, and taken His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high. He is in the position of authority because, in a way, the promises are already fulfilled. It is finished (John 19:30).
Next, He is not to be mistaken for an angel of God, He is not a simple messenger: He is the Son. He is the Message. Not only that, His reign is eternal, His rule righteous. He loves righteousness and hates wickedness so much, He willingly came to die to uphold the one and defeat the other.
As Creator, He is greater and outside of what He has made. It all may be destroyed but we can hold fast to Him and His promises as the basis for our hope because what exists apart from the natural realm is not dependent on creation. That which is created is dependent on Him.
He never changes. Being outside time He is unaffected by it. Being without sin, He is incorruptible. He will sit at God’s right hand until the Father makes a footstool for Him out of all His enemies.
Therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, to who He is who made the promises and what the promises of the gospel entail, lest we drift away. We are called to hold fast the confession of our hope: Jesus.
Hope leaks and we can easily lose sight of our heading. We constantly need to refill our spirits with hope by remembering and holding fast to who we believe, not the things we hope for.
In the Reflection Thoughts we asked you to consider your individual specific hopes in this world as smaller anchors attached to the one cord tied to your anchor of One Hope: Jesus. What effect do you see your worldly hopes having on being encouraged to trust in Christ alone?
When I place too much focus on the specific outcomes I hope for in this world – in my life and the lives of loved ones – I set myself up for disappointment. Each disappointment, each setback of these specifics hopes wears away at my faith.
I wonder if I’m doing something wrong when I don’t see what I hope for getting any closer. Am I not praying enough? Have I not put my prayer into the right words? Am I the stumbling block? The longer I hope without seeing any change, doubt begins to creep in. I harden my heart toward hope because it’s too painful, and I seek solace anywhere but Him.
He’s been teaching me to hope in Him alone. He is my One Hope for the things I hope for in my life and the lives of others. I need to hope in Him and put everything else in this world in my peripheral vision. Because when I let my personal hopes for this life take centerstage, I’m saying I don’t trust Him and my way is better than His.
And well… that’s just not true.
God often fleshes out in our lives what we write and share each week. Sometimes God has been working out a teaching in us, and we are surprised when it comes together with words to describe what was earlier indescribable. Sometimes God uses the words He gives to push us to a deeper understanding. This week was one of those weeks for me.
Honestly, every single day brought with it something hard, something I felt seemed hopeless. Not one thing or one circumstance, but many things from all directions. And just when I thought I might catch my breath, BAM! Another circumstance blows up around me.
In the quiet as my tears hit the white tile floor, I found myself hopeful. It caught me off guard. My old self would have mulled over the options and found hope in fixing the issues, solving the problem. A misplaced hope in tiny fix-it anchors with weak knots.
So after my good cry there on the bathroom floor, I tightened my confession knot and sang, “All my hope is in Jesus. Thank God my yesterday’s gone. All my sins are forgiven. I’ve been washed by the blood.”
The Reflection Scripture encourages us to hold fast to our confession, and confession in itself is a faith action. When we notice our thoughts turning towards putting hope in a circumstance, situation, or specific outcome, confession becomes the action moving us to focus on our One Hope. Confessing aloud our One Hope through word or song ties us tight to the anchor of hope. It points us to the eternal, and eternal is always better than temporal. His plan always better than ours.
Holding fast and voicing the confession of our hope – Jesus and His faithfulness to His promises – is one way to instill hope in our lives. When we willingly let go of our fleshly worldly desires and trust Him with what He has in store, both here on earth and in heaven, little by little we find ourselves becoming unwavering in our faith because of the hope we have in Him.
Prayer of Praise:
This week we praised God as Faithful. How does considering Him as faithful to His promises increase your hope?
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV
Every single day this week, when I listened to the radio in my car or the app on my phone I heard the same song. By the third time it happened I listened closely, “What are you saying to me, Lord?”
The artist sings,
They say sometimes you win some. Sometimes you lose some
And right now, right now I’m losing bad.
It’s easy to sing when there’s nothing to bring me down.
But what will I say when I’m held to the flame like I am right now?
I know you’re able and I know you can save through the fire with Your mighty hand.
But even if you don’t. My hope is You alone.
You’ve been faithful. You’ve been good all my days.
Jesus I will cling to You come what may.
Cause I know you’re able. I know You can.
This song became the praise confession of God’s faithfulness each day. How God chooses to fix my broken isn’t my hope. My hope is in Him alone. No matter what the pressure or heat of a circumstance brings I sing, “I know You’re able. I know You can.”
Too often we view the act of praising God as an emotional response to something we consider good. Yet true praise which instills hope is not based on our feel-good emotions.
Believers must consider their whole heart, which comprehensively includes our mind (thoughts), will (determination), and emotions. Praising God as a confession of our hope is a choice to take our thoughts captive to Christ and use our will to turn our attention to the One Hope in spite of how we feel. It is not ignoring our emotions, but trusting there is hope even in the pain and sadness of our worst circumstance.
Praising God as a way to hold tight our confession of hope, is a faithful action to take when we need our spirits filled with hope for our current circumstances.
In the Word:
Read Psalm 119:147-148
The psalmist hopes in God’s words. To increase his hope he rises early to pray and stays awake at night to meditate on God’s promises.
Did you practice rising early or staying up late to pray and meditate on His Word? What was your experience?
What promises did you meditate on as your cried out to Him, placing hope in His words?
For myself I chose:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” –2Corinthians 12:9
Lately, I’ve been feeling weak, not so much physically, but just unable… Unable to do what He calls me to… Unable to make my hopes come to pass… Just… unable…
Meditating on the promise of His strength and power, confessing my inability and crying out to Him in prayer, increases my hope in His grace to work wonders where I am totally powerless. Here I find the faith to move forward in His strength not mine.
Read Nehemiah 8:1-12
After returning from exile, the Jews rebuilt the temple and restored the wall around Jerusalem, then they returned to the Word.
What was the demeanor of those present? Why do you think they were so attentive?
First of all, these people were hungry for God’s Word. All the people gathered as one… And they told Ezra to bring the Book of the Law… No one called these people to come together. No leader said today it’s time to get back to the Word. The people came as one and asked the priest to read the law to them.
The priest read to all the people, men and women, anyone who could understand. By tradition the law was taught to the boys in the synagogues, but here, no one was excluded. Anyone who could understand was included in the hearing of the Word.
When the book was opened, the people stood in honor of the Book, the One who wrote it and what it contained. The priest praised God and all the people bowed their heads in worship. All this, before a word was read.
As Ezra read, they listened attentively. They didn’t want to miss a word. During their exile they came to understand the importance of the law and their obedience to it.
They were having to rebuild after spending the last seventy years in a pagan nation because they did not pay attention to the Book of the Law. Their nation lost its sovereign power because they didn’t keep the Word. Now that they were back, living in their own towns. They saw the law as their hope of stability, blessing, and security in the Promised Land.
The Levites even walked among the people as the Word was read to help them understand its meaning. So they would know how to live it out day to day.
How did the people respond?
Oh, the people mourned and wept as they heard the law. They knew they had not honored God or obeyed His laws. Their hearts were convicted and their spirits repentant.
Where do you see hope being instilled in the reading and understanding of Scripture?
The leaders stood before the people and told them not to weep: For this day is holy to the Lord your God. It was a day set apart in the history of His people for they had come to a place of true repentance. They heard the law, they understood it, and they saw how they had failed to keep it.
Because it was a holy day, the people were told to celebrate with a feast and make sure everyone had something to celebrate with. The leaders told the people: Do not be grieved for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
His people’s repentance brought the Lord joy and that was reason to celebrate. It was a sign of His grace and His heart for reconciliation not judgment. His joy increased the hope they had of becoming re-established in the Promised Land and strengthened their resolve to hold fast to His Word. He was giving them a second chance. He had kept His promise to return His people when their hearts returned to Him (Nehemiah 1:8-9).
We too can instill hope into our lives by the reading and understanding of His Word. We can be strengthened by His joy when our hearts are heavy with conviction and our spirits bent on repentance. He is the God of second chances. The God who longs to be merciful.
Have you ever considered the pain of conviction and repentance as a reason to celebrate? a reason to rejoice?
Coming under the authority of His Word fills us with hope for a right relationship with Him.
Read Psalm 33:18-22
The Lord focuses on those who fear Him so He may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Please note, it says He will deliver the soul of those who fear Him, not their bodies.
Many times, the lives of the faithful look just like the lives of others, they face death and famine right along with everyone else. Yet, in the midst of trouble and even in death, they have their hope set firmly on His unfailing love.
What does their living hope look like? How is their hope in the Lord’s unfailing love expressed?
They wait on the Lord. Wait is a hope-full word. It is a word for the faithful, which means waiting on Him and not taking things into our own hands. It is a word filled with obedience.
Those who hope in God’s steadfast love have glad hearts, they know Him as their help and shield. They trust Him in the waiting. In the famine. At death’s door.
Trust too is a hope-full word. The faithful trust His love more than what they see and experience. They trust Him to keep His promises and bless them with eternal life. Just like Jesus trusted the Father in the garden of Gethsemane. Just like Jesus trusted the Father in His death.
Active waiting and trusting in His steadfast love fills us with hope.
How can we begin practicing expressions of hope in our lives as a means of instilling hope in our spirits?
- Fear Him. Foster a healthy respect and right relationship with Him.
- Meditate on His unfailing love.
- Wait on Him and obey as He calls.
- Trust Him in the waiting.
- Rest in His unfailing love and faithfulness to those who believe.
Two different people groups are described: the children of the light or day and those who live in darkness.
What is the primary difference you see between the two groups?
The children of darkness are oblivious to the spiritual reality around them, while the children of the light are aware of and prepare for the Lord’s return.
Paul writes to these Believers with the purpose of encouraging them to continue in their faithfulness and remind them who they are and time is short. He wants them to hold on to their faith and not become complacent. Stay awake and not be tempted to live like the world.
According to this passage, how are Believers called to live as an expression of hope?
- Be mindful of the signs of the times and the spiritual reality of the coming of the Lord.
- Be prepared for Him to show up any moment: day or night.
- Stay awake, spiritually speaking.
- Be sober-minded.
- Stay dressed for battle, wearing the breastplate of faith and love, along with the helmet of the hope of salvation.
- Encourage one another as Believers, build one another up in the faith and do not tear each other down.
What is significant about putting on a helmet of the hope of salvation?
A helmet goes on the head, the place where we think and meditate. What begins in our thoughts moves to our hearts.
This week we’ve heard the call to meditate on His Word and promises, hold fast our confession of hope, speak it out loud even when we don’t feel it, because this is where hope begins. In our minds. Reminding ourselves of the hope of salvation we have in Christ and taking our thoughts captive to hope, we instill hope in our lives. Keep it from slipping away.
How does this passage instill hope into your spirit?
Paul’s words remind us we have something in us to help us know and understand the spiritual reality around us. You know… you are aware… We have this knowledge and awareness by the power of the Holy Spirit and obedience to God’s Word.
We can prepare ourselves for what’s coming. We do not have to be caught unaware when all this comes upon us, like a woman unprepared for labor.
We have no need to fear, we are destined for salvation.
The Christian church has a doctrine for equipping people to deal with the future – the doctrine of hope. Without hope a person has basically two ways to respond to the future, with wishing or with anxiety. Wishing looks to the future as a fulfillment, usually miraculous, of desire. It expends its energy in daydreaming and fantasy. Anxiety looks to the future as a demonstration of inadequacy – present weakness is projected to the point of disaster. It expends its energy in introspective fretting or distracting busyness. …
Hope is a response to the future which has its foundation in the promises of God. It looks at the future as a time for the completion of God’s promise. It refuses to extrapolate either desire or anxiety into the future, but instead believes that God’s promise gives the proper content to it. But hope is not a doctrine about the future: it is a grace cultivated in the present, it is a stance in the present which deals with the future. As such it is misunderstood if it is valued only for the comfort it brings; as if it should say, “Everything is going to be all right in the future because God is in control of it, therefore relax and be comforted.” Hope operates differently. Christian hope alerts us to the possibilities of the future, fills the future with the promises of God, opens up the future as a field of action, and as a consequence fills the present with energy.
–Eugene Peterson, Like Dew Your Youth
Eugene Peterson’s explanation of hope is what we see Paul calling Believers to, an active hope based on the fulfillment of God’s promises. There is work to do! Hope is not to console us into inaction, but spur us on to act.
Peterson’s idea of fantasy or fear is weighty business when it comes to instilling hope in ourselves and others. If the hope we have is based on wishful thinking of what life will be like or anxious dread over things coming, then living in the present is almost impossible. Hope is a present grace which teaches us to deal with the future without defining the future.
Do you find yourself living your thought life in fear or fantasy rather than the hope Peterson describes? as a child of the light?
I’ve lived in both fear and fantasy, but I tend to find myself more susceptible to fear.
As I grow in my faith, I’m beginning to see, whatever still has power to toss me about, stir me up, is something which separates me from Jesus.
It is something in the way of me resting in His perfect love, the place of no fear, and hope in His promises.
The call to encourage one another is a call to instill hope into the lives of Believers around us in preparation of the Day. We are to encourage one another to hold fast the confession of our hope so we do not drift away into fear or fantasy.
Wrestling with Hope
Based on the premise of faith being sure of what we hope for (Hebrews 11:1) and Jesus telling Thomas in his doubt: Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe (John 20:29), we have been wrestling with hope through the underlying faith and hope expressed in the Beatitudes.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
This week we wrestled with hope in view of God’s oath and the covenant He made through Jesus. What promise did you confess in light of your circumstances this week?
I have a knack for reframing struggle into something hopeful. When I encounter a painful situation in my life or the life of a loved one, my automatic response is to consider a positive view. While it seems like a good trait, there are times my reframing only points to a positive resolution of the circumstance.
Just yesterday I said to my husband over a hard situation with our boys, “It could be worse.” I went on to describe the worse in order to make us feel better. While it temporarily brought us smiles, it did little to instill hope.
I would say it fell into the fear category. Fear of an outcome much worse than what we experienced. God doesn’t promise a good outcome in my present situation. He promises to stay the course no matter the outcome. This is a reframing, a confession that instills hope.
Did you attempt to instill hope this week? Did it point to the One Hope or was it based on fantasy or fear? Which are you most likely to lean on in times of struggle?
Writing a beatitude is a confession that instills hope in our lives and the lives of others.
Take a moment to prayerfully seek words of hope God is speaking over your life.
Write it as a personal beatitude:
Blessed are the _________________________________
Put it in a hidden place, maybe in the pages of your Bible next to Matthew 5. Here at the shop, we place our hope of blessing in a basket of coal. The coal symbolizes the darkness we are asking Him to turn into a precious eternal blessing of faith fueled by hope.
The heart of faith is the One Hope of Jesus as our Savior and by our confession of His faithfulness to His promises we instill hope into our lives and the lives of those around us.
Next: We continue the wrestling by going deeper into The Blessing of Hope.
Click here for a PDF of the homework: Hope Week 4 – The Blessing of Hope – Homework