Going Deeper: Hope – Session 5

The Blessing of Hope

We’re getting close to end of Going Deeper into Hope as a faith action of loving others. Just one more week of digging.

Are you ready for today? Have you gathered a spiritual sibling or two to talk with? Your Bible? Journal? Favorite pen?

We’ll let’s start.

Lord, open our hearts to the blessing of hope and how we can share it with others. Amen.

Read Reflection Scripture:

Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple! By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas…

Psalm 65:4-5 ESV

What blessing of hope did your time in the Reflection Scripture reveal?

Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! Blessed. The Hebrew translated as blessed is esher. It means to be envied with desire (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament). To be chosen by God to draw near and live in His presence is a place of envy.

At the time David wrote this psalm there was no temple. The place where he worshiped and drew near God was in the outer court of the tabernacle. A rectangular area, 150 feet by 75 feet, defined by seven foot high linen curtains hung with silver fittings and bronze bases. The shorter ends of the court were aligned in the east-west direction. The tabernacle itself was located at the west end and the central entrance at the east end.

Just inside the entrance was the altar of burnt offering, a reminder no one could approach God except by the place of sacrifice. On the way from the altar to the tabernacle stood the laver. A large basin used for ceremonial washing. Failure to wash at the laver prior to ministering was punishable by death — another solemn reminder of the need for cleanliness and obedience before undertaking any task for God .*

Even in the Old Testament promise, David recognized the enviable blessing of living in the place where animal sacrifices paid the price for sin and cleansing washed away the filth and weight of those sins. However, this representation of God’s court was but a foreshadowing of the reality found in heaven (Hebrews 8:5). Jesus came to make this Word flesh by establishing the New Covenant.

Where in the description of the outer court of the tabernacle do you see the foreshadowing of Jesus bringing satisfaction to those who dwell in the goodness of God’s house and the holiness of His temple?

As we look at the outer court we see Jesus. He is the Gate of entrance (John 10:9), the Sacrifice at the altar (John 1:29), the Laver where we are washed clean by His blood (1John 1:7), and the High Priest who intercedes (Hebrews 6:19-20) for us as our One Hope all because of His steadfast love (John 3:16).

In the Old Covenant, God’s goodness is seen in the beauty of the physical tabernacle and the way made for forgiveness, although temporary. In the New Covenant the beauty of His desire for us to draw near and dwell in His presence permanently is magnified by His grace and made a reality in Christ.

God’s holiness sets Him apart from the people, only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies inside the tabernacle once a year on the Day of Atonement. By His sacrifice, Jesus split the curtain separating us from God and presents us righteous and holy before the Father, saints ready to join Him in His work.

We shall be satisfied with the goodness and holiness of his temple! Only through the cleansing sacrifice of Jesus can we be satisfied with God’s goodness and holiness. Without that we are shamed by our failure to be holy, which has one of two primary effects. It either paralyzes us with guilt or stirs us up to rebellious defensiveness and self-justification.

By what awesome deeds does God answer us with righteousness and make the way for our salvation?

God’s awesome deeds include becoming flesh to show us how to live and identify with us in our weakness, suffering as the Lamb of God and in His resurrection making a way for salvation and righteousness. Salvation and righteousness are the ultimate blessings of placing our hope in the One Hope. It’s not only our hope of blessing, but the hope of all creation (Romans 8:20-21) to the ends of the earth!

The blessing of hope is found dwelling in His presence wholly satisfied and at peace with His working out goodness and holiness in the world through Christ Jesus.

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Revelation 21:5 ESV

Carol says:

The Reflection Scripture brought me to a place of seeing the blessing of hope in His presence when I choose to dwell… in the goodness of His house and the holiness of His temple.

I see everything from a perspective of placing my hope in the goodness and holiness He is working into my life and the lives of my loved ones. All the discomfort, affliction, pain, He is using is to bring about my heart’s desire: Jesus in me and those I love.

Dwelling in His courts, living my life from this place brings about a satisfaction, a confidence in His power to work it all for good on behalf of those who love Him and are called into His courts for His purpose.

In the Reflection Thoughts you were asked to consider just how satisfied you are as one chosen to draw near and dwell in His courts.

The meaning behind the Hebrew word for satisfied is to be in a state of physical contentment, having your needs met in abundance. It may also include a feeling or attitude of contentment, implying confidence in one’s present circumstance and also future events (Dictionary of Biblical Languages: Hebrew).

What did you discover about yourself when it came to feeling satisfied? Is your dissatisfaction related to the places where hope is fading or nonexistent? Are you looking for more than what He has to offer?

How are you moved to deal with your dissatisfaction in light of His goodness and holiness as a blessing of hope?

Carol says:

My places of dissatisfaction are primarily gaps in relationships with loved ones where Jesus is left out. The One who is most important to me and who most impacts my life, I can’t share with others because they don’t know Him or are wandering from Him at this point in their lives. It leaves an unsatisfying breach in the relationship.

I see how this dissatisfaction is evidence of my lack of trust in what He is doing. I am not appreciating the ongoing work of His goodness and holiness in these relationships.

As I change my perspective to see Him working in these gaps, I choose to praise Him for His redeeming work. I can also join Him in the work by interceding in prayer.

“…And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. …” –Ezekiel 22:30-31

When I stand in these relationship gaps, I’m placing hope in His work of restoration. My prayers based on His desire and will for all to be reconciled to Himself.

Here I find purpose and the blessing of being a part of His work. Satisfaction in the work is a place I have to fight to keep, but as I learn to dwell in this place of His goodness and holiness coming about in all things, I have hope and its blessings to hang onto.

If we are missing out on the blessing of satisfaction in the presence of His goodness and holiness, we are being tempted to turn away from Him by the deception of “more.” Dissatisfaction draws us away from the blessings He has given and is preparing for us.

Stacy says:

Our fall has always been and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for more, something other… But we were lured by the deception that there was more to a full life, there was more to see.

—One Thousand Gifts

I read Ann Voskamp’s words and gasp. Because in the deepest part of me I realize she’s right. Every time I find myself struggling with what God allows in my life it is really about my own dissatisfaction. I’m hungry for perfection. Perfect relationships, perfect children, perfect circumstances… perfect, perfect, perfect… more, more, more.

In the wake of her words I am stunned by my looking for more around every corner. I wonder, Have I been deceived? Is my looking for more preventing me from living fully in His presence right now? What would happen if I believed every circumstance I face is the possibility of living fully in Him?

I test her words. I attempt to believe everything — whether it brings joy or tears — is what He wants me to see in the moment. And you know what? I am satisfied and blessed.

Paul’s writings reveal the understanding of being satisfied with whatever God brings into our lives.

Read Philippians 4:10-13

How do you hear Paul declare his satisfaction and the blessing of hope in whatever God allows in his life?

Paul expresses his satisfaction with the word content: I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. Whether things are going great or they are a terrible struggle, no matter what, he has learned to be content in any and every circumstance.

In who did he find his strength to face every circumstance he encountered? Do you see this as a result of dwelling in the presence of God’s goodness and holiness?

In the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul finds his strength to do all things. Paul places all his hope in Jesus for the ability to face whatever God brings. He trusts God’s goodness and holiness, just as Jesus did, as he walks his life of faith.

Both David, the writer of our Reflection Scripture, and Paul understood satisfaction was key to remaining in in the presence of God’s goodness and holiness. When we become dissatisfied with life or refuse to embrace what God allows, we are literally lured away and deceived by the enemy. Whatever “more” we believe will fix or complete us will not satisfy us for long.

Stacy says:

I have this picture in my mind of satisfaction. I sit in the courts of God amidst the goodness and holiness of His presence. Circumstances, issues, joys, and struggles come like unwrapped gifts. I have a choice. I can open my hands and receive them without wanting more in the moment. I can be attentive to God’s presence as I allow His “gifts” to have their work in me.

Or… I can clench my hands tight. It doesn’t stop or change life’s gifts. It only serves to prolong the struggle. I begin looking for something, anything to make it right. Some more to satisfy, yet any more I find only leaves me wanting more.

I’m learning more is never, ever enough.

Prayer of Praise:

This week we praised God as Enough. How does considering Him as Enough help you connect with the blessing of embracing Him as your One Hope?

He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.

–CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory

God in and of Himself is Enough. He is the One we were created for, the One who fulfills and satisfies all the longings the world tries to satisfy but can’t.

His steadfast love is enough to satisfy us all our days and fill us with joy.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Psalm 90:14 ESV

He alone satisfies our longing and hungry souls with good things.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Psalm 107:8-9 ESV

His open hand of grace satisfies the desires of every living thing, when we open our hearts to receive.

You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.

Psalm 145:16-19 ESV

He is more than Enough! More than we could ever ask for or imagine! He is the blessing of hope.

In the Word:

Read Psalm 65

Our Reflection Scripture is found in this psalm filled with reasons to place our hope in the Lord. How are Believers blessed when we place our hope in Him based on the reasons found in the psalm?

When Believers make Him their One Hope, we are blessed with answered prayers, forgiveness of sins, satisfaction in His presence, salvation, and abundance. In response to the people placing their hope in Him, He blesses the earth with growth, which also is a blessing for us.

What does God deserve? what is the proper response to the blessings of hope in Him?

The Lord deserves our praise and obedience. It’s how we place our hope in Him. We act in accordance with the blessings we see based on faith.

Did you write a psalm of praise to God for the blessings of hope you saw this last week? If you are willing, share the first section of your psalm with the group based on Psalm 65.

Let’s take a moment to praise Him with our words.

Carol says:

Lord, You are faith-full even when I am not.

In response to my reluctant obedience I’m humbled by evidence of bounty this week, growth in places you’ve called me to plant.

Bounty of new calls, Lord. Callings to go deeper, seeing evidence of Your fulfilling desires in ways I could never imagine.

Growing in hope, my heart transformed, freed from expectation to simply wait expectantly on You!

Your are my Hope! A faithful God who is faith-full when I am not.

Stacy says:

Oh Lord, chaser of darkness and shadow,

You alone are my hope.

In the night you bring order to my chaos and prepare my work for the light of day.

Light dawns, creation rises.

Nothing stops Love Light in the morning.

I’m awake Lord! Ready to embrace the day.

You lead. I’ll follow.

Let my work be a sacrifice of praise.

Read Colossians 1:1-14

Paul and Timothy give thanks for the Believers at Colossae because of their faith in Christ and their love for all the saints based on the hope laid up for them in heaven. The coming eternal blessings of hope are the foundation and inspiration for faith in Jesus and our love for His people.

What are the blessings of hope found in these passages? Are they all future eternal blessings? or are some experienced now?

Paul is writing to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ. If we equate faithful with hopeful, because faith is being sure of what we hope for, then we see grace and peace from the Father as a current blessing of hope.

Our faith in Jesus and our love for His people are blessings of hope, just as they were for those in Colossae. The bearing of spiritual fruit and the growth in the church is also a blessing of hope we can experience now and in the future. Not all our fruitfulness is evident to us, much will only be revealed at His return. Relationships come and go. We leave many without ever seeing if our love had any spiritual impact. Spiritual fruitfulness is a blessing experienced now and in eternity.

What further blessings of hope did Paul and Timothy pray for the church to experience?

  • To be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
  • To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and pleasing Him fully, by bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.
  • To be strengthened with power according to His glorious might for: endurance, patience, joy, and thanksgiving.

All the blessings prayed for are evidence of being delivered from darkness to light, transferred into the kingdom of the beloved Son in whom we have redemption and forgiveness of sins.

How is this transfer of citizenship? this deliverance a blessing of hope?

To be unforgiven is to be in the dark. It is redemption by faith which transfers us, relocates us into the light of His Kingdom. One such blessing of hope we find in the relocation is experiencing the grace and peace of God.

The blessing of deliverance from darkness to light is rooted in the truth of the gospel. Here we find the blessing set in an irrevocable promise of God’s word. It is a blessing of hope we can count on and never lose.

You were asked to consider adding to your prayer of praise for the blessing of hope, specifically in regard to your deliverance as a response to the day’s reading of the Word.

Let’s again take a moment to share a portion of our psalms of praise with Him and each other. If you are willing, share the second stanza of your psalm.

Stacy says:

Deliverer, my Deliverer.

You cast your light into my life and darkness flees.

No shadow falls upon me in the light of the Son.

When evening comes I renew myself in You.

I rest peacefully in the dark of night.

Waiting! Watching!

Filled with hope at your coming Light.

Carol says:

A faithful God who delivers me from darkness, brings me into the light of His Kingdom.

Blesses me with freedom to be and bear, to know and grow, to be pleasing to You and give thanks because You are Faithful.

The One Hope who never disappoints.

A God who is faith-full, when I am not.

Read 1John 3:1-3

What kind of love has the Father given us that we should be called children of God? In light of what you know of Him and the gospel, how do you describe this kind of love?

The love God has given us is steadfast, unfailing, unconditional, and infinite. The love He gives has power to save, redeem, restore, purify, and heal. The kind of love He gives brings us to the place we truly belong. It brings the lost home.

He has given a love which grafts us into His family as His children.

What does it mean to be His child? What blessings are found in the relationship?

When we relate to God as Father, our Father, we can expect the blessings of protection and provision, correction, and a call to participate in His work. He teaches His children how to reign and rule in His Kingdom, by first coming under His authority.

Father to child is a nurturing relationship of love. And because it is God who is our Father, it is an eternal relationship. One which will never end. A Father whose love will never fail.

The blessing of our hope in God’s unfailing love, the love we see in Jesus, is the truth we are His children now.

The world does not know, recognize, or acknowledge us as His children because they do not know God. Just as they didn’t know, recognize, or acknowledge Jesus as His Son they will not know us as His children.

Believers are fully His children in the here and now even though what we will be has not yet appeared. This is the unseen hope we rest in to live a faithful life as His child even though it is not clearly evident or visible, and won’t be until Christ’s return.

How do we live out this hope before its full manifestation?

We live out this hope by faith, trusting Him to be everything a perfect Father should be. Trusting whatever He allows in our lives as being for our good to work out His purpose and prepare us to work alongside Him in His Kingdom.

Obedience and calling out to Him for help and guidance are a couple of the ways we live as His children. Trusting His sovereignty. Coming under His authority. Always being confident of His loving care and knowing He has our best interest at heart. These are the blessings of hope in His love which make us His child.

Let’s take a moment to praise Him from the psalm of praise for the hope of blessing we wrote this week.

For those who are willing, share the third stanza of your psalm in response to His Word.

Carol says:

A faithful perfect Father who calls me treasured — a treasured song of joy — is a blessing of hope far beyond anything I could imagine.

Faithful to call, adopt, graft in, choose, even after my rolling around in the pig pen.

The Father faith-full, who allows me to call Him Dad.

The Father whose love I feel even in the discipline, the sense of conviction.

The faithful Father’s grace — it floors me — the way He lets me crawl into His lap, and trusts me to be a part of His work.

You are my Hope! A faithful Father who is faith-full when I am not!

Stacy says:

You call me out of darkness with whispers of love.

Your gentleness draws me to your side and I cry out Abba.

You are my shield and portion.

A refuge from the storm.

Grace walks by my side, holds my hand when storm winds threaten.

Spirit leads me to repentance in the midst of Love.

How reckless, how marvelous, how deep is your love for me.

I am undone by the very thought of it.

Read Hebrews 7:18-28

We now have a better hope in Jesus who is the guarantor of a better covenant.

What is it better than? How is it better?

Jesus is a better hope than the hope found in the law. The law held both blessings and curses based on our performance and obedience to the law. With Jesus as guarantor, the priest made by a promise, there is only blessing when we believe in the promise by faith. It is not our work, but His on which our blessing is based. It is a gift of grace for those who believe.

It is better because it comes with a promise from the One who cannot lie. It is not based on our faithfulness but His.

Jesus holds His priesthood permanently, therefore the promise is eternal, the work He did on our behalf everlasting. He saves to the uttermost those who draw near by faith because He lives to intercede between us and the law.

The Son as High Priest has no need to sacrifice for Himself. Being perfect, He offered Himself on behalf of the world He loves.

What are the blessings of placing our hope in this better covenant?

The blessings of placing our hope in this better covenant are:

  • A perfect priest interceding for our imperfections before the Father.
  • Forgiveness and atonement based on an unbreakable promise.
  • A priest who saves to the uttermost. Unto perfection.
  • A flawless priest who makes the way for perfect forgiveness.
  • A salvation free from performance on our part.

The ultimate blessing of hope in this better covenant: Grace. Grace. Grace.

Share the closing of your psalm of praise based on the blessing of hope in Christ as a better covenant.

Let’s praise Him again with our words.

Stacy says:

I call out Father, Brother, Friend and you are there.

You, the Light of the World call me daughter.

There is no story like Your story.

What kind of god comes in flesh to save me?

There is no other.

What god limits his divinity for my sake?

There is none.

No not one like You, Jesus.

Your perfect love made a way for me and I am forever blessed.

This is my song, the hope of glory.

Carol says:

Oh, Faithful Father, You provide Your Faithfull Son as Your perfect Lamb of Grace.

A perfect promise given with a perfect sacrifice on which to place my hope.

The One source of hopeful blessing, trusting Your faithfulness to hold fast when mine does not.

You are the One Great Blessing — the One Great Hope.

Forever and ever. Amen

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 the blessings of hope. Remember the first line of the hymn, “When He shall come with trumpet sound…” What did you experience when you imagined seeing Jesus face to face? What emotions or feeling did you notice?

Is it difficult to imagine yourself righteously dressed standing faultless before the throne? Why?

What have you gained from this wrestling with hope? Do you see hope in new ways? What blessings have you experienced through the writing of your own beatitude?

Carol says:

Blessed are the hope-wrestlers

For they draw near to God.

Wrestling is a contact sport and intended to be such. It is a sport of wills set against one another.

When we enter the ring with God as a hope-wrestler we can’t help but draw near to Him, and in the process, He changes our will to come in line with His. Another facet of drawing near.

Stacy says:

Blessed are the hope-wrestlers

For they walk away limping.

Honestly, the sport of wrestling sort of gives me the creeps. It’s not the competition or the strength. Nor is it the thought of getting hurt. It just seems too intimate for a sport. Two competitors closely entangled, locked in a sweaty struggle. Uhhh… no. It is too close for my comfort level.

For someone who has personal space issues like me, wrestling with God puts me in an uncomfortable place. When Spirit gave me the words for this week’s beatitude I thought, Do I really want to walk away with a limp? Yes, yes I do. Because my spiritual limping is proof I am willing to hang on to God until the blessing of hope comes.

Take a moment to write down your beatitude and add it to our container of coal.

Next: We’ve come to our final week of Going Deeper into Hope. To close our study we will explore hope as Our Glory.

Click here for a PDF of the homework: Hope Week 5 – Our Glory – Homework

Father God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, how great You are to bless us with a hope overflowing with eternal blessings. Grow in understanding the hope we have in You and faithfully share the blessing of hope with others. Amen.

 

* Description of the tabernacle from the Tyndale Bible Dictionary.

[Feature Image Photo by Sheelah Brennan on Unsplash]

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