Jesus and hope go hand in hand, as the Father goes with the Spirit, the Spirit goes with the Son. You can't have one without the other. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you have an abundance of hope that no one can ever take away from you. If you do not yet know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you have no hope at all, because all hope comes from Jesus – if you don't have Him, you also have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13 -- Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope).
In the context described above, let's look at the meaning of hope. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines hope this way: "to cherish a desire with anticipation; to desire with expectation of obtainment; to expect with confidence: trust". These three meanings seem pretty self-explanatory, but let's look at them in more detail, anyway.
The first meaning of hope is "to cherish a desire with anticipation." When we hope, we are looking into the future and placing our faith that something we want, or don't want, to happen will, or will not, happen. We may hope for good grades in school, or we may hope that we won't get cancer, especially if we live in a family where cancer is prevalent. We may place our hope in the fact that we will get to Heaven one day, or we can place our hope in the chance that God won't send us to Hell. Hope doesn't mean that you have all of the answers. But it does give you a more positive outlook on life when you know for in whom your hope rests, and what that person has told you about the future.
Our desires are more than what we want for Christmas or our birthdays. They are more than the goals we set for our lives, and more than what we want for our children and family. Do you know what the true desire of your heart is? Do you know what your heart is truly longing for when it comes to the future? Well, you may not know, but your heart does. Your heart has been crying out in anticipation from the day that you were conceived, and that it will receive what it has been waiting for. What your heart has been dying for all of these years is a relationship with the One who created it. God was made to fill the desires of your heart, and, believe it or not, He Himself has been waiting in anticipation for you to accept His Son, Jesus Christ, into your life.
"God has been waiting in anticipation for me to come to Him for salvation?" Yes and no. You see, everyone who has ever lived, and now lives, on this planet knows without a shadow of a doubt that they need God in their lives, because God has made Himself known to all living creatures. Every atheist, naturalist, evolutionalist, and every non-believer knows that they need God, no matter what they tell you. How do they know? Because they have been fighting against Him by believing that He doesn't exist, or that nature is all there is. When you fight for a worldview, then there must be a worldview that you are fighting against. Some people want so badly for there not to be a God who shows them their sin that they will concoct any notion they desperately want to believe in, as long as it isn't the God of the Universe. No one likes to be shown their sin, and God does it like no one else can, so they run away from their sin by hiding behind walls of knowledge and worldviews that are in direct opposite of what God has created. No matter what they hide behind, God still knows their sins, and lovingly anticipates their call to Him for salvation and a return to a right standing with him.
Salvation from our sins comes from God Himself. God draws us in and gives us that mustard seed of faith (Luke 17:6 -- He (Jesus) replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you) to see that Jesus is the Son of God, and is the only way to be saved from our sins. We cannot come to saving faith on our own because of our sinful natures. If we could, then Jesus wouldn't have had to die on the cross, shedding His blood for our atonement. No, God has to call us into His Kingdom. God could be calling you right now. Can you hear His voice?
For those of us who have heard God's call, who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and who see the need for Him in our lives, we have Jesus' undivided attention throughout each and every day we spend on this earth. As Jesus cherished and desired in His earthly life the anticipation of Heaven, we, too, will cherish and desire all He has for us in anticipation of someday knowing Him as He knows us (1 Corinthians 13:12 -- Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known).
Jesus watches over all those who love Him
In Psalm 145:17-20a, David, after experiencing God's love and power in his life, said that "The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. The LORD watches over all who love him…" David knew from experiencing God's protection, while King Saul was trying to hunt him down and kill him; that God's love for him would not let him down. For those of us who believe, we know that God's love for us will always watch over us. For those who don't believe, God's love is calling out to them, but they will not respond. Until they do, God's great love will not let Him interfere with the path they have chosen to follow – a life without the love of God in it.
The second meaning of hope is: "to desire with expectation of obtainment." When you desire something, you want it so bad that you will do anything to obtain it, even if you have to steal, kill, or destroy to get it. There are people who will stop at nothing to reap where they have not sown. For example: a father who steals food to feed his hungry children; a mother who will sell her body so that she can keep the house for her children after her husband has died and left them nothing to live on; or a man who would kill another just to keep his secret from being found out. These may be extreme examples, but they do happen in everyday life. But, what is missing from all of these desires? Hope. A living hope that things will be all right, and that things will be different in the future.
Putting your hope in another human being, object, or state of being, will only bring you heartache and misery. You can't truly count on another human being, because human beings will always let you down – especially those who are closest to you. You can't put your hope in your job, because that job could end any second, leaving you without a way to feed yourself and your family. And, most certainly, you cannot put your hope in a worldview like evolution, because the jury is still out on this subject, though, if it were true, don’t you think that there would be some hard evidence after all of these years that we evolved from apes or fish?
My hope is in Jesus’ unfailing love for me
There is only one place, and in one man, where you can find all of the hope you need to make it through each day. That place is Heaven, and the man is Jesus Christ. Once you establish a relationship with Jesus will you begin to finally see the hope that you have been searching for. The hope that Jesus gives you is an everlasting hope. It's the kind of hope that you can count on every second of every single day. Jesus will never leave you, nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5 -- Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”). That's His promise to you when you make Him Lord of your life instead of those people and material things around you.
This brings us to the third meaning of hope: to expect with confident trust. What a wonderful definition of true trust – to expect with confidence; to trust someone who will never turn His back on you. In Jesus, you can trust with great divine confidence that He will take care of your every need, and yes, even your every desire, if it is in line with His will for your life (Hebrews 13:6 -- So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”). But all of this can only be yours if you are a believer in Christ. You see, Jesus takes care of His own -- those who haven't given Jesus their lives can never count on Jesus to take care of their every need because they have already told Jesus, by their refusal to accept His gift of salvation, that they can take care of themselves. Are you one of those people? If you are, I implore you that you make Jesus your Lord and Savior.
As Psalm 147:11 tells us, "Rather, the LORD’S delight is in those who honor him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love (NLT). Jesus delights in sharing Himself with those who call Him Lord. This is not because Jesus has an ego, or has a self-esteem problem, this is because only Jesus, who created us, can tell us the right way to live, the way He created us to live. All of our hopes, desires, talents, and gifts come straight from Jesus. Not the evil desires, but the ones where you want to do good for others. When you put your hope in Jesus' unfailing love, your life will become greater than you could have ever imagined. You might not get there right away, but, if you let Him, Jesus will guide you step by step toward the destiny that He has for you, and will bring you success like you have never known or thought of. With Jesus, the sky is the limit. Give Him your life, surrender to His will for it, and watch Him exalt you to God in pride and love, with a big smile.
My hope will not be disappointed
For those who believe in the power of God through Jesus Christ, hope is for now and forever. But, you may say, “Wait a minute, my neighbor doesn’t know Jesus, and he is the happiest person I know. He has everything he needs, buys anything he wants. His kids go to the finest schools. Are you telling me that he has no hope in his life? It certainly looks like he does from where I stand.”
Your neighbor may have hope, but where does he get it from? If he gets it from himself, it is a hope that will eventually fail him in the end, because his hope is in the expectation that everything he has and touches will continue to turn to gold. Proverbs 23:17-18 gives us a clue to what Christians mean when we say we have the kind of hope that the world does not have: Don’t envy sinners, but always continue to fear the LORD. For surely you have a future ahead of you; your hope will not be disappointed (NLT). This verse clearly shows that those who fear God (reverent fear of who God is) have a hope of a future ahead of us that God will not disappoint us in believing.
What is this future hope for those who believe? It is a hope that, in the future, Jesus will return as He said He would (John 14:18 -- I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.) and take His own back to Heaven with Him (John 14:3 -- And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am). His promise is so true that He also promised that He would not disappoint us by not coming back. Whether you believe who Jesus is or not, He is coming back someday very soon. Which side will He find you on – His or Satan’s? Those are the only two choices we have as humans that definitely have to be made before we die. Once we die there are no more chances to be saved.
What are you hoping for? Are you hoping that God will change His mind and let everyone into Heaven when they die? Don’t count on it, because God will not change His mind on this regard. Heaven is for believers, and Hell is for sinners. God’s justice must be completed for those who did not take His Son as their Savior. Would you let a convicted murderer out of jail just because he seems to have learned his lesson? No, you wouldn’t. Well, God can only set you free if you tell His Son, Jesus, that you want to be free from your sins. But, you must do it before you die, which could be this afternoon in a car wreck. If you don’t, then the false hope you have now will have gotten you nowhere you want to be. Don’t disappoint yourself. Give your life to Jesus, before all of your chances have run out.
Even the poor have hope
What part of the population of man understands just what it feels like to have nothing – nothing to eat, nothing to wear, nothing to look forward to -- poor people. Yet, the Bible tells them in Psalm 9:18 -- For the needy will not be forgotten forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed (NLT). God delights in the poor, because the poor are people who know they need someone to save them from their current predicament. Why do we have poor people in this world? Somewhat because of selfish humans who have nothing better to do than to make money, no matter who get hurts while the make it. Many people are out of work because of mergers (money), have no place to live because they can’t afford it (money, again). I could go around and around listing all the reasons we have poor people in this world. Yes, natural disasters play a big role in the loss of property and such, but these disasters are only the tips of the iceberg.
Still, with all they don’t have, a large part of the poor population knows Jesus very well. Where is the largest poor population in the world? The African nations. Where are there more believers in Jesus Christ, whose numbers are growing every day, than in any other part of the world? The African nations. In a land where plenty is a foreign word, Jesus reigns in the lives who know that living by bread alone is not the true way to live (Matthew 4:4 -- Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’”).
God’s grace gives me hope of eternal life
So, where does that leave those who haven’t yet proclaimed Jesus as their Lord and Savior? It leaves you right wherever you want to be. You can stay in your sins and hope that God will forgive you even though you really don’t want Him in your life. You can hope that the world and the people in it will keep on taking care of your needs, no matter how many times they let you down and disappoint you time and time, again. You can even keep on hoping that Hell doesn’t really exist, because a good God would never send anyone there. If you believe anything the world keeps on telling you, then put your hope, faith, and trust in the world.
But, if you want to know for a fact that all your needs will be met both physically and spiritually, just like the poor in Africa know, then put your hope, faith, and trust in Jesus Christ, who die for your sins, and then rose again to defeat death. Once you have done that, you will know in your heart that the hope of Jesus’ return to take you back to Heaven with Him for all eternity is true and will happen very soon. This new hope will become your new reality with a surety that the world’s hope cannot give you. The world can only give you death, both physically and spiritually, but only Jesus can give you eternal life with Him under His care forever. Titus 3:7 tells us -- …so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
I will say it once again: you only have two choices in this world – life or death. This world will continue to knock you down and out until you are dead, and give you nothing back for the way you happily lived in it. The way of the world is death and Hell.
But, the way of the cross is life. Take Jesus Christ into your heart and let Him replace it with a hope you can trust and believe in for eternity. Jesus won’t disappoint you because He will come back for you at the end. The way of Jesus is life, and the only way into Heaven. Put your hope in that.