"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)
Many in this world believe in God. I hear them as they reverently or irreverently say, “Oh My God.” But do they believe in God, or do they believe that somewhere there is a God? Is He some far off entity that watches for His amusement and never inserts Himself into the events of life? Is He so above our lives that He is unapproachable? Do these people that believe there is a God know Him, do they desire a relationship with the Creator of the universe? If they did, then there would be a profound difference in the way these people live their lives each day. They would know our God of love, the God of their hope, and without Him leading us through life would be hopeless. If they truly believed in God and knew Him personally, then they would trust Him and would live their lives with their hand in His.
It is not that we are incapable, even the animal kingdom can provide for themselves food and shelter. But the animals are living in the will of God, as we learn in the Gospel of Matthew. "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?" (Matthew 6:26) They are living the lives they were created to live, and they trust their Creator.
But man has a fallen nature from the Garden of Eden and seeks his own way, and stumbles his way to the end with nothing and nowhere to go. We place our trust in our judgments and blindly walk on our own paths thinking that our approach is the right way, but it leads to destruction. "There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 16:25) We look to ourselves first to survive this world, but if we believed God, if we knew God, then we would trust Him and seek Him in all our ways. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)
There is only one way to have joy, there is only one way to have peace amid the storm of life in this world, and that is to trust God. When times are filled with uncertainty and we cannot see beyond the day, we still can have joy and peace when we place our trust in God and His Word. We find our hope through our faith in Jesus because He keeps His Word, and Jesus is the Wonderful Counsellor.
Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and we are to love and serve Him with all our being. "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." (Deuteronomy 6:5) If we are steadfast in our trust and faith, then God will keep our minds in perfect peace. "The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3) Peace is our hope, not for this world, which will quickly pass away. Having hope in this world is futile and is not hope but wishful thinking. "For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?" (Romans 8:24) Our hope is in the eternal Kingdom of Heaven to come. We have this promise from our Lord and Savior. "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. "And you know the way where I am going." (John 14:1-4)
Hope is our joy. Hope is the joy that we have in our Lord. His Word is unchanging, His Word is true, and His Word shall endure forever. Our joy cannot be found in the world as the world is in constant change. It varies in an ever changing culture and what is true today becomes the lie of tomorrow. The peace that Jesus gives is not like the world gives. The peace of the world is ever dependent upon the self-serving desires of the people of the world who govern the motions of society. The peace that Jesus gives is rest to a burdened spirit. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." (John 14:27)
Our hope is not found in this world as our hope is beyond this world. We can see what is in the world, and there is little to hope for. We can see that all is passing away, as the world also is under the curse of sin which is death. There is no hope in the dying. Hope then must be found in a home everlasting. Hope must be found in a life that is righteous and never-ending. Hope is found when the weight of death is lifted off our lives. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you." (1 Peter 1:3-4)
Our lives are transformed into Christ-like lives through the power of His Holy Spirit. Our trust in His word will not only fill us with eternal hope but it will abound within us. Our Lord promises that we will have life and have it abundantly. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) This hope that we have will grow and overflow as we share it with others. It is His Spirit living within us that produces the good fruit of His Spirit within us. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)
The Apostle Paul focuses on three in his letter to the Corinthians. "But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13) By our faith, our trust in Jesus, we gain our hope. Hope in our eternal home that our faith will carry us to. Faith and hope will take us through this world to the greater world to come. Paul makes an interesting point when he states that the greatest of these three is love. Once we are in our Heavenly home, we will no longer need faith to see the unseen glory of God the Father. We will be there living in that which is beyond the imagination of our finite minds. We will no longer need hope for we will have that which has been promised to us by the Word of our Lord and Savior. The greatest then is love, for we will be living in the everlasting love of our God and Father. We will have every spiritual blessing through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." (Ephesians 1:3)
Thomas N Kirkpatrick
First Baptist Church of Durant, January 14, 2016