THE GOD OF HOPE
In one of Charles Shulz's Peanut’s cartoons, Lucy and Linus are sitting in front of the television set when Lucy says to Linus, “Go get me a glass of water.”
Linus looks surprised, “Why should I do anything for you? You never do anything for me.” “On your 75th birthday,” Lucy promised, “I’ll make you a cake.”
Linus gets up, heads to the kitchen and says, “Life is more pleasant when you have something to look forward to.”
Hope. Linus was given a reason to have hope (even if Lucy was a questionable one to trust that she would do as she said).
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines hope as follows: “to cherish a desire with anticipation, to want something to happen or be true.”
Even though the English word “hope’ may have an element of uncertainty in it, the Greek word in the New Testament always speaks of a sure expectation of some good outcome or positive result. There is a certainty in the hope given in the biblical record.
Hebrews 6:19 tells us there is a “hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” And Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hope is the solid expectation of coming good.
So where does this hope come from? Not from Lucy or others like her. God is the source of our hope when we trust in Him. Because He is the God of hope!
Turn with me to Romans 15:7-13. “7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, 9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:
“For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles,
And sing to Your name.”
10 And again he says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!”
11 And again:“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!”
12 And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our God is a God of hope. And He gives hope to all who put their trust in Him. That is a fact that is made clear in these verses here in Romans chapter fifteen.
Throughout Scripture, hope is most often referred to in conjunction with the coming of Jesus Christ, both His first and His second coming.
In the Old Testament we see that God chose a particular people, Abraham and his descendants, to be His people. A people He would bless and care for and protect.
God's purpose was always to bring through His people a Savior who would be for all people, Jew and gentile alike.
That is why, as the apostle Paul writes to the Christians in Rome, he quotes Old Testament verses to show that it was always God's purpose to include Gentiles (meaning everyone who are not Jews) in His plan of salvation.
What is especially interesting in these quotes is that they represent the whole of the Old Testament. Notice that these quotes are from the law, the psalms, and the prophets. All three give witness to establish God's ultimate plan.
By sharing these quotes, Paul reveals from the Old Testament that the salvation of the Gentiles wasn't an afterthought with God, but was part of His plan all along. The God of Hope is a God for all people.
Colossians 1:26 speaks of, “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
When Jesus came, He came for us all. He gives us all hope! And we need it, don't we?
These days, even watching the news can make a person lose hope. We hear about broken families, addicted people, and terrorism hitting everywhere. Suicide is at an all time high, shootings have become common place in the news.
How could a nation like ours with so much light and blessing; how could a nation that’s been so blessed, market murder and violence in its video games, television, movies, and music and then wonder why children are killing children.
We have become a generation of people that have forsaken God and turned to the gods of money, and pleasure, and entertainment, and self gratification. And as a result, many have lost hope.
There are signs at entrances to bars which say “Happy Hour”, but too many people coming and going from there still appear stressed out, weary and lonely.
Hope is the opposite of despair. And Paul is teaching us today that we need to encourage one another in the faith with the Word of Truth by the power of the Holy Spirit that we all might have hope!
Hope is a trust extended into the future, extended toward tomorrow. It’s not blind optimism, but it is the expectation that God will never leave you, He will never forsake you.
Hope must come from a source that you can trust. You have hope because you have faith in His Word!
Hope is what gives us a reason to have a positive outlook on life, no matter the present or current circumstances.
There is a story told about a self-made millionaire, Eugene Lang, who had received some help to go to college, and wanted to be able to help those who were like him, coming from underprivileged backgrounds.
In 1981, Eugene M. Lang returned to the elementary school he had attended in East Harlem 50 years earlier, to address a class of graduating sixth graders. He intended to tell the students, “Work hard and you’ll succeed.”
But on the way to the podium, the school principal told Lang that three-quarters of the school’s students would probably never finish high school, prompting Lang to make an impromptu change to his speech: he promised to pay the college tuition for every sixth grader who stayed in high school and graduated.
At that time, the high school they would be attending had a dropout rate of 60% and on average only 2 students from PS 121 went on to college. That is about 3%.
This was in 1981. By 1985, when these kids were in their sophomore year, all 62 were still in school. It turns out that 90% of them graduated from high school and 60% went on to college with half of those completing a degree!
As word of his generosity spread, he sparked a national movement. In 1986, Lang formed the national “I Have A Dream” Foundation to help launch a new generation of “I Have A Dream” Programs.
Many now have children of their own, and have gone on to become doctors, actors, social workers, and diplomats. What explains the change? Those kids now had hope for a different life.
Hope makes all the difference. Almost every activity of human life is motivated to some degree by hope. Because of hope farmers plant seeds. Because of hope teachers teach pupils. Because of hope people fall in love and get married and have families.
But real and lasting hope has but one source. The God of hope! There is no other source. No bottle. No pill. No President. No other person. Money doesn't do it.
And out of the hope that God gives comes “joy and peace in believing.” These two things – Joy and Peace, are what all people are seeking.
Mankind has exhausted fortunes and spent countless years seeking these two things. But, they cannot be bought, borrowed or bargained! They can only be found in Jesus. He is the God of Hope; He is the source of Joy and Peace.
Hebrews 12:2 tells us that we should be, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.”
Because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross, these very attributes, joy and peace, become the personal possession of every person who puts trust in and obeys Jesus as Lord and Savior.
In John 16:33 when Jesus was preparing the disciples for what was ahead, He told them, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Those are words that give hope, they give joy and they give peace knowing that no matter what, Jesus has already overcome all the obstacles that would keep us from a relationship with God the Father.
God's desire is that we abound in the hope He gives. As we trust Him, there is no reason for despair. If He is able to care for the birds of the air, He can care for us. If we doubt that, it even makes the birds to wonder.
Said the robin to the sparrow, "I would really like to know
Why those anxious human beings rush around and worry so."
Said the sparrow to the robin, "Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father such as cares for you and me."
It is possible to forget the goodness of God when things are not going well. Even David in Psalm 43:5 asked himself this question.
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?
But then he gave himself the answer to his problem. He told himself to “Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.
When we take hold of the hope that comes from faith in God through Jesus Christ, we have that anchor for our souls, sure and steadfast. And we can be sure that God cares for us.
People like to say that the only certainty in life is death and taxes. But the Christian can add “and every promise spoken by Jesus Christ!”
Jesus promised to be with us to the end of the age. And He promises that when this life is over there is something even better that the best this world has to offer.
A Christian's hope is the conviction that God is still alive and active in the affairs of mankind. It is a trust that there is no one so hopeless that the grace of God cannot change him, and there is no situation so hopeless that God is rendered powerless over it.
Because God is a God of Hope! The hope He gives is abounding and abundant. Trust Him! We know who ultimately holds the future in His hands. No situation on earth should cause us to tremble or lose faith.
By the power of His Holy Spirit, He can lift you up, and you will have reason to give Him praise and glorify God for His mercy.
Because He is a God of Hope!
Prepare for the coming of the Lord! Make way in your hearts for love! Get rid of all anger and fear, for God is about to bring incredible light to the world! Go in peace and confidence as witnesses to God’s love. AMEN