Hope Builder’s Diet

IMG_0719Hebrews 10:23

The God who makes promises is the ground of hope (confident expectation). The writer of Hebrews presents God as “he who promised”. The emphasis at this point is not on the content of what God has promised, but it is on the God who makes promises to his people. Remember this idea: We must exalt the One who promises and not the promises in themselves. We do not worship the Bible, but the God who has spoken in the Bible. His faithfulness to his word is the crucial matter. Many people say wedding vows, but it is the character of those who repeat the vows that gives any substance to them.

Knowledge of the living God is more important than the promises, and it is the basis of our interaction with God’s promises. This is not to disparage the promises but to put them in their proper place. We will not evaluate his promises correctly unless we have a proper estimate of God and his character as God. John 3:16 is a beautiful verse, but it means nothing to the one who knows little or nothing about the God who loves the world. For this reason, seek to gain a greater knowledge of God. It is gained through daily communication with him. Therefore, to strengthen us, let us consider God as the promising God. You can review how God interacted with his people by giving promises:

  • Noah (Genesis 6:11-22)
  • Jacob (Genesis 28:11-15)
  • Elijah (1 Kings 17:2-6)
  • Abraham (Romans 4:16-25)

All this important to grasp, because hope “feeds” on the promises of God. As your body is nourished by physical food, so your hope is sustained and strengthened by God’s promises. The way to an unswerving profession of hope (confident expectation) is to lay hold of God’s promises and to “make them your own”; that is, put them into your world and life view and act accordingly. The inner person of the heart especially needs to be refreshed with God’s promises in the good news of Christ. Think of their incomparable greatness and glory. When we enjoy their fulfillment, then we will be eternally happy.

How are you feeding your hope? If you have a feeling of hopelessness, perhaps you can trace the problem back to an improper diet. Try a “hope builders” spiritual diet (a good diet helps you build strength) for a few weeks. (Yes, it might interrupt your current “Bible reading plan”. I know it’s shocking to suggest such an interruption. But isn’t hope of great value to the true Christian way of life?) Here is a sample that I suggest for people who desperately need to strengthen their confident anticipation in the Lord.

As you pray for God to strengthen your hope, read and think about and then pray based on the following passages:

Read one section from one of the following each day:

  • The Life of Abraham (Genesis 12-22)
  • The Life of Joseph (Genesis 37, 39-50)
  • The Life of David (1 Samuel 16-31; 2 Samuel 1-24)

Read one or two sections from one of the following each day:

  • The Gospel of Mark
  • Romans

Read one of the following each day: [Repeat as necessary]

Psalm 6; Psalm 13; Psalm 23; Psalm 27; Psalm 37; Psalms 42-43; Psalm 73; Psalm 107; 1 Corinthians 15; Hebrews 11; Revelation 1:12-18; Revelation 7:9-17; Revelation 19; Revelation 21:1-22:6

Conclude by thanking God for his word that builds your hope by the power of the Spirit.

We need to arrive at the full confidence that we can depend upon God, the faithful God. We can trust him with our lives now and forever. The Christian life is a walk of active faith. We dare to trust the invisible God in the all too visible challenges that we face. The life of a follower of Jesus is not intended to be a pleasant stroll in the park while you sip on free lemonade. For this reason, we must have confidence in the faithful, promise-making and promise-keeping God.

Grace and peace, David

Something to Hold Tightly

DSCN0507Hebrews 10:23

The writer gives a command in regard to our confession—“let us hold it unswervingly”. First of all, consider the importance of hope (firm anticipation). Hope in the Biblical sense is not uncertain or a mere wish, but a confident expectation of what will be ours. Some examples are:

  • We look forward to seeing Christ return in glory (Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7).
  • We eagerly wait to be with Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
  • We anticipate that we will be changed to be like Christ (1 Corinthians 15:51-55).

We are to hold our profession of hope firmly; that is, to hold it firmly and not let it go. Perhaps you’ve taken a young child to a zoo or an amusement park. What do you do? You hold their hand tightly. You don’t want them to wander away.

In an age where the prevailing trend is constant change, we need to be reminded of what is absolute and unchanging. Human thought varies like the wind, but God and his truth remains the same forever! Or to change the illustration, it can shift like the tide. May God give you grace to keep you from the numerous deadly riptides that can destroy you. The gospel of grace that gave people good hope when first preached still gives that same hope by God’s controlling grace. How we need to pray that God would raise men up to preach the good news of grace in Jesus Christ. “You can be right with God by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!” And let us pray that God would bless his truth for the salvation of souls. And pray for the young men that are already in the gospel ministry. Preach God’s word, not human opinion.

This confession must be steady. We live in a day in which Christianity has been reduced to merely claiming to be a Christian. Someone says a prayer or “makes a decision” and he or she is counted as a follower of Christ. However, saying a prayer or making a decision does not save you. You are saved when you repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. You then start to follow Christ, and to make other followers of Christ. And a true saving faith in Christ is one that continues or perseveres (Hebrews 10:39; Colossians 1:23; John 10:27; 1 John 2:19).

As we take care to keep our love for the Lord constant (Revelation 2:4f), so we must keep our hope unvarying. Do not waver like the incessantly changing Philadelphia weather forecasts. We may not allow our hope to lessen because of the pressures that seek to consume it.

However, too often, something like the following happens. “It was a day of great trembling, but of great joy, when first we avowed our faith in Jesus! What we said we meant. We salted our words with our tears; but oh! we felt it such an honor to be numbered with the people of God! If we had been promised a seat on the floor, or had been allowed only to hear the gospel in the draughtiest corner of the building, we should then have been fully content. We sang and meant it: ‘Might I enjoy the meanest place, Within thy house, O God of grace! Not tents of ease, nor thrones of power, Should tempt my feet to leave thy door.’ We want soft cushions now; we cannot stand to hear a sermon now, nor yet travel very far, especially in damp weather. It is very strange that we should have become so delicate; but it is so. How many miles we could walk when first we knew the Lord: the miles have grown much longer lately, or else our love has grown much shorter! Those were blessed days—changeful, showery, with little more that the dusk of dawn about them; but still there was a morning freshness about them upon which we look back with supreme delight, and somewhat of regret. Then was it a time of love, a season of buds and flowers, and song-birds and overflowing life and hope. [Spurgeon, “Holding Fast our Profession”, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 32, p. 233]

So then we ask, How unswerving is your hold? Do you change like the phases of the moon? Do you truly have a hope to hold fast? You can’t hold something that you do not have!

Grace and peace, David