Hope that Remains

Hope that remains    Hopelessness is the belief that there are only a finite number of options and that those options have failed or are failing.   Hope is believing that there are always options and those options are fluid – ever changing because forces are good that control the outcome.  For the Christian, the struggle is and will always be in the heart of the individual to address the known world while remembering God’s heart, promises, and will for them.  For the unbeliever, they have a finite ability to have hope – to a limited extent, it will be found in circumstances, people around them, leaders, money, other assets and resources and their own ability to process what they know against what they desire and fear losing.

     In order to address the value of hope I must, if you will bear with me, present some false obstacles of hope.  Truth that is ignored does not foster hope – it is denial and self-delusion.   Hope without knowledge is only ignorance.  Hope with understanding and eyes wide open is true hope – hope that sustains, hope that endures.  Knowledge transforms the mind and is the platform for understanding.  Understanding, when gained, is the light that shapes the world.  Understanding built on the good news of Jesus Christ is a hope that remains and is that which brings salvation to nations.

 

Negative Counter Measures

     We live in a world that is struggling to find hope.   America is a country that has vastly lost her way and is being lead into the darkness by lawless and devious elements.  The economy is failing and our government leaders seem bent on spending more to prop it up, further destroying our financial well-being.  Other nations are ignoring economic logic and best practices for lack of a better answer.  Moral failure is rampant and evident in attacks on marriage and Christian and Biblical values; military dismantling and demoralization; governmental over-reach; subsidy dependence and the growth of a welfare culture even to the middle class in America.  Socialism is expanding and freedoms are being stripped away by judges who legislate from the bench.  Public schools are out of control.  Riots in the streets of America are being provoked by Nation of Islam, race-baiters, and malcontents with an evil agenda.  We are straddled with government leaders who  are neither governing nor leading with courage.

     I could go on but I will not – the point has been made.  Hope as the world gives us is not reliable or readily available.  True hope can and must be found, grasped tightly, understood and given as the greatest commodity that we have in these dark times.   

 

Positive  Counter Measures

     Hope is not found in people or organizations.  Many of you know that my wife, Chris, and I came to Savannah, Georgia to start a church and the Lord gave us a clear mandate to do so.  That has not changed.   Some people joined us because they quickly heard of our love of country, the Constitution, and our encouraging call to Christian citizenry and participation.  This is good because sometimes all that is needed is a willingness to push back in the right spirit.   We firmly believe that Christians and Churches must speak out and defend the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion (1st Amendment - U.S. Constitution) in the face of attack but a group primarily formed for government and social activism without a moral rudder and compass can quickly become a hate group festering in fear and unbelief.   Many times, people who join a group for activism will soon lose interest when a foundation of moral stability and a plan for sustainability is the primary and initial aim.  Many want change but few want the responsibility of sustainable stewardship.  A righteous response must come from a moral, spiritual and righteous people – otherwise it is a religious response and Islam is an example of how devastating that equation can be.  Religious fervor without moral integrity literally brings death and destruction stirred by hate and elitism.

     As Christians, we are called to be a contrast, to be so different that people take notice and wonder.  1 Peter 3:15 in the Amplified version tells us:

15 ‘But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.’

     We must be prepared with a message of hope expressed in a Christ-like manner with it settled in our hearts that Christ is holy AND Lord.  Hope is not hope unless Christ is seen as holy and Lord.  Because He is holy, set apart as sanctified, He is above the circumstances and the Lord that walks with us.  His holy Lordship is our ultimate source of Hope as 1 Tim. 1:1 tells us.

     We cannot, nor will we ever, gain a hope that is based or dependent on an assessment of our surroundings.  That only produces temporal hope because our environment and culture changes.  We must build our hope on the promises that God has given us in the Bible.  As the U.S. Constitution is the unchangeable cornerstone on which all laws in America are measured, so too, the Bible is the bedrock cornerstone for all Kingdom living.  We must know the Bible.  We must build our hope on the fact that Jesus is Set Apart and Lord of all.  Jesus being set apart does not denote distance – He is simply not limited by anything in this world. 

     Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to deal with sin’s power and set us free.  He sent Holy Spirit so that we would have power to be witnesses of His Kingdom and God’s will, of the Good News of Salvation, and of His ultimate victory over death and satan himself.  Aligning with this truth today will require courage.  Hope is diminished to the degree that Christ is diminished in your heart.  If He is big and in control – hope is firm and secure.  The circumstances may not be changing but you are.

     Last week I spoke of A Divine Alignment.  It is important to discern what the Lord is doing in these days.  God is bringing about divine alignments as we align with Him.  Our getting closer to God first enables us to see more clearly those who are also close to Him. 

     Hebrews tells us to have a hope without wavering because God is faithful.  We must remind each other from time to time.  Being reminded keeps us strong.

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.  (Heb. 10:23-25)

     We cannot ignore the problems in our world – but we must come together with eyes wide open (to what is happening as well as the Lordship of Jesus Christ).  Those who have no hope will be the first to seek Him out as their source when all else fails.  God encourages us to stimulate or encourage each other to good works.  God does the same!  People, governments, processes, money and resources will all fail and nothing will sustain except truly knowing who Christ is and what He has done for mankind.

 

Securing Hope

     We are told to be submitted to Scripture, to leaders (Eph. 4:11-16, Heb. 13:17) to each other (Eph. 5:21) as we are led by Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14) Who is our Teacher.  We refine our ability to assess each area of guidance but true hope and peace will not be achieved without a balance of each.  We can lose our footing in hope when we do not keep a sound understanding on the way God provides direction to His Church.   God commits to mankind a portion of His leadership.

     It is important to understand that there are leaders with Ephesians-Four callings with varying spheres and areas of authority.  Confusion and unsteady hope can occur if we forget that there are spheres of responsibility and authority in leadership.  There are those with corporate leadership and those with local, regional, or congregational authority based on calling and responsibility granted by the Lord or earned over time.   

     If there appears to be a conflict between leaders, it could be that internet platforms, social media, YouTube, etc. has raised a local voice and elevates them to a place they are not called to address.  (It is critical that a person learns to discern the Lord’s voice in all things.)  A local congregation may need to hear, ‘trust God, all is well’ and the overall Church may need to hear, ‘prepare or repent for hard times are coming’.  Both are valid and both need to be heard.  They may not be in conflict with each other at all; they are needed in the context spoken.  It is no different than a person getting direction from the Lord for their personal lives and wrongfully giving it to the congregation or shouting it over the media as a word from the Lord for the Church. 

     We must discern the Lord’s leading in a balance of Word, leaders, fellow believers, and Holy Spirit as we work for the unity of the faith which builds and secures hope.  No matter what we hear, or go through, Holy Spirit is the ultimate source of peace that surpasses all understanding and that gives us hope.  Learning to be led by Him is critical in these days.

     Paul the apostle wrote of hope and the steadfastness of God.  In 2 Cor. 6:1-10 he also wrote the following to give us eyes to see and ears to hear – leading to understanding.

And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain— for He says,

At the acceptable time I listened to you,
And on the day of salvation I helped you.”

Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”— giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, 10 as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.

 

     The power of a Christian witness is to believe that what God said will always stand.  Have hope as you have hope in God – no matter what comes your way.  Stand.