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The Hope Series
Our hope lies in the living God. He is living. He’s not dead or far off, but near and close. He draws us to himself and as we respond he draws us closer to him. You find joy in bringing him praise. You bring him praise when you choose hope over despair.
Life can be despairing and difficult. Circumstances surprise us. Situations shake and seem to overtake us.
Can you stand unafraid when your earth gives way? Can you trust God to open the doors that are meant to open? Can you trust him so that you stand unmoved? When hopelessness persecutes, can you stand on the solid rock and say, “I stand with God and I will not be moved.”
One secret in times of hopelessness is the truth that we win. Whether in life or death, when our lives are secure in Christ’s salvation, we win. It’s not about praying for victory, but it’s about praising God for the victory.
That doesn’t mean that your circumstances are going to magically change because you’re standing in the victory of Jesus. It means that your spirit is secure in him, no matter what it is you’re suffering.
Can you give all for love’s true name? When faced with desperation, we automatically lean toward running from the difficulty. But as new creatures in Christ, our minds are in the process of renewal. Our default of hiding during difficult times transforms into standing firm on the Solid Rock, with our eyes fixed securely on the One who leads us on and through and upward and forwards.
Come What May
Always guiding us, always with us, always loving us. Always providing rest when we need it. Giving us the tools we need to stand firm in the face of the storm. Faith to believe that he doesn’t leave us floundering, but gives us the wherewithal to stand. Stand in him. Stand with him. Suffer for him. Suffer because of him.
Our joy and hope is found in him. He is our everything. Come what may. Will you obey? Will you find your joy in bringing him praise?
You do this when you fix your confident hope on the living God. Turn to, rely on, and trust in God. Say yes to him more than you say no. Stop fighting your difficulties and ask God to redeem your pain into beauty.
He may not calm your external storm, but when you fix your hope on God, he does calm the storm that rages within you.
“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:8-10 (ESV)
Application for The Hope Series
Listen to Come What May
Think of a situation that is drowning you.
Meditate on 1 Timothy 4:8-10
Hopelessness is barren and covered in destruction. It appears as though nothing can grow. Hopelessness strips us of growth, it destroys life, and it leaves barrenness in its wake. It appears as if all is lost.
Call me an incurable optimist, but even when all seems lost and hope has vanished, I look for the positive. Sometimes I have to dig in the muck and mire. At times, I search and search, but eventually I find treasure. And you can too.
Our hopelessness doesn’t have to define us. God can use the circumstances in our life to refine us if we allow him to draw us near, open our eyes, and hear what he has to say.
Turn to God instead of away from God.
When trials come, do you have a tendency to blame God, run away from God, or turn to God? Sometimes I go through the process of all three. The mentality: “I’m a child of God, no troubles should befall me,” gets stuck in our head and when trials come, we stomp our feet and cry, “Why?” Or we run away from God and wait out the trial behind busyness or religious duties. The best response is to turn to God. Ask him your questions, seek him for answers, and choose to trust him.
“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 (ESV)
Our perspective for the purpose of trials needs refining. Trust God. He doesn’t waste a hurt, ever. At times that is hard to believe because the devastation we feel is so overwhelming. How can we trust God if he allows so much hurt? is a question that can roll through our minds. When that question plagues me, I remember the cross. I remember what Jesus experienced and know that redemption came through pain.
When we stand strong in the face of our pain, God redeems it and allows our faith to be strengthened by it. We exchange our hopelessness for hope when we set our hope on him, and not on ourselves or whatever vices we turn to when we feel devastated by life.
Rely on God. Self-sufficiency and a stiff-upper lip are positive traits until they’re not. And they’re not when we try and go through this life in our own strength. If we can exchange our self-sufficiency for God’s sufficiency and that stiff-upper lip for eyes fixed on God, we begin to rely on God. He guides us, molds us, and directs us. We simply must respond by a letting go of our own abilities and strength and exchange it for competency in his ability to rescue and renew us.
Set your hope on God that he will deliver you again. He does deliver. Take a moment to remember and remind yourself of how God rescues you.
I’ve battled with anger issues off and on throughout my life, and underneath the anger lies shame. I’m ashamed when my temper gets the better of me. I’m ashamed at the words that fly out of my mouth that do more damage than a club. Words wound in ways that destroy the essence of a person. I battle anger and I battle shame.
We screw up or we make life-altering wrong choices. We doubt Jesus’ blood can truly clean our past. Anger rules us. Our enemy uses shame to keep us locked in a pit of hopelessness.
How do we get out of that pit? How do we exchange shame induced hopelessness for redeeming hope? By not letting the enemy win. By not letting shame rule your decisions or dictate your actions. Let the shame you feel guide you to the redemption Christ offers.
The First Reason
Shame indicates two things: an attack of the enemy or an issue that hasn’t been dealt with. The enemy deals with generalities and the Holy Spirit deals with specifics. When you experience overall shame and condemnation, the enemy is preventing you from knowing hope. Stand firm in God and resist the devil by speaking truth over yourself. Say, “Jesus’ blood redeems me, in his name I’ve confessed my sin and I stand forgiven. God chooses me. God makes me victorious and nothing can prevail against the God’s love for me and in me.”
The Second Reason
The second problem is a little bit more nuanced. Often when shame lingers over a particular incidence, we have a forgiveness problem. Many of us are quick to ask God for forgiveness and he grants it to us. (1 John 1:9). Often we will go to the person we’ve wronged and seek their forgiveness and whether they grant it to us is between them and God, but we’ve done our part. What keeps us trapped in shame is when we don’t forgive ourselves.
If God has forgiven you, why can’t you forgive yourself? God doesn’t treat us with “three strikes and you’re out” so why do we treat ourselves that way? If you’ve said something you’ve regretted and you’ve made it right with God, make it right with yourself. When you refuse to forgive yourself, you reject God’s redeeming forgiveness.
When you reject God’s redeeming forgiveness, you rob yourself of hope. And when you struggle through, you find your way to hope.
“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:2-5
When we wrestle through the suffering we build endurance. Endurance builds our character because we don’t give in to the easy way out of living in shame, but we battle through to victory over shame. Character produces hope because we’re changed from the inside out. Hope is an outward projection of belief and trust. And hope doesn’t shame us. Why?
Because of God’s love poured out into your heart through the Holy Spirit.
It’s God’s love that starts and ends it all, draws us to himself, and makes a way for redeeming forgiveness. That love resides in us. And when his love is flowing through us and out of us, shame has no place. Hope does.
Hope in God and rest in the confidence that he brings. You are forgiven. Your past is redeemed. Your love is God’s love.
Memorize Romans 5:2-5
Consider anything you haven’t forgiven yourself for and receive God’s forgiveness by forgiving yourself.