I love how the Holy Spirit works! The Lord has been teaching me a lot about Hope lately. It seemed everywhere I read in scripture, (didn’t matter where), that it was on hope, and believing in God, Having Faith that He is big enough to do what He said He would do. I heard 2 different sermons on it, in two different churches and went over it in our small group Bible study all with the course of two weeks. I couldn’t get away from it! lol Then last week I was preparing to give a devotional for our Teen Skate and working it out with the band they asked that I wrap up their performance and tie it in with one of the songs they played – Even Now, by Foolish Things. A song about how no matter what we are going through the Lord is worthy of our hope. This was followed by a conversation on hope that I had with a friend a few days later. So I decided that sense it was a reoccurring theme that i would take all my message and journal notes and blog about it. 🙂 SO here goes!
The Lord had been asking me to trust Him in one particular area of my life – to trust Him with my heart – for the last few months. In my head I did (logically i knew i had too) but it wasn’t making it’s way to my heart. Over and over God asked me, “Katie, Do you believe I am big enough?” I asked Him back, big enough for what God? but He would just keep asking “do you believe? period.”
Wikipedia defines hope this way : ” Hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. Hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. When used in a religious context, hope carries a connotation of being aware of what Christians see as spiritual truth. Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.
For me it was the area of my heart that I struggled with, but when it comes to believing God (and having Hope) that He will keep the promises that He made, and will do what’s best for us, it can be any area of your life that you struggle with. A sin, a situation, a relationship…..
Well I’m pretty hard headed so the Lord started showing me a lot of stuff about Abraham and how believing in God (and having Hope in Him) is equal to righteousness. So what is the opposite of that? If belief and hope in God equals righteousness, than unbelief and hopelessness equals unrighteousness and hence sin. Ouchie, I hadn’t quite thought of it that way before.
During that two week period around Christmas and New Years every time I opened my Bible I ended up reading somewhere about Abraham and faith. Romans 4:17-22 puts it this way :
” in whom he (Abraham) believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins.”
A couple of things stuck out to me here, one is an aspect of the God’s character, that He ” gives life to the dead and calls the things that are not as though they were” Just chew on that one for a minute! It gives a whole new side to what God can do – and does.
The other thing is that Abraham believed against all hope and reality that God would fulfill His promises to him, that he and Sarah would have a child, a physical impossibility. He was persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised. So God credited that belief and hope in Him, to Abraham for righteousness. Here’s the cool thing “the words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him”.
That just blows my mind. I want to be righteous and right before God. But in my humanness i don’t often really believe Him or live like I do anyway.
Mark Batterson talks about hope and belief in God through the lens of assumptions and I love how he states it :
“Many of us end up in the cage of assumptions and miss the spiritual adventure because we reduce God to the size of our biggest problem..…… Or we reduce Him (God) to the size of our greatest fear or our worst sin, When we do this, we end up with a god – a small “g” god – that looks an awful lot like us and seems to be about our size. As the saying goes “God made man in His image, and man has been returning the favor ever since.” This is idolatry in its most subtle, yet deadly, form. Our biggest problem is that we don’t think God is bigger than our biggest problem.”
We don’t live like or believe that God is bigger than our biggest problem, this is why we don’t have hope!
So how do we change that? How do we see and realize that God is bigger? That we can have hope in Him?
Again I like how Mark puts it in his book Wild Goose Chase
He is commenting on the story of Abraham from Genesis 15 ” But one day God made a promise: “Take a look at the sky and start counting the stars if you can, that’s how many descendants you will have.” But it’s not just what God said; its what He did that’s worth noting here. if you look at this passage very carefully, you will notice that God took Abraham outside. I think it’s easy to read a passage like this and look right past one of the most significant points.
Imagine the scene . Abraham is holed up in his tent. In a sense he had a man – made, eight foot ceiling over his head. Then God decided to take him on a little field trip outside of that manufactured environment. He told Abraham to look up into the night sky and count the stars.
So why did God take Abraham outside? Why did He tell him to look into the night sky and count the stars? I think the answer is so obvious it alludes us. As long as Abraham was inside his tent, his vision was obscured by an eight foot ceiling. That ceiling kept the promises of God out of site. And as the old adage goes “Out of sight, out of mind” I think God wanted to remind Abraham of how big He was, so He told Abraham to go outside and do a little star gazing. I think it was God’s way of saying, “Abraham, don’t put an eight foot ceiling on what I can do”.’
How often do we put a ceiling on what God can do? We don’t have Hope because our vision (belief in God) is obscured by our problems and or sin.
When we stop looking at our problems and look at Jesus it all becomes clear. We need to get outside of our issues to see how BIG God really is. Then – suddenly – as we gaze upon Him we are filled with Hope!
Even if we can’t see God and how He is working, we can still believe in Him. Just coming out of the holiday season, Christmas is the reminder and very proof that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.
Romans 8:28 says that “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Even when we don’t see how we can have Hope in a situation or have a hard time believing that God will work it all out for the good, we can still believe and hope in God’s very character. For He has proven Himself over and over to us and is worthy of our Hope even now. Focus on that!
Below is the lyrics to the song that I based my message on that the band played last week:
Trouble came ?Broke your door ?Crushed your name ?Robbed you poor ??You feel He’s gone ?Or fast asleep ?All’s gone wrong ?You’re in too deep ??He hasn’t left you out to dry ?Even Now ?You haven’t left ?His watching eye?Even Now ?So children sing it when you don’t see how ?My Father’s worthy of my hope ?Even now ??The feeling’s gone ?You’re wondering ?If you heard Him wrong ?If he’s listening ??The same old fear ?The same old haze ?Is God not here? ?Is His hand raised? ??Could this be part of any good plan? ??Seems to be you’ve fallen out of His hand ?When you’re broken, don’t know how to mend ?Even Now ?When your tunnel’s still dark at the end ?Even Now ?His children don’t know why but trust their Father’s at their side ?So hold His hand -hold up your hope ?Even now