Here’s Hoping…

31 Jan

Dehydration.

If you wanted to weaken the strongest man, you only need to take one thing away from him. Liquids. It doesn’t matter how naturally active he is or how much he has trained in the past, without liquid, it will only be a matter of time until he won’t even have the energy to get off the couch.

When it comes to living the Christian life, hope is a little like that. If you can take away a person’s hope, you take away their strength.

Unfortunately, while we don’t have many people trying to block our access to liquids, there are many circumstances and situations that come into our lives that make it difficult to hope, or at least, to put our hope in the right things. Because obviously, we as Christians do not merely want to be optimistic people, we want to be hopeful people, people who are putting our hope squarely where God wants us to put our hope.

And that takes some work. Peter puts it like this, “Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Did you catch that? Fix. Not let your hope drift to the grace to be brought to you. Put it there. Deliberately.

But how? How can we work on hoping in our hope?

1. Pray for a special work of the Spirit of God in your life. Daily ask God to fill you up with a knowledge of the glorious hope that you have in Christ Jesus.

2. Study Scriptures that talk about your future. When you study what the Scripture says about the future, make them relevant to your situation. Read 1 Corinthians 15 as if it were talking about your future resurrection body because it is. Imagine your body coming flying up out of the grave and being transformed instantly into a body that is so glorious even the angels say wow.

3. Fight against wrong language and ways of speaking. The Bible says don’t grieve as those who have no hope. In other words, don’t let yourself start talking and thinking like unbelievers. One example of this would be any ways of talking as if God weren’t for you. If you are a believer God is for you, He is actively seeking your good and He will accomplish it. That means when I look to the future, I should not talk as if God weren’t in the middle of my circumstances. I shouldn’t speak as if my situation were out of control.

4. Avoid preferring a lesser hope. Sometimes it seems like the greatest dream of many Christians is to get to the place in life where they don’t have to trust in God any longer. If only my bank account were so filled that I never had to think about money, then I would be confident. Well, that would be nice but is that really better than having the sovereign God of the universe make a promise to you that if you seek first his kingdom he will provide for you in the ways you need most? I am guessing it would be nice to drive a BMW but is that really worth as many thoughts and as much excitement as standing before God on judgment day and having him say that you are holy, blameless and above reproach?

5. Memorize and meditate on relevant promises of God. Think of God’s promises like fruit that is hanging on the top of a tree and just because the fruit doesn’t fall down the first time you shake the tree doesn’t mean you should stop, keep on shaking that tree until the fruit falls down and you can enjoy it.

6. Avoid continuous association with hopeless people as much as possible. There are some people who are walking minus signs. And certainly you should love them and try to encourage them, but you don’t want to be mentored by them. Unfortunately sometimes we aren’t on our guard and so we are spending time with people who really aren’t thinking biblically or talking biblically, instead while they might call themselves Christians, they are really looking at life like someone who doesn’t believe in God. Watch out. These kind of people can siphon the hope right out of your gas tank without you even realizing what is happening at first.

7. Spend time with hope filled people. The Bible talks about encouraging one another day after day. If you meet someone who really is placing his hope in the right place, get to know that person. Listen to the way they talk. Imitate the way they live. How do you heat up a coal? Place it in with other hot coals and the same can be true spiritually, you want to heat up your hope, develop deep relationships with people who are fired up for the return of Christ.

8. Read biographies of hope filled people. What passes as normal Christianity isn’t always normal Christianity. It is fun to read biographies and to see normal Christianity. Sometimes you read a story and you think man, what if someone lived like this today? There are definitely churches where they would get in trouble for what? Putting their hope in the right place! It is helpful as well to read biographies that present the real story and not just so glorified “Hollywood” version where everything is easy. It helps your hope to realize that great saints sometimes struggled to have hope. You begin to realize there are ups and downs to the Christian life, you get your expectations straight, it enables you to keep fighting for hope because you realize you are not the first one who had to fight for it.

9. Learn to take charge of your thoughts. What if your real problem isn’t what you think your real problem is? What if the real problem is not so much your circumstances as it is the way you are thinking about your circumstances? When you are beginning to become discouraged it can be so difficult to believe that, but begin asking yourself what would be a different way of thinking about this situation? How would I be thinking if I believe God were in control? If I believed God loved me so much He sent His Son to die in my place? If God was using this difficult situation for my good? And then consciously and deliberately seek to think that way and recognize that other thoughts are not based on reality.

10. Attempt to organize your life according to your hope. Sit down and say, o.k. I believe in heaven, I believe I am going to stand before God one day, I believe that Jesus is coming back, I believe that eternity is what matters most, I believe that God will reward acts of faith, how should that impact me today? How should that impact my choices? Scary? Yes, sure, but look, if you start actually deliberately making choices on the basis of those realities, and “storing up treasures in heaven” you know what is going to happen, your heart is going to follow. You know why so many people who say they believe in heaven aren’t really hoping in heaven but instead hoping in the things of this life, it is because that is where they are spending all their time and money and energy storing up treasures. Your heart will follow your treasures, so start putting your treasures in the right place!

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One Response to “Here’s Hoping…”

  1. Tommie January 31, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    Just loved it a lot to think about, seems your ill health last week had a silver linning.

    I’ll keep shaking that tree.

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