Bible Faith Fellowship: Substance Over Form

My Hope is in Jesus

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Barry Johnson

My Hope is in Jesus My Hope is in Jesus

Date 2010-07-25
Series  
Sub-series  
Document (PDF) BFF-07252010-MyHopeIsInJesus.pdf
Call to Worship
Lamentations 3:22-24
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I hope in Him.’

Message

Last week, the Holy Spirit+ engaged us in a study and reminder that God is perfect in all of His ways, and this week, the Holy Spirit is engaging us in a study and reflection on what it means to grow up into a life and death of hope in Jesus, who is perfect in all of His ways.

You may wonder what the Beaufort Water Festival has to do with God’s perfection (His perfection means he never “grew up”, as such) and our own growing up. Let me try to explain that it has to do with the issue of hope. When I attended the first Beaufort Water Festival, I was about nine years old, and I longed for enjoying the water, and water activities, and I marveled at the skill of the water skiers in their jumps, and pyramids and especially at the 70-year old man who skied barefoot. Now, Beaufort is completing the 55th Water Festival. The whole thing was exciting and each year we looked forward to the next year’s event. It has been a long time since I was excited to look forward to the Water Festival each year and now, I don’t look forward to it, although I know that many people do, and that is okay.

In reflecting on that this week, I have been focusing on what it means to look forward to something, to hope it will happen, and maybe to happen again. What I realized is that I have been reflecting this week on the meaning of “hope”. And I have realized that, while the meaning of “hope” has not much changed in my life, the objects of hope have considerably changed. I suspect, not just about the Water Festival, but about so many other things, you, too, may see that what you focus on hoping for has changed over the years: from that shiny new bicycle to that car that could be fixed up to run okay, to those new shoes that might make you a better basketball player, to that perfect relationship, or whatever those hopes might have been in your life. These changes in the objects of hope, for Christians, reflect a change of focus from the physical things of this world into the issues and relationships of love, which expand quickly into wrestling with God and the meaning of His love.

Yes, there is a level on which it is sad that one no longer hopes for what he or she once so much hoped for in younger days. But, depending on what one hopes for now, there may be much encouragement, even excitement, in reflecting on the changes in the nature of your hopes and the objects of them. So I invite you to journey with me today to reflect on the changes in the nature of your hopes and the objects of your hopes.

It is apparent to me that Hope is the energy in Christian maturity, and it is a renewable energy:

  1. Hope is found only in coming to the knowledge of the truth of life (see I Timothy 2: 4), which was something that I could not do when I was but a child of nine years, at my fist Beaufort Water Festival, and for quite some time thereafter.
  2. And part of that truth is gaining the knowledge that, as King David said, Psalm 22: 6, “I am but a worm”, and Job said the same thing, Job 25:6, and thus gaining the knowledge that I deserve nothing special at all, not even a Water Festival, on my own.
  3. So the foundation of my personality, of my self-ness must become humility, because “I am just a worm”, as I mature in my knowledge of the truth of life.
  4. I say “humility”, because nothing produces embarrassment and humility more than sin, especially when you have come to know better, and are struggling with self-discipline. You see, humility and repentance are companions—each energizes the other: the more I repent the more humble I become, and the more humble I have become, the more sensitive I am to my sin and thus the more repentant I am in my heart.
  5. As we mature in humility and repentance, we see that our hope, really, is only in the Savior of Israel, Jesus, the Messiah (Jeremiah 14:8; I Timothy 2:4). And this hope is not something in our maturity that is merely abstract or casual, but is real and consuming, taking up much of the active thoughts of our mind and the serious meditations of our hearts. Yield to it and, Hebrews 6: 19-20, let it be an anchor of your soul, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forevere according to the order of Melchizedek.”
  6. And as our hopes have changed from the things of this world into Jesus, we are crushed with the enormity of His mercy and love, and His resulting sacrifice for such a worm as me. And this knowledge of the truth of life, and the hope in Jesus we come to live in and for, greatly increases our humility. Again, this is part of the renewable energy of our faith, this cycle of greater and greater appreciation of the things of God, of Jesus Himself, increases our hope and increases it again and again and more and more, and that increase drives, energetically, our humility into greater and greater humility. But this is not inert, or inept or impotent humility. The world perceives of humility as weakness. But, no, Christian humility is not abject weakness, no, not that kind of ineptness, because it has all that renewed and renewable energy stored up in our humility. This energy gets released from the battery of our humility, even at times as an explosion, in a meekness which is simply strength and courage disciplined to obedience, as described in I Peter 3: 15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear . . . .” In this humility, this meekness, we are vigorous and energetic defenders of the hope in Jesus whom we have chosen to believe, and thus in our meekness, we are defenders of the faith. That is no doormat to the world, even though we, in that humility are disciplined to share eagerly in the sufferings of Christ.

Today, I ask you to consider your journey from childish things to manly things, to mature things. Where are you on the path to putting away childish things in your hopes? If your self-examination shows you that you are behind the curve, not where you should be measured in God’s standards and timing, then my offer to you is to go through the 6 steps described above: First and foundationally, get real focused on increasing your knowledge of the truth of Jesus, the truth of life, and I assure you that, out of that search, that quest, you will find your self humbled and repentant and that will energize your hope -- and from then on your alternator and battery will stay business – humility and hope – renewing spiritual energy which you will expend as defenders of that hope.

And throughout you will be increasingly encouraged, and your faith will grow and grow in maturity. Take great heart in the message of Romans 5: 1, 5, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God . . . . Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Be mindful of the declaration of St. Peter, I Peter 1: 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled (not even by ourselves and our own sin and sin nature) and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” You see, that power of God which keeps us is the source of our renewable energy to be defenders of our Hope in Jesus Christ, defenders of the faith, even through the power of death (Hebrews 2: 14) of the enemy, into the power of resurrection! It takes perseverance, however, and in this I both encourage and admonish you: Hebrews 3:6, “. . . Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence (is not that which hope is built upon, confidence?) and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” So, run your lives hard and finish your lives strong. Hold your hope in Jesus, and you will not be disappointed, and neither will Jesus!!

God bless you and Amen+