Hope is a vital part of life. In this segment of our summer series on the Holy Spirit, Seth explores how the Holy Spirit fuels our hope by giving us a vision of God’s plan for the world and by empowering us to take action towards bringing that plan into reality.
Jesus came to offer lavish gifts to humanity. He offers forgiveness of sins, a fresh start, and eternal life. He offers a personal relationship to each of us. To those who accept his invitation, he offers the Church – a body of believers who will encourage one another, pour out their gifts for one another, and who corporately offer themselves in love and service to the surrounding community. He promises that the world will one day be restored to his original intentions. Finally, Jesus promises that there will never again be anything standing between a believer and God. All of these gifts and promises form the foundation of our hope.
Hope is a vital part of human existence. It consists of two components: vision and action. A vision is a picture of the future that produces passion and commitment in people. Vision engages the imagination and creates “What if…?” people. WHC is housed in a building that used to sell supplies for home improvement. But then a small group of people looked at that home improvement store and said “What if…?” Their vision was eventually met with action. They took steps to bring it into reality. Now WHC is housed in a building that has hosted weddings and funerals. It has been a place where people connect, and where lives have been transformed. It’s been the location where many have been introduced to a more beautiful, hope-filled picture of God.
God has a plan to accomplish his hope for humanity. His plan is to use the Church, equipped with the vision and power of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus took his place at the right hand of the Father, the job of realizing God’s plan for our world was delegated to us. But before Jesus left, he gave us the Holy Spirit. This was his earnest promise that even though Jesus isn’t here in flesh, the Spirit is our reminder and hope that Jesus hasn’t abandoned us. He hasn’t abandoned this project, this hope, and he’ll always be with us.
Yet even with this gift of the Holy Spirit, believers sometimes feel a lack of hope in their lives. What can you do when you start to lose hope? First remember that hope is like a muscle – it can be grown and developed. Then consider taking these four steps towards building your hope:
1. Look back. Remember the ways God has been faithful in your own life and look back through Scripture at ways God has worked in and through humanity.
2. Look to others. This is why the community of the church is so important. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we can borrow the faith and hope of others when we’re feeling depleted.
3. Ask God for a fresh vision. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with fresh vision of what he wants to accomplish in and around you.
4. Take a step. Determine what the first step is towards fulfilling that vision and get busy moving in that direction.
Remember that God’s story is still unfolding. His work, and our work, is not yet done. We can hold to the hope that because of what God has done in Christ, the best is yet to come.
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One thought on “The Hope of the Hope of the World”
Seth’s message raises numerous paths of thought in relation to hope or, should we say True Hope.
At Creation, mankind had an assured future but conditional on not eating of the tree of good and evil with his vocation and mandate established at that time.
However, at the Fall, mankind rejected God and rejected His plan for his own plans; either knowingly or unknowingly. So Fallen mankind without Hope is hopeless; notwithstanding any short or long term goals that he may set. Indeed there have been (and are) many kings, rulers and leaders over the ages that have hoped to establish their own ‘kingdoms’ just as we have in our fallen state. However, it is only God’s plans that will succeed with all these other ‘kingdoms’ including Satan’s that will come to nothing and be destroyed if they haven’t already through history.
This aspect of Hope is underlined by Paul who mentions to the Gentiles (Eph 2:12) that they were,
‘alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.’
And, also in 1 Thess 4:13,
‘that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.’
This effectively separates True Hope from fallen mankind’s hope.
The basis for a believer’s hope is evidenced (amongst others) by the following scripture coming from Jeremiah (29:11) the prophet saying,
‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’
Under covenant, Israel with all its powers, could make its own future ie its own hope, but it would not succeed and suffer by breaking the covenant….that effectively is no less the case for all mankind. So True Hope cannot originate in man by an emotional attitude to God’s history but must be a gift from God. In this regard we find Paul saying (2 Thess 2:16),
‘Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace’
True Hope is a gift that comes with eternal comfort not through our own efforts but by grace. And linking this with the Holy Spirit (the source of gifts) in Seth’s message, Romans 15:13,
‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.’
As I mentioned earlier there are many threads that come from Hope in scriptures including,
Eternal life – Titus 1:2 ‘… in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began.’
Glory – Romans 5:2 ‘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.’
Inheritance – Colossians 1:5 – ‘because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel’
These aspects of Hope and others are not unsurprising as our Hope is in the outworking of God’s plans. So every element of those plans whether directly or indirectly are related to Hope and, like other gifts, are only effective through use or, as Seth indicates, taking action to outwork God’s plans.