“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.” -Romans 15:13 (ESV)
In the letter the Apostle Paul wrote and sent to the believers in Rome, he takes time to proclaim how our God seeks to fulfill a promise He made to the patriarchs of the people of Israel. God has intended from the beginning to include in His plan of salvation, all nations, all people, all races without distinction. To the Jews at the time, all non-Jewish people were called Gentiles. This is the term Paul uses to identify all the people in the world, Jews and non-Jews. God is the source of eternal hope, life, and salvation for every person. He is the object of hope for every believer. Unlike our English. word “hope,” the New Testament word contains no uncertainty or ambiguity. This hope expresses something that is certain, but not yet realized. The believer’s eventual providence is to share in the glory of God and that hope will be realized because Christ Himself secures it (1 Timothy 1:1). It is only because of the clear and positive promises we have in the Word of God, that we believers have a sure foundation for hope. It is a hope that will not disappoint.
“For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, According as we have hoped in You.” Psalm 33:21-22 (NASB)
Psalm 33 was written to praise God as the Creator and Preserver of life. Especially our life if we have believed His word. God’s unfailing love is defined as his mercy or his lovingkindness. Another word used would be steadfast love. Can we imagine a love that is loving, kind, and steadfast? The Psalms in our Bible offers many expressions of praise to God. There are also many prayers in these songs as our verse today in an example. God’s love is eternal, it never fails. In order to experience this unfailing love, something is required on our part. We must have an attitude of expectation, of true hope. The psalmist has the request for God’s love to be upon us “according as” which is ‘even as’ or ‘according to’ the hope we have in God’s promises. Our hope is built on that which comes from what we know is true and we can expect it to happen. To experience God’s unfailing love, we need to expect Him to show it to us – then His love will cover us, it will be with us. If we constantly expect His love, we’ll constantly experience it.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” – Romans 5:1-2 (NASB)
Day to day we may not, very often, think about the grace in which we stand. Considering that grace in our lives is pretty much limited to the word “gracious” which, means kind, polite, civil, tactful, and courteous. Grace, however, is much more than politeness or civil behavior. Our promise in today’s verse is powerful because it explains what grace brings to us. Because of the grace God has for us we, who in faith believe in Jesus and His words, have been justified. Notice the “have been” there? It is past, it is a done deal. Being justified provides for us peace with God which is also by grace, our possession. We have such a possession of peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and it is through Christ we were introduced by faith into this marvelous grace. We really need to think about this deeply and frequently. It is a gift which continues to develop into more gifts from God. The last promise is hope, and hope is ours because of what God has fully done for us by grace. It a hope for which we can triumph in the glory of God.
“…so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to hold firmly to the hope set before us.” – Hebrews 6:18 (NASB)
“A promise is a promise” we say because just a promise is sometimes not enough to convince others that we are true to our word. We find the need to double down on our promise to tell the truth and not lie. This is because we and humans in general have a history of being untruthful or not fully truthful at least. So our oath when sworn in to testify in court is “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” An oath puts an end to all arguments, so there can be no argument about the expectation of truth. God promised Abraham He would make him a great nation, He then confirmed it with an oath by swearing by Himself. As heirs of the promise we know they are for us as well. When we find the promises from God and trust them – at least we should because God’s promises are underscored by two things. First is it impossible for God to lie; second, His ever truthful Word is supported by His promise sworn on Himself. We have hope in every promise of God. We can know it is real and true.
“ But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (ESV)
As adults each of us has probably experienced the loss of someone we love dearly. Our parents, a sibling, a dear friend has been called out of this world. If they are faith believers in Jesus Christ, we can know that they are with Jesus in heaven. Yet we miss them. The disciples of Jesus watched Him ascend into heaven continued to miss His presence. Grief is a natural emotion which God helps us manage. The believers in Thessalonica were concerned. The teaching of Christ Jesus’ return was brand new. The New Testament was being written by the Holy Spirit through God’s appointed servants. There was not much to go on to understand the promise of our resurrection and return of Jesus. Persecution had them worried they missed it. Paul wrote these words to them and to us so that we too can know for certain. A time comes when God will raise all who believe from the grave. Just as Jesus died and rose again, so passed loved ones will rise again by His power. If we are alive we will be caught up too. A tremendous promise, “God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep.”
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,” 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4 (ESV)
As the American holiday of Thanksgiving has just past we consider that the period for giving thanks has not. In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the believers in Thessalonica he states that he, and those with him, are in the practice of giving thanks to God always; constantly including them in prayer; and remembering their spiritual commitment. Paul mentions three characteristics of their commitment. Their work which is produced by faith in Christ; their labor which was motivated by their love of Christ; and their steadfastness, which is also endurance and faithfulness⸺inspired by a sure hope of Christ. These believers and followers of Jesus Christ were anticipating the return of God’s son from heaven. Each of these virtues found its object in Jesus. Three virtues that mark every true obedient Christian⸺faith, love, and hope. These virtues are the focus of 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter of love, but with love and hope switched in the order. One of the promises given to all believers is that God loved us and chose us for eternal life and service. Paul and friends (we know) were certain of this truth. We can be certain also if we have believed in Jesus.
“ Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:13 (ESV)
In the first chapter of 1 Peter we learn that as believers we are call to be Holy. We know the word Holy. Some of us sing songs about God being Holy. The various churches label places and artifacts as Holy. God in the Old Testament has the People of Israel build a Tabernacle for worshiping Him. In it was the Holy Place and deeper in was the Holy of Holies. Holiness is important in God’s way and revelation in the Bible tells us He expects us to live holy lives. In our verse today Peter gives us three of five ways to approach being holy. We are to prepare our minds for action. Get our thoughts in the proper order so we are to be sober-minded. This means to be in control of what goes in and what comes out. This means not to mess around with things that intoxicate our thinking and crowd out or blue the things God wants us to think about. The third is to set our hope on the promise of the grace we have and will receive when Jesus Christ is revealed. That’s an end time event we’re to be prepared for.