Friday, January 3, 2014

Hope for the New Year

The beginning of the Gospel of Luke we are introduced to many whose lives were characterized by hope; Zacharias and Elizabeth had hope of a child promised to them in old age. Mary and Joseph had hope special child being born to them through the power of the Holy Spirit and not of Joseph. The shepherd’s had hope that they would find the baby as promised to them. Simeon had the hope of a promise that he would see the salvation of the Lord before he died. Lastly, Anna’s life was marked by hope as she served God fasting night and day waiting for the redemption of Israel.

Hope is actually a characteristic of God Himself. In Romans 15:13 He is called the God of Hope who is able to fill us “with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The apostle Paul also describes the Lord Jesus Christ as our hope in 1 Timothy 1:1. He reminds us in Ephesians 2:12 that we “were once without hope and without God in the world.” But now we have a hope that is connected to the Man in the Glory. Hebrews 6:13-20 instructs us, “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all disputes. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 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 forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

The anchor is one of many symbols that were found in the catacombs of the early Christians. The anchor was one of the major symbols for Christianity in the early church. It wasn’t until the day of Constantine that the cross became one of the major Christian symbols. There were actually at least 66 different types of anchors found drawn in the catacombs, many of them formed a cross with the stock of the anchor.

The Anchor for each of us is an anchor of the soul. The soul is the seat of our emotions. Our emotions can run all over the place. Our emotions can cause us to doubt, to fear, and to hurt. We need to remember that for us is found a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the forerunner who has entered into the Presence and is now there on our behalf. No wonder Paul said in Colossians 1:5 that our hope is laid up for us in Heaven, where the Lord Himself is. The word forerunner has the idea of a precursor, one who goes in advance, sent before to prepare the way. I have read that it has the idea of a little ship entering into the harbor pulling a much bigger ship behind it. We are anchored to One who has gone ahead to prepare the way. His presence on Calvary’s cross prepared us for the place and His presence there prepares the place for us (John 14:6). 

There are three things about this Anchor that we should notice:

1. It is sure. It cannot break. This is connected to the strong consolation or comfort that we have. Our anchor is safe, it is firm, it is certain!

2. It is steadfast, meaning that it cannot slip which connects to the unchanging character of our hope. It is fixed and settled.

3. It is secure. This is connected to where our hope is and what He is doing for us there.

Now let’s go back to the verse in Romans 15:13 to see what is being connected to the God of Hope and how should that impact us as we begin a New Year?

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I see four ways being connected to the God of hope should impact my life:

1. As the God of Hope He desires to fill my life with joy. The Lord Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” Paul said that we ought to be characterized by “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer (Romans 12:12). 

2. The God of Hope also wants me to enjoy His peace in my life. He is also called the God of Peace (Rom. 15:33, 16:20). We have peace with God because of the finished work of the Lord Jesus (Romans 5:1-3), but He wants us to experience His peace every day! We read this in Philippians 4:4-9, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

3. The God of Hope wants me to abound in that hope! This word abound means to over flow or to bubble over. The God of Hope desires that His hope would overflow and characterize my life.

4. This is all done in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I would like to suggest one more thing that happens when I am connected and occupied with the God of Hope. It is found in Titus 2:13, “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” The hope that we have based on what Christ has accomplished on the cross ought to affect us now as we pass through the storms on life’s sea. It should also point us to the safe harbor that awaits each and every Blood bought child of God!

Think of HOPE this way:

Heals the hurt and helps the worry about the future.
Only trust Him Psalm 42:5, 11, 43:5 encourage us to hope in God.
Prayer brings Peace (Philippians 4:4-9).
Enter often into His Presence and expect Him to work!

A New Year is like an ocean. There will be untested winds and waves. We'll meet ships we never knew and we'll have all kinds of opportunities as we sail into an uncharted sea. In our quest to discover the good life this year, we must be careful that we do not drift into an aimless life. The worst thing that could happen to us this coming year is that we just let this year happen to us rather than charting a course and getting into God's appointed harbor. More than likely, you won't decide to drift. It'll just happen. You'll be coasting along at a good clip, and then before you know it you're drifting away . . . that is, unless you have an anchor. 

Take a few minutes to reflect on this past year. What were some things you did right... what were some things you would do differently this next year?

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