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The Promise of Hope -- Hope Redeemed
by Bobby Bruno
1/04/2013 / Christian Living
All of your life you have put your hope in something. But was it the right thing? Was it something that would last throughout your entire life? In Jesus Christ, God revealed a hope that would last not only through your earthly life, but your eternal one as well. Now that this Hope has been revealed and proclaimed over all the earth since the birth of the Savior to Mary and Joseph, God is calling all of those who would hear His voice to come to Jesus and to find the saving hope that will never fail or fade, no matter where in life you seem to be standing.
You may be asking yourself, "I know that life will throw many things at me that may cause me to lose my hope. But even though Jesus gives me His hope, how do I hang on to it? Is there a way for me to make this hope a permanent, constant residence in my life?" The answer will always be "yes". Once that hope was revealed, Jesus gave us ways through His Word to keep it burning and alive. Always know that, if Jesus is the author of your hope, it can never die, for Jesus gives us the kind of life that death of any kind can have no hold on. Let's see how Jesus makes our hope in Him thrive now that it has been redeemed by the Savior.
How do I keep hope alive during my walk with Jesus?
Okay, you now have this hope in Jesus Christ and that, no matter what you do on this Earth, you will be with Him in Heaven when you die. Most of the world doesn't believe this and so, as the world ever does daily, will try and tear you away from the truth of Jesus to believe the lie that you don't need a Savior; all you really need is yourself because you alone are a god within yourself. As you get to know Jesus more by reading the Bible, you will find that the world's "truth" is hogwash. If all people were gods then why haven't we yet solved all the world's problems?
Below are the ways to keep your hope in Jesus alive no matter what the world throws at you. These ways are foreign to the world because they make you look inside yourself to see what changes have to be made. The world doesn't believe that it has to change, even though our hypocritical world will tell you that it needs to change, yet doesn't nothing about it.
The first step to keeping your hope in Jesus alive is by forgetting the past and striving towards what is ahead. Now, we all know how hard it is to forget the past, especially if we have been hurt or abused in some way during the early portions of our lives. On our own, forgetting those painful memories can be near impossible because we don't know how to understand what happened, and we don't really have the power within ourselves to do so. But Jesus Christ does. Only in His power can we understand and get passed the painful stuff to where our hearts and souls can heal and find peace. Jesus will give us His power and then guide us over to the other side of our pain where we can be free from the effects of the hurt or abuse forever.
In my own life, I had been sexually abused at 5-7 years of age and lived with those effects until I gave my life to Jesus when I was 39. Before I turned over my life to Jesus, I attempted suicide five times without success, never realizing until later that it was because Jesus didn't want me to die just yet. My death was now in His hands and out of mine. Jesus gave me the hope I have today at 54. I never would have made it this far if it hadn't been for Jesus taking over my life. Where I once felt that I had no hope, hope was placed within me by simply making Jesus my Lord and Savior. The hope that began in me 14 years ago has not abated even a little, because I know that Jesus is in complete control of my life. Now, as Paul says in the scripture below, I look ahead at the future with the eyes of Christ, glorious and sure.
In Philippians 3:12-14, the Apostle Paul states with joy and confidence, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
After many years of following Jesus, and seeing how well He took care of him, Paul knew that he didn't have to look back to the past because it no longer existed for him. All of the horrors he committed, and all of the people he put to death for being a Christian, was forgotten by Jesus ("As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us" (Ps 103:12 /AMP)), so Paul could forget them, too, and press on to the future that Jesus had given him to live. No, Paul had not learned everything there is to know about Jesus (and neither will we in this lifetime), but he knows that what he has learned so far is sufficient enough to carry him into the future that Jesus Himself has made for him. Jesus can do the same for you. If you are not yet a born again, true believer in Jesus, then I ask you to find someone who is and ask them about the hope they have. I just know you won't be disappointed.
The next step in keeping your hope in Christ alive is by denying yourself whatever is potentially harmful to your hope. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, the Apostle Paul asks us a valid question about how this Christian life is played out: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."
Paul decided that he was not going to do anything that would hinder him from doing the will of God. In these verses, he shows us that living the Christian life is like running a marathon of which there can only be one winner. Only one person can be crowned the champion at the end of any physical contest. The only problem with being the winner is that you will be celebrated as the victor only until a new champion is crowned in next year's race. But, what Paul is telling us is, when we finish our race with Jesus, He will crown us with crowns that will never rust, chip, or be given to anybody else. These crowns are ours to keep for all of eternity, unless we place them at the feet of Jesus, the only true King in God's entire Kingdom.
But does Paul enter this race without training? No, he does not. Paul's referring to beating his body means that he does not do anything with his physical body and does not let into his mind anything that would divert him away from hearing God's voice and from doing God's will. He does not train by exclusively reading works of fiction or watching endless TV shows that bring no learning of God to his life. Paul trains the way a marathon runner would, by running miles and miles (the reading and re-reading of Scriptures) to get his body into the shape it needs to stay healthy so he can finish the task that God had given him to do. In this way, Paul cannot be disqualified from the race even if he doesn't win. His endless pursuit of God keeps him from doing things that may get him disqualified, like those who use anabolic steroids to strengthen their muscles unnaturally, giving them an edge over those who are weaker in size and strength.
This is where Paul's hope comes from -- remembering what it takes to keep that hope alive. Paul knows that only Jesus can give him all he needs to accomplish all that God has called him to do. Paul's hope is in the fact that he is promised a crown for finishing the race, not as a cheater, but as an honest, truthful man who followed God and did what was right and stayed away from doing what was wrong, to get the win, the victory, and the crown. Paul is telling us that we must make our bodies slaves to God and not do anything to them that would make us the master of our flesh again.
By enduring hardship like a soldier, and by not getting involved in worldly affairs.
Hope is a powerful thing, but we must make sure that we keep that hope wrapped up in God and not the pleasures and trappings of this world. Too many people allow themselves to let their hope be wrapped up in a person, a job, a relationship, and so on. How many times have you heard someone say that they have placed all of their hope in something that you, and they, knew would fail them in the end? You hear things like, "I just hope I get this job," or "I hope he leaves his wife soon so we can be happy together." A favorite of mine is when contestants on these singing shows say, with tears in their eyes, "If I don't win then I don't know what I will do. This is my whole life, I can't dream of ever doing anything else. I just have to win or I'll just die." This kind of hoping is not hoping at all; it is wishful thinking.
Don't let the world tell you how to live and how to think. There are too many people going around spouting wrong ideas and philosophies. Always assume that a person, most times, talks about a subject without really knowing the subject. One fact does not make a story, even if that fact is the truth. The world is a fallen place full of sin and evil. If the World knew how to fix its problems then don't you think it would have solved them all by now? Stay away from the world's philosophies, facts, and ideas. If they were not given to them by God, then these things cannot be true. Like a soldier trains and trains until his body and mind are centered on the one singular focus it needs to be focused on, we also need to focus on God and His word, the Bible. Only in this way can we know when something we hear is coming from the world, or from Almighty God Himself.
By following Jesus' rules as an athlete must do in order to win the race
Everything that requires fair play has rules. It doesn't matter how strong your muscles are; it doesn't matter how much knowledge you have about the sport; it doesn't even matter if you are destined to win the race. What matters is if you will play by the rules. Break just one little bit of any rule and your journey is over. You lose. You are disqualified from not only that race, but, just maybe, from ever competing in any race ever again for the rest of your life.
In 2 Timothy 2:1-10, the Apostle Paul tells Timothy why we need to follow the rules set down by God, not only in fair play, but in all of life. Notice the hope that Paul has even though he is suffering for proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. "You then, Timothy, my child, be strong in the grace we have in Christ Jesus. You should teach people whom you can trust the things you and many others have heard me say. Then they will be able to teach others. Share in the troubles we have like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. A soldier wants to please the enlisting officer, so no one serving in the army wastes time with everyday matters. Also an athlete who takes part in a contest must obey all the rules in order to win. The farmer who works hard should be the first person to get some of the food that was grown. Think about what I am saying, because the Lord will give you the ability to understand everything. Remember Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead, who is from the family of David. This is the Good News I preach, and I am suffering because of it to the point of being bound with chains like a criminal. But God's teaching is not in chains. So I patiently accept all these troubles so that those whom God has chosen can have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. With that salvation comes glory that never ends" (NCV).
Can you see and feel the hope that Paul is proclaiming in his statements to Timothy above? Paul boils all he is saying down to two major facts in these verses. First, he is saying in verse seven above that it is the Lord who gives us to ability to understand everything. The word "everything" includes your good days, your bad days, your days of suffering, and your days of joy and peace. In verse ten above, Paul patiently accepts all the troubles he finds himself in when he proclaims the gospel of Christ because he has the hope of Christ's salvation that was promised to him when he gave his life over to Jesus' purpose for it.
Paul never put his hope in anyone other than Jesus. Paul knew that pleasing Jesus was the only way to true happiness and joy and states why in verses three through six, reminding us that, to win, you must stay focused on Jesus. Like a farmer who gets to eat the fruits of his labor, a follower of Jesus gets to enjoy the fruits of His labor in taking our sins upon Himself and leaving us to feel His joy in return. We have the same feeling when we lead someone to salvation in Jesus Christ. We, along with all of Heaven, get to feel the excitement and joy of another person who has been saved by the blood of the Lamb. In this, we have the hope of not only a better life for ourselves, but a better life for all of those Jesus helps us lead to His salvation. Think of all the joy we bring to others and ourselves when we proclaim the hope that Jesus gives us in Him. There is no greater joy, and there is no better hope, than what we find when we give our entire lives up to Christ for His purposes.
How do I keep my hope strong: By trusting in Jesus, my hope will continually overflow.
Keeping hope alive in your life is not difficult to do. What makes it difficult to do is when we try to find hope where it doesn't exist. As was stated above, you can't acquire hope from another person, since we always let each other down at times; hope doesn't come from a bottle, a pill, a pornography website, the car or house you've always dreamed of owning, and the list is endless. Hope can only come from one place and that is God. God is the author of hope and only His hope is true hope. It is the kind of hope that you can count on to be there whenever you need it. With God, you will never have to say "I hope God will save me if I give Jesus my life for His keeping." If God said He will save you if you believe in Him, then that is exactly what He will do for you.
The Apostle Paul prayed for the Romans in his letter to them that, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom 15:13). Notice that joy and peace will reign in you if you trust in God for your hope. You see, true hope that comes from a credible source will bring peace and joy into your life as you rest in that hope. If you want to overflow with the kind of hope that will never fail you, seek God's hope, and then rest in it. No matter what happens in your life, if you hang onto to God's strong hope, then you will never know despair, frustration, worry, or anything else that will try to steal your joy and peace. The more you trust in God's promises to save you and take you to Heaven when you die and to help you live your life the right way, the more your hope overflows into every part of your life. Your hope in God will be seen by all around you so that you will "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15).
Remember to always look to God for the hope that you need to live joyfully and peacefully. Don't look to the world around you for it they're looking for it, too, and when you have it from God, you can then show them where to find it. Trust God for everything you need to live a happy life. God gives us true hope where the world has none to give. A hopeless life is an empty life full of confusion and despair. Jesus lived a life full of hope even though He was to die on purpose at a young age. His hope in God brought Him from life to death to life again. God's hope can do the same for you. Rest in it, live in it, enjoy it.
Coming Next What is Love? The World's Point-of-View
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION . Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved."
Scripture marked (NCV) is quoted from The Holy Bible, New Century Version. Copyright 1987, 1988, 1991 by Word Publishing, Dallas, Texas 75039. Used by permission.
Scriptures marked (AMP) taken from the Holy Bible: Amplified Version. Copyright 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987. Used by permission of The Lockman Foundation. Database 2008 WORDsearch Corp.
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.
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