Advent is the Season of Hope — usually. Advent 2020 not so much. Well, maybe. There are two kinds of hope: “hopeful” hope — like, “I hope it doesn’t snow up north so I can go to Grand Canyon for Christmas.” Then there’s “confident” hope — which is the one God gives us through a relationship with Jesus. You can have both. Or you can lack both. If you lack both, then you’re living in a state of hopelessness which is not good.
It all stems from what you base your hope in…
We could have hope in…
- a vaccine
- the government
- the economy
- a political party or group
- anything in this world
We could have hope in…
- Our salvation
- Our 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven
- That this world is not all there is
- That God is still in control
The Six Steps of Hope
The Wall Street Journal published an article recently titled, “Finding Hope When Everything Feels Hopeless.” The writer suggests these steps:
- Define areas where we need hope.
- Read history to discover ways people have overcome challenges in the past.
- Imagine our preferred future and identify steps to make it happen.
- Take small steps by setting one goal for the week.
- Use hopeful language.
- Share our goals and hope with others.
These are obviously helpful suggestions. Here’s the bad news: humans cannot change human nature. Here’s the good news: Jesus can.
Jesus turned a fearful fisherman into the courageous preacher of Pentecost (Peter). He transformed a persecutor of Christians into the greatest missionary and theologian in Christian history (Paul). He brought hope to an exiled apostle on Patmos (John). He can bring hope to your heart today.
The problem is, many Christians do not experience Jesus as personally as we should. Many are Christians in the same sense they could be Muslims, Buddhists, or Hindus (and Catholics)—believing in God or the gods, affirming a set of beliefs, practicing religious routines, and assuming their faith will produce good results in their lives. But Muslims, Buddhists, (Catholics) and Hindus do not expect to experience a living, life-changing, personal Lord.
What makes Christianity different is Christ.Jim Denison, Denison Forum
One of the benefits that a born-again Christian believer has is a personal relationship with Jesus — God himself. You can call on God directly and He’ll hear you. Through the Holy Spirit in your heart you can feel Him, too!
Here’s the difference between Christianity and other religions….
[In] Hinduism, none may pray except the Brahmins! A millionaire merchant of any other caste must get a Brahmin–often a mere boy at school!–to say his prayers for him. The [Muslim] cannot pray unless he has learned a few phrases in Arabic, for his “god” only hears prayers offered in what they believe to be the holy language. Praise be to God, no such restrictions of caste or language stand between us and our God. Can any man, therefore, pray?The Kneeling Christian, Author Unknown
Hope in the Future
No matter who wins the presidential election in the U.S., God is still in control. If the vaccines work or not, God is still in control. If the economy turns around after the vaccines are out and people get their jobs back or not, God is still in control.
Reading through the Book of Psalms helps tremendously. Just search online or on one of the free Bible apps for the word “hope” and you’ll get plenty of helpful, uplifting passages in both the Old and New Testaments. Here are some from the Psalms.
Why am I discouraged?Psalm 42:5-6 NLT
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and 6 my God!
He alone is my rock and my salvation,Psalm 62:2
my fortress where I will never be shaken.
Paul told us — and this is the passage that got me through 2 years of unemployment! —
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.Romans 5:3-5 NIV
How do You Obtain Confident Hope?
By studying the Bible — God’s Word — daily. Not just reading it — studying it and applying it to your lives. The more you study it and get to know God, the more solid your hope and trust will be.
Jesus himself told us….
24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”Matthew 7:24-27 NLT
Jesus told us…
26 “But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. 27 What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!
28 “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.Matthew 10:26-31 NLT
What does it Mean to “Fear God”?
It doesn’t mean that we are afraid of God. No, it means we respect Him. We obey and honor Him. We recognize the fact that He created the world and us and He is all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, and is in control!
It may not seem that way when you look at all the evil and corruption there is in the world. That’s because God is allowing Satan to rule the earth. However, be assured, that God wins in the end — we know that because God gave us a sneak peak in the Book of Revelation.
Confidence in Salvation
Also, it really helps if you are confident in your salvation. Personally, I know that no matter what happens with the virus or the presidential election, that when the Rapture happens and Jesus calls all the born-again believers to be with Him in Heaven, I’ll be there. If I die before that, I also know that I’ll be in Heaven with Jesus the moment I take my last breath here on earth.
That’s an Unshakeable, Confident Hope!
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven and that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…