Psalm 33:21-22 (NLT)
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.
Hope is a difficult and dangerous thing. The thought of it is beautiful but to venture there is overwhelming. Faith in God begins when reliance on our own ability completely ends. It is compared to a mustard seed because the tiniest amount produces miraculous results. True faith comes when we become powerless. When what we are after is beyond us, yet we dare hope for it anyway. Faith in God is the only way to have confident hope. Do we really trust the Lord? Just doing what His Word tells us to do will change the productivity of our life. If a farmer plants his seed, tends his fields and waits the allotted amount of time – he will harvest something. The Word of God works the very same way. When we do what God’s Word says in complete obedience, we will have what He promises. This is not an act of faith…yet. There are many things detailed in the Bible that can be done by developing new habits and avoiding certain things that are totally possible for those with self-control. Faith is reserved for those things we hope for but cannot do for ourselves. It is reserved for the impossibles of life that are only possible with God. These are the things that require letting go of the end of our rope and plunging into complete and total dependence on the Lord. Faith is an act of courage. Hope is a dangerous endeavor.
James 1:16-18 (NLT)
So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
God’s Goodness is naturally occurring. It is built into every single day of our life. His Love will not allow Him to withhold any good thing from us. Whatever is good in our life came directly from God’s Hand. Every perfect thing is a gift flowing from the Father. The breath in our bodies is reason enough to be thankful. Every need that is met. Whatever we experience above and beyond is from the Lord. God’s Grace does not allow Him to be mad at us. He continually showers us with new mercy. Even on our worst day as a believer, we are given God’s Best. He does not lie or change His Mind, even when we do all the time with our fickle hearts. Today you are His Prized Possession. He gave everything for you to experience His Love, Grace and Mercy. The Lord paid the ultimate price for you to have all of His Blessings. We have every reason to be thankful in the moments that comprise our life. Thank you Lord for all the “good and perfect” gifts that I take for granted in a day.
Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
The only limitation to having all of God’s Promises is the amount of faith in Him that we have. His Spirit works inside of us to make more faith so that hope is a possibility. Faith is confidence in God. It is reserved for the things of God that are not naturally occurring in this world and not produced by human beings. It is for those things labeled impossible. Some of the impossibilities in our life are named as such simply by our inability to believe. Faith is the assurance that what we hope for (the things we cannot see much less accomplish) are absolutely possible with God.
Romans 5:1-5 (NLT)
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Faith makes us right in God’s Eyes. When we believe that God loves us, Jesus died for us, and lives to intercede for us even today, we have all the makings of faith. The Lord has given us His Spirit to facilitate the process of cultivating faith in our life. Again, faith in God is not evidenced by making all the right choices, going to church every Sunday, or even becoming a preacher or missionary. The power of our relationship is 100% in God’s Forgiveness that now establishes peace between us. Our faith in God is demonstrated in what we do for Him or even what we say about Him. It is our ability to stand with Him when the impossible presents itself in our life. When we cannot do anything to change our situation and when we cannot say anything that will help. It is in our complete and utter helplessness that we begin to tap in to real and genuine faith. Salvation is the first thing we could not do by ourselves. There are so many other things that hope offers as we step fully into the undeserved privilege called hope. We can confidently and joyfully share in God’s Glory by becoming His Vessel, but this is not because our life is perfect. It means that we are changed.
We can rejoice…this is the hard part of the faith building process. Our faith does not change the circumstances or consequences of life in a world filled with evil, sin and darkness. The promise is that by faith we can partner with Jesus who overcame them all. Overcome is not avoidance but a full frontal assault against anything that is contradictory to God’s Word in our life beginning with sin. The absence or avoidance of sin does not necessarily eliminate the tests and trials that we face. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God, but as the Word of God further explains – His Grace is sufficient or enough to cover it. We are the problem with faith. The inability to give up certain controls and power over our life to wait for God to manifest His Perfect Promises. Those things that are not naturally occurring in life. We must develop endurance. Endurance is not fun. It’s discipline. Like a new workout routine that kicks your butt the first few (or several) times so you just want to dissolve in a hot, sweaty mess and throw in your gym towel. Faith is working out the old man to make room for the new creation taking place. Raise your hand if you want to go through all those things that develop character all over again. I, for one, have no interest reliving my 20’s or even some of my 30’s again. As God develops our character it is through a series of refinement that is often referred to as fire. Oh, now that sounds fun. Not!
Hope will never lead to disappointment. It is always dangerous. Hope is discovered at the truest and most basic sacrifice of self. When we have done all that we can do, all that we know to do, and come up short so we decide to trust the Lord. When all of our human strength and ability is sucked out of us and all that is left is an empty and hurting shell which is when His Grace is discovered. Hope is that which cannot be produced by mankind but comes directly from the Father. We must be moved out of the way to receive such things in our life. Hope is a dangerous but worthwhile endeavor. It will cost us everything to have it all.
Job 4:3-6 (NLT)
“In the past you have encouraged many people; you have strengthened those who were weak. Your words have supported those who were falling; you encouraged those with shaky knees. But now when trouble strikes, you lose heart. You are terrified when it touches you. Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence? Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope?”
Job was a man of faith in God. The testimony of his friends concerning him gave evidence of the kind of man who he was. After all the tragedy, Job struggled with the concept of new hope. Why? Faith is a complete emptying of self to accept more of God in our human form. We must be shaken to our core to see any inadequacies of faith that may be keeping us from God’s Best in our life. Not to mention the evil lurking in the world today.
Eliphaz asked Job two questions that strike a chord in me today. 1) Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence? And 2) Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope? God is sovereign. He reigns above all other powers in Heaven and earth. His Will is perfect…I am not. We cry out to the Lord along with Hillsong, Bethel and Jesus Culture for more faith. We cry out and cry out and cry out. So the Lord responds with things that completely drain us of self, and we become confused. It is in the complete undoing of self that true and genuine faith is discovered. This kind of faith makes hope possible. My reverence for God doesn’t make me confident in me but God. When hard times come or trouble happens, it is my belief in God’s Love for me that keeps me from going under not necessarily what is happening around me. I have to trust in the Lord. This is not based on the events of the day or promise for tomorrow. It is to trust that His Love will prevail in my life no matter what occurs. To live a life of integrity will indeed produce results in our life, but it is not always that thing which produces hope. Job apparently was a good man. He was an honest person. His family and business thrived from that. I can do everything in God’s Word implicitly following all the rules but without authentic faith in God’s Love for me – it will not produce hope that benefits me beyond the realm of this life and this world.
Job 11:13-19 (NLT)
“If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you. Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free of fear. You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning. Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety. You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help.”
Today is a wonderful and miraculous day. It is the day that our son is finally deported. His port used to deliver chemotherapy to his body for the last four years will finally be removed. I am thankful. I give God all the glory because He healed our son. However, in the midst of rejoicing, there is a quietness in my soul. I am aware of the price of faith in God now. I know what it means to step into the realm of hope. The moment when the impossible is the only option. It is a heart wrenching, soul searching and life draining effort to find the smallest seed of authentic and real faith in God that allows us to enter the realm of hope. Is it worth it? Absolutely. I stand cautiously on a plateau of putting the past behind us and moving on in the future. See the problem is that I want more faith. I need confident hope. I must be prepared to fight the fight again. Climb the rough side of the mountain. Put it all on the field for all you football fans. I must be willing to pay the price which is all of me.
I read an article yesterday about a mother whose child was born with a brain tumor. The doctor told her that it was inoperable cancer and her sweet baby would die. She was devastated but had faith in God. The family took their child home but she had this thing in her that kept telling her to keep researching and seeking more advice. Doctor after doctor reviewed the little girl’s records and remarkably she seemed to get better during the process. Finally a doctor told the family he didn’t think it was cancer but benign. He ran more tests that confirmed his theory and they immediately did surgery to remove the tumor. She is alive and well today. The mother said that as she prayed she began to hope dangerously. I understand that concept. To step out on the ledge of faith taking God’s Word over man’s diagnosis and edging closer and closer hoping you don’t fall into disappointment. This is the process of faith that develops confident hope in our life. You cannot be full of faith and full of yourself at the same time. This are conflicting forces. Hope comes at the expense of what we see to what we know about God. It is to believe for the impossible even if it may cost you everything. Looking ahead, I am cautiously aware that if I want more faith. I must invest in hope. I am wary of the idea. I am stepping lightly into tomorrow holding the promise that perfect love casts out all fear. I want all that God has for me. I will pursue Him knowing His Hope never leads to disappointment even though to attain it is to step courageously ahead even when I may encounter my worst fear. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things unseen. The only way to make it is to keep our eyes on the Author and Finisher of such things. It is how we survive in the midst of each trial and thrive in the battles of life.
Lamentations 3:21-24 (NLT)
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”