Prisoner of Hope

Prisoner of Hope

Hebrews 6:17-20 (NKJV) 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.

 

Yesterday, I received a wonderful gift in the mail along with a small package wrapped in shiny paper with a bow. It was a packet of pictures from my grandmother’s 90th birthday party with a note “didn’t want to make you cry but knew you would want these.” How true! They are a treasure. As I looked at her smile as she is surrounded by her children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren – I cannot believe more than ten years have passed. I am just a couple of days from turning 50 years old myself and Gram would be 100 years old right now. I miss her today but not rob her the beauty and blessing of being with her Savior where she longed to be worshipping with her husband of 70 years on earth.

 

Among the pictures of my grandmother, there were some pictures of our kids. The little guy who would defend his country as an American soldier. The other little man who would battle a relentless disease before stepping into remission. The sweet little girl who would marry her prince riding off to a faraway place to win souls for Jesus Christ. The cute little beauty with her smiling face who has somehow blossomed into a radiant and godly young woman who will soon graduate high school to pursue with a passion the purpose hidden in her heart. And finally the baby who is not a baby anymore. I can feel her soft curls on my face, taste her chubby cheeks on my lips and feel the warmth of her little body falling asleep in my arms. She is now a teenager, too. Time passes too quickly. I am a bit nostalgic looking back over time. I have no shame or regret other than not falling in love with Jesus sooner and living for Him sooner. The passage of time brings tears to our eyes but for those who live in hope – it brings double.

 

The hope that anchors my soul is forged by fire into iron. Years of testing and trying have revealed it to be strong and immovable when I attach my life to it. The words regarding hope are “sure and steadfast”. It requires making an entrance into “the Presence behind the veil” to encounter Jesus. This morning as I pondered the fact that Gram would be double my age, I consider the place she is now. As I turn 50, I cannot help but ponder the future and hope of the next 50 years of my life or how ever there may be. What’s next? God says, “Double.” What? “It’s time for double for your trouble.” “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.” I am heir to a promise. The Lord has made an oath to me. In covenant with Jesus, it belongs to me. If I can find my way to hope, I will have it. No one can take it from me, if I refuse to let go. The Lord wants me to have strong consolation. Such a big word that means comfort and peace. Hope is the very thing that anchors our soul to the abundance of life that Jesus promised us.

 

John 10:10 (NKJV) The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

To every young person who is reading this today, your failure is not fatal and falling is not futile. Everyone makes mistakes and there is enough mercy to cover it by choosing to live in covenant with Jesus Christ. Put down the stick you are beating yourself with called guilt, shame and the worst of all regret. The Lord knows our plan and purpose along with every fault and weakness that we have. He has given us His Spirit as our advocate. He identifies us as Sons and Daughters of God giving us access directly into the Presence of God. Jesus came to give us life AND that we might have it abundantly. We obtain it be faith which is the substance or material evidence of hope. When we discover the hope that we have in Jesus, we become like prisoners who cannot be free outside of its full potential. We know that there is more so will endure to have it.

 

Zechariah 9:11-12 (NKJV) “As for you also, because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.”

 

During our son’s battle with cancer, I had to step into the realm of hope to survive because the reality of life surely would have killed me. In essence, I slowly but surely retreated into the Stronghold and Refuge called God. Only those who have had to go there understand this and even to those of us who do – it doesn’t always make sense. When life gets too hard is the moment people seek someone greater than themselves to give them hope and peace. For me, it was Jesus. It had to be the Lord. Naturally, it felt like I was losing everything. Time was passing by so quickly like wind through the pages of an open book. Treatment after treatment followed by diagnosis after diagnosis made the clock spin faster but the world did not wait for my son to win but rather took years of time that I cannot get back. I was exactly where I wanted to be, needed to be, and longed to be yet feeling like the price was so high and cost great. When one child crossed the finish line, another bird would fly from the nest. Lord, redeem my time. I prayed this so many times. His Answer just four short months after her beautiful wedding, our daughter would move 21 hours away. Lord, this is not the life I expected. This is not how your Word said that it would be. Where is the abundance of peace and joy that you promised? Where is the satisfaction? Yet in those moments of quiet inspection, slipping into a vortex of sadness and depression, firmly in my right hand I held an anchor called hope. It would make me endure. It would cause me not to quit. It would yield the greatest promise of all as I became its prisoner. Lord, there has to be more than this…

 

Job 42:8-10 (NKJV) Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord commanded them; for the Lord had accepted Job. And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

 

Abraham had to leave his home and go to the mountain of sacrifice with his son. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, left for dead, sold to slavery, and falsely accused. Moses was a murder and never stepped foot into the Promised Land yet he led the people to it. I can go on and on but you get the picture. God’s people are not exempt from hardship but are called to endure. Job was innocent yet put up for consideration by the enemy who would try to kill his heritage, plunder his wealth and attack his body. What was his response? “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.” Job became a prisoner of hope. Just like so many before him from Daniel to Paul waiting on the Promise of God while facing terrible adversity yet never backing down or letting go.

 

In the middle of the journey with our son’s illness, I decided to get a tattoo. It was sometime after his first relapse around the first year mark. Another young man who we knew had just passed away, his family together went to get memorial tattoos honoring the life of their son and brother. It was at that point I decided that I would never get a memorial tattoo. The Lord had given me the promise that he would live and not die. But the world was beginning to wonder, so I began praying. Now I know that the church and religion still has a jury out about such things, but I know that the Lord allowed me to do this because there were days that I needed to see what this was all about again. I had to be reminded that it was by faith alone that he would make it to hope. When I look at my right wrist, I see the word “faith”. I am ashamed to admit that there were some tearful nights when I tried to rub it off vigorous as devastation tried to take my hope away. When you look at my wrist, you will see the word “hope”. Faith and hope are forever etched in my skin and written on my heart. I cannot live, breathe or survive outside of them.

 

When the trial in our life became lengthy, many people who walked with us would wander off. It’s hard to face something with another without fearing it will someday touch you. I am not sad and bitter that in the end only a few were still standing. No, not at all. I am not entirely sure it was not of the Lord’s doing as I read about Job and his friends. His annoying friends who gave him worthless advice and cast judgment all in the name of love. The Lord convicted them. They returned to Job. The Lord asked Job to forgive his farfetched friends and he did. Here’s what happened next – the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” Job received double for his trouble. The Lord is longing to do the same thing for all those who have struggled and strived to endure remaining faithful to the end. Theirs is the gift of abundance.

 

Isaiah 55:1-3 (NKJV) “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you—the sure mercies of David.”

 

Exodus outlines the promise of double in our life as it talks about repayment. When a thief steals from the Children of God, the retribution is outlined in this chapter which says, “He shall restore double” (vs. 4), “he shall pay double” (vs.7), and “for any kind of trespass…he shall pay double. (vs.9) The thief owes you double for all of your trouble today. In I Samuel 1:4-6, it tells of Elkanah who loved Hannah and saw her abuse and mistreatment due to barrenness. The Word of God tells us that he gave her a double portion. When Elijah knew that the end of his days were nearing, he asked Elisha (his faithful follower) what he desired of his master. Elisha requested a double portion of Elijah’s anointing. The prophet told Elisha, “You have asked a hard thing.” (2 Kings 2:9-10) Do you see what is happening here? All of these people faced tremendous hardship yet still put their faith in the Lord and dared to hope beyond the reality of their life and natural condition in which they lived. They reached in deeper and grabbed on tighter refusing to let go. Even Jacob when he wrestled with the angel of the Lord received a handicap with his blessing. God loves you. He gave His Son, Jesus so that you and I could be called and identified as Children of the Living God. It takes faith to receive it and hope to maintain it. Hope that never leads to disappointment requires a process by which we endure yet dare to believe. This is what it means to be a prisoner of hope. When there is no natural reason to believe, we still cannot release the anchor of hope that holds tight to our soul.

 

Isaiah 61:6-7 (NKJV) But you shall be named the priests of the Lord, they shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory you shall boast. Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs.

 

Is your faith being tested today? Is your hope being challenged? Are you considering giving up as the wait has been too long? Welcome to the realm of hope, glad you made it because for some reason deep in your soul you haven’t given up or you wouldn’t be reading this right now. You are a Priest of the Lord. (I Peter 2:9) You are God’s Elect. You are a servant of God if Jesus is the Lord of your life. Do you cry out for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven and mean it? Those who step into these important roles have provisionary promises that are coming directly to them as God works together every detail for our good and His Glory. (Romans 8:28) The Lord is working in us and through us to secure us to His Side forever. He is removing all guilt, regret and shame to fully restore and renew us. As our soul prospers – so will we. He has promised double honor and that we will possess double in their land. That is right here and right now. Do you believe it today? If things seem impossible than you are close to the breakthrough that you have been waiting for because the moment it is impossible – God makes it possible. All we have to do is believe. To become a prisoner of hope only released when His Goodness and Glory release us in fulfillment and satisfaction.

 

Hebrews 6:9-12 (NKJV) But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

 

I love the word “beloved”. It makes me think of the intimate passage in Song of Solomon, “My beloved is mine.” The word “beloved” means greatly loved. My beloved is what Jesus calls us. He desires to have an intimate relationship with us. One that is ongoing and everlasting. Earthly relationships are not formed the same way. When love grows cold is customary to leave and find something or someone else to stir our passion and fan the flame of desire. Love is not that way in the Kingdom. It is called commitment. God loves us and committed His Son’s Life as testimony to it. Jesus loves us and endured a torturous death and entered the grave for us. All so that we could have hope of eternal life. The concept of double for your trouble is preached in many churches in regard to money and possession. Gold is walked on in Heaven. Wisdom in God is of the utmost worth. To know His Love, believe it and live in it as His Beloved offers us the full assurance of hope that He offers us. It gives us something to attach our faith to so that when we are tired, weary, worried and all alone – He becomes our comforter. Promises come by faith and patience. Tribulation produces perseverance (or patience), perseverance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:1-5) The hope produced in this process is promised to never, ever disappoint us. This is why I choose to live as a prisoner of hope knowing who the Son sets free is free indeed. Jesus promised a rich and satisfying life and I intend to have it. The blessing of the Lord makes us rich and adds no sorrow with it.

 

Psalm 36:7-8 (NKJV) How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your Wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your House, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.

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