Where is your hope found?
Hope often seems to be based on the circumstances of our lives. We can have hope for security or a safety. We can have hope in other people, such as family and friends. We can have hope in having things, such as a house, a car, or money. However, what happens when we our safety is threatened? What happens when people betray us? What happens when things break down?
Many people believe that hope can be found in many different things all over the world. However, without God there would be no world to have hope in. Without God there would be no safety, no people, no houses, no cars and no money. There are significant issues with having hope in safety, people, money or things.
- We all go through scary situations in life, in which we lose our sense of security. There are times when we just don’t feel safe.
- According to Romans 3:23 not one person is without sin “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Family, friends, and neighbors can be a blessing from God, but there are times when even those closest to us can let us down.
- There is a problem with having hope in wealth or things as well. While having wealth is not a sinful act, loving wealth prevents us from loving God and other people. According to 1 Timothy 6:10, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”. We cannot satisfy our need to worship through other people, wealth, or anything else.
Worship the one who deserves worship
We all worship someone or something. However, we can only be satisfied through worship of God. If we worship anything other than our Creator, we will be disappointed. If we worship our Creator, then we will be better equipped to love others, because He loves us more than we can even love ourselves. If we desire to worship God, than we have to know who he is. The bible states that we can know God through his son, Jesus Christ. “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
As a follower of Christ, I believe that without salvation through Jesus Christ, my life is ultimately hopeless. That doesn’t mean that I can’t be hopeful for good things to happen or for good to come from other people. It means that God is the foundation for all hope and that nothing else can replace that hope.
True hope is found through salvation
We still have the problem of sin though, right? The good news is that we can be saved from our sins. The book of Romans tells us that in order to be saved, we must believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead and we must confess that Jesus is Lord. Although salvation is only the beginning. There is so much involved in a personal walk with Jesus.
God provided a way for us to know him personally. How amazing is that? If we have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, then we can have true hope. That hope never fails, because Jesus never fails. He always has been and always will be. He is the Alpha and Omega. He is the creator of life. He is the savior of mankind.
Knowing God gives us hope and it also gives us freedom. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) What do you need to be freed from? Do you know Jesus as your savior?
Faith in Christ saves us
Faith can be a complicated subject. People put their faith in different things, people, or God’s. Faith is often viewed only as a belief in the unknown or something greater than ourselves. To a certain extent that is true, but there is much more involved with having faith in God. Having genuine faith in the God of the bible is an often misunderstood concept. Genuine faith involves having a very real relationship with Jesus.
Believing in God is an element of faith, but there is so much more to faith. God’s word has a lot to say about faith. For example, Hebrews 11:1 (NASB) declares, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith shows us what we may not be able to experience with our five senses.
Works demonstrate our salvation
It is our behavior that demonstrates our faith. As the saying goes, “take a step of faith”. As Joni Erickson Tada put it, “Faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It’s simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step.”
Make no mistake about it. We are saved by faith and not by our works. Although genuine faith will produce good works in our lives. God has good works for us to fulfill. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
God puts a light in our hearts through faith and the light is shone through good works that God does through us. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Faith and works go together
There are generally two prevailing thoughts among Christians when it comes to faith and works. Either we are saved by faith or we are saved by works. The truth is that God saves us by faith, but if we are truly saved then God’s works will be present in our lives. The Lord gave us works to do and the faith to accomplish them for his purposes.
Faith and works are inseparable. “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” James 2:14-17 (NASB)
Faith is a two way street. It requires both belief and action. Jesus lived a life full of faith and works. Faith is not an excuse to not do anything and doing truly great works cannot be accomplished without faith in Jesus.
God gave us free will to choose and we are free to govern our own lives. At the same time he is in complete control of the outcome. So have faith in him and do the good works that he prepared for you. As John Quincy Adams said, “Duty is ours; results are God’s.” Live out your faith in God through good works and let him produce the results. How do you live out faith and works in your everyday life?
Is this life important?
The Apostle Paul summarized some of his thoughts on life by saying, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 (NASB) This verse is sometimes interpreted to mean that this life isn’t important and all that is important is heaven. I talk to Christians about heaven and I sometimes get the impression that some of them would prefer to just skip this life and go there now.
Paul didn’t suggest that life is unimportant. He didn’t suggest that we stop caring about this life. His words were clearly an encouragement regarding this life and the next. Life for Paul was all about Christ in the things that he believed, did and said. He believed that his physical death would bring forth an even greater life in heaven in the full presence of Christ. Paul’s words about this life and the next should give us hope about both.
God is the creator of life. He created the heavens and the earth. He created the animals on land and in the sea. He created mankind beginning with Adam and Eve. It can’t be overstated that our lives are a gift from our creator. God created us to live for him and to be filled with joy. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
What about the next life?
God’s word declares that heaven will be indescribably amazing and better than anything we can experience on earth. As Paul declared in the new testament, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him…” 1 Corinthians 2:9
Our lives are so short in comparison to the time we will spend in heaven. However, the glory and eternity of heaven should not diminish the importance of our lives on earth. God never intended for us to give up on this life and only care about the next life. He wants us to care about this life, while looking forward to the next. Life can be difficult and God told us that we will face persecution in this life, but he never told us to give up.
We have a tendency to over correct our thinking when we are uncomfortable with the belief system of others. For example, if someone thinks that this life is better than heaven or that this life is all there is, we want to help them understand otherwise. That is a good thing. But in an effort to do so, we downplay this life in order to make heaven sound better. We think if we tell someone how bad this life is, heaven will seem like a better alternative and help them look forward to it. The truth is, this life doesn’t need to be sold short in order to make heaven look appealing.
Why can’t we have both?
Should we be excited about this life or the next? Albert Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” We should take more time to look at the blessings in this life as the miracles that they are.
There are those who don’t have any hope in heaven and only care about what this life has to offer. We should want to help those people see that there is more than just this life, but not by downplaying it. God gave us this life. We should treat it like the gift that it is. Live for Christ in obedience to his word and look forward to heaven. God gave us this life and he offers us eternal life in heaven. We can have both.
Did God overlook Government?
Christians have varying opinions about the role of government. Some Christians are generally concerned about government, although more and more Christians seem to believe that God is not all that interested in government. It seems as though there is a prevailing thought growing in the church that government doesn’t really matter. It’s likely that there are many reasons for that line of thinking among believers.
It may be that Christians don’t believe they have time for being concerned with government. It’s possible that some Christians feel like they have no voice or that it doesn’t do any good to care. There are some that believe Jesus is going to return soon, so our government doesn’t really matter. Christians give various reasons for not caring about government and some of those include the following…
- Christians shouldn’t be involved in government, because Jesus didn’t participate in politics while He was on earth.
- Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world.
- All Christians should do is share the gospel.
God Established Government
The Bible clearly demonstrates that government is important to God. Romans 13:1 tells us that “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Believers are subject to their governing authorities second only to God. Government was established by God and there is a specific purpose for government.
We learn in Romans 13:4 that government’s purpose is for our welfare, “…for it is a minister of God to you for good”. Good is not an arbitrary word that changes meaning based on whatever the government or the people decide. Good is what God considers good. God can work all things to His glory, but that doesn’t mean that whatever government does is good. Corrupt government is in opposition to God’s Word. He clearly established government for our good and not for evil.
God cares about government because He established it for His creation. He is the king of kings. “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” ~ Isaiah 9:6
But why should I care?
As Christians we have compartmentalized government into a box that we prefer to push aside. Instead, maybe we should make time for government since God did. Jesus told us that He will return, but He didn’t tell us when that would be. “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Mark 13:32
During His time on earth Jesus constantly talked about His kingdom, which is the only perfect government. Is it possible that the reason Jesus didn’t become an earthly king was because He was already king? By not setting up an earthly throne Jesus allowed free will for mankind to follow His standards for government. Maybe it was less about Jesus not being concerned with politics and more about His desire to give us a chance to honor him with our lives in government.
God never told believers to only share the gospel. He certainly told us to share the gospel, but since when does sharing the gospel mean avoiding an interest in government? Believers should be encouraged to share the gospel verbally and let God’s light shine through good works that He has prepared for us. The bible demonstrates that sharing the gospel with others is what believers should be focused on more than anything else, but that should never exclude caring about standards that God established. Christians should live out the Christian walk in government and politics instead of avoiding or ignoring them. Scripture tells believers to pray for our leaders. We should pray that our leaders will know and obey God.
How high of a priority is government to you? Is it something that you value or care about?