The Source, The Filling, and The Abundant Hope”, from Stephen J. Cole (Believing, Holy Spirit, Christ)

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Abounding in Hope by Stephen J. Cole

The God of hope wants us to be filled with all joy and peace in believing, so that we will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 ““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.”

We’ll look at the source of this abundant hope; the foundation for it; the human and divine means for abounding in it; and, some practical strategies for growing in God’s joy, peace, and hope.

1. The source of this abundant hope is the God of hope.

By “the God of hope,” Paul means that God is the source or giver of hope. He is also the object of our hope, but here the focus is on God as the source of hope. In Romans 15:5, he describes God as (lit.), “the God of perseverance and encouragement.” He gives those qualities to those who seek Him. In 15:33 & 16:20 Paul describes Him as “the God of peace.” He gives peace to His people. Thus if we lack hope, the first place we should look for it is God, who is the source of true hope. Beat on His door like the friend asking for bread at midnight (Luke 11:5-8) until He gives it to you. And remember, biblical hope is not uncertain, like when I say that I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow because I have plans to be outside. Rather, biblical hope is certain because it rests on God’s promises; but we haven’t experienced the fulfillment yet.

The word hope in verse 13 links back with hope in verse 12c (citing Isa. 11:10), “In Him shall the Gentiles hope.” Him refers to Jesus Christ and the promise of salvation that comes to all peoples through Him. This means that if you have not come to Jesus Christ as a guilty sinner and put your trust in Him as your only hope for eternal life, then (as Paul puts it in Eph. 2:12), you have no hope and are without God in the world. What a bleak description of life without Christ!

I have a book by humorist Dave Barry titled, “Stay Fit and Healthy until You’re Dead.” He pokes fun at the fitness craze in America, but his title also uncovers the raw truth that we all tend to suppress: It is 100 percent certain that you’re going to die, no matter how fit and healthy you are. Unless you have Christ as your hope, you don’t have any true hope beyond the grave (1 Thess. 4:13), but only “the terrifying expectation of judgment” (Heb. 10:27). Put your trust in Christ as your Savior today!

It’s significant that the theme of Romans is “the gospel of God” (1:1, 16, 17; 15:16) and Paul mentions hope in Romans more than in any of his other letters. In 4:18 we read of Abraham with reference to God’s promise that he would have a son and become the father of many nations, “In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be.’” In 5:1-5, Paul elaborates on our hope through the gospel:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

In 8:20-21, Paul mentions the hope of the fallen creation as it waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God: “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Then he adds with regard to our waiting eagerly for the future redemption of our bodies (8:24-25):

For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

In 12:12, we are to rejoice in hope as we persevere in our tribulations. In 15:4, we have hope through the perseverance and encouragement of the Scriptures. And, as 15:12 indicates, Jesus Christ is the object of all our hope. He is the Savior who has freed us from condemnation. He has given us eternal life as a free gift. Our hope rests completely in Him and the promise of His coming (Titus 2:13). As the apostle John tells us (1 John 3:2-3),

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

So if you’re lacking hope, you know where to find it: Seek the God who is the source of all true hope and put your hope in Christ as your Savior and Lord.

2. The foundation for this abundant hope is to be filled with all joy and peace.

Paul doesn’t pray that you will have a little bit of joy and peace trickling into your life now and then. Rather, he prays that the God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace so that you will abound in hope. He piles up these superlatives to show us what God can give us and wants to give us. Have you ever stopped to fill your water jugs at the spring that’s on the side of the road at the top of Oak Creek Canyon? There are two spigots that flow 24-7, 365 days per year with that delicious, cool spring water. Paul wants our “jugs” of joy and peace to be overflowing so that we are continually abounding in hope in God. Again, while we all fall short of this, don’t settle for an empty or partially full jug. Ask God to fill you to the brim with His joy and peace and hope.

Paul has already mentioned joy and peace (in reverse order and also in connection with the Holy Spirit) in 14:17, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Both joy and peace are listed as part of the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in the believer who walks in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 22). As qualities that the Spirit of God produces in us, the joy and peace Paul is talking about do not come from having a certain personality type. A person with Holy Spirit-produced joy is not just a person with a bubbly, optimistic personality. A person with Holy Spirit-produced peace is not just a laid back guy who never gets ruffled at anything. Rather, these are qualities that are not natural. And they do not come from being in favorable circumstances where just about anyone would be joyful and full of peace. In fact, they are often most noticeable when a person is in a situation where almost everyone would be depressed or anxious, but the Spirit-filled believer is full of joy and peace in God.

It’s also important to understand that the joy and peace that Paul is talking about are not a “Pollyanna positive” outlook that denies the reality of sorrow, grief, or genuine concern. Paul had great sorrow and unceasing grief in his heart over the great number of Jews who were rejecting Christ (9:2), yet he could write here about being filled with all joy. As I’ve pointed out before, the shortest verse in the Greek New Testament is, “Rejoice always” (1 Thess. 5:16), but the shortest verse in the English New Testament is, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). There is no contradiction. Paul described himself as “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10a). By the way, Paul mentions joy 21 times in his letters; the next closest is John with nine times. It’s especially helpful to study joy in Philippians, where Paul was in prison and being wrongly criticized by fellow believers, and yet he was rejoicing always in the Lord.

We also need a realistic view of Spirit-produced peace. It does not mean that we glibly shrug off concern for difficult problems. Paul was filled with peace and yet he mentions the daily pressure on him “of concern for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28). So we’re not talking about a “who cares, whatever” kind of peace, where a person irresponsibly shrugs off every concern. Biblical peace comes from taking all of our anxieties to God in thankful prayer (Phil. 4:6-7): “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Thus biblical joy is an inner delight in God and His sure promises that gives us comfort and contentment in every trial. It comes from knowing that our sovereign God will work all things, including tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword, together for our good because we love Him and are called according to His purpose (8:28, 35). Biblical peace is the inner contentment and freedom from crippling anxiety and fear that comes from being reconciled to God and, as much as it depends on us, being at peace with others (5:1; 12:18). As we’ve seen, it comes through taking every concern to God in thankful prayer. Being filled with God’s joy and peace is the foundation or platform that results in abounding in hope.

We all want this kind of joy and peace so that we will abound in hope, but how do we get these qualities? Paul mentions a human means and a divine means:

3. The human means of this abundant hope is to keep believing in God and His Word.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing ….” Paul does not specify the object of our faith, but obviously it is the same as the object of our hope (15:12), Christ, “the root of Jesse who arises to rule over the Gentiles.” In the Bible, hope and faith are sometimes virtual synonyms. Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Psalm 71:5, “For You are my hope; O Lord GodYou are my confidence from my youth.” So to hope in Christ is to believe in Christ. It is to look to Him alone to fulfill all the promises of God to us. We find those promises in Scripture, which is why Paul said (15:4) that the Scriptures give us hope. Or, as he said (10:17), “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” To have and increase in abundant hope, we must believe and keep on believing in God and His Word.

But you may wonder, “How do I get this kind of faith that helps me abound in hope even in the midst of trials?” Part of the answer is to know your God and His ways through His Word. The Word shows God to be faithful to His people in all sorts of trials. Quite often, He delivered them as they trusted in Him, but sometimes He permitted them to suffer and die, promising rewards in heaven. In Hebrews 11:33-38, the author mentions those …

who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; [then, without missing a beat, he continues] and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

Knowing God and His ways through His Word will show you that He is completely trustworthy. Even if you suffer a martyr’s death, He will give you the crown of life (Rev. 2:10).

The other part of having this kind of faith is to choose to believe God in spite of horrible circumstances that seem to be contrary to His promises. After Nebuchadnezzar’s army destroyed Jerusalem and the temple and slaughtered many Israelites, Jeremiah grieved and lamented, but then he directed his thoughts toward God (Lam. 3:21-24):

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s loving-kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”

Or, as I’ve already mentioned with Abraham, whose body and whose wife’s body, were beyond the physical ability to conceive a son according to God’s promise (Rom. 4:18): “In hope after hope he believed ….” He chose to believe God’s promise in spite of circumstances to the contrary. The human means of growing in abundant hope is to believe and keep believing in God.

4. The divine means of this abundant hope is the power of the Holy Spirit.

“… so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Did you notice that the three members of the trinity are all mentioned in the context here? God the Father is the God of hope. The object of our hope is Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God who is also the root of Jesse. The power for joy, peace, and abundant hope comes from the Holy Spirit.

The power of the Holy Spirit is, of course, nothing less than the power of God that created the universe! He spoke and it was done (Ps. 33:9). The Spirit’s power is the resurrection power that gives new life to dead sinners (John 3:6-8). The Holy Spirit opens our minds so that we can understand the truths of God’s Word (1 Cor. 2:9-13). The Holy Spirit is the power that produces His holiness in us as we walk in dependence on Him (Gal. 5:16-231 Cor. 6:11). The Spirit confirms our adoption as children of God and helps us as we struggle to pray (Rom. 8:15-17, 26). The Spirit strengthens us with power in the inner man so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith (Eph. 3:16-17). The Holy Spirit seals every believer so that we are kept for the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30). And so, as Paul says here, the Holy Spirit is the power who produces in us His fruit of joy and peace as we trust in Him, so that we abound in hope.

Conclusion

I conclude with some practical strategies for growing in God’s joy, peace, and abundant hope:

         Begin each morning by spending 20-30 minutes (minimum) in God’s presence, reading and meditating on His Word, praying, and singing.

As I’ve told you before, the godly George Muller, who trusted in God to provide for over 2,000 orphans at once through prayer alone, used to make it the first business of every day to have his soul delighted in God. If you lack joy and peace and hope, ask God to fill you with these qualities for His glory.

         Memorize some of God’s wonderful promises that kindle joy, peace, and hope in your soul so that you can meditate on them throughout the day.

Romans 15:13, 8:28, 8:32, and many other verses like them will help you to set your mind on the things above rather than on the problems that are getting you down (Col. 3:1-4). The Psalms are loaded with verses of trust in God in the midst of life-threatening situations.

         Immediately confess all grumbling as sin and instead deliberately think each day of things that you can thank God for.

Begin by thanking Him each morning for sending His beloved Son to save you from your sins. Thank Him that you have His Word to guide and sustain you. Thank Him for all your blessings and even for your trials (1 Thess. 5:18), which help you to grow.

         When you feel overwhelmed with despair or depression, talk to yourself: Tell yourself again and again to hope in God.

The depressed psalmist did this repeatedly (Ps. 42:5): “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.” Psalm 42:11: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” Psalm 43:5: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”

         Read the biographies of godly saints who have run the race before you.

As I’ve often said, I’ve gained more from reading Christian biographies than from any other source outside of the Bible. Read how William Carey, Hudson Taylor, George Muller, Charles Spurgeon, Adoniram Judson, and many more men and women of faith trusted God in the midst of overwhelming trials.

Here’s a parting quote from Judson, as he suffered horrible torture and deprivation in a squalid Burmese prison. A friend sent him a letter and asked, “Judson, how’s the outlook?” Judson replied, “The outlook is as bright as the promises of God” (exact source unknown, but you can find the quote on the Internet). Judson was abounding in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. So can you!

Steven J. Cole :  Source, Bible.org

Steve served as the pastor of Flagstaff Christian Fellowship from May, 1992 through his retirement in December, 2018. From 1977-1992 he was the pastor of Lake Gregory Community Church in Crestline, California. He graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1976 in Bible exposition) and California State University, Long Beach (B.A., philosophy, 1968). He enjoys writing and has had articles published in many different publications. scole@fcfonline.org.

 

“Whispering Futures”, a worship poem from L.Willows (The Glory, God’s Presence, Heaven and Earth)

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There rises a Tree, tall and strong
Branches wide, they stretch far and long.
Aching not breaking, seeking sun’s light.
Found in the midst of a deep forest blight.

“Weep no more, besides my shade
Beneath this earth in deepest roots
Reach the stories, speaking to tell-
cupped in His Spirit, watered well.”

Clouds form to treetops, they gather to sing,
whispering futures that angel harps note.
Mists rise from root to branches that sway,
There comes tomorrow -the Light of God’s Day.

The joy of the last weeping, they stand, to tell.
There rises a Tree, tall and strong
Branches wide, they stretch far and long.
Aching not breaking, in His Spirit, found well.

© 2019 Linda Willows

Revelation 22:16 -“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

John F. Walvoord on “The Great Story of Your Walk with God”

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John F. Walvoord Theologian, Author, Educator
Walvoord.com

The Great Story of Your Walk with God

When it first happened, you could hardly understand it. You had been seeking something that was missing in your life — an inner peace, a sense of having found the real meaning of life. You had struggled with your own failures, your foreboding sense of God’s disapproval, and you had struggled to comprehend what Christians were talking about when they said they had found peace with God.

Gradually the Light Dawns

You began to understand that your problems were too great for you to solve, but that God had provided a way of salvation. Somehow Christ in His love had opened the way for forgiveness and renewal when He died on the cross. In His resurrection, Christ proved to you that He was indeed all that He claimed to be; the Son of God and your Savior. Then came the venture of faith, the simple belief that it was so, that Christ actually died for your sins. So you put your trust in Him as your Savior.

Next came that indescribable sense of relief. You had found the secret of life and of a new vital relationship to God. You experienced a wonderful peace. Your sins were forgiven. God had accepted you as His child. You realized what it means to be born again by faith in Jesus Christ. A new chapter in your life had begun. It was a new adventure, a new experience of what it means to walk with God.

Although your experience differed from that of many others who had had similar struggles to find the Truth, the important fact was that you had found Christ and that Christ had found you, and in that new relationship there was promise of the present and for the future. While you still could not define completely all that had happened, the important fact was that now you were a new creature in Christ.

But There Were Questions …

As you observed the lives of others who claimed to be Christians, you saw that all Christians were not the same. Some seemed to have a much closer walk with God than others, and some who claimed to be Christians could hardly be distinguished from those who were not. What was the secret of really walking with God? How could your life be what it ought to be now that you were a Christian?

As you sought answers to these important questions, you discovered that part of the problem was yourself. You soon woke up to the fact that although you were a new creature in Christ, this did not automatically cause you to make the right choices or to have the right desires. There was an empty within. As you studied the Bible, you discovered that the Bible takes this into consideration. Scripture recognizes that Christians are far from perfect and, accordingly, speaks of the “flesh” and “its lusts” as in Romans 13:14.

You discovered that even Paul had a tremendous inner struggle and confessed, “I find then the principle that evil is present in me” (Rom. 7:21*). But when Paul raised the question, “Who will set me free from the body of this death?” he also gave the answer, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:24-25). Then the way to be delivered from our inner temptation to sin is through the same person who delivered us from the guilt of sin, that is, through Jesus Christ.

You Learned What It Means to Walk with God

As you studied the matter further, you discovered that the secret of overcoming this inner tendency to sin was to “walk by the spirit” as Paul mentions in Galatians 5:16. In other words, the Spirit of God who indwells Christians is able to give them strength to overcome sin and to fulfill the will of God if they will yield their lives to Him.

A milestone in your spiritual experience was when you discovered Romans 12:1-2. There the whole matter was brought into perspective. Paul wrote in verse 1, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1). You found that even though you were imperfect, God would accept your sacrifice because you belong to Christ.

Walking with the Lord accordingly meant walking in dependence on the Holy Spirit who indwelled you, submitting to the directions which Christ Himself would give as the Spirit guided your life. Unlike your accepting Christ, which was an act once for all, you found that this was to be a daily experience. Even when you failed, if you confessed your sins and yielded yourself to God, He would forgive you and restore you into an intimate walk of fellowship (1 John 1:9).

But Your Struggles Weren’t Over …

But your problems did not stop when you found God’s provision for victory over yourself. You soon learned that your new Christian faith required a standard of life that was very different from what the world around you was following. Here again, Paul came to your rescue and in Romans 12:2 he wrote, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

You discovered that the secret of living as Christians in a world that is hostile to Christian standards and values was twofold. First, you could not conform to the world outwardly. This did not mean that you had to dress in a peculiar way as some Christians have done, or that you had to label everything that the world says and does as evil. For instance, it was not wrong to use an automobile instead of a horse and buggy. But you did have to sort out what is good and evil in the world, and as Paul indicates, you were not to shape your life according to the pattern the world offers.

Not only should there be nonconformity to the world outwardly, but second, the real secret was an inner change, a renewed mind, a new insight into the real values and goals and meanings of life. The Bible became more important than the newspaper, and prayer more important than the latest newscast. Now you had to look at things from God’s point of view, and realize that you were out of step with the world about you because you were in step with an unseen world that related to heaven.

Your Goals Changed

The goals of the world — to acquire material wealth and material things, to attain position and cater to pride — were not to be your goals. The tendency to satisfy the desires the body that were evil and opposed to walking with God had to be replaced by the desire to be pleasing to God and to live for things which endure in the life to come. It affected how you spent your time, how you spent your energy, how you spent your money, and how you related to people. You were in the world, but you were not of the world; and God d planned this so that you could be a light to the world that was without light.

Your Christian experience matured and you learned something else that you had not realized before. There were not only problems with yourself and problems with your world, but you were also involved in a spiritual conflict. Here again you found that Paul’s experience corresponded to your own when he wrote, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). You found that all Christians are in a spiritual conflict where they were not only at war with themselves and the world, but they were also contending against an unseen enemy, the devil and forces of evil.

You Learned that the Bible Anticipated Your Struggles

Surprising as this is, you discovered that here again the Word of God anticipated this problem. Paul again revealed the divine plan to enable Christians to conquer Satan and resist all his temptations. He described it in Ephesians 6 as putting on the armor of God, and followed with the exhortation which sums it all up; “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:14-17).

Your defenses against Satan were: the Truth which God provides, a righteous life made possible by the power of the Spirit, and relating your life to the proclamation of the gospel. Satan especially hates soul winners, and anyone using the shield of faith thereby trusting God for protection from him. In the battle you would need to hide again and again behind the fact that you were saved by, in effect, putting on the helmet of salvation. Above all, you were to use the sword of the Spirit—the Word of God—which Christ Himself used so effectively in resisting Satan’s temptations.

You Are Walking with God!

Walking with God involved so many diverse experiences and scriptural truths that it was not easy to put it all together. But the important point is that you are walking with God. While walking by its nature is trusting your limbs to carry you, and involves effort on your part, you are not walking alone. As you walk with God, you are able to overcome your own sinful tendencies and live a life that is pleasing to God. Walking with God you are conformed to His will, not being conformed to the world but being transformed within. Walking with God you are able to face the temptations of Satan by putting on the armor of God, resisting him and having victory in your spiritual life.

You now know that walking with God is a supernatural experience in which every Christian can sense God’s presence and power — even though you cannot see Him with your physical eyes. It is God’s plan that as you walk with God in this present evil world, you will be prepared for your walk with God through eternity. Then you will be in His holy presence and earth’s temptations will be far removed.

Right now, however, the most crucial issue of your life is whether you are really walking with God. This is more important than what you are doing for Him, what you give to Him, or what you attain by way of earthly recognition for achievement.

God is more interested in you and your relationship to Him than in anything you are doing or experiencing. So as you walk through this world, be sure you are walking with God and not foolishly attempting to walk like a Christian without the Spirit of Christ as your faithful companion.

*All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, ©The Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973. Used by permission.