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Paul J. Bucknell
Purpose: Strengthening our Hope, part 4/4 of Lesson #1 Establishing Hope, shows how we step by step gain a strong confidence in the Word of God so that we can grow strong in our spiritual lives.
Remember it is hope that keeps us going even when we have faced failure. It is hope in an invincible God that loves us, draws us out of our shell and encourages us to take another step forward. Let us reflect on how hope is presented in the scriptures.
Abraham was a man who had 'hope against hope.' "In hope against hope he believed, in order that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, "So shall your descendants be" (Romans 4:18). God promised a son and many descendants but at 100 years of age he had none. He latched onto a hope that God would be true to His Word and so he saw it happen, even though it required a great miracle.
The apostle goes on describing hope,
"For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it" (Romans 8:24-25).
Hope motivates, stirs up action and helps us keep going even when things get difficult. This is because of the anticipation that things will work out. A far off hope helps us stay on the path.
What happens when we lose that hope? We give up our quest to persevere. This is why the scriptures exhort us,
"Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:13).
There are such things as false hopes. In these cases we allow wrong dreams and beliefs shape our decisions. Notice how we are warned against them in this verse.
"Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy" (1 Timothy 6:17).
I have many times in my life had to face this challenge. It seems the false hope, "If I had more money, I could …." At times I did believe this, and it was at those times my life was marked with worry and fears. I later could more easily recognize this false hope and instead put my hope on God. This brought about a change in the way I believed God got involved in my life. In the end I learned contentment for what I had and believed if I needed more, He would provide more.
That had a corollary truth: I could do my greatest good with what I had at that time. This has given me a tremendous peace in some absolutely crazy situations. Because of this truth, I can trust Him and believe another thought. He purposely gives me what I have so I can accomplish what pleases Him. Do you see how hope in God and His good will brings peace and persistence in doing what is good.
Each of us are different, but each of us need to grow in our confidence in God's purpose, design and power to help us through this stage. After Jesus' baptism and filling of the Spirit, He was led by the Spirit out into the wilderness. Once marked off as the Christ, Satan went after Him. Jesus, much like us, had to lean upon the Spirit of God for strength, help, wisdom and love. Once we become a follower of Christ, the evil one also pursues us.
At this point, let us look at a passage of scripture and detect the hope that strongly resides in a believer. Psalm 119:33-40 (section He) is written down verse by verse on the left. Circle the expressions on the left in which you find the Psalmist's confidence. On the right, in the blank area, write down what this confidence was. At first it might be a bit difficult, but once one understands, they come quite easily. Let me give you an example.
"Thou hast dealt well with Thy servant, O LORD, according to Thy word" (Psalm 119:65).
The verse is written above. I can circle the 'dealt well with' and write in the blank area,
"God has in many ways shown His goodness to this Psalmist so he is confident that God has been very gracious to him in the past and shapes his future expectations."
There are several areas of confidence found in this one verse but for the exercise below, try to write at least one for each verse.
33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of Thy statutes, And I shall observe it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may observe Thy law, And keep it with all my heart.
35 Make me walk in the path of Thy commandments, For I delight in it.
36 Incline my heart to Thy testimonies, And not to dishonest gain.
37 Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, And revive me in Thy ways.
38 Establish Thy word to Thy servant, As that which produces reverence for Thee.
39 Turn away my reproach which I dread, For Thine ordinances are good.
40 Behold, I long for Thy precepts; Revive me through Thy righteousness.
The Lord works through all our life challenges and experiences to spiritually grow us. In what areas has the Lord worked in the psalmist's life?
Let us look at some of these.
These are just a few areas in which we see the important place hope plays in our daily walk. The list could go on (do feel free if you want to!). When we learn of His purpose to work in us, His patient to work in us, the provision of His Word and the power of His Spirit, we naturally begin to give praise to such a God. He has done wonderful things in our lives.
"(A Psalm.) O Sing to the LORD a new song, For He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him" (Psalms 98:1).
Our Hope Chart
Each of us should develop a chart similar to the one below.
On the left write out those areas where your hope is strong. You might see others around you so troubled by this or that. When you encounter such situations, you are not troubled whatsoever. Somehow you have built up a strong hope in that area of your life.
On the right are areas where you recognize that you need to grow more in your hope. You are quick to toss away the hope you have in such a situation. Or perhaps right now you are going through a difficult situation in which God is building up hope.
Hope is our foundation for spiritual growth. When we have hope, we expect to grow. We will take time to work with God to make sure that growth develops.
Discipleship at the 2nd level
by Paul J. Bucknell
God's Word comes alive as you learn how to use it to overcome personal struggles like anxiety, depression, pride, lust and anger. God has made you strong! Many worksheets! (300+ pages). This is the full resource with all the complete and updated pages included!
Directory of Discipleship Articles
Basic Discipleship Stage
Basic discipleship stage and BFF materials.
Intermediate Discipleship Stage
intermediate discipleship stage and BFF materials.
Advanced Discipleship Stage
Advanced discipleship stage and BFF materials.
The Imperative of Discipleship (2 Timothy 2:2)
The Heart of True Discipleship (Isaiah 50:4-7)
Diagram of integrated Discipleship
7 principles on excellent teaching.
Designing discipleship curriculum
Stages and goals of discipleship
Integrates Church Growth with discipleship
Slides with explanation.
Growing the Church through Biblical Training
Explains 'The Flow'.
Learning how Christians grow
Understanding the Cycle of Decline and Revival (Judges 2)