no matter how sacrificial the offering,
no matter how miraculous the work,
no matter how accurate the prophecy,
without this unconditional love, they are all meaningless and amount to nothing.
This week, however, we’ll see that there is no reason to sacrifice, no miraculous works, and no desire for prophecy without hope.
Hope both in its original Greek and Hebrew language and in our English language is defined as: to eagerly anticipate and to expect with confidence.
Hope, however, in our negative culture, has lost its true meaning. When I say today to someone that ‘I hope that this or that happens’ what is understood is that it is highly doubtful and unlikely that ‘this or that’ will ever occur. This is another area where we have to begin to allow the Lord to transform us and renew our minds as we take off our culture and take on God’s kingdom culture. When I say that ‘I hope that this or that happens’, we should be saying it with full confidence and eager anticipation and expect that it will occur.
When we say that we hope for something, are we speaking doubt (as in the worldly culture) or are we speaking faith (as in God’s kingdom culture)?
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Though this scripture’s context is specifically regarding asking God for wisdom, I believe that this is a principle which applies toward how we approach God in anything aligned with His will. After all, doubt is naturally the opposite of hope. Doubt expects nothing and hope expects eagerly. If we approach God doubting that He will give us what we ask, why should we be surprised when we receive nothing? In all reality, we received exactly what we confidently and eagerly were expecting from Him: nothing. Doubtfully asking anything of God is a clear sign of double-mindedness and shows a lack of stability, which should never be the case if we are standing firmly in Christ, the rock and our foundation and in His promises.
We see that hope exists because of His unconditional love for us, it requires that foundation.
Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
If it was not for His unconditional love, we could not have hope. If His love were conditional, instead of having hope, we would rather be earning things from Him through good works and receiving His wrath for evil works. Praise God that He does not treat us as our sins deserve!
Because He loves us, we eagerly and confidently anticipate and expect God to work in and through our lives. We have hope knowing with confidence that things can change for the better because He loves us and knows what is best for us. We have hope for eternal life and have hope for His kingdom to come on earth even as it is in heaven because of His love for us and for others.
We have hope despite our circumstances and how things currently look. We actually have hope for something that our current circumstances are opposing. Hope is an indication of need or lack. After all, who hopes for what they already have?
We have hope and because we have hope, faith can exist.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
As you can see by definition, it is absolutely impossible to have faith without hope. In fact, faith is really just hope applied. It’s putting hope into action now! It takes the things hoped for and expects them to come to pass now. We’ll look at this a little deeper in a few minutes.
Without faith, it is impossible to please God.
without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Our hope is founded in God and His word, which is why we can have confidence and expectation. He does not change – He remains the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hope that is not rooted in Him, is no hope at all. For if we place our hope in anything created, we’ve placed our hope on temporary things which constantly change. Even if our hope is on ourselves and our own ability, we will fail ourselves eventually.
Without hope, we cannot see God’s kingdom come. For if we desire to see sins forgiven, the sick healed, the bound freed, we have to have that expectant confidence of hope that God and His word are true, that His Spirit has empowered us, and that His kingdom is greater than ours and Satan’s. We have to have hope in these truths when what we see contradicts it.
9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Again, we see that Mary, like Martha, had the same hope and degree of faith. She believed that Jesus could have prevented his death.
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Again, the same hope and degree of faith existed among the Jews. As this statement continues to be made, we begin to get the impression that they are blaming Jesus for Lazarus’s death. After all, they sent word to Him while he was still sick with the intent to have Jesus come and heal him. Since He didn’t arrive when expected, Lazarus died. We also, when we lack faith and have not allowed God to fully renew our minds, can begin to blame God for things that happen to us. This is not an issue with God, but an issue with our thinking that is bound by our doubt and unbelief. Too often we are bound to see things through the earthly and temporary things forgetting the big picture and forgetting about man’s free will that is a gift from God to choose as we will good or evil. We get a glimpse of one of God’s attributes, such as Him being all powerful, but forget that there is so much more to Him than this and that His plans far surpass our short existence and small thinking.
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Faith in action is sometimes messy. For the miraculous to occur, there first has to be an impossibility that very few, and perhaps only one, has the faith to believe for that impossibility to occur now. Was it Lazarus’s body or perhaps Martha’s faith that was the stinkiest to Jesus?
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”