Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry


By Jeannette Haley

“Why art thou cast down, o my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me?
Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance,
And my God.” – Psalm 42:11

Here we go again, standing on the peak, as it were, of another year behind
us and an unknown future before us. We are living in a time of great turmoil,
tension, and testing. People the world over are trying to make sense of what they
hear and see coming upon the earth, and the various responses and conclusions
of the religious, in particular, are interesting to ponder, especially in light of what
the Truth of God’s Word tells us.

Some have come to the ridiculous conclusion that we’ve already been living
in the “millennium” and we are now living at the end of it when Satan is “loosed
for a season.” Others declare that the millennium is just around the corner, so
hang in there because there will be law and order, peace and prosperity for
earth’s inhabitants for a thousand years. Somehow this is all supposed to be
accomplished without the personal, physical reign of the returned Lord Jesus
Christ as King of kings, Lord of lords and the Prince of Peace who will rule with a
rod of iron. There are others who declare that Jesus is secretly coming to whisk
His church into heaven where we will be happily enjoying the “marriage supper of
the Lamb” while all hell is breaking lose on Israel and the world due to the reign
of the antichrist. No matter what manner of unbiblical conclusion a person puts
their hope in, hope that is based on man’s faulty conclusions is still false hope.
Therefore, when Romans 12:12 tells us “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation;
continuing instant in prayer” it is referring to a hope that is immovable and eternal
no matter what is taking place because it is established in Jesus Christ, the
Living Word.

It goes without saying that a life without hope, for anyone, results in a gloomy
state of depression. Hope in a better tomorrow, or future is what keeps people
moving forward as it looks to some future event, fulfillment, or happy conclusion
to a matter. Even the wicked, as we can plainly see today, have their own
warped concept of “hope” as they plot and plan total destruction against God
Himself, the Son of God and His people. We read of this in Psalm 2, “Why do the
heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set
themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against
his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords
from us.” Such evil places its hope in total rebellion.

As you know, because we all have free will we can choose what we place
our hope in and what we hope for. For example, around three decades ago I
asked a friend if she hoped the Lord Jesus Christ would return soon. She
hesitated for a moment and her answer surprised me for she said that, while she
hoped He would return, she hoped it wouldn’t be “too soon” because she wanted
to see her grandchildren grow up. I suppose a lot of people would agree with her

desire, but the bottom line is, which is more worthy of our earnest hope and
expectation and our love and devotion, Christ or family? Christ, or our self-
serving plans? Christ or this world? In her case, she has lived to see her
grandchildren grow up, and they both have, thus far, thrown their lives away
through iniquitous living. Jesus warned, “He that loveth father or mother more
than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is
not worthy of me” Matthew 10:37.

Another woman I have known my entire life confessed that she “believes in
the Lord,” but her goal in this world has always been to pursue great wealth,
pleasure and a lavish lifestyle with no concern for the poor, or the pressing needs
of those around her. However, the Bible has many warnings to those whose
hope is in their riches. “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not
high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us
richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works,
ready to distribute, willing to communicate” 1 timothy 6:17, 18. Jesus also
warned, “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and
love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot
serve God and mammon” Luke 16:13. (Note: “mammon” means riches, earthly
goods, property.) Colossians 3:5, 6 tells us, “Mortify therefore your members
which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil
concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the
wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.”

Hope is an expectation which originates in the heart of every individual
whether righteous or unrighteous, for out of the heart “are the issues of life”
Proverbs 4:23b. Looking into another New Year, no doubt most of us hope for
health, and the basics of life at the very least, along with freedom from debt,
sorrow, suffering or tribulation. We hope that things will “work out” in our personal
lives and homes, and with those we know and love. We hope that no calamity
overtakes us, and we hope the LORD blesses all our days.

But the hope that the LORD places in the hearts of His own longs to rise
above the dark alleyways of the everyday life of drudgery and basic needs for
survival of the body. Hope is not a physical thing that can be constrained like a
bird in a cage; rather, its origin is heavenly and it must be allowed to rise on the
wings of the Spirit to soar above the dust of death that covers the earth. Hope is
like the intangible breath of God that lifts higher the inner longings in the heart of
even the most stalwart and faithful servant of the Most High God. Hope refreshes
the human spirit, lifting it upward in a current of blessed awareness and awe of
the majesty of the Creator of all life. Hope revives the hopeless soul, breathing
new life and power into the fainting heart that clings to faith and hope with visions
of the Light of the world. O glorious Light of heaven! The hearts of the redeemed
long to hear the sound of the trumpet when the Son of man comes “in the clouds
of heaven with power and great glory” Matthew 24:30b.

Is He really coming? O yes, He is! Our LORD assured us, “And he shall
send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together
his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” Matthew
24:31. Are you sure that you are one of His elect that will be gathered by the

angels? Is this where your hope is day and night, to be with the LORD? Or, is the
hope of your heart secretly yearning and longing for the pleasures of this world,
in eating and drinking, marrying, partying, playing, or in perhaps climbing higher
in some worldly enterprise? If so, then consider what Jesus said, “Therefore be
ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh”
Matthew 24:44.

How can you determine if you are ready or not? If your hope is not centered
and anchored in Christ and His Word alone, then you are like one who is
preparing for a mountain-climbing adventure by packing bits and pieces of “this
and that” and hoping it works because it appeals to your own ideas and
emotions, or your own feeling of power. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 tells us how to be
well equipped, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; That the man
of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished [equipped] unto all good works.”
[Addition mine.]

In addition, the only true power for the believer comes from the Holy Ghost.
But hope does not stand alone, for it is impossible to have the hope from heaven
without both love and faith. Faith, hope and love are like a “three-fold cord [that]
is not quickly broken” Ecclesiastes 4:12. [Addition mine.] In 1 Corinthians 13:13
we read, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of
these is charity.” You see these three working together by the power of the Holy
Spirit in Romans 5:1-5, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with
God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access by faith into
this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not
only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh
patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not
ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy
Ghost which is given unto us.”

If the love of God has filled your heart, then your greatest hope is toward
Christ above all else, and in faith you can confidently stand and declare with Job,
“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day
upon the earth” Job 19:25. The question is, is this your greatest hope, a hope
that stands as far above all earthly hope as the stars in the heavens stand above
the earth? God forbid that any earthly hope, however great it may be, is causing
a divided heart, and if so, may we pray with King David, “Teach me thy way, O
LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name” Psalm 86:11.
It is in the hope of God that we can fight a good fight to overcome the world,
the flesh and the devil and say with the Apostle Paul, “I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me
a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at
that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” 2
Timothy 4:7, 8. Those of us who believe and know the LORD should not only be
“people of hope,” but of “lively” hope. Peter wrote, “Blessed be the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath
begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the
dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away,

reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto
salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” 1 Peter 1:3-5. [Emphasis added.]
As we embark on another voyage into a new year of “unknowns,” may we
seek to maintain the love of God in a lively hope through faith in our resurrected
LORD and Savior instead of focusing on a laborious self-improvement list of
“New Year’s Resolutions” that are impossible to keep. As the days grow darker,
may the Light of the world shine brighter in our hearts and minds as we trust in
our soul’s sure Anchor, “That by two immutable things in which it was impossible
for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay
hold upon the hope set before us; Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail” Hebrews
6:18, 19.

Finally, what is more wonderful, more exciting, more fulfilling and more
important than “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the
great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” Titus 2:13? Therefore, my New Year
wish for you is “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” Romans
Happy, Blessed New Year!

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The Goal of Gentle Shepherd Ministries is to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to make disciples in compliance with the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19).

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