Dear Lovely Wicket Gate Readers,
Do you ever wonder about hope? That real Biblical hope that we’re told can lift us out of ourselves, lift out of this life, and lift us out of this world? Do you ever wonder how we really feel that? Where we are supposed to find it? And do you ever think that sometimes “hope” hardly feels adequate when we look at reality? “Oh, that’s nice,” I sometimes think, feeling like I get it, but then I go back to solving the real, unsolvable problems with what I think are more real, concrete answers.
I am writing today to share my heart with you, this filthy, sinning heart that Jesus cleansed and that God is still working on. God has been sharing a lot with me lately, knocking my heart into shape, so this is just me talking to just you about our wonderful Savior, what He’s teaching me, and His promise of hope.
So, I’m reading through the book of Hebrews right now in my devotions, and let me tell you, it is one of the most powerful books in the Bible. It is just so deep, but makes so many things clear! I’m sure I have read it straight through before, but somehow I am getting so much more from it this time. Has that ever happened to you? It’s just more evidence that, “the word of God is living and powerful” and in the hands of the Holy Spirit. (Fun fact: that verse actually comes from the book of Hebrews! Hebrews 4:12)
Anyway, my point is that reading through it, I am seeing more of the grace and the hope we receive as believers. I am amazed at the sacrifice of Jesus all over again, and I am humbled at the position we are in through Christ. Hence my questions about hope. Hebrews answered them for me!
Before I share, though, let me ask you this: Do you know much about Old Testament law? God worked this out perfectly so that I actually ended up reading the book of Hebrews and the book of Leviticus at the same time, which really helped me understand this.
The people in the Old Testament had hope and they had faith, but it was different than what is available to us today. Reading through the Old Testament laws is kind of terrifying, the thought of living that way and the realization of how terrible sin is. Every single time someone did anything wrong, they had to repent and to sacrifice a lamb or a goat as a representation of the Savior’s future death to pay for those sins. Every single time. The only hope the people had at that time was that God would someday send a Savior. Until then, they stood before God as sinners every single day, trembling in their sins.
But then Jesus came. I had never before thought about the difference in hopes between now and then. When Jesus came, He was the Lamb for us, and He became the High Priest who brought us to God. Hebrews 9:11-12 says, “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all.”
Once for all. We have hope in that the salvation is already here. We can be cleansed from all of our sins. We have been redeemed from the clutches of our own sinfulness. No more animal sacrifices, no more hoping that this is the year the Savior finally comes, no more trembling before the God who sees all of our sins. Hebrews 4:16 says that we can, “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We can come boldly to the God of the universe because of Jesus!
As I was reading through Hebrews, I was realizing that I need to hold on to that hope more. It is something that, being saved for so long, I sometimes take for granted. I think it is wonderful that Jesus came, and I certainly have moments where I recognize how amazing it is, but in daily life, I don’t think about it that much. It doesn’t always affect how I think about my life. And it should. It should be reminding me that my life is already overflowing with hope, no matter what else happens. I don’t think that way. And it’s sad. Hebrews 6 says, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” The hope in Jesus should be an anchor to my soul.
But there’s one more hope that Hebrews talks about that I also realized I don’t think about enough. Not only are we saved from sin, and taken out from under the weight of Old Testament law, but we have hope for the future. Hebrews 9:28 says, “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Jesus is coming back for us! And Hebrews 11, after describing lots of Old Testament believers who lived by faith and so God worked through them, it says in verse 16, “But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” Those men went through a lot of hard times, but they still had hope that pushed them through and that pushed them to keep following God with joy because they knew this world wasn’t their home. In verse 13, it says that they, “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth.”
That’s how hope is so practical. Having hope in God means that we have accepted His gift of salvation. It means that we are free from the bondage of this world so we have a chance to go about living as God wants us to. It means that we can come boldly before Him in prayer, and it means that our focus isn’t on the here and now. Or at least, it shouldn’t be. If this life and this world fall apart around us, we still have hope for all eternity. Our home is with God. It’s not on this temporary pilgrimage.
What I was realizing as I was reading Hebrews is that I love this world too much. Of course God wants me to serve Him here and help those around me, but hope isn’t about hoping for a really nice life here on Earth. Hope is about forgetting this life and focusing totally on Christ, no matter what. It means feeling like a pilgrim and a stranger here and claiming our citizenship in Heaven.
And it’s amazing how much smaller problems become in light of God’s holiness and His hope.
Now after all of that long letter, I wasn’t even able to share half of what I could have! You should really read the book of Hebrews for yourself! (And while you’re at it, read the rest of the Bible too! :P)
But it’s really important that we keep reminding each other of stuff like this. Hebrews 3 says we should, “exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” It’s so easy to get distracted by the busyness of this world and the allure of sin, so God asks us to remind each other of these things daily.
So, let’s pray for each other a lot and remind each other about hope every day.
Who are you going to remind today?
With Prayer and HOPE,