This is our third week discussing the popular phrase “Spirit-led” in reference to Christian worship and living. If you need to you can catch the first week here.
This week we look at a guaranteed outcome for all true believers, namely that the Spirit gives hope, and perseverance to cling to that hope, boast in that hope, and trust in the One who has given us this hope.
The Spirit infuses Hope into our being.
Like a good, strong, cup of tea, the leaves sitting in the water change that water. So the Spirit indwelling in us changes us, making us hopeful. And not only hopeful, but sure of our hope, and steadfast in our hoping.
God calls us beloved, and then gives us each a new heart. He begins His good work of transforming us into the image of Christ, renewing and refreshing. And with that work comes hope, true hope, the anchor of our souls.
This is not a special blessing for some and in some special times. It is the work of the promised Spirit! (see here)
The Spirit who dwells in you will do this, He is faithful and powerful, gentle and kind. Yet, like many works of God, we grow in it–He grows it in us. We are participants, we obey as we look to Him for hope; yet we submit knowing this is His work in our souls.
“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.”Romans 15:13
When we do not feel that we are abounding, let us seek Him rather than believing that abounding in hope is a myth. We do not abound in hope by planning, scheming, sinning, and running ahead. The Scriptures are full of reproof for people who knew what should happen and grasped for it in their own strength (and most of the time in sinful ways). This is not abounding in hope.
Ponder the difference between Mary asking “how can this be, since I am a virgin” and Abraham and Sarai thinking “how can this be” and deciding he should have extramarital sex to make it happen. When we wonder, and when hope feels illusive, rather than grasping at God’s promises in our own way, or trying to make our own path smooth, let us learn to pray in the Spirit (see here), and walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5; Jude 17-25; Ephesians 6:10-19).
Our culture has taught us to grasp, we must learn to put this mindset off. We look back on the history of redemption, we praise God for the grace and mercy He poured out, but we do not sin likewise that grace may abound (Romans 3:8, 31; 6:15-19).
We abound in hope not by our own doing, by by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the same power mentioned in Luke 4 (go read that chapter, really!). Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to face temptation. He was upheld by the Spirit. And after faithfully serving His Father rather than the devil, Jesus was led by the power of the Spirit to begin preaching the Kingdom of God and performing miracles.
Did Jesus walk alone? No. Do you and I? No.
What is our hope?
It is not for a temporal outcome. Earthly hopes deferred make the heart sick; true Hope does not disappoint. Hope is not a temporal word, and our hearts are sick when when hope is set upon the changing of our circumstances. Our hope disappoints when our thoughts do not rise into heaven.
Our hope is misplaced when we reduce it the circumstantial, in order to say things like “I hope it snows” or “I hope I get a raise at work” or “I hope that pair of shoes is available when I go shopping.” There were times that Paul “hoped” to go to a certain city to preach the gospel and encourage the brethren. But even here we notice a difference between Paul’s hopes and our own. He hopes to see God doing amazing works in various cities as he traveled, we hope for good weather on vacation.
How can we learn to believe and hope more like this:
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.”Psalm 27:13-14
Perhaps one New Year’s resolution could be that we use the word hope as we see it in Scripture (which implies we will spend much time meditating on passages), and in all our temporal phrases we start using a more appropriate word. “I would like it to snow, I’m excited for the first snow of the year!” or “I wonder if I’ll get a raise, I really want one.” or “I’m shopping for shoes later, I really want to find a pair in my size!”
The Spirit Teaches us our Hope
One such passage to meditate on is 1 Corinthians 2. Here Paul discusses relying on the Spirit “that we may know the things freely given to us by God.” Which things? “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not entered the heart of man!”
We do not know and cannot imagine how wonderful eternal life in heaven will be. But we know our hearts deepest longings will find what they’ve been looking for; when we are with Him and are like Him (1 John 3:2).
Being Spirit led then includes having our minds lifted to things above, and growing in spiritual understanding of our true hope. As you continue to meditate on helpful passages, consider these:
Did you notice the phrase “The hope of eternal life”? Eternal life is more than merely unending life that goes on forever and ever and ever… Eternal carries with it not just quantity, but quality.
This is the abundant, flourishing life pictured frequently in Scripture. This is the life of one resting under his own fig tree with none to make him afraid, joined by others in sweet fellowship (Micah 4:1-4 & Zechariah 3:10). This is the banquet we will enjoy with the finest of wines and choicest cuts of meat. This is the era in which all tears have been wiped away, all sorrows and fears and worries are gone, all enemies subdued. Life to the full, pleasures forevermore.
“Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one once glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…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.”Romans 15:4, 5, 13
Let this passage awaken in you the desire to remain hopeful! Our hope is real, steadfast, sure. It is shared among us. By the power of the Spirit. Through the sword of the Spirit; did you notice the connection between what is written in Scripture, and hope? We do not hope for what we dream up, but according to what He has revealed.
We have hope through perseverance. Persevere, brethren! (Next week we close out this series on being Spirit led with a closer look at perseverance.)
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash