As we come to the conclusion of our time in The Story I can’t help but have some thoughts to wrap up our time together! But I’m also excited about what comes next – a series on the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Stay tuned to my blog for some thoughts after next Sunday’s sermon on “Love,” okay?
But in the meantime, let’s talk about the final message in Revelation: HOPE…also known as “the blessed assurance of our future destiny” (as it says in my Bible study notes).
Not long ago someone asked me how they could pray for me, and I answered that I needed ‘more hope.’ Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘hope’ as “a feeling that what is wanted is likely to happen.” I surprised myself with this request because I think I’m fairly optimistic, you know? Especially when it comes to trusting God for the future. But some things in my life were just looking plain muddy that day. And mud tends to obscure – if not totally block out – our vision, doesn’t it?
The person praying for me reminded me of the verse in Romans 5:3 that says, “…we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Now I would hardly say my muddy life issues that day could compare to the suffering some have endured for the sake of the gospel, but his words reminded me that life is a journey. Knowing the One who is walking by my side keeps me going, even if my steps seem to be “one step forward and two steps back” on certain days.
“Hope does not disappoint us,” Paul says (Rom. 5:5), because he’s convinced that hope is based on God’s love as demonstrated by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Later in the book of Hebrews, that same hope is called “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Heb. 6:19). As Youth Director Danny Scarbrough reminded the Sunday evening crowd, Revelation is a story of completion, the book that announces God’s triumph! Hope is the feeling that gave rise to faith in the Apostle Paul. Or maybe it’s the other way around. But one way or the other, both take their place and remain alongside love, according to scripture (I Cor. 13:13). And next week we’ll dive into why ‘love’ is the greatest of them all.