FAITH, THE SUBSTANCE OF HOPE

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1 lays the foundation for faith. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews has been called “the honor role of faith.” Note how the writer begins verse 1, “now faith is.” What a powerful expression of absolute trust. The writer does not say faith might be, but is! Is what? It is the assurance of the things hoped for. I like the way the King James expresses this passage. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” KJV. I appreciate the word “substance” because it speaks of the spiritual material from which hope is formed. Material objects have “molecules”, whereas biblical faith is the spiritual molecules of “hope.” This expectation of hope means “an absolute confidence.” It is so real it is made of the “evidence of things not seen”.

The rational mind has great difficulty with this kind of thinking. The spiritual person knows this kind of thinking is what causes miracles to take place through a believer. As a believer in Christ, our hope is in His resurrection power. “We had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. He will yet deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:9-11). This is New Testament Christianity! Listen how Paul expresses hope to the Roman believers. “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).

Jesus, when quoting Isaiah 42:2 declares “He will lead justice to victory” (Matthew 12:20). The Pharisees had gone out to conspire against the Lord how they may destroy Him. Jesus, aware of their plans, withdrew Himself and then healed the sick and gave the people warnings. He quoted Isaiah 42:2-3 so the people would know He was the one fulfilling Isaiah’s prophetic declaration. Our hope is rooted in Jesus because He fulfilled the prophetic words given by the Prophets of old. God’s word has proven true. Christ’s resurrection established God’s covenant forever. As we trust in Christ, we are brought into a place of “assurance and conviction” that makes up our faith. Faith is the substance of our hope. We can experience peace and joy presently, while waiting for His return. “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13).   

Our faith flows out of our hope in the resurrection. We are to work His works in faith as we wait for His return and the glory that will be revealed. Pray to grow in the substance of faith that your hope may be firm and increase unto His coming. Let hope be settled about who you are in Christ. Grow in faith that will move mountains of resistance. By faith see the victory over sin, sickness, demonic strongholds, and anything else that would dare to resist God’s purpose in your life.

Father, by Your Spirit, I ask You to help me be one who moves in faith. Cause hope to increase in me as the substance of faith enlarges and my confidence grows. Give me courage to resist doubt and unbelief. Use me to bring others to faith and hope through the power of Your Holy Spirit residing in me.

HOPE THAT WILL NEVER BE MOVED

Psalm 31:24 – Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.

Strength and courage come from a “hope in the Lord.” This is because the Lord never changes. “I the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6). We can have confidence because the Lord is the hope of our salvation.

Our minds need to be trained in a hope that is rooted in God the Father. The world teaches us to hope in ourselves and become self-reliant. David learned to hope in the Lord. “For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth. By You, I have been sustained from my birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb; My praise is continually of You” (Psalm 71:5-6). This is the kind of mind-set we must develop in this matter of hope. It begins by knowing the Lord had an important part with our birth. Before we were converted, the Lord was already at work in His purposes for us. Some of us experienced times when our lives might have been shortened, except the Lord “sustained” us. I am grateful to have the same testimony as David, “You are my confidence from my youth.” Regardless of what stage of life we came to know the Lord, it is important to understand He had His hand upon us.

Hope is developed from a love for God’s word. “I hope for Your salvation, O Lord, and do Your commandments. My soul keeps Your testimonies, and I love them exceedingly. I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies, for all my ways are before You” (Psalm 119:166-167). The hope David possessed was not a maybe hope, but a sure knowledge of God’s faithfulness and enduring mercies. His confidence came from his relationship with God. Even in his failures, he trusted the Lord based upon God’s character and not his own perfection. “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your loving-kindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-2).

Solomon was taught by his father, King David, who had learned to hope in the Lord and trust His commandments. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life. The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, but the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded” (Proverbs 13:12-13). In his later years, Solomon forgot his own counsel. He experienced the “debt to the word.” Solomon began to depend on his own human wisdom. He was not able to transfer to his son what he had received from his father David.

Biblical hope affects more than our own life. It affects the generations. David’s hope in God has had a profound effect on millions down through the ages. David’s greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, came to establish hope for mankind. Because of the cross and the resurrection, the Holy Spirit is able to impart an eternal hope that will fully be revealed at the Lord’s appearing. Tomorrow, we will consider “hope” as a New Covenant believer in Christ.

Father, I thank You for Your servant David, who laid such a wonderful foundation of hope through his words and his life testimony. I pray You will help me be established, day by day in the hope which the Holy Spirit imparts.

FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE – THE KEY TO VICTORY

1 Corinthians 13:13 – Now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. 

Normally you do not think of spiritual warfare when reciting 1 Corinthians 13:13. These three pillars of the Christian walk are essential to our battle against the enemy. These three weapons have power to destroy the enemy’s entrenchment in the mind of believers and will pull down strongholds of arguments against Christ.

We begin with faith, not only because it is mentioned first, but because “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus would often declare that one’s faith had made the individual whole. The biblical definition of faith is that “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith operates out of assurance. Assurance comes by the promises of God’s word. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The context of Romans 10 begins with Christ as the end of the law for righteousness. Righteousness has its root in Christ alone.

Romans 10:6 quotes Deuteronomy 30:14, stating that the righteousness based on faith speaks of the word of God being near us, that is in our mouth and in our heart. Faith operates by the word of God taking root in our heart and then being formed in our mouth. Both our mouth and our heart are connected with righteousness. We think in righteous terms and we speak with righteous words.

When we were in the flesh, our heart and mouth produced works of the flesh. Jesus said, “The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, and slanders” (Matthew 15:18-19). In Christ, our heart and mouth are to be used as instruments of righteousness producing life.

In his letter, James connects “faith and works.” James asks the question, “If someone says he has faith but he has no works, can that faith save him? Faith is spoken, but the kind of faith that brings about results is the faith of Christ which always produces works of righteousness. Christ-like faith will reach out into the community and set the captives free from sin, sickness, demonic oppression, and to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is the first pillar of three. Today, why not believe God for an infilling of His Holy Spirit in the realm of faith? Let the Holy Spirit search your heart and cleanse any areas needing to be washed in the blood of the Lamb. Trust the Holy Spirit to put “the word of faith” into your mouth. Saints, be established in a lifestyle of faith!

Father, search my heart and see if there be any wicked thing in me. I ask to be made wholly consecrated Lord, to Thee. I pray to be established in faith and be used of the Holy Spirit to set others free from every stronghold of the enemy binding up their life. 

REMAINING FAITHFUL

1 John 2:24 – If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father (KJV).

Abiding is an important topic of the New Testament. In the last hours of His earthly life, Jesus taught His disciples what it meant to abide in Him. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

For some, John 15 can be a difficult chapter because of the illustration of removing branches and casting them away. It is important to understand that Jesus is speaking to His apostles. They are the ones He is sending into the world to lay the foundation of His Church by preaching the “goodness of His kingdom.” Judas, who was named among the apostles, was really an agent of the devil. The Jewish people saw themselves as the “special people of God.” Jesus is now defining who the people of God really are. Apart from Jesus, nothing can be done that has eternal significance.

The sum total of what Jesus came to accomplish is found in the Father and the Son taking up a place of residence in the believer through their indwelling Holy Spirit. In John’s gospel account, he calls this “abiding.” In John’s letter to the church, he again calls this work of God “abiding.” God’s will is to abide in every part of the believer’s life. The Father and the Son’s desire is for the believer to manifest their nature in every area of one’s life.

The word abiding speaks of fellowship. “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete” (1 John 1:3-4). Abiding in Christ is what produces fellowship with the Father and the Son. It also is the foundation of relationship among believers. There is a wonderful joy when one learns about an individual they know who has entered into a fellowship with the Father and the Son. The other day, a friend was sharing with me his recent experience with God. I was filled with joy and it allowed me to share with him deeper things in Christ than I had previously shared.

Father, I want to grow in my relationship with You. Lead me to abide in You so that Your will might be established fully in my life. I have determined to press into You. I ask You to supply the needed grace in my life to be Your faithful servant.

DO NOT LOVE THE WORLD

1 John 2:15 – Do not love the world nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

What a great verse of Scripture to remind us of how easily we can become separated from the love of the Father. The Father does not forsake us, but we can be drawn away from His presence as we are filled with things. Some years ago, I began to change a habit of saying “I love a particular item.” I realized the habit focused on “things” rather than a person. The Father is concerned about persons. Love is meant to be organic and not about objects.

The world is corrupt through sin. Sin gave Satan a right to rule the nations and corrupt the world through systems. Jesus conquered Satan and made it possible to bring the nations under God’s government. The objective of salvation in the life of a believer is to destroy the works of the flesh with its lust and remove the love of the world in the saints of God. Jesus made it clear when He prayed to the Father saying, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). Jesus prayed these words because He understood, while the disciples were in the world, the attacks against them would be rooted in Satan and his domain.   

It is not wrong to have possessions as long as the possessions do not possess us. There is an expression I learned many years ago, “Hold on to things loosely.” I enjoy restoring old radios and transmitters. I continually need to practice not becoming emotionally attached to a nice piece of equipment. I am grateful for all that the Lord has blessed my wife and me with, but I know I can be satisfied with little because I have known both little and abundance.

The Holy Spirit wants to develop a kingdom culture in us. That is, everything we own, time we spend, and places we go must have a foundation in the kingdom of God.  Whether or not I am purposely involved in a particular kingdom activity, the kingdom of God is to be my first priority.

Father, reveal to me if there is any worldliness in my life. Help me, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be free from any love of the world. I choose to only make room for the love of the Father in my life.