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We Wait

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13 (TLB)

On Sunday, churches all over the world began the season of Advent by lighting the first candle in an Advent wreath. It is called the candle of hope. Nothing could be more timely for us. Because, one of the pervasive characteristics of this age is hopelessness. It is not new but it certainly hangs like a cloud over our world. Robert Heilbroner, one social critic, says that we are suffering from “civilization malaise,” or a dread of the future.  He thinks there is good reason for that—“We must resign ourselves to the bearing of an intolerable burden.  Human beings are like helpless chips driven hither and thither.”  Heilbroner asks the question, “Is there hope…?” and concludes there is not.

And in the midst of all this is the gospel message of hope. Let’s be clear, hope as it’s so often used, means “I wish,” or “I desire.” Which is little more than wishful thinking. But the hope projected in the Bible carries the sense of expectancy, anticipation, certainty, get ready for it. It is based on what God has promised. It is eye-opening when you think about how much of Scripture rests on promise. Recently in our small group, the task was given to share a promise from the Bible. Now that was intended to introduce a lesson on hope. However, we never got past that. For over an hour, we thought and talked about God’s promises, many of which have been fulfilled in history and our personal lives.

The New Testament word about hope is that it is central to the Christian life. As we were reminded by someone in our Saturday Men’s group, it makes up part of the triangle of the work of God’s grace in our life. Faith, hope and love interact with each other to make us more like Jesus. And though it is future oriented, much of it is still to come, it is certain because it is based on what God has done in Christ Jesus.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,… -Titus 2:11-13 (NIV)

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