By Chad Napier, Crosswalk.com
Credit cards are unfortunately an inevitable part of all our adult lives. They are the easiest way for a young person to build up a credit score to prove to a financial institution of the ability and desire to repay obligations and debt. Additionally, the ease of their usage feels much less painful than paying for large purchases (such as filling our gas tanks) with cash.
Most of us carry little, if any at all, cash with us on hand. However, often our usage of credit cards is on the premise of “I don’t have the money now, but I expect to have it in the future” in anticipation of an upcoming payday, stimulus check, tax rebate, raise, or Christmas bonus. We base this “great expectation” because they have been deposited in the past or based upon the promise of an employer, a past realization, or the tax laws of our national government. God gives us an even greater promise for our expectations to come.
We place great confidence in what He will do in the future because of what He has already performed in our past. A “hope” is an expectation for something that we have yet to see or realize. The Christian bases all his or her hopes on Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. He sinlessly conquered the grave to give us hope in all of our seemingly impossible situations. Serving as a propitiation for our sin was that most impossible accomplishment for man. After salvation, it is sometimes difficult for us to muster up the praise for Him before we see physical manifestations of Him working in our situations. One could strictly classify these dry seasons of doubt or lack of premature praise as being practically atheistic in nature.
Thus, even when we don’t feel like praising God because of the current turmoil in our lives, we have a reason to praise Him on credit. There must be a separation between our sanctified souls and the worldly feelings of our mind and body. We have the promise of victory and deliverance from him. David was given the promise that he would not be defeated by Saul. However, in 1 Samuel 27:1, it is written, “David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul.” Just like using a credit card when we don’t have cash on hand, we need to praise Him even though we are not able to see Him actively working.
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We Have a Lively Hope That Endures
In 1 Peter 1:3-4, the apostle wrote about not only a present “lively” hope in Jesus Christ, but the security and eternality of this hope. Peter wrote, “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundeth mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” We have great assurance and empowerment by what God has already done in the heart and life of a believer. In His quickening of our dead former sin-dominated "old man,” He took a dark black heart, washed it with His red blood shed upon the cross, and make it whiter than snow.
Peter, also, told us of another present “lively hope” in our future. This expectancy is “kept by the power of God through faith into salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Thus, the God who was able to give us a new spiritual life within a sin-effected fleshly body will be able to finish His work when our body receives the culmination of our salvation when we receive this “reservation” for us in heaven. This reservation is the meeting of our perfected soul with a perfected flesh like that of the Son of Man. We have the great promise of a reservation for the eternal joining of a perfected soul and body.
We Should Always Be Anticipating His Appearance
In 1 Peter 1:6-7, Peter wrote about our present ability to “greatly rejoice” despite our trials, tribulations, and “heaviness through manifold temptations” in the season in which we currently live. Our current faith is tried with fire and “more precious than of gold that perisheth.” Our love and faith are in a Savior “whom having not seen.” If we are “yet believing” in an unseen Savior and able to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory today, the anticipation of His glorious appearing when we receive “the end of [our] faith” should give us rise to praise Him even the more.
Paul spoke to the church at Colosse in Colossians 1:5 about their faith in Christ Jesus “for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” Our hope is not in this world. It is this world that brings us sadness and disappointment. The world to come, however, gives us reason to praise Him even though we can’t see it or mentally conceive its beauty and splendor today.
We Have a Sanctifying Hope
In Ephesians 1:18, Paul wrote that “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” Our sanctification is a process of growth through the guidance and will of the Holy Spirit. What we were on the day of our salvation should not be the same person we are today. This promise of ongoing sanctification and growth through Christ should light a fire of praise underneath us all.
Consider if an employer hired us today and then promised a promotion each year for our faithfulness. We would be happy today for the position, but we could get through the doldrums because of that great expectation for the promise of advancement soon thereafter. We have such a greater promise through our Savior. Not only do we have salvation and the title of joint heir with Christ, but we have the promise of continued growth and spiritual blessing as we claim His righteousness throughout our journey.
To the church at Galatia in Galatians 5:5, Paul wrote, “for we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” Notice that it is the Spirit through which we can actively wait for the culmination. Our minds cannot comprehend the positions that our Heavenly Father is preparing and molding us for on earth or in our heavenly estate to come. It is “through the spirit” that we can have active patience waiting for that next glorious promotion.
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We Have a Glorious Hope
Paul wrote the epistle of 1 Thessalonians to a new church amid a hostile world fully anticipating the “day of the Lord.” Paul, in 4:13, wrote to them “but I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as other which have no hope.” “Them which are asleep” were the believers physically dead in medical terms, but only asleep spiritually. The only sorrow for the church is for those “which have no hope” in this soon appearing of our Savior.
Paul reassures the church that “if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” He goes further, though, and wrote, “that which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.” Thus, the redeemed have great hope for both those living and those presently abiding in the grave.
When Christ reappears in clouds of glory, all the generations of the church shall be reconnected for eternity. Our Savior “himself” will leave the right hand of the Heavenly Father and upon the “voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God” “the dead in Christ shall rise first” and “then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” That was great news to the people at Thessalonica, but also a glorious hope for us today. Paul continued “and so shall we ever be with the Lord” and finished the chapter by instructing them to “comfort one another with these words.” We have a realized salvation and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but a great and glorious hope in his soon returning to the church.
He Is Our Defense in the Midst of Our Calamities
David asked the Lord to “give ear to [his] words” and “consider [his] meditation” in the opening of Psalm 5. He beckoned the Heavenly Father in a seemingly desperate time of serious attack from his enemies. David cried that they were faithless in their speech, have an evil heart, “throat is an open sepulcher,” and “they flatter with their tongue.” Despite the present trouble, David was still able to proclaim that “all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever should for joy” in verse 11. He had full faith and confidence that our Lord shall “defendest them” and he “wilt bless the righteous; with favor wilt thou compass as with a shield.” He was in the middle of the battle and had no physical proof that the Lord was going to deliver him. However, David was able to prematurely praise Him because he was fully confident that the Heavenly Father was both capable and willing to deliver him again.
Additionally, in Psalm 52, David wrote about the evil act of Doeg running to Saul to tell him that David sought refuge in the house of Ahimelech. This gossiping led to the murder of 85 priests who were untrained for battle and attack. David in verse 5 wrote that “God shall likewise destroy thee forever, he shall take tee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living.” The Psalmist also tells us in verse 6 that “the righteous shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him” and that “this is the man that made not God his strength.” David concluded in verse 9 by proclaiming “I will praise thee forever, cause thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name.” David again had full confidence that his Lord would fully destroy his enemy and reveal His righteousness.
Similarly in Psalm 54:6, David was able to praise God before he could see the answer and end result. Bishop George Horne in his commentary on Psalms wrote, “Christians should follow [David’s] example: they should consider how great things God hath done for them, and should never suffer the voice of praise and thanksgiving to case in the church of the redeemed.” David placed his trust in the Lord during a season of “calamities” in Psalm 57. Even though David “just didn’t feel it” and was in a time of turmoil, he declared, “I will sing and give praise.” Many times during our journey we feel ill both physically and spiritually. There is a certain disconnect between body and soul while seemingly distant from the fact of our Lord. It is during those days that we must separate our liberated souls from our fleshly feelings and give the sacrificial offering of ourselves. Then, we can prematurely praise Him on credit because we have our hopes in a Savior who has never failed on a guarantee.
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