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Thursday, June 18, 2015

What is Bible Hope?

Before my wife and I took delivery of our 2009 Mustang GT last fall, I had done my homework.  I had been looking into Mustangs for a few years and was quite familiar with the models, engines, body styles, color configurations and options available for the fifth generation Mustang which was produced from 2005-2014.  Over the previous year we had also checked out numerous cars online and at local dealerships in our home county back in California as well as in our new residence here in North Carolina. 
When we finally settled on the car we eventually purchased online from a specialty dealer in Virginia, I investigated the history of that particular vehicle including past owners and available service records through its Carfax report.   I also checked out the dealership by researching how long it has been in business, customer reviews and reports with governmental agencies such as the Better Business Bureau.  Once we felt satisfied and had the green light in our prayers, we completed the deal, signed on the dotted line, overnighted a registered check and waited for the transport to show up in our parking lot!
By the time the truck pulled in with numerous beater cars on its top rack and our shiny Mustang convertible all by itself on the bottom row, we were quite excited but yet at peace because we felt positive that all our EXPECTATIONS would be met.  The only real surprise was that the car was in even better condition than I thought it would be!
My approach to buying that car is very similar to the way I approach my faith.  I like to do my homework and find out specifically what the Word promises me before I take a stand on It… especially when everything in the natural seems to go against what I am feeling led to believe for.  Once again, I sense that this is one of the lessons that Papa God is trying to teach us in Jeremiah 29:11.  He describes His thoughts and plans for us as being complete, sound, safe, prosperous, healthy and happy because we are in covenant with Him. 
Then He concludes by stating in no uncertain terms that His plans are to give us an EXPECTED end. (KJV)  Another modern translation says that His plans are to “bring about the future you are hoping for.” (GNB)  Most of my commentaries agree that according to the original Hebrew, the word described here as “hope” is better defined as “EXPECTATION.”  You see, the Old Testament writers as well with Paul and other writers of the New Testament letters are talking about Bible “hope” which in modern English relates best to our usage of the word “EXPECTATION” rather than the current understanding of “hope.”
Webster’s dictionary differentiates between the two words by delineating that “Expectation differs from hope.  Hope originates in desire, and may exist with little or no ground of belief that the desired event will arrive.  Expectation is founded on some reasons which render the event probable.”  That definition sounds a lot like Hebrews 11:1’s equation for faith doesn’t it?  The God’s Word © modern English translation describes how our faith works saying: “Faith assures us of the things we EXPECT and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot (yet) see.”
Therefore we understand that our future… yours and my tomorrow, is set to end up like we EXPECT it to!  Another interesting facet of the definition of EPECTATION is that while “hope is directed to some good; EXPECTATION is directed toward good or evil.”   So hence the very foundational question of this blog: “What are you EXPECTING?”
Are you EXPECTING positive results or failure?  God’s best or whatever the world decides to hand you at any given moment?  Are you just “a hoping and a praying” or are you in earnest EXPECTATION of His Word working for you?  According to our definition, hope has no foundation.  It gives us nothing to hang on to when things look to have gone south!  Our Christian EXPECTATION on the other hand, is based on the infallible foundation and truth of God’s Word and causes us to stand firm when the ground about us begins to shake!
I also did my homework before we took the big step for me to quit my outside employment to run my own lawn and garden care business back in 2010 so that I could be the one to care for my wife in her critical time of need.  We had a plan, jobs lined up and new customers in the making.  But we also faced steep criticism from some who could not seem to leave the boundaries of their own understanding and allow their faith to join with ours in supporting our decisions and needs.
Did we know at the time exactly how everything would work out?  NO!  Did everything run perfectly smooth and easy?  NO!  Did we find ourselves having to stand in faith at various times during the ensuing years?  YES!  Did everything work out in the end?  YES!  As I look back today I can honestly report that it definitely was a Romans 8:28 experience that the Apostle Paul described as “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” (KJV)
When times got tough, we had the firm foundation of the promises of God’s Word that we were standing on to see us over and through every obstacle that presented itself.  Our faith was based on our EXPECTATIONS of God’s Word working for us in the face of contrary evidence.  And our continued EXPECTATIONS of the truth of His Word concerning Piper’s healing are still set and we are very EXPECTANT of His promised results!
So… where do you stand today?  Are you hoping for things to go well… or is your faith firmly established and EXPECTANT of God’s Word working for you?  Have a great day!  Stay in tune to God’s Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I EXPECTING today?”

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