Saturday, March 7, 2009
Diligence in Hope
True hope is not dependent on circumstances. Godly hope, the kind that gives faith an environment in which it can flourish, will endure seasons of disappointment and trial. This is because godly hope is not based around specific circumstances or events coming to pass, rather it is anchored to the character of Jesus and knowing of His faithfulness in all things and His will to fulfill every single one of His beautiful promises in the lives of those that bind themselves to Him. We have all experienced times of doubt about the things that we were at one time sure that we had heard from the Lord concerning a prophetic word or directional instruction. We are especially susceptible to this in own modern, convenience-oriented lives in which almost everything is available at the click of a button or the flash of a credit card. Too often, I find myself looking for the immediate fulfillment of a dream, vision, or prophetic word and find myself mildly frustrated or even disappointed when things do not progress on the timetable that I had imagined. However, I believe that our lack of patience is often the very thing that delays the fulfillment of a prophetic word. When we lack patience, or experience disappointment or confusion over the progress of a word coming to pass, we run the risk of breaking the cycle of Romans 15:13 in which, “The God of hope fills us with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” When we fail to take the seeds of doubt captive in our minds and hearts, it interrupts the hope that faith gives substance to (Heb.11:1), since hope is synonymous with trust, and we have begun to doubt the character of the One that is faithful to the end. Usually the doubt is not explicit, in the sense of overtly questioning God’s faithfulness, but instead comes in the form of questioning our own ability to hear the Rheima Word and discern what is from God and what is from man. This can seem responsible and prudent; however, it too often comes as a result of frustration due to timing, and follows changes in our circumstances that are not in line with the way we imagined a prophetic promise was going to look. As believers in Jesus, we must learn to be faithful stewards of the hope that is foundational to a walk of faith. Hebrews 6:11 and 12 exhorts us to “not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises,” by showing “the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end.” This brings one more element into the equation – that of diligence. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (we know what faith is – it begins with hope). “For he who comes to God must believe that He is” (this is the root and anchor of that hope). We must believe that He is – the same name that He gave when He stated “I am.” The “I am that I am” – this is not just believing in the mere existence of God, but in all of His attributes that are associated with His Name – Sovereign, Most High, Everlasting, Eternal Creator, our Provider, our Banner, our Healer, our Righteousness, our Sanctifier, our Shepherd. Everything in His Name that declares His goodness, His faithfulness, His lovingkindness, as well as His dread holiness and majesty. This firmly establishes His character in our perception and gives rise to hope that is rooted and grounded in trusting Him, simply because He is trustworthy. However, we must also then believe that “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” So what is this diligence? I think it covers several issues; however, it really comes down to doing whatever is necessary to continue in the cycle of hope and faith. At times this requires aggressive diligence – continual prayer and fasting to break off the cancer of unbelief (Mat 17:20, 21). Sometimes diligence is forcing an attitude of thanksgiving and praise in the midst of circumstances before and as they are changing. Hebrews chapter 3 expounds how the Israelites were unable to enter the Promised Land due to their unbelief. Their unbelief really centered on their loss of hope and trust in God’s character and his ability or willingness to fulfill His promises. They had seen His mighty power over and over again, and yet they assessed the challenges they faced with the Anakim according to their own abilities instead of holding fast to the promise of God and trusting in His faithfulness. It says that God was “angry with that generation” because “they always go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways” (Heb 3:10). Because of this, they were denied access to the natural Land of Promise. We have now obtained, through what Jesus has accomplished, access to the spiritual Land of Promise and are admonished in Hebrews 4:11 to “therefore be diligent to enter that rest” – the rest that causes us to cease from our works and rely on His, “lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” Likewise, Abraham had to cease from his works (Ishmael) and wait on God for the fulfillment of the promise (Isaac) that he and Sarah had received. Hebrews 6:15 says of Abraham, “and so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” True prophetic words originate from the Eternal One who cannot lie, and we can be sure that they will come to pass, if we do our part to stay in the rest, to take thoughts captive, to keep ourselves in the love of God and maintain the hope that is anchored to a revelation of the unwavering goodness of God. Hebrews 6:19 tells us that “this hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” – this hope holds our souls steady even in the midst of the stormiest circumstances that seem to mock the promises of God. The verse continues on to say that this same hope is that which “enters the Presence behind the veil.” This is really what it is all about. This is really what we are all seeking and longing for. It is beyond the veil, in the sweet Presence of God, where we will find everything that we are seeking - and more.