Summary: God's love can change us from people without hope to the most hopeful people on the planet.
Changed By Hope!
Hope and hopelessness are more than opposites. Their characteristics are more defined than night and day. Anyone who has ever experienced the depths of hopelessness can easily attest to how oppressive and soul-shattering hopelessness can be. On the other hand, those who have drank deeply from the well of hope know that no odds can hold back the waters of hope, no circumstances will ever be able to drown out the fire kindled by the bright light of hope!
It is hope that enabled a young slave girl who had been beaten, degraded, defiled, continually abused, and eventually had her own children sold -- to become a great woman of God. A woman who was able to stand in the face of discrimination, ridicule, and threats and declare that "Jesus is the hope of the world - for all colors of people!" Such is the story of Sojourner Truth.
It is hope that enabled a poor inner-city kid from Detroit to rise above the clouds of circumstances and become a doctor. He was raised in a single-parent home. His mother only completed the fifth grade, but she challenged her son to turn the "F's" on his report card into "A's." She worked three jobs to pay the bills and set an example for her son that he would always remember. He raised the "F's" to "A's" and became Dr. Benjamin Carson - who at age 33 became the Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. It is Dr. Carson who performed the first successful separation of Siamese Twins joined at the head.
It is hope that enabled a vigilant young man who found himself in prison after serving in the White House as the so-called "Hatchet Man" for President Nixon to rise above his situation of despair and begin a world-wide ministry to others shackled in prison cells. Such is the story of Chuck Colson and Prison Fellowship.
It is hope that caused a woman injured in a diving accident and sentenced to a wheelchair as a quadriplegic for the remainder of her days to see her wheelchair as a pulpit instead of a prison. Such is the story of Joni Erickson Tada.
I could go on and on sharing stories with you of the hope experienced by multitudes of men, women, boys, and girls who found themselves rising above what appeared to be hopeless situations. There is a common thread running throughout each of these stories of hope, endurance, tenacity, and victory. The common thread is hope. Not hope in general. Not some nebulous "I hope things work out all right." Not a Pollyanna wishful thinking. Not even a sheer determination to strive for a positive mental outlook. The hope of those who rise above hopelessness is found in the very specific hope found only in Jesus Christ - His arrival, His victory over the grave, and the hope He offers to all who are looking forward to His soon return. This is the hope that endures the tests of the ages and transforms lives!
Today we are continuing our study of 1 John. Last week, as we studied 1 John 2:18-28, we took time to understand things like the "last days," the "Anti-Christ," and "antichrists" that are presently seeking to lead people away from God by deceptive teachings and manipulation. This week our study turns to the transforming power of the hope we have as we look forward to the return of Jesus Christ. By "transforming power" I mean to say that those of us who look with expectation and enthusiasm to the return of our Lord and Savior will be transformed, changed, by that expectation as we live our lives to bring glory to our King. Let's take a look at our Scripture for today so that we can dig in.
28And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
(3) 1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (1 John 2:28-3:3 NIV)
What an incredible section of God's Word! These five little verses of Scripture can serve as a springboard for you and me to live a life full of hope, expectation, and holiness if we will drink deeply of God's Word for us today. The key to appropriating God's Truth and experiencing the transformation that God desires for your life and mine is our willingness to "continue" in Jesus. John says, 28And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. John uses an interesting word in this verse. The Greek word, "me,nete" (menete) used in verse 28, means, "remain, stay, abide, live, dwell, last, endure, continue, await, or wait for." The word is used six times in the New Testament and John uses the word "continue" or "abide" to encourage us to stay in step with Jesus. We are not to lag behind or get out ahead of the Lord, but we are to listen to His voice with diligence and intensity. We are to follow His leadership with passion, conviction, and confidence. We are to seek after His will, making God's will priority over our own will.