Summary: Paul prays for believers to have hope in Christ Jesus. How is this different from worldly hope and how does it help us navigate life?

Have you ever thought about how the meaning of a symbol or a logo can change meanings if you were to rotate it upside down? For example, if you turn the hands over on our title slide, it looks kind of like someone is now washing their hands. If you rotate the lesser than symbol in math, it becomes greater than. Flip the Chicago Bulls logo over, you now have a preaching robot.

I just learned this one recently- knowing that Superman’s symbol isn’t actually an S but the Kryptonian symbol for hope. Since that’s today’s topic, I thought I’d look for the story behind that. And then I came across this- according to a Superboy comic book, if you turn the symbol upside down, it becomes the Kryptonian symbol for resurrection. As we wrap up our series Pray Like Paul, we’re going to examine the hope that we have because of the resurrection of Christ.

Paul begins his prayer for the Colossians by praying for their faith and love. In verse 5 of today’s passage, Paul points out that hope is the foundation of faith and love. Now, when our group assembled the series plan, I hadn’t caught it, but as I was getting ready for today, it caught my eye that Paul was connecting the concepts of faith and love and hope. Probably the most famous place he’s done that is in 1 Corinthians 13:13 (read). Then it hit me that two weeks ago, we preached about faith, last week we spoke about love, and today we’re going to explore the idea of hope. I just thought how cool is it that God put those concepts on our minds as we planned together, and even though it didn’t occur to us then, here we are looking at how Paul prayed and exploring those three concepts together. Faith, love, and today let’s talk about hope.

What do we mean when we say hope? The worldly idea seems to be more like wishful thinking. The dictionary defines hope as a noun that means “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. As a verb, it means “to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence; to believe, desire, or trust; to feel that something desired may happen. This results in statements like “I hope I get the job” or “I hope she’ll marry me” or “I hope my child returns home safely” or “I hope I don’t get sick.”

The Bible defines hope, on the other hand, as “the sure and confident expectation of receiving what God has promised us in the future.” This results in statements like “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness” and “In Christ alone, my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song.”

The big difference between these two perceptions of hope is that worldly hope is filled with uncertainty. Biblical hope is based on reality and not a feeling. Biblical hope carries no doubt. Biblical hope is a sure foundation upon which we base our lives, believing that God always keeps His promises.

Let me give you an example of how the two concepts often get confused. Back when Terri was pregnant with Hannah, her morning sickness was so bad that she had to have a constant IV and carried the IV bag in a backpack. We had visited a church in the neighborhood and were visiting the preacher, getting to know him. He noticed the IV and asked Terri about it, so she explained how her pregnancy had been difficult. He then decided to put Terri’s faith to the test and asked her, “So this baby is going to be healthy?” and she answered, “I hope so.” Now, she meant that in the biblical sense that she was trusting God to get her through this time of pregnancy and deliver a healthy child. He interpreted her use of the word hope in the worldly sense and got after her. “You don’t hope so, you know so, cause you’ve got God on your side!”

Let’s dig a little deeper into this idea of hope that Paul is talking about. Hope comes when you know the past. Hope comes from knowing that God doesn’t lie but always keeps His promises. I like to refer to Hebrews 11 as the Hall of Faith. It contains a list of people who received God’s promises and lived in hope of their fulfillment. Even as God was handing out curses to Adam and Eve and the serpent, He promises about Jesus, “You (the serpent) will bruise His heel, He will crush your head.” When Noah offered sacrifices at the end of the flood, God presented the rainbow as a reminder that He would never destroy the world by a flood again. He promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations 25 years before Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old. Moses received the promise that Israel would be God’s chosen people while they were still slaves in Egypt. David was promised that he would always have a son on the throne.

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