The God of Hope

Generally, hope simply means, to want something to happen or to be true and think that it could happen or be true. That is, to cherish a desire with confidence, anticipation and expectation of obtainment. Unlike this general meaning of hope, for the most part, the hope with which the Bible is concerned is a virtue that is vastly different from Stoic endurance, precisely because it is bound up with a hope unknown to the Stoic (I Thessalonians 1:3; Romans 5:3-5).

Hope in the biblical sense refers to belief in the living God, who acts and intervenes in human life and who can be trusted to fulfill His promises. In other words, hope is a Christian virtue that anchors one’s soul when one navigates the challenging waters of life.

The God in whom we believe is called “The God of Hope” (Romans 15:13). Therefore, biblical hope is inseparable from faith in God. He is the God of hope because He is unchangeable and His love is unconditional. Such hope does not depend on circumstances, human possibilities, or what we can do for ourselves or what people can do for us. The absence of God in one’s life is tantamount to hopelessness (Ephesians 2:12; I Thessalonians 4:13).

If Jesus is Lord of your life, I dare you to expect future blessings that at present invisible because we serve the God of hope who is reliable and trustworthy – He is “the same yesterday, today and forever.” The things we hope for are real (Hebrews 11:1); and our hope never disappoints us (Romans 5:5). Hope is not a kite at the mercy of winds of change, but “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul”, penetrating deep into the invisible eternal world (Hebrews 6:19).

The Trinity is greatly intertwined with hope because God is the essence of hope; Jesus is the bridge of hope and the Holy Spirit is the divine director of the community of hope (the universal Church).

Christ in us the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27), and our final salvation rests on such hope; and this hope of salvation is a ‘helmet’, an essential part of our defensive armor in the struggle against evil (I Thessalonians 5:8). Even though there are no explicit references to hope in the teaching of Jesus, He teaches His disciples, however, not to be anxious about the future because it is in the hands of a loving Father. Hope in God as a loving Father is opposed to anxiety about the future.

The Holy Spirit is the divine director of the community of Hope. We should not be anxious about accomplishing the assignments unto which God has called us, because the power of the Holy Spirit is available for us every day. The Holy Spirit enables us to do even greater works than Jesus did (John 14:12)! Let us join the songwriter and with one voice declare: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.”

The Scripture is the foundation of hope. Hope is used 121 times in the King James Version and 159 times in New International Version. There are also other related words such as “hoped” and “hopeful.” “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). Because of the inseparable nature of ‘Scriptures’ and ‘hope’, we must do our best to start each day praying and studying the Bible.

Humanity is the beneficiary of hope and salvation is hope in Jesus Christ. Men and women, boys and girls desperately need the God of hope, which is why the Church engages in need-based evangelism.  Suffering is universal, no one escapes it. Obviously, we live in tough times.  No matter the tough situations that we face in life, our understanding of the implications and significance of the resurrection should revitalize our hope day in and day out. In the midst of the pain and brokenness that you may be experiencing, don’t give up. It will only last for a season. Bank on the inspiring Word of God as a great resource that helps you overcome!

The church is the agency of hope. According to Hebrews 12:14 and many, many other portion of Scriptures, the Church must be a holy community. Hope serves as a stimulus for purity of life (I John 3:2,3) and it enables Christ’s disciples to suffer cheerfully. God is calling Christians to reach the non-Christians, bring healing to the physically/emotionally sick, and minister deliverance to those that are oppressed by evil powers. We must embrace the way of Christ and the the apostles. You see, that is the Way of Hope!

Hope that is devoid of eschatology or ‘end times theology’ is miserable in nature (I Corinthians 15:19). The existence of biblical hope makes it impossible for Christians to be satisfied with the temporary joy and happiness of this life (Hebrews 13:14). Our call to be Christ’s disciples carries with it the hope of finally sharing His glory. Eternal salvation comes from believing in Jesus Christ, receiving Him as Lord and Savior and living a faithful Christian life. The fate of those outside eternal salvation is that they are doomed for hell fire where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Jesus Christ is our hope for time and eternity (I Timothy. 1:1)!

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Billy Graham: Relationship With God, Roles and Results

English: Evangelist Billy Graham, at a Crusade...

English: Evangelist Billy Graham, at a Crusade in Cleveland Ohio, on June 11, 1994. This was the first time the Billy Graham Crusade had tried a Youth Night, and there were about 85,000 that attended the concert, at Cleveland Stadium, on the shores of Lake Erie. Photo Paul M. Walsh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this article, I would do a brief description of the leadership actions of Billy Graham with reference to his relationship with God, roles, responsibilities and the results of his ministry.

Conversion and relationship with God

Billy Graham explains in his autobiography, Just as I Am, that sometime around his sixteenth birthday, after the preaching of Dr. Ham he became “deeply convicted about (his) sinfulness and rebellion.” In response to Dr. Ham’s altar call, Billy Graham went to the front. He writes that a family friend called J.D. Prevatt helped him understand what he needed to do to become a genuine Christian. He writes that after his salvation he continued in his salesmanship job alongside evangelism sandwiched with prayer. His relationship with God was the hub around which his life and ministry evolved.

Leadership and Roles

He reveals that on a certain night in 1983 he had his purpose and objective in life set – being a preacher of the Gospel, even though he lacked specificity about how and when!
After his resignation from the position of president at Northwestern College, he started ‘full-time’ evangelism. He draws the attention of readers to the establishment of a few principles of action that became the pattern throughout his ministry. This resolution was made in lieu of prayer, financial accountability, morality, cooperation with local churches, and generally carrying out ministry activities with integrity. In consequence of that resolution, Billy Graham made up his mind not to act himself familiar with the opposite sex, such as meeting or eating alone with a woman other than his wife.

Marshall Shelley recently published Ten Leadership Secrets From Billy Graham at the website of the Christianity Today Magazine (http: // http://www.christianitytoday.com). That article is replete with time-tested leadership principles.
The principles highlighted include,

1. Leadership is Forged in a Furnace
2. The Spirit of Team building Empowers and Energizes
3. Never Underestimate a “Small Temptation.”
4. Laser is on the Mission
5. Embrace the Challenge of Criticism
6. Recognize Fear as a Catalyst for Courage
7. Turn unthinkable Failure into Gold
8. Emphasize the Common Ground
9. Inspire other Leaders
10. Leverage weakness

In Robert E. Coleman’s book, The Master Plan of Evangelism, Billy Graham writes the foreword and reminds the readership about “The Priority to reach out in love to a confused and dying world with the good news of God’s forgiveness and peace and hope through Jesus Christ.”
Speaking to a one-time leader of Russia, Mr. Ponomarev, Billy Graham in an attempt to bring this leader to a relationship with God, witnessed saying, “ I have peace with God in my heart. If I die, I know I’m going to Heaven. God has given me the ability to love, to be more tolerant, to be more understanding, and to work toward peace in our world.”

Monumental impact

It is reported that 3.2 million people have responded to the invitation at Billy Graham Crusades to accept Jesus as their personal Savior. As of 2008, Graham’s estimated lifetime audience including radio and television broadcasts topped 2.2 billion. He operates a variety of media and publishing outlets.

Billy Graham has been referred to as a spiritual ambassador to political leaders. He is a leader who believes in social justice; during the civil rights movement, he began to support integrated seating for his revivals and crusades. In 1957 he invited Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to preach jointly at a huge revival in New York City.
Dr. Graham has appeared on Gallup’s list of most admired men and women 55 times, more than any other individual in the world.

Acknowledging the enormity of the results of his ministry on one hand, and the need to give God all the glory by the same token; Evangelist Billy Graham sums it up in the preface of his autobiography by succinctly expressing, “ Most of all if anything has been accomplished through my life, it has been solely God’s doing, not mine, and He-not I-must get the credit.”