Thought For The Month July 2018

June 29 2018

Land of hope and glory

It’s World Cup time!  We are told that we could be in for a lovely summer as the flags and bunting appear around our streets.  Expectation of England winning is a little less than previous years but we continue to hope that it could be our time.  52 years have passed since the great Bobby Moore lifted the Jules Rimet trophy and you sometimes feel it will never happen again.  In my lifetime I have grown excited over 6 or 7 World Cups - could it be that Keegan, Robson, Lineker, Gascoigne, Beckham, Gerrard or Rooney might finally bring it home - only to fall to injuries, poor performances, or poor decisions!  I can but hope that this time could be different.

Hope is a wonderful thing, it strengthens in times of weakness, it energizes when tired, motivates when discouraged, shines brightly when times are dark. I have certainly found that having hope helps me to live with more confidence that circumstances can change, making life more exciting and joy-filled. With hope, success is possible.

As a Christian, someone who follows and believes in Jesus, my hope is based upon a person who has come and fulfilled all that the chosen Messiah was supposed to do. Of course there is also misguided hope, like in the times of Jesus the people expected the Messiah to defeat the Romans and bring great times to the nation of Israel. The truth was that He brought about another type of victory - over the works of evil, so that the whole of mankind can experience His Kingdom and freedom.  A spiritual victory won rather than a political one. 

Hope is closely linked to faith in that there is a belief in something; that it’s going to happen. Perhaps you have had a taste of it before, like birthdays and Christmas, or you have experienced something rewarding like a sporting achievement or a pay rise just when required. Hope in Jesus is based upon the evidence that He came before and has promised to return, making it a hope of certainty.

For Harry Kane and the millions of us at home we can experience the wishful thinking type of hope, or we can have the more certain hope that comes from experience like in 66’, which tells us that it is actually possible, and therefore we get an extra 10% of output from ourselves. It’s happened before and it can happen again. It is up to us to re-kindle that hope or perhaps we can speak that encouragement to others who need to hear it.

I am sure the England squad are grounded in the certainty of that famous victory, let’s hope that they will play with that belief, certain that it is possible to happen again.  Sportsmen/women have to take part with the excitement and confidence that they are good enough to compete and win.

What takes ordinary fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot and a tent maker, to mention a few of Jesus’ disciples, to go from a place of being fearful and hiding away to suddenly being emboldened to take the news of Jesus to the ends of the earth?  Someone rising from death to life has quite an impact! The hope of the nation of Israel had fulfilled all that was spoken of Him, He then promised that He would return. They had not anticipated that there would be a second coming of Jesus, once to die for mankind’s sin and the second time to judge the earth and establish His Kingdom. Jesus was the hope of the nation and that has extended to all the nations, who now can receive the hope of resurrection after death. Jesus associated with sinners, and they loved Him because his words and actions conveyed the message of mercy and hope for them. We cannot gain merit before God by being good, we simply acknowledge our wrongdoing and believe upon Jesus as our Lord, and He is our substitute for what punishment we would have received. God can then use us for His purposes and for His glory. God has a good plan for all of our lives when we trust Him.

True hope is found in the saving work of Jesus Christ upon the cross, there is no hope quite like this. May God fill you with His hope and joy as you turn to him.