Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.  I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.  To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

-Colossians 1:24-29

Fundamental to the Christian understanding of the Gospel is the notion of hope. Believers are filled with hope. The Old and New Testament understanding of hope is not to be confused with current secular understandings of this word or concept. In the Bible, “hope” is actually a certainty based upon the person, character and actions of God. Our hope is not some kind of optimistic “wishfulness” --- i.e., “I hope things are going to get better.”

Rather, as already stated, biblical hope is actually a certainty. It is a strong sense of expectation that is rooted in the redemptive activity of God and anchored in the future expectation of God’s final restoration of His creation. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead offers believers a secure hope in victory over sin and death. Our anticipation of the return of Jesus rewards us with a secure confidence in God and His ability to fulfill His promises.

As followers of Jesus, we are certain (hopeful) that one day, God’s will is certain to be done on earth just as it is in heaven. This will not occur because of the actions of humanity in an evolutionary pattern akin to Social Darwinism. There is no slow march toward Utopia as some liberal theologians have surmised.

We are totally dependent upon the grace of God to enact His will. We are partners with Him in His great plan of redemption. We are agents of reconciliation and restoration. However, this is not a belief in the secular perspective of social evolution. This is, rather, a belief derived from the prophetic teachings of God’s Word. He is at work in His world to accomplish His purposes according to His grace in His time. He is truly a God of hope!

 
December 3, 2017
The Revelation of God
Hebrews 1:1-4

Our God is a God of hope. He has revealed Himself to humanity in various ways throughout history. As we begin the Advent Season, we are reminded of the fact that it is in His self-revelation that we know anything about Him or His ways. Our hope is deeply connected to the very Person of God and what we know of Him. At Christmas, we celebrate the hope we have found in Him through His Son, Jesus.

Daily Bible Readings
This week marks the beginning of Advent. This season offers us an opportunity to reflect upon the precious gift of God to His World----namely, His Son! The prophets and writers of the Old Testament knew God to be a God of hope. They heard God’s voice as He spoke of the future. The time would come when hope would be incarnated in the Promised One. This week, take the time to reflect upon the beauty of God’s fulfilled promise when “the Word became flesh.”

December 4:        Psalm 62
December 5:        Isaiah 8:19-9:7
December 6:        Isaiah 11
December 7:        Matthew 1:18-2:12
December 8:        John 1:1-18
December 9:        Prayer and Reflection



December 10, 2017
Re-birth: A Living Hope!
1 Peter 1:3-12


As Christians, our hope cannot be separated from our salvation. We have been redeemed by the grace of God. God has made it possible for us to be forgiven and cleansed from our sin. We have been transformed by this divine work of God. Hope is now alive in us. Our hope is secure because of the trustworthiness of God. Our salvation is secure in Him. We have been born again and, consequently, our hope is alive!

Daily Bible Readings
Jesus told Nicodemus, “No one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3). That spiritual re-birth to which Jesus referred is a true act of God’s grace. It is a miraculous occurrence. When we are born again, hope becomes a reality for us. We are not left to our own devices to resolve all that is wrong with us! God has intervened. He has saved us. He has raised us to life in the realm of the spirit. And now, His Spirit is within us. With this new birth comes the precious gift of hope!

December 11:      1 Peter 1:1-2:3
December 12:      1 Peter 2:4-25
December 13:      1 Peter 3
December 14:      1 Peter 4
December 15:      1 Peter 5
December 16:      Prayer and Reflection


December 17, 2017
The Resurrection of Jesus
1 Peter 1:13-2:3


As Christians, our hope in God is vitally linked to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This historical act was God’s greatest act in redemption. On that first Easter Sunday, God defeated death as He victoriously raised Christ from the dead. Our faith is in Him, and our hope is secure in Him as well. The resurrection of Jesus is the turning point in all of human history. Things will never be the same. Our hope radiates from this signal moment in God’s great plan of redemption.

Daily Bible Readings
This week we will be reading texts that proclaim the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and its meaning for believers. We will listen as Luke describes the monumental story of the resurrection itself. Then, we will hear Paul explain its meaning from a theological perspective. During this Advent Season, let’s pause to thank God for the hope we have for the future because of the resurrection of Christ!

December 18:      Luke 24:1-12
December 19:      Luke 24:13-35
December 20:      Luke 24:36-53
December 21:      1 Corinthians 15:1-34
December 22:      1 Corinthians 15:35-58
December 23:      Prayer and Reflection



December 24, 2017
Restoration: God’s Christmas Present
Colossians 1:24-29


We all like to give and receive Christmas presents. It is a long-standing tradition among Christian families to exchange presents during this season. That practice is actually derived from the recognition that Christmas is actually a celebration of God’s great gift to humanity-----His Son! Through Jesus Christ, we now have the opportunity to truly live as children of God. He is at work in us to restore God’s glory in us. He is our hope of glory! Merry Christmas!

Daily Bible Readings
We began the Advent Season by reading the prophecies from Isaiah. A child was to be born. He was to be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He was to be the shoot of Jesse, and the Spirit of the LORD was to rest on Him. This week, we read of the fulfillment of these prophecies and many others as Luke wrote of the birth of Jesus. We praise God with Simeon as he declared, “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32).

December 25:      Luke 1:1-25
December 26:      Luke 1:26-56
December 27:      Luke 1:57-80
December 28:      Luke 2:1-21
December 29:      Luke 2:22-52
December 30:      Prayer and Reflection

 

December 31, 2017
The Return of Jesus
Colossians 3:1-4


Our hope is deeply connected to the Person of God and His redemptive work in Christ. Our hope is anchored in the power of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is secured in our certain hope of the glorious appearing of our Lord in the future. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Daily Bible Readings
This week, we bring the Advent Season to a conclusion and we launch a new year. May we end our year in hope and begin a new year in hope as well. We are grateful to God for His trustworthy character and for His grace revealed in His great redemptive acts. Our hope is secure and is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and His righteousness!

January 1:           Luke 24:1-12
January 2:           Luke 24:13-35
January 3:           Luke 24:36-53
January 4:           1 Corinthians 15:1-34
January 5:           1 Corinthians 15:35-58
January 6:           Prayer and Reflection

Advent:  The Gospel of Hope
December 3, 2017 – January 6, 2018