Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Reflections on the first Wednesday in Advent: “Hope in Christ”

“Hope” in worldly jargon and conceptual thinking is subjective to the extreme. It is concerned about “expectations and hopes [that] are man’s own expectations of his future.” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. 2, 518) In this way, men hope the economy gets better, but we are warned when it comes to hope in money: “See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction.” (Psalm 52:7) Others put hope in their best efforts to live a good life and do the right thing, but we are warned here again, “Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness…none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered.” (Ezekiel 33:13). It is also easy to put hope in other leaders or inspirational figures (presidential candidates or perhaps your favorite talk show guru): “Thus says the Lord: Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:5).  This so-called “hope” is about control. I should say the illusion of control. Trying to control the future by controlling today with all of the things we cling to for “hope.” But all of these things mentioned are passing away; none of them will last. So — and needless to say — we need another version of hope. Let’s go to God’s version. It is the hope derived from true saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This hope is “the assurance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1) and it is a saving hope: “For in this hope we were saved.” (Romans 8:24a) This hope is not based on the passing things of this world, but it is based upon God Himself! “He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” (2nd Corinthians 1:10) This hope does not wade in subjectivity, but finds itself standing strong on Christ’s objective promises: He has saved us, He is risen, He has promised never to leave us, He will work all things out for our good, He is Lord, He is Savior, He is ours, we are His! Johann Gerhard once listed three things which calmed his anxiety and made hope certain and strong: 1. God’s love by which you are His adopted child; 2. The truth of His promise; and 3. His power to deliver what He has promised! (Meditations on Divine Mercy, 100). When hope is based on these, there is hope, real hope! In Christ, Dr. Espinosa

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