Share any quotes that you have brought along, saying why they speak to you.
In the Jewish tradition, at the Festival of Passover, the family all sit around the table for a shared meal. It is customary for the youngest person (who has been instructed and primed on what to say) to ask four set questions starting with ‘How is this night different from all other nights?’ The oldest people in the family group answer the questions and in so doing teach the meaning of The Passover feast and in this way one of the stories of God’s faithfulness is handed down from generation to generation.
The Bible is essentially full of hope. A hope, not based on a blind optimism which says ‘everything will work out alright in the end’, but rather, based on the experienced, shared, tangible faithfulness of God and the promises which he provides.
The world around us today appears to be almost devoid of hope. So often the prevailing atmosphere is of a society that has lost direction, has lost its mind and has lost all hope. Every bad or negative thing is broadcast around the world within minutes of it happening and it would seem that there is no time to process or filter that before something else comes up before us. For many, this leads to feelings of hopelessness and even despair. More than ever we need a generation of disciples, soldiers, warriors, call them what you will, willing to shine out as Beacons of Hope in the darkness. Be steadfast in your hope!
The hope of the world is Christ, live your life in such a way that hope is evident; live your life in such a way that Christ shines out.
Read Philippians 2:14-15(NIV)
We need role models of steadfast hope in the world.
Remember your stories of faith and rehearse them There are many reasons why we have hope in God, but one of them is certainly that we have known God’s faithfulness in the past and know his promise for the future.
‘But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…’
1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
Looking back at times which have been personally difficult and recognising God’s loving kindness through those times leads us to praise in our own lives and also presents us with a story of faith that is relatable to others. When the opportunity arises share that story with someone going through a similar experience and remember the purpose of sharing is not to show how YOU got through the experience but to display God’s faithfulness to you through it.
A quick three point plan is:
Share some of the stories of faith within the group
Be a Champion
There are many people who feel squeezed by every facet of modern life, who do not know where to turn, who find that their relationships are so fractured that they do not know who to talk to. Decide to be a champion to someone that you know. This could be in a formal way e.g. in a mentoring group or a prayer buddy system established at your corps, or could be informally by just living out your hope alongside somebody.
Start off by praying regularly for them; bring their needs before God every day, particularly their need for God’s salvation or presence. Our prayers are so often focussed on the temporal that we forget to pray for the eternal.
Offer words of encouragement whenever possible; let them know you are praying for them.
Make sure they know that you value them.
Live life as an ambassador of Heaven
We believe that Jesus wants us to live life in all its fullness making the most of every God-given moment while on this mortal coil but our hope is not confined to what we experience in this world but also looks forward with hope to the eternal world. This is not a ‘cop out’ as some people suggest, there is nothing in the Christian faith that implies that the life we now
live is not to be valued. But let us be clear – we have a glorious hope that awaits us in constant, perfect communion with God that is beyond the realms of our understanding and we do ourselves, and more importantly, the world, a disservice when we do not point to this hope that we have through Christ and live our life accordingly.
Ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in directing you to those who are despondent and discouraged. Seek opportunity to live out your hope alongside them.
Reflect upon some of the times when you have struggled and how God has helped you through. Write a prayer of thanksgiving for the eternal hope that you have been given.
‘That we through patience and comfort of the
scriptures might have hope…the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
that you may abound in hope, through the
power of the Holy Ghost.’
Romans 15:4, 13
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