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In the Top Three

One thing about sports teams… it doesn’t take long to see who contenders for championships will be and who are going to have a long season of just going through the motions. Nothing sadder to me that when teams hit a long stretch of being in the losing column game after game.   The team’s morale is devastated and the fans are quickly demoralized.  It is obvious when everyone connected with the team resign themselves to the hopeless reality that victories are not going to be frequent again this year.

That is too often an example of a life filled with bad choices, disappointments, failures, and lots of lost opportunities.  When that is the resume one has established, not only have others stopped encouraging them, but they keep telling themselves that they are worthless and hopeless.

Our God is the God of transforming hopeless, lost, and wasted lives into flourishing, winning, and confident Christians.  Some of the saints that have made the greatest contributions are those that were once thought to be useless due to poor performance in life.  But God’s amazing grace gripped their hearts.  When they responded to His convicting power, they were “born anew” into a spiritually driven and Christ focused life.  Their outlook gradually changed to one of optimism.  Their lifestyle was radically transformed. Their heart was filled with Biblical hope. 

 In Romans 4:22 he says, “This is why Abraham’s faith ‘reckoned to him as righteousness.’” And the faith Paul is speaking about is the faith that God would fulfill his promise by giving him a son, Isaac.

So, the faith which justified Abraham was faith in the future work of God. Verse 21 makes this crystal clear: he was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” In other words, he had what Hebrews 6:11 called the “full assurance of hope.”  Verse 18 describes how faith and hope worked together: “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations.”

“Against hope” means that from the ordinary human standpoint there was no hope: Abraham was too old to have a child, and his wife was barren. But biblical hope is never based on what is possible with man. Biblical hope looks away from man to the promise of God. And when it does, it becomes the “full assurance of hope” — the expectation of great things from God.  (taken from a sermon by John Piper https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/what-is-hope).

In Paul’s conclusion to the “love chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13, he states that there are three virtues that abide and remain…” faith, hope, and love”.  Faith is what we exercise to experience the changes in our lives as we move from destructive sin to dedicated life of following the Lord Jesus.  Hope is what becomes our heart’s reality in experiencing God’s mercy and confident in the fulfillment of His promises.  And, then the greatest of the commandments rules us…. our love for God which is with all of one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our love for neighbor as ourselves.

Paul would state that those Christian attributes are “the top three” and listed among the top three is hope.  Doesn’t it feel good to know you have experienced all of those because of God’s forgiveness and you get to daily live by faith in Christ, in confident hope, as you love others!