Contributed by VBC Executive Director Ron McIntosh.
I recently preached a sermon about “Crossing Over.” I used Joshua 3 as my text, where it says, Israel was camped before crossing over. Here Joshua gives 9 keys for us as believers to cross over to our Promised Land (Heb. 4:1-11). The altar call filled the entire front of the church with hundreds of people. After the service so many people came to me saying, “I have hope again!”
We are living in an age where many Christians have lost hope. Political, cultural and spiritual shifts have discouraged a multitude of church members and leaders. People have lost hope, or for many, hope has been swallowed up in routine. Because of their routine they ignore the issues and settle for surviving rather than thriving like God has ordained for them.
This reminds me of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20. Jehoshaphat declared a state of emergency and gathered Judah to assess the situation. They knew that an army of 3 nations sought to conquer them. Look at verse 3, “Alarmed (some translations say in great fear)…” Jehoshaphat, like many of us responded by assessing the situation in the natural. He panicked! It’s the rest of the verse that stirs my faith, “…Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord…” In crisis we will run from God or run to God. However, many people simply retreat into a routine that ignores the pain by sticking their head in the sand. They begin to believe it can’t be any different. They swallow the inevitability of a changing culture that accepts the legalization of drugs, alternative lifestyles and the futility of God’s standard of productivity.
It’s Jehoshaphat’s prayer that ignites me from 20:6, “O Lord God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand and no one can withstand you.” Wow! What amazing words if they are revelation to us. He goes on to say, “… for the battle is not yours, but the battle is God’s” (v. 19).
Instead of rehashing his fears about how large his circumstances were (his enemy), he centered himself on how big his God truly is. Jehoshaphat hoped in the Lord.
This word “hope” is the Greek word “elpis.” This word means favorable or confident expectation or anticipation of good (Strong’s/Thayer’s 1680). That means put a smile on your face because it is not over. God is working behind the scenes on your behalf and He is turning your situation for good (Rom. 8:28). He is preparing a table before your enemies. H.O.P.E. is an acronym for healthy, optimistic,positive, expectation of good on our behalf.
Unfortunately, the world has diluted our understanding of hope. Sometimes people say, “I hope it works out for you.” “I hope you get the house.” If you listen behind the words they are filled with speculation. Romans 5:5 tells us, “…hope does not disappoint us.”
The story of Jehoshaphat ends well. The Lord fights on behalf of Jehoshaphat and destroys his enemies as he follows His instruction to send praisers into battle first. This is what one man called 20/20 vision. 2 Chron. 20:20 says, “Believe in the Lord your God and you will be established…” It’s time to leave our spiritual myopia and prepare to follow His strategies. “No one can withstand Him.”
Hope does not disappoint us..