Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WEDNESDAY WEEKLY WORD...the importance of hope

Today, I am beginning a study of the book of Colossians. I hope you will come along on the journey as God reveals His Word to me on this study.

Paul begins his letter to the Colossians, as he did most of his letters with a greeting, followed by pointing out their accomplishments in the Lord. In the book of Colossians, Paul specifically thanks them for their faith and love. I love this about Paul, that his first communication is positive affirmation! He did this even if he had some concerns about them.

"for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints (5) because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You have already heard about this hope in the message of truth, (6) the gospel that has come to you. It is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has among you since the day you heard it and recognized God's grace in the truth."

Paul is affirming his readers' faith and love, which came out of their hope. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, Paul says that "the greatest of these is love", here in Colossians, Paul says that his readers' faith and love come out of their hope.

The NIV says that they "spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven". (1:5) This hope that is stored up (or reserved) is a hope that death will not defeat us, our hope is in Jesus Christ!

Love will grow out of hope...
Love is more secure when we have the hope that it is forever. It is hard to fully love something that you know you will soon lose. People tend to hold on less tightly when they know that a permanent separation is inevitable.

Love becomes more intense when we share a common vision of where we are going. Sport teams are bound to each other by their passion to win a championship. In the same way, Christians are bound together by their common hope in Jesus Christ.

Faith is strengthened through hope...
Faith is important, it helps to bring meaning and abundance to our life. However, without having hope, faith would not be all that it can be.

1 CORINTHIANS 15:13,14
"But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without foundation, and so is your faith."

1 CORINTHIANS 15:17-19
"And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Therefore those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. If we have placed our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone."

Faith and hope are intertwined, and this is why it can be said that faith "springs from" the hope that we have within us. Love is the clearest sign of God's presence (1 John 4:12) however, Paul is telling his readers that having Christian hope is a vital role in generating and maintaining love as well as faith.

In studying Paul's letter to the Colossians, I have seen two positive factors which no doubt led to the growth of the gospel:

  1. affirming the leaders by looking at the positive things in the lives of the newly converted.
  2. recognizing the hope that the gospel offered those that needed to grow.
Sometimes, as leaders, we tend to emphasize the negative over the positive. Instead of noticing the progress that people make - we tend to point out their failures. One way that we can affirm one another is showing appreciation for them. Thanking them, honoring them, recognizing them, loving them, giving them hope when they feel hopeless.

In last weeks YOUR OPINION MATTERS POLL, I polled the readers the following question, "When it comes to thanking others for what they have done or are doing, how do you show your appreciation?" The top 3 answers:

1. 41% of those polled, said that they send a thank you note or a personal letter.
2. 33% voted and said that they will pull them aside and tell them face-to-face thank you.
3. 16% of those voting, said that they mean to give thanks but usually forget.

How can we change the 16% of people who mean well but just forget? Wouldn't it be great if our communities were full of Paul's? If we all took the approach that Paul took -affirming others and testifying to the hope that is within because of the love and faith in Jesus Christ.

This week, join me and find at least 1 newly born Christian that you can affirm. Talk to them face-to-face or at least give them a call. Affirm their decision to follow Christ and then encourage them to seek discipleship. Either in a Sunday School class, a Bible Study class, or one on one mentoring. Sharing your love and faith in Jesus Christ will strengthen their hope.

NEXT WEDNESDAY: Colossians 1:9-14


Peggy said...

Blessings Laurie...Thanks for this study of Colossians, I think I may be in need of some HOPE! My hope is in Christ Jesus!!!I love positive affirmation. Thank you for teaching from His word! Thank you for such a good message on hope. I love how you shared the relationship between faith, hope & love!

You do so well in taking the poll to correlate with your teaching! I so agree with:"One way that we can affirm one another is showing appreciation for them. Thanking them, honoring them, recognizing them, loving them, giving them hope when they feel hopeless." especially for the pastors & wives during Ministry Appreciation Month!

I appreciate you so...even though you are not at my church, I know how much pastors & their spouses give of themselves. But I'm thankful for how you serve in Women's Ministry even here and Prayer ministry. May God bless you abundantly for your servant heart. Be sure to come & pick up 4 blessing from me for how you sow seeds of love & friendship for me.

Thanks for your faithful visits & comments! You will never realize what a blessing it is to come home from ministry & find your blessing
affirming my day! Thank you!

Daniel's Mom said...

Thank you for the post! It's full of truth! I tend to send out cards and such. I try to thank people fact to face also,but sometimes I do forget. Thank you for reminding me how important it is.

Laurie Ann said...

Great post, Laurie! So full of teaching, encouragement and inspiration. Thank you so much for doing this study and sharing it with us. Bless you!