From the Preacher’s Pen…
Our look at several of God’s gifts to us continues. The gift of labor helps us to find value even as we grow and learn. Friendship teaches us to be a part of a team that we might accomplish more together than separately, and money teaches us what we may accomplish in doing for and helping others rather than selfishly doing only for ourselves. The gift of family gives us a glimpse of the Heavenly relationship envisioned by God for His people, while gratitude helps us to be truly thankful and enables us to count our blessings as we realize how rich and numerous they really are. The gift of laughter gives us a view of God’s own real joy and the gift of problems allows us to experience, know and understand in order to grow. God’s gift of learning shows that He treats us like adults as we grow to better know, understand and teach others.
Now let’s look at the gift of hope and dreams that we might observe and long for a bright future…
The Gift of Dreams
Hopes and dreams can, of course, be mere nonsense. Many people waste their lives dreaming of their boatload of money to arrive so that they can continue doing nothing. The old joke of “I hope I win the lottery even though I didn’t buy a ticket” is the same ignorant goal. The only way that dreams become reality is when our hope motivates us to work toward the goal.
Hope is defined as the feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. It is only real when there are grounds for believing that it may happen. Indeed, the older meaning of the word is a feeling of trust. To hope or dream of things without expectation or trust is, to put it simply, ridiculous.
The Old Testament uses several words that translate to English as hope. They carry the idea that this is a plan, a goal that requires trust and waiting for the completion. There’s even a word for vain or empty hope.
The Psalmist, like all of God’s people, uses these words frequently: Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord (Psalm 31:24). For I hope in You, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God (Psalm 38:15). Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence. (Psalm 42:5) I hope for Your salvation, O Lord, and do Your commandments (Psalm 119:166).
In real hope there is the reminder that God is both the actual source and goal of the greatest dreams: Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live; and do not let me be ashamed of my hope (Psalm 119:116). I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope (Psalm 130:5).
In the New Testament, the letters to Christians frequently remind them of their expectations, their dreams, their hope in Christ. You might well remember that Paul spoke of faith, hope, and love as the great gifts of God; greater even than the first-century miracles that were ending (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Recall some of Paul’s reminders about the importance of our dreams, our hope and how precious it really is: We exult in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:2b). Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5). For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. (Romans 8:24-25)
It is easy to understand how, when sin came into the world and the richness of God’s creation began to deteriorate, we as God’s creation might despair of ever seeing such beauty and an eternal home again. In reality, God replaced it with a dream, a hope, a goal far beyond the garden on earth that we lost… the dream, the hope of heaven (cf. Romans 8:20).
Be a part of the great dream! Be a part of God’s family that you might have the hope, the goal of that eternal home. Don’t miss out on any of God’s great gifts!
— Lester P. Bagley