Hope Does Not Disappoint

And 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
I’ve been reflecting on hope for a while. I’ve come to the conclusion that I haven’t understood the subject very well.
In our culture – and our churches are part of this – we make statements like, “Oh, I hope John’s operation goes well.” We use “hope” as a synonym for “wish”, and when we do, we reveal that our concept of hope is relatively powerless. Our actions and our unguarded words reveal that we consider hope to be little (if any) more than random chance.
Since I’m going to shoot that perspective down, I might as well do it directly: this thinking is heretical, it reveals lazy thinking, and it’s insulting to the God who loves me enough to die for me.
I’m certain that our insulting heresy is not (normally) an intentional choice; we believe poorly because we haven’t learned any better. We’ve let our secular culture do too much of our thinking for us instead of letting the Spirit of God teach us.

Hope Does Not Disappoint.

First of all, whatever hope really is, it is not about disappointment. It’s not about the longings of my heart (or yours) being disregarded, crushed or ignored.
Hope is built on the love of God, not the roll of the dice. Because the love of God has been poured out in my heart through the Holy Spirit, therefore hope does not disappoint. Two observations:
· This is a done deal: the love of God has already been poured out, the Holy Spirit has already been given. I am not waiting for God to do something, nor is He waiting for me to do something, for hope to become secure. It’s based on things that have actually happened.
· This is likely proportional: If I don’t know the love of God, then I am likely to have difficulty knowing the hope that does not disappoint. To the degree that my life is entwined with the Holy Spirit who was given to me, to that same degree I am able to know this powerful and reliable hope.
In fact, Biblical hope does not rely on chance and it does not rely on me. It relies on God. It doesn’t even rely on God’s power or his will: it relies on who He is. “God is love” (1 John 4:16) and it is His love – His very identity – that is the assurance that hope does not disappoint.

Hope Involves the Unseen

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
Hope is all about promises that we have not yet received. If we have the thing promised, then hope is meaningless. But if we have a promise that we have not yet received, then that’s a good place to employ hope.
More specifically, if it’s been promised by God, then we can rely on it, we can be confident that although we don’t see it now – and we may not even see the first clue that it’s even possible – yet because I are recipients of God’s love poured out in my heart, I can have confidence that hope will not disappoint.

Hope is a Fight

What does the verse say? “…with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” The Greek word for perseverance involves fight, a determined persistence in the face of obstacles. There are some animals that when they bite, their jaw locks into place, and letting go is not an option for them until the fight is over. If you kill the animal, the jaw remains locked in place.
So we wait with perseverance. But we also wait eagerly.
I have a friend who has four kids, and on Christmas morning, he doesn’t let them leave their room until the parents give the call, “Merry Christmas Kids!” Before that moment, the parents are wrapping the last of the presents, tucking the last toy into a stocking, while the kids are nearly beside themselves with anticipation. When the call finally comes, there are four pajama-clad blurs down the hallway and woe be unto anyone or anything that stands in the way. That's how we wait.
If you have ever tried to persuade a child that Christmas has been cancelled this year (and I’ve tried), you’ll get an earful. If you persist (and it was a mistake), then you’ll get an idea of what “…with perseverance we wait eagerly” actually means. That's how we wait.
That’s what our hope is to be like. Even though it’s not here yet, nevertheless we cannot be persuaded that it is not coming, and we are excited beyond measure for the arrival of that for which we hope.

Hope Has an Object

We hold on to hope, not as an end in itself. We don’t hope in hope, we hope in God. We have Hope because it is God Himself that has given us hope as He has already given us His love and His Holy Spirit.
And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. Psalm 39:7
There is a weakness, a vulnerability, in the subject of hope, and that’s why the object of our hope is so important. Because we have confused “hope” with “wish”, it’s not impossible – not even difficult – to confuse our wishes with hope.
I know people who (generally unintentionally) use hope to attempt to manipulate God. Because they want a thing, therefore they build this expectation of epic proportions, and they tell themselves (and anyone else who will listen) that God is obligated to provide this thing for them because if He doesn’t, He’ll be letting them down. And using this argument, they wait for the perfect wife, the ideal husband, the perfect ministry to be dropped into their laps.
I am not saying that God has not made promises to these brothers and sisters. I’m saying that God promised salvation (sozo) and eternal life, and that we can and must hold onto those promises, knowing (not wishing) that while we may not see them in their fullness yet, nevertheless, we will inhabit that place, and our confidence those truths is as secure as the truth that God loves us, that God has given His Holy Spirit to us.
I live today knowing that I will inherit all that God has promised to me. I can bank on that, regardless of what my circumstances tell me. More than that, I will.

Visit Northwest Prophetic for a complete archive of regional prophetic words.

Surviving Mountaintop Experiences

Many years ago, I was asking God about my future, and He showed me a series of mountain tops. My destiny was to go from where I was up to the peak before me, and from there to greater and greater peaks. (In my youth, I was excited about it; it was some time later before I figured out that this is His plan for pretty much every human being on the planet.)

After He showed me the mountains, and after a dramatic pause, the scene shifted; it rotated sideways by about 90 degrees, and I realized that the path was not simply from one mountain top to the next, but that there were valleys between the mountaintops. Having spent decades hiking through valleys and climbing peaks and ridges, I realized how much work that represented. I found myself somewhat discouraged: if every “high point” experience is followed by a fall to approximately my starting point (or worse), then I’d be completely worn out before I ever reached the higher peaks of my destiny.

I’ve seen people who lived like that. They pursue mountaintop experiences, and because they pursue them, they also find them (there’s a lesson here somewhere: if you want something, it’s probably good to pursue it). But after nearly every peak experience, they’d go into something of a tailspin, and end up discouraged, maybe falling into sin.

Elijah was a man like that. We all know him for the battle atop Mt Carmel where he called fire down from heaven and killed 450 prophets of Baal, but one chapter later, he’s hiding in a cave, whining for God to take his life. Elijah had one of the highest mountaintop experiences in the Book, but he also fell as hard as anyone ever has, so hard in fact, that God fired him.

John the Baptist seemed subject to the same discouragement. Admittedly, he was in jail on death row when he got discouraged, but he experienced the same kind of hopelessness.

Fortunately, Jesus shows us a better model. He had a mountainside experience – actually, He had several – but He never seemed to hit the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” afterwards.

I wonder if we can learn something from Him?

Here’s how I see it.

Elijah had this amazing experience on Mt Carmel calling fire from heaven, killing pretty much the whole of the priesthood of the false gods. Right afterwards, he prays in the tiny little cloud that becomes the rainstorm that ends the drought (that he started himself years earlier).

And then Jezebel threatened him. It was a vague threat, no teeth in it really, but he ran for his life and prayed to die. God fed him along the way, and met him in the cave he hid in, but when he wouldn’t abandon his self-pity, He fired him. (“… and anoint Elisha prophet in your place…”)

John the Baptist did such a good job of prophesying the word of the Lord that he ended up in jail for his straight shooting declaration of God’s opinions of the king’s adultery.

And when he got there, he despaired of his life work. “Are you even the Messiah?” he sent his disciples to ask Jesus.

I find it interesting that both are prophets. In our day and age, the prophetic gifts are growing so very free. But perhaps it’s not without a cost, and a severe one, should we be less than careful.

Elijah comes down off the mountain top, and immediately immerses himself in more ministry (ending the drought).

John spends some time (admittedly, as a guest of Herod’s jailers) reflecting on his ministry, good & bad.

By contrast, Jesus does something completely different. After His big dog experience with feeding the 5000, and what does He do? He sends the boys off rowing home as a storm rolls in, and He spends the night up in the hills praying.

I think that’s significant.

After the big ministry event:

  • Elijah goes on to the next big ministry event.
  • John reflects on the last ministry event.
  • But Jesus gets in God’s presence, and presumably unloads His soul to Him. (Afterwards, of course, He strolls across the storm-tossed lake to check on the boys.)

So when we have a big day with God, it seems that it would be good to spend some time unloading with Him. Debriefing.

I had a big day with him recently. Kind of an impromptu treasure hunt among believers for 10 hours. Afterwards, I needed to celebrate, yes. Worship is a good thing. But after that, I needed to spend some time reminding both Him and me that it was His work, and I was along for the ride.

A friend went through an intensive spiritual training school recently. When he came back, he spent some weeks just processing with God. Not doing. Not planning to do. Just sitting with God.

I think he was really wise.

Visit Northwest Prophetic for a complete archive of regional prophetic words.

Watch Out! Your Mouth is Loaded!

I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of years. I’ve had to go slow about it, because the conclusion that I’m coming to is pretty much exactly the opposite of the things I used to believe and teach. I hate it when that happens, but I’m delighted to have my understanding corrected and my weaponry updated.
Here’s the conclusion I’m coming to: my words are powerful. They change worlds. So do yours. Our words have the power to change this world. In fact, I may go so far as to say, as a wise man has been teaching me, “nothing gets done without there first being a declaration about it.” My declaration. Your declaration. And certainly God’s declaration.
And here are some of the processes that have gone on to change my mind. I need to explain that until these things happened, I had a nice, tidy Calvinist theology: God is going to do what He’s going to do, and maybe my prayers can move Him and maybe they can’t, but if He doesn’t do it, it won’t get done!
  1. My theology was corrected by a prophetic word. I had not had much exposure to the prophetic back in 1998 when a prophet declared to me, “But you see, when you don’t know that you have that anointing, you’re just praying, ‘Oh God, would you please….’ But when you begin to understand … you begin to say, ‘Move! In the Name of Jesus, you’re coming down!’” That came from a man I had never met before, instructing me to petition God less (OK, to whine at God less) and to declare the thing that that I would previously whined about. That messed me up, particularly as the prophet accurately nailed a couple of other things in my life: I couldn’t dismiss the word in good conscience.
  1. I had a couple of experiences that my previous theology did not support. I’ve written about one of them here; I won’t repeat the details in this article, but I’ll just say that God used my application of that prophetic word (using declarative prayer rather than petition prayer) to get me the truck of my dreams. In the other experience, some friends asked me as their home-group leader to make a declaration over them, and we were all surprised at the power than was released that night. It changed their lives, and its effectiveness changed my life.
  1. I’ve been meditating on what it means to be made in God’s image. One of the conclusions I’ve come to is that I get things done the way He got things done, beginning with “And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.” (In fact, I think this verse is describing the Big Bang, but that’s just conjecture.) When God needed to make something happen, he spoke it into being.
  1. The NT says that I’m seated with Christ, and that He’s seated at the right hand of Father. Father’s sitting in a throne, of course, which means that Jesus is sitting on the next throne over, or Jesus is in the main throne, and Father’s on the other side: either way, if I’m seated with Christ, I’m seated in a throne. He did say, after all, that I am to reign with Him, and that I’m both king and priest. So I’m in the role of king, seated with my big brother Jesus on a throne, doing the work of reigning or ruling my portion of the Kingdom. So how does a king get his will accomplished? He makes decrees. He issues authoritative statements saying, “This is how it’s to be done.” And everybody obeys. Or if they don’t, the army goes and helps them obey.
  1. As I’ve studied the prophetic gifts, I’ve come to the conclusion that they don’t just communicate information from God to man. I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve told, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” with little-to-no effect. But that was one of the most powerful prophetic words I’ve ever spoken. “Uh, God says He loves you…” and this mountain of a man, well schooled in church teachings, broke down and wept like a baby, actually experiencing the affection of His heavenly Father for the first time in years. The true prophetic word carries information, yes, but it also carries the power of God to accomplish that word. When I was moved by God to make declaration about my dream truck, I got the dream truck (and I learned a big lesson!). If I had not spoken that declaration, I’d still be driving a wimpy Honda and whining my prayers.
The point is that in my shoddy Calvinist thinking that my prayers were at the best wishful thinking and at the worst, whining at God, I was horribly mistaken. I’m coming to the conclusion that
We know that our words have the power to seriously wound someone. A very foolish person once said, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I’m coming to the opinion that if the Bible is really true, and if I’m going to live like it’s true (very big “ifs,” I agree), then it’s the other way around: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can really hurt me.” Our words have power in the realm of the soul: the mind, will, and emotions of ourselves and those around us.
Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” (I grew up Presbyterian. I still can’t get rid of the “thee’s” and “thou’s” in the Lord’s Prayer!) What shall we do to make that happen? Jesus taught us to forgive peoples’ sins (which we do by speaking). He did not teach us to pray for the sick, but to heal the sick, something far beyond the wishy-washy prayers I heard in Sunday school I think.
That’s enough background. Here’s where I’m going with all this: it’s time for us to wield the word of God as a tool, a weapon. It’s time for us to discern what his heart is on a matter, and to declare that (and yes, I realize that sometimes He’s asking, “Well, what do you think?”). It’s time for us to learn to not just petition God, but also to declare the will of God with authority from our position seated with the Son of God into the matter before us.
In my home group prayer times, we often put someone in the seat in the middle and pray and prophesy over them. I’m getting to the point where I’m insisting that we don’t stop with, “I hear God saying this about you.” Now my team is learning that if they don’t declare that promise over or into the person we’re praying for, that I’ll remind them.
So may I suggest that we pray a little less along the lines of “Oh Lord, would you please…” and a little more “In the name of Jesus, mountain, you get up and move!” Lets begin to rule in our roles as kings and priests.

Visit Northwest Prophetic for a complete archive of regional prophetic words, or to submit a prophetic word.

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