Guest Blogger: Kyle Bartholic, “Steadfast Hope”

Next month, I will be speaking at the 2022 IMPACT Conference in Coralville, IA. This event is hosted by Christ Community Church of Ames, IA. The Lead Pastor of this great church is Kyle Bartholic. He and I are truly excited to minister together at next year’s big youth conference. Please be in prayer for us as we prepare for this event, and read some of Kyle’s encouraging words as we continue to weave our way through this year’s Advent season…

The Greatest of Hopes

As we approach Christmas, there are a few words that we will see pop up around our community and in our neighbors’ windows. One of them is hope. Often, and culturally speaking, what we mean by hope is something along the lines of aspiration, desire, wish, or expectation. None of these are bad things. But, they don’t quite encompass the robust nature of hope that is presented in the Bible. Biblical hope is more than a simple wish; it entails certainty based on God’s demonstration of faithfulness to people in the history of salvation as recorded in the Scriptures and as experienced by the church. Ultimately the Christian’s future hope lies in the promise of Christ’s return and the anticipation of resurrection from the dead.

To sum it up, Biblical hope is a steadfast hope.

Why? Because it is not originated in us. If it was, then all we would have is a glorified wish or a really good intention. But, because it is rooted and established in God, as Christians, we are able to have great confidence in our hoping. The authors of the minor prophets hold so confidently to God’s hope that they often don’t spell it out in their writings.[1] There is a unique theological and literary style they employ, all of these books are written from a theocentric (God-centered) perspective. That is, the authors all write with such sure and steadfast confidence in the hope of God that they rarely spell it out. Yes, they talk about God’s rescue and even make messianic predictions, but on the whole, they are so confident that our hope in God is secure that they just assume the reader shares the same perspective and conviction. One might think that in order to have a perspective that is so confident in the hope of God where it doesn’t need to be plainly said, they must have been living in some pretty good circumstances. However, they weren’t! Looking at Nahum, he is living and writing during some of the harshest Assyrian domination of Judah (the southern kingdom) while it was under king Manasseh. Simply put, these prophets lived and wrote during very difficult periods of exile and war for the Jewish people. Yet, they still write with confidence and assurance that nothing could shake their hope in God.

This Christmas season, as we make our way around town and see signs that declare “The Hope of Christmas,” let us be reminded that our hope is not a wish or a good intention. Our hope is so steadfast and secure in Christ that even like the prophets of old, we can have confidence in it in the midst of unprecedented challenges and uncertainties. Christmas is not just about looking back to when God fulfilled his promise to send the Messiah; it is also a time we look forward to when Jesus will return as promised. God always comes through, so let us hope with the greatest of hopes.

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