Devotional: THE LORD MY HOPE
"The Lord is my portion, says my soul"
"The Lord Jesus Christ, who is our hope."--1 Tim. 1:1
What a precious possession of the believing soul, springing from the Lord as his Portion, is hope. Rob the poor worldling of his--though it be but earth-bound, and fading as a midsummer's evening sun--and you have plunged him in the dark and deep abyss of despondency and despair. Man without hope is the most miserable being in the universe. But with the hope of the Christian glowing in his heart--a hope of which God is the Giver, Jesus the Foundation, the Spirit the Author, and heaven the goal--and there lives not among the happy, a happier being than he. Thus the believer is "saved by hope." Look, my soul, for a moment at this inestimable part of your portion, and learn more thoroughly in what it consists--what the sweet soothing it imparts, the holy obligations it imposes, and the splendid revelations it anticipates and unveils to faith's far-seeing eye. HOW does the believing soul arrive at the possession of Christ as its hope?
The first step is to relinquish every other. A hope of heaven built upon obedience to the law, upon our personal merits, upon anything of good that we fancy we are or can do, is a false hope; and, persisted in, will most assuredly make its deluded and unhappy possessor lamentably and eternally ashamed. Hope, too, springing from church privileges, religious ordinances, charitable gifts and pious duties, is equally fallacious and fatal.
But you, O believer, have not so learned Christ, if so be you have been taught by Him the truth as it is in Jesus. The Holy Spirit has written the sentence of death upon yourself, and upon all the dead works springing from self; and fleeing as from a plague-tainted garment out of your own righteousness, you have run into Christ, and enfolding yourself by faith in His righteousness, wrought by His obedience and dyed in His blood, you are justified and saved. Accepted in Him you are "beautiful as Tirzah, and all your garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made you glad." And now you have a "good hope through grace," and "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Then let us raise loud and high the thanksgiving anthem, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fades not away."
Look well to it that the lamp of your Christian hope is constantly trimmed and brightly burning. The golden oil that feeds the lamp is drawn from Jesus Christ, and the hand that trims the flame is faith. Despond not if at times the sun of your hope--to change the figure--is for a moment shaded, or is partially eclipsed. Built upon, and springing from Jesus Christ, it cannot entirely expire, since He Himself is our hope. Corruption within may strive to weaken it, adversity without may seem to shake it, temptations from concealed sources may fearfully assail it, nevertheless, your hope shall not perish from the Lord, but, built upon Christ, nourished by Christ, kept by Christ, and looking forward to being with and enjoying Christ forever, like a fine setting sun it shall grow larger and brighter as it descends, until dissolving into heaven's eternal effulgence it is lost in the full fruition of glory.
With such a hope as Christ, how strong and solemn the obligation to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live godly, righteously, and soberly in this present evil world. How humbly and submissively should we bow to all our Father's afflictive discipline, since He has given us His beloved Son to dwell in our hearts "the hope of glory." Thus "every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as He is pure." Cheer up, then, disconsolate one!