Romans 8:23-25 (NLT)
And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
What a crazy ride! I have not felt as violently shaken as when I rode the last rollercoaster when I decided that I would never subject myself to such fear ever again. It completely took my breath away. You want a chuckle. It was called “Goliath”. Visiting friends in Atlanta, we took our families to Six Flags over Georgia. It was the grand opening of the mammoth roller coaster. After being heavily pressured to ride it with my older children, I consented even waiting in line more than an hour to be scared out of my mind. The ride only lasted three and half minutes but was terrifying enough to make the choice never to do it again ever. That was in 2006 and to this day, I have never ridden one and will never do it again. After the ride, I was so mad. The last two years of our life battling cancer with our son has surpassed the momentum of that day. When I left the roller coaster called Goliath, I felt like time had been taken and I had been taken advantage of by accepting fear that literally left me shaking. I did not have to do it, but rather I chose such an experience. But the roller coaster of our life currently is not by choice, but by divine calling. No, I do not believe that God gave our son cancer or even planned for such an invasion or intrusion for his life. But I do believe that God takes every bad experience in our life and makes good on His Promise. He works every detail for our good no matter how hard the enemy tries to take us out as we strive and struggle to make it through. But I have good news for you today my friend! We may pay for thrill rides and scary movies that will make our heart race, sweat break out on our brow and yes, even make us close our eyes and tremble, but there will never be a reward. The price of fear is high. It produces worry, doubt and uncertainty. People buy into it every day. But if God brings us to it, He always takes us through it. We have been given the Holy Spirit. First, His Presence surrounds us inviting us into Covenant with Jesus Christ forever. When we invite Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, His Spirit comes inside of us and begins to reveal God’s Plan and Purpose for our life digging up that measure of faith that we have been given (Romans 12:2) He then plants that faith in the Word of God which is Truth. Things begin to happen as God’s Divine Plan including His Goodness and Grace begin to grow into confident hope. Now we have something real and tangible to hold on to. We can release human expectation, doubt, fear and uncertainty as hope leads us deeper into the Presence of God. That doesn’t mean the struggle is over – it just means that we will be blessed double for our trouble. (Zechariah 9:11-12)
Acts 27:27-32 (NLT)
About midnight on the fourteenth night of the storm, as we were being driven across the Sea of Adria, the sailors sensed land was near. They dropped a weighted line and found that the water was 120 feet deep. But a little later they measured again and found it was only 90 feet deep. At this rate they were afraid we would soon be driven against the rocks along the shore, so they threw out four anchors from the back of the ship and prayed for daylight. Then the sailors tried to abandon the ship; they lowered the lifeboat as though they were going to put out anchors from the front of the ship. But Paul said to the commanding officer and the soldiers, “You will all die unless the sailors stay aboard.” So the soldiers cut the ropes to the lifeboat and let it drift away.
Paul had warned the captain not to embark on this journey, but he did it anyway. Paul was a prisoner on the ship so naturally they disregarded his warning. However, when rough waters started slamming the side of the boat as the storm was approaching they began to fear for their very lives so suddenly they were willing to listen. The outlook was bleak. Paul begins the conversation by basically telling them look I told you not to do this but you did it anyway and if you had listened thus avoiding the damage and loss that was coming. Then he went on to say, “God’s Goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you….but you are still going to be shipwrecked.” (Acts 27:20-26) Wow! There goes man’s theory that when we call on Jesus our life becomes a bed of roses with no thorns. Mankind has long boasted that God is our deliverer but does not take the time to discover His Way of freedom. They call on His Name for rescue but do not wait for the Lord to come. They claim that He is faithful but never put their trust in the Lord. Welcome to the real world! Human nature is to avoid trouble, hardship, struggle and disaster at all costs. Fighting to live, we never allow ourselves to die so faith and hope can arise. The men threw out four anchors. I believe that these four anchors represent the very things that keep us from allowing confident hope to anchor our souls.
Psalm 130:5-6 (NLT)
“I am counting on the LORD; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word. I long for the Lord more than sentries long for the dawn, yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.”
The first anchor that keeps us from God’s Presence is human expectation. Hope is given to us by God. It represents all those things He has promised as our inheritance but we cannot see. If you can see it or do it, it does not require hope. Hope is for those things labeled “more than we can ask or think”. They belong to you as the inheritance of hope. Hope is giving as a blessing from our Father with Love. It is based solely on our covenant relationship with Him. If you will learn to love and trust your Father God, it will release you from the anchor of human expectation that is holding you back today. Your spouse is not your god. Your friends are not your advocates and constant encouragers. No one and nothing will ever be able to satisfy your heart and soul like Jesus Christ. The sooner we figure that out the sooner believers will achieve fulfillment in life!
Psalm 94:18-19 (NLT)
I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.
The second anchor that must be loosed is doubt. Maybe you are thinking, I do not doubt God. I trust the Lord but… Anytime you add the word “but” it completely nullifies the previous statement. Doubt always represents a lack of faith in God. Those who doubt the Word of the Lord do not strive for obedience. They do not see the point of righteousness treading endlessly on God’s Grace and grieving the Holy Spirit. When you feel as you are slipping, do you look for a mean’s of escape or wait for the Lord to catch you? Total dependency on God requires every individual to deal with the doubt that threatens their faith in God compromising their hope.
Psalm 143:4-6 (NLT)
I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.
The third anchor is connected to the second one and it is called fear. A lack of faith becomes a vortex that sucks out confident hope causing a great void that longs for fulfillment. When we decide to allow fear, a spirit which has not been given to us by the Lord (2 Timothy 1:7), we accept fear which is a destroyer of faith. Fear implies that we believe that there is a greater power than God influencing the circumstances of our life. Is fear holding you back today? God loves you. He is unchangeable. He is ready to heal you. He wants to restore and renew your life. This will only be possible if we cut all ties with fear which is accomplished solely by faith in the Lord.
Lamentations 3:17-24 (NLT)
Peace has been stripped away and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
The fourth and final anchor that we must free ourselves of is called uncertainty. You must become completely convinced that God is always working for you not against you. This is developed when we learn to trust Him more. His Name becomes our hope when we dare to trust the Lord and He proves Himself over and over in our life. (Matthew 12:21) Abraham was completely convinced that God would do exactly what He promised and spent almost his entire life waiting and watching for it until it came. Even then, he was called to the mountain of testing and it was proven that Abraham was a righteous man full of faith who was anchored by confident hope in the Lord. (Romans 4:17-21) The sailors prayed for daylight thinking if they could just see what was coming that they could prepare for it. They did not need the Sun to come up but the Son to illuminate His Word and activate His Spirit in their life. (Psalm 43:3-5) Once we decide to cut ties to these four destructive anchors that are holding back from the Presence of God, we will be safe even when shipwrecked.
Hebrews 6:13-20 (NLT)
For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying: “I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.” Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised. Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Confident hope is the only anchor that keeps us in the Presence of God. All other anchors are refuted in this passage. No more human expectation. (Verse 16) No more doubt. (Verse 17) No more fear. (Verse 18) God is not going to change His Mind about you. It has been made up since before you were born. (Psalm 139:1-7) He decided to be with you. He decided to bless you from behind and going forward. It is His Profound Pleasure to do so. You just have to make the decision that you want all that the Lord has for you and let go of this life to pursue His Kingdom. You can never escape God’s Presence it is constant pursuit of you. (Psalm 139:7) He decided to love you. Now you must decide to love Him, too. We must be completely certain that God loves us and has a plan that will produce a good future and hope for us. We must be so confident that even in the midst of the storm and struggle we will not let go until He blesses us.
Jeremiah 29:10-14 (NLT)
This is what the LORD says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”
Just because you are in the midst of a storm or set for a shipwreck does not mean that the future and hope that the Lord has promised is gone. Seventy years in Babylon is a long time until you are released to experience the good life again and come home. You may not recognize the anchors holding you back unless faced with a struggle. Think about Jacob. He struggled with the angel of the Lord at first it was the angel fighting for his faith until Jacob realized the reward and refused to let go until he was blessed. (Genesis 32:24-30) Don’t let go of your hope. Stay confident in the Lord. Don’t let go of Him even if it means enduring some pain along the way. The sufficiency of God’s Grace which is its substance comes through testing. (2 Corinthians 12:6-10) “I begged the Lord three times to take this from me.” This is the third time that our son has dealt with cancer in his hip. I begged the Lord to remove it. “My grace is all you need.” I believe it enough to hold tight to my faith in God and not let go of the anchor called confident hope. His Power is perfected in my weakness. The craziest part of our struggles is that somewhere in the midst of them we go from trying to be released to clinging to the Lord! This is the benefit called confident hope. The moment that you realize if I can just hold on to this anchor. If I can just be certain of that His Plan is good. If I will pray and listen. If I will look for the Lord wholeheartedly even in the midst of blinding rain and salty tears, I will find Him just like He promised. I will leave captivity to live in freedom. I will see the restoration of my fortunes which are the blessings of God and power of His Promises. He will bring me home again into His Presence. He will never leave me or forsake me. Confident hope is my decision to never leave Him either.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Today Lord I cut all ties to human expectation, doubt, fear and uncertainty. I take hold of the anchor called confident hope and wrap my hands around it by faith that you are my God. You have a good plan with a future and hope worth having. You are working out every single detail of my life for that good. I will pray and listen. I will seek you wholeheartedly. I will live in Your Presence today and forever. Amen!
Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT)
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him for God is our refuge.