The Christian’s Hope: A Prayer

by Pastor Rick Duncan

One of the greatest announcements of hope came from an angel to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born.

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). 

In preparation to speak on Christian Hope on Christmas Eve 2021, I crafted a prayer for hope after looking up every instance of the use of the word “hope” in the Old and New Testaments.

Perhaps this prayer might encourage you as it has encouraged me.

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O Lord God, the Hope of Israel,

You have called every Christian to live in light of the hope that is found in Christ alone and that is attained only through the gospel of grace. Thank You that this gift of hope is not something I have to produce through self-effort, but is empowered by the Your Spirit and encouraged by Your Word. Grant that I may enjoy and exhibit the hope to which You have called me so that I can be more and more pleasing to You, Father.

Teach me that Christian hope is not a worldly optimism that present circumstances will necessarily improve, but the godly expectation that You will redeem and reward Your people in the life to come. May this ultimate hope for the glory that is coming fuel my belief that You are now causing all the things that happen in my life on earth to work together for my good and for Your glory.

Thank You that my hope is not wishful thinking, but a confident expectation based on Your character as a loving Father who keeps His promises. Thank You that Your redemption, deliverance, and salvation will ultimately be mine because You have caused me to be born again to a living hope and because I have been justified by faith.

May my hope in You enable me to wait on You, to rejoice in sufferings, to endure hardships, to display proven character, and to find encouragement from the Scriptures. Remind me that my hope will increase as spend unhurried time with You in expectant prayer.

And so, Lord, even in the midst of the trials I face, may the hope You’ve given me enable me to experience a supernatural joy, purity, righteousness, security, endurance, and peace that causes others to notice it and to desire it. May hope stabilize my soul like an anchor as it connects me to Your steadfastness. May the confidence in You that I display open doors for me to gently and respectfully give a reason for this hope that is in me. 

Finally, I ask, O Lord, that my hope in You will bring great glory to You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

***

This prayer was taken from truths about hope found in Ephesians 1:17-18, Ephesians 4:4, Psalm 62:5, Lamentations 3:24, Colossians 1:27, I Timothy 4:10, Hebrews 6:18-20, I Peter 1:20-21, Colossians 1:23, II Thessalonians 2:16-17, Romans 15:13, Psalm 119:81, Psalm 130:5-6, Romans 15:4, Psalm 147:11, Colossians 1:27, Titus 1:1-2, Titus 3:7, Hebrews 6:18-20, I Peter 1:3, Romans 8:18-28, Psalm 73:22, Psalm 130:7, Lamentations 3:19-24, Hebrews 10:23, Psalm 130:7, Psalm 33:18-19, Psalm 42:11, I Peter 1:3, Romans 5:1-2, Proverbs 23:17-18, Isaiah 8:17, Galatians 5:5, Titus 3:11-14, Romans 5:3-4, Romans 15:4, Psalm 33:22, Psalm 39:7, Jeremiah 14:7-8, Proverbs 10:28, I John 3:2-3, Galatians 5:5, Acts 2:25-26, Romans 15:4, Romans 15:4, I Peter 3:15, Romans 5:2, Ephesians 1:12, Colossians 1:27, and Titus 2:13.

Christian Hope As We Anticipate Christmas

by Pastor Rick Duncan

On Christmas Eve 2021, we will explore one of the greatest announcements of hope that the world has ever known. It’s what the shepherds heard the angels say on the night Jesus was born.

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). 

In preparation to speak on Christian Hope on Christmas Eve, I thought I better do my homework to define it. I looked up every instance of the use of the word “hope” in the Old and New Testaments.

Below is my stab at a biblical definition. As you read it, be asking yourself, “What stands out to you about this definition?”

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Christian Hope

Christian hope is a confident expectation based on the character of God (Psalm 73:22, Psalm 130:7, Lamentations 3:19-24, Hebrews 10:23) that ultimate redemption (Psalm 130:7), deliverance (Psalm 33:18-19), and salvation (Psalm 42:11) will come to those who have experienced new life in Christ (I Peter 1:3) and who have, therefore, been justified by faith (Romans 5:1-2).

Christian hope is not a worldly optimism that present circumstances will improve, but the godly expectation that God will redeem and reward His people in the life to come (Colossians 1:27, Titus 1:1-2, Titus 3:7, Hebrews 6:18-20, I Peter 1:3). It is this hope that enables Christians to believe that God is causing all the things that happen in this life to work together for good (Romans 8:18-28).

Every Christian has been called to live in light of the hope (Ephesians 1:17-18, Ephesians 4:4) that is found in Christ alone (Psalm 62:5, Lamentations 3:24, Colossians 1:27, I Timothy 4:10, Hebrews 6:18-20, I Peter 1:20-21), is attained through the gospel of grace (Colossians 1;23, II Thessalonians 2:16-17), is empowered by the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13), is encouraged by the Word of God (Psalm 119:81, Psalm 130:5-6, Romans 15:4), and is pleasing to the Father (Psalm 147:11).

This hope is a gracious gift to those who, because of the gospel, fear the Lord (Proverbs 23:17-18), wait on the Lord (Isaiah 8:17, Galatians 5:5, Titus 3:11-14), rejoice in sufferings (Romans 5:3a), endure hardships (Romans 5:3b), display proven character (Romans 5:4), find encouragement of the Scriptures (Romans 15:4), and earnestly ask for it through prayer (Psalm 33:22, Psalm 39:7, Jeremiah 14:7-8).

Even in the midst of the trials of life, the Christian who hopes will experience a supernatural joy (Proverbs 10:28), purity (I John 3:2-3), righteousness (Galatians 5:5), security (Acts 2:25-26), endurance (Romans 15:4), and peace (Romans 15:12-13) that will cause others to notice it and desire it. Believers who hope in God gently and respectfully give a reason for the hope that is in them (I Peter 3:15).

The Christian’s hope thus glorifies God (Romans 5:2, Ephesians 1:12, Colossians 1:27, Titus 2:13).

***

What stands out to you about this definition? How can hope for tomorrow give you fuel for today? What is God saying to you about your hope? What change is He asking you to make?  

Long Story Short – Write Your Four Minute Story, Part Four

We’re completing the work to write our own “Long Story Short”. The goal of writing our story is to share it with others. Remember: Effective communication is clear, concise, and compelling. Sharing your story should in total take 3-4 minutes. That’s between 500 and 700 words. These weekly guides will help you craft and capture the four segments of your story of faith in Christ.

Today’s Focus: RESTORATION – How would you describe your new identity and your new life in Christ?

Who are you now after you received Christ? What transformation have you experienced since coming to faith in Christ? What happened inside of you when you received Christ? How and why did your attitudes and actions begin to change? What have you noticed about yourself since you received Christ? How has your life changed? When did you notice that change? How are your life motivations different now? How does knowing you are forgiven help you each day? How does the promised hope of heaven motivate you to live your life now?

State how Jesus is filling your deep inner needs and redeeming you from your brokenness. In the previous section, you expressed your needs and how you tried unsuccessfully to meet them. You now want to briefly show the difference that Jesus has made in your life. Shine the spotlight on Jesus and showcase His life-transforming power.

As you wrap up your story, if there is a particular verse that captures your conversion experience, or if you have a particular life verse, this would be a good place to share it.

Long Story Short – Write Your Four Minute Story, Part Three

We’re continuing our work to write our own “Long Story Short”. The goal of writing our story is to share it with others. Remember: Effective communication is clear, concise, and compelling. Sharing your story should in total take 3-4 minutes. That’s between 500 and 700 words. These weekly guides will help you craft and capture the four segments of your story of faith in Christ.

Today’s Focus: RESCUE – How did you meet Jesus and come to understand the Gospel?

What were your struggles just before you received Christ? When and how did you first truly understand the story about Jesus? State specifically the steps you took to become a follower of Jesus. What people did God use to draw you to Him? What event or location were you in when you put your faith in Christ?

Make sure to share the truth of the Gospel. Communicate:

  1. That you understood that you have disobeyed God.
  2. That you understood that you were a sinner.
  3. That you embraced the fact that you did not deserve His forgiveness.
  4. That you realized that Jesus died on the cross in your place to forgive You.
  5. That you received Jesus as your Forgiver and Leader.

Remember that it’s the Gospel that has the power to change lives. (See Romans 1:16.) So, again, include how you came to understand that Jesus came, that He died on the cross in your place to save you, and that He rose again.

You likely cannot remember exactly what you prayed when you received Christ. But sharing a few words about how you prayed (what you may have said in your prayer) might encourage someone else to express their faith in a similar way.

Sending Your “One” Some Love This Thanksgiving

As we pray for our “ones” and look for ways to leverage Thanksgiving, a simple way to keep cultivating your relationship with those people is to send a brief text showing gratitude for them and your friendship. Here’s an example of a text I sent to a friend today: 

“Hey (name), as we approach Thanksgiving, I just want you to know I thank the Lord for our friendship and I’m grateful for the conversations and hang outs that we have had. May you and your family feel God‘s presence and peace and joy in this season! I look forward to connecting again soon. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!”

I encourage you to pause and send a little note or test to your one (or ones), along with pausing and praying for them.  May God use your love and friendship to draw them to Christ!

Live new,

Pastor Chad

Long Story Short – Write Your Four Minute Story, Part Two

We’re continuing our work to write our own “Long Story Short”. The goal of writing our story is to share it with others. Remember: Effective communication is clear, concise, and compelling. Sharing your story should in total take 3-4 minutes. That’s between 500 and 700 words. These weekly guides will help you craft and capture the four segments of your story of faith in Christ.

Today’s focus – THE FALL – What did sin and brokenness look like in your life?

What are the evidences of the fall in your own life? What was the pain that you experienced and the pain that you caused? The pain we experience and cause in life often springs out of seeking to satisfy our deep inner needs and fix our own brokenness apart from God. You likely sought to fix your brokenness and deep inner needs through unsatisfactory solutions that damaged your own life or caused hurt in the lives of others.

What were one or two of your unsatisfied deep inner needs before you came to know Jesus? How did you see brokenness playing out in your life? What unsatisfactory solutions did you use to attempt to meet those deep inner needs or fix your brokenness? How did these attempts disappoint you or let you down? How was your life unfulfilling? How did you come to realize this? What were your struggles before you received Christ?

Some examples could be:

“I was seeking for…”

“My life revolved around…”

“I gained happiness and security from…”

“My life was missing…”

“My attitude was…”

“I blamed my issues on…”

“My life was filled with problems I could not solve…”

(Use an example from your personal life here. For instance, did your security come from money, your relationships, etc.?)

Long Story Short – Write Your Four Minute Story, Part One

Let’s work on writing our own “Long Story Short”. Our teaching team is going to guide us through how to write our story over the coming weeks of this series. The goal of writing our story is to share it with others!

Week One focus – CREATION – Your Background and God Awareness

First, share a few positive details about your life. Since you were created in the image of our God, you experienced Him and His goodness in a variety of ways. You might share a little about your family of origin. You might share about the hopes and dreams you had for your life.

Questions to answer that can shape this part of your story:

What brought you joy?

What contributions did you hope to make?

What career path did you hope to follow?

What was your faith or church background?

What spiritual beliefs did you hold?

What spiritual experiences may you have had that caused you to be aware of God or feel close to God?

Before knowing Christ, how would you have answered the questions of where you came from and why are you here?

Craft this part of your story this week. Practice it, tell it. We will build it each week.

Remember what Pastor Chad said in his week one message: My identity and purpose come from the One who made me and loves me.

Be Missional this Sunday!

This weekend we have a unique opportunity to be LifeHouses. Many of us will have neighbors showing up at our door as they and their children walk from house-to-house collecting candy. What are some ways we can shine the light of Christ to them?

Here are a few ideas from our team!

  • Place a prayer request basket out in the driveway where parents stand. People will likely not fill them out, but you might get one. You will also be letting your neighbors know that you’re a person of prayer and that you care for them.
  • Include a Bible verse attached to every piece of candy.
  • Set out an article for parents on “how to talk to children about Christ and Spiritual Warfare” https://parentingforfaith.org/post/talking-our-kids-about-devil
  • Be intentional in getting to know neighbors. Place a portable firepit in the driveway and encourage neighbors to sit with you while you all hand out candy.
  • Participate in CVC’s Trunk or Treat on Saturday! This is a great way to get in the community. You can even invite a neighbor to join you!
  • Say a silent prayer over every child that comes to the door.
  • Open your garage and decorate it for the adults to chat and have coffee, cider, and donuts while decorating your yard for the kids with tons of inflatables! You would become a definite stop on the trick-or-treating route, and it’s a great way to meet neighbors!
  • Be unique and fun in a way that will draw kids and parents if you are staying home and handing out candy. Put out corn hole boards and have kids try to throw bags into the holes to win a large candy bar in addition to the candy you’re already handing out. Have invite cards for CVC handy if conversations turn that direction.
  • Bake cinnamon bread for your neighbors!
  • Offer to babysit an infant for a neighbor so both parents can trick-or-treat with older children on a cold, rainy, windy night.

The Essential Gospel: A Prayer based on Ephesians 6:14-20

O sovereign Father,

Thank You that I am Your child, heavenly Father. Since I am Your child, then I am Your heir – an heir of God and a fellow heir with Christ. When the enemy causes me to doubt my identity in Christ – telling me I’m a worthless sinner, a lost cause, an embarrassment to You – remind me of whose I am and who You say I am – a saint, a new creation, Your beloved child, living new in Christ. Because I am in Christ, I can now resist the devil as He did. In Christ, I claim the promise that no weapon formed against me or my family shall prosper (Romans 8:15-17; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Isaiah 54:17; Ephesians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17; John 3:16).

I know that the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion wanting to devour me. He and his demons are seeking to steal, kill, and destroy everything good and godly that I hold dear. I recognize that the devil is attempting to incite me to sin – to prompt me to do evil. I’m desperately dependent on You to fight off the enemy’s deceitful attacks. Help me today to trust in You, to win today’s spiritual battles, and to bring glory and honor to Your name (1 Peter 5:8; John 10:10b; Ephesians 6:12; Luke 10:18; 1 Chronicles 21:1; John 13:2; Acts 5:3).

Sovereign God, keep me from the enemy: the evil one, the tempter, the accuser. Protect me from his followers, the fallen angels who are now the evil spirits who are seeking to minimize and neutralize my life in Christ. Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from the evil one (Revelation 12:7-9; Matthew 6:13; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; Revelation 12:10, Leviticus 17:7; Luke 8:30; Luke 7:21).

Help me remain strong in Your mighty power and stand against the enemy’s wicked schemes. Almighty Lord, thank You for spiritual armor for the spiritual battle – the belt of truth; the breastplate of righteousness; the helmet of salvation; and shoes that speed me on as I proclaim the Gospel of peace. Keep teaching me that truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Help me learn more and more how to apply them. Help me to hold the shield of faith that will quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at me. Help me to wield the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God which is an indispensable weapon. By faith, I now put on each piece of Your armor. Keep reminding me that prayer is the means by which I clothe myself in Your armor and by which I wage war in this ongoing battle (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Help me to submit again today to Your authority, Your control, and Your will. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done in and through me. Lead me to say “no” to the devil and his temptations and “yes” to You and Your abundant life. By Your power, help me resist the devil and see him flee (Matthew 6:10; Luke 9:23; John 10:10; James 4:7).

Thank You for spiritual weapons such as faith, truth, and righteousness that demolish strongholds.  Help me to keep my mind fixed on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Philippians 4:8).

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who shed His blood on the cross and rose from the grave, I ask You, Father to command any evil spirits to leave me, my family, and my ministry. Because I am in Christ and stand in His victory, all demons must flee. Through You, Father, evil spirits, rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, spiritual forces of darkness, are no longer free to steal, kill, and destroy my mind, my body, my soul, my family, my home, and my ministry. In the name of Jesus, I resist the devil and all demons.  

And now, Father, may Your Holy Spirit lead me and guide me today. Fill me. Bear Your fruit through me. Grant to me the ability to discern between righteousness and wickedness and the wisdom to choose the path of righteousness (Romans 8:13-14; Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:10; Joshua 24:14-15).

Lord God, help me to live in the light of Your presence. Lead me in Your paths of righteousness and away from anything evil. Thank You that because Christ is victorious, I need not wage war for victory but from victory. (John 17:15; Ephesians 1:18-23; John 12:26; Psalm 23:3).

Amen.

***

This prayer has been inspired by Ephesians 6:14-20. Some of the words and phrases in this prayer have been taken directly from the English Standard Version, the J.B. Phillips New Testament, The Message, and the Living Bible. This prayer has also been composed with help from Dean Ridings, author of the Pray!Prayer Journal (NavPress) and Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology