ARE YOU READY TO GIVE A DEFENSE FOR YOUR HOPE?

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ARE YOU READY TO GIVE A DEFENSE FOR YOUR HOPE?

Today is one of those ‘only you can answer that’ type of messages, because today I’d like us to take an honest and introspective look into our lives and consider just where we stand (or at least where we think we stand) in God’s great scheme of things.

So for the purposes of today’s quiet time, I’d like us to think about whether, if we are asked to give a defense for why it is we have hope in Jesus, we actually can.

Now this is not some frivolous exercise, dreamt up by a Christian minister who is still half asleep because he hasn’t yet had his morning coffee. This is a very important exercise, one that Peter himself says that we should be always able to do.

“Be ready at any time to give a quiet and reverent answer to any man who wants a reason for the hope that you have within you.” 1 Peter 3:15 [MSG]

But why is it so important? Why should we always be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us? And how do we make sure that we always have a reason?

Well, beloved child of God, being able to give a defense, a reason for your hope is important because not only is it a big ask, it forms the foundation of your faith in God.

Consider this. If you feel that you have been neglected by God; if you feel that He has passed over you; if you feel that He has not taken care of you; then hope you will not have. It’s as simple as that.

Now, if you cease to have hope, then any good thing that you say about God would be a lie, you would be a hypocrite, and quite honestly, you should stop evangelizing, stop telling people how good God is, because in your heart, you have lost hope in God.

In fact, if you have lost hope in God, if you can’t even find a reason to have hope; then you shouldn’t even be going to church. Think about it, the Bible never said that not going to church was a sin, but the Bible does say ‘thou shall not give false witness’, or simply put, don’t lie. So if you stopped going to church the moment you feel that God has given up on you, then at least you would not be sinning.

Alright, I admit. This is quite an extreme view to take. But we’ve all seen people like that, haven’t we? Christian in church on Sundays, then Muslim in the mosque on Fridays, then follower of whatever deity in whichever temple on the other days. Some of these people even proudly label themselves ‘free thinkers’ (which is different from atheists, because not only do they believe that god exists, they believe in all gods and so want in on blessings from all of them). Now what kind of testimony, what kind of witness do these people give for the respective faiths that they claim to have?

So why is it important for us to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us? Because if we can’t, then we might as well give up on this whole charade.

Now, clearly I am not saying that we who are in trouble should all renounce the faith this very minute. And I am quite sure that our Father in Heaven doesn’t want us to do that either. And that is why Peter, of all people, was chosen to tell us this.

You know, it is no accident that Peter was the one chosen to deliver this message. There are no coincidences with God. And we remember that although Peter said,

“Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Luke 22:33

And “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” Matthew 26:33

And “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” Matthew 26:35

This also happened.

“Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?”
He said, “I am not.”” John 18:17

Not so sure of himself now, was he?

But why did he deny being Jesus’ disciple? The answer is obvious, isn’t it? Human and obvious. And doesn’t it show that for those three moments, Peter had lost hope in Jesus? He wasn’t able to give a defense for the hope that was in him, was he? And why? That’s right, because the hope was no longer there.

Do you find yourself in a similar situation? Are you stuck in a rut, hemmed into a bad place; and the more you keep the faith, the more you find that the situation is worsening? When people ask you about your faith, are you ashamed to call yourself a Christian? Are you ashamed to associate yourself with God because your situation just shows either how unloved you are by God, or that God really isn’t as powerful as you made Him out to be?

It’s alright, beloved child of God. For in the same way that Jesus not only restored Peter’s reason for hope, He also restored Peter back into ministry, so too will He give you reason to be hopeful in Him again.

As I’ve said, many times before, it is not in our Father’s best interest to keep you in your rut. You may call me presumptuous to speak like that; but all you need to do is think about this ‘humanly’ and you will know what I mean.

You see, all the promises of Jesus and our Father must be fulfilled. So when He says,

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declared the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 [NIV]

“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Mark 11:24

They must all happen,

“For as the rain and snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth,
Making it bear and sprout,
And providing seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
So will My word be which goes out of My mouth;
It will not return to Me void (useless, without result),
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11 [AMP]
God always puts His money where His mouth is, pardon the pun.

This, of course, is not to say that bad times won’t happen. But they happen

“So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:7 [AMP]

Or simply put,

“Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.” 1 Peter 1:7 [MSG]

He’s got something up His sleeve, something which, when executed, will display His victory, and celebrate your faith in Him.

Now, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that in order for us to be able to keep the faith, especially when times are rough, we need to have hope. We need to empirically know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God is going to come through for us. So God needs to do something right now, or needed to have at least done something in our past to give us that hope, doesn’t He? So that is why Peter says,

“But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15 [AMP]

You see, the defense that we are to give is not to be based on spiritual philosophy; nor is it to be based on hearsay and assumptions. It is got to be based on fact, cold hard logical fact. Simply put, God needed to have pulled you out of a mess before so that you will know, so that you will have hope that He will pull you out again, doesn’t He?

It’s like this. If you told your child that you were going to bring him out to the video arcade but cancelled on him at the last minute each and every time, will he have hope that you will be good for your word the next time you do it?

And so it is the same with God.

Were there times in your life where He pulled you out before? Is there a logical, empirical, tangible reason for why you still have hope in God, despite and in spite of your circumstances? Only you can answer that, isn’t it?

And while testimonies from others can go some way in encouraging us and giving us hope, they can only do so much, because ultimately, our relationship with our Father is personal, isn’t it? It’s got everything to do with how He treats us, and little else.

So take a closer look at your life today, and ask yourself if you can indeed give a reason for the hope that is in you; then hang on to that hope for He will surely carry you through the days ahead.

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