INTERVIEW

Hope is a Person!

LRE: How would you describe hope?

DM: As I think

about hope, I immediately think about a scripture song from the book of

Lamentations which is a book of lament.

It was written during the

time of the exile when Jeremiah was left behind. Things looked hopeless. Speaking under the inspiration of

the Holy Spirit, he says, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,

because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Your

faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22, NKJV).

But note what follows in verses 24 and 26: “The Lord is my portion, says my

soul; therefore, I hope in Him. . . . It is good that one should hope and wait

quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

I think what Jeremiah is saying is that hope sees beyond the present

situation. Hope can look at a hopeless situation and still see that something

good is coming. I think it’s really important for our readers to realize that

that kind of hope is not found in ourselves. If we feel helpless or even hopeless it does not mean that

there is no hope but that our hope is found in God.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness”

Lam. 3:22, NKJV



















LRE:
So in times of stress, hope still hangs on?

DM: Hope in

such situations can seem absurd to the unbeliever. Take for example the poetry at the end of chapter three in

Habakkuk. If we put it in a modern

setting it might sound like this:  

“When my car breaks down and I’ve just been fired from my job, and the

pathology report comes back that I’ve got some disease”—things that might

concern us today—Habakkuk says, “I am going to hope in the Lord.”



LRE: What brought Habakkuk to have that kind of hope?

DM: He was

challenged by the fact that it seemed like the wicked were doing better—they

were prospering when others were not. Regardless, he chose to believe that “the

just shall live by faith.” This kind of

faithfulness is like Job’s which says, “No matter what happens, I’m

going to hold onto God. I really believe that my Redeemer lives, and that He

will stand on the earth in the last days.” So I think hope is really more of a

way of looking at life—one that is centered in a relationship with God.



















LRE:
If that’s the case, how does one prepare to have

hope?

DM: Jesus says,

“Come to Me when you are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Scriptures are not just ancient records. They are present truth. So as I read

the words of Jesus, He says, “Learn from Me, and you’ll find rest for your

souls.” That hope is found in a relationship with God. When I was younger,

Titus 2:13 was often quoted: “Looking for the blessed hope….” I thought the blessed hope was the

event of the coming of Jesus. In fact people sang about it that way. However, if I read the text

correctly, the blessed hope is a Person. It’s Jesus. The text concludes with,

“the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”



Jesus is our Blessed Hope today as well as our Blessed Hope when He returns in glory. To me this means that seeking Him and having a living connection with Him, is where hope is found, even in the most apparently hopeless situations.

Jesus is our Blessed Hope

today as well as our Blessed Hope when He returns in glory. To me this means

that seeking Him and having a living connection with Him, is where hope is

found, even in the most apparently hopeless situations.



LRE: How can a family have hope or even think about

being faithful with tithes and offerings

when jobs are lost or when an expensive illness hits them hard?

DM: When I was

a young pastor, someone came to me and said, “I just want to tell you that

there was a time when I decided I was not going to return tithe, that I needed

all of the resources.” Then he said, “I discovered that I was worse off with

100 percent than I was when I put God first!



I began my ministry in

northeastern Pennsylvania, and it was not a particularly affluent area. And I

would have been embarrassed to speak to them about faithful stewardship if I

did not believe that God is faithful to all of His promises. Some of the

promises that come to mind immediately, of course, are “Prove me now, says the

Lord, if I will not open the windows of heaven” (Mal. 3:8-10). You know, “Bring

all the tithes into the storehouse,” “Will a man rob God?” Some people read

that only as a legal obligation but I don’t. These words come as a wonderful, gracious invitation from a

loving God who says, “Prove Me if I will not open the windows of heaven and

pour out such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”

Again, it comes back to the relationship.

If I have a relationship with God then it doesn’t feel like an

obligation but a privilege. If I’m ministering to a family going through an

economic turmoil and upheaval, I would say, “We need to trust the promises of

God even more now and rejoice in the promises of God.”

LRE: What kind of counsel would you give a pastor who is

reluctant to speak to others about being faithful with returning their tithes

and offerings?

DM: During my

last pastorate we spoke very little about tithe yet it more than doubled. It

was clearly taught and understood. Our approach was to present a clear vision

of what God wants to do, to present clearly the Blessed Hope, to present Jesus

and the hope of His soon return and the mission to share that message with the

world. When God has our hearts, He has our resources. He has our time, He has

our energies, and He has our finances.



How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good tidings."

Paul in Romans 10:15

LRE: As faithful stewards, are we only recipients of

hope or are we also ambassadors of hope?

DM: A steward

of hope is a bearer of glad tidings. I love the text quoted by Paul in Romans

10:15, where he says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good

tidings.” And in the same context he says, “Everyone who calls upon the name of

the Lord will be saved.” So he’s coming as a bearer of glad tidings—as an

ambassador or steward of hope. He

comes as someone with good news! In the same passage in Romans 10, Paul says,

“How can people believe if they haven’t heard?” So if I know that life has

hope, and that hope is centered in a Person and not in possessions and I do not

share that hope, I think I’ll be held accountable for that.



LRE: In Romans 5:5, Paul says, “Hope does not

disappoint.” How does hope not disappoint us when I’m broke or when a disaster

hits my family?

DM: Exactly!

The context in Romans 5 is speaking about tribulation, which produces

perseverance. It’s not talking about easy times. Paul had reminded us in chapter

one that, “The just shall live by faith.” Now he reminds us that hope does not

disappoint. What is that hope? Or should I ask, “Who is that hope?” In Romans

5:6, the very   next verse,

Paul says that God’s love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.



Clearly, God’s love will not disappoint us. “And these abide—faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love”

1 Cor. 13:13

Clearly, God’s love will

not disappoint us. “And these abide—faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of

these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13). Hope perseveres because God’s love has been

poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit. It is a miracle. Regardless of the

circumstances, hope is not taken away! My hope is grounded in the Person of Jesus Christ, the Son of

God. The Holy Spirit is the One

who effects that miracle, as Romans 5 says, “God has poured out his love into

our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Like the old hymn says,

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Faith

enables me to see beyond my present situation. Hope is a result because my faith is anchored in God and His

promises.



















LRE:
From your own pastoral experience what have you

learned with regards to encouraging others to be faithful stewards of God’s

grace?

DM: I have seen that the most powerful

teaching is personal example.

We’re not Jesus, but Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Peter

said, “Be an example to the flock.” My challenge to pastors or lay leaders in

the local congregation is for all of us to experience the miracle of being a

faithful steward. If others see that this woman or man of God truly believes

the promises of God and that they can stand as a rock-solid hope no matter

what’s happening, they will too. It will become believable!   So I would say, “By the grace of

God, let it begin in the heart of the leader. And that joy will not be

contained, but it will be a blessing to those around them.”



Derek Morris
Dr. Morris serves as an associate secretary in the General

Conference Ministerial Association, editor of MinistryV, an international journal for pastors, and

teacher for Hope Sabbath School, an international interactive Bible study on

the Hope Channel. His greatest joy is found in helping people to experience a

life-changing encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. He holds a Doctor of

Ministry degree from Andrews University in Practical Theology and a Doctor of

Ministry degree in Preaching from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

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