Scott Bryant

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Is Your Life Powered by Holy Hope?

In the early 2000’s, when much about the wider world was causing Americans intense anxiety, the one thing that got inarguably much better, was our personal technology.

In October 2001, with the World Trade Center still smoldering and the Internet financial bubble burst, Apple introduced the iPod. In January of 2010, in the depths of the Great Recession, the very month when unemployment breached 10 percent for the first time in a generation, Apple introduced the iPad.  Politically, militarily, economically, the decade was defined by disappointment after disappointment. But technologically, it was defined by a series of elegantly produced events in which the late Steve Jobs, commanding more attention and publicity each time, walked on stage with a miracle in his pocket.

The genius of Steve Jobs was to persuade us, at least for a little while, that cold comfort was enough. The world—at least that virtual part of the world in our laptop bags and our pockets, the devices that display our unique lives to others and reflect them to ourselves—would get better.

Years later, while Steve Jobs has passed away, many of us now carry the iPhone in our pocket. While these little devices offer us convenient ways to stay “connected” to everyone and everything, we are sadly more disconnected from hope than ever before. What we have gained in efficiency, we have lost in effectiveness.  Sadly, many of us have bought into a “religion of hope” in a hopeless world. A hope that our ordinary and mortal life could be elegant and meaningful with the next technological purchase, even if it would soon be dated, dusty, and discarded like that old iPhone.

We now live in a time in history that has become extremely dependent upon technology instead of theology to bring hope to our heart.

While technology can be purchased, hope cannot. Our hearts hunger for real hope. What the Bible reveals is “Holy Hope”.

Today I’d like to encourage you to remember where your true Hope is found by offering you an acrostic for the word “HOPE”.

H oly Spirit unleashes

True hope doesn’t come with the next version of your iPhone, but from the great “ I Am”! He has chosen to give us continual access to His hope through His Holy Spirit.

  • The Holy Spirit is a gift provided to every believer in Jesus!
    • Acts 2:38-39- “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
  • The Holy Spirit lives IN every believer and changes how we use our body!
    • I Corinthians 6:19-20- “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
  • The Holy Spirit can bring hope to our heart IF we let Him!
    • I Thessalonians 5:19 - ‘Do not quench the Spirit’
    • Ephesians 4:30 - ‘Do not grieve the Holy Spirit…’

O bedience enables

  • God pours his Hope into our Heart as we trust and obey Him!
    • Romans 15:13- “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
  • You don’t feel your way into hope. You obey His way into Hope! 
  • Holy Hope comes from holy action.

P erseverance deepens

  • Hope is unshakable confidence. The only way to find hope in the unshakable is to experience the shaking! Persevering through the pains of life, brings a hope that is found in Christs alone!
    • Romans 5:4-5- “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
  • We desire convenience. God desires character.

E nthusiasm demonstrates

  • What we get excited about, reveals who or what is giving hope to our heart.
  • Holy hope is not dependent on how much money we have…or don’t have.
    • I Timothy 6:17- “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
  • Holy hope should evidence itself in our life with increasingly greater joy.
    • I Peter 1:8-9-Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

In closing, I’d like to go back to an interview that Steve Jobs did with Businessweek in 2004. There Steve said:

"You'd be surprised how hard people work around here.  They work nights and weekends, sometimes not seeing their families for a while. Sometimes people work through Christmas to make sure the tooling is just right at some factory in some corner of the world so our product comes out the best it can be."

The article later reads:

“Some engineers who worked tirelessly on the original Mac emerged from the project estranged from their spouses and children. Steve Job’s relentless work ethic may have been shaped by some of his dysfunctional family affairs as well. He was adopted by Clara and Paul Jobs, who promised his birth mother, whom Jobs later tracked down with the help of a private investigator, that they would send him to a university. He dropped out of Reed College after one semester, and he reportedly never was willing to talk to his birth father.  Jobs had a daughter, Lisa, out of wedlock with Chrisann Brennan. He denied paternity for many years, swearing in a court document that he was sterile. Later, he had three more kids with Laurene Powell.”

In his authorized 2011 biography, Steve would later say:

"I've done a lot of things I'm not proud of, such as getting my girlfriend pregnant when I was 23 and the way I handled that…"

The reason I would take a few minutes to look at the life of Steve Jobs, is because his legacy massively impacted and represents how today’s generation continues to desperately look for hope. While his products offer the appearance of hope, his own life demonstrated that he had not found true Hope himself. Sadly, his relentless pursuit toward results and riches no matter the cost to his relationships continues to be repeated in the lives of countless men and women today.

Our world needs new role models to emerge. Followers of Jesus that most likely will never reach the popularity status of Steve Jobs. But are willing to faithfully walk in the powerful steps of Jesus. Steps that showed us that our Lord desires us to focus our life on “Making Disciples” instead of simply “Making dollars”!

Today let’s begin to show our world where true Hope is found. They are watching whether we look to technology or theology. To our money, or to our Maker.  Will we spend more time looking to our iPhone or to THE I AM?

May the God of hope fill your day with His Holy Hope. A Hope that our:

H oly Spirit unleashes

O bedience enables

P erseverance deepens

E nthusiasm demonstrates

Mind Over Matter

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Mind over matter”. It’s often used to encourage someone to take their focus off the pain being caused by some physical challenge and push forward as they refocus their mind on something else. I’d like to wash this phrase in the Word of God and let Colossians 3 bring it to a whole new level.

In fact, here are three words for your journey today that truly give us the courage to live a life that is even capable of having a “mind over matter” outlook in our 21st century life.

#1: SET

This first word is found in verse 2:

“Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”

In the Greek, the word is zēteite and means “to seek or strive for earnestly”. Here’s what’s interesting. There isn’t a one of us who doesn’t naturally do this. We all strive earnestly for what we desire most. That’s the problem. By nature, what we desire most is sin. We want to find something on earth to fulfill our deepest desires. To be loved. To be respected. To belong. Desires that are only going to be met in Jesus Christ, but our culture tells us otherwise. And it does so continuously.

Our media-saturated society has enabled us to earnestly strive for our greatest desires in epic proportions. Not only can we push a button and satisfy our flesh, we can promote our flesh. We’ve all watched the little toddler who does something funny or cute and then receives the applause or laughter of everyone in the room. What does he do next? He looks around and sees that his behavior was appreciated, so he does it again. Today we have generations doing exactly this. We have set our mind on receiving the applause of our world, and we keep on performing or practicing whatever will receive it.

Our young people are taught that performing well on the athletic field or on the public stage is what truly matters. They watch us snap pictures of them and post them with great joy for the world to see. And while there is nothing wrong with scoring a touchdown, or singing a solo at the school concert, the question is whether they are being taught that earthly achievement is not what we are called to prioritize as followers of Christ. They are watching their parents, their grandparents, to see how to live a life of “mind over matter”. Not just pushing through the pain to gain new muscles, trophies, or awards. They need to see in our daily journey that we are willing to SET our minds on things above. To prioritize the eternal over the earthly. Or better yet, letting our “MINDSET” on the Eternal radically change how we live in the earthly.

Every decision of our practical life should be evidence that we are earnestly striving to “Set our mind on things above.” To pursue our love for Christ over the applause of our culture.

#2: GET

Since I grew up in the Midwest, I tend to pronounce this word, “Git”. But no matter how you say it, this word represents our next ruthless challenge. If our first goal is to “Set our mind on things above”, the next and continual challenge will be to “Get rid of things below.” Things that naturally creep in and become our life.  We find this in verse 5 where Paul says:

“Put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

And then in verse 8:

“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

It’s not by coincidence that these are explicit lists that accurately portray many of the things we naturally set our mind and life on in our generation today. Turns out no matter whether you are living in the 1st century culture or the 21st century, our human hearts are easily deceived by the same card tricks that the devil plays in every generation.

The saint isn’t perfect but is committed to the journey of perfection. A journey that is only possible by God’s Grace. The next generation already knows that we aren’t perfect. The closer they are to us, the more they know just how human we are. They need to see us be willing to “Get rid of things below” on a regular basis. To confess our sin when it enters in. To repent of our rebellious habits that come out in our words and actions. They are watching not for perfection, but for lives that are willing to SET, GET, and last but not least…

#3: LET

The power of God’s Word is ready to permeate our life to truly have a “mind over matter” perspective, but we can choose to keep it out. To settle for the earthly things that feel good for a few days, months, or even years. We must choose to “Let the peace and Word of Christ rule in our hearts.

We read these powerful words in verses 15-17:

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”

Our world hungers for peace. Peace in our homes. Peace in our community. World peace where we all just get along. But contrary to many bumper stickers, mankind is incapable of popular words like: “Co-Exist” or “Be-Kind or “World Peace” until we submit to the Prince of Peace. To come under His rule and demonstrate it with speech that is marked by thankfulness to Him. This only happens as we have God’s Word saturating our minds in a world that is trying to boil our brains in false teaching. Teaching that places man at the center of the universe, instead of the One True God.

As we let our mind be invaded by His Kingdom, our mindset will begin to focus on what matters. And it isn’t matter. It’s Eternal. 

Augustine once said, “No one longs for eternal, incorruptible, and immortal life, unless he be wearied of this temporal, corruptible, and mortal life”.

Are you there yet? Are you tired of focusing your mind on what the world says matters? Then let today begin a new season where you commit to life a life of “mind over matter” as you SET- GET- LET:

#1:  Set your mind on things above!

#2:  Get rid of things below!

#3:  Let the peace and Word of Christ rule in your heart!

As the church of Jesus Christ commits to this type of “mind over matter” living, we will unveil to our world what a face, a family, a church looks like that is committed to revealing God’s Glory to the world, instead of our own.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18