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Holding fast.


Consistency is another of those recurring life challenges. The complexity and velocity of these times can move us quickly from pillar to post in many personal pursuits. Concentration and focus tend to be lost in the catalog of to-do's, activity, and busyness. Urgencies easily eclipse our more important commitments and responsibilities. Holding fast to anything seems impossible in the whirl and motion of high octane living. This is especially true when we must deal with the uncertainties and troubles that are part and parcel of contemporary times. In our most difficult moments, doubt, indecision, discouragement, and even despair can rule the day. Holding fast to even our most cherished values is hard when clouds of hopelessness descend on us. Losing your grip is the downside.

Holding fast is a consistent biblical theme. The dictionary people define holding fast as remaining tightly secured. It is continuing to believe in or adhere to an idea or principle. Scripture advises---

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil. Hold fast to what is good.

Romans 12:9, ESV

Now I remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in

which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I

preached to you---unless you believed in vain.

1 Corinthians 15: 1-2, ESV

Holding fast to the word of life.

Philippians 2: 16, ESV

Test everything: hold fast to what is good.

1 Thessalonians 5: 21, ESV

These are merely a sampling. More to the point, there are also many Scripture verses about holding fast to hope.

But Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold

fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

Hebrews 3: 6, ESV

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the

unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two

unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge

might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as

a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind

the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high

priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 6: 17-20, ESV

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is

faithful.

Hebrews 10: 23, ESV

So, the question for me today is, how do I hold fast to my confession of hope? How can I remain tight and secure in such a volatile environment. Let me share five ways to hold fast to this hope.

1. Remember that hope is blessed assurance.

Biblical hope isn't wondering, wishing, even fervently desiring something. It is the genuine expectation that God will guide us in life and fulfill his purpose in us. "Faith is the assurance of things hope for" (Hebrews 11:1). Hope is the blessed assurance that we have voiced so often in our hymns. It is certain.

Pause here a moment. Biblical hope is the product of genuine Christian faith. This may be

the most appropriate place for a reminder about faith. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Examine

yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this

about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!"

(2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV). Self-examination is another good discipline. Don't overlook it.

2. Consistently feed your spiritual life.

The spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, service, witness, and fellowship are often sidebars in our busy routines. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you" (Ephesians 1:18, ESV). This translates to practicing the spiritual disciplines regularly.

3. Discover the promises of God.

My personal darkest hour was when our son, Brian Eliot Holmes, was murdered in downtown Charleston. The night of his death a friend suggested a Bible promise to renew my hope in such a tragic moment. "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:6-7, ESV). Has that proper come arrived? No. But, I know it will. The Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians, "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory" (2 Corinthians 1: 20, ESV).

4. Recruit an accountability partner.

Scripture affirms that two are better than one (see Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12, ESV). Along these lines the author of Hebrews wrote, "But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3: 12-13, ESV). This exhortation is best delivered in small group interaction and spiritual development. An accountability partner can fulfill what this same author penned in a later writing---"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10: 24-25, ESV). Surely this usually translates to church attendance. But, it can apply in a closer, more intimate accounting. An accountability partner works best for me.

5. Encourage one another.

The discouragements and hardships of life are real. Encouragement is a necessity when we are attempting to live the life God has planned for us. One again, the Apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing" (1 Thessalonians 5:11, ESV). It's amazing how a good word can change the personal horizon of someone experiencing hopeless circumstances.

Holding fast the confession of our hope guarantees our passage through the dark nights of the soul. But, holding fast involves spiritual discipline. As a fellow struggler, let me remind you that it is worth it.

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