For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
This was Paul's attitude toward the Old Testament. The scriptures existed as the source for instruction for Christians. The goal of the instruction of the scriptures was to have a real and firm hope. This was not hope in the sense we generally think of it, like "I hope I get what I want for Christmas". This was hope like a firm and unshakeable confidence. It was based on the knowledge of God in His holy Word. It is an indescribably real and sure thing, even though it is in the future and requires waiting and faith to receive.
The goal was hope, but the process was to understand and draw that hope from the things written in the scriptures. That is why I see as absolutely vital the process of doing what I do right now, and virtually every morning: I must be reading, studying, and filling my thoughts with the truth of God's Word. For me, the best time that I can achieve this is when I rise up early in the morning before the rest of my family. It would be easy to let that hour be filled with sleep. But it is best that it be filled with God's thoughts, which I can only find in an understandable form in the Bible.
I find that this practice creates regular and daily encouragement for me. There are times where I need constant encouragement. There are other times where the immediate effect is to help me encourage someone else. And there are times where sin in me keeps me from really applying the truth until I give in to the conviction of sin that the Word and God's Spirit bring, then confess and forsake it, and thus find the encouraging relief of forgiving mercy in God and sustaining grace.
All of those are experiences of encouragement and hope. And God's Word has never failed me in either category. I cannot say that about anything else in my life.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13