(4/20) I. Introduction- Donít Despair Ė A missionary was sitting at her
Second story window when she opened a letter from home. With the letter was a crisp new $10 bill. She was pleasantly surprised but as she read the letter her eyes caught sight of a shabbily dressed man leaning against a post in front of her building. She couldnít stop thinking about him. He looked to be worse off financially than she so she slipped the
new bill into an envelope and wrote, "Donít despair," on the front and threw it out the window to the man. The stranger picked it up read it, tipped his cap and smiled as he went his way.
The next day as she was about to leave her apartment, she heard a knock at the door and there stood the shabbily dressed man with an envelope full of money. When she asked what that was for, the man said, "This is the $60 you won lady, Donít Despair paid 5 to 1."
Obviously the missionary knew that lifeís circumstances can bring a lot of disparity. To despair is to lose hope. One thing that we know for sure is that life is tough and it is easy to get down and lose hope. For most people, hope is understood as, "a desired action or result, a desired expectation." One of the many holes in our souls is the desire
for good things to happen to us in our lives to relieve us of, or keep us from heartache, trouble, or pain. We long for a brighter future-something to look forward to. We have been doing so ever since the Garden of Eden. Paul says, "If in this life only we have hope we are of all men most miserable (1 Cor. 15:22)." Think for a moment, what are some of the things we hope for
or our hearts long for in this life
- Rain and good crops or good business
- A good job
- A good marriage, and no more divorces
- Children who are healthy and make wise decisions in their lives
- No more child abuse
- Good health
- A Cure for Alzheimerís, cancer, and various diseases
- No more funerals to attend
- Money left at the end of the month
- The ability to retire comfortably
- War to end and peace on earth
- Taxes to decrease
- Gas prices to come down
- Right laws to be passed and people always treating each other fairly and with respect
- Crime to decrease, no more lies, abuse, killings, sexual abuse
- No more abortion
- No more homosexuality
- To own my own home or get a new car
- Long life for ourselves and our children
- Poverty to end- so no one will ever be hungry or cold
- Health insurance
- Etc. You can name your own
Linda Dillow-in her Book Ė A Deeper Kind of Calm (p.85), said this, "Some Christians hope their spiritual journey will be like traveling on a 747 jumbo jet on a calm day with no turbulence. The trip may even get boring- but a nice kind of boring. We like the idea of reclining in our seat, reading a good novel, and being served the drink of our choice.
While our walk with God is a journey, any hopes for a jumbo jet ride will remain just that Ė hopes. You and I are pilgrims on the path that God has set before us. Sometimes we walk through lush green forests and dancing wild flowers. Other times we travel through valleys of weeping, groping our way through thick fog."
But because of Manís fall in Eden, we know the reality of Jesusí words, "In this world you will have tribulationÖ" (John 16:33). Job said it this way, "Man, who is born of woman, is of few days and full of troubleÖ" (Job 14:1). Job felt the disparity of life this side of heaven. Listen to two more of his comments. "My days are swifter than a weaverís
shuttle, and are spent without hope," (7:6). "He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone, my hope, hath he removed like a tree," (19:10).
Likewise, you can feel the despair in the two on the road to Emmaus on the first Easter morning, before they knew for sure that Jesus had risen, heads hung, they said, "But we were hoping that it was he who was going to redeem IsraelÖ, but he was crucified and this is now the 3rd day." (Luke 24:21)
Ever felt that way? My dreams, plans, and hopes have not happened as I had wanted. I said, "For better or for worse," I hoped for better, but it got worse. I invested and hoped for high dividends and instead the market went south. I had hoped for a good pension and found that it was gone or less than I anticipated. I hoped for confidence and got
betrayal. I hoped for health and got sick. I hoped for a close family and got division. I hoped to retire from this job and got my pink slip. Now what do I do? The answer is, you focus on this day. That is the importance of this day. This day says, "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because he lives, all fear is gone." That is the importance of this Resurrection Day and
every Sunday. Every Sunday is a reminder that He is alive. And all He has promised is absolutely true.
II. Three things to Realize
A. Any Hope that you have in this world is temporary and transient. Nothing lasts. Even if I get what I hope for today, there is no guarantee that I will have it tomorrow; that it will last. It will always depend on current circumstances being just right, but because circumstances are always changing, my hopes are in constant danger of fading. And life
is short, anything we get here is enjoyed only for a short time. Paul said it in 1 Cor. 15:22, "If in this life only we have hope, we are of all people most miserable."
B. Any Hope that you have in this World stays in this world. There is an absolute truth, despite what post-modernists think, that says this, "if it lives, it will die." You and I are going to die and along with death, comes the end of hope for this world. Why because we are in Adam, and his nature is in us, and collectively we humans have made a mess
of this life. We have tried to make our own paradise and we canít do it.
C. There is a Hope that is absolutely sure and guaranteed. It is permanent, secure, eternal and available as a gift to you. Our Hope is in a person. Jesus Christ. When Paul wrote his first letter to young Timothy, he began by saying in 1:1, "Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ our Hope."
Listen to me very carefully, Jesus came to give us hope; to be our hope. He did not come to solve all your problems or fix everything for you in this life. Do you understand this? It was He who said, "In this world you will have tribulation," and again, "you will weep and lament." (John 16:20) Paul said, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God." (Acts
14:23). But Paul also said this in Romans 5:1-5. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and
perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Now notice that despite our trials we can rejoice because of the hope that God has given to us.
III. The Content of Hope (Romans 5:1-5)
What exactly do we mean then by Hope? The Greek word, "elpis," is word that means, Ďthe confident expectation of something good.í The Hope that we have for things in this world are wishful desires with no certainty that they will happen. But God has given us promises that are absolutely certain, guaranteed, and sure. These are promises that are
directly linked to Jesus Christ. Thatís why, people without Jesus are people without any hope. Paul would say;
ē 1 Thess 4:13, "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope"
ē Ephesians 2:12, "that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world."
No Jesus-No Hope; Know Jesus and Know Hope
Our Hope is both Subjective and Objective. What do I mean? I mean that there are promises that God has made that He gives us as soon as we come to know to Jesus; promises that people who donít know Jesus donít know and can only "hope" for. The Subjective ones are the ones that we can know and experience right now. The Objective ones are the ones that
we have waiting for us in the future.
A. Subjective Hope- Hope we can experience right now
1. Forgiveness (Psalm 130:3-7; 32:1-5; 103:10-12; Mal 7:18-20)
2. Salvation (1 Thess. 5:8) Rescued from our penalty
3. Righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21) Declared not guilty and clean
4. Peace, Grace, and Joy (Romans 5:1-2)
5. Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5; 15:13) Our deposit, God with and in us, our teacher, our guide who will never leave us, is here to encourage and strengthen us.
6. Purpose for Living (Jer. 29:11; Romans 8:28-29)
B. Objective Hope- Hope we can confidently expect in the future
1. Eternal Life (Titus 1:2; 3:7) Un-ending in Godís presence
2. Reunion with Christian Loved ones (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
3. New Bodies (1 Cor. 15:52; Phil. 3:20; Rom. 8:23-25) that wonít age, get sick, or break down (Joni Erickson-Tada)
4. No more night and no more pain, no more tears, never crying again. (Rev. 21:4-5)
5. Righteousness (Gal. 5:5) Separated from all trouble and sin forever
6. See Godís face (1 John 3:2-3; Rev.22:4) To see our Savior and Lord and Benefactor
7. Share the Glory of God and Inheritance of God (Rom. 5:2; 8:14-18)
How do we know this for sure? How do we rest in this world of anxiety? We remember this day. We remember the empty tomb. We remember Jesus Christ is alive. It is this fact that separates Christianity from every other religion in the world. Everybody else says our leader is dead and in the grave, but if you do all the right stuff, you might get lucky
and attain life, but there are no guarantees cause our guy is dead. But Jesus said, because I live you will live also. The same spirit that raised Jesus will raise you Paul said in Romans 8. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and last, and He has the keys of life and death. I have prepared a place for you with me, I reserved it, and I canít wait
until you are here to share in my glory with me (John 14:1-3; 17:24).
C. Hope is also an attitude-
Not wishful thinking, or desiring to get what we want to make this life more comfortable, but the confident expectation that God is going to keep His promises and His purposes will be accomplished even when I donít understand; because there are times when even believers can despair. Chuck Swindoll, said that there are 3 times when I can have doubts or
1. When things I think should never happen-occur; that is, when bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people, etc. When someone walks away, or betrays you. like when the good get cancer or die young; when I asked God for a "yes" and got a "no."
2. When things I believe should happen Ė donít; I should be respected, I should be appreciated, people should think of the common good, etc. Common sense should prevail. Truth should win over lies. The Calvary should come to the rescue and the good guys should win.
3. When things I think should happen now, donít happen until much later. We are not good at waiting. Yet, the Old testament word for Hope is often translated as waiting (Isa. 40:31)
But hope as an attitude says, "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it for me," even if it takes longer than I expect. I know that what God has promised, God will do. Like with Abraham. Check out Romans 4:16-21 cp. Hebrews 6:13-20. With no earthly reason to believe or hope, Abraham held onto Godís promises and you can too.
IV. The Basis of our Hope. There are at least four reasons why you should hold onto and anticipate Godís Promises.
A. Because of the Past Examples - Like Abraham, listen to Romans 15:4. "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."
B. Because of Godís Promises- God can not Lie (Hebrews 6:16-18). His Character is Holiness and truth. He has sworn by Himself. We swear by something greater or precious, but because there is nothing greater God swore by Himself. His integrity is on the line with every promise. If He does not keep His promises, He is not a good, holy, loving God. But
His Promise is His guarantee. Men used to imitate this when with a word and a handshake you knew it would be done.
C. Because of Godís Person Ė Jesus is our hope. Our true elder brother is going to bring us home.
D. Because there is an empty Tomb, we know that God will do all He has said. (1 Peter 1:3ff)
V. Letís finish in Hebrews 6 and notice 3 reasons why God has given us this assurance- this Hope that we have in Christ.
A. To be a Strong Consolation (v.18) Ė So that when times are tough we would not despair. So we can rest knowing that God is in control. He will keep all His promise and purposes. This life is short and there is a place and a person of peace, perfection, love, and joy forever.
B. To Give us a Refuge for Hope (v.18) Ė a Place to come to for protection and encouragement- like the city of refuge in the O.T. When times are tough and donít turn out as we hoped, we can run to God and rest in His promises for refuge. (cp. Matthew 11:28-30)
C. To Give us an Anchor for the Soul- (vv.19-20) It keeps us secure and safe from drifting with the current or the winds of change.
You can have the hole in your soul that is looking for hope filled by receiving Jesus Christ into your Life as your savior, or resting in Him as your Lord. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ says it is secure. It is done. It is certain and it is yours. Because when Christ is in your life, you know that because He made it through life and has entered the
presence of God, everyone who is united to Him, He will also bring into the presence of God. His gifts and His promises are to give us Hope. Hope that will bring us through the tough times, through the valley of the shadow of death and hope that will be with us until we see Him and share His glory and His inheritance forever.
Despair or Hope? Is your Life anchored in Jesus? He is alive and wants to give you hope.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman