Hope

SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.17.17

 ‘What Hope are you Buying’

 

1 Peter 1:3-9   

 

Easter offers a “living” hope (v3)

Every hope your soul can lift up is merely a wishing hope

We cannot guarantee that our hopes will be obtained, or kept

Biblical hope is different, it’s knowing rather than wishing

Easter’s hope is given by Jesus Christ who is v3 the ‘Lord’

Easter’s hope is guaranteed by Jesus Christ who was ‘raised’

The Apostle Peter calls this a ‘living hope’

It cannot wither, or die, because (v5) the ‘power’ of God keeps it

You cannot match that, the world cannot match it, and human religion cannot match it

What is this living hope?

Jesus who died on a cross to pay for our sin, was raised in victory over our sin and death

Those who trust in Christ, (v1) are born again:  God does something we don’t!

v4 our new life includes an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading

v3 This hope is not to those who deserve it, but according to God’s Mercy

Right now this mercy is ready for anyone in any condition  

     “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”  Romans 10:13

Are you willing to acknowledge you need to be saved? 

Is God giving you faith to believe that Jesus is the One who saves?

Will you submit to call on him:  Jesus, forgive me and have my life

 

The hope of Easter can withstand a messy world 

Disappointments, suffering, conflict and loss are inescapable (vs 6-7)

The Bible doesn’t try to claim that faith will remove all of them

Bible does claim that hope in Christ can stand up to all of them

God is in every difficulty, with the same intensity he had in saving us

God is purposeful in every trial, regardless of people’s intention, God causes it to be for our good

God tells us how it ends:  Christ victoriously returns to glorify his people

Life is hard, heartaches are real, but our joy remains

Nothing can diminish hope that is imperishable – undefiled – unfading

If our trust is in Christ, it’s impossible to be hopeless

“Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us” Romans 5:5

The promises we have in Christ are both unchanging, and glorious

When we feel hopeless, it’s because we are not fully trusting Christ

Our hope can actually increase with our difficulties,

Trials freshly remind us that our hopes belong in Christ alone

 

Resurrection hope keeps us in anticipation (vs 8-9)

The best is always yet to come

Christ whom we love above all else, is ‘preparing a place for us’

Our aging body will be raised new, and our soul will be made complete

It is coming!  Life that’s whole and joy that is undisturbed

We have hope now, but its greatest fulfillment is still ahead

Our hope is in Christ, so it is fulfilled (v7) when he is revealed

Do you love Christ?  You will be with him, that’s anticipation!

 

Are your hopes merely wishes?  Does your joy survive the battering of life?

Christ is alive to give you hope that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading

 

THIS HOPE IS REAL

Nathan Barry recently died from cancer.

He was 16

He knew Christ

His hope remained

Nathan shared his simple, yet deep testimony while knowing that death was most likely soon before him. You may not be facing a challenge this big, but we all desperately need a hope that is secure and can never diminish.

Nathan’s Testimony from Wazza on Vimeo.

QUESTIONS THE BIBLE ASKS YOU #5

This is our final installment of questions God asks us

Sometimes our big problem is not that we don’t know the right answer, but that we don’t keep our eyes on that answer. We are as easily distracted as a hound dog in a yard full of squirrels.

A running joke with many Sunday School teachers is that small children regardless of the question, will give “Jesus” as the answer. If only we could be as simple and naïve as children. For when push comes to shove Jesus really is the answer to our burdens and big questions. He is our Savior, Lord, Advocate, Judge, Life, Light, Peace and Hope. He is all we need.

This week we have looked at questions meant to lead us in thinking clearly about our daily lives. Today we have a question from Jesus that is the biggest of them all:

Who do you say that I am?

In Matthew 16:13-16 we see Jesus disciples got this answer right!

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Are you as clear as Peter in your answer?

BOLD PRAYERS

iStock_000004136424XSmall

Every Christian wonders at times about the worthiness and effectiveness of their prayers.

Perhaps you may wonder if they are being given much attention. Certainly it can often seem as though our earnest prayers are not being answered

I cannot answer or solve all those prayer concerns in this blog, but I can give you three prayers which every Christian can pray with absolute confidence.

As we offer these prayers, we can know that God not only gladly receives them, they will be answered beyond our expectations!

1. Pray for our sanctification and that of other believers

The Bible tells us that God will complete his perfect work in us (Philippians 1:6) and that everyone who has been justified, will be glorified (Romans 8:29-30).

So pray boldly for your growing holiness and love for God

2. Pray that more people will be saved

If Christ has not yet returned, it is because there are more people He is committed to saving

So pray boldly for God to save many

3. Pray for the glory of Christ’s Kingdom

Our Lord is and will always be “King of kings and Lord of Lords”. Nothing will ever diminish him, his
kingdom or his plans

So pray boldly for our Lord’s kingdom to be glorified

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.14.15

“How we live matters to God”

Psalm 5

The Psalms are worship that instruct; they are examples of preaching the gospel to ourselves.

Psalm 5 tells us how God looks at the lives of the righteous and the unrighteous. Again we will see that God is our greatest reality

 

1. God’s People Should Be Confident to Call On Him (vs 1-3)

We live in a world where calling on God often involves “groaning”: bodies have pain, relationships have conflict, plans have obstacles, and life has chaos

Through Christ, we bring all this to God with confidence (v2)

The only true God is our God:

‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’ (John 20:17)

Our confidence before God never rests on our performance

Every prayer is heard and received, nothing is ignored

Our God is the only true “King”; he alone has the final word

If this is true, God should regularly hear our voice (v3)

Something happens every time we come to God

He is always engaged; God’s face is always turned toward us!

Our days become sweeter when they are with him

 

2. God Will Not Accept Those Who Pursue Sin (vs4-6)

God hates sin every occurrence of sin and any measure of sin

(1) Because God understands sin: it corrupts, deceives and destroys

God is grieved by the devastation sin has brought to the world and the human soul

(2) Because sin hates God: every sin is rebellion against God

Sin began (in Satan and Adam) as attempts to overrule God, sin wants God to get out of the way

The language used by the psalmist is unyielding

God will not allow sin to dwell in his kingdom. It must be stopped!

This is why all sin and sinners are condemned, no sin can be ignored

We see God’s seriousness about sin in the drastic measures he took – the sacrifice of his Son on the Cross

 

3. The Righteous Are Welcome In God’s Presence (vs7-8)

God’s goal through the cross was far more than to “save us”

His desire is to bring us into his presence, so we can eternally experience his love

The door is wide open for us to pursue intimacy with God

In these verses, we see the character of those who are righteous:

(1) The righteous pursue God: A heart without any desire for God, is an unchanged heart

(2) The righteous submit to the reign of God: If he is not “King” to us, we are living in denial of his person

(3) The righteous follow the ways of God: They want to embrace all that is of God

Christians will struggle in these areas, but they must desire them

 

4. The Unrighteous Have No Real Hope (vs 9-10)

They remain in their guilt which pervades all that they do

People generally will admit they have sinned, but not that they are sinners

Yet, that is what sin does to our soul, it makes our nature sinful: Sin is never isolated or controlled

There is nothing to envy in the lives of those who are without God

We see in v10, the main characteristic of unrighteousness is rebellion

God’s judgment is not for the worst people, it is on all who rebel

Our essential need is not to become better people, it is to be brought out of rebellion

 

5. The Righteous Should Be People of Joy (vs11-12)

The world is a bruising place, but God himself is our refuge

This Psalm makes contrasts between the lives and hopes of the righteous and the unrighteous

Just as the unrighteous have no hope, our hope cannot be extinguished!

In these verses, “joy” and “rejoicing” are given as the appropriate perspective for us

God’s protection is over us (v11), and His shield covers us (v12)

Although we are still under bruising attacks – we are under the “shield” of God’s sovereignty and goodness

When v12 declares that God “blesses” us, it is not some vague concept

The blessings of God are concrete, specific and personal

We have a responsibility to learn about them and “exult” in them

We need to carefully consider what perspective of “truth” our heart embraces

It is disastrous to ignore or water down God’s perspective on life and eternity

And it is wondrous when we embrace it

 

QUESTIONS THE BIBLE ASKS YOU #2

For many of us worry is as much a part of life’s routine as the daily sun rising of the sun. We think worry is inevitable, necessary, and a part of our life responsibility.

However, obeying God and then trusting His sovereign care is a much better way to approach the responsibilities of life.

Jesus sought to burst our misguided sense of needing to worry when he asked this question:

Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Here is Jesus question from Luke 12:22-31 in its full context:

(Jesus) said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.  For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.  Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

How do you answer Jesus?

LIVING HOPEFULLY: Part 7

This is the final article in our series on Hope. Today we look at a third biblical picture that guides us in what it means to live hopefully.

Biblical Hope Makes Us Like a Tree

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose hope is the Lord. He shall be like a tree planted by the waters; which spreads out its roots by the river and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Living Hopefully brings vitality to our life

This is the fruit of what we have already seen when we reject spiritual carelessness and embrace biblical obedience.

Satan tries to sow seeds of doubt concerning how worthwhile it is to live wholly for God. But the only things to grow from that seed are weeds.

Spiritual vitality that grows like a mighty and fruitful tree comes from being rooted in the entirety of salvation’s promise. This is exactly what biblical hope is – confidence that the entirety of salvation’s promise will be fulfilled.

Ask yourself, “What should it mean to my life if gospel hope is totally and irreversibly true?”

If you have no vitality or fruitfulness, check your hope status – and check how well rooted you are in biblical obedience

Yes you may believe, but is that belief causing you to pursue God more fully, or is it something you merely use to convince yourself that you are “Okay with God”.

What is the practical application of hope that is like a “tree planted by the waters”?

Don’t try to plant your hopes or your life in dry places.

These are places that are not dependent upon God. It is to trust in yourself and to pursue the temporary things that the world offers as its hope

Living water is only found in the Holy Spirit.

He flows through the Word, our worship, and other believers in whom He dwells (your church).

It is not complicated, if you life with distance from God, you are planting yourself in dry places.

The result will be what always happens in dry places – no vitality or fruitfulness.

Once you are in a fruitful place, get that fruit to market

Invest your life in the work God is doing around you

If we think the fruit of our life is just rotting on the ground – why bother?

But if we see people eating this fruit, it encourages us to grow even more fruitful.

To live hopefully we don’t need anything new to be made true for us, we simply need to live by what Christ has made true through his glorious gospel!

LIVING HOPEFULLY: Part 6

6eda0cafc907275e4a9fdea02d5f4996

We are continuing in our series on Hope. Today we look at another biblical picture that guides us on how to live hopefully.

Biblical Hope Serves as a Helmet

“Since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” (I Thessalonians 5:8)

As a helmet protects the head, so the gospel protects our thoughts and attitudes

Discouragement – fear – anxiety – depression – anger and impatience are all thought processes that are missing essential truths about God.

Living Hopefully means that we first (or quickly) think of what we know about God and his covenant with us.

This takes the all the junk of life that can negatively affect our attitudes and emotions and places it all into its true (biblical) perspective.

 When the gospel of Jesus Christ fills our thoughts, we realize we don’t need to be fearful, anxious, angry or impatient. These are unnecessary diversions that drain our life of its joy and hopefulness

What is this Helmet of Hope, and how do we put it on?

I Thessalonians 5:8 describes those who have the gospel as “belonging to the day”, in contrast to v7 which describes those who live in the “night” of sin and unbelief.

Living Hopefully is to live under the bright truth of day, particularly the transforming truths of the gospel.

As Christians our problem is not the night of unbelief, as much as the shadows of half-heartedness. We drift along the edges of Christian life rather than embracing every part of it with glad zeal.

The result is thinking (and feeling) that is a muddled mix of light and shadow. This lets in fear, anger and anxieties etc.

The Bible is God speaking to us about His truth – THE truth.  

The question for us is whether or not we are wearing this helmet of salvation that belongs to us – this helmet of hope? Are we covering ourselves with gospel thinking and gospel responses?

Is your mind burdened right now? Put on the helmet of salvation, by preaching the truths of the gospel to yourself, rather than listening to discouragement from yourself.

This is the wise advice of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones who wrote:

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking . . . yourself is talking to you!”

Christ gave you this Helmet when he saved you.

Pick it up and put it on.

LIVING HOPEFULLY

This week’s segment on hope was going to be the final article in a 5 part series on hope. Instead, today’s article on Living Hopefully has turned into more as we will look separately at three pictures of biblical hope.

So if you have liked this series on Hope, you have two more Tuesdays to enjoy it.

Biblical Hope Acts as an Anchor

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19)

Our hope is in the person and promise of God who is unchanging  

Living Hopefully means we are confident in the stability of being held in the arms of the sovereign, perfect, gracious and unchanging God

In contrast to biblical hope, the hopes of the world are all subject to the swirling forces around us. If biblical hope is like an “anchor”, the world’s hopes are like floating debris – it holds to nothing that is stable.    

We put this hope into action by embracing the wise and good commands of this unchanging God:

“To set our hope in God is to keep his commandments”

(Psalm 78:7)

There is no hope in anything that ignores God or rebels against him, because he is the only source of real hope.

Sin, whether it is through commission or omission, is by definition to depart from God – how can we expect anything stable or good to come from that?  

Stability is not in saying; “I don’t sin as much as I used to”, it is found in pursuing God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

As we put the truths and commands of God into action, our life is increasingly filled with hopefulness, because we are confident they are best for us, and they will never fail us.

God is the One who has put himself forward as our anchor. This is his claim and we can trust him in it. When our entire life rests on the promise of God, there is nothing to disrupt our hope.

OUR HOPE CAN HANDLE ANY CHALLENGE

 This is the fourth in a 5 part series on Tuesdays that present the great truth of biblical Hope.

Our Hope Can Handle Any Challenge

In Christ we are never hopeless!

Our hope will be challenged in a variety of ways – but our hope can handle every challenge

The hope we have is that salvation’s entire promise will be fulfilled        

God has promised that his sovereignty and goodness will fulfill that hope

We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, 30and those whom he justified he also glorified (Romans 8:28-30)

Our enemy cannot alter this hope, so he tries to distort our perspective about hope

What are some of the major challenges to our hope, and why can our hope can handle them?

The Challenge of Sin  

Satan lures us into sin and then uses it to condemn us.

He floods our thoughts with a barrage of accusations declaring God’s anger and rejection.

He wants us to give up our zeal by telling us that we will never be godly.

Hope meets the challenge

v30 tells us those who have been “justified” (saved) will eventually be “glorified” (perfected). 

Our salvation is guaranteed by Christ’s work, not by our maintenance of salvation

v29 reminds us that our salvation began by God coming to us – He is totally committed to the preservation of our relationship with Him

The Challenge of Success and Prosperity

It seems that nothing leads us to take our minds off God faster than success.

At first we thank God, but over time we become lax and fall into thinking we are self-sufficient.

We become forgetful and lesser hopes take over our attention. We spend less time with God and think about his graces less often

Our focus increasingly is on what we are accomplishing, what we think we need to do, and our ever lengthening list of wants

Hope meets the challenge

Simply look up and there Christ is – he has never left us or stopped his labors on our behalf

v28 reminds us that “we know” wonderful truths about God

We are surrounded with memorable works of God and the wonderful promises of God

Our hope is so extraordinary, just to look at one facet, is enough to outshine the empty hopes of our own success

The Challenge of Disappointment and loss

The reality of living in a world groaning under bondage (vs 20-22) is that pain and disappointment are never far

We are regularly assaulted by thoughts that “God may be real, but He is not near”

We take our failures and multiple burdens to be evidences that God has stepped back

Hope meets the challenge    

Our hope is nothing less than the person of God himself and His inability to be unfaithful

vs 28-30 repeatedly remind us that we are on an eternal trajectory. In fact life can only make sense when we look at it with an eternal perspective

God is taking our life somewhere and the final destination is not here

The Challenge of Shallow Hopes

The world is incessantly offering us their false hopes

When the world around us is only talking about these empty hopes, we can get lost in the clutter of it all. The sheer volume of hearing about them creates an obscuring fog of shallow hope.

When we see people enjoying some of these hopes, we start to think they are worth pursuing.

The world’s hopes are not a mirage, but they are a veneer – they are shallow and will wear away

Hope meets the challenge

Our hope is not simply something held out to us to grab, we are a new creation

v28 tells us our hope is in God’s work

All the efforts of this world combined cannot match the grandeur of what God is accomplishing in us and for us

The Puritan preacher, Richard Sibbes wrote:

“As an adult is no longer satisfied with children’s games; so we are no longer satisfied with what the world offers”

We have been made for greater hopes than the world could ever provide – and we have tasted that they are wondrously good

Spit out the false hopes people are trying to feed you and nourish your soul on the person of Christ who is the Bread of Life. Refresh your soul with the person of the Holy Spirit who is the Fountain of Living Waters