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

 

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

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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

THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF HOPELESSNESS

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

Hopelessness is impossible for a true Christian

That is the message given to us in Romans 8:28:

We know–all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose

Biblical hope is confidence that salvation’s entire promise will be fulfilled

How could there be more reason for hope, than in what salvation promises? 

All the guilt of our sin is forever removed

We will dwell in God’s loving presence forever

We will be co-heirs with Jesus

We will be glorified – perfected into the character of Jesus

Everyone who shares our eternity – will also be perfected and glorified

All tears, pain, disappointment and sorrows will cease to exist

God will make all things whole

When we understand our hope, we will realize that we cannot actually be hopeless. Because every aspect of our salvation is accomplished by Christ and kept by the Father.

However, it’s quite possible to have feelings of hopelessness. Faith tells us these feelings are a lie; and the appropriate antidote to a lie is the truth.

Practices that help drive away the lies of hopelessness

1.  Biblical hope exalts the greatness of God

“We rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2)

Be a worshiper!  The exceeding greatness and glory of God far exceeds the power of anything that can impinge upon our hope. It is the citizens of hell that moan and tremble, not the citizens of heaven.

2.  Biblical hope declares that God is sovereign and his plans are good 

“We know–all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28)

Keep reminding ourselves about the examples of God’s faithfulness and sovereignty throughout the Bible and in our past

3.  Biblical hope lives according to the word of God 

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word” (Psalm 119:114)

Keep putting what the Bible says into practice. As we live by God’s word, we bring into our lives what will “never return empty”, what will “never pass away”

4.  Biblical hope trades our personal hopes for what God has given to us

“Having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which (God) has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18)

Make sure we are not hoping in what God has never promised or guaranteed. Whatever hopes we can gather for ourselves will always pale in comparison to the grandeur of what God has already promised to his people

We cannot be hopeless, because God is the person who fulfills our hope

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

WHERE IS THE GUARANTEE?

This is the first in a series of articles on Tuesdays that focus on the great truth of Christian Hope

Hope

It’s a powerful word!

All of us want it,

Many promise it,

We have some experience with it,

But daily life easily sucks the air out of it.

The online Dictionary calls hope, “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best”. But what guarantees any of what we hope in? The world’s lost hopes outnumber the stars in the sky.

Biblical hope is much different, because the guarantee of it is the finished work of Christ and the sovereignty of God.

As long as our hope is in what God has promised, even when we lose sight of it – we cannot lose the reality of it.

Over 350 years ago, Jeremiah Burroughs listed 10 ways in which the world’s hopes are in contrast to the hopes that God securely keeps for us. It’s still a great list!

1.  The worst is always ahead

2.  The fading of what they do have is unstoppable

3.  They have no hope of perfection, either in themselves or in any relationship

4.  They will never experience perfect peace or love

5.  They cannot guarantee protection or provision of anything for themselves or loved ones

6.  They have no guarantee that their problems will be resolved

7.  They have no guarantee of any good purpose in the burdens they face

8.  The wisdom they cling to is unstable; both for them and their descendents

9.  Every means people can find to lead, bless or exalt themselves will contain corruption

10.  The world’s hopes are like a man who plants weeds and hopes for bountiful crop of wheat

WHY DO WE REMAIN IN DISCOURAGEMENT? (Part 4)

Today we finish our four-part series on reasons why Christians remain in discouragement:

#4.  We remain in discouragement by remaining in the shadows

When we come to Christ, we leave the darkness of sin and unbelief, and enter the light of God’s presence and truth. We are no longer in darkness, because the light of the gospel shines in our lives

If you are in the darkness of unbelief, the only encouragement I can give you is the good news (gospel) that Christ will give you light if you repent of your sin against God, and place your trust in Christ as the payment for your sin.

Every believer has this light, but some Christians keep to the edges of the things of God.

Their lives may not be in the dark, but they are in the shadows. Our perspective is easily distorted when we are in the shadows.

The shadows breed sin

In the shadows, sin doesn’t look so serious.

But the shame of sin and its hardening effect will keep us vulnerable to discouragement, because we are walking in compromises that keep us from seeing or embracing the fullness of God and his grace.

The shadows breed fear

Difficulties are distorted and more frightening in the shadows.

When my daughters were young, they didn’t like their closet doors open at night. In the darkness, the contents of the closet created shapes which frightened them. Living in the shadows of compromise will do the same to us

When we live in the brilliant light of God’s presence, we see the wonderful reasons for casting discouragement aside.

When we live in the warm light of God’s presence, we are reminded that the One who cares for us is greater than anything that is against us

We may have reasons to be discouraged, but in Christ we should not stay in discouragement

WHY REMAIN IN DISCOURAGEMENT? (Part 3)

We continue in a four part series on Tuesdays that examines reasons why Christians remain in discouragement:

#3. We remain in discouragement by not having a solid biblical foundation

Doctrines are like the tools in a workman’s truck. The more tools he has, the more work situations he can successfully handle. In a similar way, we are called to be “a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed and correctly handles word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).

The more we understand biblical truths, the more prepared we are for whatever comes our way.

This is particularly important because life usually does not provide us with warnings about what discouraging situation it is about to throw at us

~ Is your biblical framework a grab bag of religious sayings and ideas?

~ Do you get information from a myriad of sources that often contradict one another?

There is nothing wrong with learning from many sources, it can actually be helpful. However (and this is a big “however”), we need to learn from good sources that are doctrinally sound.

Sadly, there are Christians who think they don’t need to give a lot of attention to biblical “doctrines”. Some say they just need a relationship with God. While this statement has truth in it, biblical doctrines tell us about God. Every biblical doctrine is a truth God has shared so we will know the real him.

How can you have a close relationship with someone when you choose to ignore what they say about themselves?!

A doctrine is a truth about God typically presented in a clear and organized manner.

To be blunt, it is not very wise to say we don’t need truths about God presented in a clear and organized manner.

And what is the alternative, to ignore truths about God or to learn them without organized clarity?

Without a strong biblical foundation, we do not have the discernment to stay away from deceptive principles which will collapse on us (Ephesians 4:14-15). Nothing will discourage a Christian more than to have what we thought was true of God collapse on us.

Imagine a contractor who pours dirt and debris into his cement mix because he is lazy or it saves him money. The eventual homeowner will eventually pay a high price for that hidden failure. 

The Bible repeatedly warns us against bad teaching. So we need to discern who is throwing debris into their teaching.

This debris includes teaching that is man-centered, earthly-minded, or temporally focused.

Why do Christians fail to have a solid foundation of biblical knowledge?

  • We don’t take it seriously
  • We lack a consistent pursuit of it
  • We make poor choices is where we get ‘biblical’ teaching
  • We neglect the spiritual oversight of pastors who God has given to protect us

Ephesians 4:11-13 tells us that the church and its leadership are “given” to equip us so we will mature and be discerning of bad theology.

Deceptive teaching is carefully prepared to look good on the surface, but it will fail us, because God doesn’t stand behind it

Growing in biblical understanding makes it harder for discouragement to take root.

Paul prays in Ephesians 1:18, that “the eyes of their understanding would be enlightened”. If biblical truths are not understood, much of their benefit cannot be used

In Acts 20:27 Paul said he had not neglected to teach “the whole counsel of God”.

~ Make sure you are reading the whole counsel of God’s Word.

~ Be engaged in a church that highly values biblical teaching (shown by how seriously it pursues the discipleship of its members)

When your foundation is secure, you will know how to withstand the discouraging situations that come your way.

WHY DO WE REMAIN IN DISCOURAGEMENT? (Part 2)

Last week, we began a series that looks at reasons why Christians remain in discouragement. Today we look at the second reason:

#2.  We remain in discouragement, when we are disconnected

When we are disconnected from God

We remain in discouragement when we think God has pulled away from us. Yet, God has promised that his covenant presence “will never leave or forsake us”.

Remember God is the One who came to us and initiated the relationship we have with Him. This was not something we prodded God into

When we are convinced of God’s commitment to be with us, we are encouraged to keep working at that relationship.

~ Whenever we open His Word, it contains His heart for us.

~ Whenever we come in prayer, He is listening to us.

~ Whenever we worship in Spirit and truth, He is pleased with us.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus showed us the importance of persisting in our connection with the Father. Matthew 26:44 tells us Jesus “went again and prayed the third time, saying same words”.

Jesus pursued the Father as long as his heart remained burdened. Do we expect that we will need to do less?!

Yet even in prayer discouragement tries to follow us

This happens when we make our problem the primary focus of our prayers. We talk to God, but we are looking at ourselves. Our prayers seem to reinforce the weight of our burden

This is because we are making God a servant to our desires. Then we are deflated when God doesn’t fulfill our expectations. Instead prayer should be about worshiping God’s greatness and his faithfulness which he has shown we can trust.

When we are disconnected from God’s people

The local church is a significant way in which God has chosen to minister to us. We see this vividly in the Body of Christ word picture found in I Corinthians 12

How can we expect to be encouraged in God, if we consistently remain in disconnect from God and His people?

These are not just matters of negligence, they are sins of omission. In fact, they are violations of what Jesus calls the two Greatest Commandments!

We were created to be involved with God in the context of the Church community. Leaving discouragement involves becoming more engaged in biblical community with God and with His people