The Devil was having a yard sale, and all of his tools were marked with different prices. They were a fiendish lot. There was hatred, jealously, deceit, lying and pride—all at expensive prices. But over to the side of the yard on display was a tool more obviously worn than any of the other tools. It was also the most costly. The tool was labeled “DISCOURAGEMENT.” When questioned, the Devil said, “It’s more useful to me than any other tool. When I can’t bring down my victims with any of the rest of these tools, I use discouragement, because so few people realize that it belongs to me.” Satan is never happier than when he sees people giving in and giving up to despair and becoming lost in hopelessness. Have you ever felt like your whole world is caving in around you and there is absolutely no hope. Your troubles seem to mount up. Cheer up, I have good news. You can live a life filled with hope in this world filled with despair.
A. Proverbs 13:12a (NKJ) says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick. . .”
Quote: “We can live forty days without food, about 4 days without water. About 5 minutes without air but only a few seconds without hope.” - Hal Lindsey
B. Hope is a very important part of our lives.
1. Without hope our life loses focus, and purpose and it becomes unbearable.
2. With hope, our life is determined, fulfilling and empowered.
C. In our lives today there are many reasons why we loose hope. We Have:
1. Broken Bodies: Sickness, Disease, Accidents
2. Broken Homes: Divorce, Violence, Debt and Death
3. Broken Dreams: Failure, Defeat, and Disappointments
4. These are all symptoms of our fallen world and millions of people are deprived of peace, happiness and ultimately hope.
ASK: “What is hope? What are we talking about here?”
ANSWER: “The definition of hope is: ‘a favorable and confident expectation’ in the NT it also means, ‘a happy anticipation of good.’”
1 Peter 1:3-6 (New Life Version) says this about hope, “Let us thank the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was through His loving-kindness that we were born again to a new life and have a hope that never dies. This hope is ours because Jesus was raised from the dead. We will receive the great things that we have been promised. They are being kept safe in heaven for us. They are pure and will not pass away. They will never be lost. You are being kept by the power of God because you put your trust in Him and you will be saved from the punishment of sin at the end of the world. With this hope you can be happy even if you need to have sorrow and all kinds of tests for awhile.”
SEGUE: So how can we build a life a hope? How can we come to a place in our lives that we can wake each morning and have a happy anticipation of good?
Today I want to look at 4 keys that the Bible gives us to building a life of hope. I have arranged them in the acrostic H.O.P.E. to help us remember them. So if you have your notes page you can fill it in as we go, but let’s take a look at having HOPE this morning.
I. H – HAVE Confidence In God
A. Let us look at a series of scriptures that talk about the kind of Confidence that we can have in God.
1. David had this to say about having confidence in God in Psalm 25:2-5 (NIV), “In you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
2. In Psalm 65:5 (NIV) David says, “You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.”
3. Paul stated that we can have confidence in God because, Romans 8:35-39 (NIV), “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, nor heavenly rulers neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
4. We can have confidence in Jesus, listen to some of His promises, John 10:28 (NKJ), "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”
5. Hebrews 13:5b (NLT), “For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.’"
6. Jesus asked us to have confidence in Him, in John 14:1 (NKJV) He says "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”
7. Jesus Himself is our Hope. Colossians 1:27 (NIV) “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
8. I could go on for the next several hours quoting verse after verse that talk about how our confidence in God is justified, well placed and prudent but I think at this point we can see the trend.
B. Right now I want us to take a look at what happened when people dared to have confidence in God.
1. First let’s take a look at the trust of the Roman Centurion.
2. Matthew 8:5-10, 13 (NKJ), “Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented." And Jesus
said to him, "I will come and heal him." The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. "For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one,
'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! (13) Then Jesus said to the
centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour.”
3. The Man with The Demon Possessed Son –
Mark 9:17-27 (NKJ) says,
“Then one of the crowd answered and said, "Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. "And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not." He answered him and said, "O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me." Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. "And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!" Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, "He is dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.”
5. Notice the prayer of the father of the boy, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” This should be our prayer as well.
C. Also we can have confidence in God because we know what He has already done in our own lives. This is why it’s important to keep a spiritual journal. Revelation 12:11 tells that we will triumph over Satan by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. I remember the first time that I looked at this verse thinking, “how can our testimony defeat the work of the devil?” It has to do with our testimony’s ability to ignite our faith in God.
1. We know the testimonies of those in this sanctuary here today.
a. Who has been Healed?
b. Who has been Delivered?
c. Who has been Forgiven?
d. Who has been Reconcilied?
e. Who has received Guidance?
f. Who has received Comfort?
g. Who has received Strength?
2. Hebrews 12:1 (NLT) says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.”
3. We can have confidence in God, because we can look around and see all the history of what He has already done, and we know that He does not show favoritism. (Rom. 2:11)
SEGUE: “Let’s move along to “O”.
II. O – OPEN Yourself Up To the Possibilities
“A man approached a little-league baseball game one afternoon. He asked a boy in the dugout what the score was. The boy responded, ‘Eighteen to nothing—we’re behind.’ ‘Boy,’ said the spectator, ‘I’ll bet you’re pretty discouraged.’ ‘Why should I be discouraged?’ replied the little boy. We haven’t even gotten up to bat yet!’” -- Perspective is Key.
A. In the latter portions of Ezekiel we have the prophecies of God to the demoralized remnant of the Southern Kingdom of Judah that was exiled in Babylon. In Ezekiel 37 we have the vision of the valley of the dead and dry bones. These bones were a picture of the devastated people of Israel, who lost their homes, lost the Temple, and were in captivity to Babylon. Ezekiel 37: 1-3 (NIV) says, “The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
a. The picture here is of utter despair and hopelessness.
b. After seeing the dead and decayed bones in the valley the Lord asks Ezekiel if these bones could live and Ezekiel’s response reveals a trust in the Lord.
c. Of course in the human mind and point of view there is no way that this lifeless and scattered army could ever be restored and this was a picture of the hopelessness of the nation of Judah.
B. Lets now look at what happens next, Ezekiel 37:4-10 (NIV), “Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'" So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they
may live.'" So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet-- a vast army.”
1. God loves to move in impossible situations
2. Matthew 19:25-26 (NKJ), “When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
C. This scenario is repeated many times in the Bible, man faces a hopeless situation, God offers hope and with a reaction of faith by man, the hopeless turns into an opportunity for God’s miracle working power.
1. We see this in the Death of Lazarus. (John 11)
2. We see this in the Storm on the Sea. (Matthew 8)
3. The Healing of the Man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5)
4. The Israelites caught between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea. (Ex.14)
5. David versus Goliath (1 Samuel 17)
6. And on and on and on. . .
7. And we have seen it in the lives of those here around us today.
D. The point to all of this is that we can know that with God there is no such thing as a hopeless situation. If you’re getting beat 18 to nothing, maybe you and God haven’t had a chance to go to bat yet!
SEGUE: So far we have seen that in order to have a life of Hope we need to Have confidence in God and Open ourselves up to the possibilities.
The third thing we must do is:
III. P – PERSIST, PERSIST, PERSIST
It’s been said that, “Failure is the path of least persistence” and I believe that there is a lot of truth to that statement.
Let’s take a look at some stories that show what persistence can do. These are stories of people who failed again and again and again:
There was a guy, a general, who lost two-thirds of all the battles he fought in the American Revolution: His name was George Washington.
There was another guy who graduated 42nd out of a class of 43. Then he went out and conquered Europe: His name was Napoleon Bonaparte.
There's a guy who lost almost every election he ran for – 10 out of 12 – until finally he was elected President: His name was Abraham Lincoln.
Thomas Edison tried over 2000 different elements before he figured out what was the right element to use in the light bulb. He had over 2000 failures before he had a success.
R.P. Macy failed seven times as an entrepreneur in retailing and then he started Macy's.
A. Jesus also taught a parable about the importance of being persistent.
1. Luke 18:1-8 (NLT) tells us, “One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”
Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”
B. Hebrews 4:14 (NLT), is another great verse on being persistent, “So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.”
C. We also see great persistence in the four friends of the Paralytic in Mark 2.
1. You remember what these guys did. . .
SEGUE: Building a life of hope means that we have to hold firmly to what we believe and trust that God that He will be faithful.
IV. E – EXPECT Him to Do Great Things
I came across this illustration of how important it can be to have great expectations: These are the results of a research study done by Harvard social psychologist Robert Rosenthal. I’m sure some of you have probably heard of this.
All the children in one San Francisco grade school were given a standard I.Q. test at the beginning of the school year. The teachers were told the test could predict which students could be expected to have a spurt of academic and intellectual growth. The researchers then drew names out of a hat and told the teachers that these were the children who had displayed a high potential for improvement. Naturally, the teachers thought they had been selected because of their test performance and began treating these children as special students.
And the most amazing thing happened—the spurters, spurted! Overall, the “special” kids averaged four more I.Q. points on the second test than the other group of students. However, the gains were most dramatic in the lowest grades. First graders whose teachers expected them to advance intellectually jumped 27.4 points, and the second grade spurters increased on the average 16.5 points more than their peers.
One little Latin-American child who had been classified as mentally retarded with an I.Q. of 61, scored 106 after his selection as a potential spurter.
A. The last key to having hope in our world today is to have an expectation that God wants to great things in our lives. I believe that Mathew 12:35a (NKJ), is a very important verse on expectation, Jesus teaches this, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things”
1. If we have a strong faith in God, and we have an expectation that He desires to be active and do good in our lives I believe that God responds and brings forth good things in our lives.
2. A great example of expecting something from God is the account of the woman with the issue of blood. Matthew 9:20-22 (NKJ), “And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well." But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well." And the woman was made well from that hour.”
3. Another example of expectation comes from Matthew 8:2-3 (NKJ), “And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
ALTAR CALL / CLOSING
C. One of the things that we need to keep in the forefront of our minds is that God is always extending the invitation to us to trust in Him.
1. Matthew 11:28 (NKJ), “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
2. John 7:27 (NKJ), “Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.’”
3. In 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) we have this invitation, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.”
ASK: “How is Your Hope Today?”
Are you going through a situation that has shaken your confidence in God?
Are you facing circumstances in your life that seems hopeless and there is no possible solution?
Are you weary today and feel like you can’t go on?
Have you stopped expecting God to move in your life?
I know that God has something for you today. Something that will restore your hope. Something that will strengthen your hope.
Heavenly Father, I pray this morning that you would help me to have confidence in You. Help me to open myself to the possibilities, help me to be persistent in my faith in You. Help me to expect You to do great things in my life. In those times when I am broken, help me to place my faith and hope in You so You can work a miracle in my life. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.