How many of you are losing hope? I suspect, with all that is happening in our world, probably quite a few. I must admit, there are times I feel the same way as you might today.
I am only human and I do have my doubts about certain things. You’ve seen all the posts on Facebook and other social media… its all negative and it most certainly would be most people in a bad state of mind.
It seems like we can’t trust the mainstream media; we can’t trust the local press; and we can’t even truly trust our own government. Sad, but true today.
This morning I would like to talk about hope. What hope is to the rest of the world and what hope should me to Christians like you and me.
Okay, you know me… lets first go to the Internet…
Wikipedia – “Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include: ‘expect with confidence’ and ‘to cherish a desire with anticipation.’”
Above you see where “hope” is commonly used to mean a wish: Its strength is the strength of “the person’s desire.”
But Biblical hope is more precisely defined as, “the confident expectation of what God has promised, and its strength is ‘in His faithfulness.’”
In other words, as a Christian, we don’t put “hope” in our own hands. Or at least we shouldn’t. We don’t depend on this world to give us the things we need but, instead, put our “hope” in all the promises God has given to us… we put our “hope” in HIM!
I believe, especially in these times, we’ve forgotten some of those promises and we’re forgetting our faith and turning our backs on God. In doing so, we’re losing “hope” and suffering with despair.
This isn’t unusual… lets look back into the Old Testament. More specifically, in Psalms.
The Sons of Korah (Moses’ Nephews) were at this stage at one point in their lives where he had done exactly what we might be doing in these times. They had lost their “hope.”
After realizing what they were doing (turning away from God), they sets themselves right again as they wrote…
Psalm 42:5 – “5Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
This is something we should be asking ourselves today. I know things aren’t easy but why, especially today, would we want to forget about our faith (hope) by turning our backs on the one person in everyone’s life that has never turned His back on us?
We are stronger than most! We have a God that Loves us for all eternity and has promised us so much more than we think we have today. The Apostle Paul asks the question…
Romans 8:35-39 – “35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
‘For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’
How true are these words? How much meaning can you put behind them? Look at the way our world is changing. Soon, very soon, they may be taking our God away from us.
What would you call the greatest “destroyer” of “hope” in our lives? I think we would all agree, its “fear!” I get that… I really do!
But when we’re afraid, we have to remember, as Paul goes on…
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither 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.”
That’s “hope” right there… and we need to remember who we are in Christ Jesus! We are conquerors! We are warriors of God!
I’d like to remind all of you of one of my (and Cookie’s) favorite versus in the Bible, once again from The Apostle Paul. You should remember these words and read them out loud every time you feel as if you’re losing hope or are afraid.
Say this every time you are afraid and let it remind you of who you are and who you should put your “hope” or “faith” in…
Ephesians 6:11-18 – “11Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Is that not agreed? So how do we get ready? How do we, as Christians, prepare for the battles we must face in our everyday lives?
“13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
…and boy is it coming! Look at all the signs around us! Read your Bibles… read the book of Revelation. We have to prepare and make ourselves ready for whatever may happen next in this crazy world!
So, lets go on Paul…
“14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
And don’t forget about faith! Are they not one in the same to you and I? I would think so. Without our faith, how could we possibly have hope?
…and Paul continues.
“16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
And, here he comes with what should be the most important parts of our lives…
“18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
How many times do we say that in a week? Don’t ever forget your prayers and don’t ever forget the power in prayer!
What do you think might be one of the biggest things in our lives that makes us so afraid? I believe it is our past. So many time we let the mistakes we’ve made in our past have a major impact on our futures.
What we sometimes forget is, we’re not “that person” anymore! We have changed for the better as we have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into our lives which, in case you’ve forgotten, wiped away the sins of our past!
The Prophet Isaiah reminds us of this very fact… we’re not who we used to be! We are a new person!
Isaiah 43:18-19 – “18Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
“I am doing a new thing!” What is that saying to you? Very clearly, to me, it is reminding us we are NOT who we were in the past and shouldn’t have the same fears! We simply cannot let our pasts overwhelm us and take away our faith… causing us to lose “hope.”
Facing our Challenges
We shouldn’t waste time on our challenges. We’ve already learned how to prepare for them so, once you’ve put on your armor for the day… don’t waste a single moment of your life letting fear of your past or the present day challenges take away from who you really are!
Once again, a great lesson from the Apostle Paul. Here, he gives us a little insight on how to live each day.
Colossians 4:5-6 – “5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
What else is that telling us? It says, “Make the most of every opportunity.” In other words, “Don’t waste your time!”
A Very Special Bank Account
Here is a little lesson for you from a story I found while doing my research on “wasting time.” I hope it brings a little more undertstanding as to what God has given us and how we should use it.
Imagine you had a bank account that deposited $86,400 each morning. The account carries over no balance from day to day, allows you to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every dollar each day!
We all have such a bank. Its name is Time. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever time you have failed to use wisely. It carries over no balance from day to day. It allows no overdraft so you can’t borrow against yourself or use more time than you have. Each day, the account starts fresh. Each night, it destroys an unused time. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, it’s your loss and you can’t appeal to get it back.
There is never any borrowing time. You can’t take a loan out on your time or against someone else’s. The time you have is the time you have and that is that. Time management is yours to decide how you spend the time, just as with money you decide how you spend the money. It is never the case of us not having enough time to do things, but the case of whether we want to do them and where they fall in our priorities.
Pretty neat little story isn’t it? I liked it… and what it says is entirely true! God gives us ample time every day to cope with our adversities. We must remember to use that valuable time well and not waste a single moment.
Only Makes us Stronger
Who remembers what our struggles actually do for us? That’s right… they make us stronger!
People ask me every day, “Why is God doing this to us?” First and foremost, “God” doesn’t do anything to bring us harm. The lessons (challenges) God gives us are only meant to make us stronger… and more able to handle or cope with the even greater challenges that lie ahead of us… such as what we’re going through today.
First, lets read a verse from James regarding our trials…
James 1:2-4 – “2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
“Let perseverance finish its work!” Aptly put James… let God’s excercises give us the strength we need to face our every day trials. It will make us stronger and it will make those times easier than if we don’t let God finish His work!
Here’s a little example of how our challenges make us stronger and reap the rewards God has waiting for us, again taken from somewhere on the Internet…
The Obstacle in our Path
There once was a very wealthy and curious king. This king had a huge boulder placed in the middle of a road. Then he hid nearby to see if anyone would try to remove the gigantic rock from the road.
The first people to pass by were some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers. Rather than moving it, they simply walked around it. A few loudly blamed the King for not maintaining the roads. Not one of them tried to move the boulder.
Finally, a peasant came along. His arms were full of vegetables. When he got near the boulder, rather than simply walking around it as the others had, the peasant put down his load and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. It took a lot of effort, but he finally succeeded.
The peasant gathered up his load and was ready to go on his way when he say a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The peasant opened the purse. The purse was stuffed full of gold coins and a note from the king. The king’s note said the purse’s gold was a reward for moving the boulder from the road.
The king showed the peasant what many of us never understand: every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.
Did he give up? Was he wasting his time?
Did his efforts pay off?
Absolutely they did and, after he had faced his little challenge, he reaped the reward of his effort!
- Don’t lose hope – Let this world get you down! Remember what our hope truly is, our faith… and we never want to lose that!
- Don’t let fear overtake your hope – The past is just that, your past! It isn’t who you are today. You are a child of the Most-High God and a Brother to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit!
- Remember who you are – Yup, a child of God. Who possibly could protect me better than Him?
- Remember you are a Conqueror – You are not weak! You are a soldier in God’s great army.
- Don your armor every day – Do this every morning when you wake. Put on your armor and say to yourself, “I am ready for this battle and I know I cannot lose!
- Don’t waste your time on trivial matters – Make every little moment count. Feel good in everything you accomplish and hope you can do even more tomorrow. Instead of wasting time, spend more time with God!
- Learn from every challenge you face – Remeber God’s challenges are simply the lessons He wants you to learn… and you will always gain more strength from them.
- You are Love by the Most-High God – Everything you need WILL come to you when you NEED it most!
Go with God; be good to one another; always stay humble; always be kind… God Bless (Amen)