Summary: A look at what hope looks like in a believer’s life.
The Remaining Three
A Sermon On Hope
College football fans knew the late Woody Hayes as a fierce competitor whose passion for winning once led him to slug an opposing player who intercepted an Ohio State pass. But when columnist Bob Greene interviewed him just before his final illness and asked if anything was as important as winning, Woody said yes. “The important thing is not always to win. The important thing is always to hope.”
Hope kept Red McDaniel going in his Vietnamese imprisonment. For him to abandon hope, he wrote, was to abandon survival itself and with it his sense of self and all his personhood. The Jews at Auschwitz and Treblinka lived in daily horror and fear of dying, even as they saw other Jews die. Still, they never lost hope that they personally would survive. “Where there is life, hope must never be relinquished,” one said.
Today, we are continuing our walk through the three characteristics that distinguish us a Christians. Last week, we looked at faith, and why that is an important factor in our lives. Without faith in God, hope cannot be found. Our old friend, The Oxford Dictionary of Current English, defines hope as “expectation and desire, e.g. for certain event(s) to occur.”
When we looked at faith last week, we learned that “faith is the substance of things HOPED for.” (Heb. 11:1) Faith and hope are tied together. One cannot be present without the other. That not only applies to spiritual areas, but personal ones as well.
Take little children at Christmastime for example. Little children are quick to write out their Christmas lists to Santa. They write down what toys they want. There is hope and faith. They believe that Santa will deliver the goods. They have faith in that. When the write the list, they hope it will reach Santa. They, hope and faith, go together.
In our Christian walk, hope can be referred to as a type of Spiritual Assurance. We place our faith, and our hope, our expectations and desire, in the promises of the Lord, and on the reliability of His word! We find that our lives, and hopes, are placed in the hands of a God that we cannot see.
Jeremiah 17:7,8 (NKJV) - “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For 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.
The term blessed is used often in the Psalms and Deuteronomy to describe the benefits that are added to one who is devoted to the Lord and His Word. The imagery of a fruitful tree derives directly from Ps. 1:3. This verse teaches that one who trusts, or hopes in God will not be free from trials and adversity, but that God will bring fruit and blessing in and through those difficulties.
Where can we find hope from our difficulties? As it has already be alluded to, we can find hope in God’s word. My mother passed away in the early hours of Dec. 23. My aunt called us from the hospital on the 22nd, and said that we had better come. As a family, we were trying to prepare ourselves for that phone call, but you are never truly prepared.
On Christmas eve, Melissa and I returned to Lower Hainesville for the Christmas Eve service. In all those days, through neglect and funeral arrangements, I forgot to read my Bible. After the service was over, I remember going to our bedroom, and grabbing a book I received when I graduated from High school. It was called “God’s Promises for the Graduate.” Inside there were different Scriptures, and one section dealt with mourning.
Despite the pain I was feeling, I could still sense the touch of God that night. Just like on any occassion, good or bad, happy or sad, we can find hope in His word to us!
Romans 15:4 (NCV) - Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us. The Scriptures give us patience and encouragement so that we can have hope.
This quotation from the Psalms reminds us that the Old Testament Scriptures were written for our learning. While they were not written directly to us, they contain invaluable lessons for us. As we encounter problems, conflicts, tribulations, and troubles, the Scriptures teach us to be steadfast, and they impart comfort. Therefore, instead of sinking under the waves, we are sustained by the hope that the Lord will see us through.
As I found out that Christmas Eve almost three years ago, and at different times in my life, God’s word, and more importantly the promises found within, are there to give all of us hope. When we were in Hainesville, whenever we would sing the song “Standing on the Promises,” I would ask the people just what promises they were standing upon. As each one was declared, the very reason why they choose each particular promise was evident. They had hope in God.