Summary: The more closely I am tied to the Christian community of a local church the more hopeful I will be!

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Connecting with Community Provides Hope – 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20

Part 2 of 4 in the series “A Time for Hope!”

We’re glad you’re here today as we continue our series on hope.

Hope is a vital part of life. Once you start losing hope your life becomes more challenging. You’re more easily tempted to give in and to give up. Things that wouldn’t normally derail you begin to erode your sense of well being.

People who lose hope stop trying. They stop trying in their relationships. They stop trying to maintain good health. They stop trying in their finances. Losing hope can even cause you to give up on God.

A lot of bad choices are made when people begin losing hope. They say to themselves “What’s the use?” “What’s the use to keep trying with my marriage? What’s the use of continuing to follow Christ and going to church when I still fail miserably at times? What’s the use of trying to make my children act right – they still misbehave? What’s the use in trying to get my family and friends to come to Christ? What’s the use staying morally pure with so many people around me living how they want to? What’s the use living with integrity on the job when many others are not doing so?”

Asking yourself “what’s the use” questions is a sign that you may need to have your hope re-energized. Lost hope makes you want to stop trying. That’s why we vitally need hope. Real hope – not imaginary hope.

We don’t benefit from the lies all around us that people tell themselves to keep going. They tell themselves that hope is in the bottom of a bottle of booze or in a needle or in a string of illicit sexual relationships or in material gain or success or popularity. That’s not where hope is. Millions of people could tell you – they’ve tried that stuff and it doesn’t provide hope. We need to know the truth about hope. That’s why we’re looking to God’s Word.

Today we’re going to look at what the Bible says in Paul’s first letter to the church in the Grecian city of Thessalonica. Paul and his missionary team had started the church there but they were run out of town by a riotous mob after only three weeks of proclaiming the Good News about Jesus. The new believers asked Paul to leave town for his own safety. (Acts 17) So he writes this letter to let them know he’s still thinking about them. What he says in this passage is pregnant with implications about hope.

17 Dear brothers and sisters, after we were separated from you for a little while (though our hearts never left you), we tried very hard to come back because of our intense longing to see you again. (Circle “intense longing to see you) 18 We wanted very much to come to you, and I, Paul, tried again and again, but Satan prevented us. 19 After all, what gives us hope (circle that question, “what gives us hope?”) and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 (NLT)

Paul asks the question in verse 19, “What gives us hope?” That’s precisely the question we all need answered.

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