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Summary: The hope we have in Christ is founded on the hope of salvation - every hope we have for anything finds that hope of salvation as the foundation.

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Don’t Lose Hope

TCF Sermon

January 7, 2007

Do you ever read the newspaper, or watch the TV news, and find yourself just shaking your head?

You read of more bombings in the Middle East, or terrorist attacks someplace in the world. You see a story about someplace like Darfur, Sudan, where for five years a conflict there has displaced nearly 2 million people, and killed nearly a half-million people. That’s bigger than the population of the city of Tulsa – all wiped out in five years.

You read about Christians being persecuted in dozens of nations around the world. In fact, I read that an estimated 250 million Christians around the world will be persecuted in 2007, just for following Christ.

Closer to home, you read or hear about some child being abused in some way by their own parent. You see our sex-saturated culture, where behavior that as little as 25 years ago that would have embarrassed anyone, is now celebrated in movies and prime time TV.

Or to get even more personal…and closer still to home…you’ve been sick and cannot get better – you or a loved one is facing an illness that won’t go away.

Or, you have a loved one who’s just spiritually lost – not at all interested in the things of God, and living like it.

Perhaps you’re stuck in an awful job, just keeping your head above water, day by day. Or maybe it’s not a bad job, but it’s just absolutely overwhelming. You have a relationship with someone you love that’s not all it should be, and it’s making you miserable.

You have a sin problem that you cannot seem to overcome, despite months, or maybe years, of trying.

These things cause sometimes physical pain, but often it’s the emotional pain that’s so much more difficult and overwhelming. It’s enough to make you feel hopeless. It’s enough to make you despair. Despair is a loss of hope. Despair is the opposite of hope:

to despair: To be hopeless; to have no hope; to give up all hope or expectation…to be overcome by a sense of futility or defeat.

It’s from the Latin word desperare, which means literally to be hopeless. There’s actually a website called despair.com, where they make fun of those inspirational and motivational posters or calendars with a sort of anti-inspirational, or maybe de-motivational list of products.

Here’s some catchy sayings:

Despair: It’s always darkest just before it goes pitch black.

Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

Defeat: For every winner, there are dozens of losers - Odds are you’re one of them.

Dysfunction: The only consistent feature in all of your dissatisfying relationships is you.

Problems: No matter how great and destructive your problems may seem now, remember, you’ve probably only seen the tip of them.

You can buy these on calendars, posters, etc. Sorry I didn’t get this idea to you in time for Christmas gift giving.

Despair and hopelessness are defined by scripture as being without God:

Ephesians 2:12-13 (NIV) 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

What a thing to consider! Being without hope goes together with being without God. If you’re without God, you’re without hope.

A Scottish minister once remarked:

“The most profane word we can use is ‘hopeless.’ When you say a situation or person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.”

In prayer several weeks ago, I believe the Lord gave me a simple message. It was definitely for me, but I believe it’s also a message for you. It’s a message that has been working in my spirit for weeks now, because I’ve struggled with hanging onto hope in recent months. I believe it’s a message to start the New Year. It’s three simple words: Don’t Lose Hope.

That’s the title of this morning’s message, and it’s the Word of God to me. I also believe, knowing what I know about so many of your lives, it’s the Word of God for many of you, too.

So often, in the midst of these seemingly hopeless things, we do tend to lose our grip on hope – if not completely or permanently, at least partially or temporarily.

This morning, I’m trusting that God is going to help me, and help you, strengthen that grip on the hope that only He can bring. Last week, we sang the great hymn which says:

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

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