Summary: Personal Testimony of how God took me from a hopeless life to a life of blessing
“From Hopelessness to Christlikeness”
Ephesians 2:8-10 May 22, 2005
You probably think I am going to talk about my awesome Birthday present you, my Church family, gave me. Randy and I am some other friends just got back from an awesome adventure fishing for salmon. We left out of Brookings, Oregon yesterday and had a great time. We saw the redwoods, experienced fishing on the ocean and got to spend some time together. It was a wonderful time. I may talk a little more about that this next week. But the adventure I want to talk about today is the adventure of going from hopelessness to Christlikeness.
I am so blessed. My life is filled with love and joy and laughter. Every day I thank God for letting me live in such a beautiful place. I have been blessed to visit Ecuador, Brazil, the heart of Mexico and South Korea. So I am very thankful for the material things I have. I remember a time when I didn’t have any friends. There wasn’t any love in my life - at least I couldn’t feel any. So I am very blessed and thankful every day for you - my family and friends. I am so privileged to have both my kids living here and all my grandkids. I know that is an unusual blessing in this day and age - and I am very thankful. But it hasn’t always been that way. I remember a time in my life when I considered bailing out of life. I remember living in sin and rebellion and giving into any fleshly desires I felt like. And the result was death. It was separation from God. It was separation from family and loved ones. It was separation from pleasure. I concluded that there was way more pain in life than there was pleasure - so you’re better off dead. I equated life with pain. If that were true - you would be better off dead.
There is a certain amount of logic to that thinking. But it’s the thinking of a hopeless and lost sinner. It doesn’t take in consideration God or His plans for our life. And when God is not in your life - life is very bleak and lonely and hopeless. Without the Creator of life injecting daily does of life - there is only death and pain and emptiness. At this time in my life I had no purpose, no plan, no goals, no aim. I
just drifted aimlessly through life.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever felt hopeless and despair? Ever felt useless?
Life without hope is very sad and painful and lonely. Hopelessness is why people commit suicide. Hopelessness is why people drink and take drugs and medicate themselves with empty pleasures from over eating, to sexual promiscuity. Hopelessness is the root cause of so many of our problems.
So how do we get over our hopelessness? Well, I have discovered the answer. It began with my godly mom. When I came home from Korea, fresh out of the army, I shared with her my negative view of life. I shared with her my empty philosophy of life. She gave me the answer. She said, “Andy, there is a reason you are here. God created you for a purpose. If you will read the Bible - you will discover that reason.” She gave me a glimmer of hope. Maybe I was here for a reason. I got a Bible and began to read.
There it is! The way out of hopelessness is to read God’s Word. I did. First I got one of mom’s old King James Versions of the Bible - and it was like Greek to me. It didn’t make any sense. So I got a Bible written in my language. A newer translation. It was still hard to understand - but I began to read it. I began to read and learn God’s promises. And the more I read - the more hopeful I became. The Bible says,
“…whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4 (KJV)
The NIV puts it like this: “everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Romans 10:17 says, “…faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”
“You need only to be strong and courageous and to obey to the letter every law Moses gave you, for if you are careful to obey every one of them, you will be successful in everything you do. Constantly remind the people about these laws, and you yourself must think about them every day and every night so that you will be sure to obey all of them. For only then will you succeed.” Josh 1:7-8 (Living)