Summary: Steps to finding hope in God’s Word.
God’s Word Produces Hope – Romans 15:4
Part 3 of 4 in the series, “A Time for Hope”
We’re in the series on hope and so far we’ve established two things that bring hope.
First, we found out that persistent prayer produces hope. Jesus told us “don’t quit praying!”
Then last week we were reminded that staying closely connected to Christian community through the local church helps us remain hopeful.
Those first two principles remind us that our relationship to God and our relationship to one another must be cultivated in order to remain hopeful. You can’t fudge on your prayer life, and neither can you give up on getting together with other Christ followers and stay filled up on hope.
The cosmic tug of war goes on in these two areas because they are so vital to our hope. Satan will do anything he can, tell me any lie he can, to keep me away from God and other Christ followers. He wants me hopeless. He wants me to give up. And with all of the challenges to my hope bombarding me every day I’ve got to have a constant supply of hope.
The third source of hope is the Bible – the Word of God - the Scriptures. Consider what Paul said to the Christ followers of Rome during the first century.
"And the Scriptures were written to teach and encourage us by giving us hope." Romans 15:4 (CEV)
I often ask you to circle a key word or phrase of a Bible verse. In this case just circle that entire verse! That’s what we’re going to cover today: “The Scriptures were written to teach and encourage us by giving us hope.”
Surveys indicate that 43% of all U.S. adults do NOT read the Bible during a typical week. (Church Leaders Intelligence Report, 6.13.07) That’s a heartbreaking statistic. It’s sad because this means that one of our greatest sources of hope is neglected by a lot of people.
“The Scriptures were written to teach and encourage us by giving us hope.”
That’s a powerful statement. I can have hope, real hope. I can be encouraged about my life no matter what is going on around me. I can enjoy a positive, productive, happy life if I have hope, and one great source of hope is the Word of God! But if I don’t frequent the pages of the Bible I am not plugged-in to that source of hope.
One man went to a bookbinder to have his well-worn New Testament rebound in leather. He loved it so much and he was so accustomed to reading this particular New Testament and he had so many notes written in the margins that he just couldn’t stand the thought of giving it up for a new one. So he had it rebound.
When the job was finished, the binder explained that he wasn’t able to get all the letters to the words “The New Testament” on the spine, so he abbreviated with the letters, “TNT.”
God’s Word is a powerful source of hope! My relationship to God’s Word determines my level of hope in life. As my hope is challenged every day, all day long, I have at my disposal a powerful resource for replenishing my hope – the Bible – the Word of God!
So the only question for me is how can I effectively make the Bible a part of my daily life so that I will always have the hope it gives me? With that question in mind we’re going to quickly cover THE STEPS TO FINDING HOPE IN GOD’S WORD.
THE FIRST STEP IS TO CHECK MY ATTITUDE ABOUT THE BIBLE.
There are a lot of biases about the Christian Scriptures that are founded on ignorance and misunderstanding. A lot of so-called experts on critical analysis of the Bible talk about the Word of God as if they understood it.
One off-the-wall example: Thomas Cahill in his book, “Gifts of the Jews,” makes fun of those of us who still believe that God inspired the Bible. (Page 245) He rejects the stories in the Bible that don’t reflect his concept of God. [That’s easy to do – form your own concept of god and then tear it down.]
He pokes fun of stories like the Jews being miraculously fed by God’s manna for forty years in the wilderness. He says, “manna…was probably white edible insect secretions to be found on the branches of some rare Sinai plants.” (Page 133)
If that weren’t so sad it would be funny.
Why is it more credible to believe that hundreds of thousands of Hebrews lived off of insect secretions for forty years than to believe that God provided for them miraculously?
I’ll stick with God performing a miracle. Cahill’s concept of God may not allow for it but it has everything to do with God’s self-revelation of Himself in the Bible. I’ve dared lots of people to read the Bible with an open mind and open heart and see if it isn’t a miraculous heaven-sent book.