Summary: Instilling and reviving hope through the eternal Christ.
HOPE REALIZED & ETERNAL
Illustration: Hiking. Going with youth to hike and camp at Delaware Water Gap. Contents and feeling of the backpack. Been a long time, back injury, out of shape. Some carrying more than others. Backpack a burden, a source of weariness, fatigue, doubt and despair. “If only someone else would carry the burden and allow me to bound along through the forest unhindered!” How I couldn’t wait to reach the top and unload my burden. And how I looked forward to eating all of the food and drinking all of the water so that there would be that much less to carry back. But eventually, I began to just feel the weariness, trouble, and pain itself - that became my focus and the backpack, their source, was mostly forgotten. I naturally began to relent and accept that this was my reality and how it would always be, but of course that was not true!
We live our lives in much the same way, don’t we? Living our lives with worries, troubles and fears is a lot like hiking with a heavy backpack. We carry such burdens as illness, financial troubles, job dissatisfaction or insecurities, family discord, an uncertain future. At first, we groan and cry out, questioning how we will ever make it with such a burden. But, before long, we get used it - our worry, trouble and fear begins to seem so natural. And we accept them, even as we bemoan them. We forget what it’s like to live without these burdens, they may even begin to become comfortable and expected. We’re more likely to feel uncomfortable and abnormal without the familiar feel of the burdens strapped to our back, than with them.
But Jesus calls us to a different way of living! Jesus calls us to live free of such burdens.
1 Peter 5:6-7: “Therfore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” It sounds simple, but the real key to whether or not we can or do follow this is whether or not we hold on to a hope which is realized and eternal.
Hope Revived - Chuck Swindoll in Wisdom for the Way, excerpted from “The Finishing Touch“.
Transition: Even as spring is preparing to follow winter outside, let us also seek that within ourselves.
I. THREE CHOICES CONCERNING HOPE
A. No Hope
* What kind of a life can one live with no hope at all?
B. False Hope
* Hoping in the wrong things - things temporal, uncertain, inadequate, limited.
* Money, jobs, people, government, intellect or ability, knowledge, good works, ceremonies and
* False hope ultimately makes one miserable.
* False hope results in a roller-coaster life: constantly feeling like things are going to start going
up, only to suddenly plunge instead.
C. True Hope
* True hope can only be found when the object of such hope is all-powerful, all-caring and
compassionate, unchanging in character, loving and active in our lives.
* The word “hope” is found 52 times in the NT alone - and it is always connected to God.
* We can have no true hope apart from Jesus Christ!
* Colossians 1:27b “Christ in you, the hope of glory”!
SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 1:15-20
II. THE HOPE OF WHICH HE HAS CALLED US
* The Good Lord wants us to have a better and bigger vision of “the hope to which He has called
Illustration: A city slicker moved to a farm and bought a cow. Shortly after, the cow went dry. A farmer, who got word of this, expressed surprise. The city man said he was surprised too. “I can’t understand it, for if a person ever was considerate of an animal, I was of that cow. If I didn’t need any milk, I didn’t milk her. If I only needed a quart, I took only a quart.” The farmer then had to explain to the city fellow that the only way to keep milk flowing is not to take as little as possible from the cow, but to take as much as possible.
The Lord desires for us to “milk” Him and His word for a full abundance of certain hope.
Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Unfortunately, we do not always overflow in hope, do we? Because of our sinful flesh, we are more likely to accept being disappointed, agitated and perplexed. In fact, our sinful flesh delights in being this way. How often, we only take some of what God has for us, when our need is for more hope to flow out to us, overflowing hope. Paul says this abundant hope comes from believing in the Lord, trusting in Him!