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Summary: A deductive exposition of the text calling individuals prompted by the Holy Spirit to indicate their commitment to replace one habit in the next 6 months by signing a response card and placing it on the altar rail.

Introduction: What does HOPE mean to you?

I’m afraid that too often we use HOPE to mean a futile wish or an ineffective dream. When people talk of HOPE they usually do so with a feeling of resignation or despair. But real HOPE is a much stronger idea.

In "The Lord of the Rings", one character is facing terrible evil, and suddenly he looks at a star in the sky. "Like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now for a moment his own fate ... ceased to trouble him ... putting away all fear…." Hope is not the same as defiance. Many people will turn to defiance to deal with their grief and pain rather than to hope. Hope comes from a certainty that there is a Judge and a Redeemer. The Cross proves that God is both.

In the Bible, HOPE is much more than a wish or a dream. It’s not a matter of defying all the odds. The Bible uses HOPE to talk about a future event we can plan on happening.

Our hope is more than a DESIRE or a mere DREAM. It is a CERTAINTY. Our HOPE in Jesus’ return is so confident we can plan and live as though it can happen at any time.

We know that God will bring history to an end. He has promised to make everything right in this world. Our HOPE is focused on the certainty of Christ’s return to this planet.

Our HOPE is not an empty dream that some day Jesus will come again. Christians have the certainty about His return that we all experience when we wait for guests to arrive for dinner. We know they’re coming. They just aren’t here yet.

Thesis: Christians should be the most hope filled people in the world.

Key Question: How should we live? If we really believe we can meet Jesus face to face at any moment how should we live? How can we plan on it?

God gives the answer in Titus 2:11-14. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

A. Decide to use Jesus’ power to BREAK BAD HABITS.

1. Break free from “WORLDLY PASSIONS.” These are obvious.

These are the perversions of our physical, emotional and social desires. God created us with these wants but sin has twisted them into unmistakable acts of rebellion against Jesus.

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Galatians 5:19-21). These actions have absolutely no place in the life of one who claims to follow Jesus.

2. Seek freedom from the “UNGODLY WAY OF LIFE.” This is very subtle.

The ungodly way of life can appear highly moral and good. However it is based on a lack of love or respect for God. Many good people are living like this because they make no room for God in their lives. There people in churches all around the world – perhaps in this very room – who live as though everything depends on them. If there is an area of our lives where we don’t acknowledge Jesus as God then that part of our lives is ungodly.

“People [with an ungodly way of life] will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, … unforgiving, … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:2-5). These habits might be unseen by others but God sees them. They too should have no place in our lives.

B. Decide to use Jesus’ power to BUILD GOOD HABITS.

1. Develop “SELF-CONTROL”.

To replace the desires gone wild of our sinful nature God gives us the ability to get them into balance. His Holy Spirit moves into our lives and begins to work in us.

The result of the Spirit’s work in our lives “is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:22-14).

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