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Summary: A sermon to give hope to those who feel that they are bound and shackled to their past.

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Is My Past My Future?

2 Corinthians 5:17

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

ILL - Jimmy Stewart shared the story about the filming of the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life." "It's hard to explain. I, for one, had things happen to me during the filming that never happened in any other picture I've made. In one scene, for example, George Bailey is faced with unjust criminal charges and, not knowing where to turn, ends up in a little roadside restaurant. He is unaware that most of the people in town are arduously praying for him. In this scene, at the lowest point in George Bailey's life, Frank Capra was shooting a long shot of me slumped in despair. In agony I raise my eyes and, following the script, plead, 'God . . . God . . . dear Father in heaven, I'm not a praying man, but if you're up there and you can hear me, show me the way. I'm at the end of my rope, Show me the way, God. . . .' As I said those words, I felt the loneliness, the hopelessness of people who had nowhere to turn, and my eyes filled with tears. I broke down sobbing. This was not planned at all, but the power of that prayer, the realization that our Father in heaven is there to help the hopeless, had reduced me to tears." Guideposts, December 2005, p. 82

Introduction: Friends, the world is filled with people who feel like they have no hope, that they are forever, hopelessly mired in their past and that the future for them is an endless series of days and nights that seem to repeat themselves. They feel they are in a cycle of despair and despondency, like a hamster in a cage going round and round. These people are all around us. They are our neighbors, co-workers, family and friends. Some are seated in the pews of our churches maybe even this church. They are part of our First Church family and we think that they are alright but there are wounded, hurting people everywhere. Their past is like a millstone about their neck, a ball and chain or a set of shackles on their feet. These folks are convinced that nothing can be done, that there is help for others but no help for them. But I'm here to tell you that there is hope. You may be entangled in an addiction, or you may be bound by fears or phobias, or years of abuse may have you feeling worthless or that you are of little or no value but I want you to know that your past doesn't have to be your future. Someone said:

"There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.

Clare Boothe Luce.

"A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!

Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them. If hope holds such power for unthinking rodents, how much greater should is effect be on our lives."

Today in the Word, May, 1990, p. 34.

Paul declares that the key to overcoming our past to insure that our past is not our future is to be found in:

I. The Person of Jesus Christ

Let's look at our text to see if it offers any hope. Notice the first word:

a. The power

Someone said that: "If was the biggest most powerful word in the English language." If is a word of hope; as wide and expansive as any other word you will ever find.

b. The possibilities

Next is the phrase: "...any man..." Now let we tell you what I found after an exhaustive study of these two word, after consulting several commentaries and doing a careful exegesis of this phrase I found that a translation would read, "...any man..." that means anybody, that means whosoever, that means everyone, that means you!

c. The possession

This hope comes not from religion or ritual or reason or self-righteousness. It comes from a relationship with Jesus. Jesus is all about hope! Look at the next three word of our text: "...if any man...be in Christ..."

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