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Summary: A sermon that considers three stages of hope and suggests action plans for each stage

Stages of Hope

Isaiah chapter 49 verse 23

“then you will know that I am the Lord, those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”

In the book of Luke just after the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus – two of Jesus followers give a picture of despair.

Luke 24:12 now the same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus aboput seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along together?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

The stood still, their faces downcast.

Is this not a picture of a person who has lost their hope.

Over the last few weeks in India I saw this face of hopelessness in many peoples faces.

One of the things that made these particular followers of Jesus so downcast is revealed in their subsequent conversation with our Lord Jesus.

“What things.” Jesus asked v 19

“About Jesus of Nazereth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.--------------

Here we see a common pattern following that happens in most human experience.

If you are on a faith journey with Jesus Christ you need to learn this lesson if you have thrown your lot in with Jesus for the long haul.

Firstly there is the sweet taste of riding a spiritual wave a moment when all seems well.

For three years the followers of Jesus had surfed the wave of Spiritual success. They had seen miracles that were so spectacular that there were only distant memories of in Israel histories.

They had heard and read the accounts of Moses and the red sea and Elisha and Elijah and all the Prophets but here in their own lifetime they saw the power of God moving in three dimensional – full colour – life breathing reality.

This spiritually amazing stuff had lead them on a journey of hope.

Hope always is part of the Christian journey –

But one day the gathering storm clouds gathering around Jesus explode into the storm of death they had been threatening all along.

Suddenly the great promise that the ministry of Jesus had bought had crashed around them and all hope has gone.

They stood still, their faces downcast.

What is even more remarkable about these disciples is that they are downcast even though they go on to mention that they have heard about the resurrection –

“How come they don’t believe it.” I think it is to do with – How they expected Jesus was going to bring deliverance to Israel.

“-------- but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.”

The ministry of Jesus had raised their Spirits but they began to run ahead of themselves and saw immediate political deliverance being the result of Jesus’ coming.

But God had a completely different plan and that plan would result in deliverance for all of humanity who would receive it.

God was doing something more wonderful – more incredible than these disciples could even begin to understand – even though Jesus had explained it carefully before his death and even though the manner of his death had been prophesied hundreds of years before in scripture.

How often – How often do we get downcast because God apparently has departed from our particular script for him.

I have often wondered why middle aged Christians appear a little rusty and sometimes older Christians can be institutional and apparently need reconvincing about God’s plan of salvation.

I am becoming increasingly convinced it is because we have at times written the script for god and have become downcast when he doesn’t follow it.

With God we need to expect the unexpected.

These disciples could easily have read this scripture and it would have encouraged them greatly:-

Isaiah chapter 49 verse 23

“then you will know that I am the Lord, those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”

Those who hope in God will not be disappointed.

I sometimes think when we read those great words from 1 corinthians chapter 13 verse 13 – And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. . . we neglect that hope is up there in the top three.

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