Summary: A sermon on Psalm 42:5, 11; Psalm 43:5 about putting our hope in God. (Outline and portions adapted from articles in the Lookout Magazine [http://www.lookoutmag.com/] by authors William Richard Ezell and Victor Knowles)
Sermon for 11/25/2007
Why So Downcast O My Soul?
Hope springs eternal in the human breast. Especially if the heart beats within the breast of a loyal and long suffering Chicago Cubs fan like me.
“Just wait until next year!”
A. Many people today go through their lives with a prevailing attitude of hopelessness. This condition of hopelessness seems to be even more prevalent this time of the year, with the holiday season and the financial burdens that are always magnified during this time. Doctors tell us that the shorter days and lack of sunlight can add to this problem.
C. Hope is the Christian virtue that anticipates something good will happen or expects that the best is yet to come.
E. Our situation may appear bad- hopeless in fact. Our job may be slipping away. We may be wondering how we will pay for the Christmas presents this year. Our marriage may be unraveling. Our children may be causing us to pull our hair out. I want to boast your hope this morning.
Thesis: Let’s talk about hope. Our hope is based on God, realized in the church, and fulfilled in heaven.
I. Our hope is based on God. “Put your hope in God”
A. In some way’s societies hopes may appear better than our hopes. They place their hopes in a career, in business opportunities, in a marriage, in children, in money, in security, in a new home, etc.
B. What happens when these things are taken away with no way to get them back? Downcast and disturbed are tame words to describe the hopelessness of these people.
C. Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud led strong attacks on the Christian faith. Marx called religion the “opiate of the people.” Freud defined God as the projection of a child’s wish for a protecting, powerful father. Believing God was dead, both Marx and Freud died bitter and disillusioned men, friendless, without inner peace, and overwhelmed by despair and hopelessness.
D. Contrast Marx and Freud with C.S. Lewis, who embraced the Christian faith and used his talents to influence people toward Jesus Christ. Lewis lost his wife to cancer. He grieved severely, but later emerged from his sorrow with renewed strength and unspeakable joy derived from God on whom his hope was grounded. Unlike Marx and Freud, Lewis had the resources of a living God to see him through.
E. The Christian’s hope is something real and powerful. That something is God- the living God. Again and again, Scripture calls God “the God of hope.”
F. Real hope is based on God. That’s why we can sing, My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly…
G. (Heb 6:19 NIV) We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
H. After the fall of Berlin on May 2, 1945, the body of an old man was found in a bombed out basement. Before he died he had taken a piece of chalk and scrawled on the wall: “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when I do not feel it. I believe in God even when he is silent.”
H. When we feel overwhelmed by disillusionment, discouragement, depression, or even despair, we must never forget that God is the anchor for our hope.
II. Realized in the church
A. Have we ever watched a campfire? The logs in the fire dance as they burn together. But when an ember rolls away from the fire, it quickly burns out. It can’t sustain its heat alone. Illustration about the man who thought he could be a Christian without going to church.
B. Many early Christians faced persecution. They were attacked and assaulted. Many became discouraged, filled with despair. Their fire was beginning to die out. These words were written to them: (Heb 10:23 NIV) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.(Heb 10:24 NIV) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.(Heb 10:25 NIV) Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
C. We need to stay in the fire of community around people who love us, support us, and care for us. When we are cold, we can draw heat and energy from them. When we are in despair, we can draw encouragement from others.
D. (Eccl 4:10 NIV) If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!