Hope

Speaker: Pastor Darin Browne

On May 23, 1939, the USS Squalus was just beginning a test dive in the Atlantic, with a crew of 59. An explosion happened, and it sank to the bottom where the water was 243 feet deep and a few degrees above freezing. In the forward compartments, sealed by watertight doors, 33 men remained alive.

Listening intently, divers approached the sub, and they recognised tapping, the dots, and dashes of Morse code. The survivors tapped out four words, “Is There Any Hope?” Never before had survivors of a submarine sinking ever been saved from such a depth but 33 men were rescued that day.

We live in a world where, let’s face it, hope is in short supply. This generation, perhaps more than any other before it, has had hope sucked out of it.

Previous generations faced arguably greater tragedies, yet they had a hope that drove them on. World War 1 followed by Spanish Flu, but then by the roaring twenties. World War 2 gave way to the Baby Boomer generation. The Cold War became democracy in Eastern Europe. Even in the 70s, bad Sci Fi movies were followed by the original Star Wars was called “A New Hope”. However bad the world seemed, somewhere deep-down people had hope.

THE WORLD TODAY

We have faced no world wars, no communist state, but little by little, bad news bears have barfed on humanity’s hope. Climate change, COVID, transgender and homosexuality changes, homelessness, now the Israel war, we are fed a steady diet of destiny killing, hope sapping Crispy Creams…sweet, interesting, everybody has an opinion on the top, but underneath nothing of nutritional value, where all hopes are dashed time and again.

Jeremiah prophesied to a nation without hope, who had seen their country destroyed. Their city and temple ransacked. People were taken as prisoners into exile. God spoke these words through the prophet Jeremiah, and they still hold true today…

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I HOPE I CAN UNDERSTAND HOPE

Hope for most people is a dream. It’s something we long for, but most often will never see. We say, I hope tomorrow is sunny or I hope I win lotto this week. I hope Australia wins the world cup or I hope he loves me. I hope I survive Christmas.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV)
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The big three, faith, hope and love. Faith is what we ponder and study and admire in others, love is the greatest of the three, but hope is often the Cinderella, the poor relation, the one that doesn’t get invited to the ball. Well not today, we are studying hope because, in many ways, this is what sustains us in this life.

There is a difference between what the world calls hope and what the Bible calls hope? Last week we discovered that God’s shalom peace was different to the world’s peace. Today I want to look at real hope, Biblical hope, not what the world calls hope. I hope you concentrate as we study hope.

1. THE SOURCE OF HOPE

Hope is commonly used in our world to mean a wish. Its strength is in the strength of the person’s desire, the determination of that person to see something come to pass.

But Biblical hope is defined as “The confident expectation of what God has promised.” Its strength is not in our determination, but in His faithfulness. The strength of this hope is not in what faith I can muster, but on the object of my faith. It depends on Him, not me. Biblical hope is a 100% sure bet within which we can have absolute and unshakable confidence, because God, not us, is its source.

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Biblical hope is not dependent on the news, the war, the climate, gender fluidity or fiscal fluidity. Money flows to me, or away from me. Biblical hope has little to do with me, my abilities, my talents, and skills. It’s all about the one we have hope in. And our hope in Him brings Him joy!

Psalms 147:11 (ESV)
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

So, the source of our hope is God, and when we hope in Him, He loves it!

2. THE SUFFICIENCY OF HOPE

Romans 15:13 (ESV)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

God’s hope abounds, it does not shortchange you. It doesn’t lure you in with promises, then let you down. Remember, His hope is a sure thing, and it’s an abounding thing!

Rat experiment…scientists put several rats in a pail of water. They swam and swam until they all drowned in less than an hour. But another group of rats were periodically taken out of the water for a short time, then put back. These rats lasted over 24 hours. Not because they had a rest, but because they had hope. If they could just keep going, someone might rescue them!

Hope is powerful, and God’s hope is a sure thing, because He is a sure thing, but it is also abounding, it is prosperous. God’s hope doesn’t just squeak by, it explodes in goodness. “All my life you have been faithful! So, so good!”

If you have hope in Jesus Christ, you shouldn’t just be existing, you should be abounding in life. God’s will is to see you prosper, as your soul prospers.

3 John 1:2 (ESV)
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

3. THE SUPPLY OF HOPE

Where does this hope come from? It’s in short supply out there in the world, but it is in abundant supply in the Lord. And we receive God’s hope by receiving God’s Holy Spirit.

We receive this abundant hope by the Spirit’s power at work in our lives. There is no need priests and rituals for God to hear us, we have His Spirit living within us. We have heaven in our heart!

God’s hope characterises those who live for Him and is amply supplied.

Colossians 1:27 (ESV)
the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Hope comes from God, from His Spirit dwelling in us. But also, by His Word

The Scriptures bring us hope. If you are not reading these every day, your hope is brittle, easily dashed and destroyed by what happens around you. This is not just any old book, it is God’s Word, and it’s true from cover to cover.

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

God’s Word is alive, and it is the eternal source of hope for all believers.

Romans 15:4 (ESV)
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

4. THE SERENITY OF OUR HOPE

Romans 12:12 (ESV)
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

We talked last week about peace, and that’s what hope gives you. No matter what is going on around you, you can be at peace because your hope is secure.

Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)
but they who hope in the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

You don’t see eagles flapping around trying to fly. They are serene, they simply set their wings and harness the power of winds and thermals. So too we can set our wings and harness the power of the Spirit, if we hope in the Lord.

5. THE SPROUTING OF OUR HOPE

You cannot just wave a magic wand and get hope. So many people these days are looking for a spectacular meeting, lights, and smoke and maybe a prophecy or two, a little boost to their hope and a fast track to spiritual success.

This doesn’t usually happen. They have an experience, and encounter with God, but as soon as they face problems and afflictions, their hope vanishes. Business experts say it takes 10-20 years to become an overnight success, and it takes time, and yes, Adversity, to build real and tangible hope into your life.

God builds hope and develops character in a crock pot, not a microwave. It takes time to grow hope, but it’s a sure thing if you abide in or live in Jesus Christ. Hope is grown, not whipped up!

John 15:5 (ESV)
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Charles Spurgeon said, “Hope itself is like a star – not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, but only to be discovered in the night of adversity.”

Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Are you undergoing sufferings? Do you face adversity, challenges, persecution, or pain? Don’t get discouraged, and don’t whine about how hard life is, get excited! The Bible says rejoice. Don’t rejoice because you are suffering but rejoice in your suffering. I saw Doug, in the midst of great physical suffering, place his hope in Jesus, knowing Jesus had his hand as he stepped into eternity. Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

6. THE SIGHT OF HOPE

Listen to channels 7, 9, 10 or the GayBC and you will lose sight of hope and be filled with despair. Read the Bible and come to church and your hope will be renewed like the eagle’s. It all depends on what you focus on.

Romans 15:12-13 (ESV)
And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

If we fix our eyes on Jesus, the world fades away and our hope is secure.

Romans 8:24-25 (ESV)
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

ABSOLUTE SURETY

When I sat with Doug this week, he wasn’t worried about his bank account. We didn’t talk food or fashion or cars. He could see those things as can I, as can you, but his hope was for what our human eyes cannot see.

2 Corinthians 4:18 (ESV)
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Doug could say with Paul…

Romans 8:18 (ESV)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Remember, hope is the absolute surety of God’s promises. If you can see it, you don’t need hope. This is why Christians have a hope that is beyond anything anyone else can experience. In the Spirit we can see God’s hope, God’s promised future for us, and it sustains us while we are on this earth.

My hope is built on nothing less that Jesus’ love and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but whole trust in Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!

GOD IS HOPE

Proverbs 23:17-18 (ESV)
Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Stop looking around at others, at what they have, what they do, what they say, and fix your eyes on Jesus! Whatever you face today, if you have God, you have hope. If you lose your way with God, you lose hope. Even if relationships collapse, God will sustain you. Even if finances dwindle, God will keep you. If sickness plagues you, God will sustain you. Even if dreams die, God will revive you. As long as God is still present in your life, family, church, and community, there is always hope.

HOPE: THE ANCHOR OF THE SOUL

Psychiatrist Victor Frankl, who survived the horrors of Auschwitz concentration camp, made this observation…

Those who lost hope, he said, developed a certain look in their eye, a fatalism that inevitably ended in death. They experienced an “existential vacuum”  – his term for a complete loss of meaning, a loss of hope, a sense that nothing really mattered any more.

If you don’t have Christ, at some point you are going to despair and lose hope in life. Suicides are common across society, even among the rich, successful, and famous, because despite having fame, fortune, things, money, youth and health, the human soul struggles to find real hope. Look at COVID, where entire nations plunged into despair and hopelessness!

I went snorkelling recently in the clearest water I’ve ever seen. I could see under our boat and another four boats and could see their anchors holding onto the rock and sand below. That’s what stopped these boats from being blown onto the rocks. It held them in the currents, storms, and tempests of life.

Hebrews 6:18-19 (ESV)
We who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,

A SOLID ROCK

Through the ages many a ship has weathered storms by anchoring to a solid rock. Today, many people feel like their ship is blown around on stormy seas. Do you feel like the storms of doubt, discouragement, despair, and defeat have battered your ship. The winds of temptation, trials and tears have ripped your sails. The seas of sin, sorrow and sickness have pounded your little vessel and left you wounded and discouraged. Perhaps waves of fear, frustration and failure have robbed you of joy, hope, and peace.

Today perhaps you feel overwhelmed and sometimes wonder if you are going to make it. All the “stuff” you have anchored your life to, jobs, success, money, relationships, possessions, position, power, etc. Are just shifting sand, leaving your ship adrift and in danger of sinking. If you feel blown about today, I want to introduce you to the rock your hope can anchor you to.

There is a Solid Rock! His name is Jesus! If you anchor your life to Him, He will steady your ship, hold you fast in the stormy seas, and see you safely home. He will hold you secure, the The Anchor of your soul!

THE ANCHOR HOLDS

In the days of the early church the anchor was a symbol of hope. Over sixty pictures of anchors have been found on the walls of the catacombs of Christians in Rome. The words of hope that Christians talk about is this…we have a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, and no matter what assails us, we are anchored to the solid rock of Jesus.

When you throw your anchor of faith into the water of the Word of God, it firmly lodges to the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ, and the anchor holds! The anchor holds because He is our hope.

If you have experienced a tough time or been blown around by what people have said and done to you. If you feel overwhelmed, battered, and bruised, beaten up and beaten down, then you need your hope renewed. We want to pray and see you anchored in life’s trials on the solid rock!

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