Story: A man sentenced to death obtained a reprieve by assuring the king he would teach his majesty’s horse to fly within the year—on the condition that if he didn’t succeed, he would be put to death at the end of the year. “Within a year,” the man explained later, “the king may die, or I may die, or the horse may die. Furthermore, in a year, who knows? Maybe the horse will learn to fly.”
Earthly vs. Heavenly Hope. Christian vs. non-Christian Hope.
Yet many a time when Christians face storms in their lives, start by giving up hope. They think:
Personal: Why me? Why is this happening to me?
Pervasive: We allow it to affect all areas of our life and soon we are engulfed. It begins with some things – jobs, marriage, exams.
Permanent: Worry that this will not go away. No light at the end of the tunnel.
Without this heavenly hope “Christians” (air quote this) not rooted in Christ will soon fall away and even true Christians will not be able to live the full abundant life.
Story: (Hell’s best kept secret) In 1991, in the first year of the decade of harvest, a major denomination in the U.S. was able to obtain 294,000 decisions for Christ. That is, in one year, this major denomination of 11,500 churches was able to obtain 294,000 decisions for Christ. Unfortunately, they could only find 14,000 in fellowship, which means they could not account for 280,000 of their decisions. The ones that wither away or are plucked away are the ones who have no strength to endure and have given up hope.
Story: The parachute. Life enhancement vs. Life saving.
So if our hope is not about enhancing life while here on earth then automatically our eyes are set on heaven. We can then thank God for and through the trials and difficulties.
Look at the A.B.C. of Hope
A: Hope is an Anchor in the present
Hbr 6:19: Which [hope] we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
We can hope because we are rooted in Christ – the anchor of our soul.
The verse describes three characteristics of this anchor:
1. Sure: Dependable (Hbr 6:19)
- It won’t come undone. We can put our weight …our life on it.
- The fisherman’s knot is tied by the greatest fisher of men.
Story: Alfred Hitchcock. A wicked lady who was sentenced to life for murder, told the judge that one day she’d escape and come back to haunt him. In the prison, she met an old man whose responsibility was to bury those who die in a little cemetery outside the prison. She planned her escape. Made him believe that she would pay for his cataract operation, if he cooperated. Next time she heard the bell toll, she made it to the old man’s shop, found the casket and got in. Next day the casket was carried out with her and buried. The old man was supposed to come back later and get her, so she waited. Well, she waited a long time and so to find if there was another way to get out, she struck a match only to find the old man next to her. For it was the old man who had died the night before. She was buried with the one who was to be her savior.
Our hope is sure for He is alive. He rose again from the dead.
1Cor 15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins.
1 Peter 1:3 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
2. Steadfast: Unchanging (Hbr 6:19)
1 Peter 1:4 – To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.
- No need for upgrades like Microsoft version. (nothing called Hope 2.0 Version)
- Not affected by culture, time, region or relationship.
- If Jesus is our compass around which everything moves then just like the unchanging Jesus, our hope remains unchanged.
3. Secure: Certainty (Hbr 6:19)
- No mistaken identity. It is not a “hope-so hope” but a “Know-so hope”.
- Story: Moslem friend’s dilemma.
- Our hope is not just IN Christ but IS Christ.
- Jesus and the work of Christ has been accepted.
Bible is book of hope, starting with the hope of a Messiah coming to save and ending with the coming of the Bridegroom for His bride
B: Hope is a Bridge to our future
1 Cor 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
Hope is not just an anchor while we are on earth but a bridge to heaven.
A Christian’s greatest hope is that this is not all there is to do – there’s more to come.
“There’s dessert coming”. The best is yet to come… and that’s why we can bridge over earth’s troubles as we keep our sights on heaven.
Q: How can you be confident that this is not a mirage in the desert or a pie in the sky?
- By looking at the past.
Like a runner who looks back to pace himself/herself, we need to look back to remember how God has always kept us through it all.
Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
“Remember” the Lord says. 144 times – many times of the goodness of the Lord, His preservation.
- Deu 8:2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, [and] to prove thee, to know what [was] in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or not.
- In Christ, our past successes are an assurance of the future.
- 1 Peter 1:13 - Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Not just, Hold on as an anchor but Move on, on this bridge.
Yet we read Paul writing:
Phil 3:13 : Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things, which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.
Forgetting the losses, the difficulties, the pain …not the grace of the Lord.
2 Cor 4:17 - For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory. Is that hope or what?
Ps 42-43: Psalm of Hope
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
Ps 42:5 – His countenance
Ps 42:11 – my countenance
When I look to God and to His countenance, it is reflected in my countenance. That’s the effect God has in our lives.
Joni Tada Erickson, “I sat and dreamed what I’ve dreamed a thousand times: the hope of heaven, …for when we shall see Him we shall be like Him”.
C: Hope is a Can-Opener
_ For things that we cannot do on our own and only Jesus can and will
- Desmond Tuto: South African Anglican priest said when asked about the Apartheid in South Africa, “I am a prisoner of hope.”
Hope rooted in Christ Can Open Possibilities.
Christ is the can-opener(a little Dwightism).
He opens hearts. He opens senses. He opens sight. He opens sepulcher.
- Dear ones who need to be saved; relationships that going sour; Children who hearts do not give God the highest priority; sorrows that overwhelm
- Like the boundaries to the sea thus far and no more… so our sorrows, our helplessness will not overwhelm.
God will do for others what He has done for you. This hope is something we can pass on when they see us.
_ The reason for our lives here on earth is so that others can see and believe. Impossibilities becoming possibilities and glorify God.
Gloria Gaither: “Because He Lives”. Early 1960’s Bill Gaither had mononucleosis and Gloria was pregnant with one of their children. Everything seemed dangerous and spinning out of control in that 60’s culture. Renewed her hope in Christ – Because He lives I can face tomorrow… How sweet to hold the newborn baby, and feel the pride and joy he gives. But greater still the calm assurance, our child can face uncertain days because He lives.”
Valley of Achor:
_ Means trouble.
_ Josh 7: 26 – And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.
_ Hosea 2:15. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
_ Valley of Achor: God can turn even the worst in to the best.
That’s a hope only from God.
Our heavenly hope is therefore an:
_ Anchor: Sure, steadfast, secure.
_ Bridge: that spans beyond this world to the very heavens, and
_ Can-Opener – He will work for others what He has done for you.