This morning, we’re continuing our new message series filled with hope and encouragement inspired by History Channel’s American Restoration entitled, “Christian Restoration”. We’re learning that no matter how broken and hopeless we, or our circumstances, may currently be, God is fully able and willing to restore and renew us!
This morning, we’re going to look specifically at how God is able to restore our hope. Hope is that feeling of expectation that something good is about to happen; that you are about to receive what you are waiting for.
Again, it is no surprise to anyone here this morning that life can bring about plenty of disappointments. Things let us down, people let us down, and sometimes, we feel like God has let us down.
Part of living in this broken world corrupted by sin is a disconnect between the written and spoken promises of God and the receipt of those promises coming to pass. Ironically, this very atmosphere that created the potential for hope is also the same atmosphere that can steal, kill, and destroy our hope. After all, if we have hope for something, that means that we have not yet received it.
When things don’t go quite as we had planned, it is easy for us to lose hope. This isn’t so bad when it comes to one situation here and there. However, when getting let down becomes a pattern and trend for us, something far more dangerous occurs. Unfortunately, this is something which is happening to people all around us. When this happens, we lose all hope and our love toward God, ourselves, and others grows cold. Life becomes meaningless and depressing. We quickly slip into isolation.
This is a difficult place to be and a very tough one to get pulled out of. Whenever we’re in this place, we desperately need hope. Unfortunately, it is in this place of disappointment that many people turn away from God.
Instead of patiently waiting for God’s promises and earnestly seeking after Him, it’s easier for us to create a theology and doctrine based solely on our experience. We begin to believe lies such as:
– There is no God
– The gifts of the Spirit have ceased since the Bible was completed
– It’s not God’s will for me to be healed/delivered/provided for
– That’s just the way that things will always be
If we’ve lost our hope in ourselves, others, and God, how can the restoration of hope begin?
Well, in my opinion, we are faced with two choices. When disappointment comes our way, we can either:
1. Change who God is and what His word says to match our experience
2. Change ourselves and learn from our experience
The first choice removes our ability to receive true hope. The second is the very first step in allowing God to restore our hope and bring about his promises!
Once we begin to understand better who God is and how He works in our lives, our hope begins to gain momentum and our faith along with it.
Unfortunately, culture has spilled over into the church and has lead to many misunderstandings which has removed our hope. We’re used to receiving what we want, when we want it, and how we want it.
Scripture reveals the great power and authority that we have through faith and how we can receive whatever we ask for if we do not doubt. We find many accounts of these power encounters when the Kingdom of Heaven invades earth all through the Bible. Although this is all rock solid doctrine founded on the very word of God, it can create a few ditches that scripture also warns us to avoid.
The one that we’re going to focus on today is more of a pothole that can cause some damage while cruising this faith highway. Like the potholes that we all faced on our way to church this morning, they can often come unexpectedly without warning and can cause some pretty serious damage. This pothole spiritually is the one encountered when we pray with full faith, expectation, and confidence and yet do not immediately receive what we ask for; even though we know for certain that it is in accordance with God’s will.
Our response whenever this occurs reveals our true faith and character.
In the natural world, a father can spoil his child by giving it everything they want when they want it and how they want it. The dangers of spoiling a child in this way are not revealed until the moment that they don’t receive what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. It’s their response and behavior at that moment that reveals their character and maturity.
This is just as true for us spiritually. God doesn’t want a family full of spoiled brats who have a relationship with Him just because of what they receive, He wants a family full of committed members who continue to grow and mature and reveal to the world what His Kingdom is truly like.
Yes, God’s word always does exactly what it is sent out to accomplish and never returns void. Yes, it is always God’s will to save, heal, deliver, provide, and more. These are promises that He has made to us that He will faithfully fulfill. However, we have to faithfully do our part and also understand that we do not always receive these things when we want them nor how we want them.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
God’s desire is for us to be mature and complete lacking nothing. There are times when there is a bigger picture that God sees and that we do not. His promises may be delayed, but they are delayed for a purpose and reason.
It would be wise for us to earnestly seek after God and ask Him to reveal what He is trying to do during these seasons of trial. These are the defining times in our lives where we can either allow our hope to be stolen or allow our hope to be grown. These are the defining moments where we can either:
1. Change who God is and what His word says to match our experience
2. Change ourselves and learn from our experience
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We are called not to conform to the pattern of this world.
Think about this. Someone’s faith and trust can be completely removed in a restaurant by not receiving their order when they wanted it or how they wanted it. This is the pattern of our world, which selfishly makes everything about us. Unfortunately, we view God in the same way too often. Our faith and trust in Him is all about us. They are built up whenever things happen in our favor, but are lost when things aren’t going the way that we want them to.
We must be transformed by the renewing of our mind to be able to test and approve what God’s will is for us. God desires that we be mature and complete lacking nothing. This may mean that we may not receive something when we want it and how we want it because it’s not what we need. We know that the maturity and character of a child will never be fully developed if they are spoiled and that it will be their downfall in life. Why do we think that children of God are any different?
God will begin to restore our hope when we choose to trust Him whether or not we receive what we want, when we want it, and how we want it. Hope is built when we choose to serve and worship God faithfully even though we do not receive what we want. Perseverance matures and completes us.
Contradictory to common understanding, the greatest faith is not displayed whenever we tell a mountain to move and it moves. Some of the greatest faith is displayed when we wait patiently on the Lord and never waiver in our trust in Him until we receive His promises. It’s during these seasons of waiting that our hope can grow and increase and our maturity and character along with it.
Yes, there are times when we do not receive what we ask for because we doubt and do not have faith to receive it or because of sin in our lives. However, just because we do not receive what we ask for does not indicate that we lack the faith for it or have sin blocking it. If we continue to persevere and earnestly seek after God and do not waiver in our trust in Him, we are displaying an immense degree of faith.
Hebrews chapter 11 speaks of this great faith. It speaks of many great men and women of faith and commends them for the treacherous conditions which they endured and the tremendous amount of faith that they displayed through them. However, at the end of the chapter, we find that those who had such great faith never actually received what was promised. Does this mean that they lacked faith or chose not to repent of sin? Of course not! Their faith was simply a foundation that was laid in order for us to receive what was promised. They were sort of like a human chain or ladder that simply served to lower us down so that we could reach the prize that they so eagerly and fervently had faith to receive.
God begins to restore our hope when we allow God to transform and renew our way of thinking. Think about this, for example. If God intended to always give us everything that we want, when we want it, and how we want it, why would a fruit of the Spirit be patience? Patience is grown and produced whenever we preserve hope in the midst of our lack. It is grown when we live by the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit and choose not to react in our flesh and throw a tantrum when we don’t immediately receive what we want.
There are far too many examples found of these cases in scripture to review this morning. However, something that we miss whenever we are reading through scripture is the season between the promise and the manifestation of that promise.
One of the best (and most extreme) examples of this “in-between” season is the account of Job. In just a few chapters, everything is stripped away from Job except his life. In half of a chapter, twice what was stolen from Job is restored to him. The 40 chapters in between display the treacherous season of perseverance, testing, and trial where hope wavered and many accused. Also, as we read through the Psalms written by David, we find these raw heart cries during these seasons of waiting when David’s hope and faith was put to the test as his experiences and God’s promises remained out of sync.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Notice that it isn’t the lack of a promise received that makes our heart sick, it is the lack of hope that makes our heart sick. So long as we have hope, we can persevere through any season of trial leading to the receipt of what has been promised.
If you’re hope has been stolen and you find yourself disappointed in life, don’t give up! Romans chapter 8 reveals that nothing can stop the love that God has for you. 1 Corinthians chapter 13 reveals that this same love of God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. God hasn’t given up on you nor the plans and purposes that He has for you. If He hasn’t given up on you, please don’t give up on Him!!!
Find out what God’s word says specifically about your disappointment. Find Godly people who have been there and dealt with that either in person or in scripture. Read through the Psalms and when you find one written by someone who felt the way that you are feeling, pray out that Psalm. While you’re waiting, allow God to restore and build up your hope as you trust in Him. His great love for you and His great promises for you WILL NOT FAIL!