This morning, we come together because of one thing that we all desperately need: hope. Hope is a bit of a strange thing, though. It’s hard to define what it really is, but we know for certain when we have it and when we don’t! Is hope something that we possess or is it something that we do? Well, yes. Merriam-Webster defines hope very well as:
1: to desire with expectation of obtainment
2: to expect with confidence
It’s foremost synonym is: trust
Hope is both something that we can have and something that we can do. The more that we understand what hope is, the more amazing it becomes! One amazing thing about hope is that the atmosphere in which hope can be the greatest is actually within the most desperate and impossible of circumstances. The darker and more painful that situations are, the more potential that there is for the greatest of hope. We can only ever possess hope, we can only ever choose to hope, whenever we lack something.
Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
All of us have something in our lives that we are missing. All of us have fallen upon some very painful circumstances at some point in our lives. For many of us this morning, we are stuck in a situation that we can’t seem to get out of. We are facing something so much bigger than ourselves and we are desperate for hope!
Since God knew that we would have these times and seasons of lack, He has given us hope. Hope is the God-given placeholder to fill the void of things that we do not currently possess.
The good news is that there is hope for us, no matter what we may be going through! We can eagerly expect with confidence that things are going to get better. The reality in which we live is that our circumstances are temporary. This is a good thing because that means that even the painful seasons of hopelessness can come to an end. However, this also means that if we put our hope in anything or anyone in this earth, that they will let us down at some point.
People will give up on us, the high of drugs wears off, finances quickly disappear, cars break down, device screens break, alcohol bottles have bottoms, roofs leak, furnaces break, leaders fail, children lie, and spouses cheat. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that putting our hope in anything or anyone here on this earth, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
However, if we put our hope in something or someone unchanging, then we have rightly placed our hope! God’s word reminds us that:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
If we choose to put our hope in Jesus, who never changes, then we are truly hoping. We’re not just wishful thinking that so-and-so has really changed this time. We’re not lying to ourselves that, “This is the last drink.” We’re putting our hope in something certain and sure. We’re reminded that:
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
If we put our hope in Jesus, then we can be sure that what He has promised us, He will follow through with. We won’t get left sitting at home waiting for that ride, or staring at our phones waiting for them to call. When we hope in Jesus, He is right there with us and for us. He isn’t like the friends that we have now, He is a good and perfect friend. In fact, in John chapter 15, that’s exactly what He calls us who put our hope in Him; His friends.
Jesus also told a story to describe what kind of friend He is:
5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Jesus is not ashamed of us or offended by us because we are in need! He won’t turn us away because we come to Him at our midnight hour in life when we don’t know where else to turn! He won’t scoff at us because we are broken and hurting! In fact, He calls us to come to Him just as we are so that He might fill those voids in our lives until He makes us whole and complete.
He tells us to ask Him, and it will be given to us. In fact, He even repeated that He won’t give us something that is going to hurt us or cause us harm. He’ll give us the good thing that we’ve asked for. He tells us to seek after Him and we’ll find Him. He tells us to keep knock, knock, knocking on Heaven’s door and He’ll open it.
As long as we’re alive, as long as we draw another breath, God isn’t finished with us yet! It’s not over yet! We may not be seeking after Him or knocking His door down, but He still patiently waits on us to come to Him. There is still hope!
It doesn’t matter where you are at right now. It doesn’t matter what mess you’ve gotten yourself into. It doesn’t matter what bad choices you’ve made. It doesn’t matter what wrong thing someone did to you.
God doesn’t look to our past or even where we are at now. God’s focus is on where He can take us. His focus is on the potential that we possess. He is looking at the hope-filled future that He has planned for us. Paul wrote it this way in God’s word:
Philippians 3:12-14 (MSG)
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
That can be our declaration, too! We can also admit that we’re not experts and definitely haven’t made it yet, but we’re off and running to Jesus and we’re not turning back! Today is the day that we get rid of all of the things and people that are holding us back and we’re putting our hope in Jesus alone!
David wrote in God’s word a note-to-self. He had hit rock bottom and had to remind Himself just who God truly is:
1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Choosing to hope in Jesus comes with some incredible and free benefits! He forgives our sin, heals all our diseases, redeems our lives from the pit, crowns us with love and compassion, satisfies our desires, and renews our youth!
To have our youth renewed… Don’t we all sometimes:
“Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep, but now we’re stressed out.”
The truth is that God wants to take us back to those good old days. He wants us to let go of everything that we’re holding onto and to trust Him. He’s has called us in His word to:
1 Peter 5:7 (AMP)
cast all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].
He also said:
“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?
This morning is the time when we start anew and afresh. It is time to take God at His word that nothing is too hard for Him to handle. Now is the time that we choose to take the full weight of what life has heaped onto us and to cast it all on Jesus. It’s time to trade in our hurt, our pain, our anxieties, our sicknesses, our debt, whatever is weighing us down, and to trade it in for the forgiveness, grace, healing, and freedom that Jesus is freely offering!
If you are ready to put your hope in Jesus and to trust your life in His hands, then we’re going to pray together. You don’t have to say anything out loud this morning, but just agree with me as I pray. Then, when you go back to wherever you call home, pray specifically for what you’re dealing with out loud and tell Jesus that you’re handing it all over to Him.
Prayer isn’t a magic formula and there’s no special words that you need to say to be heard. Prayer is simply you talking to Jesus and listening to what He’s got to say to you just like talking to a good friend. Trust me, He has some awesome things to say about you and you won’t want to miss out on your chance to hear them!