Scripture: (Romans 5:1-5 KJV) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Let me start with a story of a circus trapeze artist. One of the greatest men to fly through the air under the big top tells of his early days in the circus. He recalls the practices, the hard work, the exercises, the long hours. But the thing he remembers the most, is falling. Oh, yes of course there was a net underneath him but could it be trusted? Time after time after time as he would work on new moves he would fall into the safety of the net. Soon The net became comforting friend. The more he trusted in the net the less he needed it. As he became confident in the protection of the net beneath him he could reach to new heights in the air.
It was first through tribulation that greatness has been achieved. It is in the depths of darkness that we more fervently seek the light. I went through the Bible where the word hope appears 129 times in the King James Version and 166 times in the NIV. OH, I have a lot of scriptures to share with you concerning hope today and if it is hope that you need then don't get up until you are overflowing with it. Because it is here in God's word. Not only does His word reveal the source of Hope but it give us detailed instructions on how to get it and keep it. But I guess a lot of it depends on what you are hoping for. We can hope for a lot of things. It almost reminds me of what my father use to tell me when I told him that I wanted something. He would simply look at me and ask, "How's it feel to want?" That takes us to our fist scripture verse and our first point which is hope deferred.
(Proverbs 13:12 KJV) Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.
It can be the most devastating thing in the world not to have your hope fulfilled. Then again it is the most thrilling when that which you have hoped for comes. The sad thing is when someone looses all hope. I don't know about you, but I've been there. It is like stumbling around in the darkness until you give up on finding the light and you just lie down and give up. When you get to that point even those glimmers of light that come shinning in no longer spark anything within you. If you have ever been there, or maybe your even on your way there now, the first thing you need to know is that you are not alone. The funny things about adults is that they try so hard to hide that which they wish people understood about them. I mean when a child is afraid they will let you know in an overly dramatic way at times. But us adults, no even when we feel the whole world crumbling down around us we put up the old "everything is fine in my life" front. It is like that pop psychology book of the seventies I'm OK, You're, OK. Did you know the author of that book later killed himself. I'm serious, I guess he wasn't OK. Poor guy, that's not even funny, yet we will even try to hide that. Look we all get afraid. We all get lonely. We all get depressed. We all feel hopeless at times. The difference is the net. We have to remember how many times that net saved us in the past. And we have to know where to find it. In other words, there is hope. It may have been delayed in coming but it is there. Don't despair, get up and keep waking. That is how the expression "thy word is a light unto my feet" came from. In the dark on night, on the roughest terrane all you need is a little light to shine just in front of your feet to keep you from falling. So There is hope my friend. As long as you have breath there is hope.
(Ecclesiastes 9:4 NIV) Anyone who is among the living has hope --even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
What a great saying. It is so true, Hope does spring eternal. As long as you have breath there is hope. So then what is it? What exactly is hope? Is it just wishful thinking or is there something deeper to the heart. There is a passage of scripture that talks about the sorrow of those without hope. That really is hell itself isn't it? A place of hopelessness. Someone was describing the vision they were given of hell, how people were in so much torment that they literally tore their flesh off their bodies with their own hands only to have it come back and they again continue to tear at their own flesh. May you never come close to such a place of despair. But I tell you the truth, no matter how low you may have gotten as long as you have breath there is hope. There is hope of eternal life. There is hope of a new beginning. There is hope of lost love found again. there is strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow for great is His faithfulness. So hope then is that by which our very souls are saved by.
(Romans 8:24 & 25 KJV) For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
So there is hope even when there seems to be no hope. Look at Abraham who against hope believed in hope (Romans 4:17 & 18 KJV) (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
Don't let me loose you we are just getting to the meat of this thing. Look at that scripture again. The part where it talks about God, "who quickeneth the dead." Do you know what that means. It means life my friend. Abundant everlasting life. It is, listen now, it is the first work of the Spirit to give life. To quicken the dead, bring back to life that which is dead. Now, we could get spiritual and talk about how we are all dead in our trespasses and sins abut God wants you not only to have that hope of glory but He wants you to show forth that glory right now. He wants you to be a beacon of hope. He wants to awaken within you that which you never knew was there. Come alive my friend. Be revived. Be encouraged. Grab unto the hope that is yours. And keep grabbing. The more you go for the more you are going to get.
There was this art teacher who decided to try some creative grading of his students. He was a ceramics teacher and decided that half of the class would be graded on their quantity of work. (how many pieces they could produce) The other half would be graded on the quality of their work. (how good of a work of art they could create) At the end of the year the half that was to be graded on their quantity would get an A for 50 lbs. of art, a B for 40 lbs and so on. The other half would have to be carefully judged. What the teacher discovered was that the students that went all out and produced as many pieces as they could quickly learned from their mistakes and produced the highest quality pieces, while those who took their time and theorized about what would make a great piece produced a less then spectacular effort.
So if we can quickly now go back to our original scripture verse we can see how tribulation works patience, patience works experience and it is then experience that brings us hope and hope will never let us down. No matter what you may be going through now or will face in the future there is hope. No matter how long you may have waited upon the LORD you can be assured through the lives of millions before you that those who wait upon the LORD will indeed mount up as wings of eagles they will run and not be weary they shall walk and not faint. Hang in there. stand firm. For one thing that your patience will give you and that is experience. listen to this quote: "I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive".--Joseph Campbell. You are alive, live!! I mean live life to it's fullest. Go for it! it is experience that brings us hope. Experience the abundant life that is in Christ JESUS. It is not just talk. It is not even religion. It is life itself. Without Him there is no hope. But with Him hope indeed springs eternal. Ask Him right now to forgive you of your sins. Ask Him right now to come into your heart. He died in order for you to live. He rose again in order for you to be able to die to the hopelessness and be quacked by His Spirit unto eternal life. The one theological term you can cling to is "Omni." God is omnipresent, (always with you where ever you may be) God is omniscient. (He knows your deepest secrets and hearts desires. He knows all, past, present and future) God is omnipotent. (all powerful) And you know it is true. You know it is true. He is your net that will never fail you so leap to new heights. I am going to leave you with this hope and this charge. In fact is the words that Jesus Himself left with His disciples, oh, that includes us, doesn't it? All power and authority. All power!
(Matthew28:18-20 KJV) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
And I could not close this out any better then Paul could so I will leave you with these words and believe for you and with you that your hope be fulfilled. Amen.
(Romans 15:13 NIV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.