Hope

Hope signFaith, Hope, and Love

This is sermon three of three based on a wonderful verse in the Bible. Let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 13:13:

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Although it is the third in the series, it is second in that list. We are going to talk about hope.

How would you define hope? [Wait for answers]

My Mac’s dictionary defines “hope” this way:

1 a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen: he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information | I had high hopes of making the Olympic team.

• a person or thing that may help or save someone: their only hope is surgery.

• grounds for believing that something good may happen: he does see some hope for the future.

I think the first and third one fit my perception of hope…although I think they miss that hope also implies doubt…that you think something good is going to happen…or want it to happen…but you know it might not. There is at least a little bit of doubt mixed in.

Today we’ll create two lists: things not to hope in, and things to hope in. Neither will be exhaustive, but both will be informative. 🙂

Do Not Put Your Hope in…

Based on the verses I found searching for hope in the English Standard Version, the Book of Psalms would be a great place to study a biblical view of hope. Let’s turn there for our first example of what not to hope in:

10  Put no trust in extortion;

set no vain hopes on robbery;

if riches increase, set not your heart on them (Psalm 62:10).

Out of that, can you identify two things not to put your hope in?

Crime or money.

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the “extras” that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

As Christians, hopefully the former one is obvious…we should not put our hope in anything sinful.

However, because of our dependence on it to live, we can be tempted to put our hope in money. If we could just earn a bit more, than life will be better…or wow, imagine how great things would be if we won the lottery!

We can put hope in money even though we know, from experience, that money does not equal happiness. Otherwise, why are so many rich people miserable?

Or…why is it that no matter what we get with money…we always want more?

Do not put your hope in crime.

Do not put your hope in money.

Okay…next item not to put our hope in:

17  The war horse is a false hope for salvation,

and by its great might it cannot rescue (Psalm 33:17).

What is God telling you not to hope I this time?

Do not put your hope in military might.

Living in a country that is (or at least was) the greatest military power ever in history, it would be easy to fall for this false hope. However, that doesn’t change the fact that we never know if we are going to see another day…that even in apparent times of peace for our nation, a 9/11 is around a corner.

Or a drunk driver.

Or cancer.

Not to mention, trusting in might is foolish given our God is in charge. Scripture has plenty of cases where a stronger foe is undone because the Almighty tipped the scales against them.

Your strength is no hope.

Do not put your hope in military might.

For the next one, we’ll leave Psalms and head into the Gospel of John:

39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:39—47)

Who did the religious leaders of Jesus’ day put their hope in?

Moses.

How did that work out?

They crucified the Son of God.

Do not put your hope in religious leaders, even good ones.

Recently, a major Christian apologist I admire was accused of allowing communications with a woman, other than his wife, go too far. He denies it, and he may be telling the truth, but how often have we seen great religious leaders fall?

Even Moses fell when he struck the rock (see Numbers 20:11-13). We are unwise to put our hope in any human, even the best of them. We can listen to them. We can support them.

But we should not put our hope in them.

Do not put your hope in religious leaders even good ones.

Okay, one more “do not put your hope in.” This one is from Jeremiah 14:22:

22  Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain?

Or can the heavens give showers?

Are you not he, O LORD our God?

We set our hope on you,

for you do all these things.

What do you think this one says not to hope in?

Do not put your hope in false gods.

It could be said that this covers everything we already mentioned and any other “do not put your hope in” we might come up with. Although, in this case it was literal false deities, other things you put hope in, for all intents and purposes, are false gods too. You are putting your trust in them versus the Most High…and, as such, they are gods to you.

And, if you are not careful, you will worship them.

Do not put your hope in crime.

Do not put your hope in money.

Do not put your hope in religious leaders.

Do not put your hope in any false gods.

Put Your Hope In…

Enough of the negative. Let’s look at the positive. What should we put our hope in?

I’m sure you all know the punchline, but humor me a bit by looking at some more verses.

Let’s begin our list of things we should put our hope in with Titus 1:1-2:

1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began

What did Paul hope in?

Eternal life.

Put your hope in eternal life.

Next one we find in 1 Thessalonians 4:13:

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

Now…I saved time by not reading verses before this one…but this is the area where Paul talks about how Jesus will return and the dead in Christ will be resurrected. Thus, what does this implicitly tell us we should hope in?

Put your hope in the resurrection of the righteous.

Now…as neat as those two hopes are (and there are more that I could list…like God’s steadfast love and God’s word)…they clearly are more of a byproduct of the thing we really should put our hope in. That we should put our hope in that is abundantly clear with the many scriptures that reiterate it, but let’s look at a couple together, returning back to Psalms:

7  “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?

My hope is in you.

8  Deliver me from all my transgressions.

Do not make me the scorn of the fool! (Psalm 39:7-8)

5  Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

my salvation 6 and my God (Psalm 42:5-6).

We could list everything the Bible says we should hope in, but ultimately they flow from the one Being…the only thing…we should hope in. And that is…?

Put your hope in God.

Hoping in anything but God is vanity. Even hoping in eternal life and the resurrection of the righteous makes no sense if you do not hope in God, because if you do not hope in God, you will not have eternal life and you will not be in the resurrection of the righteous.

And that would be a horrible state to be in.

One more hope Scripture before we wrap-up:

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, (1 Timothy 1:1).

Who is our hope?

Christ Jesus.

We can put our hope in eternal life.

We can put our hope in the resurrection of the righteous.

We can put our hope in God.

Because of what Christ Jesus did on the cross.

Since Jesus is God, saying, “Put your hope in Jesus” is really no different than “Put your hope in God,” but it is still worth stating, because His sacrifice is the only reason we have any hope at all. Without Him we would have nothing to hope for.

So…if you get one thing right in life…make it this…

Put your hope in Jesus.


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