Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sermon-9/10/06--New Creation Hope

A man approached a little league baseball game one afternoon. He asked a boy in the dugout what the score was. The boy responded, “18-0, we’re behind.”
“Boy,” said the spectator, “I’ll bet your discouraged.”
“Why should I be discouraged?” replied the little boy. “WE haven’t even gotten up to bat yet!”

There are times in life when the world is stacked against you. The greatest difference in your reaction will be whether you believe it’s the bottom of the 1st inning or the bottom of the 9th.

A major reason depression is so prevalent is because the pressures and mistakes of life are deemed unfixable or unforgivable. A major reason why the suicide rate is so high, among the young and increasing among Baby Boomers is that they have lost hope that life will get any better, that anyone will love them. A major reason marriage is so avoided, even in the church, is because whole generations have lost hope that love can last forever. So many have no hope that God can overcome anything or make any difference in their life.

But that is so untrue. Hope is a necessary thing, something especially needed in the world today. We as Believers in Christ truly have the market on what the world is looking for.
When we are trapped in the Old Life—nothing we can do can get us out of it. Left to ourselves we are hopeless. We must be born again, we must be made into New Creations.

What is hope? Is it a wishy washy maybe or a kind of unsure optimism? The modern idea of hope is “to wish for, to expect, but without certainty of the fulfillment; to desire very much, but with no real assurance of getting your desire.”
In Scripture, according to the biblical usage, hope is an indication of certainty. “Hope” in Scripture means “a strong and confident expectation.” Though archaic today in modern terms, hope is akin to trust and a confident expectation.
By its very nature, hope stresses two things: (a) futurity, and (b) invisibility. It deals with things we can’t see or haven’t received or both .

That’s the promise of 1 Peter 1:3
1PE 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

The Mercy of God was the start of it all. It was His mercy, His love for us that drew Him to make a way for us to become New Creations. And when that happens, we are given a Living Hope. Not a hope that is dead, not a hope that is gone beyond recovery, but one that is living, one that is active, one that is moving and growing and is full of passion and expectation. As long as Christ lives, our hope is alive! We have a future waiting for us that doesn’t get worse with age.

When you’re late for dinner, it sits there and gets cold and it never quite tastes the same when you warm it up.
If it sits there for too long, you’re more inclined to throw it away than eat it because you can tell it’s not fresh anymore. A little time can ruin what was a perfectly good meal. But our inheritance, what we have waiting for us, the marriage feast of the lamb, doesn’t perish, spoil or fade. There will never be reason to look at it and question, “Is that still any good?”

This hope, according to Hebrews 6:19 is supposed to be “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Our hope comes through the resurrection of Christ that turned a moment of fear, defeat and death into a moment of Courage, Victory and Life.

We need hope to be able to survive in this world, in order for us to go on and continue to live and move forward in our service of our Lord. People all around us are walking around without hope. They’re stumbling through life trying to figure out what it’s all about, what is important. They’re filling their lives with distractions and entertainment so they don’t have to think about what’s important. If we did not have hope in Christ, we would be no different. Without Christ, we would give up.

John Maxwell tells about a small town in Maine that was proposed for the site of a great hydro-electric plant. A dam would built across the river and the town submerged. When the project was announced, the people were given many months to arrange their affairs and relocate.
During those months, a curious thing happened. All improvements ceased. No painting was done. No repairs were made on the buildings, roads, or sidewalks. Day by day the whole town got shabbier and shabbier. A long time before the waters came, the town looked uncared for and abandoned, even though the people had not yet moved away. One citizen explained: “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present.” That town was cursed with hopelessness because it had no future.

In the OT past, the Prophets & saints looked forward to the hope we now have. In one encounter with the Pharisees, Jesus said that even Abraham was looking forward to His day. When Jesus picked up the scroll of Isaiah in Luke 4 and read about the good news to the poor, freedom for the captive, recovery of sight for the blind, release of the oppressed and proclaim the Year of the Lord’s Favor, Jesus was reading Isaiah’s hope for the future. Then Jesus had the audacity to say He was the fulfillment of that hope. Everything that Isaiah was looking forward to, Jesus fulfilled.

When the prophets spoke of the promised Messiah, they were hoping in the Almighty God what would fulfill His promise. They were inspired to write down the future that God was showing them. Hope from the Past comes through the pages of Scripture.

Look at Romans 15:4—
Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

The OT saints looked forward to Jesus—they looked forward to seeing His day, like Abraham, God gave many of them a vision for the Messiah, the fulfillment of their hope.

What about today, what is our View From the Present?
The KJV in 1 Cor. 13:11 says that now we see through the glass darkly—

1 Cor. 13:11-12—“ Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

Living Bible ---In the same way, we can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at his reflection in a poor mirror; but someday we are going to see him in his completeness, face-to-face. Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now.”—

Right now, not everything makes sense to us. What we see of God’s plan is hazy, a poor reflection, hazy and blurred. So we wait in hopeful expectation, knowing just like the prophets did that God will fulfill His promises. So we cannot give up, even when things look bad.

We know more about God’s plan than they do, but we still do not know the day or the hour. We still cannot see or understand how God will use every situation, from wars or elections, to accidents or births.

We are all participating a role within the progression of time. We know time has a beginning and an end. We know God is moving history toward His Return.

We know that Christ’s return will right all wrongs, overturn all evil, and make right all sins and hurts. So no matter how things look from here and now, our hope and faith is able to carry us through.

We struggle with the “Already v. Not Yet”. We are eager to know about those who have fallen asleep in Christ, but we take comfort in our hope that they are with Him, in the presence of their Savior. We know that the world will one day be made right.

Look at
Romans 8:22—We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

The whole world, including you and me, are hoping for what we don’t yet have. We are waiting patiently for our final and complete redemption. CS Lewis—Hope—“a continual looking forward to the eternal world.” What’s amazing about this passage is the statement, “Hope that is seen is no hope at all”.
In other words, if we had all the answers, if we had it all charted and spelled out, then our hope would not just be weak, but non-existent.

If we knew without doubt the date of Christ’s return was going to be in 200 years, if we knew all the of the people God would save with our without us, then we would be like that town in Maine—then the temptation for us as the Body of Christ would be that there’s no point, there’s no use trying—b/c we’re not going to see it.
We could easily become complacent and unprepared, unwilling and unresponsive to the leadership of God.

So in a sense, it is vital, for our hope to remain strong that some things remain hidden.

HEB 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

We are here in this world waiting, waiting for what everyone, whether we realize it or not, is yearning for in our hearts. We should never be afraid of what tomorrow holds because we know where tomorrow is going. No matter how bad things get around us, Believers should have a Hope for the Future. “I don’t know what the Future holds, but I know Who holds the Future.”

Our Past is full of Hope—because we can look back with confidence on what Christ has done for us. We have the privilege of looking backward to Jesus and what He did for us

We have Hope for the Present--we struggle making sense of today and all of our struggles and trials. We have trouble making sense of the evils in the world, like tomorrow’s anniversary, but we have hope that the world today is in the Hands of an Almighty God who is moving our Present in a definitive direction—an outcome that He is fully aware of and in control of.

Hope of the Future—and since we know where this world is going, we we also have hope as New Creations in Christ as we look Forward to His Return.

If you’ve ever wondered, “where are we going”, “what in the world is God doing?”, the answer is the Second Coming, the Kingdom of God, a New Heaven and a New Earth, an Eternity in the Presence of God. It is the celebration of God’s complete and total reunion and restoration with His children. It will be like that moment with the Prodigal’s father—where God calls out, “My children are finally and forever home with me. Kill the fatted calf and let’s celebrate their return.”

God is inviting and calling each of us to faith so we can be a part of all of that. As we read in 1 Peter, God is giving us an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.

God generously gives us hope because we desperately need it. It comes through our faith in Christ. We know that a future is prepared for us. Despite all of the difficulties in life and the struggles we face, Hope keeps us alive. John Bunyan—“Hope is never ill when faith is well”. Is your faith alive and well? It needs to be.

G.F. Watt has a famous painting entitled Hope. It pictures a poor woman against the world. Her eyes are bandaged so that she cannot see ahead. In her hands is a harp, but all the strings are broken save one. Those broken strings represent her shattered expectations, her bitter disappointments. That one last unbroken string is the string of hope. She strikes that string and a glorious melody floats out over the world; it fills her dark skies with stars. The artist painted a great truth: Even when all else is gone, you still can have hope.

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