February 14, 2016   Lamentations 3 Hope     


  Romans 15:4 tells us for everything that was written to each of us so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures that we might have hope.  Everything was written so that you could have hope.  Where does hope come from?  Is it something I can make myself?    Can I create hope or generate hope?   For Christians hope comes from the bible.  The bible was written so you could believe so you could have hope.  Hope is not something that is weak or silly or meaningless.  Hope is very powerful.  Hope is very important.  Hope comes from the word of God.  If you are discouraged get into this book.    I am glad that God keeps his promises.  As Christians our hope is based on the promises of God.   The bible is full of promises. 

   Then in verse 13 may the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may over flow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   When we think of the power of the Holy Spirit we think of great things.  We think of the spirit of God falling on the apostles in Acts.  We think of strong preaching.  We think of people being healed.  This verse speaks of power.  And a key part of that power is hope.  Do you think a person filled with hope is weak?   Do you think there is some power in the person filled with hope?   I certainly think so. 

    Paul writes here that you may over flow with hope.   Hope is a good thing.  Many marriages fail because there is no hope of change.   People feel that they are stuck in this relationship their marriage and it will not change and then they give up or they begin to attack each other.  He or she is never going to change and I can’t live with that any more.  Their romance or love turns to hate and good can turn to evil.  How many people have you seen or met this week that are discouraged and are broken without hope.  Be it their health or marriage or job or whatever mountain is in front of them.  The disciples were broken when Jesus was crucified. 

      Philip Yancey writes Good Friday and Easter Sunday have earned names on the calendar. Yet in a real sense we live on Saturday, the day with no name. What the disciples experienced in small scale — three days in grief over one man who had died on a cross — we now live through on a cosmic scale.  Human history grinds on between the time of promise and fulfillment.  Can we trust that God can make something holy and beautiful and good out of a world that includes Bosnia and Rwanda and inner-city ghettos and jammed prisons in the richest nation on earth?   It’s Saturday on planet Earth. Will Sunday ever come?    — Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew Some folks are asking will Sunday ever come?   We know that Jesus rose from the dead but we have not experienced heaven and eternity yet. 

   There is a sense that the world lives in Saturday.  Paul writes that creation groans.  Is that a statement that creation has a better future?   Remember Cain and Abel?  God said the ground cries out with Abel’s blood.    I received a letter from American Bible Society a week ago which quoted 3 sources.   Terror group executes more Christians from CNN.  Terror Group to kill 180 Christians after failed negotiations CBN.  Christians martyred every FIVE minutes World Express UK.  That is about 300 people a day.  That is over 100K people a year.  That is the world we live in.   ISIS

    But there is also the sense that we live here but not forever.  As Christians we know about Good Friday when we remember the death of Jesus.  That secured our salvation.   We certainly know about Easter which is the resurrection.  We know that resurrection is coming.  Those who do not know Jesus in the world are without God and without hope.  Paul is certainly talking about the hope we have of eternal life.  We believe in life after this world.  We believe in heaven.  We believe that we have a home prepared for us in heaven.  We believe in a creator God the only God that loves us deeply and is involved in our life.   The bible gives the last word and no matter what we face here on earth we have that hope and that hope is a blessing.  Sometimes it is good to know the end or the last chapter. 

   Charles Ellis writes I am a tremendous sports fan.  Since many sporting events take place when I am not at home, I record them. When it’s time to sit in my easy chair and view the game, unlike most people, I don’t start at the beginning.   Instead, I fast-forward to the end to see who won and who lost.    If my team lost, I’ll stop watching, but if my team won, I’ll start the game at the beginning, get out some snacks, and watch the whole game.   Some say this method can’t be much fun.   But I love it.   No matter how bad things look for my team, I don’t have to worry because I know the end of the story.  That’s how we might think about what Jesus did for us on the cross: no matter how bad things look, we don’t have to worry because we know the end of the story.   — Charles Ellis, Indianapolis, Indiana

    Hope is a lot more than wishful thinking.  Gee I hope to see you in the next couple of days.  Well I may or may not see you.  Christian hope is based in the power of God.  We walk in that hope.  You can live in that hope.  You can live in that power.  That is a firm foundation.  Paul writes here may the God of hope fill you so that you over flow in hope.  Are you overflowing with hope today?   We all have issues and problems.  Have you asked the lord how you can respond to those trials?  God what do you want to do with this situation?   God what can I believe you for?   Have you listened to his voice?   We can pray thy kingdom come thy will be done.  Lord have your will done.  Part of His will is for us to be filled with hope.   Christ in us is the hope of glory.  Christians have hope in everlasting life.   It is a good hope a strong.

     At times we fail to walk in our Christian hope.  We do not like to do that but at times we fail.  That is one reason why fellowship is so important.  The bible tells us to fellowship with one another.  I suppose there can be a number of reasons why we lose hope.   Micah Wood commented that he has counseled and talked with many parents that approach him and ask him to pray with them for their child.   It is easier for us when someone asks for prayer than for the person asking for prayer.  If someone asks me to pray for their child.  I can easily say yes.  It is God’s will that the child or adult would turn to the Lord and so I can pray.  The parent however may be battling with other things.  Well my child or son or daughter would be walking with Jesus if I just prayed more.    If I took them to church more and disciplined them more they would be on the right path.  They come feeling like a failure.  Prayer for me is very different then praying for them. 

    The same is true for a marriage that is in trouble.  We all know it takes 2 to fight.  When a marriage fails both parties fail.  One party may be a lot more at fault but none of us are perfect.   If there has been immorality in the marriage it creates a whole different attitude and feeling about praying.  If only I had done this.  I put unreasonable demands on my partner.  I was not loving enough.  I got to the point where I was not involved with them.  If only I had done that.  My marriage failed and I failed and I deserve this mess.    You get the picture.  Now it becomes hard for me to believe.  It becomes hard for me to hope and pray.  It becomes hard to approach the situation with hope because I blew it. 

    As a pastor I can always say I could read the bible more.   I could spend more time on sermons.   I could spend more time witnessing.   I can do more.  I can visit more.   I could pray more.  And I can do more, I can, I can, I should do more I should have and after awhile it is all about me and nothing about God.   It is about where I feel I have failed.  Is there hope for people?  Does God offer hope for those who have failed or perhaps for those who feel that they have failed.   Maybe we have not done as bad as we think.  Maybe we are just not thinking correctly.   We know as Christians that God does not waste anything in our life.   God can use the good the bad and the rest of it.    

    In Lamentations 3 we read.  I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of the Lord’s wrath.   He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.   He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones.    He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship.   He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead.   He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains.    Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer.    He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked.    Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding, he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help.    He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows.   He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver.    I became the laughingstock of all my people; they mock me in song all day long.    He has filled me with bitter herbs and given me gall to drink. 

   He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust.   I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is.   So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”   I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.    I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.   Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:     Do you get the picture here?  God told his people over and over and over again if you sin against me and leave me things will not go well for you.   I will deport you.   You will lose in battles.  I will give you into the hand of your enemies.   They sinned against God.   You could say they deserved what they got.  God did what he said he would do.   God does not play favorites.   They are deported and Jerusalem was destroyed.   Things are dark.   Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet.  Things are bad.  He takes his complaint to the Lord to God.  He tells God, God you are lying in wait and shooting at me with your arrows.  You have given me the rod of your correction.  My paths are crooked.  People laugh at me today we might say I am being bullied.  He feels like everything and everybody is against him. It is not a fun place to be.  Jeremiah said you drag me though the dirt and my life is dark but then Jeremiah says, “Yet I call this to mind and I have hope.”   What is it that brings hope to him?   What can bring hope in such darkness?   What does he call to mind?   How does Jeremiah feel better about things? 

    Then Jeremiah wrote because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.   They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.   God is a compassionate God.   God is loving.  Then Jeremiah writes I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.  Jeremiah lays hold of the word of God.   He knows God’s character and it gives him hope.  Things have been tough for awhile but he knows who can change his situation.   In Jeremiah 29 we read for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  In the middle of darkness God says there is hope.  

    No matter how bad we muck things up God has a plan for us.    We think God thoughts and plans for us are thus and so.  We may think God is out to get us.   God is mad at me.  We may think that God does not want to bless me.  Yet God has good plans for us.  I talked to a person recently who had a big thing hit them and they were negative about it.  They were sad and upset.   Things seemed dark for them.  But what is God doing?   God thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  And God expresses here to Jeremiah that God has a future and a plan for his life.  God thoughts for us are often on a much higher plane then we are thinking of.   We can limit God with our negative thinking.  Mark said Jesus could not do many great deeds there because of their unbelief.  God delights in working in messes.  If God did not work in our mess down here He would be very limited.   We make a mess and pray and God does some neat things.    Do you remember Romans 15:13?   He is the God of hope.   Consider the prodigal son.  He was invited back.  The father ran to him.  God looks to the person who has a broken heart.  God sees the humble and repentant heart and that is very precious to God.   He is the God of hope.  God desires that we be filled with hope that our lives are filled with joy and confidence.  God gave his son his word and his spirit.