February 7, 2016Romans 15:1 – 13Hope


     I want to talk about hope today.  I do not know about you but I have not thought about hope too much.  I do not preach on it much.   I speak on faith often and usually mention faith often in sermons.    I speak on love usually every year.  Last year I preached 5 messages on love in a series.  How many of you have heard a message on hope?      Have you ever studied the word hope in the bible?    Have you thought about hope lately?    I do not preach on it very much.   In the last 7 years I preached 1 message that I titled hope.  One message in 7 years is not very much. 

   What do we tend to think about hope?   Well I do not think that I have ever thought too much about it.  It is one of those things that can just become a nice Christian word.  We do not think much about it.  I mention it on occasion in a sermon or two but that is about all.  I suppose in our minds we may not think that it is very important.  It is not at the top of our list.  I usually think of it as a nice word but not as important as love, faith or grace.   It is not even mentioned in the Galatians 5:22 and 23 list.   But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control.   Against such things there is no law.   Hope is a very important word today.  It can be an overused word today.  I hope I do well on the test.   I hope things work out well.  I hope this helps out and after awhile it can lose its meaning.  We may not think of it as a very strong word.  It can be watered down just like love.  I love hot dogs.  Like wow man.

    What is hope?  The dictionary says a feeling that what is wanted will happen, a desire accompanied by expectation.  And it says a person or thing on which one may base some hope.   Is hope a critical part of life?   We are in the beginning of elections right now and change is a big topic politically.  People have won elections by claiming to bring change.  People hope their candidate wins.   Candidates try to encourage people vote for them by offering a message of hope.  Change has been a big word used in the last number of presidential elections.  Hope is the desire for change.  Hope believes and desires change.  That is a key root part of hope.  God wants us to have hope. 

   Have you ever been in a spot in your life that seemed dark and it seemed that there was no way out.  I know that at one point in my life that I thought about suicide.  It seemed that I was locked in a spot that I did not want to be in and I guess I felt there was no way out of it.  Why do people take their life?   I think a lot of it is because things seem hopeless.  Do the people of the world have hope?  What do they hope for?   Well some folks hope for food to eat on the next day.   I just read that half of the babies born in one of the Middle East refugee camps died from being cold.  They are hoping that their babies will live.   Some people hope to get married and some hope to have a baby.  Some hope that their kids turn around.  Some hope for another fix or drink.  One couple in the Concord church just bought a home.   The person in the world could say well I have hope.  I can change things in my life.  I can change my job.  I can better myself.  But the day will come when they find them self in a situation that they cannot change a situation and they have no resources to deal with it.  The Christian always has God.  Paul wrote Ephesians and told them you were in the world without hope and without God.  As Christians we have a loving God that answers prayer.  That does not mean that we get everything we want. 

     Hope is a very important word.  People do a lot of things because they hope for something.  They want change.  Hope is a very important Christian word.  The word hope is used in the bible over 130 times.   Who do you think uses that word a lot or where do you think the word hope is most found in the bible?   We see it used a lot in the book of Job and Psalms and Paul uses that word a lot.  It is in the epistles a lot especially in Paul’s epistles.  Hope brings life.  Hope is not weak.  Hope is not wishful thinking.   God and Paul see hope as more than wishful thinking.     For some it may be wishful thinking but real hope has substance to it.  There is power in real Christian hope.   Hope has character.  Hope has potential.   Hope has substance to it. 

    Ernest Gordon, dean of the chapel of Princeton University for twenty-six years, was called to the ministry in a Japanese concentration camp during World War II.   Gordon and his fellow prisoners were used as slave labor to build the Thailand-Burma Railroad.   Hundreds of them perished from mistreatment.   As an officer, Gordon struggled to help his men make sense of the suffering they had to endure.   He became deathly ill, however, and was spared only by the care of Chaplain Dusty Miller, who shared his precious rations with Gordon.  At one point, as Chaplain Miller nursed Gordon’s broken body back to health, he spoke the words that nursed Gordon’s broken soul back to health and called him to ministry.   Miller told him, “A man can experience an incredible amount of pain and suffering if he has hope.   When he loses his hope, that’s when he dies.”   — Bill White, Paramount, California

     Hope is a kind of a life and death word.  Those without hope give up.  Those without hope can become depressed, discouraged and negative.  Is that the reason that the Children of Israel complained in the Old Testament when they were in the desert?   They did not believe and they did not have hope and that generation died in the wilderness.   Did that play a part in Judas betrayal of Jesus?    Is that why some people complain?  Some of us might ask, is that why that person around me is acting like they do?   How can I help them?  

    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?   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.  It is not listed as one of the fruits of the spirit but from this verse we see that it is based in the word of God.  I am glad that God keeps his promises