Be Like Jesus: Who Am I Becoming?

Virtue 5 - Hope

 Bill Burnett

New Life Chapel

Hesperia, Calif.

 

We’re in our BELIEVE SERIES.  

  • We did 10 sermons on WHAT DO WE BELIEVE.  
  • We did 10 sermons on WHAT DO WE PRACTICE.  
  • And… we are in the last part of this series WHO ARE WE BECOMING.

 

Basically we are studying about the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.

 

Key Verse: Hebrews 6:19-20 (NIV) 19  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20  where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.

 

Key Question: How do I deal with the struggles of life?

 

Key Idea: I can cope with the hardships of life because of the hope I have in Jesus Christ

 

A man approached a little league baseball game one afternoon. He asked a boy what the score was. “It’s 18 to nothing - we’re behind.” The man said, “I’ll bet you’re discouraged, aren’t you?” “Why should I be discouraged?” the little boy said. “We haven’t even got up to bat yet.”

 

Hope is essential to our survival.

 

Webster’s dictionary defines hope as “A desire accompanied by expectation of, or belief in fulfillment; to desire with expectation of obtainment; to expect with confidence.”

 

All of us need hope in our lives.

 

Hope deferred, simply put… is when your dream dies or when, if it’s still there, it is laced with fear.

 

The symptoms appear in various degrees and in different forms, ranging from discouragement to depression, doubt to cynicism, and grief to suicidal tendencies.

 

Hope deferred produces resignation, fear, and unbelief. It produces a loss of passion, a retreat from life and a host of other "heart"-disease maladies. It imprisons the soul.

 

  • If it hurts right now as you think about the lost dream, you probably have hope deferred.
  • If passion has waned and apathy has come upon you, hope deferred is probably at work.
  • If you find yourself going through the religious motions, doing and saying the right things while all the while feeling empty and lifeless on the inside, you may be a victim of this enemy.
  • If disappointment seems stronger than the joy in your life…
  • If tears come to your eyes when you think about a certain person…
  • If you can’t go some places in your mind and heart without discomfort or negative emotion…
  • If the promise now sparks disillusionment or cynicism instead of faith…
  • If the statement "God is going to come through for you" is met with any doubt or questioning whatsoever...

 

...then you probably have some stage of "heart" disease.

 

In 1997, the Journal of the American Heart Association reported on some remarkable research:

 

Susan Everson of The Human Population Lab of the Public Health Institute of Berkley, California found that people who experience high levels of despair had a 20% greater occurrence of the narrowing of the arteries than did optimistic people. "This is the same magnitude of increased risk one sees in comparing a pack-a-day smoker to a non-smoker," Everson said.

 

Reader’s Digest (Feb. 2002) reported that people with serious depression were three times more likely to die of heart disease; even those with mild depression had a fatality rate 50% higher than normal.

 

Listen to the following 2002 U.S. Statistics:

 

  • Approximately 19 million adults have a depressive disorder. The leading cause of disability is major depressive disorder.
  • Youth suicide rate has tripled in the past 35 years, making suicide the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds.
  • 25% of high school students seriously consider suicide each year.
  • 2.5 million people in the U.S. divorce each year: 50% of first marriages & 60% of re-marriages.
  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • 80% of adult children of pastors seek professional help for depression
  • 50% of pastors would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way to make a living.
  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month

 

What causes this condition described in the Scriptures as hope deferred? Simply put… it is unfulfilled or shattered dreams:

 

  • The death of a loved one
  • A failed marriage
  • Your business went under
  • A family member who still hasn’t been saved
  • A promise unkept, a betrayal or false accusation
  • A gallant fight of faith that was seemingly lost
  • A seemingly lost destiny
  • An Ishmael that God won’t accept and an Isaac you can’t produce

 

Experiencing hope deferred doesn’t make you bad, weak or unspiritual; it means you are human.

 

King David battled hope deferred when he was falsely accused and fled for his life:

 

Psalm 142:3-7 (ESV) When my spirit faints within me, you know my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me! Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.

 

In Psalms 42:5-6 and 43:5, David commanded his soul to hope:

 

Psalm 42:5-6 (ESV) 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 and my God…

 

Jesus, our Great Physician came "to heal the brokenhearted" (Luke 4:18).

 

 Proverbs 13:12 (ESV) 12  Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

 

THE USUAL PROGRESSION OF HOPE DEFERRED

 

·         Discouragement

 

·         Confusion(we begin to question ourselves, our dreams and God’s promises)

 

·         Unbelief (hope is lost and expectation is gone)

 

·         Disillusionment (the first stage of bitterness, which usually involves questioning even the character of God)

 

·         Bitterness (with deep feelings of resentment we blame God, others or ourselves)

 

·         Cynicism (a complete loss of faith and hope -- a dead heart)

 

Abraham and Sarah experienced all of the above.

 

Their faith for a child was dead; they were cynical.

 

After 24 years of waiting for the son God promised, Abraham fell on his face and said cynically in his heart, 

 

"Genesis 17:17 (ESV) 17  Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 

 

Genesis 18:10-12 (ESV) 10  The LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11  Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12  So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 

 

This was not a laugh of joy, but of skepticism:

  

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

 

Romans 4:18-21 (ESV) 18  In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19  He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20  No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21  fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

 

If Abraham & Sarah can move from such an extreme stage of hope deferred, so can you.

 

One night on a farm in Arizona, a fierce desert storm struck with rain, hail and high winds. At daybreak, feeling sick and fearing what he might find, the farmer went to survey his family’s loss.

 

The hail had beaten the garden into the ground; the house was partially unroofed; the henhouse had blown away and dead chickens were scattered about. Destruction and devastation were everywhere.

 

While standing there dazed… He evaluated the mess and he began to wonder about the future.  About that time the farmer heard a stirring in the lumber pile that was the remains of the hen house.

 

A rooster was climbing up through the debris, and he didn’t stop climbing until he had mounted the highest board in the pile.

 

That old rooster was dripping wet with most of his feathers blown away.

 

But as the sun came over the eastern horizon, he flapped his bony wings and proudly crowed.

 

When the morning sun appeared on the horizon amidst all the chaos and devastation… that beat-up, featherless rooster could still crow.

 

Why? Because… it was his nature to crow!

 

Winds of adversity may have blown through your life. 

 

Your world may be falling apart; but if you will look closely enough, you’ll see the light of God’s faithfulness shining through the debris.

 

And you can rise above it because it is your nature to overcome!

 

Listen to what God says about you in Romans 8:35-39:

 

Romans 8:35-39 (ESV) 35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Hope is an anchor for your soul.

 

Hebrews 6:19-20 (ESV) 19  We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20  where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever …

 

Anchors stabilize. They keep us from drifting. Without an anchor for our souls, we’re at the mercy of life’s unpredictable events.

 

Hope Deferred Causes Us To Do One Or More Of The Following:

 

1. Run ahead of God.

 

Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands to fulfill God’s promise of a son, and created Ishmael.

 

Then, they did what is so typical of humans. They asked God to accept their connived solution and make it His

 

Genesis 17:18 (ESV) 18  And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!”

 

Basically, we say, "God, I’m tired of waiting for your plan to unfold, so I came up with one of my own. Would you please bless it?"

 

God refuses to accept our hope-deferred-inspired Ishmaels, because His ways are always the best and His timing is always right.

 

He gives us destinies that rise above anything we could possibly produce on our own.

 

2. Run away from God.

 

Failed expectations can be so devastating and debilitating. Like a balloon that has lost its air, the rapid deflation of our hearts sends our emotions spinning out of control.

 

We withdraw from God.

 

After Christ’s death, the disciples began a process of running away from God’s plan and back to their old lives and vocations (John 21:3).

 

John 21:3 (ESV) Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” 

 

They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 

 

They were running away from what they couldn’t understand. Hopelessness and despair will disorient us. We lose our bearings, our focus.

 

And sometimes, like the disciples, when we run from the confusion, we don’t realize we’re running from our purpose and destiny.

 

When the plans seem to have changed and God didn’t inform you, trust Him.

 

Maybe you haven’t run away from God. Perhaps you’re like Zechariah who religiously performed his duties in the Temple without faith (Luke 1:5-19).

 

You may be in church every week, performing like a "good" Christians, and participating in worship.

 

But if we’re honest, many of us have areas in which hope deferred has eliminated our ability to believe for breakthrough.

 

In that area of our walk with God, we’re merely being religious -- having the form yet denying the power.

 

Religiosity… is knowing the right words – even the right scriptures -- to say.  It is knowing how to look and act.

 

When hope deferred poisons the heart, we might still ask of the Lord for things in our lives, but there is no faith or expectation that we will receive.

 

We lay hands on the sick, but don’t really expect them to recover.

 

We pray for revival but question if it will actually come.

 

We lift our hands in worship on Sunday morning, but our hearts are cold and we think little about the things of God the rest of the week.

 

Hope deferred, if it doesn’t cause us to run away from God, has the potential to make us nothing more than religious in our dealings and relationship with Him.

 

3. Run with the enemies of God.

 

This is what happens when bitterness sets in like concrete, and results in denying God, and turning away from Him altogether. It is the extreme result from hope deferred.

 

Jer 18:12  But the people of Judah will answer, 'It won't do any good to try! We will continue to do what we want. Each of us will do what his stubborn, evil heart wants!'" (NCV)

 

Judas Iscariot had a terminal case of hope deferred.

 

He believed that the Messiah would overthrow the Roman government and set up an earthly throne of His own. 

 

He became incredibly disillusioned when he saw Jesus was not going to do this.

 

Hope deferred then set in, poisoned his heart, and he found himself a betrayer, cavorting with the enemies of Christ.

 

If we allow hope deferred to create bitterness toward the Lord, then we run the risk of completely turning away from Him.

 

4. Run toward God.

 

When our world caves in on us, we need to run to God.

 

When we feel we have little left, we need to take stock. We will always find we have something left.

 

As in Job’s case, we still have God.  He ran toward God.

 

 Jeremiah declared in Lamentations 3:24,

 

"Lamentations 3:24 (ESV) 24  “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

 

In Hebrews 13:5, God promises never to leave us:

 

"God Himself has said, ‘I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support.  I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you! Assuredly not!" (Amplified Bible)

 

Every wall, every fear, unbelief, insecurity, and rejection!  Every, past wound, hopelessness, and bitterness -- that keeps us from God must be torn down.

 

Every thing you’ve erected to protect your heart, every place where you’ve decided that you won’t trust God, tear it down!

 

Every subtle determination not to believe, every testimonial to disappointment that exists in your heart, right now, by faith, tear it down!

 

You must do this to make a way for God to bring hope back into your life.

 

Romans 8:28 (ESV) 28  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

 

God will take all of the bad, all of the evil, all of our mistakes and failures, and He will use them to bring about good in our lives.

 

He promises to so transform all of the bad in our lives that it is changed into good fruit, good works, usefulness and profitability.

 

For whatever reason God has for allowing bad things to happen to us, He can be trusted to turn it around for our best.

 

The storms of life are no longer our point of reference when He is our focal point.

 

 We must draw near to the Lord in order to see Him there in the midst of our pain.

 

STEP TO RESTORING HOPE

 

·         Praise And Worship God!

 

Apply praise & worship to your wounded heart as you would apply therapy to a wound on your body.

 

  • Read God’s Word!

 

Look up Scriptures that describe God’s love, healing power and mercies, and then declare them over your heart. Psalm 107:20 says God’s word is like medicine.

 

Psalm 107:20 (ESV) 20  He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.

 

  • Come To God Boldly In Prayer

 

Come boldly before the throne of grace, in humility and repentance, in your time of need. The Lord will not cast you away.

 

Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) 16  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

  • Practice Biblical Confession

 

The next step of healing is from Hebrews 10:23: "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering..."

 

Hebrews 10:23 (ESV) 23  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

 

A tremendous key to our healing fro hope deferred is to begin saying out loud what God says about us. There is great power in speaking the Word of God to our hearts.

 

Biblical confession is "saying the same thing" as God. It is breaking the power of the lies we believe with the truth of God’s Word.

 

Declaring what God’s Word says about us when our circumstances seem contradictory may appear like a refusal to accept reality.

 

Don’t declare what God isn’t saying, but confess boldly what He is saying!

 

Allow God’s word to heal our hearts and transform us.

 

Hold fast to what God says about us.

 

When obstacles threaten to destroy us, we must align ourselves with God’s perspective in order to avert disaster.

 

The word for discipline in the Greek is a compound word. One means "salvation & wholeness" the other means to "rein in or curb the feelings or thoughts of the mind."

 

When you put the two words together it conveys the message: do not let anything -- negative thoughts, emotions or feelings -- cause you to be ruled by fear or insecurity.

 

We are to rein in those thoughts, tearing down the lies we believe with God’s truth, and demolishing everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.

 

This is not accomplished by sheer human willpower, but through the power of the Holy Spirit. He dwells in us. He is ever ready to strengthen you in His words of hope.

 

We must learn to wait without wavering, and we must recognize that the wait can be a positive experience. For learning to wait is learning to persevere.

 

Psalm 33:20-22 (ESV) 20  Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 21  For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 22  Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.