I want to share with you, one of the most important messages for the church today, that is, the importance of hope. We are living in the last days and the world has never been in a more hopeless condition. As believers in Christ, we have a wonderful message of hope that we can share with others.
Hope is so important, that we cannot live without it. We read in Proverbs 13:12 we read, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when a desire comes it is a tree of life.” If we have desires and expectations and they do not come to pass it can have a devastating effect on our lives. It can cause sickness, not only in our hearts and in our emotions but even in our bodies. The second part of this verse says, “when a desire comes it is a tree of life.” There is nothing more wonderful and life giving than to see our dreams, desires and expectations come to pass. Therefore, we must never lose our hope!
We read in Hebrews 11:1, that “faith is the substance of things hoped for…” Hope is the foundation of faith and without it, we cannot have faith. If we can increase our level of hope, we will increase our level of faith.
Definition of hope: In the dictionary, the word hope means, “positive expectation.” However, the Biblical definition is far more powerful than this. It can mean: (1) “A joyful expectation that something good will happen in the future.” (2) “A joyful expectation that our circumstances will change for the better.” (3) “To have positive thoughts about our situation and of ourselves.” The devil would like to lie to us and tell us that if we are going through a negative situation, it will never change. Or, if we are experiencing something good, it will not continue. But on the other hand, God wants us to know, that He can change any situation and give us hope.
Keys that will enable us to have hope and to increase the level of hope:
Firstly, we must have the right perspective of who God is:
Paul says in Romans 15:13. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” First of all, God is a God of hope. It is in His very nature to give us hope and fulfill the desires of our hearts. Secondly, when we believe that He is the source of hope, we will be filled with great joy and peace. Thirdly, the Holy Spirit will cause us to abound in hope by His very presence and power.
In Romans 5:5 we read, “Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” When we really know that God loves us, we will have hope and know that God will always work things out for our good. We may not understand what we are going through, but we will have the assurance that there is something good waiting for us in the future.
God said to the Children of Israel in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God’s thoughts towards us are always good, He loves us with an everlasting love and His intention is always to do something good for us in the future. If we ever feel that life has passed us by, God wants us to know that our best years are still in the future.
Secondly, hope is developed when we read and meditate on the Word of God.
We read in Romans 15:4, “… that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” For every hopeless situation, there is a promise in the Bible. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says that, “all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” Therefore, as we read and meditate on what God says in His word, we will have hope.
We have an example of hope from the life of Abraham. We read in Romans 4:18: “ (Abraham) Who, contrary to hope, in hope believed.” In other words, when the situation seemed so hopeless, He still believed and had hope. The secret to his hope is found in verses 19-21: First of all, “… he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.” The word, ‘consider’ means: “To think about it all the time or to study in depth.” He did not spend all his time thinking, “Woe is me, I am so old, and Sarah is too old to have children.”
In the same way, we need to stop dwelling on the negative things in our lives and what is happening around us. Although we cannot deny that they exist, we do not have to be occupied with them all the time. We must also be careful what we watch, read or listen to. This especially applies to the media, which is mostly so negative.
The second thing that Abraham did was, “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.” In other words he focused on what God had promised him. God told him that his descendants would be “as the stars of the sky.” In the same way, we should fill our hearts and our minds with the word of God and on His promises. As we do so, our hope will increase, for the word of God is the source of our hope!
Thirdly, hope comes through the words that we speak:
The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Our words will affect our lives. If we want to experience life, we must speak would of life! In 1 Peter 3:10 we read, “He who would love life and see good days, (or to have hope for the future) let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile.” In other words, to see good days and to love life, we must stop speaking negative destructive words. Our words will affect our lives!
It says in Job 22:28, “You will also declare a thing and it will be established for you; so light will shine on your ways.” If we find ourselves in dark hopeless situations, it is important that we speak words of hope. As we do so, the light of hope will begin to shine into these dark situations.
One of the best illustrations of hope in the Old Testament is found In Ezekiel 37. This is the story of Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones. God showed Ezekiel a valley full of dry bones, a total hopeless situation! God then asks him, whether these bones can live again. Ezekiel answers and says, “Lord, only You know.” He probably thought that the bones are so dry and have been lying in the scorching sun so long, that there is no way that they could live again.
In the same way, it is possible that our negative situations have continued for such a long time that we have decided just to live with it. For example, I have been sick for so long, so many people have prayed for me and nothing has happened. I may as well just accept my sickness and live with it. Or, I have been battling with this problem so long, nothing will ever change. It is just too hopeless. We can become so used to our problems, that we do not expect anything to change!
In verse 4 God says to him, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.” In other words, say to these bones, ‘this is what God says, “you shall live!”’ We read about how he spoke to these bones and in verse 7, these bones began to move. He speaks again to these bones in verse 9, and these bones stood up and became a great army. In the same way, we can speak words of hope into the hopeless situations of our lives. As we do so and continue to do so, we will be able to bring new hope into hopeless situations.
We read in Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” There are two important phrases here, ‘hold fast’ and ‘without wavering.’ In other words, “do not give up speaking words of hope even if things do not change immediately!”
I once heard amazing testimony: A woman one day approach a pastor to pray for her 15 year old son. She said, “Please pray for my son, he is so rebellious, he comes home drunk and he won’t go to church and do anything I tell him.” The pastor answered her and said, “Sorry sister, you have spoken so many negative words over your son, my prayers will not work.” At this she went home angry and disappointed. Then she decided to change her confession. She began to declare day by day, “I have a great son, he will one day serve the Lord, he will be a great blessing to me, I love my son very much, etc” At first nothing happened, in fact he got worse! Then one day, one and a half years later, he returned home drunk and said to his mother. “Mamma, I am going to church with you tomorrow!” To cut a long story short, he received Jesus, was baptized with the Holy Spirit. He later went to Bible school and became a pastor.
Fourthly, hope comes when we remember the good things that God has done for us in the past.
In Lamentations 3:21 we read, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.” In other words, hope comes when remember the wonderful things that God has done for us in the past. This is what the children of Israel failed to do when they went through difficult times in the wilderness. Instead of recalling all the wonderful miracles of the past, they complained about the present and perished in the wilderness without hope.
In Psalm 77:12, the Psalmist writes, “I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.” We should all be able to remember the wonderful things that God has done for us in the past. In my case, I can remember how God has healed me, answered my prayers, provided for me and rescued me from difficult situations. I can remember the miracles that I have seen, the wonderful schools that we have held and above all, the wonderful experience I had with Jesus when I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior in 1970. I remember how the heavens seemed to open, an incredible joy that came into my heart when Jesus took away my burden of sin and forgave me all my sins.
If we can remember the wonderful things that God has done for us in the past, we will have hope to believe that He will again do wonderful things for us in the future and even more than before.
Fifthly, we will have hope when we see things things in the light of eternity.
Our greatest hope is that one day we will be with Jesus for all eternity. We read in Colossians 1:27: “Christ is in you, the hope of glory.” Therefore, no matter what happens to us on earth, we have a wonderful eternity destiny ahead of us. In 1 Corinthians 15:19 Paul writes and says, “If in this life we only have hope, then we are of all men the most miserable.” In other words, the hope we have on earth is nothing compared to the hope we will one day have in eternity! We read in Hebrews 6:18-19 that our hope is “anchor for our soul that goes behind the veil (in eternity)” When we see things from the light of eternity, we will never lose our hope.
We read in Zechariah 9:12, “Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.” The stronghold mentioned here, is the stronghold of hope. It is important that we are always in a place where we never lose our hope. Our churches, our homes and even our personal lives should always be a source of hope to others. It says here, “I will restore double to you.” God wants to do even greater things for us in the future! Hope will open us up to live in God’s abundant blessing. Therefore, “… may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Amen