What is your hope in this morning?
What are you clinging to or holding onto for hope?
Is it in your bank account? It’s certainly nice to have some money saved but a nice bank account want buy you happiness.
Is it your friends? Are you counting on your friends to give you hope? Friends are great and they can help us and encourage us when times are tough but, friends will let you down. Judas, one of Jesus twelve disciples, betrayed him. So even our Lord experienced this.
Is your hope in your job? That’s great and I’m sure you have a good job but, what happens when you are fired? Where is your hope then?
There is only one reliable, lasting source of hope and it’s the Lord. The prophet Isaiah said years ago, “Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary” (Isa. 40:31).
Think about the verse… “those who WAIT on the Lord, will gain new strength… they will run and not get tired…” Obviously, Isaiah is using a metaphor there… He is saying if our hope is in the Lord, He will give us strength. Even when we are tried, He will give us strength.
So, where is your hope today?
Is it in your team? Ok, what if they lose?
Is it in your new car or new phone? Ok, what happens when your car gets it’s first scratch or you drop your phone and break it?
I know those examples are trivial but you get the point. Our hope… Our strength… must be in one place and one place alone and that is the Lord.
Last night, I attended a wedding rehearsal at Ballground, Ga. The rehearsal supper was held at Downtown Kitchen, in Canton. Just before the meal, the grandfather of the groom was asked to pray. He is 92 years old.
As he prayed he said, “The two most important words in the Bible are ‘Jesus’ and ‘love.'” I like that… of all the words in the Bible, the two most important are “Jesus” and love.”
As I thought about what he said, I thought, “that’s what we should be known for… Jesus and love.”
Think about it… far too often Christians are known for something we are against or church-squabbles or judging people… Instead, we should be marked by and known for love.
I John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Love begins with God. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” God loved us so much He sent His Son to save us.
Jesus loved us so much He gave His life on the cross of Calvary. “Love” is found throughout the Bible.
Jesus said we should be known for love. He said, “The whole world will know you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
Jesus loved everyone. A person’s background didn’t matter… their past didn’t matter… their mistakes didn’t matter. Jesus loved everyone.
His people… Christians…us… you and me…. we should be marked by love.
Today, don’t be a hater… share God’s love with someone.
Is there any hope?
That’s what many people are asking.
“Is there any hope?”
Is there any hope that I can beat my alcohol or drug addiction?
Is there any hope that my marriage can better?
Is there any hope that I can get a better job?
If there is just a glimmer of hope, that’s all we need. When we are down… discouraged… depressed…. just a little light gives us hope.
In fact, I asked myself that recently… “is there any hope?” The answer I received was, “Yes, there is hope… aa long as God is on the throne, there is hope.”
I think about the people of Israel…. when Pharoah gave them harsh working conditions. They asked God, “Is there any hope?” There was… his name was Moses.
I think about African-American slaves… they worked the cotton fields… they saw other slaves beaten.. they had to ask themselves “is there any hope?” There was.. and they often sang the words that gave them hope.
In Isaiah 35, the prophet speaks of a time when things would be better.. a time when they would have hope.
Isaiah writes, “Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees” (Isaiah 35:1-3).
Notice Isaiah says, “… strengthen those with tired hands… encourage those who have weak knees.”
Maybe your hands are tired… maybe your knees are weak. The Lord says to you and me… there is hope. Things may not get better tomorrow but, there is hope. As long as God is on the throne, there is hope.
Have you ever awakened in the middle of the night… you lie there… your minds begins to think about things you need to do… and you can’t go back to sleep. You try and try… you toss and turn until eventually, you just get up. You can’t sleep. Instead of tossing and turning, what should you do? Why not count your blessings? Why not think about how God has helped you?
That’s what David did in Psalm 63. David said, “For Thou hast been my help, And in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy” (63:7).
David says, “God, you have been my help…” God has helped us all. Just recently I was reminded of how God has blessed me in the past. As my mind went through the past couple of years, I was reminded of how God has blessed… God has given money in the times we needed it. God has given me jobs at the times I needed them.
But notice also David says, “And in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy.” What did David mean by “the shadow of Thy wings?” David very likely had the mercy seat in mind. The cover of the ark was the mercy seat. On each end of it, there were cherubim with large outstretched wings. The last David had seen of the ark was when the priests bore it back over the hill toward Jerusalem. As David watched the ark being taken, perhaps it reminded David that the throne he looked at as a believer, was a throne of grace. It was a mercy seat. The shadow of outstretched wings fell upon the mercy seat… which led David to pray, “In the shadow of Thy wings I will rejoice.”
So, the next time you are down… the next time you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, remember how God has helped you and remember the grace of God and “in the shadow of His wings rejoice.”
Back in the early ’90’s, Holli and I attended a conference on the Home that was held in Jackson, MS. One of the speakers was Dennis Rainey. Dennis and his wife had five children, one of which, was adopted.
One time during the conference, I was on the elevator at the same time he was. I asked him which one of his children was adopted? He thought for a moment and said, “You know, I don’t know which one is.”
He knew… but his point was none of them were singled out because of adoption. All of them were his children.
In Galations 4:7, the apostle Paul said, “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”
Ok, get the picture; before Jesus came into the world, we were human beings who could not save ourselves. We were sinners. But, when Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He paid our sin debt and, anyone… regardless of color, creed, socioeconomic status etc… can ask Jesus to come into their hearts. When we do, although we are not biologically children of God, we are adopted into the Kingdom of God and an adopted child is equal to a biological child.
Whenever you are down, discouraged… depressed… you think you are worthless… be reminded that if you are a Christian, you have been adopted into the family of God. You didn’t deserve it but God loves us and adopted us.
I share this post not to draw attention or for sympathy but to share a truth that perhaps will minister to someone. In the last two-and-one-half years Holli and I have gone through some times where finances were tight. Thank the Lord, somehow, someway, God always provides. Recently my mind turned to an old gospel song…
“I don’t worry about tomorrow, I just live from day to day.
I don’t borrow from it’s sunshine, For the skies may turn to gray.
I don’t worry, O’er the future. For I know what Jesus said.
And today, I’ll walk beside Him. For He knows what is ahead.”
Most of us are familiar with that verse… I’m very familiar with that verse. But as I listened to the song recently, God spoke to me in the second verse;
“I don’t know about tomorrow. It may bring me poverty.
But the one who feeds the sparrow, He’s the one who stands by me.”
Notice those lines… “it may bring me poverty…” God doesn’t keep us from trials. Sometimes, the money is tight. Sometimes, there may be no money… but God promises to walk with us through it. Just as He feeds the sparrow, He will feed and provide for us.
Do you struggle with your thought life? Is there something you are worried about and although you know you shouldn’t worry, you do? I understand… I’ve been there. Lots of people… maybe most people have been there.
Isaiah 26:3 says, “He will keep thee in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on Thee.” Think about that verse.
Peace is something everyone wants. Someone might ask a person, “what do you want the most?” And they might respond, “World peace.”
But in addition to world peace, as individuals, we want peace. Some seek peace in a glass of alcohol. Some seek peace… an instant high… in drug use. Some seek peace in a trip or a shopping spree. Some may go on a hike or go to a secluded place to find peace.
But Isaiah tells us, we can have peace right where we are. We don’t have to take a trip… we don’t have to go on a shopping spree.
Isaiah says, “He will keep thee in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on Thee..” So, instead of focusing on our problems, we should stay fixed on Jesus.
Do you remember the story of the disciples in the boat and a storm came up? In the midst of that, Jesus came to the disciples walking on the water. The disciples were stunned. Peter said “Lord, if it is you… let me come to you on the water” and Jesus told him to come.
Simon Peter took a few steps and then, he took his eyes off Jesus to see a wave and when he did, he began to go under. He cried out to Jesus and Jesus saved him. As long as he was fixed on Jesus, he was fine. But when he took his eyes off Christ, he began to sink.
The same thing happens with us. Isaiah says, “He will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is fixed on Thee.” I don’t know what you are struggling with today, but Jesus promises to be with us… we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.