From Hopelessness to Hopefulness

From Hopelessness to Hopefulness

Are you hoping in something that may or may not come? Or are you hoping in the promises of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Well hey there everybody and welcome to our time of Bible study this morning. I’m excited today because it starts the Season of Advent. We’re entering a time where we would begin to anticipate the coming of the Messiah as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Throughout the next several weeks we’ll be looking at the different themes of the Advent season. You know, it’s a time where we hope for things to come and we have peace because the Lord brings us peace and we have love because Jesus shows us what love is and how to love and that God so loved the world and it brings us great joy and it’s just a time of year where we look forward to that celebration.  We look forward to the future as well. And so I, I just want to encourage you to join us each week as we go through a series of Advent sermons.

Today the first thing we’re going to look at is hope.  Going from hopelessness to hopefulness. And if you have your Bibles, I would invite you to turn to 1 Peter 1:3-5.  The Apostle Peter shares with us where our hope comes from. It’s such an encouraging passage of scripture.

Not too long ago, I heard this story about a man who was walking down the street.  He came across a Little League baseball game and he walked up and there’s this little boy sitting in the dugout. And the man said, well, hey, there son, how’s the game going?  And the boy said, not too good. It’s 20 to nothing and we’re losing. The man goes, oh my goodness, you must be discouraged. The little boy kind of stood up says why would I be discouraged? We haven’t even got to bat yet.  You see that little boy had a hope that when his team would get up to bat, I guess the bottom of the first inning, they would be able to score 21 or 22 runs. I guess that hope spilled over into the second inning where he was hopeful that they would find a way to not give up 20 runs the next inning, because that’s what hope is.

We put our hope and our faith and our trust in something that is going to happen in the future. We may not know exactly what that is, but we’re hopeful.  We talked about it a lot of last several weeks, but I think many of us around the world are hopeful that 2021 is going to be much different than 2020. We’re hopeful that the world is going to get back to “normal” and we don’t have to live in the “new normal” anymore. But, you know, we hope for a lot of things in this world, right?  We hope that there’s going to be a vaccine. We hope that the economy is going to stay strong.  If you’re retired, you’re hoping that your 401K or your 403B remains strong, that you have enough money to live on. If you get sick, you’re hoping that the doctors will be able to give you medicine and give you the right treatment. If you’re having children, you may have hopes and dreams for what your children are going to grow up to become.  And we all have those hopes and those desires, but I don’t know if you’re like me, you probably are, maybe not, but you’ve probably put your hope in something and then that something doesn’t happen. And when we hope for something and we just pour all this energy into being hopeful that this is going to happen, and when it doesn’t happen, we can be left feeling hopelessness.

You know, we live in a world that is searching for hope because there is so much hopelessness going around.  People are searching and they’re looking around. They’re asking the question where can we find hope? Because I’m just hopeless.  Well, the world we live in today is not really all that different from the world in which Peter lived in.  Peter’s writing this to a church that is going through a time of hopelessness.  He’s writing to people who have lost their jobs because of their faith in Jesus Christ. He’s writing to people who have been thrown in jail because of their faith in Jesus Christ.  He’s writing to people who have lost everything, and they’re experiencing hopelessness, and many of them may be asking the question, is this life really worth it? Was it worth losing my friends? Is it worth losing my family members? I mean they would have been outright rejected for turning to Christianity by their friends and by their families.

And so Peter writes this letter to encourage them, and at the very beginning he starts with this idea of in a hopeless world, in what seems like hopeless circumstances you have hope, and it’s a hope unlike anything else that the world has to offer. Because no matter what, it will never disappoint you.

The hope that we have in Jesus Christ is eternal and everlasting, and so if you have your Bibles open, here’s what Peter writes to this church that is struggling. He starts out, he says, “Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Now I don’t know about you but if I’m going through bad circumstances and I’m going through challenges and I’m experiencing things that I never thought I would experience in my life and I get a letter that says bless it be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, I might be scratching my head a little bit, and it’s quite possible the original readers may have read that first line and been like you know what?

But what do have to be blessed with. I mean why should we feel this way? We’ve lost everything and Peter’s like I’m glad you’re asking that question. So just let me continue. So here’s what he says. “According to his great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

The very first thing we see is that our new life in Jesus Christ gives us our new living eternal hope.  You know when Peter continues to go through chapter one, he says this in verse 23, “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.”  You know we all experience a natural birth. I mean, I’m sure if you’re watching this, you were born at some point in time.  If not, it would be strange that you were watching this.  But when you are born, there’s a clock that starts ticking almost immediately and it starts at a number that none of us are aware of but God is.  It begins to countdown to zero. And when that countdown clock reaches zero, we die.  These bodies die to our life here on Earth is going to end. All of us are going to experience that clock hitting zero at some point in time. But when I look around in the world, I see us trying to extend our time, right? We take vitamins and we take medicines. And all those things are good. I would never say anything bad about those things.  But we’re trying so hard to extend that countdown clock, and we’re trying to avoid that clock reaching zero because life is precious and life is important in life is good. But when you are in Christ, you are given a new life. And when you make a decision to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, when you put your faith and your trust in Him, in that moment, another clock starts to tick.

And that clock is not a countdown clock, it’s a count up clock. Because when you decide to follow Jesus, you start at zero and it starts ticking 1-2-3 and that clock will tick all the way through eternity. It will never have to have its batteries changed. You’ll never have to stop and wind it up. You’ll never have to get a new one. It will never stop ticking and in 10,000 years in heaven it will still be ticking because that is what your new life gives you. An eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ.

There was this guy named Nicodemus who comes to Jesus and asked the question is like how can I be born again? He wants to know how to reverse his clock or change the clock. He wants to know how to have that count up clock and Jesus says to be born again, you have to be born of a spirit and water in John Chapter 3. Jesus kind of explains through it, and I’m paraphrasing, it has to be reborn. And Nicodemus asked the question is, well, how can I re-enter my mother’s womb?  Now Jesus is a pretty serious conversation and he’s more holy than me, but if it was me, I would have made a smart comment to that question, ’cause obviously you can’t enter your mother’s womb a second time.  And so Jesus then goes on to say no, no, I’m not talking about a physical rebirth. I’m talking about a spiritual rebirth.  Jesus says you must be born of water and spirit. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the spirit is spirit. The flesh will die, but the spirit will live forever.

You see, we have new life through Jesus Christ.  But I can tell you this one thing Nicodemus was right about was he had nothing to do with his initial birth, right? We had nothing to do with being born the first time and we have nothing to do with being born the second time. It is the work of God because of His grace and because of His mercy and through faith alone in Christ alone, we can experience a new life.  This new life gives us a new hope and our new life comes through the resurrection of Jesus.  Nothing else.  Our new life comes through the resurrection of Jesus. Look at it again according to God’s great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope, a lasting hope, an eternal hope, a hope none like anything else.  A hope that is through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. For Peter, I want you to think about this, the resurrection was everything.  For you and I, the resurrection is everything. It is the most significant event of our faith.  Without the resurrection, if Jesus is died on a cross put in a tomb and if His body stays there then we’re nothing but just another religion.  But if you go over to Jerusalem today, you will see that that tomb is very much empty, because our Lord and Savior didn’t stay dead. He got up and He got out and He was resurrected and that was a game changer.  Because through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God once and for all conquered sin and death, and He was victorious over Satan.

The resurrection is the climax of the whole Bible. It is the climax of the redemptive story that God has been working in history and through history through Nehemiah and then through the 400 years and then through Jesus is life in the three years of His ministry. It’s all building up to that point of the death, crucifixion, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Because it is through the resurrection that we can have a new life and it is through the resurrection that we can have a living hope.  Because if Jesus stayed dead, then we’re going to stay dead.  But because He lives, we shall live also.

You know we could put our hope in a lot of things and I would ask you this morning. What are you hoping in?  I want to tell you this, you can hope for a vaccine. You can put your hope in a vaccine. You can put your hope in a politician. You can put your hope in a family member or a new relationship, but none of that is going to satisfy you like the everlasting eternal hope that is found in the King of Kings and the Lord of Lord. The living, breathing, resurrected Jesus Christ.  Because that is the only lasting hope.

You see, when you put your faith and trust in Him, you have a hope and an inheritance.  When you decide to follow Jesus, you become one of God’s children. He adopts you and welcomes you into His family. And so what is it that we’re hoping for? It is a hope for an eternal inheritance.  You know on this earth we may look forward to an inheritance. We may receive an inheritance when a loved one passes away, right?

You know, I know that me and my brother have often talked about the four-wheeler that my grandpa owned that my dad now owns.  My grandfather always said that hey, my brother could have that four-wheeler eventually and to be honest with you, we kind of share it now and we kind of ride on it and it’s so wore out that I’m just going to let him have it. I’m not going to fight him for it anymore, but that’s what inheritance do, right?  You know, maybe we want those fancy China or those dishes, or that special table, and that’s great. And there’s nothing wrong with the inheritance. It’s special. It’s meaningful to us, but they wear out because nothing of this earth lasts forever.

Yeah, those dishes will tarnish.  That table will eventually break.  That four-wheeler is going to be in the junkyard one day.  But the inheritance that we get from God is eternal.  It is never ending. In fact, it is described here as imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.  Nothing here on Earth is like that.  The inheritance we have in Jesus Christ is untouched by death.  Though these bodies will die, our spirits will live forever in the presence of the King of Kings.

Our inheritance is unstained by evil.  You see the blood of Jesus Christ has washed us and cleansed us and made us white as snow. And when we get to heaven and we receive that inheritance, they’ll be no evil. There will be no sin, there will be no pain, there will be no suffering. It’ll be perfect.  You see, our inheritance is not impaired by time, it is eternal. It is forever and I promise you it’s a guarantee.  You may say, well Pastor Trent, how do you know that?  Well, the Word of God says it.  The Word of God is inspired by God. It is inerrant, infallible. It just means this. Every word in the Bible is free from error.  If the Word of God makes a promise, it’s a promise from God and God will keep His promise. He always does, and God promises that we have an eternal inheritance that will never perish. It is undefiled, and it will never fade.

And so, if you place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ today, you have a never-ending hope.  A hope that will last an eternity. A hope that one day we will be reunited with loved ones. A hope that one day we will be free from the pain and sufferings of this world. A hope that one day we will stand in the throne room of God Almighty and worship Him for all eternity.  And that is the hope that Jesus brings.  Not just this Christmas and not just at Christmas, but every day for all time.

There was a man in the late 1800s. He was very wealthy Chicago lawyer.  He had a thriving legal practice. He had a beautiful home, a beautiful wife, four daughters and a son.  Life was going very well. Things were good and they as good as they could get. But in 1871 he suffered a very tragic loss. This man’s son died in that year.  Shortly after the death of his son on October the 8th, there was a great fire in Chicago that destroyed almost all the real estate investments that the man had owned.  And after a few hard years of trying to recover, the man decided he was going to take his wife and his daughters on a trip to England.  In 1873, the trip was planned and the man was forced, because of business, to stay back, but he sent his wife and his four girls ahead of him. Several days later the man received a notice that the family’s ship had encountered a problem.  In fact, they had collided with something.  His wife and four little girls we’re on that boat.  The telegram was from his wife, and it simply said 2 words, saved alone.  His wife was telling him that his four daughters had drowned at sea.  Now with the pain of that tragedy, fresh on this man’s mind, he boarded a boat and he went to join his wife.  As the boat got close, approached the area where his four daughters drowned, the captain came up and he said, hey, this is where it happened. This is where your children died.  And in that moment, a man, by the name of Horatio Spafford, wrote these words. He says, “when peace like a river, attended my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”  He goes on, “it is well with my soul, It is well with my soul, it is well with my soul.”

Few verses later, he says “let the bless it assurance control that Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul. My sin, oh, the bliss of glorious thought, my sin not in part, but the whole is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. It is well with my soul.”

You know, I don’t know how any of us would respond to that kind of tragedy.  The hope of a future with his family, the hope of a vacation came crashing down.  Hopelessness.  But in those moments, he was able to find eternal hope living hope not in his circumstances, but in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Because it was well with his soul. You see, Horatio Spafford knew something.  He knew of the resurrection, and he knew that even though he was living, and maybe the hopelessness of Saturday, or the hopelessness of Friday, he knew that Sunday was coming.  And he knew that the resurrection was coming and that’s what he held onto.

What are you holding onto?  What is your life built on?  Are you hoping in something that may or may not come?  Or are you hoping in the promises of the Lord Jesus Christ?  I would encourage you today to make a decision to follow Jesus.  To put your faith, your trust, and your hope in Him.

Let’s pray together.

Father, we know that life can be hard.  We know that a year ago, nobody knew what was going to happen in the year 2020.  We had hopes we had dreams. We had plans. Many of those things have come crashing down all around us.  And in the seemingly hopelessness that we face, Father remind us that we have an eternal hope, a living hope that is found in one and only place and it is through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And as we enter into the Advent season, help us to reflect upon those great and wonderful truths. And for those of us who have followed You faithfully help us to take that Gospel message of hope into a hopeless world.  We ask all these things in Jesus Name Amen and Amen.