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Faithlife Corporation

The Audacity of Hope

Notes & Transcripts

HOPE IS A WORD THAT GETS THROWN AROUND A LOT TODAY. WE’RE ALWAYS USING IT. WE EVEN HAVE IT IN OUR POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS. IN FACT, THE MAN FROM HOPE, HAS NOW BECOME THE MEN FROM HOPE. ANOTHER POLITICAL CANDIDATE HAS WRITTEN A BOOK HE ENTITLED, THE AUDACITY OF HOPE. I’M NOT SURE HOW MUCH HOPE THEY ARE REALLY GIVING, BUT THEY’RE SURE USING THE WORD A LOT. IT’S A VERY POPULAR TERM IN THIS POLITICAL SEASON. ALMOST MAKES YOU AFRAID TO USE IT AT A TIME LIKE THIS . . . ALMOST.

BUT WE CAN’T ABANDON THE WORD BECAUSE IT IS SUCH A BIBLICAL CONCEPT. NOT THE “HOPE” WE THINK ABOUT WHEN WE SAY THE WORD, “HOPE,” BECAUSE, MANY TIME WHEN WE SAY THE WORD, WE MEAN SOMETHING LIKE THIS. “HEY, THINK YOU’LL WIN THE PUBLISHER’S CLEARING HOUSE SWEEPSTAKES?” WE SAY, “BOY, I SURE HOPE SO.” IT’S SORT OF LIKE SAY, “YEAH, IT WOULD BE GREAT, BUT I’M SURE NOT COUNTING ON IT.”

THAT’S NOT THE BIBLICAL IDEA OF “HOPE.” BIBLICAL HOPE IS VERY DEFINITE. BIBLICAL HOPE IS SAYING, “IT’S IN THE BANK, I’VE JUST NOT COLLECTED IT YET.” BIBLICAL HOPE IS, “I KNOW THE SCORE BEFORE THE GAME BEGINS.” BIBLICAL HOPE IS, “I MIGHT NOT HAVE IT YET, BUT ITS AS GOOD AS MINE.” THAT’S BIBLICAL HOPE AND IT’S EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED WHEN YOU COME TO A TIME LIKE THIS: BIBLICAL “KNOW-SO” KIND OF HOPE.

IT’S THAT HOPE PAUL SPOKE ABOUT IN THE 15TH CHAPTER OF 1 CORINTHIANS. EVIDENTLY THERE WERE SOME PEOPLE GOING AROUND TEACHING THAT WHEN YOU DIED YOU JUST STAYED IN THE GROUND. DEATH WAS THE END AND THERE WAS NOTHING ELSE. PAUL REACTED TO THESE GLOOMY HERETICS. HE SAID IN 15:19 IF IN THIS LIFE ONLY WE HAVE HOPE IN CHRIST, WE ARE TO BE PITIED ABOVE ALL OTHER MEN.

HE WAS SAYING, “HEY, IF THIS LIFE IS ALL WE HAVE TO LOOK FORWARD TO, WE’RE IN THE WRONG BUSINESS. WE’RE FOLLOWING THE WRONG SAVIOR.” BUT HE GOES ON TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT WE DO HAVE MORE TO LOOK FORWARD TO. THIS LIFE IS JUST THE PREPARATION FOR THE NEXT. THERE IS A GREAT HOPE FOR SOMETHING ELSE. ALL THAT WE HAVE SEEN TO THIS POINT IS JUST THE WARM UP FOR THE REAL GAME THAT STARTS WHEN WE DO WHAT MS HILDA DID THIS PAST WEDNESDAY: WHEN WE REACH OUT AND TAKE THE HAND OF OUR SAVIOR AND HE WRAPS HIS ARMS AROUND US AND SAYS, “WELL DONE, GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT. YOU HAVE BEEN FAITHFUL OVER A FEW THINGS. I WILL MAKE YOU RULER OVER MANY. ENTER INTO THE JOY OF THE LORD. NOW . . . THAT’S HOPE!

YOU MAY SAY, WELL, THAT’S GOOD FOR HER. WE ALL BELIEVE SHE’S BETTER OFF. IN THOSE LAST TWO OR THREE MONTHS OF HER LIFE, SHE REALLY SUFFERED. WE KNOW THAT SHE’S SO HAPPY TODAY THAT SHE WOULDN’T WANT TO COME BACK TO US EVEN IF SHE COULD. I KNOW ALL OF THAT . . . BUT WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE ME? HOW AM I GOING TO GET BY? HOW AM I GOING TO FACE THE LOSS OF A WIFE; THE LOSS OF MY MOM; THE LOSS OF MY GRANDMOTHER, MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER; THE LOSS OF MY FRIEND?

WELL, THAT’S WHERE YOUR HOPE COMES IN. YOU SEE, THE HOPE THAT JESUS GIVES ISN’T JUST FOR THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY IN HEAVEN, ITS FOR US WHO STILL LIVE IN THE DIRTY, NASTY RIGHT NOW. WHAT DOES THAT HOPE DO FOR US.

WELL, 1 COR. 15:50 TELLS US THAT, IN THE FIRST PLACE, OUR HOPE:

DIV 1: INFORMS US.

THAT VERSE SAYS

NOW THIS I SAY, BRETHREN, THAT FLESH AND BLOOD CANNOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD; NOR DOES CORRUPTION INHERIT INCORRUPTION. 51 BEHOLD, I TELL YOU A MYSTERY: WE SHALL NOT ALL SLEEP, BUT WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED— 52 IN A MOMENT, IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE, AT THE LAST TRUMPET. FOR THE TRUMPET WILL SOUND, AND THE DEAD WILL BE RAISED INCORRUPTIBLE, AND WE SHALL BE CHANGED. 53 FOR THIS CORRUPTIBLE MUST PUT ON INCORRUPTION, AND THIS MORTAL MUST PUT ON IMMORTALITY.

OUR BLESSED HOPE TELLS US THAT ONE DAY WE’RE GOING TO BE SET FREE FROM THESE CORRUPTIBLE BODIES. AND MS. HILDA HAD EXPERIENCED THAT “CORRUPTION” FIRST HAND. WE ALL REMEMBER HER AS A GRACEFUL, LADY WHO, EVEN IN HER SEVENTIES, WAS STILL BEAUTIFUL. IN FACT, WHEN SHE HAD THE STROKE, SHE DIDN’T WANT OTHERS TO REALLY SEE HER BECAUSE SHE HAD TAKEN SUCH GREAT CARE OF HER APPEARANCE FOR SO MANY YEARS.

AND THEN SHE HAD LOST MOBILITY AND COULDN’T EVEN GET UP AND DOWN ALONE. SHE DIDN’T REALLY WANT TO LIVE LIKE THAT AND SO GOD HAD MERCY. ON WEDNESDAY HE SAID, “HILDA, YOU’VE PUT UP WITH THAT CORRUPTION LONG ENOUGH. I’M SETTING YOU FREE. COME ON UP AND PUT ON YOUR INCORRUPTIBLE BODY.”

AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT NOBODY HAS TO LIFT HER UP TODAY. NO BODY HAS TO COMB HER HAIR FOR HER TODAY. NOBODY HAS TO TAKE CARE OF HER TODAY. SHE’S GOT A NEW BODY.

AND THAT’S OUR HOPE, TOO. ALL OF US, WHETHER WE REALIZE IT OR NOT, ARE BEING CORRUPTED. SLOWLY AND SOMETIMES NOT SO SLOWLY, WE LOSE WHAT WE USED TO HAVE, BUT WE HAVE A KNOW SO KIND OF HOPE THAT TELLS US, ONE DAY, GOD’S GOING TO SAY, “YOU’VE PUT UP WITH THAT CORRUPTION LONG ENOUGH. I’M SETTING YOU FREE.

OUR HOPE INFORMS US. BUT ALSO OUR HOPE

DIV2 ASSURES US

IN V. 54 PAUL SAYS

SO WHEN THIS CORRUPTIBLE HAS PUT ON INCORRUPTION, AND THIS MORTAL HAS PUT ON IMMORTALITY, THEN SHALL BE BROUGHT TO PASS THE SAYING THAT IS WRITTEN: “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.” “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING? O HADES, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY?”THE STING OF DEATH IS SIN, AND THE STRENGTH OF SIN IS THE LAW. 57 BUT THANKS BE TO GOD, WHO GIVES US THE VICTORY THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

I LOVE THE WAY EUGENE PARAPHARSES THIS PASSAGE IN THE MESSAGE. HE WRITES

THEN THE SAYING WILL COME TRUE: DEATH SWALLOWED BY TRIUMPHANT LIFE! WHO GOT THE LAST WORD, OH, DEATH? OH, DEATH, WHO’S AFRAID OF YOU NOW?

WHEN I WAS IN THE HOSPITAL ROOM WITH THE FAMILY THIS PAST WEDNESDAY, I REMEMBERED JOHN 11 WHERE, AT THE FUNERAL OF LAZARUS, THE BIBLE SAYS THAT WHEN JESUS SAW MARY AND MARTHA WEEPING OVER THE DEATH OF THEIR BROTHER, LAZARUS, HE GROANED WITHIN HIMSELF. ALL OF US HAVE FELT THAT GROAN AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER. DEATH SEEMS SO FINAL TO US. IT SEEMS SO INEVITABLE. IT IS THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM WE DON’T LIKE TO THINK ABOUT AND WE CERTAINLY DON’T LIKE TO TALK ABOUT IT.

ISN’T IT IRONIC THAT THE ONE OF THE FEW EXPERIENCES EVERY ONE OF US WILL FACE IS THE VERY EXPERIENCE NONE OF US LIKE TO DISCUSS? WHY NOT? BECAUSE IT’S A SAD THING. SOMETIMES IT’S A PAINFUL THING. AND IT SEEMS LIKE SUCH A FINAL THING. THIS GREAT ENEMY OF LIFE; THIS GREAT FOE OF OUR WELL-BEING, WE DON’T LIKE TO CONSIDER, BUT I HAVE TO TELL YOU. THE FOE HAS BEEN DISARMED.

YOU KNOW, WHEN I READ THAT PASSAGE OF SCRIPTURE WE JUST READ, I’M REMINDED OF A FOOTBALL GAME. THE PICTURE I GET IN MY MIND IS OF A WIDE RECEIVER WHO GOES UNCOVERED FOR A BOMB AND THE PAUL DROPS PERFECTLY INTO HIS ARMS AND THE NEAREST DEFENDER IS TWENTY YARDS BEHIND HIM. AT THE FIVE YARD LINE HE HOLDS OUT THE BALL TO THE HELPLESS DEFENDER WHO CAN ONLY WATCH HIM SCORE BUT CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. THAT’S THE PICTURE OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO DEATH IN THE LIFE OF A CHRISTIAN. THAT ENEMY THAT USED TO STRIKE FEAR IN OUR HEARTS; THAT ENEMY THAT USED TO KEEP US UP AT NIGHT WONDERING WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO US IF WE WERE TO DIE. THAT OLD ENEMY CALLED DEATH HASN’T JUST BEEN DEFEATED—HE’S BEEN EMBARRASSED.

AS THE MESSAGE SAYS:

DEATH SWALLOWED BY TRIUMPHANT LIFE! WHO GOT THE LAST WORD, OH, DEATH? OH, DEATH, WHO’S AFRAID OF YOU NOW?

OUR BLESSED HOPE TELLS US THAT DEATH IS NOT SOMETHING WE HAVE TO FEAR. IT HAS BEEN DEFEATED. OUR HOPE INFORMS US AND OUR HOPE ASSURES US. BUT THERE’S ONE MORE THING OUT HOPE DOES FOR US AND THIS MAY BE THE BEST THING OF ALL. OUR HOPE ALSO

DIV. 3: INSPIRES US

THE PASSAGE TURNS A CORNER IN V 58. PAUL DRAWS IT ALL TO A CONCLUSION AND SAYS, “THEREFORE”. IN OTHER WORDS, BECAUSE OF ALL I’VE SAID; BECAUSE OF THIS GREAT HOPE YOU HAVE THAT DEATH IS DEFEATED AND THAT WE, TOO, WILL STEP OUT OF THIS CORRUPTIBLE BODY IN TO AN INCORRUPTIBLE ONE, WHAT SHOULD WE DO RIGHT NOW? HE TELLS US THINGS:

FIRST, LITERALLY, “PLANT YOUR FEET.” LIKE A BATTER GOING INTO THE BATTER’S BOX, DIGGING HIS FEET INTO THE DIRT. PLANT YOUR FEET AND BE ABSOLUTELY UNMOVABLE. DON’T ALLOW THE IMAGES YOU HAVE SEEN OF THIS SHELL OF A BODY TO HAUNT YOU; DON’T ALLOW THE QUESTIONS OF “WHY” ASSAIL YOU; DON’T LISTEN TO THE DEVIL OF DOUBT AS HE QUESTIONS YOU. PLANT YOUR FEET; DIG IN; BE UNMOVABLE

THEN HE SAYS SOMETHING ELSE. HE SAYS, “ALWAYS ABOUND OR EXCEL IN THE WORK OF THE LORD.” IN OTHER WORDS, “GET BUSY.” IF THERE’S SOMETHING TO DIE FOR, THEN THERE’S SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR. WHY DO I EXCEL IN THE WORK OF THE LORD? DO I JUST DO IT TO TAKE MY MIND OFF OF MY LOSS? O NO! I DO IT BECAUSE I KNOW SOME THINGS:

I KNOW THAT EVEN NOW, EVERY SINGLE LETTER MS. HILDA EVER TYPED FOR TONY AND HIZ KIDS, SHE’S BEING REWARDED FOR; EVERY KIND WORD SHE SAID TO A HURTING CHURCH MEMBER, SHE’S BEING REWARDED FOR; EVERY NIGHT WHEN SHE STAYED UP LATE OR GOT UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT SO THAT GORDON COULD BE READY TO WORK THE NEXT DAY AND WIN SOMEBODY TO JESUS, SHE’S BEING REWARDED FOR. HER LABOR WASN’T IN VAIN.

AND HERE’S THE GREATEST THING: OUR’S WON’T BE IN VAIN EITHER. OUR HOPE, REALIZED NOW BY MS. HILDA, IS WHAT KEEPS US GOING. WE KNOW THAT JUST LIKE HE MET HER WHEN SHE CAME HOME, HE’LL MEET US; HE’LL WRAP HIS ARMS AROUND US; AND HE’LL SAY, “WELL, DONE, GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT. YOU’VE BEEN FAITHFUL OVER A FEW THINGS, I’LL MAKE YOU RULER OVER MANY. ENTER INTO THE JOY OF THE LORD.”

AND SINCE WE HAVE THIS HOPE WE ARE STEADFAST, UNMOVABLE, ALWAYS ABOUNDING IN THE WORK OF THE LORD BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT OUR LABOR IS NOT IN VAIN IN THE LORD

OVER FIFTY YEARS AGO, ON A BATTLE SHIP IN NORFOLK VA, BRO. GORDON GAVE HIS HEART TO CHRIST. EVEN AS THE ANGELS REJOICED IN HEAVEN, GOD SAW THIS DAY.

NOT LONG AFTER THAT, AFTER A WHIRLWIND ROMANCE GORDON MARRIED THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE AND AS THAT YOUNG COUPLE MARCHED DOWN THE AISLE NEWLY MARRIED, GOD SAW THIS DAY.

THEY ENTERED THE MINISTRY TOGETHER, GORDON WORKING LIKE CRAZY TO BUILD CHURCHES AS HILDA WORKED EVEN HARDER TO MAKE A HOME FOR THREE CHILDREN AND EVEN AS THEY WORKED, SOMETIMES MUCH TOO HARD, GOD SAW THIS DAY.

THEY CAME TO WILSON TO WHAT WAS THEN A STRUGGLING TINY CHURCH AND AS THEY BEGAN TO PUT THEIR ROOTS DOWN IN THIS COMMUNITY, GOD SAW THIS DAY.

A YEAR AGO GORDON RETIRED AND AS WE HONORED HIM AND MS. HILDA FOR WHAT THEY MEAN TO US, NONE OF US COULD SEE THIS COMING, BUT GOD DID. GOD SAW THIS DAY.

IT WAS BACK IN OCTOBER WHEN WE RECEIVED THE NEWS THAT MS. HILDA HAD SUFFERED A STROKE. WE PRAYED FOR A HEALING, NO MATTER HOW INCOMPLETE OR TEMPORARY IT MIGHT BE, BUT GOD KNEW BETTER. HE SAW THIS DAY. HE DECIDED NOT TO MESS AROUND WITH A TEMPORARY HEALING. HE HEALED HER COMPLETELY

FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, HE HAS SEEN THE END. HE HAS BEEN FAITHFUL ALL THE WAY THROUGH. NOT A STEP HAS BEEN TAKEN THAT HE DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT. THERE HASN’T BEEN ONE MOMENT THAT HE WASN’T THERE WATCHING WITH GREAT LOVE, GREAT CARE, GREAT PATIENCE AND GREAT SOVEREIGNTY. HE HAS BEEN FAITHFUL.

THE SONG WRITER SAYS:

I CAN'T REMEMBER A TRIAL OR A PAIN HE DID

NOT RECYCLE TO BRING ME GAIN. I CAN'T

REMEMBER ONE SINGLE REGRET IN SERVING

GOD ONLY AND TRUSTING HIS HAND

THIS IS MY ANTHEM, THIS IS MY SONG, THETHEME OF THE STORIES I'VE HEARD FOR SO LONG.

GOD HAS BEEN FAITHFUL, HE WILL BE AGAIN.

HIS LOVING COMPASSION, IT KNOWS NO END

ALL I HAVE NEED OF HIS HAND WILL PROVIDE.

HE'S ALWAYS BEEN FAITHFUL TO ME

OVER THE PAST YEAR, THEY TRAVELED

ancer is limit

It cannot cripple love,

It cannot corrode faith,

It cannot eat away peace,

It cannot destroy confidence,

It cannot kill a friendship,

It cannot shut out memories,

It cannot silence courage,

It cannot invade the soul,

It cannot reduce eternal life,

It cannot quench the spirit,

It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection.

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