God Of All Hope
Max Lucado tells a story of an old man who lived in a tiny village. The man was poor, but the town’s people envied him because he owned a magnificent horse. It was a perfectly fit horse with a beautiful shiny coat. Many came to the old man begging to buy his horse, yet the man refused. He said I love my horse, this horse is a friend to me, how could I sell you my friend?
One day the old man awoke, and he found that his horse was no longer in the stable. The town’s people scolded the old man saying, you fool if you would have only listened to us at least you would have received money for the horse. Now you are cursed.
The old man responded to the town’s people this way. How can you make such judgments, all we know is that the horse is not in the stable? Whether the horse was stolen we do not know? Whether it be a curse or a blessing we do not yet know. Why must you jump to such conclusion? No one is wise enough to know such things. Only God knows."
To the surprise of the town’s people in 15 days the horse returned with a dozen more wild horses. The town’s people admitted they were wrong that God had blessed the old man.
Today as a church we stand looking into a future that we do not yet know. We know that our pastor and family are having difficulties, but we do not know what the future holds. Whether it is to be a blessing or a curse, we do not know.
One thing we do know, is that we have every reason to face the future with hope.
One dictionary says that hope is a reason to believe that something good may happen. I do believe that the church has every reason to believe that something good is going to happen.
Last week we talked about how God loves to comfort us in our trials, and that because he comforts us we can comfort each other.
2 Corinthians 1:7 says, “And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”
When I read this verse I am reminded of last week. I reminded of how everyone joined together in comforting and loving each other as the service ended. Seeing that tells me that as a church we have every reason to face the future with great hope because though we will share together in sufferings and trials, we will indeed do it together and we will share in our comfort together.
Last week God revealed himself to us as the God of all comfort. This week I believe he will reveal himself as the God of all hope.
Lets go to 1 Peter 1:3-9
In verse 3 and 6 we can see that though these people had to suffer grief in various trials that the have every reason to praise God, because in his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope.
TODAY WE HAVE HOPE BECAUSE OUR GOD IS MERCIFUL
I have often been asked what the difference is between grace and mercy.
Let me quickly explain. In God’s grace he has chosen to bless me with many things. God has blessed me with a great wife, a beautiful daughter, and an amazing church. Most of all in his grace he has blessed me with a gift of eternal life.
God’s grace is his giving us gifts that we do not deserve.
God’s mercy on the other hand is tied closely to trials and sufferings. God mercifully gives us the strength to endure trial so that in the end we will be stronger. God’s mercy gives us friends to love us when we are hurting, so that through it all we know we are not along. God’s mercy is his strong hand guiding us through the storm.
It is God’s mercy that gives us hope as we face a future that is unknown.
II. Today Our Hope will not fade, because our God lives.
Vs. 3-4 says,
He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade- kept in heaven for you.
This verse assures us as a church and as individuals that when we face all sorts of trials that our hope should never fade at all, because it is based in the fact that Jesus Christ is living today.
Is it not possible for our God to do anything? After all he rose from the grave. He was once dead and now he is alive. Our God makes the lame walk, he makes the blind see, he cures leprosy, walks on water, changes water to wine.
Our God can do anything, so why should our hope every fade? With our God is there any reason at all to look into the future and say I don’t know what is going to happen to this church?
If you want to know what is going to happen to this church in the future, then I will tell you now.
In the future this church is going to preach the gospel. In the future this church is going to truly worship the one true God. In the future this church is going seek to live according to the words of God. In the future this church will glorify God.
We will do this because our hope is not in the person who stands behind this pulpit. Our hope is not in the worship leader, the session, or the diaconate. As a church our hope is in a living God, and because he lives we will also live.
During the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of Scripture promises about God's provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour.
Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord's presence. Taking his pen, he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to many. "Give to the winds thy fears; hope, and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head. Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day."
Friends in times like these it is okay to be concerned, but I urge you do not lose hope. Give your concerns to God, and take courage. For as a church we have every reason to hope that in God’s great mercy we will come through these trials stronger than we once were. We have every hope that in the end all of the trials will prove to be blessings and not curses. As verse 7 says, These trials have come so that your faith- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Let us always give praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! For in his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope.