HOPE 5-2-17

Andy Hollifield

1 Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.

Hope———–the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

In the US from 1999-2014 Suicide rates rose from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000 people. That is an increase of 24%. In 2009, it was the third leading cause of death in the 15-24 age group. This was the highest rate recorded in 28 years according to Wikipedia. I don’t want to get too deep in statistics and add to the problem by making this a depressing article. I do however want to use these statistics to point out a fact; we have a problem. For far too long we have ignored it in hopes of it going away but it hasn’t. It is a problem that affects all age groups, both genders, all social classes, and all races. It is not just drug crazed kids but also working parents and even men in their fifties was the largest growing group increasing up 50% to 30 per 100,000. Statistics are just that, statistics. But if you get down to the root of the problem, you have to get honest with your self. What can cause these 2 age groups in particular to get to that point; to the point that it seems that life is so bad that dying seems easier than living. Teenagers just starting life and fifty year old men nearing retirement. How can they become that hopeless to be without hope and not able to see any in the future?

The word “hope” is used 129 times in 121 verses of the bible. Job wrote extensively about being without hope using the word fifteen times. It is also used in Psalms alone 22 times and putting the emphasis and hoping in God and his word and his mercy. That is probably why we are drawn to the book of Psalms so much when we are in need of encouragement. Jeremiah may have said it best in the book of Lamentations when he wrote “This I recall to mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.” That is reading Lamentations 3:21-24. He goes on to talk further of having hope in the Lord and how he had seen the days when he had no hope. Truly we have all been there “But God!” “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-6). Had it not been for him, we would all still be without hope. Zechariah 9:12 starts off with this command “Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope”. Truly that is what we are in Christ, prisoners. We have been set free from the bondage of our sins to become a prisoner bound by our hope in the Lord because he is our stronghold. Think for a minute of the times in your life when had it not been for the Lord, you know that you would have been without hope. I am not even talking about your salvation, I am just talking about the circumstances in your life when you could not see any satisfactory conclusion to your dilemma without suffering great personal loss in some way or another. Then, the next thing you know, it is fixed. Sometimes even without warning and without explanation it is just fixed. It didn’t make sense and still doesn’t but it is fixed! When you thought you were without hope, God was still your hope. Think about that for a minute. When you THOUGHT you were without hope. I am glad that his faithfulness to us does not depend on our hope in him. When I am unable to muster faith or hope he is still faithful. When I have already reached the point of failure and admitting and accepting defeat, that is when he does his best work. He specializes in making the impossible possible. What a God we serve!

Paul spoke in Acts 27:20 of a time in his life when ALL hope that he would be saved along with those with him was taken away. He was a prisoner on a ship already but then was caught in a storm out on the sea. They endured 14 days of darkness and a shipwreck but survived and received compassion where they least expected to find it, on an island of heathen people. You may go through some dark times and storms and you may float to an island full of heathens on broken pieces of your life but as long as you have Christ in your heart, you will NEVER be without hope. Paul spoke in Romans 4 about Abraham and made this statement about him: “Who against hope believed in hope”. Roll that over in your mind. Sometimes you just have to believe in hope because believing in it is all you have. You may not be able to see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, much less feel it but just believe in it anyway. If you belong to him and deliverance don’t come in your situation and you actually lose your life while holding out hope, look at the consolation prize; HEAVEN! Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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