- ABOUT US
- Calendar and News
- READING PLAN
- The Chosen
A Christian’s Heart
“A Hope-Filled Heart”
Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_XEfKOjeoQ
Some of you may not know, but I have been on a series from the beginning of the year looking at what a Christian’s heart should look like. And so far, we’ve looked at how it is a loving, forgiving, spirit, faith, and grace filled heart. It’s also a committed, courageous, servant’s heart, and that like Jesus it is a wounded healer’s heart.
In the weeks ahead we’ll be looking at a Christian’s heart being a worship-filled heart, a heart of integrity, filled with wisdom, purpose, and praise, as well as being sacrificial.
But for this day, I didn’t want to go off our series, but share with you what these teachings are like, and that there is a type of heart that fits this day perfectly, a day where we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, or what the world calls “Easter.”
And so, today, I want to talk with you about a heart that is filled with hope because of what Jesus did, not only dying upon the cross for our sins, but more importantly rising from the dead three days later to show us and give us hope that this life isn’t all that there is to life. But there is an eternity waiting for all those who believe in Jesus Christ.
So, let me start our study by saying that I believe that it’s safe to say that all of us have had bad days, and some of us have had a long line of bad days and it doesn’t seem like these may ever end.
It’s been said that a person can go 40 days without food, three days without water, and three minutes without air, but we can’t last a single second without hope. Hope is to our spirits what oxygen is to our bodies. When we don’t have enough oxygen to breathe, we die. When we don’t have hope, our spirit dies. Hope is then an essential to life, because when hope is gone then life, for all intents and purpose, is over.
Hope, that is, a good solid biblical hope can help change our outlook on life.
Have you ever noticed that life comes with list of side effects. It can be full of fun, adventure, excitement, and joy. But it also comes with illness, abuse, broken relationship, betrayal, sorrow, loss, injuries, disappointments, heartache, crime, and death.
Like any product, therefore, life then should come with a warning label, which is what Jesus gives us.
In John 16:33, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
Yes troubles, trials, and tribulations are going to come from the world around us, but Jesus tells us to have a heart filled with hope because He has overcome this world. Jesus’s plan and purpose for our lives far exceeds our expectations and understanding, and supersedes our present reality, that is, our present difficulties.
There is hope, however, and that’s because Jesus is an overcoming Savior, and here’s the truth because He is an overcoming Savior, Hope Springs Eternal
The reality is that most of us don’t deal well with life’s disappointments. We tend to draw a curtain of protection around us trying to the keep the hurt out and bury our troubles and difficulties in the process. Further, we question everything we’ve done along with our motives for doing it.
Every one of us, however, have dreams and plans as to what we want to become and what we want in life. The problem is that life seems to get in the way and hope gets lost in the process, and things just kind of goes downhill from there.
Solomon says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, (that is, when hope takesplace in our lives, when hope happens) it is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 NKJV)
When hope is lost or deferred, our dreams are shattered, left dormant, imprisoned, manipulated, or paralyzed due to heartbreak.
The unfortunate part of this is that people usually don’t turn to God during these times to have their hope restored. Rather they turn to methods and medications to alleviate the pain, which in turn does greater damage by exasperating the problem bringing on greater depression.
But this doesn’t need to be the end of the story. God has great dreams and plans for our lives, dreams to give us a future and a hope.
Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord said, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)
Abraham had this hope and he held onto it even when circumstances would have led most people to despair.
God had promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars in heaven and sand upon the seashore (Genesis 22:7). But he and his wife Sarah were well past their ability to have children. And on top of that, Sarah was barren.
But Abraham never lost hope because his hope was in God’s promise, not in his present circumstance. Look at what the Bible says about Abraham.
“Who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be.’” (Romans 4:18 NKJV)
Abraham could have easily fallen into despair and depression. He would have no one to carry on his name, his legacy. But Abraham knew where his hope lay, and in Who his hope was in. So instead of turning to wine to numb his lost hope, he turned to the Lord and His promises, and his hope was restored.
Abraham’s hope was in the Lord, and he continued to believe giving his frustrations and fears over to the Lord knowing God’s thoughts and plans were to give him peace, a future, and a hope.
All of us, in like manner, have dreams and visions. God Himself put them within us. God created a dream inside all our hearts. He created us with a divine design in mind. Therefore, it is in the Lord God and in Him alone that hope springs eternal.
When looking at a hope-filled heart, there are three characteristics that stand out.
First, a hope-filled heart is a heart that senses the presence of God.
A Heart that Senses God
In this world we live in, hope seems to be in short supply.
As we look at what is going on around us, we tend to lose a lot of enthusiasm and energy for life, and we begin a dangerous spiral downward into darkness and despair. But God wants to bring to us a scent of hope to see us revived and blossoming once again.
When I was a Boy Scout, our troop would take on various projects to help the environment. One year a wildfire ravaged the Mount Charleston mountain range that lies just North of Las Vegas. Acres were burnt and all that was left were burnt trees and bushes whose blacken remains stood like silent sentinels over what was once a green wilderness.
One day it looked like it would rain. In fact, you could smell the rain in the air. So, we began to hurry trying to get as much done as we could before the rains came. You see, we were building dams to prevent further soil erosion caused by the rain.
What amazed me, however, is that I started to see green sprouts begin to emerge from the blackened charred remains. I thought these trees and bushes were dead, but as they sensed the rain coming they rallied. They smelled the scent of rain and began to reach out with new hope for new life.
I also remember these old tree stumps that surrounded our mountain cabin. To my eyes they were dead, but when the rains came, new green shoots would start sprouting.
Even though they were chopped down their roots were still grounded in good soil, and when the water came, or even the scent of water, so did new life.
This is what we need as well, and that is a scent of hope.
This same idea is found in the book of Job.
Job not only talked about the frailty of life, but he also talked about hope, which didn’t seem possible given Job’s present circumstances. He literally lost everything consisting of his family, and possessions. Job was like a tree cut down in the prime of life with only an old stump left in its place.
Yet even though Job felt this way, there was still hope in his heart.
Job said, “At least there is hope for a tree: if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.” (Job 14:7-9 NIV)
Life is often hard and unrelenting, and many people feel like an old dead tree stump. They’ve been cut down by the trials and tribulations of life. They’ve been cut down by illness and disease, the loss of a loved one, abuse, divorce, bankruptcy, foreclosure, evictions, or they’ve been cut down by the loss of a job or a career. They feel like they have no hope for the future, and that’s because they have no external source of life that they can hold on too.
But at the scent of rain, at the scent of hope, there is life and there is joy.
To receive this hope, to get that scent of hope so we can grow, blossom, and flourish, Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38 NKJV)
The only source of true hope, that which we can send our branches upward and our roots downward is in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only source of true hope, a hope that will overflow our lives with peace and joy.
This brings me to the second characteristic of a hope-filled heart and that is a hope-filled heart knows God.
A Heart that Knows God
There’s a verse found within the Bible that few would ever make this connection with, especially since it comes from Job and the circumstances he experienced.
Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21 NKJV)
This is not what most people would say given such horrific circumstances like Job was faced with. Not only did Job lose everything, including his flocks and herds, but he also lost his children to a freak storm. Later he was smitten with a horrendous disease of boils from the top of his head to the souls of his feet. And these were not little sores, rather these were large form altering boils.
You might say that Job is where many people either have been or are today, as they’ve experienced loss of jobs, home, finances, family, health, or any combination thereof.
What holds this story out amongst so many, however, is that during these horrendous circumstances Job didn’t criticize, condemn, or complain against God. Instead, he worshipped God through it all.
But how could he? It was because Job knew God!
While everything may have been taken away on the physical side of the equation, Job still possessed a faith and hope that are often missing in our society and culture, if not in the church itself.
Society teaches us to place our hope in others, on humanity, or upon science. It believes we can come up with the solutions that have plagued our world and humanity since the beginning of time. But what humanity has pegged its hopes upon has proven false, because scientist and philosophers have yet to find the cure for what plagues humanity. What plagues humanity, sin and death.
But Job’s hope was not in himself, his friends, nor in humanity. Job’s hope was in the Lord, and it was in the Lord that he placed his hope. Job knew death is the inevitable outcome of life, but he also knew that this life isn’t all that there is to life.
Job knew one day he would die, but he also knew that after his death he would one day be in the presence of the Lord with a completely restored body.
Look at what Job said. “And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God.” (Job 19:26 NLT)
Job believed in the resurrection. He believed in his resurrection thousands of years before Jesus came and died for our sins on the cross, and before He was raised from the dead.
So, in the midst of his tragedy Job blessed and thanked God, having faith in God and in Him alone. And it was this faith and hope that not only saw health and prosperity returned to Job, but also a new and expanded family as well.
King David also knew that it was in the Lord that he received his strength to survive and handle the sorrows of life.
David talked about the extent of his sorrows in Psalm 6:6-7 saying, “I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears. My eye wastes away because of grief.”
But even during some of life’s most horrendous moments, David knew God and possessed a hope that would see him through these times of grief. A hope that no matter how dark it may seem, there’s always light and joy in the end. A hope he encourages us to possess.
David tells us to “Be of good courage, and He (God) shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord (Psalm 31:23-24 NKJV)
When these problems and difficulties occur that devastate us, like the sudden and violent loss of a loved one, a life threaten by a depilating disease or illness, a betrayal or divorce, the loss of a job or career, life will never be as it was.
But when we know God and know that He will never leave or forsake us, we can have a heart filled with hope that will allow us to face whatever life throws at us.
The last characteristic of a hope-filled heart is that hope-filled heart is a heart that rejects the world in favor of the Kingdom of God.
A Heart that Rejects the World
This hope-filled heart that we are to possess, cannot be achieved through what the world calls hope. The world thinks of hope more as wishful thinking saying, “I hope so,” or “I hope it’s true.” It’s all a gamble as to whether it will come to pass.
Hope, as defined by the world, is an abstract thought with nothing to substantiate or support it, whereas the Bible defines hope as a confident expectation and certainty.
Why the difference? Well, it all comes down to the object in which that hope is placed.
The world and society places its hope in the human race evolving and getting better. But as it has been proven throughout history, humanity is not getting better; rather humanity is only getting worse.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are glimpses of humanity as God intended for it to be, along with great advances in technology and in medicine that has helped. But the human heart is still the same as it always has been, and it remains just as wicked as it ever was (Jeremiah 17:9).
Frankly the whole concept of the world getting better would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragically false. The crime rate, acts of terrorism, and environmental disasters are not just up, but they are adding up as well.
The world can offer no hope, and that’s because as we have seen the object of its hope, which is humanity, is flawed. But the object of biblical hope is steadfast and never changes, and that’s because the object of biblical hope is God who doesn’t change and is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).
Christian hope is distinguished from worldly hope because it’s based upon the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
The Apostle Peter said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3 NKJV)
Therefore, a Christian’s hope isn’t a dead hope, rather it’s a living hope because it’s based upon Jesus Christ who is alive. It’s the hope of eternal life that keeps our hope alive. It’s a hope that quickens the spirit, supports weakened confidence, and invigorates and inspires the soul to do bigger and greater things.
Christian hope, biblical hope, therefore, is not some abstract concept, but it is real, and it has name, and biblical hope’s name is Jesus Christ. It isn’t a dead hope but a living one, and it’s not just for our future redemption, but also for our present redemption along with an abundant life that we can live now.
In the end, what we need most of all is to recover biblical hope.
Recovering Biblical Hope
Looking at the resurrection of Jesus will help us gain perspective for recovering our hope through the tragedies, troubles, trials, and tribulations of life.
Three days after Jesus’s death and burial, several women arrive at His tomb. They came to finish preparing Jesus’s body for burial, something that the men could not do several days earlier because of the Sabbath and that the Passover was still being observed.
When the women arrived at the tomb, however, the last thing they were expecting was for it to be open and empty. The last thing they expected was a resurrection.
While trying to figure out what had happened two angels appeared. These women were so overwhelmed they fell to the ground. The angels then delivered the very first Easter message.
“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5b NKJV)
This must have puzzled them, because the Romans didn’t make mistakes when it came to killing someone, when it came to death. They were experts in executions. So, when the angels talked about Jesus living it was probably somewhat confusing.
The angels then gave the main theme of every Easter message and sermon.
“He is not here, but is risen!” (Luke 24:6a NKJV)
The resurrection of Jesus is the last thing they expected.
When we receive news of some tragedy. We struggle to understand and make sense of it, and we’re often paralyzed with uncertainty and confusion.
But like these women and the disciples, when we encounter our risen Savior, Jesus Christ, our hope is recovered and we’re able to make a lot more sense out of the tragedies that occur.
In the end it’s the Lord’s love for us that fills our hearts with hope.
This was the hope that Solomon held onto when it seemed like it was all for nothing in his mind.
In Lamentations chapter three he said, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23)
Whatever we’re going through, let’s let the mercy of God fill us with hope to see us though the dark times and into the light and love of Jesus Christ.
There is a hope for our world, and that hope is Jesus Christ who rose from the dead and is alive.
The Empty Promises of Easter
Now, the Lord gave me one more thing to talk with you about regarding the Resurrection, and that is Resurrection Sunday is all about emptiness, but an emptiness that is full of promise.
It begins with The Empty Cross .
The empty cross is a reminder of God’s promise that we’ve been forgiven. On the cross Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, and to emphasize the point, He said, “It is finished.”
God’s word says, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!”(Romans 5:8 NKJV)
Next comes The Empty Tomb.
The truth of the empty tomb is the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the promise that we will be raised to eternal life.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26 NKJV)
The angels said, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!” (Luke 24:5b-6a)
And finally, there are The Empty Grave Clothes.
The empty grave clothes mean that Jesus is alive and desires to have fellowship with us. His desire is to have a personal relationship with each of us.
And so, emptiness of Easter reveals that the cross couldn’t hold Jesus so our sins can be forgiven, the tomb couldn’t contain Him so we can have eternal life, and the burial clothes no longer bind Him so we can have a relationship with our Savior and Lord.
And all of this reveals what could easily be called the Greatest Comeback of All Time. And what this means to all of us, is that Jesus’s comeback, Jesus’s resurrection, is a precursor to our own comeback to our own resurrections.
And it all begins with faith. It all begins with belief.
The Bible, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 NKJV)
So, no matter where you stand today, no matter what your circumstances may be, God has a comeback waiting for you.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study