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September 1, 2017

Flooded with Hope: Part 2

“May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)

The most hope-filled people on earth are God’s people! Still, there are times and seasons in our lives when our hope spills out. Grief, loss, tragedy, unexplained suffering. You may have felt that recently – or even feel that way now – and you wonder where God is. Why did God let it happen? Pain can deplete us of hope. That’s why Paul prayed for the Christ followers of Rome to be filled with God’s hope. He knew the benefits of experiencing the God of all hope. We looked at the first two benefits yesterday:

 First, God’s hope gives me joy when I’m hurting.

Second, God’s hope gives me peace when I’m anxious.

Third, God’s hope gives me strength when I feel like giving up.

I talked with a man the other day who told me, after his wife left him, he lost his job and his home, and he wondered if life was even worth living anymore. He was ready to give up. Yet, in the midst of that pain, rather than giving up, he gave his life over to Christ and asked God to take his burden. He said, “Even my posture changed. I lifted my head and got up with a new sense of strength I had not experienced before. It wasn’t like everything was all better so much as I had hope to begin again, that God was not through with my life!” Have you ever felt like him? May the God of ALL hope fill you with His power by the Holy Spirit and give you strength to carry on! That’s what God did for Jeremiah. He was a discouraged prophet, grieving over the unimaginable loss of his nation when he found hope as he considered God’s redeeming love! He wrote:

“But I have hope when I think of this: The LORD’S love never ends; His mercies never stop. They are new every morning; LORD, great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23 (NCV/NIV)

The Bible says,

“… those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

Has hopelessness drained you of strength and vitality? Are you weary, tired and burdened with the cares of this world? Put your hope in God and let Him renew your strength.

Finally, God’s hope gives me light when everything goes dark.

The flood of discouragement and loss can thrust us into a hopeless darkness if we let it. Pain can eclipse the light of God’s love and presence with us. Yet, Job teaches us that there is purpose in our pain. God has not abandoned us. Jesus Christ is the physical demonstration of God’s love and presence! He fulfilled the promise of the prophet Isaiah in Matthew 4:16,

“The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of he shadow of death a light has dawned.” Matt. 4:16 (NIV)

Nothing can extinguish His light! The apostle John experienced that when he wrote this:

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5 (NLT)

Imagine how dark it must have seemed to those early Christ followers when Jesus died on the cross. All their hopes in a Messiah died with Him. But, then, the light dawned early that Sunday morning! He rose from the dead! The darkness could not extinguish His light and, now, it shines in the hearts of every Christ follower like John! As bearers of that light, we are called to let our light shine in a dark and discouraged world flooded with hopelessness. Our light brings hope! Jesus told us,

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matt. 5:16 (NIV)

We all have that opportunity in the relief and restoration efforts from Hurricane Harvey. I hope you will join us and other Christ followers as we let our lights shine for Jesus. If you can help, please sign up online here. We need thousands involved to help in the recovery!