Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Faith is the DYNAMITE and hope is the FUSE (#4)

Good morning! I woke up to COOLER weather this morning! I love it. Fall is my favorite time of the year, because of two reasons: football and cooler weather. Well, I've been getting plenty of football, but not any cool weather, so it was nice, and I am looking forward to the next few days.

We have been talking about HOPE the past few days, and I feel like we are supposed to stay there a few more days. Let's continue our look at how FAITH is the dynamite, but dynamite is ineffective without a fuse. HOPE is what makes faith effective…it is the fuse.

Some time back a speaker stepped to the platform at Southwestern Assemblies of God Bible College. The school has chapel every morning. The students were half asleep when it came time to introduce the speaker. He was about 70 years old. He stood 5' 6" and weighed maybe 110 pounds. The gentleman didn't look too great or all that interesting. He was a congressman by the name of Willie Upshaw. He came to the pulpit and didn't say a word for quite some time. He simply stood there and stared at the students. He had been a politician for over 40 years. He knew how to get people's attention. As the fellow finally began to speak he said something that the students there that day say they have never forgotten. He said, "I was a cripple all of my life." By this time the speaker was moving all over the platform. He was a picture of health and energy. He continued on, "They never saw me come into congress except on a rolling cot, in a wheelchair, or on crutches." Then he reared his head back and screamed as loud as he could, "NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP!"

Throughout his sermon that morning he would speak only a paragraph or two and then he would again shout as loud as he could---always in threes---"NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP!" He was really quite dignified, and the yelling was somewhat out of character, nonetheless, he was trying ever so hard to get his message across to keep trying. He went on to explain that only two years before, while sitting crippled in a revival service, the preacher said to him, "Congressman, God now gives you the faith to be healed." Willie then told that "for the first time in my life, I stood to my feet and walked -- 68 years I was a cripple." And then he reared back his head, and shouted once more, "NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP! GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE AND HE STILL HAS AN ANSWER FOR YOU."

Friends, I echo the words of the congressman. God wants to put hope back into your heart today! Quit quitting! NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP ON GOD!

That is the message behind the story of Abraham. That is the message that the Bible wants to communicate with its account of Jonathan and his armor bearer. That is the story of Willie Upshaw. Have hope! Saints of God, have hope!

Romans 15:4 declares that: "Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures WE MIGHT HAVE HOPE."

Furthermore, Romans 15:13 adds: "May the God of 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."

Who is the Scripture speaking of here? The GOD OF HOPE! Our God is not the god of doubt, He is not the god of despair, nor is He the god of gloom and doom. No, who is He? He is "THE GOD OF HOPE" and He wants you to "OVERFLOW IN HOPE BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT" that is at work within you this morning!

We talk about the God of love, and we hear much about the God of power, but we don't hear near enough about the God of hope!

  • He gave us the story of Abraham for hope.
  • He gave us the Bible for hope.
  • He gave us His wonderful promises for hope.
  • He gave us the Holy Spirit for hope.
  • He gave us Himself so that we might have hope!

Let me ask you a simple question. Which two books in the Bible allude to hope more than any others?

Would you believe Psalms and Job? That's right. While the Psalms carries the word 30 times the book of Job has it 17 times. I can't help but believe that the secret to Job's success in his time of testing was hope! He refused to cave in, to quit, to give up.

  • His wife cried: "Why don't you just curse God and die!" She had lost hope. She was in the grips of despair.
  • His friends lost hope too. They reverted to finger pointing and fatalism.
  • Job, on the other hand, said in Job 23:8-10: "But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold."

Job still had his hope. He knew that the trial had a purpose, and he also knew that in the end, he would come though the trial victorious--like pure and tested gold! He was not about to give up!

The Psalmist wrote in Psalms 31:24: "Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD."

Psalms 71:5 likewise notes: "For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth."

Psalms 146:5 then adds: "Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God...."

Are you getting the message? God wants His people to be optimists. He ever wants His children to look to Him in confident hope!

Having said that, please notice with me that

As you know, patience in not one of America's virtues. We seek instant gratification. Christian hope, on the other hand, is ready and able to wait. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 of "endurance (or patience) inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."

As Christians:

  • We wait for the coming day of our salvation--when we shall fully receive the blessings God has for those who serve Him.
  • We wait for His glorious appearing.
  • We wait for the dawning of His kingdom.
  • We wait for our new bodies.
  • We wait to see Him!
  • We wait to see those who have preceded us in death.
  • We simply wait--patiently by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:23 encourages us to
"hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."
Don't give up your hope, He is saying. Wait! Hold on. "Never, never, never give up!"

So, on this beautiful Tuesday morning, regardless what you are facing…NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give up! Why don't you GET YOUR HOPES UP today? I love you guys, and praying for you to have a HOPE-FILLED day! Blessings!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful (and cool) day,

Pastor Rusty


Anonymous said...

Pasty Rusty,

Having attended CBC back in the early 80s, I relate to the chapel service experience. Great testimony!

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