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March 18, 2021 12:00 am
I must tell you, hope like diamonds do not lie on top of the ground hope and its sister virtues are deep within the surface and you have to dig because you want to find. The question is not, do you want how wire that were pulled by the University of Michigan hundred percent would tell you how would you like you mad.
I will question is not, do you want hope everyone would say yes. The question is how badly must you have that your experience and of course Stephen was correct in his comments. A moment ago everyone wants hope, but how hard is it to believe when things seem hopeless have you been there. Have there been times in your life when all you had left. We all need hope and hope is our theme today here on wisdom for the heart with Stephen Devi.
God made Abraham a great promise. But then waited to deliver for years. All Abraham had was the hope that God would keep his word. Let's join Stephen as we look deeper at this today. You have probably heard the story of Teddy Stoller before somewhere. It has been emailed to me over the years at least a dozen times.
Teddy Stoller was a boy that his teacher, Miss Thompson really didn't care a lot for he didn't really care a lot for life. It seemed he wasn't interested in school get a blank expression on his face. Throughout the course of the classes in whenever she spoke to Teddy.
He always answered in monosyllables's clothes were unkempt. His face little dirty his hair in need of brushing wasn't an attractive boy really wasn't liked by the other students. She should have known better. Given the fact that she was a Christian she should have known better. Given the fact that she had access to his records and they told more than she really wanted to admit the records read first grade. Teddy shows promise with his work and attitude. But a poor situation at home second grade. Teddy could do better. His mother is seriously ill. He receives little help at home third grade. Teddy is a good boy but to serious.
He's a slow learner. His mother died this year fourth grade.
Teddy is very slow but well behaved.
His father shows little interest in him is school's world how Christmas came, and the Boys and Girls Club. In Ms. Thompson's class brought her Christmas presents and they gathered around crowded around her desk to watch her open them.
She was surprised to find one from Teddy Stoller, wrapped in brown paper held together by scotch tape words simply written on it for Miss Thompson from Teddy when she opened Teddy's present outsell a rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing and a bottle of half used in expensive perfume. The Boys and Girls Club again the snicker and smirk over Teddy's gifts. But Miss Thompson at least had the sense to silence them by immediately putting on the bracelet and a little perfume on her wrist and holding it up saying it doesn't smell wonderful children. Children smelled her wrist said no it does problem of further embarrassment was averted when the day was over, Teddy lingered behind slowly came over to her desk and said quietly to her Miss Thompson you smell just like my mother and her bracelet looks really pretty on you to well when Teddy left, Miss Thompson got down on her knees and asked the Lord to forgive her. She had missed the precious calling. She had been given the next day when the children came to school they were met by a new teacher, one who now viewed herself as an agent of God, committed to loving her children.
She began to pay particular attention to the slow learners, especially Teddy Stoller. By the end of the school year. Teddy shown incredible improvement as she had intersected his life with care. He caught up with most of the students in fact was ahead of a few of them. The next year he was in another class and she didn't see them often. Sometimes he came by to say hello months blended in the years. Then one day she received a note that read dear Miss Thompson I will be graduating from high school second in my class. I wanted you to be the first to know. Love, Teddy Stoller four years later, another note came dear Miss Thompson. They have just informed me I will be graduating with highest honors. I wanted you to be the first to know.
The University has not been easy, but I have enjoyed it love Teddy Stoller four years.
Again later dear Miss Thompson, as of today I am Theodore Stoddard, MD how about that I wanted you to be the first to know when I'm getting married next month. The 26th to be exact. I would like you to common city where my mother would have said if she were alive. So Miss Thompson went to the wedding set where Teddy's mother would have said she deserved to sit there because years earlier she had given him the one thing he needed the most. She had given him the gift of hope. John Maxwell and author and speaker once told the story of a small town in Maine that was proposed as the site of a new hydroelectric plant, a dam was going to be built across the river in the town would eventually be submerged into a broadened new River as a resultant when the project was announced in the votes had been played out in all of the wrangling was finished. The people were given many months to arrange their affairs and relocate knowing their cities are little town would be submerged in water during those months. A rather interesting thing happened. He writes all improvements ceased. No painting was done. No repairs were made on any of the buildings, the roads, the sidewalks, day by day. The entire town in all of its homes grew shabbier and shabbier a long time before the waters were supposed to sweep through that town.
It looked abandoned and uncared for. Even though the people had yet not moved away one citizen was interviewed and explained it this way. Where there is no faith in the future.
There is no power in the present it new that its future was hopeless and so would live the same way. One author quoted that famous quote of his, we can live 40 days without food.
Eight days without water for minutes without air, less than one minute without hope. I have, I spent some time this week thinking about those things that seemed to steal us of our hope things that tend to rob our hearts of a sense of hope came up with a list unmet needs unwanted circumstances, unrelenting pressure, unexpected trials, unfulfilled promises, I believe, after thinking about this for some time that you could boil all of the reasons for losing hope, down to basically one statement, a loss of hope begins when you realize you are not getting out of life, what you thought you would. And it culminates in the conviction that you never will. In other words, you take a person whose life has enough losses or reversals or difficulties or disappointments and you string them together and you will find a person who eventually may come to the conviction that life will never produce that conviction is called hopelessness. Every person that I will speak to today will have reasons at some point in your life. Maybe you're feeling that way today where you calculate life to be hopeless, you're not getting out of it what you thought you would do and you are coming slowly but surely to the conviction that you never well like most of the people polled in that survey left alone by ourselves. We may come to that conviction or that conclusion that life is hopeless. But for Teddy Stoller. The difference was there was a teacher that invaded his life. I want to go back and sit at the feet again of our teacher, the one who intersects our life with objective truth. The one for this teaching we can hear the Holy Spirit again today whisper into our hearts.
There is hope. I want to just point out is less and planets in Romans chapter 4, he is going to teach once again by merely retelling the story of a hopeless case, a man named Abraham. We have studied him for some time and you know by now you want to talk about unmet needs you want to talk about unrelenting pressure. Talk about unexpected difficulties and reversals. Most importantly, talk about unfulfilled promise. He had one in this promise was not one from Sarah that she failed to fulfill our some promise from his father terror that he never came through for his boy or maybe a promise from his nephew Lot that he didn't live up to know this was a promise from God and and a number of points. Abraham could have come to the calculation that his life was hopeless because the promise wouldn't come true. Perhaps the greatest reason Abraham is considered the father of faith. The prime example of the word of God, of living faith is because his case was indeed on arguably hopeless, but in his story as it's retold, you discover some of those things that will create and foster and fertilize and cultivate an promote and develop and nurture hope.
Let's look at what our teacher Paul says to us today is go back to verse 17 as it is written here is the promise of father of many nations have I made you in the sight of him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist in the hope against hope he believed in order that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, so shall your descendents be in without becoming weak in faith. He contemplated his own body. Now as good as dead since he was about 100 years old and the deadness of Sarah's womb, yet with respect to the promise of God. He did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God and fully assured being fully assured that what God had promised he was able also to perform these verses provide several powerful ingredients which when mixed together will produce sweet man of hope. Eugene Peterson in his paraphrase of the New Testament entitled the message put verse 18 in hope against hope he believed in a wonderful way very lucid way he wrote it this way when everything was hopeless. Abraham believed anyway. I love that when everything was hopeless. Abraham believed anyway how Eugene Peterson goes on to paraphrase, he decided to live not on the basis of what he saw. He could not do, but on the basis of what God said he would do so, ladies and gentlemen I commend to you this morning. The first ingredient of hope.
It is the resolution to believe, without clearly seeing let me quickly save you're hoping for some quick pill and a some quick principal.
Some quick, easy ingredient from which you could concoct the Sabbath hope I must tell you, hope like diamonds do not lie on top of the ground hope and its sister virtues are deep within the surface and you have to dig because you want to find her. The question is not, do you want help Wyatt that were polled by the University of Michigan hundred percent would tell you how would you like you that I would question is not, do you want hope everyone would say yes. The question is how badly must you have. I'm reminded of the young man approached Aristotle one afternoon and asked him how can I have wisdom. Aristotle got up and he said follow me and he walked down several streets turn several corners and then finally made it to the center plasm of the town and and there was the pool and without any pause. Aristotle gathered up his garment and he just waited right in.
Well, the young student thought well I'm suppose I'm supposed to, since he said to follow me, and so he waited in as well and when they got into the middle of the pool. Aristotle turned suddenly and grabbed the young man by the nap in the neck and put his head under the water and held him there. The man flailed with his arms.
The young student. Of course, was panic stricken in the last possible moment.
Aristotle picked them up and brought him back to the edge and set a Mary was sputtering out his amazement and Aristotle said to him, young man. When I held you underwater what is the one thing you wanted more than anything in the young man said errors, sir.
There, Aristotle said, if you desire wisdom with that same passion you will find, and he walked away. Everybody wants wisdom. Most people, you know can live without it. Everybody wants a little more hope but most don't care today see my friends hope is discovered by those who cannot live without it by those who wanted so badly that they will resolve like Abraham resolved to believe the promise of God, even when they do not see it come to pass for Abraham.
He will never see it come to pass. No wonder he is the example I can wait a month or a year maybe two or three.
He waited 25 years. Even then, the fulfillment of the promise seems so short to the magnificence of the promise that God had given go back to verse 17 in this paragraph and and from the human perspective. Notice the absurdity of of the tense of the verb of father of many nations. I have made you, not a father of many nations. Well I make you a father of many nations.
Abram have I made you see from God's perspective, it had already happened. It was spoken of here in this text, as if it was actualized in God's sight was already done. But Abraham never saw it happen where the nations. Abraham I don't see them either. God said he has already made you as if it were now a true occurrence reality where are your descendents. Abraham, where are they that number is the sands of the shore and the stars in the heaven. That's his promise was even more ironic is the fact that his name was Abram which meant father of many. He wasn't the father of many. He was the father of none we can imagine, it becomes even a greater test of his faith in the promise of God is resolve to believe in Genesis 17 God will again meet with Abram it's been 13 years since the birth of Ishmael, whom Abram father through Sarah's servant girl Hagar. He has now become the father of one but now God meets with him to reiterate his promise of a multitude of nations coming from Abram and in that meeting God changes his name Barnhouse adds with humor. These words I cannot help but think of what must've happened when Abram broke the news was family that God was changing his name.
They all knew the thorn of his former name Abram father of many, so we can imagine the stir of interest and curiosity when he announced God is going to change my name. Were there some who said to themselves with a laugh for the old man couldn't take it.
It finally got under the skin.
After all, to be the father of nobody for 86 years and then to be the father of only one with a name like he has father of many must've had its rough moments. So he is going to change his name. After all, I wonder what it will be in the old man spoke. I am now to be known as Abraham father of multitudes. You could almost hear the silence of the stunned moment, as the truth breaks upon them.
Father of multitudes and the laughter broke forth behind the scenes. The old man is gone crazy. He had one child when he was 86 and now at 99. He's beginning to get even grander ideas. Father of a multitude. How ridiculous, so it seemed a friend you let the news slip out in the dormitory on the campus, you let the news out in your job. You believe what you mean you actually believe there is a literal heaven you actually believe that God's gonna take you there. You actually believe that God is in control of this messed up world you actually believe that is going to create a new word in a new habit and then sit on a throne in the new Jerusalem and you believe that our are you crazy, have you seen any of that in the heart of a person who believes, without clearly seeing may I add, without completely understanding you discover the ancient treasure called hope the second ingredient of hope is the choice to trust without corresponding evidence. Verse 19 he says, and without becoming weak in faith. See if the first ingredient of hope is the resolution to believe without seeing it fulfilled and clearly the second ingredient is to trust without corresponding evidence being supplied in its as if Paul here emphasizes Abraham's dilemma. Now my body is as good as dead, hundred, Sarah and I are going to have any children. See, how do you trust the word of God in the face of such evidence.
Is this not the stumbling block to our faith is this issue not the reason why so few have hope because we calculate hope based upon evidence that we see, rather than upon the promise of God do we not. The question is will you trust him without evidence, the Lord asked his disciples to do that in John 14. The hearts were losing hope, they were troubled they were filled with anguish.
Jesus said to them in that upper room. He said don't let your hearts be troubled.
Believe in God believe also in me.
Now you need to know this has nothing to do with believing, so you can go to heaven. It has to do with believing, so you can survive through life and why would the disciples face such a great test to their belief in him. Why would the Lord say keep believing in me. Why, because of the evidence Jesus did claim to be eternal God. He said he was the Messiah. He was the King of Kings. But the evidence. The evidence is Judas, the evidence is Caiaphas.
The evidence is burly Roman soldiers with whips. The evidence is the crucifixion.
The evidence is deathly evidence as a tomb. That's the evidence so he said keep on believing because you're not going to have the evidence that goes along with the promise in a few hours. I do want to say that faith and hope. Do not ignore the evidence hope doesn't ignore the evidence, it just doesn't stop with evidence hope doesn't minimize the difficulty either. I'm not going to say to you go I plaster a smile on your face ever got hope everything's okay. Hope recognizes the, the evidence it recognizes insurmountable difficulties and knows that God must intersect life.
The book of Numbers chapter 13 Joshua and Caleb. You remember, along with 10 other spies entered the promised land to spy out their challenges to possessing the land God promised them that they could go in and possess it, and they came back to remember the majority report from the 10 spies said all there are giants in the land and we are but puny grasshopper that was the evidence and it was correct. The other spies. Joshua and Caleb. They said we can overcome the Giants they didn't ignore the evidence, but they trusted the promise see what was happening as the 10 spies were calculating all of their evidence. Joshua and Caleb were calculating Provident the 10 spies were preoccupied with giants Joshua and Caleb were preoccupied with God.
Hope happens to be a matter of preoccupation what you preoccupied with the evidence or the promise when you are preoccupied with God nothing within his will is impossible.
Even his most outlandish promises will come true see my friends when you believe without seeing fully and you trust in the face of evidence to the contrary, you will have the necessary ingredients and you mix them together in the new make them in the oven of fiery trials like unmet needs and unwanted circumstances and unrelenting pressure and unexpected difficulty and reversal in what comes out is the sweet red of hope. Thousands of Christians in North America have learned one of Don Moen's praise songs talks about God's sovereign involvement in our lives.
Most of us sing the lyrics without knowing the hopeless condition out of which the lyrics came several years ago Don was awakened in the middle of the night, the telephone rang and his mother-in-law was calling to tell. He and his wife of a tragic car accident that would impact her entire family dons wife's sister, Susan and her husband Craig along with her for little boys were on on a trip when tragedy struck.
They were in a car accident and all of them were seriously injured in their eight-year-old son would die as Don and his wife grieved over this and poured out their hearts to the Lord. They felt helpless in communicating any kind of hope to Susan Craig Don recalls asking the Lord to give them a way to communicate hope to his family and in a matter of a few moments, Don. It scratched out some lyrics and even compose the music for little chorus. These are the lyrics God will make away when there seems to be no way he works in ways we cannot see. He will make away for me. He will be my guide. Hold me closely to his side with love and strength for each new day he will make away that song made me think of the verse of Scripture from Jeremiah 2911, where God says, I know the plans that I have for you plans for welfare are not calamity to give you a future and a what hope to put it simply, the only way to have hope is to have him and for those that do have him. The only way to possess daily hope is to daily pursue Paul in writing to the same believers in the city of Rome, Italy.
He comes to the conclusion of his letter and he says to them. These wonderful words now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. What kind of life is that what kind of life is the Abraham life is the only life worth living. It is the only life that has discovered rare treasure cold. God has made us great and wonderful promises. Many of those promises have not yet come to pass, but they will.
And we can have hope that God will keep his word. This is wisdom for the heart with Stephen Devi as Stephen was speaking maybe the Lord brought someone to your mind who struggling if you'd like to share this lesson with your friend, you can send them the link to our website. You can also download and share Stephen's written manuscript or the audio file and if you need help navigating our website or call us at 86 648 Bible 866-482-4253 also mentioned that this nine part series called father Abraham is available as a set of CDs that you can add to your collection of biblical resources. That's all for today will be back with another message tomorrow. Make plans to join us, right here on wisdom