Speaker: Bill Ellis
Good morning, Church. It is exciting to be here today, actually, today is the one year anniversary of our final in-person indoor services. After that, the following Saturday, we got together with the elders in the evangelist’s and made the decision to cancel our Sunday service. And in that the age of online church was born and it was born abruptly in about 18 hours, it was not high tech, as many of you know, because you were there, the very first sermon was Tabitha Arise.
And that was from Wendy. Nice dining room table, just with the overhead lights and and the camera off my laptop. It was not a high tech or a high quality production, but we made it through. But it’s also amazing to see how far we’ve come. I really enjoyed last Saturday night’s Black History Night of Worship, and it was great to see the progressive improvements we’ve had as a church in our production of our online services. You know, we had the chance to see songs from the beginning and all the way through different times in the pandemic.
One of the things I’m excited about is over this past year, even though it hasn’t been easy, I feel like it’s been a time of growth for many of us. And it’s also been a time of growth in some ways for our church and one of the ministries that has grown in the past year and we’re going to focus a little bit on during this month is the ministry to those who are needy among us, our Hope Worldwide Orlando chapter. And we’re going to share with you the ways that we are focused on the widows, orphans and foreigners among us and and how that translates to our modern society and our city.
You’ll hear from our different program directors, many of the things that are going on, but you also have the opportunity to get involved. And I want to encourage you to do that. There’s a link down below in the description of this video for our Hope worldwide volunteer hub. If you have not signed up to be a volunteer, I want to encourage you right now. I mean, you’ve got a computer, you’ve got a phone. You can do it.
Follow the link, sign up, be a volunteer with us. It’s a great opportunity for fellowship. It’s a great opportunity to do something together that is worthwhile and helpful, not only to those we’re serving, but also to our own hearts. You know, today we’re actually starting a new series and the series is called One Hope, and if you’re joining us online today, we would love to hear from you. Please drop a note in the chat letting us know where you are.
We’d love to help you get tied into one of our community groups. The last two series have been great. In January, we talked about the body and the one body that we are, and we just finished our series on one spirit. And either of those could have gone on for much longer. There’s so much to to to really draw out of the scriptures.
But today we’re going to talk about hope and the theme today really begs the question, how are we doing? Because in the New Testament, hope has to do with trust and confidence. It’s the expectation of what is sure to come and the active faith filled waiting for God to fulfill what he started with his Holy Spirit. You know, the word hope appears in the New Testament only as a verb or noun never as an adverb or an adjective.
And that’s likely because the emphasis is not on the subjunctive states of mind. When we say hopefully or hopeful. Rather, hope in the New Testament has an objective focus. Hope in the New Testament has a vision where it’s going to go. In Paul’s letters, hope is bound up with eager expectation or an anticipation. Paul writes of waiting in hope for the adoption as sons of God through the redemption of the body in Romans eight. Also in the New Testament, hope is present and future, a lot of scripture suggests that that our hope is at the end of times in heaven and it looks to the return of Christ and our presence with him.
But in the meantime, hope gives rise to an ethical obligation that produces godly character. Following his resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven with the promise that he would come back the same way he left. And Paul recognizes that if we put our hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most pitied of all people. The certainty of Christ’s resurrection allows Christians to hope in confidence. You know, first Corinthians 15 22 says for as in Adam, all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. You know, this awareness about the purifying effect of Jesus on the lives of those who have put his hope in him.
Owing the fact that he is pure. First, John, three three says, and everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
You know, an attitude of hope is the appropriate response. To all the promises of God. Therefore, hope in the biblical sense means that disciples, Christians already participate in the reality in which we hope. You know, Paul says in Romans Chapter eight, verses 23 through 25, “and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the spirit, grow inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption of sons, the redemption of our bodies.
For in this hope, we were saved, now hope that is seen is not hope for who, hopes for what he sees, but if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, that is a tough scripture. Because. If we truly hope, if we truly have faith that God will do what he says and we hope or we wait. It says, we must hope.
Or wait. With patience, I don’t know about you, but I am not a patient person. When I’m expecting something. I’m not a patient person when I am anxious about something, when I’m expecting something, I don’t know about you, but. Now, this year, everyone has an Amazon account, everyone has ordered something online, and I don’t know I don’t know if you’re like me, but as soon as you order something online, you start looking at your phone, where’s it at?
When’s it coming? And you start kind of camping out by the mailbox. I wonder when this is coming. And now they have had these maps where you can follow your packages live and that feeds our lack of patience and waiting. There’s there’s an endurance that that is necessary in our Christian lives and I don’t know about you, but my endurance, my waiting, my patience have been really stretched over the last 12 months. I have seen
Myself become impatient with the present pandemic. I’ve seen myself become impatient with the different social justice situations and political climates in which we’ve lived, and I’ve allowed that to to really steal the joy from my walk with Christ at times, and so we must ask the question, how are we doing today? Are we waiting patiently for what God will bring about. What it says in Galatians, chapter five, verse five. It says for through the spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.
Wow. Do you hope for righteousness in your life? We just talked about the spirit and and the spirit as our helper spirit, as our adviser, as our advocate, as our conduit to God. And do we, in the spirit, by faith eagerly but also expectedly wait for the hope of righteousness. What a great scripture. Do you hope for righteousness? Do you expect righteousness of yourself? You know, I think a lot of times we we are hopeful
To be righteous. God, I’d like to be victorious over sin. It would be a great idea and we and we put righteousness out there kind of the same way we would put a Christmas list before Santa. I really hope for these things, but remember, hope in the New Testament is not an adverb or an adjective, it is the object. We must expect it. We must expect righteousness of ourselves and of our brothers and sisters, because remember, we are one body.
We are members, one of another. We are we actually belong to one another. And we have the obligation to help one another to walk in the spirit. Paul actually says that he hopes to honor Christ always in his life in Philippians chapter one, verse twenty, but with even greater anticipation, his death would usher him into the presence of Christ when he knows existence is very much better. Do we really believe that we hope for our lives, but we hope more for our death because that brings us with Christ?
Our theme right now, the very first three months are out of Ephesians, four four, there’s one body and one spirit, just as you were called, to the one hope that belongs to your call. You know, we do have to understand that we are called to hope. You know, Psalm 33. Verses 13 through 22. It’s an incredible reminder of what it means to have hope in the Lord. Verse 13 says, The Lord looks down from heaven, he sees all the children of man from where he sits enthroned, he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth.
He who fashions the hearts of all and observes all their deeds. The king is not saved by his great army. A warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation and by its great might, it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he might deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine . Our soul waits for the Lord.
He is our help and our shield for our heart is glad in him because we trust in his holy name, Let your steadfast love of Lord be upon us even as we hope in you. You know, I’ve seen friends, family and brothers and sisters in Christ place their hope in the wrong things, but it’s not the war horse, it’s not the army, it’s not the ways of this world that we need to put our hope in. It’s in the steadfast love of the Lord.
And I ask you, is that where your hope is placed? In the steadfast love of the Lord and the fact that God gave his only son Jesus for you and for me so that we may have a relationship with him. We’ve seen relationships splinter over worldly and sinful situations, we’ve seen our world splintered over ideals that do not belong to God. You know, faith takes God at his word. It believes that he will do what he’s promised, but hope is the anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promises.
Look what it says in Romans, Chapter four verses 18 through 21 in hope, he believed against hope. That he should become the father of many nations. As he had been told. So shall your offspring be, he did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead since he was about one hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb, no unbelief made him waver concerning the promises of God.
But he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. And that’s why Abraham is the father of faith, because he hoped against all hope, he hoped, in an impossible situation. Brothers and sisters, I tell you, I know we are facing impossible situations in our communities, in our world, in our homes. Many times it doesn’t make sense. We’re seeing hurt after hurt after hurt.
And those are all opportunities to stop hoping in God and start hoping in the things. Of this world when we don’t see the solution. We start creating the solution for ourselves. You know. The world doesn’t understand what God wants of us. You know, we fight for our liberties and we fight for respect and we fight for our freedoms, but in reality, Jesus came to make us free. He he came to make us one. And if we truly understood that, if we truly hoped in that
then the social issues that we face in our country and in our world would not be so glaring. Because we’re called to love one another in the same way that Jesus loved us, and that’s amazing because he loved us with no expectation of us loving him in return. You know, we’re we’re so contractual in our relationships. I love the people who love me, I’ll spend time with the people that are like me. But Jesus was not like that.
He was not contractual. He loved and he offered himself up regardless to our response. You know. Abraham hoped against all hope. Now, that sounds incredible when we read it in Romans, but if you read the story in Genesis, you know that it wasn’t exactly that way. You know that Abraham was not as steadfast as Paul makes him out to be. But it works because God makes up the difference. I don’t believe that you and I will ever be as righteous or as loving or as correct as God would have us to be.
But his love and Jesus’s sacrifice make up the difference, and we need to remember that in Hebrews six, verse 11 through 18, it says, and we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness, to have the full assurance of hope until the end so that you may not be sluggish. But imitators of those through faith and patience inherit the promises for God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear.
He swore by himself, saying, Surely I will bless you and multiply you. And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise for people swear by something greater than themselves and all their disputes. An oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise, the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie.
We who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement and hold fast to the hope set before us. We have to hold fast, we have to grab hold, you know, Hebrews talks of of of hope as the anchor, the anchor that pulls us to the Lord. Hope originates in God. It doesn’t originate in us. Romans 15, verse 13, says, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound in hope.
So God is the initiator. He is the beginning of hope.
He is the one who fills us with joy and peace, and I ask you, as you walk through and endure the difficulties of life, how joyful are you? How peaceful do you feel? Now, I know this sounds… I am not necessarily the most joyful person in the world, I can get pretty negative from time to time. I don’t always live in peace. But I do understand that when I’m living outside of peace, when I’m living with worry and without joy.
With despair in my life, I understand that that originates in Bill. But hope originates in God, it’s also based on his calling, we read in Ephesians 4:4, but also to be in Ephesians one, verse 18 says Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you? What are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the Saints? God has called us to have hope. And that’s what it said in Ephesians four for.
You were called to the one hope that belongs to your call. Brothers and sisters, we have been called to Christ, we have been called to follow him, we have been called to imitate him, we have been called to be him in the hurting world in which we live. Hope belongs to our call, but it’s also facilitated by the scripture, Romans 15, verse four. For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction that through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures, we might have hope.
And I know this to be true. I know that when I am not connected with the word of God. I tend to worry, I tend to fret, I tend to get upset, I, I tend to be hopeless. And we cannot be a hopeless people because we’ve been called to bring hope to the world. We’ve been called to be the hands and the feet of Jesus. We’ve been called to be the body of Christ. We’ve been called to to to rescue others.
By bringing them to Jesus. Specific objects of hope, because we talked about hope always has an object. It includes the future resurrection. We are not long for this world, it doesn’t matter what’s going on, we’re not going to be here forever. The return of Christ. He’s coming back for us. Titus 2 verse 13 first, John, three, two and three. It says he’s coming back here. He will appear the same way he left
in eternal life. Once we’re gone from this world. We have the hope of living all eternity with God. But hopes opposite is expressed in terms of unbelief and Hebrews three versus six through 12, it says, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son and we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart, as in the rebellion on the day of testing and the wilderness when your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for 40 years.
Therefore, I was provoked with that generation and said they always go astray in their heart. They have not known my ways as I swore in my wrath. They shall not enter my rest.
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart leading you to fall away from the living God, brothers and sisters, we need to make sure that we do not allow the situations around us to harden our heart. We want to rest in God, that is our hope. Lack of hope is also grief and despair, First Thessalonians, chapter four, verse 13, but we do not want you to be uninformed brothers about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do, who have no hope.
Also, shame, disappointment. Romans five five. And hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who He has given us. You see, there is no shame. Because Jesus has poured his Holy Spirit into us and how did he do that? In baptism. You know, as we take communion today, we celebrate. Celebrate together as one. As one body of Christ, as one family under God, we have the opportunity.
To celebrate with our eldest brother. Who’s also our savior, who’s also with us every day of our lives. Join me as we pray and we thank God for Jesus’s presence, the Holy Spirit that we received in baptism, and the opportunity to commune together as God’s family because of his sacrifice. Father, we are so grateful for you. And we place our hope in you. Understanding that hope is active. Hope is a verb, hope is is going after what you have promised and it is expecting to see it all the way through.
And I think of the cross and I think of Jesus. Breathing his last breaths and saying to you is finished. You know, that truly is the object of our hope that we might finish with you. And we may be together with you for all eternity. God, we ask that you bless the bread and the fruit of the vine, and you allow us to take communion today with glad and sincere and unified hearts. We love you.
We thank you. And we ask this all in Jesus name. Amen.