Bible Faith Fellowship: Substance Over Form

Hope and Change

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Barry Johnson

Hope and Change Hope and Change

Date 2010-08-22
Series  
Sub-series  
Document (PDF) BFF-20100822-HopeAndChange.pdf
Call to Worship
Proverbs 12:15, 14:12, and 16:25
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
1 Peter 1:3
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, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.

Message

We live in a season of history in which many people have been captivated by the hope of change. These are universal aspects of life, at least nominally appealing to all men living, for none of us have attained a state of perfection in our flesh from which we would want no change again, ever, and all men hope for such perfection, although all men will tell you that they are willing to settle for something a little less than perfection in this life. The politicians and media of today are no different from all others in this respect: they appeal to everyone’s hope for some changes in their lives. That kind of political advertising plays on those universal hopes for change. But of course not everyone wants – hopes for -- the same changes to affect their lives. That is why all advertising – commercial and political -- plays on the same ideas of hope and change: “I sure would like that shiny new car, one day; change me and my life by diet, clothes, education, opportunity, relationships, money, status, beauty, power, etc.” So, advertisers try to appeal to their market audiences, and the fringes of their market audiences (the “swing vote” if you will) to promise change to fulfill hopes. An advertising campaign is successful when it connects the hope and the proposed change so effectively that people will invest in the change because they have faith – they expect – that the proposed change will do for them what they are hoping for. But, these human marketing attempts are just that – human. Hence, from Proverbs Chapters 12, 14 and 16, “There is a way that seems right to a man . . . .” But, despite man – actually, for man, God has a plan, Jesus Christ, and because, Romans 5:5, He has poured out His love (Jesus Christ) in us through the Holy Spirit, His plan does not disappoint!

The Holy Spirit in a recent dream explained it to me like this: All men hope for change, BUT, all men mostly hope in their own plans for change. No man hopes for “no change”. There are other names for change: growth, education, maturity, self-fulfillment, accomplishment, etc. To accomplish such change, most men seek to use and apply their God-given talents and opportunities, unfortunately without much even acknowledging God and His giving of those talents. There is an angst, a hunger, a dissatisfaction that stirs men’s souls when those plans, executed, do not produce the desired results. One way of saying this is “Money won’t buy you love.” Or, “stuff really don’t make you happy.” Underneath all the focus men have on hoping for change in the material aspects of their lives, to produce satisfaction (i.e., such satisfaction that they would not want any more change), even if achieved, just does not, in fact, accomplish changes in the non-material areas of our lives – areas of peace, joy, love, relationships. Such changes do not enable us, as Paul said, to be “content in all circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). Paul was telling us something there, Paul was explaining and identifying what all people want, which is contentment, being satisfied in being and not just in doing. Paul was reminding us that “being”, which is who we are, is what defines us, not “doing”, which is a measure of our sense of discontent with who we think we are. We need to attain this perspective and keep in balance that loving God and our neighbors is an active life of “doing” – we are not to have idle hands, or be lazy – but the doing part is not to define us. Rather, the being part should define us, and the doing part should flow out of that, for changes in our lives and others’ lives.

Proverbs 11:7 tells us an adage of wisdom: “When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish, and the hope of the unjust perishes.” The reverse is true also: “When a righteous man dies, his expectation willl not perish, and the hope of the righteous man will not perish.” Why is this so? It is because of the Gospel of Christ, the good news for mankind! As believers in the Gospel of Christ we live in the expectation, the assurance by God Himself, Titus 1:2, “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” You see God is something really special for us, because His “hope’ produces real, and really valuable, priceless, change in our lives. He is the very “God of hope”, Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” And, as believers, we do so with enthusiasm and eagerness, Galations 5:5, “For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”

So, if we become, or have become, repentant and humble believers in, and followers of, Jesus Christ, then where are we? The answer is in I Peter 3:18-21, “. . .knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

God is very interested in how we, as believers, understand and commit our lives to the issue of hope in Christ, and the process of change. He wants to see our faith in action! What does that mean? Well, Hebrews 11:1-2, it means that we will take action on the basis of what we hope for when we have no evidence in physical or legal terms to support the risk of taking that action. This passage reads, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.”

So how do we obtain a good testimony, like the elders in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11? Well, we have to run the good race, like Jesus, and we must look to Him and consider Him and His testimony, what He did and, Revelations 19:10, “the spirit of prophecy”, of what, prophetically, we may expect in our race. We run the good race in the choices we make in faith. Those are our steps, choices. Which choices we make, and when and how we make them, determine whether we have run a good race in our life, whether the testimony we have obtained in our lives is good, like the elders of the Hall of Faith, or not. What will yours be and how will you obtain it.

In Luke 6:31-38, Jesus, in speaking to His disciples (verse 20) tells us how, as believers, to obtain that good testimony that comes only from living risk-taking lives of faith: “And just as you want me to do to you, you do likewise (the “Golden Rule”). But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to receive as much back. (Especially beginning here at verse 35.) But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosim. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” This is how, also, we comply with the Great Commandment, to love God with everything and to love our neighbor as ourselves!. Translation not really necessary, but this is saying, “Don’t make your love a commercial venture, expecting something in return; be as merciful and forgiving to people as God is; keep no attitude of grudge, of judgment, or of condemnation; and give, give and give!”

Conclusion

So, run the good race, II Timothy 4:7 and Hebrews 12:1-6, with endurance, looking always unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, and therefore do not become weary or discouraged in your souls, resist sin unto bloodshed (yours), and always be encouraged by the Lord’s corrections and rebukes as He coaches you in your race of life. In this race of your life – and you only get one shot at it, which we call Your Life – Hebrews 3:6, “hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end”; Hebrews 6:11, and “show the same diligence (of ministry – verse 10) to the full assurance of hope until the end; verses 18-19, maintaining a strong consolation in the refuge of God, and lay hold of – and don’t turn loose of, the hope in Christ, as an anchor of your soul, knowing that Jesus is our forerunner and intercessor.

Listen to the Holy Spirit, obey the commands of God and Jesus, and let God’s love be poured out in you and through you, back to God, and to people around you, even your enemies, as following your forerunner, Christ, you, too, establish a testimony of prophecy. Let God’s plan, not yours or some advertiser or political campaign, be the instrumentality of change in your life – change in and for you, and change in and for others. Let your risk-taking faith in Jesus be the substance of the hope in your life, and nothing else. God’s plan for you guides you on the narrow and straight path to forgiveness and eternal life through Christ, with God, and your resurrection body! Man’s plan, the plan of the advertisers and political campaigners leads you, Proverbs 12:15, to the opposite, the real death! Connect the dots of the Golden Rule, the Great Commandment, and the Love Chapter of Corinthians, I Corinthians 13 – Faith, Hope and Love – and follow only Jesus in the race of your life. Then the change you most deeply hope for will be real and your covetous neighbors cannot take it away from you, but you will have plenty enough to share with them, in God’s grace and provision and timing.

God bless you and amen+