Last Sunday Andrew commenced our series on our newly adopted values. RCBC Values are deeply held principles that guide who we are, our vision and decisions. These biblical values define who we are at Reedy.
Last Sunday we looked at our value “We Seek”. Jesus plainly taught us to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33 NIV). We are to seek His kingdom through prayer. Jesus said in Matthew 7:7 NIV “…seek and you will find…” (Matthew 7:7 NIV). We are to seek God’s presence as King David says in Psalm 27:8 NIV “My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek” (Psalm 27:8 NIV). We are to seek Christ in repentance and for forgiveness. Peter says in Act 2:38, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. We are to seek dependence on God. 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV). And we are to seek to make God known as Jesus commanded in Acts 1:8 “…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NIV).
And so, our first value as a community of believers is We Seek. We are people who seek God for meaning, purpose, direction, help, guidance. By seeking God and His kingdom, we are humbling saying that He is the Mighty One!
Today, we are looking at our second value – We Hope. The Bible is full of hope. From creation, there was hope. In the midst of slavery in Egypt, to the prosperity of the United Kingdoms, through the suffering of being in exile, to the birth of the Messiah and His resurrection, and the promise of His return, the people of God had hope.
As Christians, we are people of hope – full stop. In the midst of good and hard times we are people of hope.
Perhaps the greatest work on the theology of hope outside of the bible was from Jurgen Moltmann of Germany. Moltmann's experiences in a prisoner-of-war camp at the end of World War II led him to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in which hope played a great part. This subsequently influenced his theological studies. Just a couple of years ago, at age 90, his theology of hope has changed at all over the years. In fact, he recalls, “I asked myself: Why has Christian theology allowed this theme of hope to escape it? Are not God's promises and human hopes the scarlet thread running right through the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New?"
As a church that acknowledges the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we hope.
I define hope as a well sourced, well-grounded, confident assurance that comes through accepting Jesus’ death, resurrection and return.
It is not wishful thinking. It is well sourced, well-grounded, confident assurance that comes through accepting Jesus’ death, resurrection and return.
Our hope is well-sourced. In his concluding remarks to the church at Rome, Paul wrote: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13 NLT). Do you see how Paul acknowledges that God is the source of hope? When we put our trust in God the source of hope, we will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our hope is well sourced.
Our hope is well-grounded. It is well-grounded because of its foundation. Hope’s foundation is God. Paul tells this in 1 Timothy 6:17, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God…” (1 Timothy 6:17 NIV). It’s so true, that intentionally and unintentionally we put our hopes in material possessions, education, sporting abilities, hoping that our new car will solve our problems, or hoping that better education will lead us to better job satisfaction, or hoping that ours or our child’s sporting ability will lead them to fame. Paul says don’t put your hope in things that are uncertain but put your hope in God who is well-grounded. God the all-powerful, all knowing, ever present God is who we are to put our hope in. That is why Paul says in Romans 5:2, “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2 ESV). Our hope is well-grounded.
A little over a month before he died, the famous atheist Jean-Paul Sartre declared that he so strongly resisted feelings of despair that he would say to himself, “I know I shall die in hope”. Then in profound sadness, he would add, “But hope needs a foundation”. The Christian hope is well-grounded in the Mighty God.
Our hope is a confident assurance. Paul says in Romans 15:4 that “the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement” (Romans 15:4 NLT). And it does. Over and over again we read of the people of God’s confident expectation that God would come through. We’ve just done three months of the Book of Psalms. How many times in these psalms did we read how the writer was in trouble or was going through a hard time and then they would say, “but my hope is in you all day long” (Psalms 25:5 NIV). The psalmist had a confident assurance that God will come through.
And the Scriptures do give us hope and assurance. The promises of God are filled with hope and expectation.
To those needing comfort, there are promises for you.
To those seeking guidance, there are promises for you.
To those needing affirmation, there are promises for you.
To those facing an uncertain future, there are promises for you.
To those struggling with self-forgiveness, there are promises for you.
God has a promise for you and His promises give hope.
We know from the Bible that God promised Abraham that God will give him a son. Years went pass and yet Abraham still believed in hope that God would come through on His Word. And Romans 4 talks about this hope that Abraham had in God’s promise. I like Eugene Peterson's translation of Romans 4: “He didn't tiptoe around God's promise asking cautiously sceptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said” (Romans 4:20-21 MSG).
I like that phrase “he plunged into the promise and came up strong”. And it is the same with us that when we plunge into the Promises of God, we will come up stronger with a confident assurance hope.
Before I move on, there are other reasons why our hope is confident assurance.
One is of the second coming of Jesus Christ. Paul’s letter to one of his converts Titus speaks about this hope: “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, will be revealed” (Titus 2:11-13 NLT).
The Early Christians experienced hardship and persecution. Leaders like Paul told them to hang in there because one day Jesus will return and with His return the church will be raptured and taken away from the miseries of the world.
For two thousand years Jesus has not returned. But He may today or tomorrow or the next day. Jesus said that He will return. And on that glorious day amazing things will happen that affirm the might and power of Jesus Christ. And so we are to look forward with a confident assurance hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.
The Bible also speaks about the hope we have because of eternity. John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NLT). Eternal life is eternity with God. It starts as soon as you Admit that you are a Sinner; Believe that Jesus saved you through His death on the cross; and Confess that you need Jesus as your Lord.
With eternity the best is yet to come. Ephesians 1:18 says, “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called—His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance” (Ephesians 1:18 NLT). As children of God we are blessed to receive an inheritance. God will give us one of His rooms in His mansion in heaven – a place where “there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4 NLT).
To those who suffer through sorrow and pain, such a reality can give immense hope! You always have hope!
Paul has built upon this and says, “For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God's people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News” (Colossians 1:4-5 NLT). When we get to heaven God has reserved for us some amazing things. A new body fit for heaven, reunion with love ones who have died in the Lord, and a life of utter peace. I know that this truth gives hope to so many people.
With eternity the best is yet to come. You always have hope.
This hope is not found in New Age thinking and practices; it is not found by simply wishing; it isn’t found in possessions. It is found in the good news of Jesus Christ. This is why as a community of believers, We Hope. We hope because it is well sourced, well-grounded, confident assurance that comes through accepting Jesus’ death, resurrection and return.
As a Leadership Team, we felt that there are two areas that we need to grow in hope for.
The first is for transformation. We hope for transformation. Paul spells out what this transformation is in Romans 12, “Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT). In hope, we pray that God will transform many lives, changing from the world values to God’s values. My hope is that God will continue to transform me and the way I think and behave. The bible calls this sanctification – a process in which the Holy Spirit in His time transforms us to be more like Jesus. I hope that when I’m confronted with whoever become an enemy then I learn to love them. I hope when I’m challenged by a very sad and lonely person that I would stop and make time for them. I hope that when I see an injustice happening to stranger that I would speak up. I hope the person I know who is heading to hell will hear the gospel from me. WE hope for transformation in not only other people’s lives, but our lives as well.
The second is to be a positive influence in our church and community. We hope to be a positive influence in our church and community. This is the heart of Jesus for His church. In His Sermon of the Mount, Jesus taught: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?... You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16 NIV).
We know that salt adds flavour and so we are called to share the gospel with others, so their lives can be flavoured with Godly love. And salt was used before refrigeration to preserve meats from decaying. Speaking up for God’s ways stops further decaying of our society. And we know that light illuminates and so we hope that our light illuminates God’s kingdom. As a church, we hope to be a positive influence in our church and community.
As followers of Jesus, we are to be the most hopeful people on the planet. Our hope is well sourced, well-grounded, confident assurance that comes through accepting Jesus’ death, resurrection and return.
We hope. We hope in God, for transformation, and to be a positive influence in our church and community.
We hope in God for our children to walk the ways of God.
We hope in God for healing.
We hope in God for a spiritual awakening.
We hope in God for a fresh new start.
We hope in God to help us overcome our financial burdens.
We hope in God for a home for the refugee and the vulnerable.
We hope in God that our world leaders will just calm down.
We hope in God for our farmers to receive favouarable weather conditions.
We hope in God that He will build His church.
We hope in God for Christ’s return.
So, what are values? Values are deeply held principles that guide who we are. Together as a group of believers - We Hope.