faith

5 Hope Killers

hope-killer-square.jpg

Hope isn’t natural. It’s a decision

This month we’ve focused on our hope in God. We long for hope here and know we have a hope in heaven. Abiding in hope can be difficult, though. Like faith and love, our hope can be tested and exhausted by everyday life.

Here are some hope killers we need to avoid:


SHAME

Romans 5:5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 

Shame is opposed to hope. Shame is natural. Hope isn’t. God’s salvation through Jesus saves us from the penalty of sin, but also the shame sin fosters. If you are dealing with shame I’d simply ask,

“Is this shame over something you’ve already repented of and asked God’s forgiveness for?”

If so, take comfort, God has forgiven you and you aren’t what you’ve done. If it’s shame over sin you’re currently committing, God is convicting your heart to bring you to repentance. That’s more conviction than shame. Conviction is good as long as it leads us to repentance. Shame and guilt don’t lead to repentance. They only lead us away from hope, forgiveness and peace.

MATERIALISM

Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

When we focus on material possessions, it’s easy to get discouraged. The wild truth is even those with much tend to want even more. If our hearts are set on wealth, power, and the like our hearts will never be satisfied. Materialism can rob us of the hope God longs for us to abide in.

REGRET

Philippians 3:13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

We all have regrets. There are days and conversations we wish we could change. Living a life focused on the failures of the past can rob us of our hope in the future. Throughout the NT we are encouraged to focus on hope and let go of the past. Paul had much to regret: persecution, unbelief, wasted years, etc. Yet he focused on all that lay ahead.

WORRY

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I’m a worry wart. I’ve always been a big dreamer as well as a big worrier. I have huge aspirations for the future coupled with massive fears of what could go wrong. The recipients of Jeremiah 29:11 were facing dangerous and difficult days, yet God encouraged them not to lose hope. Philippians 4:6,7 puts it simply: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

When we abide in constant worry it’s difficult to have hope. Worry can strangle hope with a million little questions and fears. There is a time to plan. Then there’s a time to pray and trust God with our plans.

MISPLACED HOPE

Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Here’s the best news: our hope isn’t dependent upon our skill, our goodness or merits. Our hope is based on God and his mercy, justice, grace and holiness.

Here’s the worst news: we tend to place our hope in everything but God.

Paul put it this way 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, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

The psalmist wrote in Psalm 147:11: the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

It’s easy to be hopeful when my career, relationships, health, and heart are satisfied. When things aren’t going so well, hope is more difficult. Hope must be a decision I make daily. I will hope in God and his promises, not my feelings or accomplishments (they change so easily). So let me ask you bluntly:

What are you placing your hope in today?

When do you feel closest to God?

I am part of a small group that's going through questions about God. One of the questions posed this week was, "when do you feel closest to God?" I had to really stop and think. I can name many instances I've had intimate times with God, but the timing is always the same. I feel closest to God when I've take a big risk for His kingdom. Whether that's inviting someone to church, sharing the gospel, investing actual dollars in missions, or just leading the church into a risky situation that only God could see us through, it always results in a real dependence upon and closeness with God. I believe it happens for a few reasons.

1. My faith is tested. I'm afraid too often I avoid situations that will stretch or test my faith. I enjoy the safety of the status quo. Testing isn't something to avoid. It's something to lean into.

2. My ideal resolution does't happen. In my mind I imagined God would fix this another way. I assumed He'd use some method I can wrap my head around. It rarely happens that way. This forces me to realize it was never my leadership or sensibilities that resolved the situation.

3. My faith is strengthened. God shows up, or guides, or fixes whatever was amiss. The end result is always the same. My faith is strengthened through the testing. This is why I tend to be more of a risk taker (in terms of my faith) the older I get. I've seen Him do amazing work in me and through me. I hope to take more risks and see God do more in the days ahead.

 

So let me ask you. When do you feel closest to God?

 

 

-Pastor Marc

What does it look like to Step Up in faith?


WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO STEP UP?

Life consists of a multitude of daily decisions. With each of these decisions we must come to a conclusion on whether we say yes or no. There is no backseat to these decisions that we face. When we answer the call to accept Christ into our lives we are actually giving a two-fold answer. First, we answer that we believe in Christ's complete sacrifice for all sin. The second of which is that we choose to live our lives for Christ, in the same way that He lived, to the best of our ability. In James 1:19-27 we read that we should not only be hearers of the Word of God, but doers as well. We aren't called to live life with a backseat mentality, we are called to Step Up and take action.

HOW DO I TAKE MY FIRST STEP?

Our first step starts with having faith in Christ and that he will be glorified in our decisions. Colossians 1:15-20 tells us that everything begins and ends with Christ. Our faith in Christ is what saves us, but our faith should produce works. James 2:14-26 explains that our faith is to be active along with our works, and that our faith is completed by our works. Faith and works aren't separate. When we choose to STEP UP in our faith in Christ, genuine love will be the product.

Maybe you're trying to decide to STEP UP to a new relationship, an engagement, or marriage. Maybe you've wanted to STEP UP to a new job opportunity. Maybe you've been afraid to STEP UP and share your faith in Christ. We weren't made to remain idle. We were made to do. We were made to love.

 

What step are you trying to make now?

There is a first step for everything, but our first step is only the beginning. 

Generosity

10 gs.jpg

This week Pastor Marc talked about 2 Corinthians 9:6-9 and what it looks like to live generously. Here are three take-aways from this week.

Generosity is giving when it doesn’t make sense.
— Marc

Generosity requires faith

God asks for us to have faith in him, but that faith is stretched so thin when the rent is due. We serve a generous God. He has given us His Son, He gives us Salvation open-handed, and He gives us hope. God is not a taker, He is a giver. He asks us little in comparison. Money is not the end-all-be-all. He may not always give us money, but God knows what we need. Our God is faithful to give to those are faithful to give.

generosity kills materialism

How do we kill materialism? We have to view money for what it is, a tool. For us as believers, money is a tool for us to bless our community. Tools are made to be used, not to be stored away never to be used again.

Generosity builds faith

God provides a way for us to be generous. Our faith in God increases as we see the blessings He brings to those who are in need. When we step out in faith and give (at church or in the community) and watch God step in and provide, our faith is strengthened. Do we trust God enough to give?

 

A follow up to Sunday's sermon:

The goal of growth is ALWAYS productivity. We raise our kids to be independent so that they may grow to be productive adults. We don't want our children to depend on us forever, and we desire to see them mature and become self-sufficient.

The same is true for the church.

Our goal is to be healthy enough that we can grow to a place in which we are taking care of our own needs; physical, spiritual, and financial. Our ultimate goal is to be productive. We aren't just paying bills and passing time, but we are making a difference and investing in our community. If this is to be true in the church it must also be seen in believers' lives.

Here are two questions to think on this week

  1. Are we growing into mature believers who are generous AND self-sufficient?
  2. Are we growing into every good work mentioned in 2 Corinthians 9:8?

Growth and good works go hand in hand.

 

Here's a video of the sermon this week on Generosity.

video Block
Double-click here to add a video by URL or embed code. Learn more