LOOKING FOR HOPE IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES.

 

Every person needs hope in their life because without a hope of a better tomorrow life just isnít that important. If we begin to think that all that we have is this short existence we live on the earth and then we die, we will live a life emptiness. Many times, people who have no hope will kill themselves because they see no reason to continue their misery.

 

When we take God out of the picture and put evolution in its place life to me has no meaning because were just another animal that is trying to find its way in an evolving world. Paul talks about how it would be if Jesus did not exist and He was not raised from the dead in:

 

1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up -- if in fact the dead do not rise.16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

 

If we put our hope in a God that does not exist and Savior that was not raised from the dead, then we should be pitted more than anyone because we would be clinging to a false hope. Thankfully, we can know with all confidence that God does exist and that Jesus was raised from the dead.

 

Paul also had to deal with some Christians that had lost their hope of eternal life in:

 

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

 

Sometimes whenever a loved ones passes away that died in the Lord, some begin to lose hope because they donít think they will every see that person again, but Paul lets us know that if we die in the Lord or if we are found faithful when Jesus comes again, then we will see those loved ones again because Jesus was raised from the dead. His resurrection is what all Christianity hangs on, and His resurrection can be proved with overwhelming evidence, which is why we can put our hope in Him. As Paul said,

 

Romans 8:23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. ††

 

While we should be looking for hope in God and His promises, many look for hope in all the wrong places.

 

Some look for hope within themselves because of doctrines like humanism. They teach that everything that you need to satisfy yourself is found within. We can see many people who live their life this way. They donít look to anything or anyone else to solve their problems or to deal with heartache because they feel like they are self-efficient.

 

I can promise you that you will never be satisfied if your hope is based on yourself because the Bible makes it clear that the answer to life is not within man and those who are foolish enough to try and find it there, will never find hope.

 

Proverbs 20:24 A man's steps are of the LORD; How then can a man understand his own way?

Jeremiah 10:23 O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.

Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

 

As important as self-esteem is and believing in yourself, none of these things can give you hope of salvation or a hope that will satisfy because that can only come from God. Jesus disciples found this out after Jesus talked to the rich young ruler who walked away sad because of his great wealth.

 

Matthew 19:25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?"26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

 

Those who are looking for hope within themselves will be sorely disappointed because only God can supply a hope that will satisfy.

 

Others look for hope outside of themselves, but they do not look for hope in God. They look for hope in human relationships or manmade doctrines. While they may feel good about their choice for awhile, this type of false hope is temporary as,

 

 

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

It doesnít matter how good something seems that is created by man, we must realize that it will not last, but the hope given to us by God will last for eternity.

 

Proverbs 11:7 When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish, And the hope of the unjust perishes.

 

If you put your hope in a man, or in a manmade doctrine, it is a fact that it will eventually perish and those who follow that manís teaching will perish without hope as well. So, we must not put our hope in a person, a manmade teaching, or a thing because it will fail us, but we can rest assured that God will not fail us because He does not die and His promises never fail.

 

Some put their hope in their morality. They believe that if they live a good moral life and do nothing wrong to others that they have hope of eternal life. After all, why would God punish a good moral person. That might seem like a valid argument to some, but we learn from the Bible that being good moral person is not enough. In Acts 10, we learn about moral man named Cornelius who did many of things that Godís Word said he should do.

 

Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment,2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, "Cornelius!"4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, "What is it, lord?" So he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.5 "Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter.6 "He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do."

 

Cornelius had great respect for God and he was a moral person. Now based on the verses we have seen so far, we might conclude that Cornelius was a saved man because God heard his prayer and has given him instructions to send for Peter. If we didnít have any more information, we might speculate that God wanted Peter to give Cornelius some task to do since he was right with God, but when we look at the whole council of God we find out that Corneliusís morality and fear of God was not enough and that he was in an unsaved condition because when we go over to Acts 11, we find out the reason God told Cornelius to send for Peter.

 

Acts 11:13 "And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, 'Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter,14 'who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.'

 

Even though Cornelius was a moral man and one that feared God, which is more than most good moral people do, he was lost. If his hope was in his morality, his hope was misguided because God was going to have Peter reveal to him what he must do to be saved so that he could have the hope that only comes through God.

 

If someone like Cornelius could not find true hope or salvation in being a moral person than neither can anyone else because as Jesus said:

 

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

 

Others put their hope in the promises of men, which is why some have been lead astray and become members of cults. Sometimes those who put their hopes in the promises of men end up dying for a false hope.

 

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

 

We have a perfect example of this in Acts 5. The apostles were arrested and then freed by the angel of the Lord and they started preaching Jesus again. They were brought before the council and they questioned them. Notice what happens next starting in:

 

Acts 5:34 Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while.35 And he said to them: "Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.36 "For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing.37 "After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed.38 "And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;39 "but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it -- lest you even be found to fight against God."

 

Gamaliel lets them know that if Jesus was just a man then those who are following Him will end up perishing or dying out. He gives his proof by talking about these other men that had claimed to be someone great and how their following ended in one way or another after their leader died. That is so true. When a leader of a movement dies, the following almost always dies with it, but Christianity is a great exception to this general rule because Jesus was not just man who pretended to be someone great. He was the Son of God and He was raised from the dead. All the miracles, internal and external evidences prove this.

 

If you want to put your hope in a man, put in the only man that was man and God at the same time, which is Jesus. If you put your hope in the promises of man, they will fail you and you will be just as lost as they are.

 

Some put their hope in the pleasures of life. They do not really care if they are sinning as long as they feel good about what they are doing. Again, there is no denying that sinful things can bring about pleasure. If it didnít, then sin would not be much of a problem to us. We must understand that the pleasures of this life are temporary and they will never last. No amount of sinful fleshly pleasure is worth being separated from God.

 

Moses is a great example of this because,

 

Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter,25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

 

Paul also understood the importance of putting his hope in Christ, instead of anything else.

 

Philippians 3:4 If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

 

So, donít put your hope in your flesh because the sinful pleasures of this life are temporary and will never remain, but hope in Christ will.

 

Some will put their hope in their government especially when their government pays their way and protects them. Basically, some make their government their God, but we must realize that this too is a false hope because it manmade and nations rise and they fall, but God remains the same today, yesterday and tomorrow.

 

Others put their hope in a place or building. This was problem the Samaritans had with Jews because the Samaritans thought their mountain was where they were supposed to worship God. We can see this from a woman who has asked Jesus about this in,

 

 

 

 

John 4:19 The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.20 "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship."21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.22 "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.23 "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

 

Some Christians think that the greater the building the more holy it is, but we need to understand that we should not put our emphasis on the size or a beauty of a building, instead our hope and our desire should be founded on worshipping God in spirit and in truth. When these two things are combined it doesnít matter if we assemble in an old ragged barn, we can know that we are worshipping God as He wants to. So, donít every put your hope in building or a place because those things will not last, and they will be burned on the last day.

 

Some put their hope in their education because they feel like they are now smarter and wiser then God. But as,

 

Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.

 

We must never become so prideful about our education that we make ourselves wiser than God. We should follow the advise of,

 

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. 19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.

 

One last area that I want to mention that people tend to put their hope is their riches. They think money will solve all their problems, but usually it creates more problems, and as with everything else I have mentioned, riches will not last. Jesus said,

 

Matthew 6:19 " Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

Even if we could have everything that we desire that the world has to offer, our hope would be empty and we would not have eternal salvation. Jesus sums this up best when He said,

 

Matthew 16:26 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

 

So stop looking for hope in all the wrong places and realize that the only hope that will satisfy and will last for eternity can only be found in God. I will conclude my lesson from the words of Paul.

 

Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.