New Hope Notes
Abraham & Joseph On Promises And
Heroes...Who Bring Hope
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro
Today I want to talk about hope. You can live a month without food, a few days without water, and a few minutes without air. But no one can live without hope. We all need something to live for. Even Biblical hero Job said that without hope his days would come to an end. But rest assured, there is a way to strengthen our hope – to renew ourselves before God. Today I am going to talk about one of the most powerful motivations for mankind: hope.
Harlan Sanders was very young when his father died and because his mother had to work, it was left up to him to take care of his younger siblings. Did he give up? No. By the age of seven he was cooking full meals. Eventually he opened a chicken restaurant. His chicken was so good that there were always long lines at the restaurant. However, at age sixty, a new highway was to be constructed and the land his restaurant was on was condemned. So he retired but soon realized that his social security checks would not be enough. He then took to trying to sell his famous fried chicken recipe door to door. But he had no luck. Did he give up? No. He changed his approach and kept on trying. He got 1009 rejections before he finally made his first sale! Years later there were 600 franchises for Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken! It has grown to 6000 franchises and in 1979 had $2 billion in sales. Sanders, throughout his up and down life refused to give up hope. You see, if you have hope, it will take you through your dark and troubled times.
Thomas Edison, the eventual inventor of the light bulb, was constantly working on some new invention in his barn. He had hundreds of setbacks but never gave up. One day the barn caught fire and was soon out of control. As all his research and equipment burned he told his son to get his mother. His son asked why and Edison replied, “Because she’s from a small town and has never seen a fire like this!” After the barn had burned to the ground he asked his son if he knew someone with a tractor. The son again asked why. Edison answered, “Because it’s time to rebuild.” Edison never despaired at so-called failure because he never took his eyes off the prize.
Likewise, we should never take our eyes off God’s promises to us. Hope is keeping your eyes on God’s promises. God wants us to remain steady in our hope and our purposes even when we flounder and fail.
Today I will talk about two men who stayed steady in their hope and devotion to God. God made great promises to Abraham even though the situation was very bad for Abraham. He did not lose hope even though he was very old. As the Bible says of Abraham, “In hope against hope he believed … Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead … yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform” (Rom. 4:18-21). Hope is fixing your eyes on God’s promises regardless of the situation. Not one of God’s promises to Israel failed. It is impossible for God to lie.
The Bible further says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen, for by it the men of old gained approval” (Heb. 11:1-2). This means that if you keep the faith and fix your eyes on God’s promises not actually realized yet, you will delight God. This is important because hope will take you through adversity. Hope is faith in advance of proof. But what if we still flounder and fail you ask?
1. ABRAHAM AND JOSEPH’S ASSIGNMENT IS TO GIVE US HOPE.
As the Bible says, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).
There are Three Hopes:
1. DESPERATION BASED HOPE.
This is a very weak kind of hope. It is when you know that there is very little chance of success. It is like calling a girl you have not seen for years and asking her to marry you and she says yes – but she then asks, “Who is this”!!!!!
2. OPTIMISM BASED HOPE.
This is also not the strongest kind of hope. This is like being positive without any real basis for it. The founder of Revlon cosmetics company once said that what Revlon really sells is hope. Hope is essential to the human soul. That is why gambling is so popular. Gambling is actually the thrill of hope. Because hope is so needed by our souls, if we do not have the right kind we will fall for the wrong kind.
3. GOD’S PROMISES BASED HOPE.
God promises a bright tomorrow for you. Ephesians 3:20 says that God’s power at work in us can do far more than we dare ask or imagine. In other words, even if we dream our biggest dream for ourselves, God’s dream for us is unimaginably greater still, provided that our dream is not simply self serving, ofcourse. Our dream should coincide with being an ambassador for Christ. As the Bible says, “I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’” (Jer. 29:11).
What is hope? Keeping your eyes fixed on God’s promises. If you do so, your heart will lilt. But it has to be a dream and hope where God is honored. You can hope for money and you can have money but miss life. If you find that you are off track in your dreams and hopes then you can correct back by asking yourself what is your legacy.
In ancient times, coins had the face of Caesar on them so that one could see that the value of them had eroded if the face was also worn away. Similarly, as Christians, we want to reflect Christ as much as possible but the image of Christ can be worn down in us by real life’s troubles. We can renew Christ’s image in us by correcting back to God’s promises. We must remember that the Bible says, “He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature…” (2 Pet. 1:4). God will remint or restore you through your focus on His promises. Ask yourself, if you need renewal, what is the best way to use your life for God?
Disciple Peter was getting old, tired and distracted but Jesus told him to not be so concerned with anything else and to simply focus on following Jesus.
Now that we know about the three hopes here are the three …
2. HOPE KILLERS:
God’s love will not change or adjust to us. We have to change or adjust God’s love. As the Bible says, “Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things” (Jer. 5:25 NLT). If you received the promise of a scholarship with the requirement that you maintain a “B” average and you disobey by earning less than a “B” average, it would be your disobedience that forfeits the scholarship not the scholarship grantee. You have to adjust to the promise. The promise will not adjust to you.
God’s gift is repentance and restoration because unresolved sin is a big killer of hope. This does not mean that you have to be telling everybody sorry all the time. But maybe like fifty repentances can be silent but the fifty first can be spoken. Have you repented today? Repent often.
Too many of us live on the edge of quitting when we should be focused on God’s promises. As the Bible says of the aged Abraham, “In hope against hope he believed … Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead…” (Rom. 4:18-19). Though Abraham felt that his body would normally have been too weak and old to accomplish God’s tasks, he knew that with God on his side he would be successful. He kept his eyes fixed on God’s promises.
Biblical hero Joseph was seventeen years old when he bragged to his brothers that God had special promises in store for him. So the brothers became angry and jealous and sold him into slavery. But Joseph did not become bitter. He tapped into his potential instead and became one of the top servants in his master Potiphar’s house. But then Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him and had him put in prison. “But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer” (Gen. 39:21).Once again he refused to become bitter and instead tapped into his potential and became the assistant warden. He then made that prison the best in the country. He later achieved Pharaoh status. Joseph had the right to be bitter but he refused that right because unforgiveness makes you live in the past. It steals your hope.
Unforgiveness is a horrible price to pay to be right or to make someone else wrong. Unforgiveness will prevent you from tapping into your God promised future. So do not trade your future for proving the other guy wrong.
A staff member at a church became obsessed with proving that the pastor there was dishonest. I had to take a trip there to try to settle the issue but for eight months that staff member was sidetracked from doing his job. He should have let God deal with that pastor. That staff member should have kept focused on God’s promises for his future.
So keep focused on what God is doing in your life. Study the lives of Abraham and Joseph. They are wonderful heroes and mentors from our past that have a lot to say about our future. And remember that God has granted us promises so that we can partake in the divine.
Abraham and Joseph’s assignment is to give us hope. There are three hopes. Desperation based hope is a weak hope with almost no chance of success. Optimism based hope is not the strongest hope. It is simply positive thinking. God’s promises based hope is the strongest. It is based on what you know God has planned for you. There are three hope killers. Disobedience against God will prevent you from receiving His promises for your future. Defeatism will prevent you from reaching God’s future because you will quit before you get there. Unforgiveness will stop you from receiving God’s future for you because you will stuck living in the past. Focus on God’s promises and you will be able to partake in all his divine blessings for your future.
1. What happened when you were weak in your hope and faith in God’s promises?
2. What is the difference between faith and blind faith?
3. What did you learn from Abraham and Joseph?
4. How do you know what God has promised for you?
5. What happened when you were disobedient to God?
6. How can you fight defeatism?
7. Who should you forgive and how will you do that?