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Today I want to talk about hope. Hope is defined as a feeling that what’s is wanted will occur or be had, and/or that events will turn out for the best. My Apostle taught on this last Sunday and it struck me as interesting because I don’t think that Christians ever intentionally place their hope in anything besides God. But the fact is, we often do. I know I do, anyway.

For example, we really want to buy a new car and we are really hoping that our job will give us the raise that we are way-too-far-past-due so that we can buy it. Is our hope in God or our job? Well, our job, let’s be honest. We are not trusting that God will give us the car no matter what happens with the job, we are trusting the job to give us the raise so WE can buy the car. In other words, God’s not moving fast enough so let’s just help Him along, shall we?

I’ll use another example from my personal history. I recently seperated from the Navy. Unfortunately, I did not handle ship deployments with…uh…grace, shall we say? So after a three month deployment, I swore up, down, and all around, NEVER AGAIN. I wanted out, these people are crazy, these deployments are crazy, the Navy is CRAZY. OUT. OUT. OUT. So I put in a request for early seperation. I was really hoping it would go through. The Navy is downsizing, so no prob right? Right? Oh so very wrong.

There was problem, after problem, after problem, after a REDICULOUS amount of problems. And the result? I became extremely discouraged, angry, and deppressed. You see, because I placed my hope in a decision that the Navy would make, I didn’t place it in the hands of God. And let me tell you, God’s hands are the only ones that are sure and safe. So because He wasn’t the current carrier of my hope, I lost it. They threw my request back in my face and I lost my hope. I lost my joy. I lost my motivation.

And when God showed me the error of my ways in His kind and gentle manner, I placed my hope in Him. And in His timing, though His process, I was given my seperation. And there were many times it seemed like He was not moving AT ALL, but I had to keep trusting in Him because I knew He was faithful and He was the only One I could trust with my hope.

This, brothers and sisters, is a continual life process. Though God sent me through a…kinda extreme, in my opinion…circumstance in order to learn this lesson, it is a lesson learned through the process of trial and error. One cannot sit with me and tell me they do not have struggles with hope (unless they are extremely spiritually mature and bordering somewhere on perfection.) Anyway, we do, all the time. I have had plenty before the Navy one, and plenty since. Each time I learn, I get better, I trust God more, but I must always be proactive in my own thinking. I must always be aware of just where it is I have placed my hope, because it is so easilly misplaced.

You see, the Christian walk is a walk of hope and a walk of faith. But it is not a walk of perfection. That’s a lie. The was Christ’s walk because, and only because, we couldn’t get ours right. So embrace Christ’s walk but don’t expect it to be your own. We are flawed, flawed creatures redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. We place our joy, trust, hope, faith, love, etc on every breeze of the wind and then throw tantrums when the wind switches to an unexpected direction. But that is that nature of wind, is it not? But God’s hand is steady. It is solid. Perfect. Safe. And that’s where our hope belongs, no matter how many times we have to re-place it there.

   
5 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9 Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10 nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.
(Matthew 10:5-10, New King James Version)

Thus says the Lord,

“If, I, being perfect and well-knowledged in what my children are able and capable of, therefore do command them to go out and spread the kingdom of God, why are my children held back by fear? Where is their faith? If I have given the gift of preaching my Word, why do the people say I can’t preach? And if I, the source of all power and authority, do say to my children, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, why is it that the children of God carry more fear of the demonic than the demonic have of them? Why is it that the lepers go uncleansed because the people have no faith in My desire to rid them of their infirmity? Why is it that the sick do perish, when the prayer of faith would have healed their bodies?

“And yet I am the One at fault? I am the One who does not heal? I am the One responsible for the trials of man? Let Me tell My children this; I send no battle without first arming My children with weapons, I loose no flood without first teaching My children to swim, and I pass no command without first ensuring my children are well able to fulfill it.

“My desire is not for death and destruction, oh little children, but for peace, love, and harmony. And if destruction is not my will, why then, when presumptuous man does see it, do they point to Me before they even consider theirselves, their own race? Am I guilty of the flaws of man? Am I guilty of the murders, thefts, and rapes of man? Am I guilty of the negligence of man to their own planet? Am I guilty of their sins and shortcomings? No. I tell you. I am guilty of none of these. So why then do I bear the brunt of the blame?

“Tell Me, dearest child who holds all knowledge, did I force the finger that squeezed the trigger of the gun that killed an innocent man? Tell Me, for I am curious to know, did I spread the chemicals that are killing your planet? Did I use the resources that are weighing heavilly on your economy? Did I force the alcohol down the throat of the drunk-driver that crippled a child? Did I construct the building that toppled upon it’s workers? Did I force the leaders to begin any of their wars? Did I neglect the campfire that burned down forest and homes?

“No. No. I am gulty of none of these things. So why do I bear the blame?

“And when I came to the earth with a message of repentence, did I begin a war that consumed the lives of thousands? Or did I feed thousands, and heal thousands, and spread hope to thousands? And when I was raised upon a tree, was it because I committed transgression or because I gave my life for the transgressions of others? And when I commanded my disciples to follow in my footsteps, did I tell them to kill, steal, and destroy? Or did I send them with the message and spiritual tools of life?

“So why then do I bear the accusation of death?

“There is more to this world than meets the eye, My children. Therefore is it not wiser to walk in the ways of perfection rather than throw blame toward perfection?”

God is asking the church today this question; “Why are you running the race?” He wants to know the motives for your faithfulness. Why? Because if your motives are wrong, you will soon drop the race having wasted a great deal of time.

Listen, children of God, we can’t be in this race for the benefits, for the blessings. We can’t follow God because He makes us feel good and gives us pretty things. For such is an insult to the Almighty. God is about so much more than that, and walking with Him must be about more than all of that.

Our faithfulness is on trial. Things are turning upside down. Nothing is going the way that we feel it should. And it seems like God has gone silent. He’s not answering any prayers. He’s not releasing His usual blessings. Does that sound familiar? God wants to know if we will stay in the race even when the benefits are not in sight.

God is not our sugar daddy. He is not a pimp. And He is not Santa Clause. Don’t get me wrong, He has a strong desire to bless His people. His heart delights in our delights. But He is about much more than free cars, extra cash, and even dashes of joy. He is also about reaching out to broken souls. Reveling in the fellowship of each other. Rejoicing in the delights of nature. Feeding the homeless. Healing the sick. Loving each other.

What does all that add up to? God is about being a blessing to each other, and enjoying life together. That is what this race is truly about, brothers and sisters. That’s the foundation for the gospel. Everything else is a buildup on just how to make that possible. And if that’s not the foundation for our faithfulness, then can we can’t be surprised when our faith falls short when we need it most.

(Inspired by Apostle Jones sermon, My Faith is on Trial)

Look upon the time of life. Look upon the gift of its seasons. For every season there is a purpose. For every time, there is a new beginning. Such is the way of life; in nature, in humanity, in the world.

Let us not rush the delicate balance of life. Let us not hurry the gentle slope of a dewdrop dripping from its leaf. Let us not hasten the growth of a tulip, peaking from the darkness of its seed, peering into the sweet delight of a new and fascinating world. Don’t press the kitten to flee its mother’s womb. All will be done in its perfect time. All will be spoken at the timing of perfect commands.

Don’t hasten the Lord when He stalls on your prayers. He knows the timing of the season. He knows the purpose of the timing. He knows the importance of the purpose. Don’t hasten the perfection of our perfect Creator. He knows what He is doing.

There is a time to sow. There is a time to reap. And then, there is a time to simply tilt your head to the whisper of the wind, and trust what God is saying.