Hope for our Future -- Joyful Hope for Our Lives -- 09/18/2022

Hope for our Future  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:54
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Desolation and Promise

[Slide: On the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate. (Daniel 9:27, NASB95)]
We live in desolate times. The prophet Daniel speaks of the antichrist as “the one who makes desolate.”
According to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, one definition of desolate is “joyless, devoid of warmth, comfort, or hope.
The Hebrew word translated desolate here carries the sense of being appalled. When something appalls us, shock and dismay overcome us, even disgust or revulsion. For those of us who lived through the attack of 9/11, 2001, the attack and devastation appalled us. We found it difficult to believe what we were seeing. We were asking ourselves; how could this happen? One thing that was certain, there was an almost universal recognition and agreement that we were witnessing evil in action.
In Daniel, what makes the antichrist appalling, is that he desecrates the Temple of God, that place which God set apart as a mini restoration of Eden, the place where heaven touches earth and God meets with His people.
While “the antichrist” has not come, the apostle John tells us that many antichrists have already come, and that the spirit of the antichrist is working in the world.
1 John 2:18 NIV
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.
1 John 2:22 NIV
Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.
1 John 4:3 NIV
but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
The foundational assumptions in our secular times are 1) God does not exist and 2) if Jesus existed, he was certainly not the Christ, the Messiah, the only Savior of the world for all people.
The more ingrained these assumptions become in our nation and in the world, the more appalling things we see happening. It makes the world a joyless and hopeless place—a desolate place.
John Eldredge in his book, Resilient describes the symptoms of our cultural desolation like this,
A sort of dullness of heart, a poverty of spirit, a barrenness of soul. Disappointment, so understandable given the circumstances, collapses into disillusionment. Neither hope nor joy comes easily. Worst of all there comes a kind of blankness in our life with God. Faith feels flat, or dumb, or simply . . . gone. We are disappointed with God, and we feel we don’t believe in him anymore.[1]
On top of this there is our constant struggle with sin. The Apostle Paul felt this struggle deeply and wrote these words in Romans 7,
For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” (Romans 7:19–20, NIV)
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:24, NIV)

God Promises Restoration

Yet, God always promised His People restoration in their desolation.
When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the Lord, will answer them. The God of Israel will never allow them to be abandoned. I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of water in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground. I will plant trees in the barren desert — cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, fir, and pine. I am doing this so all who see this miracle will understand what it means — that it is the Lord who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it. (Isaiah 41:17–20, NLT)
God says, in effect when your sin has left you high and dry, without recourse and you are desperate, I will provide water to restore your life, for I have never abandoned you. The language here is the language of a restored Eden the place where heaven touches earth, where God meets with his children.

God delivers on his promise, restoring Eden in our hearts through faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus said,
Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, Rivers of living water will flow from his heart. (John 7:37–38, NLT)
In response to this the Apostle Paul wrote,
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1–2, NIV)

Belonging to Jesus Is Our Joyful Hope

Immediately, we feel great relief knowing that in the middle of our great struggle with sin, there is no condemnation for us because we are in Christ Jesus - not simply because we believe in Jesus, but because Jesus lives in us and we live in him.[2]
We feel thankful that the Spirit, who lives in us sets us free from the certain condemnation of the law of sin and death.[3]
We are awestruck by the love of God for us, who instead of leaving us to die in our sin and face his eternal judgment, sent his own Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord in a human body, who never sinned in that body and therefore, deserved life and honor, not punishment and death. This same Jesus paid the price in his sinless body, for every sin everyone has ever committed in their body in the past, present, and future.
We feel awestruck that Jesus did this so that the “righteous requirement of the law” would be “fully met” in us. Regarding righteousness there is nothing lacking in us - because Christ Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, and now lives his righteousness in us.[4]
We feel the desire to let the Spirit control more of our mind. To control more of our emotional desires. We are more and more controlled by the Spirit, so that we experience a mind that is full of life and peace.
We are deeply grateful and find powerful encouragement that we do in fact, please God despite all our sins because the Spirit of Christ lives in us. God delights in the righteous life of Jesus in us. Therefore, just as the Father loves the Son, so the Father loves us with that same love, for we and the Son are one. Jesus lives in us, and we live in Jesus.
We experience life physically and spiritually. God gives life to our mortal body in this world and the next. God calls our life forth and sustains it, through the indwelling of the Divine presence. Now we can live in ways that benefit and honor our body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, and when Christ returns, he will raise our dead body incorruptible![5]
We can see and hear the Spirit of God leading us. To be led, one must be able to see or hear the leader. We can easily trace how God has led us and has spoken to us throughout our whole life.
We experience openness - metaphorical open handedness. To receive a physical gift, we must open our hands to receive it. When someone places a gift in our hands, we can feel its substance. It has weight and shape. Likewise, when we receive the Spirit of God in our open-handed heart, we can feel its substance in our soul. We know that we are not alone and that we will never be alone. The fear of isolation in this world and the next, is displaced by the life-giving gift of the Spirit who lives in us forever!
Because the Spirit has sealed our adoption as a child of God, we speak from the depths of our crying out “Abba, Father!”
All that is Christ’s is ours. The sufferings of Christ are ours. Therefore, in this life we suffer. The glory of Christ is ours. Therefore, in this life, we suffer with joy, knowing that the day is coming when, God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.[6]
The Spirit of Jesus transforms our minds so we can think differently about our present sufferings. We “consider” that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that Jesus is working in us.
We, along with all creation, wait with an eager expectation for the freedom and the glory of the children of God to be revealed. As we wait, our eager expectation pours out a groaning for the full completion of the adoption process and the full redemption of our body.
Because of all these glorious benefits that we have in Christ Jesus, we have hope, and we willingly, patiently wait to receive it in full.
Even after we die, we will still have something to hope for. We look forward to the redemption of our physical body, when God brings to fulfillment the reconciliation of all things to himself.[7]
Because the Spirit in us has so transformed our understanding we have knowledge about certain things that persons without the Spirit cannot know.
We know God worksall things for our good because we know we are called according to His purpose, which is to conform us to the image of his Son, Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now we experience that God predestines us, God calls us, God justifies us, and God glorifies us. We experience Almighty God, and Almighty God alone, securing our salvation in this life and the life to come, from start to finish. Therefore, our Lord Jesus says about all persons who believe in Him,
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:29)
We experience complete victory, total security, and confident freedom. For there is no condemnation for us in Christ Jesus our Lord. Belonging to Jesus is the joyful hope of our lives!

How Can We Experience this Joyful Hope Every Day?

To experience the life of Jesus in us we must belong to Jesus.[8]
To belong to Jesus, we must receive the gift of the Spirit.[9]
[Slide: “. . . the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6, NIV)
To experience the promise of life and peace in the Spirit we must more and more let the spirit govern our mind, our desires (emotions), and how we use our body.[10]

How do I know I belong to Jesus and the Holy Spirit lives in me?

We can begin by asking ourselves these questions:
Am I moving toward life in my mind, emotions, body, and soul or am I moving toward death? If I keep living as I am living, will the way I’m living renew my spiritual life even as my body decays or will my spiritual life decay along with my body? If your general trend is to be moving toward life, you have the Spirit for the Spirit is the giver of life. If you are moving toward death, you don’t have the spirit because the fruit of the flesh is death.[11] Do I have a growing sense that I am a Child of God? If so, you have the Spirit, because it is the spirit in us that testifies to us in our hearts that we are children of God.[12] Do I desire to find my satisfaction in God alone or do I desire to find my satisfaction in the things of this world?[13] If you desire God, it is because the Spirit of God is in you. If you have no desire to find your satisfaction in God, it is because the Spirit of God is not present in your life.[14] Can I suffer with joy, because my hope is in the promise Christ is working in me a glory that one day will be eternally evident to everyone? If so, I have the Spirit of God, because only God can give us this persevering hope.[15] Can I remember how God’s Spirit has led me in the past? Am I aware of how the Spirit of God is leading me now? If so, the Spirit of God is in me, and I belong to Christ Jesus.[16]

How do we live controlled by the Spirit of God?

Three things are necessary.
First, we must have a desirable vision of our lives as one led by the indwelling Spirit of Jesus. Jesus promises us real life, real peace, and the confident assurance that we belong to Him in body and soul in life and in death.
Can you visualize what that kind of life would look like practically for you? Close your eyes until I invite you to open them again. Let a mental vision or deep emotion form of the life and peace that can be yours as you yield completely to the Spirit of Jesus in you.
Is that the life you desire?
If a life led and fed by the indwelling Spirit of Jesus is what we really want, we must intend to live our lives governed by the indwelling Spirit of Jesus. To intend something is to commit to that thing. It is to set our will, our mind, our action, and our emotions toward achieving that which we intend.
Does this prayer echo the desire of your heart?
“Lord Jesus, today I make it my intent to surrender my heart, my mind, and my body completely to be filled by the Holy Spirit. Lord Jesus, who lives in me, fill me with your peace and life.”
If this is the prayer of your heart, say it along with me in mind and heart as I pray it again.
“Lord Jesus, today I make it my intent to surrender my heart, my mind, and my body completely to be filled by the Holy Spirit. Lord Jesus, who lives in me, fill me with your peace and life.”
If we have a desirable vision for God’s promise to us, and we have set our intention to live into that promise, then we must take a faith-infused action. A faith-infused action is an act we take and continue to take believing that God will honor it and cause us to make progress whether or not we feel differently or see immediate progress. This is spiritual discipline.
If we want to live a life governed by the Spirit of Jesus living in us, we must set our minds on what the Spirit desires, and we must not set our minds on the sinful desires of our human nature. We can begin this discipline by simply noticing what we are thinking, feeling, saying, and doing. And then ask, is this making me more like Jesus or is this making me less like Jesus? Then we adjust, we do more of what makes us like Jesus, and we work to eliminate what makes us less like Jesus.
With your eyes closed allow the Spirit to bring the answers to these questions to your heart and mind?
Holy Spirit, what things in my life are leading me away from Jesus? (Pause)
Jesus who lives in me, show me how to eliminate these things from my life. Work through and with me Lord to eliminate these things. Please do for me that which I cannot do for myself.
Holy Spirit, what things in my life are leading me to Jesus? (Pause)
Jesus who lives in me, show me how to increase these things in my life. Work through and with me Lord to do more of these things. Please do for me that which I cannot do for myself.
With your eyes closed, tell Jesus how much you love Him. Tell Jesus how much you love him because you belong to Him and because He is the joyful hope of your life. Tell him how much you love him for the complete victory, total security, and confident freedom you have because His Spirit is alive in you. Tell Jesus how much you love him because there is no condemnation for you because you belong body and soul in life and death to Jesus, your faithful Savior.
Please open your eyes now.
Brothers and Sisters, belonging to Jesus is the joyful hope of our lives! Through the Spirit of Jesus living in us we experience complete victory, total security, and confident freedom. For there is no condemnation for us in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It’s all ours when we have a desirable vision living a life governed by the Spirit of Jesus in us, we set the intent of our heart upon achieving that experience, and we take faith-infused actions toward that end.
[1]Eldredge, John. Resilient (p. 61). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition [2]See Jn. 14:19-20 [3] Rom 6:23 [4] Phil 3:9 [5]1 Cor 15:52-57 [6] Rev. 7:17, 21:4 [7] Col. 1:19-20 [8]8:1 [9]8:15 [10]8;13-14 [11]8:6 [12]8:15,16 [13]8:5 [14]8:8 [15]8:18 [16]8:14
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