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LIVING BY FAITH (Vol 01) - HOPE: STARTING POINT OF FAITH - Part 1

Sunday English Service - 01 JUL 18

Transcript

Today we are beginning another series of teaching. I'm going to call it living by faith. Living by faith. Please turn with me to Hebrews chapter 11. We're going to be talking about the life of faith, what it involves, what faith is, how it works. And so many examples are given here in 11th chapter of Hebrews so that we can study faith through the life of so many men and women of God who have lived and succeeded through faith. Faith is absolutely essential ingredient for Christian living. In Habakkuk chapter 2 verse 4, there is a verse a very popular verse that says, “The just shall live by his faith.” That's the way it is rendered there. The just shall live by his faith. You know that verse comes again and again in the New Testament, three times. Once in Romans chapter 1:17, another time in Galatians 3:11 and the third time in Hebrews chapter 10 verse 38. These three epistles, Romans, Galatians and Hebrews are basically an exposition of what it means to live by faith. Living by faith is the subject of these three epistles. So it is an important matter.

Faith is what makes a Christian different from others in this world. One great man said, “If I seem to walk out of step with others, it's because I'm listening to another drumbeat.” “If I seem to walk out of step with others it’s because I'm listening to another drumbeat,” he says. Christians seem to be walking out of step with others, seem to be walking in a different way. They seem to have a different walk. Their steps are different. That’s because they're listening to another drumbeat. They're listening to the Word of God, the Word of God has influenced them. That is what causes them to be different. So Hebrews chapter 11 is a wonderful passage to study faith from because it focuses on faith, what it is and how it works, the operation of faith with so many wonderful example. Let me read you verse one. And I'm going to deal with just one thing today.

Hebrews chapter 11 and let's read verse 1. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. In the English language the first verse starts with the word now. And the word now is very important because it tells us that there is a connection between what has been said in the previous chapter and this is a continuation of what he's been talking about in the previous chapter. So in order to understand what it's about, just go back a few verses. Hebrews chapter 10, let's read from verse 36, and you will see the connection. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. “We are not ones who drawback but we are those who believe,” he says. And then verse one begins to explain what believe means. Now, faith is. That's how it begins.

The whole book of Hebrews was written to Hebrew Christians in the first century. In the first century church. It started out basically among the Hebrew people among the Jewish people. The earliest converts were Jewish people. As you know, after the day of Pentecost, the church began to grow rapidly. The accusation against the church was that they have filled the Jerusalem with their doctrine, that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He's alive, He is risen and so on. The whole Jerusalem was filled with the doctrine. That means the whole city was impacted by the message of the gospel. And in the atmosphere they're trying to bring back the Jewish people that have gone into the Christian faith. They're trying to persuade them to come back to the Jewish faith because thousands of people are now in the church and mostly Jewish.

So that hurt the Jewish people, Jewish religion. So they said we need to bring these people back. That's why you remember they brought Paul back, Saul as he was, was educated in Jerusalem and after his education he went back before Jesus ever started ministry to his native place Tarsus and he was living there and doing Jewish work there. And when the church began to grow in order to encounter the churches at once and to stop it somehow, they've got a bright idea. All of a sudden they said, “Let's bring this brilliant man Saul who can present most wonderful arguments. He is full of zeal. He will fight it out.” So he comes and he acts against the church, becomes very militant, persecutes the church, he was involved with in this killing of Stephen and so on. On the road to Damascus, he was met by the Lord Jesus and was converted himself to believe in Christ. And then he himself believes,  becomes the preacher of Jesus Christ. Then Christianity begins to spread even faster. When the persecution came, and Jerusalem and people were scattered everywhere, they took the gospel with them. So there were churches established in Antioch and other places. Wherever the Christian people were scattered there the churches sprang up and was established. So it could not be contained.

And now, one more attempt is made to bring the Jewish people back to the Jewish faith. So they are doing that by way of criticizing the Christian people and putting them down and laughing at them and ridiculing them because of their faith. They are taunted, troubled from every side, persecuted. In Jerusalem there's a lot of things happening everywhere. In all the towns where there was Jewish people, and there was conversion from Judaism to Christianity, this kind of thing was happening. They were trying to persuade them to come back by taunting them with how Christianity consists of a few people that believe in the savior who hung almost naked on the cross in utter failure, He could not even save Himself. He died there crying, “My Father, why has thou forsaken Me?” Died there not being able to save Himself. How is he going to be the savior of the world? So leave that. You are believing in this Jesus Christ, this person that went around preaching, that utterly failed in His mission, therefore come back to Judaism. That was their appeal. “Look at the religion that we've got. Look at our grand temple in Jerusalem. Have you ever seen anything like this? Have you ever seen anything like our festivals, our law, the Ten Commandments which God Himself wrote on the stone tablets and gave it to Moses? Moses is a Jewish person, red Jewish leader, we're children of Abraham. We have such a great tradition. And we have such a great religion with all the rituals and ceremonies. We have great festivals, we have sacrifices, we follow all these kinds of things. So in Christianity, there is none of these things. It doesn't look like a religion at all. So come back to Judaism, this great and grand religion with a great tradition, with Moses and Abraham as the forefathers of the Jewish religion and so on.”

So the author of the book of Hebrews is trying to counter that argument and help the Christian people to see what the gospel is and see how the New Covenant into which they have come as Jewish people. They understand that there was an Old Covenant under Moses now through Jesus, a new covenant has come. So he's presenting this argument that now we are in the New Covenant, it's a better covenant, with better promises. Everything is better here. That's why the book of Hebrews reads like that. If you read from the beginning of the book of Hebrews, it'll start, first chapter starts with Jesus is better than angels because they're saying God sent angels and the angels came and spoke to our forefathers. Here the author says, “Wait a minute, God sent Jesus His own son, and He came and spoke in these last days. So this is better. What we're talking about is much better.”  Then they say, “Well, we have Moses.” They said, “Wait a minute, we have Jesus. Who’s greater, Moses or Jesus? Jesus is the Son of God.” They said, “Oh, we have Aaron for our high priest.” And this author says, “Wait a minute, Aaron died, but this high priest of ours shed His own blood. He became the Lamb of God, shed His own blood, rose again. Never to die again. We have an undying high priest who entered the very presence of God. Aaron entered only the Holy of holies, in a temple, in a tabernacle, in the wilderness. But our high priest is an ever living High Priest, never dying high priest, who has made atonement for our sins through His own blood and enters the very presence of God Himself in heaven and makes atonement for us. This is far greater.” Like this, he presents some very wonderful arguments. The whole point is to show that this is better. The word better appears 12 times in the book of Hebrews. Better, better than what? Better than anything that Judaism can present. This is far better. So he's trying to persuade the Christian people saying, “You have not made a mistake by believing in Christ as your Savior. This is better. This is the will of God. This is the new covenant. The Old Covenant was nothing but a teaching about this new covenant that is going to come. The Old Covenant talks about this new covenant and it has come through this Messiah, Jesus Christ.”

This is how the whole thing goes. Because these people are troubled by the persecution that goes on, he presents these arguments and then comes to 10th chapter, and in the 10th chapter, he says, “Don't look at your troubles, your torment and your persecution and all that. You need to receive the promises of God and in order to do that you need endurance.” God has sent His Son Jesus and made Him heir of all things. See, Adam lost everything. Adam was the representative man. As a representative of mankind he received every blessing that God gave to mankind. And he was supposed to distribute it to his race. But he fell into sin. Lost every blessing. Satan has robbed us of everything and Jesus came to deliver us from the power and dominion of Satan and free us from his bondage and then to give us back everything that Satan has robbed mankind of. That's why He's come. Now here is the second Adam, the last Adam, Jesus Christ. He is the representative of the human race. Now, just like God gave everything that belongs to man to Adam so that Adam can give it to his descendants, now there is a new race started through Jesus Christ. Second Adam or the last Adam is Jesus Christ. He has now become the heir of all things, that's how He is called. And we are joint heirs. That means everything that belongs to God, everything that God ever wanted to give to men, through Jesus Christ He has given to man. Jesus Christ has become the representative man from God. On the day He died and rose again, He received everything that Adam lost. Received it on behalf of men and through Jesus Christ now, all the blessings must come to the entire human race.

This is the gospel in a nutshell. So you’re joint heirs. Joint heirs is not an empty title. An heir without anything, with zero assets, is not an heir. Heir means you got a lot and Jesus Christ is the owner of every blessing of God, that God wanted to give to mankind. As a representative man, He has received it and we have become joint heirs. So with Jesus, we share in every blessing that God wants to give to us. And therefore, Christian life is about entering into all of these blessings, inheriting all of these things, and living our life as an heir of God and joint heir with Jesus Christ. That's what Christian life is about. So he's saying, “Hey, you need endurance. Don't give up. Don't listen to these people that talk this nonsense about Christianity. Don't believe what they say, believe in Jesus Christ. You need endurance, you need to last beyond all these things. And you need to understand that with faith and patience, you need to obtain the promises of God. There is much to obtain, much to inherit, much to enjoy, there is much given to you so don't give up.” “Do not....” he says, “draw back to perdition. Don't get destroyed by taking your faith off of Jesus but believe.” Don't give up your faith but believe. “Have faith,” he says. And then he says, “Now faith is...” That means, “Let me tell you what faith is now. Since I want you to believe and walk by faith, so that you may inherit all the promises of God, let me share with you what faith is,” he says. So that is why 11:1 begins like this. Now, faith is. Don't draw back to perdition but believe, have faith. Let me tell you what faith is. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. So now you understand the now. The now comes from there. It says, you are the inheritor of all the blessings of God through Jesus Christ. There is much in this, in the Old Testament, that is hardly... It can't be compared to the New Covenant. The new covenant is much better. “So with patience and endurance, you obtain it,” he says. Now it begins to define faith. It begins to tell them what faith is because he wants them to believe and have faith and walk by faith, in order to inherit all that God has for them.

What is faith? He says, “It's the substance of things hoped for.” I want to just stop there today and just concentrate on this one thing, take it apart and show you something wonderful. I want to show you that hope is the starting point of faith. That's all I want to share with you today. Hope is a starting point of faith. Faith begins with hope, in the form of hope. So there is mention of hope here. Faith is... he’s trying to define faith. He says faith is the substance of things hoped for. So there are things that you're hoping for. Why are you hoping for certain things? Because you've been lost and you've been in sin but Jesus died on the cross and when God raised Him up, He has been made an heir of everything, and you are made as joint heir. So now there is new hope in and through Jesus Christ. And then because you hope, now the things that you hope for, the evidence of things is the substance of things that you hope for, is faith. Faith is the substance of things that you hope for.

Now, a lot of people think hope and faith are both alike and same. They think they're so similar that there is no difference. Not true. Faith and hope are two different things. Let me explain the difference very simply. Hope has to do with the future expectation that tomorrow, later on, you're going to receive something. That's what hope is. Hope is about something that's going to happen in the future. Faith is about something that is already yours. Hope is always about the future, faith is always about the present. So when a person is sick, and he has hope, he will say something like this. He says, “I hope to get well soon.” Well, we're glad when we hear somebody say that, “I hope to get well, soon.” I would hate to see a man who says, “I don't have any hope. I don't know if I'll come back from the hospital. I don't know even if I will ever live. The doctors are not giving me much hope, so I don't have much hope.” Now, that's very sad when a man says like that. He has not got hope. I like the person with hope. I like that language. I like hope. Hope says, “Well, in just a few days I think I'll be well. I'll be back home. I hope to get well.” That's a good thing to hear. Everybody should have hope. It doesn't matter if you don't have even one penny. If you have hope, then you can get everything. If you don't have anything else, if you at least have some hope, then you can begin your life completely anew.

How many of you know that God began with nothing and with faith made everything that you see. So our life is like that also. It doesn't matter that you don't have anything but if you have hope you have a good starting point, hope is a starting point. So hope says, “I hope to come back soon home. I hope to do well. I hope to do better. I hope to get well.” That's a good language. There's nothing wrong with that. Hope is good. Hope is a good virtue. The Bible speaks about it, faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love. So nothing wrong with hope. Hope is good. I hope everybody has hope. But faith, if a person has faith and he is sick, his language will be a little different. He will say, “By His stripes I am healed.” He is not going to say, “I'm going to get well soon. I hope I'll get well soon.” This man believes that healing is already his, is already his. There's a big difference. One expects healing to happen which is a good thing but this is even better, this is what faith is. Faith believes that it already is his. Now, some of you may say, “Well, how can you say it's already yours in the hospital bed? You’re after all sick, declared as sick and you're in the hospital. How can you say, ‘I'm already well’? The person with the hope is the right person. No, the first person that faith is speaking lies. He's under delusion to say that, ‘I'm well or I'm healed by the stripes of Jesus.’ How can you say that?”

He can say that because just like this, if you bought a document, I mean if you bought a, you don't buy a document you buy a property, right? And you make a document and execute it, register it and you have the document. If you have the document then that property is yours. There are people, big people, that buy properties everywhere that have never even seen their property. They have bought it as investment property, they've never even visited and seen the property, never set foot on the property, but they'll say, “I have a property there. That's mine.” They have not even seen it but it's theirs. Why? Because the documents says. So when a Christian says, “I'm healed by the stripes of Jesus,” he's speaking what the document speaks. The document. This is our document, executed through the blood of Jesus on the cross of Calvary? It is the new covenant. This says that by His stripes we were healed. That healing belongs to us by virtue of redemption. Healing belongs to us. So just like that man has never seen his property but says, “I have a property. I own that property. That's mine,” and speaks as if he has seen it and walked on it, the Christian can say, “Healing is mine,” even though he does not presently have it in his body. He may be sick in his body now but according to the document healing is his. Now the person with the property may go one day and set foot on the property, may build a house, may end up living there and enjoying the property. That can happen later. But once the document is executed that property belongs to that man. And the document has been executed for us 2000 years ago on the cross of Calvary and Jesus sealed it with His blood, the New Covenant.

So here is the big difference, dividing line, hope and faith. That does not mean hope is bad. Hope is something narrow, hope is something good, it's virtue. It's amazing, good spiritual virtue. But what hope is, is this: hope is the starting point of faith. You cannot have faith without hope. You got to begin with hope. Hope is the beginning of faith. So a person with hope usually is a person who’s searching for something better. That's exactly the point in the book of Hebrews. The whole argument of the author of the book of Hebrews is, the new covenant is better. You have something better in and through Jesus Christ. 12 times the word better occurs again and again and again and again, in this one book, not the entire New Testament. In this one book 12 times better, better, better. That means he is telling the Jewish people have now come to faith in Christ, he says, “Hey, you have something better, you enter into it. Endure, have patience, possess everything.” With faith and patience, Abraham and others inherited the promises of God. Now all the promises of God in and through Jesus Christ is yay and Amen. Nothing is a no. Every promise is a and a man. You enter into it through Jesus Christ. And this is better, better, better covenant with better promises. So this means that faith always starts with hope. But let me say it in another way, so that you will understand it.

If faith starts with a hope it means that faith starts with basically with the discontent with the way that we are. When a person in the hospital says, “I hope to get better, that means he doesn't like the way that he is right now.” He’s speaking well, he wants to get better but what he is indicating is, “I want to get out of this place. I want to get out of this hospital, get out of this bed. I don't like it here. I want to go home.” So when a person has faith he starts, I mean, when a person has hope he's got the starting point of faith which essentially means that person has a discontent with the way that his life is, he knows that it can be better and the wants to proceed to go on to that better. So faith is a longing for something better. You know that there is something better and that's the first note of faith. It's a longing for something better. If you're not dissatisfied with the way you are, you're not ready for faith. That is why they say that complacency is the greatest hindrance to faith. Have you seen a complacent person? He doesn't care about anything. He just sits there and watches TV for five, six hours and just eats and go to sleep, and has no ambition, has no desire, not going anywhere, not aiming at something, does not have anything in mind, does not have a purpose. Nothing. He thinks, “Well, I've got everything that I can get. So, this is it.” A complacent person just lives lackadaisically, he doesn't care about anything. Such people are not ready for faith. You know where faith works when people realize, “This is not the way God has meant for me to be. This is not the state and condition I should be in, God has got something better for me. I need to reach into the better by faith. I need to get to that place that God has for me, and I need to become the kind of person that God has made me to be.” Amen.

So that's where faith starts. This is how faith begins to operate and work. So faith is the substance of things hoped for. If you're hoping for certain things, faith can put substance to it. If you're not hoping for anything that's a complacent person who doesn't care about anything, not hoping for anything. Faith has nothing to work with. Faith has no place to put substance to, nothing to put substance to. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. So what is hope? Let's define hope. Hope is something wonderful. Let me define it like this, according to the Bible, and I'll show you why I say like this. According to the Bible, hope is a vision for better days. Hope is a vision for better days and that vision for better days changes us in the present. That's what hope is. Hope is a vision for better days that has an impact upon our lives today. It brings about certain changes in us because we hope we become different, because we are a people of hope we live differently, because we have hope we walk differently, we live differently. If you have hope it transforms your life in the present. That's what faith is all about. That that's what hope is all about and that leads to faith. Changes begin to happen right away and immediately. Look at the person who’s hoping for a raise in his earnings, salaries. If he's hoping for a raise, then all of a sudden you'll find him different. If he's hoping for a raise, he'll start working better, doing things better because he's hoping for a raise. The hope makes him do things differently. It changes your attitude at the present time.

But where does hope come from. Now this is where I want you to really get this. Please turn over to Romans chapter 15. Where does faith come from? Now, we know where faith comes from, where does hope come from? I want to talk about where hope comes from. And I want to show you a wonderful example of how hope works. So Romans chapter 15. We know where faith comes from, Romans 10:17 everybody knows. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. So where does faith come from? Comes from hearing the word of God. Where does hope come from? Hope is the starting point of faith. In this way, they are much alike. Hope also comes from the word of God and the Bible says so in so many words. Listen to Romans chapter 15 verse 4, For whatever things were written before, he is referring to the Old Testament Scriptures, all the things written in the Old Testament, whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Whatever was written before was written for our learning. “The Old Testament is a very rich source of learning,” he says. We need to read it. We have many lessons there. We can learn a lot there about our life. He says, “It’s for our learning.” Why? What does it do? If I read the story of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, the people of Israel, Rahab, Moses, all these people are there in Hebrews chapter 11, I'm going to go through them. You'll study so many people's lives and how through faith they did great exploits, what faith did to them, how faith changed them, how faith began in them. See, I'm stating now that faith begins with hope, and I'll show you in the life of Abraham and others have faith began with hope. Hope is the thing that first started and then it grew into faith and how faith worked and caused them to do unbelievable things.

So we're going study about so many people and here Paul says, whatever things were written before were written for our learning. What does it do to us? That we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures, that means the scriptures, the word of God produces patience and comfort. Some of us are in a hurry. We want things to happen right now. We live in an instant world. Even though Samba is instant these days, and chicken curry is instant, everything is instant. You just bring it, it’s already cooked and you just throw it in and heat it up and eat. You’re ready to eat in about three minutes. Even the three minute we think it is too long. When we need something we need it to yesterday, not today. Our today is already too late. Our culture is changing, we are people in a hurry, we want everything instantly. We can't even wait. Anything that we see and look at we want to buy immediately, consume immediately, have immediately that kind of mentality has come. And here he says, “Through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, we might have hope.” Scripture gives us patience and comfort and scriptures ultimately gives us hope.

Patience. Another better word for patience is perseverance. That means you are ready to put up with anything and everything and face all the challenges, stand the test of time, endure till the last and obtain what God has for you. Scripture produces that. Look at the value of the Bible and the Bible teaching. The more you hear the word of God, the more it produces patience and comfort and tells you that you can have what God has promised and it brings you hope. Alright. So hope comes through the word of God. And I want to take you to one great example and that's where we'll concentrate the rest of our time. One great example is found in the book of Jeremiah. Now, a lot of people don't read books like Jeremiah, because you can’t understand head or tails about it sometimes. These things are there and you read it, you don't know where they're coming from, what they're talking about, so you don't really understand these things. So I want to give you a little background so that you will understand how Jeremiah is a great prophet of hope, and how he's giving hope to his people at a very great time of trouble. Jeremiah was living back then in the 600 BCs and just about the turn of that century in 627 BC or so he was a young man. As a teenager God came to him and said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” Now this is a very unusual call. There are people that are called from the birth but this man is called before he was even formed in the womb. God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” God says, “I knew who you were. Before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” That’s Jeremiah 1:4.

And then God touches his tongue, he becomes a prophet, he's got a fiery tongue, he says, “I got fire in my bones, how can I not speak?” So he becomes a great man of God, begins to prophesy the things of God to his people and 40 years later, and around 587 BC, Babylonians began to gain strength. Assyrians were the big kingdom back in those days and they were ruling the world as a mega empire. Now Babylonians were on the rise. They were giving trouble to the Assyrians. Babylonians were taking over little kingdoms and little countries and making them pay taxes and so on. This is what the big kingdoms do in those days. So Babylon was on the rise, becoming a big kingdom. And they laid siege of Jerusalem. They came and surrounded Jerusalem for months together so that there was starvation in Jerusalem. A siege is where they surround the city. You can't go out or come in, trade cannot happen. You cannot transport anything out or bring anything in. You cannot do agriculture. You cannot move about freely. You cannot function as a village or town safely and do your work. So everything comes to a standstill. They’re in hunger. Even food has become a problem.

Zedekiah, a man was the king of Israel at the time, still thinks that he can beat Nebuchadnezzar, this famous king of Babylon who is running haywire everywhere. The king of Babylon was ready to come and take over Jerusalem and really own Jerusalem but Zedekiah was not giving up. Zedekiah had many prophets who were prophesying to him. Jeremiah was a God ordained prophet but there are some people whom God did not send. You read the book of Jeremiah, God says to them, “ I didn’t send you.” But somehow they packed their bags and gave themselves the titles prophets and started going and prophesying for some money. So these people that prophesy for money, they prophesy anything that you like. So they came to Zedekiah. They prophesied what he liked. He liked to hear, “God is with you. Go and win the battle.” Those days everything you got to go and ask the prophet. It's not like the New Testament. In the New Testament God's Holy Spirit is in every person. He speaks to you. Under the Old Testament God spoke to the prophet and even the king had to go and ask the prophet.

So, the prophet said, “Go and fight. You’ll win. God is on our side. We are on the winning side. Oh, Zedekiah, you're the man. You're great.” Like that they were prophesying but Jeremiah told Zedekiah, “Listen, God's judgment has come upon Israel. We have gone away from God. Served other gods. Did not listen to God. This has been happening for now a long time. God has warned us, been gracious to us. Again and again, forgave us. Blessed us, brought us out of Egypt. Gave us the promised land. Gave us so many blessings. All He wanted was for us to walk in His ways. Do not serve other gods, don't do this... but exactly what He said, ‘Don't do’ you ended up doing. Therefore, this is judgment time. What is happening now through the Babylonians is judgment of God. So don't waste your energy fighting this. This is God's judgment but if you realize this is judgment, and you’ll repentance through it all, God will bring us all back to Jerusalem and establish  us and bless us in the end. But Zedekiah is not ready to listen. He didn't listen to the prophet Jeremiah, he listened to the false prophets, liked their prophecy and labeled Jeremiah as anti-national and threw him in the prison, because this guy is prophesying saying, “Lo, Jerusalem is going to burn. Our people are going to be taken as slaves to Babylon. They will be there for a long time.” One of their prophets said, “We'll be there only two years, then God will punish Nebuchadnezzar. He’ll bring us back in a while.” He said, “No, we’re going to be there for a long time.”

Zedekiah didn't want to listen to Jeremiah, he wanted to listen to the other guy who said, two years. This is the kind of thing that was going on. So Jeremiah was imprisoned for antinational prophecies and thrown in prison. And there, sitting in the prison cell, and Babylonian siege was happening, they have surrendered Jerusalem, they're going to take everybody captive, a lot of people captive, they're going to destroy the whole city, burn the buildings, destroy the walls, great havoc and destruction is going to happen, and right in the middle of it comes chapters 30, 31, 32 and 33. Tose three, four chapters have some of the most famous Bible verses that you have ever heard, but you don't know the context maybe, that that's when it was spoken. Some of the most loved Bible verses of the entire Old Testament comes from those four chapters. Preachers love. I tell preachers who are looking for some wonderful promise to preach from, I say, “Go to Jeremiah 30 to 33. There it is, all the all the stuff that you love is there.” Wonderful. For preachers, it's like eating cake. Wonderful stuff to preach from. Brings such hope to people. People will be filled with joy as you preach anywhere from Jeremiah 30 to 33. That's the kind of chapters. Most loved passages come from there.

But in a time of crisis, while Jeremiah was in prison, in a time when destruction was set to happen and they're going to lose their city, lose everything they've got and right at the time Jeremiah speaks the words of hope. He is a great prophet of hope. I don't have the time to read all of it but let me give you a taste of it. Let me read you just a few verses and if you wanted some good reading for today just go back home and even start reading from 29th chapter itself, then you see the change of scene there and so on. 29th chapter verse 11, one of the most loved the Bible verses by Christians. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope. Right at the time of this crisis, when they're going to go as slaves to Babylon, God speaks through the prophet and says, “I know the thoughts that I have for you, they’re thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Right in the middle of all the trouble that is happening God is talking about future and a hope. All right?

Let's leave it at that and go to chapter 30.  Chapter 30 verse 1, The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, “Thus speaks the Lord God of Israel saying, ‘Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you. For behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall process it.’” Now this land issue is a very important issue because God gave them this land. This is the promised land that God gave them. To lose the land must have troubled them greatly. And now God says, “I will cause them to return to the land I gave to their fathers that they shall possess it.” So, right in the middle of all this crisis, and they're about to be taken as captives and these prophecies are given. Jeremiah speaking from the prison cell.

Then verse 8, ‘For it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘That I will break his yoke from your neck, and I will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. For they should serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. ‘Therefore do not fear, Oh my servant Jacob,’ says the Lord, ‘Nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, and no one shall make him afraid. For I am with you,’ says the Lord, ‘to save you; though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished.’ Right in the middle of this great crisis, God is giving great hope.

Go to 31. Chapter 31 verse 3 to 5. The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with lovingkindness, I have drawn you. Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall be again adorned with your tambourines, and shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice. Yet you shall plant vines on the mountains of Samaria; and planters shall plant and eat them as ordinary food. And so on. Wonderful promises, again, given to them. And then verse 8, listen to this, Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the ends of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with the child, and the one who labors with child, together; a great throng shall return there. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications I will lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, in a straight way in which they shall not stumble; for I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.

God is very compassionate and in the time of their trouble God is speaking hope for them. Goes on and on, like that. You can read many verses there, we don't have the time. Let's leave it at that right now. Let's read only one more passage and then leave it. Verse 31, “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” This is a passage that Christians love. It’s about the new covenant. That comes right in the middle of this. And verse 33, But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins I will remember no more.” Right in the middle of this great crisis God gives the promise of the New Covenant.

Now, this is just to give you a taste of it, you must read the whole thing if you want, the four chapters, to get a good picture of how gracious God is. Right in the middle of this He gives such wonderful words of hope. Preachers love these passages to take an expound on them and so on. Now, it reveals four things about hope, that's why I read these few verses as samples. Four things about hope you see there. Those are very important things because we're talking about how hope is the starting point of faith. So what is hope? What about hope? There are four things about hope that is evident here in this example. One is, hope is about a promise or let me put it like this, hope comes from the promise of God. Hope is always about a promise. The Bible hope, the hope that we are talking about as Christians depends on the reliability of the One that makes the promises. We are not talking about a hope that is wishful thinking. We're not talking about positive feelings. Hello. Big example. Not talking about wishful thinking. See, even a man sometimes who’s begging on the street has got some Sikkim lottery tickets and because of that he has some hope. He's dreaming, “Maybe the two crores will come to me this time. I've been buying it for 10 years. Never happened. It's bound to happen one day or the other. Maybe this is my time. I'll know the results in a couple of days. When the two crores comes, oh, I'll buy a house. I'll do this. I'll do that.” He is thinking, he’s dreaming. He's got a right to dream, but his dream, his hope, his vision - hope is a vision, right? It's like a dream - is based, it comes from thin air, it's based on nothing solid. The likelihood of him hitting the lottery is very slim. Most probably he will not get it but he's hoping. Poor guy he is hoping. It's not going to change anything. He’s going to be greatly disappointed.

But you know in the Bible there is a wonderful verse. Romans chapter 5 verse 5 says, hope does not disappoint. Hello. Hope does not disappoint. Have you ever read that. That means if you have true biblical hope, the hope the Bible talks about, if you inculcate and develop hope from the Bible, from the promises of God, if in your life you have hope because of what God has promised, hope will not disappoint. A lot of people like this poor guy begging on the road having some hope get disappointed because they pulled these thoughts and this dream out of thin air. It has no basis, but yet they're dreaming, hoping and end up greatly disappointed. But biblical hope never disappoints because it comes from God's word. It's like this, talking about love, 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verse 8 says, Love never fails. I read the English by English paper and Tamil paper. Tamil paper is quite interesting. Every day there'll be a love failure story. Somebody fell in the ocean, killed themselves, fell in the well, hung themselves because love failure. But Bible plainly says, “Love never fails.” But these people say love fails. It fails every day. At least for so many people, not just for one person somewhere. So many people experience love failure every day. But the Bible says, “Love never fails.” If love never fails then how can love fail in so many lives? Because that's not love at all in the first place. If it is love, as God defines it, if it's a love that comes from God, if it's agape love, if it's divine love that God pours into our heart, then you're talking about a love that can never fail. What we need is that divine love, that love never fails, but the worldly love as you experience it, naturally is a love that can fail anytime. So love fails because it's not the love that God is talking about. It's not the love that the Bible is talking about. It's not Bible love. It's not God's love. It's not what we are talking about as Christians. When we talk about love we only talk about that agape love which never fails.

Same way with hope. Hope also never disappoints. If somebody is disappointed, hoping on something, if they're disappointed, that means that their hope was based on something else other than the word of God. Hello. Hope built on the word of God never disappoints. That's why we sing that song, My hope is built on nothing less on Christ, the solid rock I stand. My hope and our hope is built on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. His promises, His word it's on His promises, therefore it will never fail. See, the worldly people think that Christians are just loonies. They think they're crazy people that they're hoping on something that will never come true. They're hoping on this God who they have never seen and they're hoping this and that, in the end they're going to be disappointed. And they think we are people that hope in an irrational manner. There is no basis for our hope. That our hope is something that they’re dream up, we pull it out of thin air. We're like that beggar on the street. We're just hoping on something that's never going to come to pass. That's the way they talk about Christians in the world. They think we're total idiots sitting there and hoping on something that'll never happen.

But the Bible says, our hope is absolutely rational. Our hope is built on the words of One who never dies, who was never lied, who's pure as gold, who's so holy, and so true, who never speaks a lie. Our hope is based on someone who can do all things. There is nothing impossible for Him. He’s not weak. He's not a failure. He’s not a person who's not able to carry out His promises. Our hope is built on that. So as Christian people, we need to realize that. Our faith is very rational. See, when Jeremiah was speaking like this, why should the people believe, those people there in his day? Why should the people believe? “Oh Jeremiah you're talking words that are never going to take place. What is this? It seems very unlikely we're going to be taken as captives. When will we return? Where is it going to happen? How long is going to take? Is it really going to happen? How can we believe?” But do you know, if you really think about it, it will happen. Why? Because God promised to Abraham 400 years before the deliverance from Egypt ever happened that his descendants will end up as slaves in Egypt and spend 400 years there and serve another nation and that God will deliver them with a mighty hand and bring them out with much possession and give them the promised land. 400 years before the deliverance from Egypt happened, God promised. And everything He promised happened exactly.

So when Jeremiah was speaking and giving hope, this hope is built on the promises of God. And not only that, secondly, this hope is wrapped around in a person, God Himself and this person is God, He’s almighty God, He can bring anything to pass and everything to pass. He is good one, He's holy, He's righteous, He’s true, He never fails. It is built on that. The Bible says that during the lifetime of Samuel not one thing that he ever prophesied, not one prophecy fell to the ground. Everything happened just as he prophesied. Everything. God is able to bring to pass everything. They've heard it, they have experienced it so many times. Everything that God said it absolutely came to pass. Isn't that not a rational basis to believe on someone's word? Is it not a rational thing to believe in a person like that? Or is it foolish? If you've already experienced that this person is good with His word, He'll never lie. He'll do what He says, no word will fall to the ground. Is it not a rational thing to believe in Him? Our hope is built on nothing less than the promises of God and in the Person which is God Himself, right?

Thirdly, the hope changes us in the present. In the definition itself, I told you hope is a vision for a better future which changes us in the present. So hope changes in the present. That means hope brings about a difference in our lives immediately. There is even before things hoped for is manifested, we begin to see a big change in ourselves. Drastic changes in ourselves. See, suppose you walked in here without any hope, if you received hope today, through the word of God that is preached, you'll be going, I can bet on it, you'll be going out walking out from this place as a different person. Let me give you an example. IPL, all the kids love the IPL matches, right? And you've never taken them to the stadium to watch them and you promise your son 10 year old guy who's always watching the IPL matches, and you say, “I'm going to take you this season. I'm going to buy all the tickets for the matches happening here and I'm going to take you, get you the best seat and we're going to watch the IPL matches.” Now you're giving him a promise. Now, that will completely make a different person out of him. Don't you think so? Look at the smile on his face. Look at how many people he will go and tell. Look at the spring in his feet that he's going to go and watch IPL matches with the best seat and his father is taking him there. So many changes begin to happen. He begins to become very joyful, happy, filled with great expectation. He’s rejoicing over it. He feels so good.

Hope does the same kind of thing for us today. When you are hopeless, have you ever felt hopelessness? Hopelessness is a terrible thing. It's like a vacuum. You feel like you have nothing. There is no joy, no peace, no rejoicing, no thrill. The spring in our feet is gone, we're drooping, our shoulders are down because there is no hope. But when hope comes, everything becomes different. That is the reason for the Christian joy. Why? Because when a Christian comes to Christ and believes in Jesus Christ and goes to the word immediately hope starts working. Even though he has not entered into all that is promised to him, he is not enjoying everything that is his, still already just the promises of God and the hope that it brings, is enough to change his life and alter his behavior completely. So hope changes us in the present. Anybody that receives hope is changed in the present. I believe church ought to be a place where even hopeless people come and when they go out they've got a ray of hope. There is a difference in the way they walk. There is a difference in the way they talk. There is a difference in the way they begin to expect things. There is a difference in their outlook. There is a difference, something happens in their heart. I'll tell you that is what God does through the word. He brings comfort even today. Just like Romans 15:4 says, the word of God will bring comfort to the hopeless souls, for people who have 1,000 questions, who are confused and their mind is in a disarray, people that are troubled and tormented in their mind.

Hope comes from God's word. Comfort comes from God's word and that brings about a determination to see yourself through all of these problems and come out successfully from these problems. That's how faith begins. That's what faith walk is all about. That is how you live by faith. How do you start living by faith? First, you get hope that something good is going to happen, good days are coming, better days are coming, better things are coming. Alright. So hope is based on the promises. Hope is based on this wonderful person, God Himself, all mighty, good, true, holy. Hope changes us immediately even before we see the manifestation of the things that are promised. Then finally, hope acts in line with the things hoped for. You begin to do things in line with the things that you hope for. That means your actions show that you are a person of hope, that you are not a hopeless person.

Now, when I read you sample verses I left out chapter 32 because I'm going to bring chapter 32 here now. I’m not going to read but let me summarize it. You can read it, very interesting story. When you read chapter 32, you'll wonder why chapter 32 is there. The matter there seemed like it doesn't belong there. They've brought in some other material and inserted here because it talks about Jeremiah's uncle coming in. This guy is in the prison, the country is in a siege by the Babylonians and Jeremiah's prophesying hope, the kindness and the goodness and the graciousness of God to the people of God bringing comfort and telling them that everything is going to be all right through it all. And right then, right in the middle of it, in chapter 32 the uncle walks in. You wonder why this thing is coming here. They’ve put it in the wrong place you think, but it's not, if you understand it. The uncle comes in, and before the uncle comes in, God tells Jeremiah, “Listen, your uncle is going to come and he's going to offer you a property to buy. He wants to sell you a property. Pay the money and buy the property.”

And as God spoke to him, and there Jeremiah was thinking, the uncle arrived. Exactly as God spoke, and he says, “Yeah, take this property, this property belongs to you. I want you to have it, give me the money,” and so on. And right in the middle of the siege happening and right in the middle of his imprisonment, he registers the document. You read that. I mean, is that the time to buy a property? He just now prophesied saying, “All the people are going to go as slaves to Babylon. They’re going to stay there for a long time and then only they'll come back and all that.” Now everything is uncertain. These people are going to ransack the whole place, burn down everything and destroy even the walls and bring in foreigners and put them there to live and so on. A lot of things are going to happen. You don't even know, you are not going to be even certain that your property will ever belong to you when you come back, and whether coming back is going to happen, you don't know because it's such a long ways off. Right in the middle of that situation, he registers this property because God said. God said, “Take it,” and Jeremiah at one point cries out to God saying, “God, why are you telling me to buy this property? Is this the time to buy property?” Jeremiah asked God. “Why are you telling me at this time to buy the property?” Finally, the guy gives his silver, weighs it in a scale and gives it to him as the price for the property and executes the document and stores the document in the way it was stored in a big pot and so on. The Bible talks about it.

You wonder why this is happening right in the middle of all this trouble. Why this is happening is this, because he's prophesying about something amazing that, they are going to go there and after 70 years they're going to be returning from the captivity of Babylon, and they're going to be built up back again. Does he believe it? Does he believe it? Now God is saying, “If you believe it, you buy this because you're going to come back. You're going to be the owner. It's going to be given back to you. You’re going to build there, you’re going to be there. Your descendants are going to own it. Show it by your action that you believe it.” And Jeremiah buys it right in the middle of all the havoc that was happening there.

Hope does all these things. Hope is something amazing. When you got hope, you're already moving in the direction of faith. When you got hope, you're going to experience something wonderful. When you got hope, you got something wonderful, you've got some assurance from God's word. When you've got hope, you've got a future. When you don't have hope, that is when the future is questionable. When you have got hope you've got a future. Never mind if you don't have anything else, but have hope and let that hope come from God's word. If you're hopeless, if you don't have hope, you have lost all hope, I think the first thing you need to go to is go to the Word of God, go to church, hear preaching, hear the exposition of God's word. Hear what God is saying, God is speaking to you there. The word of God is about our redemption, what Christ has purchased for us through His death on the cross of Calvary, what we are heirs of and joint heirs of, what belongs to us in and through Jesus Christ. This is not some flimsy little thing. Hope is not pulled out of thin air, it is coming from the word of God. Understand your redemption and understand all that belongs to you through Jesus Christ, know what is yours. And I'll tell you, you'll never be the same.

You'll all of a sudden begin to become a positive person right in the middle of all the trouble. All this happening, this man is buying property, doing all these things because he knows that in the end, everything is going to be all right because the word of the Lord has come. Amen. I have hope. I've been in situations very bad, but hope is something wonderful that keeps you going, keeps you doing the things that you're doing and keeps bringing you back. And I hope that happens into everyone's life today, even the ones that have lost all hope. I hope that you receive hope today and begin a life of faith. And next week I'll continue. Shall we all stand together.

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