289 – Hope For The Soul for August 8

Arland Steen
July 1, 2021

289 – Hope For The Soul for August 8

289. Hope For The Soul
By Arland Steen

What I’ve found after doing ministry for 31 years is that a lot of people that come to church don’t have a faith problem; they have a hope problem.

There’s a difference. Faith believes, sees and receives what God has provided. Hope is the bridge that takes you from your circumstance to faith. In other words, hope can’t see a specific answer but it knows there is one. Hope is very important for you to receive what God has for you.

Opening

hicken Soup For The Soul title was published in 1993. The book, like most subsequent titles in the series, consists of inspirational true stories about ordinary people’s lives. The book became a major best-seller and something of a social phenomenon because of its ability to change other’s perspectives of certain topics. The books are widely varied, each with a different theme, such as Chicken Soup For The Teenage Soul. As of last year, there were 250 titles in the series.

Today’s message probably won’t be a best-seller on any of the social media platforms available to us today but it could become a best-loved message in your heart because I’m going to share a message I’ve titled Hope For The Soul.

Prayer

Message

Acts 27:20 (NKJV): Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.

If I asked if you believed God was a healing God, many people would agree.

If I asked if you believed God was a providing God, many people would agree.

If I asked if you believed God was a delivering God, many people would agree.

But if I simply began pastoring you in-person, people would say to me, “I’ve prayed but I’ve had this sickness for years; I struggle with it; and, I don’t know why I’m still not healed.”

If I were to ask, “How are you doing in your family,” people would say, “I know God is a great God and He does great things, but our family is a struggle.”

What I’ve found after doing this thing we call ministry for 31 years is that a lot of people that come to church don’t have a faith problem; most people have a hope problem.

There’s a difference. Faith believes, sees and receives what God has provided. Hope is the bridge that takes you from your circumstance to faith. In other words, hope can’t see a specific answer but it knows there is one. Hope is very important for you to receive what God has for you.

Let me start by saying that God created you to be a person of hope.

Proverbs 13:12 (NKJV): Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.

This means when there is the absence of hope in you, you don’t work like God intends you to. It’s no different than an engine that needs gas because after a while what could function, doesn’t function. What could produce, doesn’t produce because there is the absence of something that is needed. For many people it’s not the absence of faith but of hope.

I recently learned of an article titled ‘I Wish I Could Prescribe Hope.’ It was written by a surgeon.

He explained that he’ll do multiple surgeries in a day. Many times, he’ll do the same surgery, using the same procedures but people will have different results. He couldn’t figure this out for years because medically speaking, they should all do as well as the others. Then one day, it hit him. Surgeons always do a consult before operating on someone. They’ll explain the procedure and ask if there are any questions, and then do the surgery. He began to realize that the people who said, “Doc, I know this is a difficult surgery but I think you are capable and I have a lot of life to live yet, so it’ll go fine,” did well post-op.

But the people who said, “Doc, I know this is a difficult surgery and I know many things can go wrong and I’m very concerned and unsure,” didn’t do as well post-op. He wasn’t writing as a Christian, only as a doctor. But he said what God said. God made people to be people of hope and when there’s the absence of hope, things don’t go as well.

John Osteen, former founder and pastor of Lakewood Church and Joel’s father, did a big missions meeting at Thanksgiving and brought in a lot of missionaries his church supported. One year his wife, Dodie, who was sitting on the front row in one of the sessions, said to a group of ladies consisting of her daughters and daughters-in-law, “I feel like I need to go to the ladies room.” She got up and walked out but they never saw her come back.

One of them went to the back and found her in the ladies room passed out and hemorrhaging. They immediately got Joel’s brother, who happens to be a surgeon. He did everything he could and they also called the ambulance. It came. They took her while she was unconscious. They did tests and those tests indicated she had a very aggressive type of cancer. The son, who is a surgeon, knows this prognosis isn’t good. It’s the type of thing he knows can easily end her life. The family agreed that when she became conscious, they would have the brother who is a surgeon, tell her. But this is his Mother and while he tries to tell her, he breaks down, can’t do it, and leaves the room. She begins to mama everybody and tells them she will be alright. She’ll be fine. They said, “Mama, there’s more that’s going on with this.” Shortly, another doctor came in and told her exactly what was going on.

She listened. She smiled. She’s in the hospital for a couple of days trying to get her blood count back up. But at this time, she turned to her son the surgeon and said, “I want you to take me home.” He responded, “Mama, you’ve got to stay here because this is where you can get the most help.” She said, “Sweetheart, you’re not understanding me. If there’s anything we need to do medically, I’ll do it. I’ll come back here as often as necessary to do the medical stuff but you need to take me home.” He protested until she said, “Son, you’ve got to take me home.” He asked why? She said, “It’s very simple sweetheart. Everything in this room tells me I’m dying and I need to get out of here.”

Then, she called her daughters and daughters-in-laws in and said, “When I go home, I want a room with pictures of me riding horses (she liked to ride horses); and she wanted pictures of her with the grandkids. They asked why she wanted the pictures. She responded, “I want to look at what my future is. I’m going to ride my horse again; I’m going to spend time with my grandkids. That’s my future.”

What Dodie knew is that she had a hope problem, not a faith problem. Everything in the hospital was causing her to lose hope. For her to get better, she needed hope; she needed to be able to see tomorrow and her future. She needed something that was bigger than that moment. She needed to feed her hope.

See, hope deferred makes the heart sick.

The Bible tells us that we were created to have hope inside of us. To have the expectation that tomorrow is going to be better than today. Everything is going to work out. You may not have all the answers but you’ve got God and because you have Him, you’re going to be alright.

The first thing I want you to know is that you were created to be a person of hope. When you go into surgery, your hope informs you that you will come out okay. And, in anything you face, you will be okay.

MOMENTARY PAUSE

The second thing is this. Hope does for your soul what faith does for your heart.
We know we have faith. 2 Corinthians 4:13 (NKJV): And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore speak.
What does faith do? It goes into our spirit and gives us something to hold on to.
But here’s the thing. You need hope for your soul.

Psalm 42:11 (NKJV):

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, the Help of my countenance and my God.
In other words, why do you awaken in a mood?

Why are you always grumbling?

Why are you so negative about everything?

Why are you so dark about everything?

Why is it that when you awaken, you are way down there?

He then gives the answer – hope in God.

Why? Because hope secures our soul.

Hebrews 6:19 (NKJV): This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…

In the way that faith stabilizes our heart, so hope stabilizes our mind and our soul, so you need hope.

Listen.

Take time to read Man’s Search For Meaning. It is written by Viktor Frankl (Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author and Holocaust survivor). His dream was to write a book explaining human behavior.

Why do people do the things they do?

What is it that motivates them?

He had written a manuscript and his greatest desire was to have it published. But when he knew the Germans would catch him, he knew that manuscript was at risk. He took the manuscript and sewed it into his clothes so he could sneak it into the camp. It was so cramped on the train that you could not move at all and many people died on the trip to the camp.

When the train arrived, guards would point you to go either right or left. If they pointed left that meant you were going straight to the gas chamber. They had identified you as someone that did not have the physical strength needed to help them in their factories. He was placed in the line going right but some of his family members were put in the left line. He’s thinking his life’s work sewed into his clothes would be safe. However, they were all marched into a very large, sterile room with guards pointing their guns at them and they are made to strip naked. As he did so, his manuscript fell out and a guard came over and picked it up. He looked at it with disdain and just threw it across the room. He said his life as far as he was concerned ended right then and there. He wished they’d a directed him to go left because his life’s work was strewn on the floor.

Energy left him. He’s standing there naked wanting not to live and then they point him to a pile of clothes. They make him pick one and he realized these clothes have been worn before by others who wore them right up to the time they died. It is soiled and contains every kind of fluid and smells. He puts it on and discovers there’s a big pocket and puts his hand in it. He said when he reached down into it, he instinctively begins to pull out a little piece of paper. It is only a crumpled up little piece of paper but because it intrigues him, he unfolds it and recognizes it.

See, every Jewish man beginning at age 5 is told to pray the Shema Yisrael. It’s a composite of three OT verses.

They pray it in the morning and every night for every day of their life.

It begins with Deuteronomy 6:4, Hear, O Israel:

The Lord our God, the Lord is one! But it did not have the first few words written on it. It only had the two words The Lord. But because he’d been praying this his whole life, he knew where it was in the OT.

Here he is with his life’s work strewn on the floor and wishing this were his last day on earth and all of a sudden, he pulls out this tiny, crumpled piece of paper that only has two words on it from what should have been three verses and he begins thinking:

‘I’m in a concentration camp but He’s still the Lord.

My life’s work is gone but He’s still the Lord.

It looks like I’m about to die but He’s still the Lord.

It looks like I won’t make it through but He’s still the Lord.’

Something began to happen in him. He could feel it coming into him. Every time he thought about something, it ended with “but He’s still the Lord.”
Then he said to himself, “I’m in a circumstance that doesn’t look like I’ll make it out alive, but He’s still the Lord and as he begins to think that way, he began to be filled with something that invigorated him and gave him strength and he said, “I knew that day I would make it through; that my life would go on; and, I would accomplish what I wanted to accomplish because He was the Lord.

This is what I want to say to you. This man survived a Nazi concentration camp because of two words from the Bible – The Lord. You’ve got 66 books of the Bible in front of you. Is there anything God can’t get you through if he can survive with two words. If you would let the words of your Bible get inside of you, they will do for you what only two words did for him.

Many of you can’t see a future that is bright but you simply need to get on the bridge of Hope that will take you to Faith that will allow you to Receive what God has for you. You can’t see the answer but you know God has one. But you don’t know if it will happen for you. That’s a hope problem. I don’t know your situation but may I remind you of Romans 15:13, Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Third, you need to understand that hope changes everything.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV): For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
I’ve had people tell me how they have done things and wonder if God really loves them. I tell them this verse and that God is thinking thoughts of peace and the best about them. His thoughts are good about them but there’s more. He’s going to give you a future, because He’s given you a hope. Some of you come to church and enjoy the service but then go home hopeless.

When Jeremiah wrote 29:11, Israel was in captivity. They were enslaved but God said to them in essence, “Even though you are enslaved and in captivity I’m thinking about you.”

MOMENTARY PAUSE

I have a friend who has a friend. This man misread a map while leading his men to a fire base. He was a young Lieutenant in the Vietnam War and was stationed on a fire base. A fire base is where they would set up artillery and send out patrols, which would go out and engage the enemy and then call for artillery on the enemy. But there was a strategy to it. You always had multiple fire bases. One was populated on one side with a patrol of soldiers on your other side, so you had two flanks of protection and you would never be flanked yourself.
But what happened is that one day when he went out, he misread the map. He took his men down the wrong trail. He no longer had the safety of another patrol on the other side. The enemy saw this. They attack and flanked them. Now his group is in the firefight of their life. They were about to be overrun but because they had sent word about their situation, people came from everywhere to help and they reached their fire base but it was at great cost.

See, the young Lieutenant lost twenty men on his patrol.

He stood at the entrance of the fire base and watched twenty body bags come in. He stood there and knew they were dead because he misread the map. He was devastated but he had a job to do. He was their commander. He’s got to write the letters to the moms and daughters. To the parents, to the grandparents. So, he goes back to his hut and begins to write the first letter. He is very distraught and wonders how he can write a letter to tell them their loved one isn’t coming home because he made a mistake. He writes the first one and gets it done but he’s distraught. He completes the second one but can’t do any more and does the unthinkable.

He gets his gun and a bottle of whiskey and goes outside the perimeter of the camp. He ends up on a hill next to the fire base. Nobody knows he is there. Nobody knows he is probably going to get killed there. But that was alright with him because he planned to commit suicide. He planned to drink his bottle and then shoot himself. He drinks about half the bottle and decides he doesn’t want anymore, pulls out his gun and positions it but then he hears a sound, it startles him, he looks around and thinks what is this.

No one is there so he begins to drink some more. He drinks half of the half that is left and positions his gun to shoot himself when he hears the sound again but it’s louder. He looks around but doesn’t see anyone.

He then drinks the rest of the bottle until it’s empty. He positions the gun a third time to shoot himself but he hears this sound again. The difference this time is he recognizes the sound.
As a kid, his parents would drop him off at grandma’s house. As a very small child, grandma would put him in her lap and she had this book she would read from. He didn’t realize it but the book she was reading from was the Bible. Occasionally, she would stop and sing. She would sing the song that went like this: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found; was blind but now I see.”

Somehow this little toddler boy, who had never been to church, is hearing these words as his grandmother is singing it. And there on a hill, he dropped his gun, fell on his knees and said, “God, if you’re real, I need to know You.” He didn’t get saved in church. He got saved on a hill that no one could find today because God can give you hope no matter where you’re at.

Friend, I don’t know what your problems are but I really doubt that any thing you’ve done resulted in twenty body bags. And if God can give a man hope in the middle of a war zone in the middle of nowhere, then God can give you hope.

So, #1, you were created to be a person of hope.
#2, hope does for your soul, what faith does for your heart.
#3, hope changes everything.

But, #4, the hope that God gave you is bigger than this life.
Romans 8:37 (NKJV): Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. People rejoice and shout when they hear this verse but what they might not realize is that there are four extremes Paul describes that we’re more than conquerors in. I want to talk about one of them.
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life: If we had been chosen to write this verse, we would have written it this way: neither life nor death. But God didn’t start with the word life. He started with the word death.

You know why God wrote it this way? Because after death there is still life. See, the hope we have isn’t that this is the best life we’ll ever have. There is a better type of life awaiting us.
Speak with anyone who has been raised to life from death and you’ll discover something. What we’d think was their worst day, they’d think was their best day; what we’d think was their worst moment, they’d think was their best moment.

I know because I’ve spoken to three people like this: My mother, an evangelist and my children’s minister, all decades ago.
Because in the moment I was feeling sorry for them, in a second, they were feeling sorry for me. The reason is because they were more than conquerors because there is life after death.

Prayer for the hopeless

Prayer for salvation

 

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