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Steve Mickel: A Reason To Hope, 1 Corinthians 1:8-11

January 9, 2022

Audio Recording

A Year To Hope
A Year To Hope
Steve Mickel: A Reason To Hope, 1 Corinthians 1:8-11
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Sermon Transcript:

:00 If you could pick one word to describe your 20, 22, what you want it to be, not what you think it will be, but what you would desire it to be. What would that word be? I asked a few people, some, one person said positivity. Another one said joy. They want this year to be joy significance, influence the word for west side for 2022 is hope. We are leaning into hope this year. And before we dive into it, we need to talk about the tension that, that word raises. Because to have hope in the world that we live in is challenging because all of us have been disappointed. You know, we grow up as maybe as young children, maybe you had a great childhood and everything was, was, you know, you were well protected from the dangers of this world.

00:56 And so you had so much hope, but maybe you were like many who struggled in childhood and maybe your parents went through divorce or you just experienced loss. And so you just kind of grew up with this. This is wonder if things can be good at all, but regardless of how you grew up all of us, once we hit five years of age, we're starting to experience loss, right? We start to experience suffering and we start to wonder, is it worth hoping? And so we're going to talk about this this year. We're going to look at this, this deep truth. It's a spiritual truth. The Bible talks a lot about hope and how to have hope. And, and Joe, actually, we're gonna start with Joby. We talked a little bit about him last week, and many of us experienced what job, how JoVE describes it in the message.

01:44 Translation job, chapter 17, where job says my life's about over all my plans are smashed. All my hopes are snuffed out. My hope the night would turn in the day. My hope that Don was about to break. If all I had to look forward to as a home in the graveyard, if my only hope for comfort is a well-built coffin man, this guy is in a dark place right now. If, if a family reunion means going six feet under, and the only family that shows up is worms. Do you call that hope is for poor guy who on earth could find any hope in that know if hope and I are to be buried together. I suppose you all come to the double funeral, me and hope buried together, and we kind of chuckle, but the reality is, is a lot of people feel that way, that it's just not worth it anymore to hope.

02:38 And I love that Joe provides us a raw and a real picture of life. And, and what happens when our hope is tied to our circumstances, when our hope is tied to, unmet expectations. It's an interesting how, how connected hope and expectations are. the more that we, that we, the more potential, the more we expect things once certain things, the more potential we have that our hope will be disappointed for. Let me give you an example. you, maybe you have an expectation when you go to a certain restaurant or when you go on a vacation, you, you hope for that restaurant to be good, or you hope for your vacation to be positive, right? We have expectations of people in our lives. We hope that our relationship will be positive. And when those expectations are not met, what happens, you're disappointed and frustrated.

03:35 And will you go back to that restaurant? Will you, will you tap out or at least consider tapping out of that relationships? You see how, how connected hope and expectations are. And, and part of living with hope is learning how to manage and react to unmet expectations, to grow in setting realistic expectations, right? But then when we talk about hope in God, it's another deeper kind of question. When our disappointment is in God, it leads to a fatalistic outlook on life. You know, whatever's going to be, is going to be because I guess God doesn't really care. And we kind of give up on hope. And I think the church, I think the people in the people of God are on this precipice, especially in United States of losing hope. Another thing that happens when we lose hope, as we take matters into our own hands, we start to be the solution to our problem.

04:45 And inevitably we create more of a problem when we do that. hope is central to our Christian faith. And by the way, we're not always left disappointed, you know, but when our disappointment and God leads to us leaving the faith or dismissing God altogether, then we probably have false expectations. And so we're going to be looking at that. And the Bible describes, it's very honest about how difficult hope can be to realize, but it also shows us how hope lives in between the kind of extremes of annihilistic fatalism on one hand and a blind optimism on the other and how we can actually have hope in the midst of tragedy. We can have hope in a God who is still able, who is still working, who is still for us and not against us. how old were you when a new hope the first star wars movie came out?

05:40 I know it's a pivotal question in all of our upbringings. I was seven. I was seven years old. I'm a huge star wars fan. And if you didn't know that already, and I, I went there. I was, I grew up in bend and central Oregon. I grew up in Redmond. And so we came to watch if you're from this area, there was an old theater on third street right down by Reed market, the old Ben theater, that's where I saw a new hope. And, and, but, but a new hope didn't mean that everything worked out in the end. Matter of fact, it took them how many more movies before it worked out. I think they're still working on it, right? But it was the birth of hope. It was like, maybe something is possible. Maybe what we've experienced. Doesn't always have to be what we continue to experience.

06:33 Maybe there is a reason to hope. And my prayer is that we would a new, a new hope would be birthed in you this year and in our church, a hope for what God wants to do and what God will do amongst us, where we can move beyond where job was in that passage. We read and begin to hope again, in God's ability. If you have a Bible, you can follow along here in Isaiah chapter 40, we're going to start there and then we're going to move to second Corinthians. But Isaiah chapter 40, I love it's one of my favorite passages. This is one of those scriptures that people will put up on their wall, you know, to remind them, this is a really encouraging word. It's from Isaiah 40 verse 31. But those who hope in the Lord, I'm reading from the NIV translation.

07:25 Some of your other translations might say trust in the Lord. I really like how the NIV describes it as hope. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. Isaiah is connecting our hope with our renewal, that, that in some ways we cannot be, our strength cannot be renewed without a refreshed hope in our lives. They will soar on wings like Eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint. Now we know because life has taught us that, that even though we might start out with hope, we, that hope can be disappointed, disappointed, and we can grow weary and tired. But, but I believe that every season there's the opportunity for a refreshed hope to emerge in our lives, in our context. And that we would experience that as Isaiah writes a refreshing, a renewal that would take place, that the weariness would begin to subside because of the hope that we have in who God is and what he can do, because the basis of our hope is not in anything this world can offer.

08:34 I hope you realize that if you haven't, your hope is already being disappointed. If it's in politics or if it's in the economy or if it's in government, or if he's even in your relationships, as positive as those might be, they cannot be the basis of our hope is Christ followers. We put solidly want to put our hope in God, but it doesn't say that hope in God keeps us from heartache and sorrow. Isaiah, God speaks through Isaiah and Isaiah 43, God says to us, do not fear. Isn't it interesting that when we lose hope, what's one of the first things to begin to emerge is fear do not fear for, I have redeemed you. I have summons you by name. You are mine. I just love that. And stuff is not some weird, unhealthy possession, by the way, it's this, it's this as a, as a father with, as a hin with their chicks is kind of how it describes that this, he wants to comfort us.

09:36 He wants to be with us. He wants to overshadow us. And when you pass through the waters, I will be with you. And when you pass, when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. The flames will not set you ablaze. And you might be thinking, I feel a blazed man, 20, 20, and 2021 set something on fire. And God's not saying you won't experience trauma. You won't experience tragedy. But what he is promising is that he will be with us. And because he is with us in the midst of the flame, we can have hope in his ability to deliver us. We can have hope in his presence with us.

10:21 Sometimes we think hoping in God means he doesn't allow us to pass through the waters or walk through the fire. But it's this deeper sense of God know you are with me. And I, I hope in you, even though I'm going through this, my I'm going to keep my eyes on you. I'm going to keep my hope steadfast in you, Paul, the apostle Paul, who by the way, went through a lot of suffering. More than any of us. He, he, he struggled and he went through so much trial and hardship. And this is what he wrote to the church in Corinth and Saint Corinthians chapter one, we do not want you to be uninformed brothers and sisters about the troubles we experience. We was like, we don't want you to minimize it. I think is what he's saying. I don't want you to miss him.

11:03 I'll say, I don't want you to minimize our trouble because he's going to say some things and yes, God delivers us and God will deliver us. He's going to say that, but he's, but he's starting by saying, listen, don't minimize. I don't want you to be unaware of the trouble that we have experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure. Have you ever felt like you are under great pressure, far beyond your ability to endure? I can't take anymore. I can't just, if there's, if there's one more thing, do you ever feel that way, this overwhelmed Paul's describing this so that we despaired of life itself? Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death, but this happened. Paul tells us that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead in the midst of this moment, he's reflecting on the trials that he's been through.

12:03 And he's just saying, but listen, there is a God who raised people from the dead and he still raises people from the dead. And I put my hope in him, not in this circumstances, not in my, what I, what I expect or want to happen. I put my, my hope in God, who is able to deliver. He has delivered. And Paul goes on. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril and he will deliver us again on him. We have set our hope. I just loved that phrase, that he will continue to deliver us as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor. Granted us an answer to the prayers of many, even though Paul and his companions experienced so much trouble and hardship that they even despaired of life itself, they were able to keep their hope set on God and I, and you, and you might be wondering how, I don't think it's by just this, simplistic kind of religious kind of like, yeah, I hope in God.

13:14 Yeah, God's great. It's facing reality. And the hardship of reality and saying today, God, today, would you help me to have hope in you for today? And by the way, for eternity, I think they always have to be tied together. I think Paul always reflected on this Ray on the, on the reality that God, that Jesus promised that I go to prepare a place for you. So someday you will be with me in paradise. And so he's, he's what he's doing is he's taking away the power of death in that for all of God's people who say yeah, if to be present, to be out of, to be out of the bodies, to be present with the Lord. I mean, there's this sense of like, there's, it's a win-win and, and yet I think sometimes we get so caught up in the trouble that we forget that God is still working here. And now that God is still a good God, that God is still able that God hasn't abandoned us. And so my prayer is, let me have hope for today.

14:26 And then tomorrow I'm going to pray that same prayer, Lord, help me have hope for today. But did you notice something else that I think we often miss in the reading of scripture because we come at it from a more individualistic perspective because of our culture and context, people that live in more of a communal society, when they read passages like this, there, they emphasize other things. And the other things kind of pop off the page. And one of, and one of those things is right here. When Paul's talking about how he sets his hope that God will continue to deliver us right when we set our hope on him as, so we were able to set our hope on him, to deliver us as you help us by your prayers. He connects his ability to have hope in God, in the midst of trouble with the prayers of God's people.

15:24 And I actually think one of the reasons why the Christian Church in America is struggling with hope is because we're anemic in prayer. I think those two things are very much tied together. And you might be thinking, and I'm not saying by the way, like, like, like if you don't have, if you're struggling with hope right now, you need to pray more. I'm not saying that that's not what Paul's saying. The people around you need to be praying. That's what Paul's saying. See if there's people in your life who are suffering under the weight of this world and the conflicts and the, and the, and the disease and the illnesses and everything that's going on, if there, then, then your job, as people of God is to come alongside them and pray for them every single day that God would strengthen them. That God would be with them, that God, that they would sense his presence, that they would, that they wouldn't lose.

16:25 Hope. See the prayers of God's people sustained Paul's hope in the midst of his trouble. That's what Paul is saying here. And I think we need to come back to this. Prayer is so important. We were created for community. The stories we tell the testimonies we share, the, the, the brokenness that we endure are made rich. When we're able to share those in safe spaces, with small groups of people like this is what God, this is what's going on in my life. And other people are saying, this is what God is doing in my life. And that buoys us. It encourages us to be in community with one another, to pray for one another, to encourage one another, to hear each other's stories, to share our own story. This is why we've made community such a big part and priority of our church here. Our vision is that everyone at Westside church will be in some type of community as they journey together. That's why leaders are so important. We have a community group leader training coming up at the end of this month. And we, we, we need more groups for peop for Westsiders to get connected in community. And so if you'd like to consider being a leader that starts January 24th, you can get more information on our website or out in the atrium. I was.

17:49 So if you might know, Michael Summers, and, about two weeks ago, his daughter Bree was in a serious sledding accident. And, and she almost died. They rushed her to the hospital emergency brain surgery. It was very serious and, and he just sent out a call to prayer

18:08 And they called to just his

18:09 Community, right? And, and he asked for prayer. And, and I asked Michael, if, if I could share Bree's testimony, and this is what he wrote back to me, I would love to have you testify on our behalf. This was three days ago, the neurosurgeon greeted Brie at her appointment today as his quote miracle child. And that speaks to

18:32 It happened all of the setbacks brain function issues. Long-term concussion, trauma, and lifelong

18:37 Potential issues are

18:38 Completely non-existent in her. And she will make a full recovery. The hundreds of people that were compelled to pray for her through the night is remarkable and humbling to us. She is a product of God's mercy and the prayers of the church might we sustain the people of God sustained Michael and Brie and his family through that long, arduous night, not knowing what was going to happen. I have hope that God will deliver us from death and despair, but I also know that I need the help of your prayers and you need the help of my, we must partner together. If we are to experience hope as a church

19:30 In 2022. Now, as I share this, I'm cognizant of the,

19:34 The fact that breeze experience isn't everyone's experience just like Paul's experience. Wasn't necessarily our experience. Just as much as I could tell you about Bree, I could tell you about other stories on the other side, this of deep suffering and sorrow that's going on right now within our church family. But I don't want the bad. That is, that is our reality to cause us to lose hope for the good

20:02 Linda Johnson, a former lead pastor, her and her husband can have this church could max Lucado a day or so ago on social media from his book glory days, where he wrote promised land people. That's Christians. By the way, if you don't know the context of that promised land

20:19 Well, choose to trust God's promises. They choose to believe God is up to something good. Even though all we see looks bad, you are not made to quake in fear. You are not made to be beholden to your past. You were not made to limp through life. You are a living loving, breathing expression of God. What's more, he fights for you. The good news of the Bible is not that you fight for God, but that God fights for you. I'm encouraged to study the promises God, and pray them empowered more victory than defeat, more joy than sadness. More hope than despair. There's enough beauty in this life enough goodness, to encourage us to not give up on hope and to keep praying for one another, no matter what we experienced in this life, no matter what their circumstances around us might tell us, listen, God is able, God is still moving.

21:21 God is still worthy of putting our hope in him tomorrow. Our denomination four square launches, a 21, launches 21 days of prayer and fasting. And I wanted to invite you to join me. You can do whatever level of fasting you want. That's not really the point is, you know, fast, everything or something like that. But the point is for 21 days, we're going to corporately seek God's face together. There's a prayer guide. Some tips on fasting, some resources that even for children, if you'd like to do it as a family, at foursquare.org, and you can check it, you can just scroll down and you'll see the first kind of, announcement as the 21 days of prayer starts tomorrow morning. I want to encourage you to join me in that endeavor. As we, as we remind ourselves of the power of prayer, as we launch into 2022 and the connection it has to our hope, because this is what I believe and why I keep my hope in God. He still at work. He is still moving without this hope. What else is there? What else are you going to put your hope in for 2022?

22:33 What will sustain you through the valleys? He is constantly working. And because of that, I just, I decided every single morning to put my hope in him. Now, I know I might be asking a lot for some to put your hope in God, because you've experienced so much disappointment. And if you know my story, you know that this doesn't come without without great thoughts and perseverance to say that even in the midst of hardship, we can still have hope that God is April, that God can God will. So would you today, even if you've experienced disappointment in this life, would you risk putting your hope in him again today for today to keep coming back to him and hope to choose, to believe that only God has the answers to this life, to death, to the situations we experienced only he can be trusted with these lofty realities and only God provides us a present and eternal hope that transcends our circumstances. One of our leaders sent me a note after one of the Christmas messages that we touched on hope, and she wrote this past Sunday. His message was another response to the Lord and a calling for us to step into the hope. We have a hope that does not waiver no matter what is swirling around us. A hope that rises us out of the pit of complacency, discouragement, or even despair. A hope that is present in every one of our perceived roadblocks is eternal and is truly satisfying and can produce joy.

24:47 That's my prayer for us as we journey together toward hope this year, a rising hope, a present hope, a real hope, a deeper hope, a lasting hope. We're going to sing that last song that we sang during worship. And I want to invite you to, you don't have to sing along. I actually prefer just to kind of sit and contemplate and think about where you at right now. Just maybe do a quick assessment in terms of your hope. What's your level of hope in Jesus today? Where do you want it to be tomorrow? And the next day what's getting in the way of you having hope for today. And then at some point in these next couple of minutes, would you just simply ask the holy spirit to help you reset your expectations so that God can begin to produce hope in you again? So Jesus is we come into your presence. Would you awaken our hearts to hope again, to believe again, to see you as a God who is able to do more, anything we can ask or imagine we set our hearts on you? Jesus.