Sun, Apr 04, 2021
Teacher: Mark Hull
Duration:27 mins 48 secs

Message text

My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less
Matthew 7: 24-27 & Luke 24

A man approached a little league baseball game one afternoon. He asked a boy in the dugout what the score was. The boy responded, “Eighteen to nothing and we’re behind.” “Boy,” said the spectator, “I’ll bet you’re discouraged.” “Why should I be discouraged?” replied the little boy. “We haven’t even gotten up to bat yet!”

A man told of going through his father’s possession’s after his dad died, and among the things he found was his father’s 7th grade report card. Back in the Fall of 1941 this 7th grade report card showed the grading scale on the back of it. There was A, B, C, D, F, and something he’d never seen before: the letter G!
Who would have thought there was a grade you could get that was below F. But back then there was. “F” of course meant FAILURE. But apparently there was something worse than an F ... a G! On the back of the report card, beside the letter G was this one-word explanation: “HOPELESS!”

In one of our parallel texts today, we find two men walking along the road, and their lives have become rated “G.” They have become hopeless. Their lives have fallen apart.
They said in Luke 24:19-21 “Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people... our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”
They had HOPED Jesus would be the answer to their dreams. They had HOPED He would change their lives. They had HOPED He would make a difference in their world... but He was dead now.
In their mind...there was no longer any hope. They were filled with despair, defeat and discouragement.

A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the affect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water, and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why?
Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope! Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them. If hope holds such power for unthinking rodents, how much greater should its effect be on our lives.
David wrote in Psalm 33:18: “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who HOPE in his steadfast love” . And again in Psalm 71:5: “For you, O Lord, are my HOPE, my trust...”
As children of a living God, we need hope in our lives. In fact, we can’t SURVIVE without hope.

Song #120: My Hope is BUILT on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and RIGHTEOUSNESS! This song is based on Matthew 7: 24 – 27.

ILLUS: An Air Force Instructor once wrote something called the Rule Of Threes: “You can survive 3 weeks without food;
You can survive 3 days without water;
3 hours without shelter;
Or 3 minutes without air,
BUT you CANNOT SURVIVE more than three seconds without hope.”
When I first read that I thought – “Yeah sure – you can’t survive without hope? Of course you can. I know plenty of people who survive without hope.
But then I got to thinking... this is a military expert explaining the truth that SOLDIERS cannot survive without hope.
For any of you HISTORY BUFFS reflect back on some of the greatest military battles of history.
The armies that lost their hope... lost the battles. They either believed that the other army was so powerful that they had no hope of stopping them, or they discovered that their leader had been killed or had run away.
Either way, because they had lost hope, they often would turn and run; and when that happened the opposing army would chase them down and slaughter them on the field of battle.
We need to understand as Christians, we cannot survive without hope. Now what I found interesting about the story in Luke 24, is that these men (walking to Emmaus) didn’t realize who they were talking to. They didn’t realize it was Jesus.
I wonder why Jesus didn’t just say: “Hey guys, it’s me! I’m alive. It’s not a hoax! Here, put your fingers in the nail prints, put your hand in my side”
Didn’t Jesus say those exact words to someone else?
Thomas. So... Thomas gets a 5 minute “show and tell” and these guys on the road to Emmaus get a 3 hour dissertation. What’s going on here?
Well, this is my guess!

I believe Jesus took the time to deal with THEIR hopelessness so that we’d know how to deal with OURS. All of us have faced times in life when we’ve become discouraged, downhearted and filled with hopelessness.
Times when we’ve lost our jobs, or when our health was deteriorating, or when People were mistreating us,
or times when things just weren’t going right.
Most, if not all of us, have faced times when we felt boxed in and trapped.

I believe what Jesus did for these 2 men on the road to Emmaus was recorded for our encouragement and hope. I believe the things Jesus did for these men were tools God gives to US for times when we get discouraged.
Notice the first thing Jesus does. Luke 24:25-27 “And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

What did He do there? He opened the Bible for them. Too many times, Christians forget that the Bible was the tool God gave us to give us encouragement. In fact, that’s what we’re told in Romans 15:4
- “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have HOPE.”
The scriptures were written so that we might have.... WHAT? (HOPE) The Bible is God’s tool to change our lives and give us hope. And it is a powerful tool.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to the dividing the soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
There is power in the pages of your Bible. If we are not reading it, we are robbing ourself of the potential God wants to give us. It is in that book that we find power to become overcomers in a difficult and challenging world.
Now I want you to notice, when Jesus walked with the men to Emmaus, He didn’t just do a Bible study with them. He didn’t say “Let’s turn to the book of Leviticus and see if there is some kernel of truth we can apply to our lives today.”

Oh no. As He walked with them, He taught them about what the Bible said about His resurrection. “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
It was a very targeted study of the Bible. A study that focused ENTIRELY on Jesus and what He had come to do.
Now there’s all kinds of important things to learn out of the Bible but THE most important thing we can learn about --- is Jesus. Without Jesus, there is no hope. And without His death, burial and resurrection, this life is all you have.

ILLUS: There’s an old Gospel hymn that declares: “I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today. I know that He is living, whatever men may say.” Jesus is our living HOPE!
That’s why Baptism focuses on the fact that – to become Christians – God calls us to die with Christ, be buried in a watery grave and rise from the dead as Christ did.
Just to become a Christian, we reenact the living Hope of a risen Savior.

Now I would like to step back for a moment and take another look at Thomas.
Thomas is a pretty good guy.
In fact, it helps to know that Jesus prayed all night before He selected His 12 disciples... and Thomas made the cut.
He’s a man who shows promise.
He’s a man who has the ability to believe and act on his belief.
In fact, all the other times Thomas shows up in the Gospels... he looks pretty good.
When Jesus is determined to go to Jerusalem in the midst of a dangerous situation, “Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’” John 11:16

And later, when Jesus told His disciples that “In my Father’s house there are many rooms”... and I’m going to prepare a place for you... You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:4

Thomas piped right up and said: "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" John 14:5
And Jesus responded: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
So, in Thomas we have the picture of a committed follower of Christ.
He loves Jesus.
He walks with Jesus.
He’s willing to suffer and even die for Jesus.

But then he shows up late to the party after Jesus rose from the grave.
The other disciples try sharing their excitement with him but he’s having nothing to do with it.
You can almost sense the anger in his voice:
“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will NOT believe it.” John 20: 25

Not, “I have my doubts.”
Not, “I’m having trouble accepting it.”
Not, “You’re kidding me, right?”
No --- I WILL NOT believe it!
The Other Disciples may have had their doubts until they saw Jesus but they NEVER said
“I WON’T believe!”

That’s a dangerous way to deal with God.
I mean, doubt is one thing, but telling God WHAT you’ll accept as proof is another thing entirely. Telling God to come down and settle things on your terms is not generally a good idea.
So, Thomas is being so unreasonable here.
But if Thomas is being unreasonable why would Jesus even bother to show up?

Why let Thomas put his fingers into the holes in his hands and his side?
Why would Jesus show mercy to him when Thomas REFUSED to believe?
You know what the answer is? (PAUSE)
I don’t have a clue. I don’t know, the Bible doesn’t say.
All I know is that Jesus DID show Thomas mercy.
And it’s a good thing too, that Jesus showed him mercy.
Have you ever said anything stupid to God or about God?
If Jesus could show mercy to Thomas here, it’s good to know that He’ll probably show us mercy as well.
But notice, Jesus did tell Thomas to “stop it.”
“STOP doubting and believe.” John 20:27

Now I want you to notice what Jesus said to Thomas after allowing him to touch His wounds:
"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29

You know what Jesus was saying? He’s saying: I’m going to cut you some slack here Thomas but you have to realize not everyone is going to get this break. People will have to make up their mind to believe in me without touching.

Hebrews teaches us: “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN.” Hebrews 11:1
And it also tells us: “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists AND THAT HE REWARDS those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

To have faith you have to be able to believe what you can NOT see.
And not only that - you not only have to believe that God exists... but that He actually DOES stuff.

Let’s use an earthly illustration for this:
When a man says, “I believe in my wife,” is he saying the same thing as “I believe that I have a wife?”
Of course not! If a man says “I believe I HAVE a wife” that means he can verify it by going back to the house and seeing if she’s still there. But if he believes IN his wife, that means he believes he can trust her. He knows that she’ll speak well of him, do things for him, and encourage him and not hurt him.

Thus, when we say we believe IN God... that’s different from saying I believe God exists.
You can’t say: “I believe IN God and then say I don’t believe that He could do what the Bible says He can/did do.

Thomas had all kinds of information. He’d walked with Jesus for 3 years and had seen Christ heal 100s of people by just touching them, feed 1000s with just a small amount of food, and raise people from the dead.
He had far more information than you or I have, and yet because he sought that little bit extra, he almost ruined his relationship with Christ.

And at some point along the line in our faith... you and I have to make that choice about following God. We have to CHOOSE to believe. We have to decide that we believe God can actually do things in our lives. We accept that we can not fully understand Him... but we believed IN Him.

And you’ve got a living Hope in Jesus. He offers something that many in this world do not have. When peoples’ lives fall apart around you, you need to tell them about a risen Savior who’s in the world today. A Savior that loves them so much that He wants to give them hope in a hopeless world.


Based on a sermon given
by Jeff Strite


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