The Urgent Need of Hope

January 16, 2005

Introduction

            This past Friday, in Orlando, Andy, Jonathan, and I all walked into the beginning wrap up of a Sales Rally.  The second speaker was Andrew Brethour from Ontario, Canada.  He told about his father who went to a maximum security prison in central Florida.  When he got there, he asked to speak with the most hardened of the prisoners, and for a few hours, he talked to these prisoners about hope.

            How many years this went on, I am not sure, but over time, these men formed what became known as their prayer of hope.  Every time one of them would come up  for release, they were put him in the center.  They would surround him with forty men, and pray their prayer of hope.  Their hope and prayer was that this released man would never return to prison.

            But last year, Andrew’s father suffered a terrible stroke.  It was so severe that he could not even swallow.  His father is still in the hospital, but doing better.  Christmas came and went without his being at the prison, but Andrew received a phone call from the Warden of the prison.  He said that 40 men had gotten together and put an empty chair in the middle of them.  They then encircled that chair and prayed for Andrew’s father.  That’s 40 hardened criminals – praying for Andrew’s dad!

Body

I.              How important is hope?

A.     We are saved by hope.

(Rom 8:24-25 NKJV)  For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? {25} But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

     B.     We pray with hope – it’s called faith.

(Mat 21:22 NKJV)  "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."

II.           What a tragedy when hope is lost.

A.     When Paul was on a ship to Rome, all hope was lost.

(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.

B.     Paul says that at one time, we, as Gentiles, were without hope.

(Eph 2:12 NKJV)  that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

III.         Why did the prodigal son come home?

A.     He was in a horrible state.

(Luke 15:14-16 NKJV)  "But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. {15} "Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. {16} "And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

B.     His hope was the memory of his father’s house.

(Luke 15:17-20 NKJV)  "But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! {18} 'I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, {19} "and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants."' {20} "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.

IV.        Do you have hope?

       A.     As Christians, we have a blessed hope.

(Titus 2:13-15 NKJV)  looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, {14} who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. {15} Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

B.     Will we speak up?

(Titus 2:15) Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

1.      How do we compare to those 40 hardened criminals who put the empty chair in the middle and pray for Andrew’s father?

2.      Do we know those who need to hear the gospel?

a.       It’s isn’t a burden!  It’s the good news, but will we share it with others?

b.      There is an urgency!  Andrew’s father never knew where he would be this last Christmas.

 Conclusion

I.                    Our plane left Orlando at 7:00 last night and got here a little after 9:00.  Andy and Jonathan could not understand why I would not call Dale to get someone to preach for me as they had suggested much earlier.  I wanted to preach this morning.

II.                 For the sake of those who have no hope, may God help all of us to have a sense of urgency to seek and save the lost.  To give them hope.

III.               Do you have hope in God this morning?

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