Staying Afloat in the Storms of Life Part 3
Our Anchor of Hope
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
November 23, 2003

 

Main Passage: 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (NLT)

 

The last couple of weeks we’ve been talking about Staying Afloat in the Storms of Life. We’ve talked about how we all have to endure storms… times of upheaval… that come our way. Most of the time these storms are unexpected. They come upon us suddenly and we don’t have a whole lot of time to prepare. Sometimes we’re given a bit of forewarning and we can kind of brace ourselves for the inevitable.

The storms of life can be caused by any number of things. The death of someone we love, the loss of a job, a prolonged illness, an unexpected accident, relational problems, financial pressures… so many things can cause a personal storm.

We’ve addressed some of these things over the past couple weeks and talked about some of the ways that we can handle these storms when they come. If you’ve missed the past couple weeks and would like to catch up, you can find those messages on our website. This morning, though, we’re going to talk about the one thing that is able to encourage us, sustain us, and keep us going despite the storms. Hope.

Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

Hope is described in the Bible as an anchor. Why? What good is an anchor? What does an anchor do?

PARTICIPATION
[steadies a ship, holds it fast, keeps it from drifting away or off course, lets you sleep easy]

An anchor has the ability to steady a boat in surging waves or shifting tides. It keeps the vessel from losing its way or drifting off course, it keeps the ship from being at the mercy of the winds. If you’re out on a ship and you want to go below into the cabin and catch a nap, you can drop the anchor and not worry about where the ship is going to go while you’re asleep. They provide a certain peace and assurance that everything’s all right.

Here’s something else about anchors: anchors are not always used. When the weather’s fine and you’re just out sailing around, you’re not using the anchor. The anchor’s pretty much useless at that time. But it’s there for when you need it.

And that’s what Hope is like. Hope gives us the peace and assurance that everything will be all right. It keeps us from being at the mercy of the storm. It’s there for when we need it.

“Hope sees the invisible...feels the intangible...and achieves the impossible."
~ “Did You See That?” (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000)

“When there is no hope in the future, there is no power in the present.”
~ John Maxwell

So this morning we’re going to talk about this Hope. Specifically, we’re going to look at the basis of our hope. And as we do that, we’re going to identify four of the reasons we can have hope. You can use your notes to follow along.

 

The Basis of Our Hope:

 

We’re going to take the word Hope and form an acronym with the letters. One reason we can have hope is because of the…

Holy Spirit’s Presence

The presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer gives reason for hope. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as the Third Person of the Trinity… which means He is God. And when the Holy Spirit enters your life, He makes certain offers to you. Let me list three of them.

The Holy Spirit offers…

  • Peace

    Romans 8:6 (NLT)
    If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace.

    And there are several other verses that link the presence of the Holy Spirit with peace, comfort, encouragement and rest. In John 14 for example, Jesus is telling His disciples that He will soon be leaving them. He tells them…

    John 14:26-27 (NLT)
    “But when the Father sends the Counsellor as my representative—and by the Counsellor I mean the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid.”

    [Note: some translations use "Comforter" instead of "Counsellor"]

    There’s an old song I used to sing while growing up that says…

    Where The Spirit Of The Lord Is
    By Stephen R. Adams

    Where the Spirit of the Lord is
    There is peace
    Where the Spirit of the Lord is
    There is love
    There is comfort in life's darkest hour
    There is light and life
    There is help and power in the Spirit
    In the Spirit of the Lord

    © 1973 Pilot Point Music (Lillenas [Admin. by The Copyright Company])
    CCLI License No. 2226745


    The Holy Spirit offers you Peace. He also offers you Power.

     

  • Power

    In Luke 24, Jesus tells His disciples…

    Luke 24:49 (NLT)
    “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

    Again in the book of Acts, Jesus tells them…

    Acts 1:8 (NLT)
    “But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere…”

    And in Romans, the apostle Paul wrote;

    Romans 15:13 (NLT)
    So I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    The Holy Spirit gives you power, not to erase the difficulties of life, but to overcome them.

    He offers you peace and power, and He offers you prayer.

     

  • Prayer

    Did you know the Holy Spirit prays for you? When you’re at the lowest of your lows, when the storm’s at its very worst, when you’re trying to pray but you can’t even find the words to say, that’s when the Holy Spirit steps in and prays to God the Father for us.

    Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)
    And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don't even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will.

    You can have hope because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. If you have accepted Jesus as God, if you have accepted that what He did on the cross He did for you, if you have received His forgiveness and have pledged to live for Him, then the Holy Spirit is alive and well in your life. Allow Him to give you the hope you need.

    If you’re here and the Holy Spirit is not part of your life because you haven’t received the forgiveness of Jesus, I’m here to tell you that you can receive Him today. Simply using your own words through prayer, express your desire to receive His forgiveness, to live for Him from this moment on, and to enjoy the presence of His Spirit in your life. It’s as simple as that. You can do it right now where you’re at in the quietness of your heart. Receive Him, and receive the hope that He is offering to you.

    You can have Hope because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. You can also have hope because…

 

Obstacles Present Opportunities

The troubles you experience in life can bring some heartache and pain, but they can also present you with opportunities. What kinds of opportunities? Let me give you five.
 

  • To experience personal and spiritual growth

    James 1:2-4 (NLT)
    Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.

    1 Peter 1:7 (NLT)
    These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honour on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

    Didn’t realize that “No pain, no gain” is actually a biblical principle, did you? The Bible is quite clear that the hard times we go through help to develop our faith and our strength of character.

    The obstacles we face also provide us with the opportunity…

     

  • To learn to depend on God

    Psalm 25:5 (NLT)
    Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

    Psalm 121:2 (NLT)
    My help comes from the LORD, who made the heavens and the earth!

    The obstacles we face help us to understand that God and God alone is truly able to help us navigate these storms. We can put our hope in Him without worrying about it being misplaced. In a world where independence and self-sufficiency is paramount and seen as a sign of strength, we need to get back to the reality that only in humbling ourselves before God and acknowledging our dependence on Him can true strength be found.

    James 4:10 (NLT)
    When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honour.


     

  • To shine the Light of Christ through the Darkness

    In Mark 13, Jesus told His disciples that they would experience storms. He told them that they would be arrested and beaten, they’d be taken to court and forced to stand trial. And in all this, He told them, “Don’t worry ‘bout it.” He told them the Holy Spirit would help them deal with the charges, and what they were to do was use the storm as an opportunity to tell people about Him.

    The obstacles we face provide us an opportunity to shine the light of Christ in the darkness. How? How can people see the light of Christ when we’re going through a storm?

    PARTICIPATION
    [People can see our peace, they see how we handle the storm, the see that God really does make a difference in our lives, they see that faith is real…]

    You know, it’s interesting. I can be watching TV and some religious leader may be interviewed on CNN or NewsWorld, and if they start to talk about their faith, they’ll be cut off. But if someone who has gone through a traumatic experience is being interviewed and they start to talk about how their faith carried them through it, people listen. Obstacles provide opportunities to share who God is to you and what He has done for you.


     

  • To experience the Blessings of God

    It’s only because of the storms we go through that we can truly appreciate the blessings of God. If we never experienced difficulty, we wouldn’t be able to understand the blessings. When we’re in the middle of a storm and we experience His peace, when our lives are in uproar and we see Him at work, when He guides us through a time of turbulence and delivers us safely on the other side… that’s when we can understand and appreciate His blessings.

    The book of Lamentations in the Old Testament is appropriately named, because the entire book contains laments, or words of regret and sorrow. Jerusalem has been destroyed, the Temple had been destroyed, Israel has seen some pretty bad days, and the writer expresses an overwhelming sense of loss about everything that has happened. The pivotal point of the book is found in chapter 3.

    Lamentations 3:19-25 (NLT)
    The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
    The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, "The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!"
    The LORD is wonderfully good to those who wait for him and seek him.

    The blessings of God, the faithfulness of God, the mercies of God are all evident in spite of the storms.


     

  • To minister more effectively to others

    We talked about this in our LIFE Group a couple of weeks ago. God has the remarkable ability to take the storms of our lives and use them to help us minister to other people who are going through similar storms. Why? Because you’re able to identify with those people and show them how God helped you through it.
     

So our Christian Hope is based on the Holy Spirit’s Presence, on the fact that the Obstacles of life present us with Opportunities, and thirdly, on the fact that prayer connects us with God.

 

Prayer Connects Us with God

In the town of Port Hope in Ontario, there is a monument erected, not for a politician or a war hero, but for a poor, unselfish working man who gave most of his life and energy to help those who could not repay him.

Joseph Scriven was born in Dublin 1820. In his younger days, he had the potential of becoming a great citizen with high ideals and great aspirations. At the time, he was engaged to a beautiful young woman who had promised to share in his dreams, but on the eve of their wedding her body was pulled from a pond into which she had accidentally fallen and drowned.

Joseph never overcame the shock. Although he was already a college graduate and ready embark on a brilliant career, he began to wander to try to forget his sorrow. His wanderings eventually brought him to Canada where he spent the last forty-one of his sixty-years. It was during this time that he became a devoted Christian. One of the results of his new-found faith was that he did a lot of work to help poor widows and sick people. In fact, a lot of times he worked for free.

He had a secret ability, though. You see, he was a bit of a poet. Nobody knew about it because he kept it a secret. But a short time before his death, a friend was sitting with him while he was ill. And while visiting, this friend discovered a poem Joseph had written to his mother during a time of sadness.

This poem was later set to music and has become a favourite hymn. From what I understand, it’s actually the first song that many missionaries teach in their works. In the polls and surveys taken to determine the popularity of hymns and Gospel songs, Joseph’s poem is always near the top. Some of you probably know this hymn. It’s actually one of my favourites. It says:

"What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry, Everything to God in prayer.
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear;
All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer."

God has provided us with the incredible gift of prayer. Prayer enables us to communicate directly with Him. Regardless of what we’re going through, regardless of any storm, the signal is always clear and we can always connect with Him.

James 5:13 (NLT)
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.

Romans 12:12 (NLT)
Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful.

The brings us to the fourth reason we can have hope. We can have hope because of our expected future.

 

Expected Future

I would say that this is the greatest reason to have Hope: because God has promised us a future with Him.

For the Christian, hope is not just wishful thinking; it is a sure expectation. It’s the assurance that God is going to come through on His promises. In fact, He’s given us His guarantee.

2 Corinthians 5:5 (NIV)
Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Yeah, we have to endure a lot of junk in our lives. We all experience disappointment and frustration and heartache and sorrow and loss and confusion and turmoil. No one is exempt from this. But the fact of the matter is, it’s temporary. It’s very real, but it’s temporary. Anchor your hope on the promises of God and you’ll be able to weather the storm.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 17-18 (NLT)
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going…
For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.

And forever is a long, long time.

 

Would you close your eyes for a couple minutes? Perhaps you’ve been going through a particularly rough time in your life. Perhaps you haven’t even told anyone about it. You need to know that you’re not alone. If you are a believer, then God is right there with you, and He is offering you Hope as an anchor that will help you weather the storm. Grab hold of that hope and don’t let it go. If you would like to acknowledge that you are clinging to this Hope and that you need prayer for the storm you are enduring, then slip up your hand. I won’t embarrass you by mentioning you by name, but I’d be happy to pray for you.

If you’re not a believer… if you’ve never accepted Christ into your life but you’d like to do that today, then this is your opportunity. You can know this Hope. You can know His Peace in your life. If that’s where you’re at and you’d like to begin a hope-filled relationship with Jesus today, then slip up your hand and I’ll pray for you.


*  *  *  *  *

He is the hope, He is the peace
That will make this life complete
For every man, woman, boy and girl
Looking for Heaven in the real world.

~ Steven Curtis Chapman ~

 

 

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