Hope in the Valley

This morning, we’ve gathered together to receive and to celebrate hope!
Hope – a feeling of expectation that something positive is about to happen
Hope is what motivates us and keeps us moving from our current circumstances into a better and brighter future.  It’s hope that motivates us to work hard and make the most of today knowing that good things await us tomorrow.
Unfortunately, many of us have become hopeless regarding one thing or another in our lives.  We’ve lost that expectation that something positive is about to happen.  It can happen in any area of our lives.  It could be a relationship, job opportunity, finances, healing, just about anything that we desire to see change.
Whenever we become hopeless, we no longer expect anything positive to happen and begin to speak self-fulfilling prophecy.  It’s sort of like this:
* Garbage Bag Over Head *
Hopelessness places a thin veneer of darkness over our lives that completely transforms our perspective.
People around us tell us that it’s not so bad and tell us that we can overcome it if we just try.
However, from inside of this hopelessness, it seems impossible to break free from it.
Hopelessness changes our perspective and creates a false reality.
The truth, however, is that we can break free from and overcome hopelessness!
* Break Free From Garbage Bag *
Our reality is that we live in a very uncertain and ever changing world.  Often, we become hopeless not because we no longer believe that things can change for the better, but because what we placed our hope in let us down.
Maybe we had hope that our back pain would be eliminated by a surgery, only to find that it caused more pain.
Maybe we had hope that if I just give that person one more chance, that they’ll change only to find that they let you down again.
Maybe we had hope that putting in those extra hours of overtime in at our job would finally get us out of debt only to have the car break down and steal away that extra cash.
I could go on and on about different scenarios that many of us are all too familiar with that have caused us to lose hope.  What happens is interesting.
Hope becomes replaced by doubt.
Doubt – a feeling of fearful uncertainty and lack of expectation
Remember that neither doubt nor hope are based on the facts of our circumstances – they are both feelings about our future.
Doubt is a self-fulfilling prophecy!
Listen to what God tells us about trials and difficult circumstances and what doubt does in the midst of them.
James 1:2-8
2 Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
How can we possibly consider trials a pure joy?  Because we know that through these trials, good things are going to happen.  These trials are going to produce perseverance, which leads us us becoming mature and complete and lacking nothing.  Those are all things that truly bring joy into our lives!  Even though no one feels joyful in the midst of these trials, we can consider them joy because of what they result in.
What do we need to get through these trials? Wisdom, which is knowing the best thing to do with the circumstance which you find yourself.  We receive this wisdom that we need to get through these trials by asking God.  But now, let’s see what happens when doubt comes into these trials and replaces hope.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
So we find here that doubt is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  When we lose hope and begin to doubt, we begin to expect nothing good to come our way.  Or in other words, when we doubt, we begin to expect bad things to come our way.  When we doubt, God’s word tells us that we can expect to receive nothing from God.  That is why doubt is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
However, when we choose to have hope and expect good things to come our way, even in the midst of the darkest of trials, we can fully expect to gain good things.
So what is the key in all of this?  We all face trials and difficult circumstances.  The difference between a person who overcomes and maintains hope through them from the person that collapses and loses hope through them is what their hope is in.
When we trust in the things of this world, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
People let us down.
Money quickly is spent.
Possessions break down.
The key to having hope in this uncertain and ever changing world is to place our hope, that feeling of expectation that something positive is going to happen, in an unchanging and everlasting God.  God intentionally created us with a plan and His plan is not to harm us, but to prosper us and to give us a hope and a future.
God has already provided everything that we need in order to walk into this hope-filled future for our lives.  He knew that on our own, we would blow it.  What we were unable to do on our own, God did for us.  He came in the flesh as Jesus, and lived the perfect life.  Then, He willingly gave it up on the cross to pay the price for our mess ups.  Then, He rose again to life to give us HOPE.  We now can be saved from our hopelessness and given an eternal and everlasting hope.
Before we get to how to receive this hope, let’s take a look at what God is able to do.  I believe that this prophetic word given from God, Himself, to Ezekiel for Israel is also God’s prophetic word for us here in this valley!
 
Ezekiel 37:1-14
The Valley of Dry Bones1 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people here today of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

What an awesome promise of God!  He’ll bring us up from our graves of hopelessness and to place the Holy Spirit within us to breathe us back to life – to give us a new hope!  Even though we may consider things to be long dead and gone, God is still able to fully restore it and give it new life!
Jesus said in John 16:33 that in this world, we will have trouble, but to take heart because He has overcome the world!
If there is something that you have began to doubt, that you have grown hopeless for, this morning can be a brand new beginning for you!  Whatever your obstacles may be, they can be overcome when we team up with Jesus!
This morning, we all have the opportunity to replace our doubt and even our misplaced hope for an eternal and everlasting hope in the one, true, living God who never changes.  If He is able to make everything out of nothing with His simple words, imagine what He can do in and through our lives!
This morning, God’s desire is to remove everything that stands between us and Him, to fill us with His Spirit, and to empower us to overcome in life – to receive a new hope!
In order to receive this, as is the case with anything from God, we must simply ask and not doubt that we’ll receive it.
First, if you’ve never personally accepted the salvation that Jesus provides, which removes all of the sin and mistakes that stand between us and the perfect God, or you have before, but no longer surrender your life to Him, let’s take care of that right now.  Simply pray with me.
* Salvation Prayer *
 
If you’ve made that decision this morning, please visit the prayer tent as we have a free gift available for you to help you along with the new life that you’ve just received.
Next, if you’ve accepted Jesus’ salvation, and need His hope, I would like you to do this for me.  Whatever that thing is that you have become hopeless in; whether it be finances, a relationship, your health, etc.  Keep these things in mind and pray with me.
* Hope Prayer *
 
Now, make an intentional decision to cast off all doubt.  Whenever doubt starts to arise, begin to speak hope in that thing.  The Bible says that our words hold life and death and that they steer the course of our lives.  Begin to speak life and hope in that thing and choose to no longer speak doubt or death about them.
Until the thing that you hope for comes to pass, keep your joy through the trial between you and your hope manifesting itself will only result in your maturity until you are complete and lacking nothing in the end so long as doubt does not come in and steal it away.
Also, throughout the day, if you have any need at all, stop by our prayer tent.  In our 20 years of service here at New Hope, and even as of the past few weeks, we have seen God do the same miraculous things that He did recorded in scriptures.  People have been completely healed, finances have been provided, people have been set free from addictions, mental illnesses have been cast away; whatever you need, visit the prayer tent as we agree with God’s word for your life.
The only thing that we ask as we enjoy the rest of the day celebrating is that you continue fully expecting God to do a good work in your life, hold Him to His word, and receive the new hope that He is freely offering!