#667. HOPE OR HOPELESS? (12/10/22)
This week, we’ve restarted our series and devotions from 1 Corinthians.
‘Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love’ (1 Corinthians 13:8-13).
Summary: Hope (seeing and exalting in God’s promise for the future) or hopelessness (seeing a fearful picture of the future) is a choice that we will always have to make in this age.
i. DAILY HOPE
Hope is to fill our minds and hearts every day. Just think about how we act when we are getting ready to go on holiday: we ensure we have work and home in order; we pack; ensure our passports are in order… How do you think our anticipation of the return of Christ or our going to be with Him - which can happen at any time - should affect our lives? Hope of glory with God is to fill us each day. The Holy Spirit wants to help us to say:
‘Through whom [through Jesus] we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. … And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.’ (Romans 5:2, 5)
Jesus told a number of parables in order to teach us to be 'up and active' because of the hope of His coming. For example, The Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) teaches us to be living lives of active faith whilst waiting for Jesus' return. It ends with the warning:
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour." (Matthew 25:13)
ii. ETERNAL HOPE
We are told that hope ‘remains’ - hope remains in eternity. Some people say, “I’d rather die than live forever… it would be so boring and depressing.” These people don’t have hope in God! When we are with God, ‘face to face’ and ‘know even as we are fully known’, we will know that things will be ever increasingly beautiful forever. Like John Newton, the Father wants us to be confident of singing, forever,
"When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
Than when we first begun.”
How often do you consider and take to heart the great eternal hope that you have in Christ? Are your thoughts of the future dominated by the worries of this world or the future hope that the Holy Spirit wants to remind you of? The Holy Spirit, if we give Him space, wants to teach us to say:
‘I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.’ (Romans 8:18).
Would you say that you are like the 'wise virgins' who are actively living and waiting for Christ? Perhaps you might want to reflect on that parable and pray for fresh hope.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
As this week is 'SIV week', perhaps we could start by sharing any encouraging conversations around the gospel and faith that we have had with people recently.
3. THIS WEEK IS SIV WEEK (SERVE INVEST AND INVITE)
After a very brief recap of Sunday's message, let's spend this time sharing, thinking and praying about how God wants to work through us to help our communities to come to Jesus. In this time together, I’d like us to specifically think about how we can prepare to invite our friends to our carol service on 11th December.
Please read 1 Corinthians 13:12-13
‘For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’ (1 Corinthians 13:12-13)
On Sunday, we looked at how Faith, hope and love are eternal principles on which we are to build all our thinking, activities and relationships. These character traits are also vital if we are to help to bring our communities to Jesus and share the gospel with them.
i. Faith - is trusting God. Trusting He exists. Trusting in the gospel to save us. Trusting in Him each day and in all that we do. Faith enables us to do hard things because we trust in God's promises.
ii. Hope - is believing for the glorious, eternal hope of heaven and a recreated universe.
iii. Love - is loving God and others like Christ has loved us. Love is laying our lives down for the good of others, particularly those who don’t deserve it.
This discussion and questions are designed to help us to plan and pray about who we could invite to our carol service.
Take a moment, firstly, to pray that God would lead you in your discussions, planning and inviting.
How do faith, hope and love help us to serve, invest and invite in our communities?
Discuss ideas of things that you could do personally, or as a group, in order to connect with your friends prior to the carol service.
Make a decision on the thing(s) you plan to do (as a group/personally).
Write a list of your friends that you would like to invite. Let’s pray for them now and every day leading up to the carol service.
Pray for what you plan to do.
Pray for the carol service.