Lesson 3

Hope

(Psalms 33, 39, 43, 71 & 146, 1 Peter 1)
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Introduction: Do you feel that your hopes are sinking? When I was in my early 20's, I believed that the United States was heading into its sunset years. Why not? All sorts of nations rise and decline. Why should we be different? Then Ronald Reagan was elected President and my attitude was completely changed. I had hope about the future of my country. Now the United States, and the world in general, looks like it is entering difficult times. How should a Christian look at these things? We all live in different countries, does our hope for the future turn on the future of our country? Be honest, do you want to be sitting in a dark, cold basement holding onto spiritual hope alone? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what kind of hope God offers to His followers!

  1. Hope or Help?


    1. Psalms 146:5. If I offered you either hope or help, which would you take?


      1. Are the two different?


      2. How does this verse suggest the two work together? (That hope in God gives us real help.)


    2. Read Psalms 146:6. Why does the Psalmist recite God's credentials immediately after talking about those whose hope and help is in God? (This proves God can do it. If God can create heaven and earth, He can work out your small problems!)


    3. Read Psalms 146:7. Look at the first sentence. How is the subject of the first part of this sentence much different than the last part of this sentence? (God gives justice and He gives food!)


      1. How does God do it? (This just might involve your help!)


      2. After assuring me of justice, I now read that God releases prisoners! How is that justice? (The inference is that these are the unjustly imprisoned. God gives real justice in the face of human injustice.)


    4. Read Psalms 146:8. Do you think we are talking about those who are literally blind? (We know that Jesus healed the blind ( Matthew 9:27-30), but the reference to those "bowed down" makes me think this verse also refers to those whose burdens are very great. These are individuals who are so discouraged about their circumstances that they cannot see any hope for the future.)


      1. What does it mean to "see" the future?


      2. Why does the text add, seemingly unrelated, the note that God loves the righteous? (God has a special interest in those who obey Him. Obedience helps to make your future clear.)


    5. Read Psalms 146:9. What do widows, aliens and orphans have in common? (The are the powerless in society. God has an interest in the powerless and He intervenes to help them against the wicked.)


    6. What kind of hope do these verses in Psalms 146 offer? (A hope of real help! God is able to help. He helps with justice and with food. He helps with depression. He helps those who do not have "power" in this world. He looks out for those who obey Him.)


  2. Vigilant Hope


    1. Psalms 33:18-19. Governments seem to be installing more and more cameras to record the activities of citizens. Do you appreciate the government having its "eye" on you? What about God having His eye on you?


      1. We had some friends with three sons. The father was smart, but a somewhat absent-minded. His wife recounted how she left the husband in the mall to "watch" the baby in the stroller. "Dad" got interested in something and walked off leaving the baby alone in the mall. When "Mom" returned and found the baby alone in the mall - well, it was a story repeated many times! What is your reaction to God assuring you He is watching you? (The good news is that God knows what I am going through. He is present in my problems and He loves me.)


    2. Read Psalms 33:20-21. Why does the text use the word "wait?" (It shows that God does not always act on our timetable.)


    3. Read Psalms 33:22. Why do you think the Psalmist describes God's love as "unfailing" in this context? (God is our help and our shield. Sometimes, it seems the help and shield are not present - thus the reason for our wait and our hope. The Psalmist tells us God's love is unfailing to assure us that help is coming.)


  3. Hope For Our Reputation


    1. Read Psalms 39:7-8. When I was young my teachers drilled into me that God would forgive my sins, but that I would have to suffer the consequences of my sins. What kind of hope is being discussed in these verses? (We can hope that the full extent of our sins do not embarrass us. God in His kindness sometimes shields us from the full, embarrassing consequences of our sins.)


    2. Read Psalms 39:10-11. Does God remove the consequences of sin? (God may shield us from having other sinners laugh at us, but God disciplines us for our benefit.)


  4. Hope In Discouragement


    1. Read Psalms 43:5. Do you understand what the Psalmist is saying? Have you experienced a time when your soul is "downcast" and you feel unhappy and disturbed?


      1. What is our hope in such a situation? (That God will deliver us from discouragement and sadness. Perhaps praising God is the beginning of the way out. I know praise lifts my heart.)


  5. Hope In Old Age


    1. Read Psalms 71:9. How does hope change with old age?


      1. Imagine that you were dependant upon others for most things in your life. How would that affect your attitude?


    2. Read Psalms 71:10-12. This sounds like King David is writing (commentaries disagree with each other on this point), and he is concerned about his political enemies. Is this just the worry of old kings, or could this kind of thing happen to older workers?


      1. Could this be analogized to the difficulties of old age?


      2. Even in old age, do we have hope? What is our hope? (Our hope is in God, and His willingness to quickly rescue us.)


  6. Hope In Salvation


    1. So far, we have been studying what the Bible teaches about hope in God for real, concrete, help here in life. Let's turn now to another source of hope. Read Colossians 1:24-27. Paul writes about his suffering for the gospel. What is the object of the Gentile's hope? (Jesus. Because of Jesus we have hope of "glory.")


    2. Read Titus 1:1-3. What is our hope with regard to the Christian life? (That we will have eternal life.)


      1. On what is that hope of eternal life based? (Before the beginning of time God made a promise to offer humans eternal life. Jesus made good on that promise.)


    3. Read 1 Peter 1:3-5. In addition to eternal life, what other hope do we have about heaven? (That we will have an inheritance that does not decay.)


      1. In the meantime, what happens to us? ( 1 Peter 1:5 tells us that through faith we are "shielded by God's power" until our salvation arrives! In spite of our current problems we have hope of eternal life.)


  7. Holiness and Hope


    1. How blessed we are! We can have hope in God for help now and we have hope for a glorious eternal life. This is all made possible by Jesus. What should we be doing in the meantime? (Read 1 John 3:2-3. We "purify" ourselves.)


      1. What does it mean for us to purify ourselves? Only God is pure. (We need to strive, by the power of the Holy Spirit, for right thinking and right living.)


    2. Friend, how about you? Are you experiencing problems in your life? God offers you hope and help here and now - on His timetable, not yours. More importantly, He offers us hope for eternal life. Are you living like one who hopes in God?


  8. Next week: Life.

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