Keep Going in Hope

Keep Going in Hope

When we keep going in hope, we keep our vision set on the goal.

Lamb of God

Lamb of God

A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church

30 June 2013

Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

2 Kings 2:1-14
Psalm 77:1-20
Luke 9:51-56

When we keep going in hope, we keep our vision set on the goal.

When we watch cats, dogs, or even wild animals play with each other, and even make up games, doesn’t it give us a nice warm feeling?

This is because they are living as God intended them to.

When we look around the world at all the suffering being inflicted upon millions of our fellow human beings and billions of animals every year, doesn’t it fill us with frustration and sadness?

And what makes matters even worse is that most of the world’s population is indifferent to the suffering of animals, particularly when it’s not their own “pets,” and we keep praying to God to bring an end to all the suffering or to come now and usher in His heavenly kingdom forever and ever.

This makes us feel very much like what we believe the psalmist was feeling when he wrote Psalm 77:1-20.

1. My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud;
My voice rises to God, and He will hear me.

We know God hears our prayers, but even after more than 30 years of praying, we haven’t seen any real change toward ending the suffering, and it becomes very depressing.

However, what keeps us going is that we do see some small positive changes, and we keep going in hope.

2. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
In the night my hand was stretched out without weariness;
My soul refused to be comforted.

It’s not so much for our own trouble that we seek the Lord; it’s mostly for the suffering animals that we ask, as well as for an end to the world’s warring madness and, like the psalmist, our souls are not comforted.

3. When I remember God, then I am disturbed;
When I sigh, then my spirit grows faint. Selah.

We know a lot of loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God all around the world, who care deeply for all animals and don’t eat them, and most of them feel the same way.

4. Thou hast held my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

It’s as though we can never get away from all the horror in the world; it’s constantly before our eyes, but we cannot give up, for those who cannot speak for themselves need our voices.

5. I have considered the days of old,
The years of long ago.

6. I will remember my song in the night;
I will meditate with my heart;
And my spirit ponders.

And we keep going in hope…

7. Will the Lord reject forever?
And will He never be favorable again?

8. Has His lovingkindness ceased forever?
Has His promise come to an end forever?

9. Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion?  Selah.

This is a very common feeling for most vegan animal rights people, and unfortunately many of them have turned away from the church and God because of the hardness of heart and indifference to the suffering of animals that they’ve encountered.

But if we turn away, things will only get worse.

We keep going in hope, trying to wake up the church; for we believe that it is their indifference to the suffering in the world that has angered God.

10. Then I said, “It is my grief,
That the right hand of the Most High has changed.”

11. I shall remember the deeds of the LORD;
Surely I will remember Thy wonders of old.

12. I will meditate on all Thy work,
And muse on Thy deeds.

13. Thy way, O God, is holy;
What god is great like our God?

14. Thou art the God who workest wonders;
Thou hast made known Thy strength among the peoples.

15. Thou hast by Thy power redeemed Thy people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph.  Selah.

But at the same time that we remember the past deeds of the Lord, we also see the continual suffering and death of millions of our fellow human beings and billions of other animals every year.

16. The waters saw Thee, O God;
The waters saw Thee, they were in anguish;
The deeps also trembled.

This is just like our hearts and souls feel.

17. The clouds poured out water;
The skies gave forth a sound;
Thy arrows flashed here and there.

18. The sound of Thy thunder was in the whirlwind;
The lightnings lit up the world;
The earth trembled and shook.

19. Thy way was in the sea,
And Thy paths in the mighty waters,
And Thy footprints may not be known.

20. Thou didst lead Thy people like a flock,
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.
NASB

Unfortunately, like today, most of the people didn’t listen.

But because of the ones who do listen, we keep going in hope.

In 2 Kings 2:1-14, we are told a story about Elijah and Elisha, and how they kept going on in hope and faith.

1. And it came about when the LORD was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.

2. And Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here please, for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.

This is Elisha’s expression of hope and faith, for he knew that the Lord had more in store for him to do, just as we should know that the Lord had work for us to do to help end the pain and suffering in this world for all living beings.

3. Then the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?” And he said, “Yes, I know; be still.”

We hope we all see how our hope and faith can keep us going even in the face of naysayers.

4. And Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho.

5. And the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be still.”

6. Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” And he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.

Following Elisha’s example, we keep going in hope.

7. Now fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood opposite them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan.

8. And Elijah took his mantle and folded it together and struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

9. Now it came about when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”

This is Elisha’s expression of hope.

10. And he said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.”

11. Then it came about as they were going along and talking, that behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.

12. And Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

13. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan.

14. And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and struck the waters and said, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over.
NASB

Elisha’s hope and faith came to pass.

We just can’t afford to give up.

We also need to keep going in hope and faith.

In Luke 9:51-56, we are told a story about how Jesus kept going on in hope and faith, and taught the disciples to do the same.

51. And it came about, when the days were approaching for His ascension, that He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem;

52. and He sent messengers on ahead of Him. And they went, and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make arrangements for Him.

53. And they did not receive Him, because He was journeying with His face toward Jerusalem.

54. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”

James and John weren’t going on in hope and faith; they wanted to take revenge on the wrongdoers of this world.

55. But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of;

In other words, the peacemaking children of God shouldn’t think that way, and this applies to everyone today who is trying to free creation from its present corruption.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and we need to also be peacemakers.

We are to love people into the Kingdom, even the evil ones, for most of us were like them before we changed.

56. for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. "] And they went on to another village.
NASB

This is an important lesson for all of us.

We are to do everything in our power to try to wake up and save the people who do all the evil to the animals and humans.

We are to expose their evil ways to the world around us, and we are never to compromise on anything that would cause any other living being to suffer or die.

We keep going in hope and faith that things will become more loving and compassionate for the glory of God.

Amen.

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