(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

Welcome to this broadcast on Words of Life radio. We are so glad you have tuned in today.  This broadcast is presented by Christians who love the Lord and who are interested in many others hearing about Jesus and becoming children of God and following him and enjoying the blessings of this life as well as the life that is to come.  Our message today, if we were to give it a title, would be: Our hope is in the Lord. Hope.

Politicians run on the platform: we are going to give you hope.  We have had a dose of that in our own nation of America and found out that hope is not as easily found as we may say it is. Hope.  Red McDaniel was a prisoner in a Vietnamese prison and he wrote this.  “To abandon hope was to abandon survival itself and with it a sense of self and personhood.”  He is saying, “I had to have hope or hopelessness surely would be the result.”
The Jewish people at the prison camps of Auschwitz and Treblinka lived in the daily horror and fear of dying as they saw multitudes of others taken away to die each day.  One of them wrote, “Where there is life, hope must never be relinquished.”

Listen to this quote, if you will.  We will use it at the close of the broadcast today so keep it in mind.  Listen to the key words of hope and optimism and confidence and peace.    “Faith in the eternal God offers a hope that despair cannot diminish. It brings an optimism that pessimism cannot eclipse. It builds a confidence that adversities cannot weaken.  It instills a peace that pain cannot destroy.  Faith in the eternal God.”

What a precious message that is.  There are so many unhappy people today. Though we live in a day of great opportunity, I am aware that in some nations of the world opportunities and blessings are not available.  But in many nations, certainly here in America, even with all of our difficulties of all different kinds, we have great opportunity and prosperity. We have a great land and great opportunities. Yet people are in despair.  There is hopelessness that runs rampant and people kill and shoot and take their own lives.  They recognize life is not what it ought to be, not what they want it to be, not what they thought it would be.

They think they will find satisfaction and joy if they just pop another pill, pursue other pleasures, have another sexual exploit. They get all of these things, but none of them delivers on the promise of hope and joy and happiness.   My friends, we cannot live very long without hope. It is, indeed, a main ingredient of our very lives. It is the core of who we are as a person.

We will now turn in the Word of God this morning to one of the psalms, Psalm 146.  It is called a hallelujah psalm. It is a ‘praise the Lord’ psalm. It is a wonderful picture of hope and where that hope is found. And so if you are struggling today, you say, “Speaker, I don’t have any hope. I can’t see any end to this horrible mess.” Perhaps this psalm will bring a message of hope to you. It is an invitation to those who know despair all too well. It offers an opportunity. Look at hope, hope found only in God.

Listen to verses one and two of Psalm 146.   “Praise ye Jehovah. Praise Jehovah, oh my soul.  While I live will I praise Jehovah. I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.”  It seems to me this verse indicates that there has been a strong resolution made by the writer of this psalm to find hope in God. He does not know where else to look. He has no desire to find it anywhere else. Hope in God is a decision we make. Sooner or later we are going to come to a fork in the road and we have to make a choice and we will put faith in man or on strength or on wisdom. We can handle this job all by ourselves, we might say. Or, we will lean on the everlasting arms of God.

We will believe he is able. We will believe his way is best. The psalmist says, “I will.”  Have you made a decision to put your hope in God?  Can you do that? Will you consider doing that today?   There is a strong resolution to find hope in God in these two verses.

Listen to verses three and four now. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man in whom there is no help. His breath goes forth. He returns to his earth.  In that very day his thoughts perish.”

Now we find the place to put our hope. My hope is in God, yes. Here is the resolution of this psalmist. I am not going to put my hope in man. Notice how he describes man or princes or whoever it might be. There is no help there, he says. Man lives, he breathes his breath, and then he dies.  Not much hope in some one like that. No hope in princes. That is, government is not going to be the answer.  In our day government is supposed to be the answer to every need, every dilemma and yet every governmental system of the world is greatly flawed because it is composed and run by people who are greatly flawed and those who administer the governments of the world are not worthy of our full trust. The trust we need must be in God.

Are not the facts overwhelming? Are we better off because of a decision some political administration has made? Has the economy really improved? Has the price of gas gone down any?  Are more people employed? Are things any better? Do we have more than we used to have? We look at our moral climate and the rampant run of sin and evil, at death, at depression that plagues people who then take their own lives.

I live near Louisville, Kentucky and just yesterday a 38 year old mother was depressed, shot her young daughter, and then killed herself. The facts are overwhelming, my friend. If we do not have some place better to put our hope than in government and man and flesh, then we will be hopeless to be sure.

Look at the broken homes, children without fathers, without parents, tossed to and fro between one or the other. Or maybe one of them is completely out of the picture.  Spiritual things are ignored, the exclusion of the things in the Bible that would direct us to be in the will of God, things that would give us hope as the psalmist knew. Oh, the son of man offers no help is what he is saying here.

The Bible says there is a way that seems right to a man.  But the end thereof is destruction.  You see, there are two problems that exist. Number one is our sin nature. We have a nature that we battle every day, a nature that turns away from the will and word of God, a nature that causes us to want our will over God’s will, a nature that wants us to do things that will harm us and harm those that love us, those things we just mentioned that are happening in our flawed society today.

In contrast to all of that, there is the holiness and the righteousness of God that can have an affect in our lives if we will but learn to turn to it, if we will make a strong resolution: I, like the psalmist, am going to find my hope in God.  Like the psalmist, I am going to make a resolution not to put my hope in man, but in God alone.

The second problem is that there is a strong resolution that man’s plan will end.  Not only do we have that sin nature, but we pass away. We are here for a little while compared to eternity, even 80 or 90 years. What is that speck on the line of time?

The psalmist concludes this psalm as he talks about the truth of God that lasts forever. They are words of great encouragement and great truth and it answers the question: What can God do for those who look to him for help?
Listen to verse five.  “Happy is he that has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in Jehovah his God.”

Now God’s main goal, I want to say to you, is not to make people happy.  Happiness is an offshoot of being in the will of God. God likes for us to be happy, but that is not his main goal. His main goal is for us to be more like the Lord Jesus and to be more righteous and more holy.

Do you remember Jacob? He was one of those who had done it his way. He had hooked and crooked his own father with resulting fear because his brother was out to harm him and he had to run from his brother and from his family. And then he was hooked and crooked in return by his uncle who tricked him.  Here was a man who had placed his hope in human reasoning and the results were tragic and they plagued him for the rest of his life.

But he did finally learn when he submitted to the Lord, when he let God get a hold of him and twist him around and bring him to the way of God. Strength came. He asked God for it. He made the resolution. I have not had my hope in God. That is where I am going to put it today.  I have been hoping in man, in my wisdom, in my trickery, in my deceit. But I am going to set that aside.  And my hope is going to be in God.  And so this God of even a trickster, a huckster like Jacob is the God who offers hope for all who will turn to him.

We learn a little more about this God in verse six.   “For he is the one who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them and he is the one who keeps truth forever.”  My friends, this God we are telling you about today is the creator God. Can you not put your trust and have your hope in such a one as this?  This powerful one who by his very nature must be truth in everything he does and says and will not change? The one with the power to speak into existence the world?   We looked at our little world and then we began to look with a telescope and we foud this star and this planet and another star and our telescopes got bigger and bigger and we sent things out into space and we discovered things, multiplied millions of light years out in space. This is all part of what has been put there by this creator God with his great wisdom and power.  Is that not one in whom you and I ought to put our hope? He is the God who cares, the God of power, the God of grace and mercy and love.
The psalm closes verse seven and following with these words.  This creator God is the one who executes justice for the oppressed.  Now as I read these verses you think of what Jesus did while he was here upon the earth.   “This is the God who gives food to the hungry. Jehovah frees prisoners. He opens the eyes of the blind. Jehovah raises up them that are bowed down. Jehovah loves the righteous. He preserves sojourners. He upholds the fatherless and the widow, but the way of the wicked he turns upside down.  Jehovah will reign forever.  Thy God, oh Zion, unto all generations.   Praise ye Jehovah.”

The description in the conclusion of this psalm about God seems to me to be the very picture of the ministry and life and purpose for which Jesus came and what he did while he was here. It tells us that God will make things right. God is interested in righteousness. Unfortunately for many, things do not always work out well in this life.   But for those whose hope is in God, whose faith is in the work of Jesus Christ, eternity will reveal how much this God has helped and provided hope for us. He, indeed, releases prisoners who are trapped by sin and turns them loose to the freedom in Christ.  He opens the eyes of  the blind to spiritual truth they refuse to accept, but they are searching, maybe like you this morning, a place where hope is found and you can resolve to find that hope in God. You can resolve no longer to put your hope in self or man or government, but you are going to put your hope in the eternal God.

Here is the God who helps orphans and widows. He uses God’s people, the Church, in this work today. He is the God who gives power to defeat wickedness. He is the God who will reign forever. It is God alone who allows hope to spring out of hopelessness for all who will say to the plan of God, ‘I will’.

Is that you today? You are hearing me and you are in a situation that looks tragic beyond help and hope that you can ever imagine. My friends, will you understand that God loves you and that he cares, that he will use others and he will use a variety of means to come to your aid.

In Psalm 42 the psalmist said this when he was in trouble.  He was in exile. He was having difficulty, but he said, “Why are you cast down, oh my soul?  Why are you disquieted within me? Hope thou in God.  For I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”

My friends, the writer of this psalm was in a difficult situation. Yet he said “I am going to put my hope in God and I will continue to praise him for who he is and what he has done for me.”

Have tried it your way and reaped the tragic result?  Your whole life God has not been in the picture. You have trusted in psychology or education or science or government.  Peace has not ruled in your heart. Joy has been absent. True happiness that lasts, answers have not come. Satisfaction has not been found. Hope has been non existent.

Why then would you continue trusting that which is transient and limited? It seem to me that if we keep doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result that is not smart.  Our wonderful Lord Jesus promises a well of water springing up into life eternal.  He promised that to a woman who had had five husbands and who was living with a man who was not her husband, who had lived her way and not found hope and satisfaction. And yet he offered her that and we offer it to you today on this Words of Life broadcast.

Why continue to drink from the polluted waters of the world when we can drink from the eternal spring of life.  Jesus invites you. He invites one and all to faith in him, to exercise your will, to decide: I will find my hope in God, to decide: I will no longer hope in man or things or my own wisdom, that if God can bail out Jacob, then this creator God can help me.  Will you turn to him, my friends? Will you let Jesus become your Savior and Lord? And would you submit in a simple act of water baptism to be buried from your old life, raised to a new life?

If we can help you do that, get in touch with us and we will be glad to do what we can. May God bless you and yours today is our prayer.

-Julius Hovan preaches for the  Bohon Church of Christ, near Harrodsburg, KY