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From Fear to Hope

Hebrews 6:18-19

 

“so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. [19] We have this [hope]—like a sure and firm anchor of the soul—that enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.” (HCSB)

 A recent study indicates that those who are not "hopeful about the future" are more likely to die than those who have hope for the future. Over a four-year span, from 1992 to 1996, researches asked 795 people aged 64 to 79 whether they were 'hopeful about the future.'' 

 Around 9% responded, "no." Five years after the survey, the researches found that 11% of the hopeful died, contrasted with 29% of those who were not "hopeful about the future" died. 

(http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html

Where does this hope come from?  How can one person be drowning in despair while another is floating on hope?  Will religious fervor do it?  What about keeping religious rules or believing in a personal code of ethics?

 Later in the book the writer of Hebrews wrote, “(for the law perfected nothing), but a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:19 HCSB)  This kind of hope, this intangible edge that some have over others comes only through the relationship with Jesus Christ that helps them draw near to God with confidence.  In Hebrews 3:6 the writer of Hebrews wrote, “But Christ was faithful as a Son over His household, whose household we are if we hold on to the courage and the confidence of our hope.”  (HCSB)

 It is a hope that we hold to personally, but it is also a hope that can transform a group of people.  How many of you long to see God do a transforming work in our world today?

 Not long ago during a Sunday Evening service I told you guys one of my favorite stories from church history, the story of the Great Welsh Revival as recorded by J Edwin Orr in his book The Flaming Tongue.

 The Great Welsh Revival began at the turn of the Twentieth Century when a college student challenged the people of his home church to do 4 things:

1. put away unconfessed sin.
2. put away any doubtful habit.
3. obey the Spirit promptly.
4. confess Christ publicly.

 By the New Year of 1905, the Welsh Revival had reached its greatest power and extent. All classes of people and every denomination shared in the general awakening. Totals of converts added to the churches were published in local newspapers, 70,000 in two months, 85,000 in five, and more than a hundred thousand in half a year.

 After the 1905 New Year, the Swansea County Police Court announced to the public that there had not been a single charge for drunkenness over the holiday weekend, an all-time record.

 In the Welsh metropolis, the Cardiff police reported a 60% decrease in drunkenness and 40% fewer people in jail at the New Year.

 David Lloyd-George, compared the Revival to an earthquake and to a tornado, predicting far-reaching social changes. At a public gathering in Scotland, he spoke of a town in his constituency where the total takings on a Saturday night in the local tavern amounted to nine cents, on the drinking night of the week.

 The great wave of sobriety, which swept over the country caused severe financial losses to men in the liquor trade, and closed many of the taverns. A great improvement in public morals resulted in turn from the closures.

 Cursing and profanity were so diminished that it was reported that a strike was provoked in the coal mines-so many men gave up using foul language that the pit ponies dragging the coal trucks in the mine tunnels did not understand what was being said to them and stood still, confused.

 Long-standing debts were paid. stolen goods returned, while gamblers were converted. Revival in Wales affected the university colleges. For example, in a student lounge at University College in Bangor, an undergraduate started to sing an old Welsh hymn; another student prayed and an unbroken succession of hymns, prayers, and testimonies followed. Lectures were cut, as three hundred or more gathered for afternoon prayer, while in the evening the students marched en masse to the Tabernacle, which was crowded. There were similar scenes in other academic communities. 

 This revival later spilled over onto Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California and became the beginning of the modern Pentecostal movement in America.  God richly blessed the world when His people listened to the simple words of a young man, took them to heart and fell on their knees.

 Don’t you wish God would move like that during our lifetimes?

 In 1995, Cali Columbia was known as the home of the world's largest drug cartel and the murder capital of the world with an average of 15 homicides each day.  Today the city is far more peaceful because one local pastor called citizens to pray for the city.

 In 1995, Julio Ruibal convinced area pastors to support a prayer gathering at a local sports stadium and thirty-thousand citizens showed up for an all-night prayer-and -fasting meeting for the city of Cali.   The results were almost immediate.  48 hours later, the local newspaper ran a headline reading, “NO HOMICIDES."  For the first time anyone could remember, Cali had gone an entire weekend without one murder.  Then ten days later, one of Cali's main drug lords was arrested, and 900 cartel-linked police officers were fired.

 The prayer meetings instantly doubled in size, and despite the murder of the founding pastor, the movement in Cali continued to grow.   In March 1996, believers gathered to pray on buses as they circled the city a symbolic seven times.   Two weeks later, the Columbian government sent in elite troops and arrested all six of the remaining drug kingpins.

 Today, Cali's murder rate in the lowest in 18 years, corruption is down drastically, and kidnappings are down even more.  Pastor Ruibal's widow Ruth describes says the city has transitioned from fear to hope.  (World Net Daily, How God is cleaning up 'worst city in world', by Jim Rutz, July 12, 2005, Submitted by Jim Sandell)

 From fear to hope, she said, “the city has transitioned from fear to hope”  Our text says, “so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. [19] We have this [hope]—like a sure and firm anchor of the soul—that enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.” (Hebrews 6:18-19 HCSB)
 While we fight the war on terror with our military and intelligence agencies, the church should enter the war on her knees.  Praying that God will bring revival around our world.   Unfortunately, many of God’s people have become so acclimated to the sinful society that we live in that we suffer from a spiritual drought in a world where fear reigns.  Listen to the way the Message paraphrases Romans 12:2 “Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”  (MSG)

 Your personal hope is in a relationship with Jesus Christ and the hope of our world is in His people returning to Him on our knees.

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