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02-07-2023

FAITH AND HOPE AS YOU GROW OLDER

 

The Lord impressed upon me that this should be the topic before we go on to anything else.  I have seen through the years that, as people get older, there is an attitude within that begins to form in the minds of many Christians.  Because they face challenges that they haven’t had to face before, with their bodies, their lifestyles, with their family, their friends, and on and on, when they are alone and not around anyone else, their minds begin to think thoughts like this (and they don’t mention it to anyone else because it doesn’t sound spiritual).  “Well, I guess this is the way it is when you’re on your way out.  I can’t do everything that I used to, go everywhere like I used to, and I have a lot of stuff to deal with that I didn’t used to have.  I’ve prayed a lot lately but I guess my faith is getting weak too, just like everything else.  I guess I can still put on a good front but things are just not working for me like they used to.”

 

The Lord spoke to my heart and told me that we all need a little upgrade when it comes to understanding FAITH AND HOPE.  In all actuality, I really believe that all Christians, no matter how old they are, need to constantly be reminded and encouraged when it comes to FAITH AND HOPE.

 

So, we’re going to begin with a verse of scripture that really is one of my favorites.  I have pondered on it for years and years.  The more I have thought about it and prayed for more and more enlightenment concerning it, the more the Lord has shown me – and, therefore, it’s had a definite impact on my life.

 

It’s Hebrews 11:1.  It’s very short but very, very powerful and full of revelation.  

 

Heb. 11:1 – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”  Now – how could such a short verse have so much power and revelation in it?!!!!!  Well, I’m going to share with you what I have learned.

 

First – let’s talk about what HOPE is.  Hope is considered, “a confident expectation.”  I have discovered that “hope” and “imagination” are closely related.  We use our imagination a lot but don’t even realize that we are.  We have good imaginations and bad imaginations.  We start out imagining when we are children.  

 

Tell story of little girls – back yard – playing house – little older – inside – playing office.  (Now here’s something - I lived both those things out in life when I was in my 20’s - Tell story.)

 

Everybody, at one time or another has had a bad imagination come into your mind – like a car crash – or a plane crash …………

 

Tell story of living in Indian Hills, Colo. – pastoring – children in school – Us out shopping down in Denver – on the way home – imagining fire at our house (parsonage) – with kids in there -  Oh what fear!  

 

I actually had to take authority over my mind in the name of Jesus and then talk to myself and tell myself that my children were protected by my Heavenly Father.  Then I found promises in the Word about protection and I quoted them.  As I did that, I was freed from that horrible picture on the inside - a bad imagination!

 

So - let’s talk about a positive imagination!!   Now - first of all, let’s remember Heb. 11:1 - “Faith is the substance of things hoped for…”  Let’s stop there for a minute.  If you aren’t hoping (or imagining) it, faith doesn’t have anything to give substance to! When I began to get ahold of that truth, it caused a ‘boomerang’ in my ability to trust God and walk in more and more faith.  Then I read Heb. 11 over and over and over.  It talks about all those Old Testament saints who walked by faith.  There are several verses about Abraham.  I sat and imagined what Abraham might have been doing.

 

Remember God told him that his seed would be like the stars in the sky.  I could imagine Abraham, sitting down in the sand at night and looking up at the night sky and seeing all those stars - and thinking, “My seed is going to be so many - just like those stars up there.  I can’t count how many stars are there.  That’s how many will be on this earth that have come from me.”  Remember that verse that says, “Abraham believed God and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:3)  Abraham had been told by God to leave his home and that God would lead him to where he wanted him to be and that’s all he had to go on.  He did what God said and became the man who is called ‘ THE FATHER OF FAITH’.  We’ve got our Bibles, and churches, our pastor, our friends, TV preachers and teachers, AND WE HAVE BEEN BORN AGAIN (WITH NEW SPIRITS) AND MANY OF US HAVE BEEN BAPTISED IN THE HOLY SPIRIT!  All Abraham had was one little word from God!  Wow!

 

His hope (or imagination) led him each step of the way to fulfill the will of God!  I’ve learned so much as I have pondered on that.

 

Now let’s talk about FAITH!  This is a very big subject and many, many preachers and teachers have shared from their hearts things to help us on this.  I’ve learned a lot from many teachers on this subject - probably the most from Andrew Wommack.  (Tell how I know Andy.)  

 

So - in as simple way to understand this as possible, [now - this is just from me - I’m not quoting Andy or anyone else].  For me, FAITH is getting ahold of the promises of God in the Bible - then getting the understanding down deep in me that those promises really do belong to me because I’m a child of God - then understanding that God has already made them all available to me in my new born again spirit (or in the spiritual realm) - then BELIEVING THAT HE HAS ALREADY SAID YES AND AMEN CONCERNING THEM and I don’t have to beg Him or try to convince Him to give them to me.  (That verse is 1 Cor. 1:20)  They are already available to me.  He’s already made them available to me.  It’s up to me to access them BY FAITH!  

 

When I really believe that, with all my heart, and then begin to exercise HOPE (or IMAGINATION) by seeing them as if they were already out of the spirit realm and in the flesh and blood realm - So much so that I say it out of my mouth, as I believe it in my heart, that faith gives substance to that thing hoped for.  What I am doing is thanking God for it before I ever see it with my eyes!  Remember - we talked in one of our previous teachings in this series - that speaking faith and truth (the Word) out of my mouth is important because my own ears need to hear the words of faith.  Your ears need to hear your voice speaking words of faith.  You know something - the more you speak it, the more you believe it.

 

Now I want to tell you about something that occurred in about 2001 - I was living in K. C., little apt. - on staff at the church of friends of mine. Began to have terrible pain in my lower back.  Ended up being pushed around in a wheel chair - my son took me to Truman Medical Center - lots and lots of tests - told me that there was not much they could do - probably would be in a wheel chair the rest  of my life.  Gave me medication for the pain.  Several weeks went by - Spent lots of time in prayer - I spent lots and lots of time finding and reading the promises of God in the Word concerning healing and SPEAKING THEM OUTLOUD TO MY EARS, MY BODY, MY MIND. Friends loaned me a cassette tape series of Andy’s called, “What To Do When It Looks Like You’re Not Healed.”  That was on a Sunday.  Now this is what I did!  I MADE AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE LORD for Monday morning.  Closed all  the drapes and blinds, turned off phones.  In other words, I determined not to be interrupted by any thing or anyone.  I sat in a comfy chair and began to imagine what it was like to not have pain so bad that I could hardly move.  I sat there for awhile and then I began to listen to the tapes.  It was about 3 hours or more of teaching.  Toward the end of the last tape, the worship had begun and I stood up with my hands in the air, worshiping the Lord.  Then all of a sudden I realized that I couldn’t feel any pain - I looked at the clock and realized that it  was an hour and a-half past the time to take the pain meds.  I started moving around there in the room AND I WAS ABSOLUTELY PAIN FREE - NO MATTER HOW I MOVED MY BODY AROUND - I WENT IN AND GOT THE PAIN MEDS AND THREW THEM AWAY IN THE TRASH! I WAS HEALED. FAITH GAVE SUBSTANCE TO THINGS HOPED FOR!!!!!

 

You have to get serious about it!  You have to believe the promises.  I Peter 2:24 has become precious to me - “By His stripes you were healed.”  So, I said to myself, before I ever felt it, “If I was healed, then I am healed.”  That verse is personal and precious to me.

 

You can’t just do it because somebody said to - YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE THE PROMISES - AND THAT THEY ARE ALREADY YOURS IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM.  YOU HAVE TO SEE IT IN YOUR IMAGINATION SO YOU CAN HOPE FOR IT - AND BELIEVE THAT YOU HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO CLAIM IT!

 

In other words, no matter what it is, you must believe the promises (which means that you have to find them in the Word of God) and you must see them as available to you.  You must imagine the solution as though it is already done.  

 

Now here’s a biggy!  What you see in your imagination has to become more real than the fleshly reality.  You cannot focus (or put your attention on) the problem.  You must focus on the answer to the promise.

 

That is FAITH AND HOPE WORKING TOGETHER.  

When it comes to praying for relatives and friends and others to come to the Lord, you must imagine them as children of God.  I have mentioned this before, but I have a grandson who has made it clear that he wants nothing to do with God.  When I am praying in the Spirit for him, I imagine him standing with his hands raised to the Lord worshiping the Lord.  I have the promises from the Word (Isaiah mostly - Here’s where they are and you can look them up later - Isaiah 44:3, 54:13, 59:21).  I can honestly say to you, that the picture of him, standing worshiping the Lord is more real to me than I remember him last year when I saw him.  I know that I know that I know that the Lord has a plan that is drawing him to Himself and what I see on the inside is more real that the outside.  See - that’s the plan that the Lord has - faith has to have something to give substance to.

  

So many Christians know the promises are there but they just don’t realize that God has already provided  them for us - in the spirit realm.  We have to access them.  Remember dear old Abraham, out there looking at those stars - and the more he looked, the more it became real to him.  We have a wonderful COVENANT with the Lord God Almighty - paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ - the Son of God!  The Triune Deity!  God the Father - Jesus Christ the Son - the Holy Spirit!  GOD IN THREE PERSONS - BLESSED TRINITY.  We have been taken into that family - the FAMILY OF GOD.

 

So many older Christians are just feeling like there’s just not much they can do anymore.  They’re feeling like God’s just kinda’ done with them.  I’m here to say today, HE’S NOT DONE WITH US YET!  This is the way I think about it.  “Yeah - I’m 85 years old - but, as long as I’m here in this body, I want to be available to Him to do whatever it is He wants me to do.  I want to stay in communication with Him so I can know what He wants me to see, do, say, think, and on and on.”

 

See - I don’t believe that we have to be sick to go to heaven.  I remember hearing about an old Christian that God had used so much - I think it was Smith Wigglesworth.  So many people’s lives were changed, both spiritually and physically, by him, his preaching and his praying for them.  He was pretty old but he wasn’t sick.  His daughter lived with him and one morning, after he finished eating his breakfast, as he got up from the table, he told his daughter, “Well, I think I’m going home today.”  She looked at him, about to ask him what he meant because he was at home.  Then she realized what he meant.  He went into the living room and sat down in his favorite comfy chair - kicked back - closed his eyes and just sat there for awhile.  A little later, she went to check on him and HE WASN’T IN HIS BODY ANYMORE.  HE REALLY WENT HOME.

 

Doesn’t that sound wonderful!  I don’t think we have to be sick, bedridden, and on and on.  God wants to keep on using us - WE JUST HAVE TO KEEP ON USING OUR FAITH AND OUR HOPE - STAYING IN COMMUNICATION WITH HIM AND HIS WORD.

 

Now there’s another verse that I want to mention about this.  It’s Romans 4:17 - I’m reading from KJV - (NKJV and AMP go into more details but KJV is shorter and gets right to the point.)  “(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead and calleth those things which be not as though they were.”  This is Paul writing and he is referring to the fact that God called Abraham the father of many nations a year before Isaac was born.  The name Abram means “high father,” and Abraham means, “father of a multitude.”

 

I’m bringing this up because we have to learn from God’s own way of doing things.  We have to learn to SPEAK OUT OF OUR MOUTHS ONLY THAT WHICH IS IN LINE WITH GOD AND HIS WORD.  I’ve heard it said many times by preachers and teachers that, “You’re hung by your tongue.”  In other words, if we say we’re believing God and His Word for something but then everything full of doubt and unbelief comes out of our mouths - we are not operating in real faith.

 

When you got saved, or became a Christian, or however you want to put it, you had to believe in your heart that Jesus was the Son of God and had taken the penalty for your sins on the cross - and you had to SAY THAT WITH YOUR MOUTH.

 

In other words, you had to believe and receive based on the truth of the WORD OF GOD.  You had to speak the truth.  That’s the way faith works.  You don’t just say it because somebody told you to quote him (although that is proper and good) but you also have to believe it when you say it.  Just saying it isn’t enough - you have to believe it.  

 

Therefore, as you go through your day-to-day life, and you read the promises, you must believe them and receive them the same way you received salvation.  THEN, you train your mouth to only speak the truth - even though you haven’t seen it yet.  We must train ourselves to walk in faith and hope - and keep the negative things that try to come up in our minds (normally brought on by the evil one) from coming out of our mouths.  

 

That’s the way we walk in FAITH AND HOPE no matter how old we are!!!!!!!!!

 

Scriptures used for this lesson

Hebrews. 11:1

Roman. 4:3

1 Corinthians. 1:20

1 Peter 2:24

Isaiah 44:3

Isaiah 54:13

Isaiah 59:21

Romans 4:17

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