We Hope in You

Look To God Alone For Hope And Strength In This World.

George Wright
Sep 27, 2020    36m
Have you ever found yourself feeling stressed and hopeless? This message from Psalm 33 reminds us not to look at the things of the world when you feel this way, rather, look to God as the source of your hope and strength. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Shandon, this is a focus that we look to every year, that we are so grateful to have the opportunity to step into our community in a major way, through our Love Cola Initiative. But we know this year is different, and so the idea of mobilizing hundreds, even thousands to go out and serve in big projects is not something that is as feasible right now, as it typically might be. And so we are looking at Love Cola in a different way, through the lens of our local schools. And we recognize that while this has been a stressful, crazy time for everyone, our schools and our teachers and our administrators specifically have been under a ton of stress. And I mean, I know it's probably been stressful for you at home, but imagine what all of our teachers are having to deal with. And so we want to thank and appreciate all who are serving our families and kids through the education system here in our local context, and so all of our focus for Love Cola is these 22 local schools that are within a five-mile radius of where we are here at Shandon's campus. And so we would invite you to be involved, there's a way for everyone to be involved.

George Wright: 01:10 We also want you to know we've got our new 2020 Love Cola shirts, I get to be the billboard for this today. And they are for sale, in years past we've just given away t-shirts to people who've served, but we said, you know what, let's flip this on its head and let's sell t-shirts for $10. We're able to partner with someone to get a good deal on these shirts, and all the proceeds of the shirts are going to go straight to our ministry partners that are walking through this, this difficult season right now. And so we would encourage you buy a shirt, buy ten shirts, buy a shirt for everyone you know. And all of the proceeds from the sale of these shirts are going to go straight to our ministry partners.

George Wright: 01:47 So join us in this great effort. It is such an opportunity, to hopefully in some small ways, change the narrative for some of our teachers and educators who again have been under so much pressure, and I've had so many people frustrated with them. Let's show them that we love them, we are praying for them, and there is a God who loves them. So that's what this is all about, so join us in that effort. Yeah, thank you for doing that. You can find out more in the lobby, you can find out more on our website and social media.

George Wright: 02:20 Let me encourage you now to grab your Bible. And we are stepping into a new series that I am very excited about, praying about, Lord, what do you want us to walk through this fall in this strange year, but specifically this fall, as we now approach a very tense political season. I don't know if you realize that, there's some tension around politics in America. Did you know that? Aren't you glad you came to church to figure that out today? It is a tense time, with a lot of hostility, a lot of vile, a lot of anger. And so as we, as a church, prepare for this fall and continue to navigate all of this uncertainty, all of this strangeness that we're walking through, where do our eyes need to be focused? Our eyes need to be focused on the hope that we have been given because of who God is and what he has done. And so for the next few weeks, we're just going to be reminded over and over again as we walk through the Word of God, that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have reason to hope. And think of how different our posture might be, think of how different our conversations might be, think of how different our social media postings might be if we were speaking and living and posting from a place of hope, instead of speaking and living and posting looking for hope. The Word of God shows us, if you are a follower of Jesus, you have reason for hope. You get to stand and rest and live in the good news of the hope that God alone can bring.

George Wright: 04:02 And I do want to say right up front, before we read the text, I know there are some with us today who are really wrestling with where you are on the journey of faith, maybe wrestling with God. Maybe you have some very big doubts, or concerns as it relates to faith. Maybe you're joining us online, and you're really trying to determine where do I stand in this whole faith conversation. If that's you today, we are so glad that you are with us. What we're going to see together, is that the Word of God makes it very, very clear to those who believe, if you are trusting in the Lord, you have been given reason for hope.

George Wright: 04:44 So as we step into Psalm chapter 33, I'd like to invite you, if you're willing and able, to stand with me. We'll put this on the screen as well, but if you have a Bible, go ahead and turn your attention there. Psalm 33, we're going to start at the end of this Psalm, and then we're going to backtrack through this message and try to cover a lot of ground. Seeing what the Psalmist is laying before us, as it relates to hope. All around the room we stand, if you're online, wondering why are they standing? We do this because we believe the Word of God is the foundation on which the people of God stand, it is our authority, it is what God says is right and good and true. And so we stand in reverence, out of respect, to the Word of God that is guiding us in the conversations that matter the most.

George Wright: 05:27 Psalm 33 verse 20 is where I'll start here today. It says, "Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you." I want to read that again, I kind of stumbled there, "Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you." If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, if you look to the Lord, you have reason for hope. So let's pray that God would lay this before us in a way, that we can see what he wants us to see today, and we can live in light of what he has said.

George Wright: 06:24 Let's pray. Father, as we stand before you now at the reading of your word, I believe that you are at work among us. As we just sang, as we just lifted our voices, we recognize we are not alone in this place. There is a God who loves us, a God who is pursuing us, a spirit of God at work to open our eyes, to see what we need to see, to open our hearts, to receive that which is most important, to receive what you Lord have for us today. And so I pray, in your divine power, that you would do a great work in our lives, that we would see with greater clarity who you are and what you have laid before us and this invitation to hope. We look to you in all these things. In the name of Jesus' I pray. Amen. You may be seated, thank you for standing.

George Wright: 07:32 Well, hope is certainly a longing of every heart. We all search for places where we can securely place our hope. Perhaps you look to a relationship. Perhaps, in this season, you look to a political party or affiliation, or an ideology. Perhaps you look to the reform that you believe is coming, or the change that you believe can happen. Perhaps you look to the things of this world, the resources, the finances, the portfolio that has been entrusted to you. Perhaps you look at your status in the culture socially. Where is it that you place your hope?

George Wright: 08:23 You know, the Christian message foundationally, is a message of hope. And so, as we turn our attention to this all important topic, this topic that we all wrestle with, this topic that we all are longing. It'd sure be easy to say right up front, yes, the church of Jesus Christ has reason to hope. But are we really fixing our eyes, and fixing our attention, and fixing our devotion on what we say we believe? Or are we looking elsewhere, is our hope wandering, has our hope been misplaced? Here in Psalm 33, this beautiful Psalm, that really builds a case for the reason that we have to hope, if our hope is in the Lord. The Psalmist takes us on a journey.

George Wright: 09:14 And so I wanted to go back to the very beginning of this Psalm, verse 1 through 3, as we see the Psalmist inviting us into this journey that reveals the reasons why we, if we call ourselves a Christian, if we say we are the people of God, why we have reason for hope. Let's look at where the Psalmist begins here in verse 1, it says, "Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts." Now the Psalmist is very intentional here to invite us into worship. And the Psalmist is saying right out of the gate, as we start to talk about hope, you need to recognize that hope and worship are always intertwined. Hope and worship are always connected. Please understand this, we will worship what we believe will give us hope. We will worship what we believe will give us hope. That's why we see the passion among people around certain ideologies, around certain platforms, around certain reforms, that they hope will come. They are worshiping, believing, this will be my hope, we see it in our culture all the time. Worship and hope are always connected. And we will look to the object of our worship and say, that is where I place my hope. So where is your worship directed? That's the question? You see, the Psalmist is starting with worship on this conversation around hope, because he wants us to recognize the connection that is at play. And he wants us to recognize as we lift our voices and sing, specifically, as we grab instruments and play, specifically, we are doing this to lift our eyes, to lift our attention back to who God is and what he has done. I hope you understand that.

George Wright: 11:31 The reason we start a service with music is, is not to just fill in the space for those of you who are running late, I know you might've thought that's what it was. It's not just to entertain you with a song that we hope you leave going, man, I really loved that one. I wasn't crazy about that other one, but man, I really love that one. That's not what this is. No, no, we start the service by lifting our voices, and lifting up songs to the Lord, so that we can be reminded of who God is and what he has done. So that then as he lays before us in his word, what we need to hear, we go, yes, I need to hear that, that is my God. Is he the object, the true object of your worship? Is he where you are looking for hope?

George Wright: 12:20 I love this quote from Pastor Louie Giglio out of Atlanta, the founder of The Passion Movement. He writes this in a book on worship called, The Air I Breathe, "How do you know where and what you worship? He says, you simply follow the trail of your time, your affection, your energy, your money, and your allegiance. And at the end of that trail, you'll find a throne. And whatever, or whomever is on that throne is what is of highest value to you. On that throne is what you worship." What is on the throne of your life? That's the question. What is getting the most of your time, your affection, your energy, your money, and your allegiance? In this season, in 2020, in the midst of all this uncertainty and all that is strange and all that we're trying to navigate, what is the object of your worship? If singing and lifting your voice in worship of the Lord does not lift your heart in hope, then perhaps it is because there is something else on the throne of your life altogether. What is the object of your worship?

George Wright: 13:42 The Psalmist here wants to take us on this journey. But as we start this journey to see the reasons why we have hope, he wants us to understand right up front, if you truly want to know, hope, you must lift up your eyes. And when you lift up your eyes and you see what God has done, you will begin to lift your voice in praise, that's a heart of worship for the Lord. The Psalmist then builds his case, look at what he says. Verse 4 of Psalm chapter 33, "For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness." Listen to this, "He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD." I am so grateful for these verses in our context today, in the culture in which we are living, with some very difficult conversations on the table. The Psalmist is saying, the Lord is our reason for hope because the Lord is upright and faithful. What he says is true, it is true for everyone, it is the truth we need to hear. And he is faithful, he is unwavering from what is true, he is right and good and true.

George Wright: 15:06 And then the scripture says here through the Psalmist, "The Lord loves justice and righteousness." Think of how relevant this is right now. Are you willing to consider what the Lord says about justice and righteousness? There are many cries for justice in our culture right now, rightly so. Justice is necessary, justice is needed, justice is a worthy cause. There are cries for righteousness, for the right thing to be done. But here's the problem many times with these cries for justice and righteousness in our culture, the problem with these cries for righteousness and justice in our culture is they are often filtered through only our personal experience and our personal desire. And what the scripture is saying is there is a higher standard for justice and righteousness. If you say you love justice and righteousness, look to God, for God loves justice and righteousness, it is who he is, it is his very nature. For the only way that true justice can be served, and the only way that true righteousness can be achieved, is if there is a standard for justice and righteousness that applies to all, that is above all. And the Psalmist is saying, God is that standard. And his motivation is upright and faithful and true, and his desire for justice and righteousness is pure because it is who he is. He is just, and he is righteous. If you truly desire, if you truly love justice and righteousness, look to God.

George Wright: 17:07 And the scripture is very clear here, this is sobering for every single one of us, Justice will be served. Galatians chapter 6 verse 7, this is a haunting verse. Look at what the scripture says, "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap." Do you realize that the Bible is saying, this is not popular at all, this is not popular at all. The Bible is saying, every sin will be dealt with, your sin, my sin, the sin of the people we don't like or agree with, the sin of the people on the other side of our political persuasions, and the sin of the people in our own conversation, all sin will be dealt with. How will it be dealt with? It will be punished. All sin will be punished. Do not be deceived, you're getting away with nothing, I'm getting away with nothing. God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, he will also reap.

George Wright: 18:08 But please, please stay with me. I know that's not popular, we must understand that truth though, if we're going to understand the beauty of what God is offering. The beauty of what God is offering, is what we call the gospel. Romans chapter 3 verse 26, all sin will be punished, but look at what it says, He is just, he is fair, he is righteous, he is pure, he is true, he is just, and he is the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Either you will pay for your sin, or Christ has paid for your sin. And we must determine what we will place our hope in. Are we placing our hope in our personal cries and desires for justice, or are we placing our hope in the one who is actually just. Are we placing our hope in the one who has gone to the cross to die for our sin, in our place, and then has invited us into life, his own righteousness through the power of his resurrection and what he has granted to us in his mercy and his grace. God demands that sin will be paid for. God demands that all wrongs will be punished. And God offers justice by dying in our place at the cross, so that we can be set free to live from a posture of hope, instead of searching for hope. He is our hope, for he is upright and he is faithful.

George Wright: 19:54 The Psalmist continues. Let's jump to verses 8 to 9 of Psalm chapter 33. It says, "Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! " Listen to this. "For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm." He alone, the Psalmist says, is our hope. Why? For he is creator God, he is creator God. Now you may be wondering what the world does the creation have to do with our reason for hope, especially in the context we find ourselves in today with so much turmoil, and so much tension, and so many things swirling around us. Why does the doctrine of creation matter at all in this conversation? Well, think about this, if this world is all just happenstance, if the things of this world are just random, some cosmic explosion, or some genetic mutation over millions of years that just happened to come together this way to create the world in which we live, if there is no divine creator orchestrating all that we see in this world, then it means in the midst of all the chaos, in the midst of all the confusion, in the midst of all the disorder, in the midst of all the brokenness of this life, the only place we can eventually find ourselves is in a place of hopelessness. If all of this is just random, there is no hope because the only hope of all of this is random is that we somehow, as humanity, we'll fix it all. Have you ever read anything in history? We've been trying a long time, we're no good at it, we can't fix it.

George Wright: 22:05 It's the same cycle over and over and over again. And we get passionate, and we try, and we're going to change today, and it's 2020, and everything's going to be different than the history of the world. No, it's not, we can't fix this. We are incapable of fixing this. Which means the only conclusion we can land on is it's all hopeless, and pointless, to begin with. Just do your own thing, just make yourself happy while you're here. Forget about everybody else, just get as selfish as you can, grab what she can. That's the only conclusion we can come to if we have any intellectual integrity whatsoever, if this is all random.

George Wright: 22:58 But if there is a divine creator, if there is a divine blueprint underneath all the chaos, underneath all the confusion, underneath all the pain and brokenness, and the destruction and the consequences, and results of sin in this world, if there is order underneath it, all, that means that there is an authority. And authority granted by the voice of God, reigning on high, to provide something beautiful in this life, to provide a reason for hope. He has spoke this world into existence by his word. He is holding this world together by his word. And don't miss this, a day is coming, a day is coming when out of all of the chaos, and all of the confusion, and all of the brokenness, this God will speak a word and every wrong will be made right? Do you hear this church? This is the good news of our creator. God, who has authority reigning over all. For you see, with a word he creates, and with a word he redeems, and with a word he forgives, and with the word he restores, and with the word he renews, and with a word, he will wipe away every tear from the eyes of those who are his people for. For there is power in the Word of our God. And when we recognize that he is the creator, God, reigning and ruling overall. We recognize that he is our reason for hope, because out of the chaos, we will see order and we will see a divine hand at work for his glory. We have hope in his name.

George Wright: 25:20 And then I love how practical the Psalmist becomes as we continue in Psalm chapter 33 here, I'm going to read several verses, beginning in verse 10 of Psalm chapter 33. But the Psalmist says, let me just, let me just step into your current reality because I recognize there's a lot of places that, that you might think you're going to find hope. So let me just, let me just talk with you on the level for a moment. Psalm 33, verse 10, 'The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples." Can I get an amen? 2020 right there, put it on top, yeah, there it is. "The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man." Listen to this, "From where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds." And here's the conclusion, "The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue."

George Wright: 26:57 What is the Psalmist doing here? The Psalmist is saying, let me talk to you about your current reality. You want to believe that there is a political party that can save you, you want to believe that there is a king who can give you hope, you want to believe that there is a great warrior who can provide the hope that you long for. But if you're looking horizontally out at this world, and you're looking at the kings and the political parties and the warriors of this world, can I just tell you they will rise and they will fall, and they will not be your hop. For, they cannot provide the hope that you are longing for, but if you want the hope of a King, and if you want the hope of a mighty warrior lift up your eyes, for there is one reigning and ruling on high. So the Psalm is here, says he is our hope, for he is in control. He is our hope, for he is in control. He is sovereign and reigning over all the kingdoms of men. He sees all, he knows all, there is nothing happening that is a surprise to him.

George Wright: 28:26 And we know this to be true in 2020, don't we? Every single one of us have had plans that have been frustrated this year. Any one of us, at any point, if we're honest, has to say the plans changed because of an invisible virus we didn't see it coming. We're not in control. I mean, the reality is true today that has always been true, that any single one of us can have everything in our lives changed by one conversation. Any single one of us today can have everything changed with one phone call, one diagnosis that we didn't see coming. We are not in control and the Lord in his grace and his mercy towards us. Listen to this, the Lord in his grace, his mercy towards us. Don't miss this, frustrates the plans of the peoples so that the peoples can see their need for him. Don't miss this. That's exactly what God is inviting us to this year, today, right now, in the midst of all of the hostility that is swirling around us, God wants us to recognize if we are the people of God, our hope is not in the things of this world. We have a hope that is above all of it, a hope in the one who is in control, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever more unwavering unchanging, he is our reason for hope.

George Wright: 30:19 So I'll just conclude today's message with the question we began this message with, where is your hope? And even in asking that question, the tendency is to begin to think about someone sitting around you or someone that you know, that that needs to evaluate their hope because they have misplaced hope. You know, all those people, they're all on Facebook, you know them, right? But what I'm asking you right now is where is your hope? Not your neighbor's hope, not the person sitting beside you on the couch if you're at home, or in the Pew if you're here. But where is your hope? Are you placing your hope in something horizontally from the things of this world? Or is your hope vertical? Are you lifting your eyes? As Psalmist started, lift up your eyes, look up worship. , Look, see what God has done. Where is your hope? For there is a hope that will never fail, there is a hope that will never abandon you or forsake you, there is a hope that will never leave you hanging. There is a hope that is yours, not only today, but forevermore, if you will trust in what God has done.

George Wright: 31:49 And so if you are a follower of Christ, if you are a person of God, of the body of Christ. Then the hope where we started at the end of Psalm 33, that is the song of your heart. My question for you, is will you sing it this week? Will you sing this song? Some 33 verse 20, "Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name." Verse 22, "Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you." Will you live this week in light of this hope?

George Wright: 32:45 And if you're joining us today and you have never experienced this hope in a real way, the certainty of the unwavering hope that is yours through the gift of God, that is the good news of the gospel through Jesus Christ. Our Lord. We invite you today, as I close in prayer, to look to Jesus. To say, Jesus, I need hope. I need to know the confidence of this unwavering hope, hope today, and hope forevermore. And so I am trusting in you, Jesus, as my hope. It is our prayer that there would be some today, who would do just that. So let's go before the Lord right now, as we thank the Lord for who he is and what he has done, let's close with a word of prayer.

George Wright: 33:31 Heavenly Father, it is a tremendous gift to be able to turn our attention to your word and to see what you lay before us. , That there is an invitation to hope that is not conditional on the things of this world, it is not conditional on the way we have behaved, it is not conditional on our effort to try and earn this, and it is certainly not conditional on who might be in a political office, or a position of influence, or some ideology that we're looking to. No, there is a hope that is all about what you have done for us, and what you have invited us to embrace in the good news of the gospel that says there is more to this life than just what we see, and there is hope beyond this life because of what Jesus Christ has done. And so I pray, Lord God, for your people, the church, give us the faith to live in light of the hope that we have. Forgive us for the times, even recently, perhaps when we have placed our hope in other things, and return us, Lord, in your grace, to the hope that we have the good news of Jesus Christ our Lord, may we live in light of that hope

George Wright: 35:16 For those joining us, for friends and for family here today, or tuning in with us to this service, that they're longing for hope, they have been searching, they have been hurting. They're so frustrated with what they're seeing. They're so frustrated with what they've been experiencing. Lord, they're longing for hope, you've brought them to this place, and I pray, Lord God, that you would give them eyes to see, and faith to believe, that you and you alone Lord God, Jesus Christ our savior, is our reason for hope. I pray that there'll be some even now that would look to Jesus and say, Jesus, I'm ready to follow you. I'm ready to trust my life to you. You are my living hope. I ask you, Lord God, to forgive me of my sin and to walk me into this gift of new life. I need hope, and so I'm looking to you as my reason for hope.

George Wright: 36:24 Lord, we praise you for the gift of salvation, your mercy, your grace, that is lavishly poured out upon those who trust in you. May we, may we be a reflection of this beautiful gift that you have given. Thank you for this time here today. Lord, we lift our eyes to you. It's in Christ' name I pray. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206