In His Steps Ministries

In His Steps Ministries

The following sermons are past messages by Pastor Rich.
The sermon notes may be used by others.

In His Steps Ministries
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ChristianPrisoners of Hope

Prisoners of Hope

We are going to be talking about the topic of hope. I am not talking about wishing, I am talking about hoping. Many people are wishing things to be different. There is no power in a wish–there is tremendous power in hoping when it is according to the will of God. People wish to be rich, famous, happy, etc.. Instead of wishing I hope and trust to be prosperous, fruitful in soul winning, and always walk in the joy of the Lord. Wishing has no assurance of thing you wish for will happen. When we hope and trust combined with faith, we see the answer to things we hope in.

As positive as hoping in God sounds, there can be discouragement. How many know that? There are times during the birth of your dream, desire, or destiny that you feel as though you would like to give up hope, but God will not let you. It feels as though you are held captive by hope.

Zech. 9:12 (NKJV)
 Return to the stronghold,
You prisoners of hope.
Even today I declare
That I will restore double to you.

There are times during the development of your dream when your hope seems to have turned into a prison. You cannot make your dreams come true, and you find it impossible to stop believing in them. You cannot go forward any faster than God will let you, and you cannot return to where you once were before you became pregnant with the promise from God. God will not let you give up! During this time you might feel like saying, "Okay God, this is enough! I don't want to hope anymore! I am tired of being pregnant with this promise! I want out of this prison of hope!"

It is during this time that your dream feels so real to you, yet to others it does not. The conflict between what you feel in the Spirit and what is evident in the natural grates at your soul. You feel much like you are on a Ferris wheel. You have your up times when you can see your dream's fulfillment far into the future, but you also have your down time when you cannot see anything. You think to yourself, "Am I crazy to think that God could use me?" The enemy comes in like a flood and you begin to doubt, causing anguish to your soul. This is the time when God is doing His greatest work in you.

Romans 5:3-5 (NASB)
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; [4] and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; [5] and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

It is Because He Loves You
You feel as though you are ready for your destiny, but once again God directs you back to the refinery for more tweaking. Oh, how weary you are of the awful refinery and that seemingly endless tweaking. "Okay, God, you can stop now!" you scream. But He does not stop. You are caught in a prison of hope and He will not let you out until He is finished with what He began in you.

It is like a child who has a sliver. They do not like the pain the sliver causes them, but they hate the misery of having that sliver taken out. Getting the sliver out is important, but they do not necessarily understand that. Even if they did, it is hard to keep still while it is being pulled out. Well, we all have spiritual slivers that we need God to take out, and sometimes it really hurts, especially when the sliver is way down deep in your heart.

This is when the refining process REALLY hurts, because He is getting down to the very core of your soul, to the deep regions of your heart. He is developing things in you that you did not even know that you lacked; things you did not even know that you needed. You think, "Okay, God, this is deep enough." But every builder knows you must dig down deep to lay a proper foundation first, before you start to build upward. And the greater the height of the structure, the deeper the foundation must be.

It is because God loves us that He will not allow us to enter our destiny until our foundation is secure. If He has held you back and you feel like a prisoner, He has done it out of love for you. He does not want to see all that He has worked to build in you crumble, because He did not take the time to develop a sure foundation. He loves you that much!

Even though it hurts you, He needs to hold you in the prison cell of hope until it is safe for you to come out. Even though you are sick and tired of hoping, of believing, of waiting . . . He will still make you hope, believe and wait even longer. And this can be the hardest thing He has asked you to do yet. But when you feel like giving up, you continue to carry on, you begin to sense a strength rising in you that you did not know you possessed. And really you did not possess it previously, because it was your reward for enduring this painful process. It is a gift from God that the enemy cannot take away from you, because you have earned it.

But for the strength to endure the situation to come, you must surrender completely to Jesus.

Too many people think surrender means giving up, or quitting. Surrender is not giving up, it is going to the winning side. Let me say that again. Surrender is not giving up, it is going to the winning side. When we surrender to Jesus we are going to the winning side. There is victory in Jesus. When we surrender to God, we move from serving a loser-the devil or ourself, and we join the winning team-our Creator.
So, whether we feel like we are on the winning team, we are.

Romans 8:24-25 (NASB)
For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? [25] But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Held Captive by Hope
In the word of God we can find many people who have been held captive by hope.

One of them is Abraham

Romans 4:18-21 (NASB) 
In hope against hope he believed, in order that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, "So shall your DESCENDANTS BE." [19] And without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; [20] yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, [21] and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform.

At first Abraham was inpatient and tried to fulfill the will of God himself. But ultimately he became faithful to the point of willing to sacrifice his son, now that is truly having hope that the promise would be fulfilled regardless of circumstances.

David is another example
God had promised David the Kingdom of Israel, and Samuel had anointed him for it (1 Samuel 16:13). But after he had been anointed as king of all Israel, he had to go back to tending the sheep. It was many years before the promise ever came to pass for David, and he spent many of those years being chased by the man whose throne he would inherit. I am sure he never dreamed, back in the pasture on his father's farm, that he would have to hide out in caves or that he would pretend to be a crazy man in order to save his life. After all, God said he was going to be a king. A king does not have to do things like that does he?

In Psalms 119:82, David cries out to God in song and says, My eyes fail looking for your promise. I can relate to that. It feels sometimes as though the promise will never be fulfilled. But, in fact, it was fulfilled for David, and it will be for you, too, if you do not give up.

He probably at times that Samuel who anointed him as king, must have been a false prophet. If was a prophet of God, why am I hiding in caves. Yet, he knew that Samuel was a prophet of God, and that God had called him to be king. He did not give up hope.

1 Tim. 1:1 (NASB)
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope;

1 Tim. 4:10 (NASB)
For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

God must be who we put our hope and trust in. If we hope and trust in Him, our dream, desire, destiny will be fulfilled if it is according to the will of God.

Hopeless, No - Helpless, Yes!

Do you feel sometimes as though you are hopeless? Well, you are not without hope, you are not hopeless, but helpless. (Repeat) God has put you in a position of helplessness or complete dependency on Him and you are helpless to help yourself. You struggle to gain back some measure of control over your life, but your pride (that you did not even know that you had) is being crushed, and the only thing for you to do is to surrender. You may feel hopeless, but really it is the condition of helplessness that is causing you pain. God wants you completely dependent on Him, and He will keep you a prisoner of hope until you are.

Return to Your Fortress

Your fortress is trusting in a loving God. Trusting Him in spite of all the reasoning of your mind . . . in spite of the circumstances that surround you. You were content to give God control of your life until He decided to do something with your life you did not like. You were happy to surrender all to Him, until He decided to give your promotion to someone else. You believe in His sovereignty, until His sovereign will conflicts with your will. Then you are sure He has made a mistake. You want to run from Him, but He is your refuge. How do you run from your refuge? How do you run from the only one who really loves you or understands you? The answer is . . . you don't. So, return, my friend, to your fortress and remain a prisoner until He is done with you - until He decides you are ready for all that He has for you.

What now feels like a prison cell to you, God sees as a fortress. And, of course, He is right. He loves you, and if you give Him control of your life, He will guard it for you. Perhaps what feels to you like a prison cell may really be your place of safety and protection. David did not like being in a cave, but it saved him from King Saul. You may not like the circumstances you are in now, but do not run from it. It may be what is saving your life!

I am sure many of you have learned that even the jail cell you are in right now is actually a place of safety.

Double for Your Trouble

The second half of Zechariah 9:12 gives us the answer we are looking for. Why are we going through what we are going through? It says,

Return to the stronghold,
You prisoners of hope.
Even today I declare
That I will restore double to you.

God says, "Even now I announce to you that not only will I restore to you all that has been taken from you, but I will give you double for all the trouble you have endured." He says, "Don't stop now . . . keep trusting me, because I can see your future and it is very blessed. Keep walking with me and keep trusting in me and I will give you rest."

Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). When we have learned to "rest" in God in the midst of our storm, God is mightily blessed. Because it proves to Him that we trust in His goodness no matter what our circumstances are.

It pleases Him very much when we trust in Him, and when He is pleased, He will burst forth blessings from heaven. He just cannot help Himself - He loves to bless those who trust in His goodness.

He, as He did for Israel in Zechariah 9:12, will stand up and announce to all that He is proud of you and intends to restore double to you for your continued trust in Him, through all you have endured. And this is the beginning of your dreams coming true. Enjoy it, friend, because you have waded through the river of adversity and your heavenly Father is proud of you.

Return to your fortress O prisoners of hope.


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