Are you going through the motions without hope?
DECEMBER 2, 2020
Zach Van Dyke:
Are you going through the motions without hope? Let’s talk on Key Life
You’re listening to Key Life. Our message is simple, because life is hard for everyone, grace is for all of us. Steve Brown, invited Zach Van Dyke to teach this week. Zach’s the teaching pastor at Summit Church here in Orlando, Florida. If you’re tired of religion, that just beats you down, pull up a chair and stay awhile.
Zach Van Dyke:
Thanks Matthew. Well, like Matthew said, I’m here all week filling in for Steve. And this week we’re talking about hope, or maybe rather what you do when you’re hopeless, when you should have hope. I’m titling this week and then also the week that I’m here after Christmas, Long Expected Hope. And we’re looking at really the story of Zechariah. The father of John the Baptist and, and how the gospel writer, Luke chooses to begin the story of the gospel, chooses to tell a Christmas story from the vantage point of someone who has lost hope, who despite their faith, despite their obedience to God, they’re struggling with hopelessness. Yesterday, I ended by saying, you know, sometimes our reason for suffering is known only to God. A lot of times we think if we’re suffering, it’s because of our own sin and it’s the consequences of our sin. And that very much is the case, some of the time, but sometimes it’s not. In fact, Scripture is very clear throughout that sometimes suffering has nothing to do with our own sin. Sometimes suffering actually has to do with bringing God glory and that’s a hard pill to swallow, especially if you’re in the midst of suffering. If you’re in the thick of it, you don’t want people coming up to you and saying, well, it’s probably for God’s glory. Like you just, you don’t want to hear that, right? That’s why we need to be in the Scriptures and meditating and wrestling on these passages in times when we’re not suffering, so that when we’re in suffering, we’ve already wrestled with it. We’ve already come to a place of saying, God, I trust you no matter what, but if it’s true that our suffering, sometimes isn’t because of sin. And our reason for suffering sometimes as known only to God, that means we should all be very careful not to jump to conclusions when something bad is happening, to us or to someone else. Because in the case of Zechariah and Elizabeth, Elizabeth was barren for the glory of God. It wasn’t her sin. God wasn’t punishing her, but he was planning a miracle, that would get the whole world ready for salvation. We talked about on Monday, how it’d been 400 years that God had been silent, between the Old Testament and the New Testament, we have 400 years where God just didn’t speak. He had always spoken to his people through profits or, you know, God was always making his heart known to his people, that for 400 years they couldn’t hear him. For 400 years, he’d stopped speaking. They were in a situation where the government was hostile towards them. They were an oppressed people, I’m sure they were all thinking, like I don’t, I don’t know that God still cares. I don’t even know if God is still there, but Malachi is painting this picture of one day there being this prophet who comes, who, who kind of turns everyone back to God, who kind of changes everyone’s hearts. And then when this angel appears before Zechariah, he essentially says to him, you are going to have that son. Your son is going to be like the prophet, Elijah. Your son is going to prepare the way for salvation. The angel says, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. So never in a million years with Zechariah and Elizabeth think that all their suffering, all those years of being disappointed, of feeling judged by other people. They had no idea that all that suffering would one day lead to the salvation of the world. So you might not know what God’s doing with your suffering, but on the authority of God’s word, I can say to you, he is up to something. So if that’s the case, the question to ask about our suffering is no longer what have I done to deserve this, but rather, how can I glorify God through this? If you’re in the thick of it right now, can you ask that question? If he can do it, ask it right now, turn off the turn off the radio and just ask, just say, God, how can I glorify you through this? But I know for some of you, you don’t think he can, it’s just too painful. Tell him that, there’s a liturgical prayer that I often use at funerals and that I just love, cause normally I just, I just kinda pray, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t read, you know, scripted prayers, but there’s this, this one prayer. And I just love how it begins. It begins with these words, Father God, you gave us birth and you were always ready to hear the prayers of your children, more ready to hear them, then we often pray them. That’s so true. When was the last time you talked to him? If you can’t ask, how can I glorify God through this? Tell him that. He is more ready to hear, then you are to pray. So if you’re in the thick of it, if you’re suffering right now and you just, you just have no hope and you’re surrounded by people in a season that says hope is all around you. Talk to him, take it to him. He is more ready to hear you, than you are to pray. So back to why I believe Luke begins the Gospel with the loss of hope. Because you might be thinking right, that makes sense. But when you read the text, Zechariah’s actions imply that he still had hope. On the outside, Zechariah probably appeared to be a man full of hope. He was still showing up at the temple. He was still a priest. He was still doing all the religious things. Hey, he was even praying for God to send a Messiah, to deliver God’s people and still praying for a child. Did you hear what the angel said to him? In Luke 1, verse 13, the angel says to him do not be afraid Zechariah, your prayer has been heard. Zechariah had been praying. He’d been praying for those things still. He was still doing all the right religious things. He was still praying. He was still going before God with his request, but Zechariah gives himself away with his response.
How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.
He prayed for the very things that he ended up doubting God could do. Yes, he still prayed. He still went through the motions, but he had lost hope. Are you going through the motions? Are you asking God for things, but in reality, you’ve stopped hoping. You’ve stopped believing that he’ll show, you’ve stopped believing that he can do it. You might be doing all the religious things and people who see you might say, man, what hope that person has, how religious that person is, look at them. I can’t believe they have such strong faith in the midst of such tragic circumstances. You can be like Zechariah and going through the motions, looking like a person full of hope, but in your heart, you know, you are hopeless. Luke begins the Gospel story with someone who’s going through all the religious motions. Who on the outside looks like a man full of faith and a man full of hope, but on the inside, he’s hopeless. If we’re friends on social media, you know, you know, I have a Disney side, I love Disney. I can’t help it. I’ve I’ve loved Disney for as long as I can remember when the other kids were dressing up like Superman and Batman, you know, I was dressed up like Walt Disney with a suit, mustache slicked back, hair, cigarette, all that, you know, I’ve always loved Disney. So Disney Plus has been life changing. I’ve been on a Disney Plus binge since it came out over a year ago. And I don’t see an end in sight, so if you keep listening to Key Life, most of my illustrations are probably going to come straight out of the Disney vault. And recently I rewatched Inside Out. If you haven’t seen it, it’s such a good movie, you should go and see it. But it’s a movie that takes place all inside the emotions of a human being. It takes place inside the emotions of an 11 year old girl named Riley, who has moved across country, leaving behind her friends and her old life, and so it’s like, you know, that’s a traumatic thing for, for an 11 year old. So you get to watch as, as the emotions inside her deal with that change, and the five emotions that are running everything inside this little girl are joy, sadness, fear, anger, and disgust. And at the emotional center of Riley is joy. Joy is the one in control and leads all the other emotions. Joy is core to who Riley is, now although the movie takes place mostly inside this 11 year old girl’s emotions. A few times we get a glimpse inside the emotions of the grownups. We get to see inside her mom and her dad and at the center of her dad’s emotional control center was anger and at the center of her mom’s was sadness. What interesting choices, right? But spot on too, the child was controlled by joy, the adults by sadness and anger. What would you say is that the emotional center of your being? I think the filmmakers were saying that as we grow up, we encounter so much disappointment and suffering, that it almost seems too painful to put joy at the center, because joy is rooted in hope. Joy is defined in Webster’s dictionary as
the passion or emotion excited by the expectation of good
Joy is about what will one day be. And as we get older, as we encounter suffering, as circumstances don’t turn out the way we thought or we hoped, joy often gets replaced. And if you tune in tomorrow for my last day filling in for Steve, I’ll show you what will one day be and what will one day be is all about grace.
Pastor Zach Van Dyke there continuing to teach us from Luke 5 about how to find hope. How can I glorify God in this situation? That is such a powerful and game changing question. Thank you Zach. So, we are now less than a month away from the end of 2020. If you’re a goal-setter, that means you have roughly 28 more days to run that marathon, write that book, build those bookshelves. But listen, if you’re goal was to get your own copy of Key Life magazine, Hey, we can make that one happen today. So get your free copy right now by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also email Steve@keylife.org and ask for the magazine. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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