Waynedale United Methodist Church
Thursday, April 19, 2018
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January 14, 2018 Sermon

“HOPE for the Heart!”  Options
Nehemiah 2:13 – 16
Ted Jansen  January 14, 2018  Waynedale UMC
 
Prayer – I pray for someone who needs hope today.  I pray for the person who has more expenses than money.  Lord, give them hope.  I pray for the persons whose 25 year marriage is coming to an end.  Lord, give them hope.  I pray for a family who has someone going through cancer treatment.  Lord give them hope.    
            HOPE is needed today in the lives of people I was with last week.  Hope might be needed in your life.  Hope is what drives us forward, it the fuel that moves us into each day. 
 
1.)        We are exploring HOPE and the four words I have highlighted.  Honesty, Options, Plan and Execute.  What can you remember about the message last week and the word “honest?” 
We have to be prepared to want an honest assessment of where we are.   We have to name our situation and accept it. 
We looked at the story of Nehemiah and what happened when he heard about the condition of the walls in Jerusalem.  Nehemiah received an honest assessment that they were in bad shape.  Nehemiah cried, prayed, fasted, and mourned.  He was hurting.         
 
2.)        Today we are looking at the word, “Options.”  In our HOPE journey we move honest to having options.  The definition of the word “option” means; “to have the act of choosing, to have the power or right to choose.”  We are not stuck with the way things are when we have options.
There are alternatives that we can choose.  We have power to choose, we have the ability to choose, we have the freedom to choose.  Options. 
When Nehemiah looked at the walls of Jerusalem that had been destroyed if he did not have any options, no choice, only to go back to Babylon he would have lost all hope.   That is not the situation.  Nehemiah had options, he had a power to choose.        
             
3.)        Nehemiah had traveled to Jerusalem from Babylon, some 900 miles to see for himself what the conditions were like.  Nehemiah was an assistant to King Artaxerxes and had his blessing on this journey. 
Nehemiah had come to Jerusalem and has spent three days seeing the walls and the conditions.  Nehemiah then took some men, perhaps his closest friends, to consider the options as they went to get a closer look at the wall.  When it is dark and everyone is asleep we read these words from Nehemiah 2:15, 16. 
“So, I went up the valley by night, examining the wall.  Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate.  The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.”  (Nehemiah 2:15, 16) 
            Nehemiah had spent three days and this night considering his options.  He is going to come up with something to tell the people and leaders but needs to consider all the options.  He will do something to rebuild the walls and this will bring hope.  I believe that in Nehemiah’s heart there is hope arising because as the options are being considered it means that something will change.     
             
4.)        I want to share with you a picture of the trends in the records for the men’s high jump.  You will notice that there were some small increases and a major increase in the records.  What do you think caused that? What happened?  I will share the answer in our second picture.        
This is a picture of the predominant method of jumping in the high jump.  The first few methods are basic variations of the foot first style; the western, scissors, and traditional. Then came the head first method called the Fosbury flop, named after Dick Fosbury, who started jumping this way in 1968. 
When you look at an idea from a different perspective and get greater results that demonstrates the power of options.  Dick Fosbury knew that there was another option for getting higher over the high bar.  This crazy option became the norm and it affected the records. 
             
5.)        Thomas Edison is credited with inventing the light bulb.  It was said it took 1,000 attempts to invent the light bulb.  A reporter once asked him, “How does it feel to have failed 1,000 times?”  Edison replied to him, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times.  The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” 
            This quote tells us that each attempt that did not produce the result Edison wanted Edison and his team had to consider other options.  This kept them motivated.  They had hope that they would find the key to making an electric light bulb. 
 
6.)        God gave us a spirit to choose, to consider all the options.  We all choose our actions and attitudes.  Choices lead us forward.  
            I want to create a life situation that I want you to think about and tell me what options you come up with.  
Let’s say that both of our cars are being repaired.  Then I find out that a family member has been rushed to the hospital and I need to get there.  What are my options?  (Let people share.) 
            (People might answer; have a family member pick you up, borrow a car from a friend, call a taxi, have a friend drive you to the hospital, call the repair shop and see when the car might be ready, or if they have a vehicle I can use, call a car rental agency.)    
What are the other options that came to mind?  If you did not have any options to get to the hospital you would have your hope diminished.    
 
7.)        Our HOPE can diminish as we think we have a limited amount of money, time, people, and energy in our situation.     
            HOPE will arise as we consider the Lord, Almighty.  When we look at a situation and don’t have options, because of human limitations we need to let our focus rest on the Lord of the Universe.  We need faith in a big God.  We need to believe that God can do the impossible.   
            There was a moment in the scripture when hope was lost.  The mightiest men were defeated and despairing.   A situation that had no hope turned into one that had great hope.  
 
8.)        We read about Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.  He was big, strong and loud.  He wanted to fight one soldier and spare all the other soldiers.  Goliath would secure a victory for the Philistines and get their land. 
But not one Israelite soldier wanted to fight him.  They did an honest assessment first and then considered the options.  It all pointed to defeat.  No one wanted to fight Goliath.
David, a shepherd, came to visit his brothers at the battle field and give them provisions.  David hears about Goliath and the threat against the Lord’s army.  David tells the king that he will fight the giant.  David had fought off different wild animals to protect his sheep. 
The king and others would not have considered this an option, to let a youth go in and fight, but as David looked at the options this was the only one that came up.  When King Saul agrees they tell David that he must wear some armor.    
            Listen to how it is described in 1 Samuel 17:38, 39.  “Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic.  He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head.  David fastened his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.  I cannot go in these, he said to Saul, because I am not used to them.  So, he took them off.” 
What we discover is that King Saul could only think of fighting as they had done in the past, with a sword and armor.  That was the only option.     
David considered all the options and chose to use some stones and his sling to fight.  As David called out to Goliath he said he was coming in the name of the Lord Almighty… 
David defeated Goliath in a quick and surprising moment which brought hope again. 
 
9.)        Hope was rising in Nehemiah’s spirit as he was considering the options.  Nehemiah was also thinking of how this new wall would bring hope to the people in Jerusalem.  The wall was a symbol, a tangible way that God is with the people.  Nehemiah could see the future wall and be positive, hopeful, inspired! 
*Nehemiah had cried, fasted, and mourned when he heard the news of the current and past wall that was torn down.  Yet, God wanted the wall to rebuilt.    
            *Nehemiah went with his trusted friends at night to see the wall.  They all shared their ideas, options and perspectives.  Together they could rebuild the wall.          
            *Nehemiah affirmed how God was with the Israelites in the past as he looked at the wall.  What God did in the past God would do again in the future.    
 
10.)      I encourage us to look at our situations like a Nehemiah and find hope and inspire others.             
            *We need a conviction that God has a purpose for what we are going through.  As we cry and consider the options may hope be renewed in us.     
            *We need others to walk with us into our tough situations.  We need to be with others, to listen to them and share what we are seeing an experiencing.  Let others bring ideas to us.   
            *We need to look back at our past when we were hurting, when we had a diminished hope, when we were struggling with faith and life and see again how God answered our prayer, or was close to us, or helped us.  We have faith that God did in the past, God will do again.     
 
11.)      I have a packet of seeds to show you.  They are a symbol, an image of hope.  They tell us that if we plant them then the potential exists that they will grow and look like the picture on the front of the seed packet. 
As we think of these seeds can I plant them now?  No.  Why not?  The condition is not right.  It needs to be warmer.  Can I have hope, even though I cannot plant these seeds right now?   The answer is yes.  You can hold hope inside of you and wait.  Be patient.    
            Another option is that I could plant them inside.  I want them outside but if I keep them warm inside they would grow.       
            We can have hope that in May, we can plant some seeds and they will grow and we will enjoy some beautiful flowers.   If that is what we hope for it helps to have a picture of the flowers to look at as we live day by day in winter.  Hope paints a better picture of where we are today!      
            When we have an image as you wait your hope will stay strong. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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