Lesson 1

The Need for Hope

(Genesis 1,3, Proverbs 11, 18, Matthew 7:21-23)
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Introduction: This week we start a new series of studies on the topic of hope. I hope this study goes well! Seriously, what do you hope for? Do you have hopes for your life, your job, your marriage, your children, your future? How is your hope on these topics tied into your relationship with God? Let's jump into our study and find out!

  1. Hope from the Beginning

    1. Read Genesis 1:31-2:1. What has been accomplished here?

    2. You know the story - we have Adam and Eve and a "very good" creation. Put yourself in Adam or Eve's place. What did they hope about? Nothing? Anything?

      1. What would you hope for if you were one of them?

    3. When my wife and I were first married, I was still in law school and we were very poor. Our hope was that I would graduate from school before we ran out of money. After I graduated, and we were both working, it seemed that we were in a "bubble" of good living. We hoped that "bubble" would not burst. We feared that things would get worse. When you thought of the "hope" of Adam and Eve, isn't that what you had in mind - that things would not get worse?

      1. If there was no sin, and the world was perfect, why should Adam and Eve have to hope that things would not be worse? Why would "worse" even be a possibility?

    4. The serpent approaches Eve with the temptation to eat the forbidden fruit. Let's pick up this story by reading Genesis 3:5-6. Was Satan peddling hope to Eve?

      1. Our lesson (Sunday) says Adam and Eve had no hope because they had no need to hope. How does this statement fit into Eve's thinking as reported in verse 6?

      2. If you say Eve was hoping for something, what hope interested her? (They were perfect, but they were not God. Satan was peddling the hope that Eve could be like God knowing all things - good as well as evil.)

      3. How could Eve hope for something she did not really understand? (How many times our hopes are like that! We hope for things that would not be good for us if we got them. Beware of what you hope for!)

      4. Did Adam and Eve, after sin, have something about which to hope?

      1. Read Genesis 3:8. Does this reveal their "hope" now? (They now hoped that God would not find them.)

        1. Why did they not want God to find them? (They hoped they could avoid the penalty for their sin.)

    1. Read Genesis 3:12-13. What is the state of "hope" for Adam and Eve now? (Read Genesis 3:3. Adam and Eve knew the penalty for disobeying God and eating the fruit was death. They are hoping not to be blamed.)

    2. Read Genesis 3:16. How has life changed for Eve?

      1. What fundamental change is there in her relationship with Adam?

    3. Read Genesis 3:17. How has life changed for Adam?

      1. What fundamental change has taken place in his future? (He will die.)

    4. Let's go back a couple of verses. Read Genesis 3:14-15. What hope do you find here? (Hope that sin will ultimately be defeated and Adam and Eve can return to their former situation.)

    5. Is it important to evaluate our hopes? To make sure we are hoping for the right things?

      1. Which is better, hope or obedience? Are these two mutually exclusive?

  1. Hope in the Wrong Things

    1. We saw that Eve, who should not have needed to hope for anything, was in fact hoping for what was harmful to her. Let's read Proverbs 11:28 and Proverbs 18:10-11. What are the two alternative subjects of hope mentioned in these verses? (Hope for wealth and hope in the Lord.)

      1. Notice that Proverbs 18:10-11 suggests that both God and money provide similar protection. The name of God is a "tower" and wealth is a "fortified [walled] city." What is different about the two? (Wealth is not a reliable protector. Proverbs 11:28 tells us wealth will fail and Proverbs 18:11 says we only "imagine" that wealth is an "unscalable" wall.)

      2. The Bible says hoping for money is not as good as hoping for God. Raise your hand if you agree with that?

        1. Those of you with your hand up, let me ask you another question: "Which would you rather have, a cashier's check in the amount of the purchase price of that new car you want, or my prayer that you will get a new car?

          1. Isn't this an area in which we need to ask God to increase our faith?

          2. Or, am I asking you a "trick question?"

          3. Let's look at a couple of texts. Read Jeremiah 17:5 and Isaiah 31:1. Do these texts suggest that I was tricking you when I asked about the cashier's check versus prayer? (Yes. There is no substitute for trusting God. These texts suggest the problem is in trusting money or other men only. Trusting in money and turning away from God. A Christian is allowed to understand the benefit that money can bring. The message of the Bible is that if you trust only money, you will surely be disappointed.)

            1. Read Matthew 6:24. How does this text fit into our discussion?

    2. Read Matthew 7:22-23. In what are these people hoping?

      1. Are they trusting in the wrong thing? (It looks like they are trusting in their own works. God says He never knew them.)

      2. Read Matthew 7:21. What does this text say is the proper basis for hope?

      3. Does it seem to you that the message of verse 21 contradicts the message of verse 22-23? (It seems that way on the surface. The people in verse 21 who call on the Lord are not saved unless they do works. The people in verses 22-23 have works, but do not know God. I think the message is both faith and works are necessary to make a complete Christian.)

        1. On what then, should we place our hope? (Faith. However, the works show we mean it when we call on the Lord in faith.)

  2. God's Plan for Our Hope

    1. The message of our study so far is that we need to place our hope on God, and not on anything else. Let's see what God says about our hope. Read Jeremiah 29:11.

      1. What does God have for us? (Plans!)

      2. If God follows "the plan" what does God want to give to us? (Prosperity, hope, and a future.)

      3. When you think back on the story of Eve and Satan, what plan did Satan have for Eve? What did he want to give her? (He wanted to harm her -- which is exactly the opposite of what God says He plans for us.)

    2. Friend, the choice is yours. God invites us to place our hope and our trust in Him. He only has good things in mind for us in "His plan." However, we can place our hope and trust in other individuals or in things. These things are not reliable and other individuals, well, they may not have your best interests in mind.

  3. Next Week: Old Testament Hope

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