Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Last Word on Life

We all live with some kind of hope. We hope it won‘t be too hot today. We hope we will get a raise. We hope our candidate will win the election this fall. We hope to shoot par on at least one hole. But what is hope? The Bible tells us that it is more than just wishful thinking. It is “he assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen“ according to Hebrews 11:1. When the Bible talks about the “hope of heaven,” it isn't talking about hoping we get into heaven, but rather the hope that comes for the reality of heaven.

Do you live with calm assurance that God will do what He says He will do? Maybe you feel that God has let you down in the past. Maybe you have been hurt by folks in your relationships or in business. Everyone that you thought you could count on has let you down. That is the way it seems sometimes. And in fact that may be your experience.

At a time of such uncertainty in the world, people are looking for something or someone to believe in. They want to feel secure, but then the stock market plummets and gas goes to more than $4.00 per gallon. People just want to be happy, but happiness seems so dependent upon our circumstances. They want to be independent, but then they realize that they do not have the resources for today and tomorrow. They want to trust, but their own feelings betray them. Self-help books and prosperity teachers are a dime a dozen.

Why did God make it possible for us to spend eternity in heaven? Was it because of our goodness? Or was it because of His mercy and His grace?

Well, if it is because of His mercy and grace, and He is never changing and never failing, then we can have hope for today and for tomorrow.

“Living hope“ means that it isn‘t something that we store away for the future. It is alive. The hope that we have empowers us to live today the way that God intended us to live it -- in holiness. What we hope for won‘t fade away, rust, or shrink in significance because it is “incorruptible and undefiled.”

The Apostle Peter went on to explain further that our faith is secured not by us, but by almighty God. When we experience true salvation and turn to Christ in repentance, we have a place prepared for us in heaven. John 14: 2 and 3 are fairly clear. No one, not even Satan himself, can take it away from us.

Now this doesn't mean that life will be easy or without trials. Peter acknowledged this but still assured his readers that the opportunity to spend eternity in heaven is worth whatever the struggles are here on earth.

Have you ever camped outside a store in order to be there when the doors opened in order to get the big sale item? Have you ever stood in line for the chance to buy concert or playoff tickets? I remember getting up before dawn once to be in line to get one of the first Teddy Ruxpin animated talking bears. (Some of you are too old to have had one and too young to remember buying them for your children!)

We get so mixed up in our priorities. We make important the things that are so fleeting. And we minimize the things that have eternal implications. We go to a lot of trouble for what pleases us for a moment. But we ignore the things that will provide peace for today and a hope for tomorrow. We live in the present and yet we are created for eternity.

Jesus has been to Bethlehem, wearing barn rags and hearing sheep bleating and cows chewing. He took His first sips of milk shivering at the feet of animals. God had come to earth in the form of a helpless baby. Countless who face the chill of empty pockets, face the fear of uncertainty or face the tragedies of everyday life turn to Jesus Christ. Why?

Because He has been there.

He has been to Nazareth where he toiled in the hot sun of Palestine; to Galilee where He recruited some who would turn and run when He needed them most; to Jerusalem where He was assaulted by the religious leaders of the day and was ultimately put to death on a cruel Roman cross.

You and I have our Nazareth, Galilee, and Jerusalem. So why turn to Jesus? Because He‘s been there!

And He‘s been somewhere you and I have not been yet. He has been to the grave. Not as a visitor. He was a resident for a time. But death and the grave could not hold Him.

So, in this walk of faith, in whom do you put your faith and in whom do hope? Why not place your trust in the One who has been there before you and who has gone before you to prepare a place for you in heaven?

Just a thought . . .

5 comments:

  1. One of the many things I like about that Hebrews passage is that Hope precedes faith... it's within the definition of faith and thus you must hope for something for faith to even exist.

    Great post!

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  2. Thanks, Wes. I am starting to have a better understanding of the intertwining of hope, faith, love, grace and mercy.

    Thanks for stopping by for a visit.

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  3. Joshua1:19 PM

    Hey Mr. Kevin, I'm learning a lot about the hope and trusting God thing right now. Though I have direction in my life, I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to get to the place God has called me. But because I do have the hope that God will do what He says, I can know that I don't have to worry as long as I am obedient to His call in the first place. God will take care of me, and even if things don't work out the way I thought they would I still have the eternal perfect hope that He gives every one who trusts in Him.

    btw an unrelated thing here, I lost your email address and I need it to send you a fantasy hockey invite. Could you send it to my new email? hockjos@yahoo.com

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  4. Anonymous10:32 AM

    Just trying this out to see how it works.

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