Saturday, April 30, 2011
a living hope
We live at a time when many people have begun to give up hope. Their confidence has been eroded,
a sense of despair has begun to spread, because they are not sure about what the future will bring.
After an era of success and great progress, this past century has brought us World War I,
the Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam, the Cold War, the threat of a Nuclear bomb,
9-11, the war on terror, the economic collapse, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, you name it...
Just as the sign above the entrance to Dante’s hell says, “Abandon hope all you who enter here",
Many have begun to give up hope.
Add to this the fact that our default setting as human beings is what Luther calls a theology of glory, that is, believing that God deals with us the same way we deal with Him. When something bad happens to you, God must be punishing you for something you've done. So you begin to lose hope.
We are all hard-wired, or hot-wired, this way, to think that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. The only problem with that formula is, since we are all born in sin, we're all bad and we're all going to hell. The only thing that makes us good in the eyes of God is Jesus Christ, and his perfect life, death, and resurrection for us in our place.
Regardless of what we have been taught, what we have heard, or what we believe to be true, when push comes to shove, when tough times come and the rubber hits the road, our default setting is always there waiting to reboot, waiting for us to slip back into our old adam's way of thinking...
I hope I've done enough... I think I've been good enough... At least I'm better than most people.
I hope I'm going to make it into heaven.
Well, the truth is, you haven't been good enough. The truth is that by nature you are a poor miserable sinner, rotten to the core, just like everyone else. No one has been good enough. No one, that is, but Jesus.
Jesus was good enough, and He took what you deserved, that is death and hell, and He died in your place on the cross to give you what you don't deserve - His grace, mercy, forgiveness, life, and salvation. That is the theology of the cross - that is the hope of the Christian.
As God's Easter People this morning we need to again hear the words from 1 Peter -
"According to his great mercy, He has caused us to be born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
And from the book of Romans...
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
The Biblical meaning of the word “hope,” means having a sure and certain rock-solid confidence that what God has promised will indeed come to pass, trusting that what God says is true, and that He indeed has a future for you. Faith is trusting God in the here and now; hope is trusting in God’s future.
The only survivor of a shipwreck washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed to come.
Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had now happened to him; everything was lost.
He was stung with grief and anger. "God, how could you do this to me!" he cried.
That night he fell asleep in sorrow and in tears.
Early the next day, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him! When his rescuers finally reached him, the weary man asked them -
"How did you know I was here?" "We saw your smoke signal in the sky."
Friends - there is always hope, even when it seems like all our hopes are dashed.
Because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are absolutely convinced of the power of hope.
We abound with hope. We are filled with hope. We are overflowing with hope that the God who has taken care of us in the past, and is with us today, will indeed take care of us in the future. Therefore, we are not afraid no matter what the future may bring. We know that the God of the past is also the God of the present, and of the future.
God's Easter People are those who have hope, hope in this world but also hope for the world to come.
We have the absolute sure and certain hope of eternal life.
The greatest hope ever given is God's promise of forgiveness, life, and salvation found in His One and Only Son, the Savior and Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord. He kept His promise to His people and fulfilled their hope in a Messiah to come, the Hope of Israel. He who was born as a babe in Bethlehem grew up to be be a man, to live and die and rise again, so that we might also rise to newness of life someday. He will come again for us, to keep His promise, to fulfill our hope, and we shall live with Him in peace and joy for all eternity.
We live in that sure and certain hope of the resurrection.
It is the same hope found in a prisoner of a Nazi concentration camp.
For scratched on the walls of one of the camps were these words,
“I believe in the sun even when it does not shine. I believe in love even when I can't feel it.
And I believe in God even when He is silent.”...
That is our hope as God's Easter people this Easter season.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.