Sunday, May 28, 2017

From the Heart: Hope

We all have hopes and dreams. Hopes for a better tomorrow. What are you hoping for today?

What is hope anyway? According to Vines Dictionary hope is “favorable and confident expectation.” It has to do with the unseen and the future. It’s also described as “the happy anticipation of good.”

The Apostle Paul describes hope like this:

For we are saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is no hope. For why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

Romans 8:24-25

When I was a young man serving in the US Army I received orders to transfer to a military base in Ulm Germany. I was to go from Jacksonville, Florida where I was stationed to New York City where we would leave for Germany on the USS Buckner, a military ship. My family was granted permission to travel with me and we were put in a small room on the third deck. As we were leaving the New York Harbor I looked out the small port-hole in our room and I saw “Lady Liberty” holding her torch high in the air as if giving “hope” to a nation of immigrants from all over the world. It was a sight I’ll never forget.

May I remind you that our founding fathers came to this country in “hope” of a better life? And millions of men and women have fought and died to preserve the freedoms and liberties that we now enjoy.

Our founding fathers came and fought for the right of religious freedom. And they not only brought their families and their possessions but they also brought their “Bibles.” The Law of God was their law of the land. “Look at our nation today.” Oh, how far we have strayed!

May God forgive us and restore us to that great hope that burned in the hearts and minds of those before us, that we might once again become “One Nation Under God.” The only true and living God, Jehovah, The Great I Am.

Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. (16) No king is saved by the size of his army, no warrior escapes by his great strength. (18) But the eyes of the Lord are on those that fear him, on those whose “hope” is in his unfailing love. (20) We wait in “hope” for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. (21) In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. (22) May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our “hope” in You.

Now let us pause here for a moment and consider the other side of the coin. Because I don’t believe we can fully appreciate our hope without considering “hopelessness”.

In 1 Thess. 4:13, Paul is writing concerning the second coming of the Lord and he is answering a question concerning those who have already died before his return. And he says, Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant concerning those who are asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, “who have no hope.”

Now Paul is obviously talking about those who are non-believers, those who have not accepted Christ as their savior. And I don’t want to take this out of context except to say that there are those around us every day that have no hope.

I read a short story not long ago that talked about a missionary who had received a tear-stained letter from a man in Burundi. He was begging for help for his people. He said please bring your ministry to Burundi, for our people die from hopelessness.

He said he could have understood it better if the letter had said, our people die from genocide, from tribal war, from Aids, or from poverty, but it said, “from hopelessness.”

He goes on to write that, only after he walked their streets and heard their stories did he begin to understand the depth of their hopelessness. It was like a bad odor that ran through their homes, down their streets and through the market places.

They had endured years of emotional and physical trauma and it had clouded their minds, leaving no vision for the future nor clarity of purpose, only deadly victimization.

When we hear stories like this it helps us to realize how blessed we are to live in America.

Even though the people of Burundi had no hope for a better future in this life, they could be taught of a better life to come. There is great value in being able to look beyond this life and to see where we are headed. We need that hope that something wonderful awaits us when this life is over.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a “living hope” through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you.

1 Peter 1:3-4

My friends, our greatest “hope” rests in the promise of Jesus. When he was preparing to leave this earth and return to heaven He told his disciples:

Let not your hearts be troubled, ye believe in God believe also in me. For in my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also. — (Amen)

John 14:1-4

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