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The Hope that We Have

In 2008 America fell in love with Barack Obama. Many thought he was a wonderful speaker. Many thought that he was going to transform the nation because of his constant references to “change”. The slogans were short but inspiring. Slogans like:

Change We can Believe In,

and,

Yes We Can,

were constant sayings in Obama’s speeches. These slogans seemed to resonate with folks who were displeased with the Bush administration. These sayings may be nobel phrases in themselves but nothing was more saddening to see, as a Christian, than the “Hope” posters that featured Obama:

Why was this poster so saddening? Because any hope outside of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is worthless. For far too long Christians have relied on the government to provide “hope” to the masses. God calls us to care for the widow, the fatherless, the poor, the needy, the down-and-out, the hurting, and the lost. Instead of doing the leg work ourselves we allowed the government to implement food stamps, unemployment benefits, etc. We, in essence, have placed our hope in a system that has disavowed its duty before God. Last election people chose to place their faith in a man the promised “hope” and “change” instead of the Gospel that provides it.

Romans 5: 1-5 says:

5:1 Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory. 3 Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance, character, and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. -NET

The Apostle Paul makes it clear that hope comes from Jesus Christ. We have “the hope of God’s glory” because of Jesus’ work on the cross. That work on the cross declares those that believe in Jesus to be righteous. Jesus’ work on the cross brings peace and comfort. Even in the midst of suffering we can have hope in Christ because, unlike the false promises that any human can make, the hope we have in Christ will never disappoint.

We have entered another election year and again we are seeing the promises of hope:

‘This election is also about hope and about change. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be in the slogan,’ said David Axelrod, Obama’s message guru and senior campaign strategist. -Reuters, “Obama’s slogan: looking to replace Hope and Change”

And even though the Republicans will undoubtedly offer a rejoinder to President Obama’s slogan with another promise of hope; we must not forget where our true hope comes from. Our hope comes from the amazing work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Our hope comes from his resurrection which displayed his power over death. And that hope is surely one that will never disappoint.

Thanks for reading.

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Love Never Ends

When people get married what is the first passage that gets read? 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 should come to your mind. Here is what Paul writes:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” (ESV).

It’s obvious why this passage would be read at weddings. It is a beautiful section of Scripture speaking about what love is and what love isn’t. Paul doesn’t stop there even though most readers do. Verses 8-13 say this:

8Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

 13So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The first three word sentence in this section is what I would like to focus on more fully in this post. “Love never ends” is a simple but mind-blowing truth in Scripture. Paul contrasts love with prophecy, spiritual gifts and knowledge. In verse 9 -10 we see the contrast clearly when Paul says, “9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” 

The knowledge that we, as humans, have is only partial. Nobody can possibly know everything in the realm of knowledge because our brains are not big enough. Prophecy won’t be fully known on this side of glory because when prophecy was given typically it never came to pass until hundreds of years down the line. Paul then says “when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

Photo Credit: newerayouthchurch.com

Knowledge will be complete when believers are glorified. Prophecy will be completely fulfilled when Jesus returns for his people. And spiritual gifts will not be needed because believers will be fully sanctified in the presence of the King of Glory.

And so, because we are limited in the knowledge that we have it is like looking at ourselves in a “mirror dimly”. This is where faith and hope come in. Faith is believing in the things unseen attested to by God himself. Hope is anticipating the promises of God given to his people. These things will one day be fully realized and that is why love is the greatest among faith and hope as Paul writes in verse 13:

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

One day faith will not be needed because we will see the unseen face to face. One day hope will not be needed because we, as believers, will see the fulfillment of every promise God has spoken. But love is different. Love will continue because when love is fulfilled and fully realized that three word sentence Paul writes in verse 8 takes on a deeper meaning.

“Love never ends.”

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

So I used to be afraid of the dark. OK, maybe I am still a little afraid of the dark. Let me tell you a story. I was about 13 or 14, yes a teenager, and I was laying in my bed. It must have been fairly late because my eyes were heavy. I am about to fall asleep when the feeling struck…I needed to pee and BAD! I looked around my room and thought about all the things that could be ready to jump out at me, of course these “things” would only jump out at me when I walked by them not while I was laying in bed but anyway, they would probably try and hurt me if I did go to the bathroom. What did I do? I laid in my bed hoping for morning to come faster than it ever had before. My insides were hurting so badly it felt like a mini war was raging inside of me. I finally had enough with waiting that I got up and ran to the bathroom. And no monsters, goblins or witches tried to grab me. I was relieved and ready to shut my eyes once my heart stopped racing. Now I have just spent a good chunk of time reliving this now funny memory but there is a point behind it. The point is that fear can cause us to freeze up. It can cause us to not live our lives to the fullest and even keep us from doing things we know are right. For me it was the fear of the unknown. I didn’t know what was in the darkness and honestly I didn’t want to know. For a lot of people fear of the unknown is common. For myself I don’t know where I am going to be within the next few years and that can be a little overwhelming. The question is so what if I have fear? Does that really matter? Fear that is counter productive does matter and should be looked at very carefully. We see Paul writing in 2 Corinthians 7:5 about fear. “For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within.” He had fear when going to Macedonia and he knew how this could hinder his ministry. I have for sure felt fear when I am about to chat with someone about Jesus and that is not very good for the preaching business. Fear does matter and can make a huge difference in someones life! The person who can turn their fear over to God is the person who will be able to step out in faith and allow God to work in their life. The person who holds onto fear will not have the same freedom to step out. What fears are you holding onto? Examine them and see if they are counter productive to living. If they are just hand them over to God. Allow Him to take those fearful spots in your heart and fill them with hope. Fear freezes people dead in their tracks and when that fear is broken the frozenness thaws and God is then the only one who is feared!

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