Pastor's Blog

April 2016

Hope Changes Everything!

Have you ever noticed how a person’s attitude can make a huge difference? When someone can no longer live on their own and is forced into Assisted Living or Nursing Care, their attitude can make an enormous difference in how well they adjust. When someone is healing from serious illness or injury, it has often been shown that those with a positive attitude toward the healing process will often heal faster. When someone holds onto hope, it changes things!

A word of hope from a friend (or even from a stranger) can brighten someone’s day. Therefore, it is a good practice to regularly say to others, “I hope you have a nice day!”

When we say that, what is meant by the word “hope”? It is a wishful expectation. It may or may not happen, but our desire would be that it would. We want them to have a nice day.

The Bible sometimes uses the word hope in that way. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome he said, “I have strongly desired for many years to come to you whenever I travel to Spain. For I hope to see you when I pass through, and to be assisted by you for my journey there” (Romans 15:23-24). As Paul wrote these words, did he know whether this goal would be accomplished? No, but he had a wishful expectation (a hope) that it would turn out this way.

Although we normally use the word hope the same way that Paul did here, the Bible typically uses hope in a different sense. Most often when hope is spoken of in the Bible, it is not a “wishful expectation” but a “confident expectation.” Take the Apostle Paul’s words to the Colossians as an example, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You have already heard about this hope in the message of truth, the gospel that has come to you” (Colossians 1:3-6).

Is “the hope reserved for you in heaven” wishful thinking, or is it a confident expectation? Jesus tells us, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God” (John 3:16-18).

Through faith in Jesus, the hope of heaven is not wishful thinking, but a sure and certain reality. Then why is it called hope? Because we aren’t there yet! It is still coming in our future. Therefore, heaven is a hope, an expectation. And as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).

Hope changes everything! Not just our attitude through the trials of life, but hope in Jesus changes our eternity! Through faith in Jesus, may we live in the hope (confident expectation) of our eternity in heaven!



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My Redeemer Lives!

Many years ago there lived a man who was richly blessed by God. His name was Job. You can read about him in the book of Job found in the Old Testament. As you read through that book, you will see both how God richly blessed Job, as well as the many hardships Job experienced in his life. Yet, in a time where those hardships were especially severe, Job made an amazing confession of faith. He said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27).

That great confession of faith made by Job has since been turned into an Easter hymn. This Easter season many Christians will get the chance to sing Job’s confession, “I know that my Redeemer lives!”

As you sing those words, do you know what they mean? Do you know what it means to redeem something? The word “redeem” means “to buy back.” In redemption, a price is paid, or an exchange is made. Outside the context of church, we likely use the word “redeem” most often at a store; i.e. we redeem a coupon. The coupon is given in exchange for what it is worth.

In a similar way, there is always an exchange made with redemption. In Old Testament times, God had set up a law regarding redemption. One place where you can read about that is in Leviticus 25:47-55.

In God’s Old Testament economy, the redeemer was normally a close relative. This close relative had obligations to his family. If your family member became destitute and sold the family property in order to survive, you were supposed to buy it back to keep it in the family. If he sold himself into slavery, you were supposed to redeem him. You were supposed to pay the price so that he would not have to serve as a slave. In a way you could say that the redeemer’s responsibility was to “square things” for the one who could not accomplish that for himself.

A good Old Testament example of this redeemer can be found in the book of Ruth. As you read through that book, pay attention to the actions of a man named Boaz.

In the end, though, the greatest example of a redeemer is the one we sing about in the hymn, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” Jesus came to this world to be my redeemer. As he died on the cross, he paid the price for my sins. He exchanged his life for mine. Yet, as Job confessed years earlier, “My Redeemer Lives!” Jesus did not stay dead. On the third day he rose again, and he promises me that I will, too. Therefore, I can join Job in saying, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27).



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Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. ~ 1 Timothy 1:15