Finding a Future

The noisy declarations of pending disasters- political, natural, societal – can make tomorrow appear very dark, can’t it? That is why HOPE is so critically important. When a person gives up on life, concluding that there is no tomorrow, they ‘die’ even though their heart is stilling beating. Hopeful people live better lives. They are more creative, work at relationships, invest in the future, and experience a richer quality of life. The hope of which I speak is more than a positive outlook, more than making the best of a bad situation. 

Hope knows reality and looks beyond the hardships to a better day.  I believe the old proverb I learned a half century ago in Latin class – Dum vita est, spes est – While there is life, there is hope!  In fact, I know an even better hope – at the end of this earthly existence there is a wonderful eternal life prepared for us by Christ, our Lord!

As the season of Advent begins, we focus first on HOPE. As we prepare to celebrate the coming of Jesus, our Immanuel, “God with us,”  hope is renewed. We remember that we are not alone, helplessly caught in time’s turbulence, or consigned to struggle through a few decades of existence before we die!  God’s desire is that we would know Him, love Him, and live so that our days reflect His goodness and grace.

Peter, a man well acquainted with hardship, exults in our divine destiny.  Inspired by the Spirit, he told us that we are eternal beings. “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, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5, NIV)   

He calls our hope “living.”  It is not just a dream or an ideal to which we aspire. The HOPE we find in Christ lives in us, a vital force that shapes each day.  Anticipating the reception of that ‘inheritance’ that is ours as God’s children, we overcome despair, living in great expectation.

What is the basis of such hope? 
The assurance of this life to come rests on the reality of the resurrection of Christ. He is the ‘first fruit,’ the evidence that death is a defeated foe, that we are born anew to live forever.

In his defense of the Resurrection, found in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul reminds us that our true hope is greater than our present experience. “And if we have hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most miserable people in the world.”  If the only hope we find in Jesus is a few moments of inspiration, a glimpse of sunshine in dark days, we actually will become more miserable, like a man imprisoned who has a window to the outside world but can never experience it. 

Our hope is more that a vague anticipation of something better.  “But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again. So, you see, just as death came into the world through a man, Adam, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man, Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:19-21, NLT)

Sustaining hope is anchored in the promise of Eternity, that the full realization of who we are will be revealed as we step into the Presence of our Father and Creator. That ‘inheritance’ cannot be stolen, will not decay over time, nor set aside by any power on earth. We are ‘shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation.’  Yes, Christian friend, this is the core of our HOPE.

Have you trusted Jesus, the Savior
who came to us as a Baby in Bethlehem? 

Do you know His goodness and grace
shown to us at the Cross? 

Is your HOPE settled because He is the Risen Lord
who overcame sin, death, and the grave?

It’s Advent – a time to prepare to celebrate, by remembering our great hope.

The word from the Word for today is a favorite passage for me. Savor the sweet promises and live hopefully.

“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it.
Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us,
he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.
May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen.”

(Ephesians 3:19-21, NLT)

(Video of this blog at this link)

______________________

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in Thee
Israel’s strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart

Born Thy people to deliver
Born a child and yet a King
Born to reign in us forever
Now Thy gracious Kingdom bring
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone
By Thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne

Charles Wesley

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