WHAT IS HOPE?
by Bobby Bruno
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To put it simply, as a Christian, hope is our firm assurance, from God himself, that everything He has promised us for our future in Him will come true; even though it is a future we ourselves cannot presently see this side of Heaven. Our confident hope is what makes us different from those who do not believe, for we get our hope from God. Without Jesus in their lives, unbelievers have no one to put their hope in and, therefore, have no hope at all.
Those without Jesus have no hope
What is it like to live without hope? What is it like to have nothing to look forward to? To so many, the future is a very dark place because they cannot see anything worth believing in. They go through their days believing that each day will be the same as the last. Life is just a life of drudgery – get up in the morning, go to work, come home from work, eat dinner, watch TV, go to bed, and start it all over again in the morning. Where is the excitement of life in that kind of a mindset? You live, you die – that's it!? Could the work of Satan be anymore prevalent in the lives of those who think this way?
I once thought this way myself, while going through a life of major depression, because of the sexual abuse I had to endure as a little child. I saw no hope for a future I could believe in. I saw only darkness and pain. That is why I tried suicide five times before Jesus stepped in to save me from that uncertain future. My days were complete drudgery. I was married with two children, but nowhere could I find happiness and joy. I bounced around from job to job looking for love in my employers. I had addictions I couldn't break, even if I had wanted to break them. I was dead inside, and no one knew it but me.
I have a living hope in Jesus Christ.
And then Jesus came to my rescue. Every time I tried to kill myself, He wouldn't let me. For two years, before I gave my life to Him, I tried suicide in many different ways. No matter how hard I tried, He would not let me go. I was frustrated about not being able to succeed without really knowing why I couldn't succeed. But, when I gave to Him my life, I soon grew very thankful for His grip upon it.
It took the salvation of Jesus Christ to wake me up to a life I never knew existed. A life that is now very joyful and peaceful. Sure, I still have some issues, but with Jesus in control of them, they will be easy to overcome. To come from death to life is an amazing thing to experience. Now I agree with the Apostle Peter when he exclaimed in 1 Peter 1:3 -- 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 (New International Version). Now I have a living hope of the future. Death no longer has its grip on me. I am alive in Christ and the past is dead, never to harm me again.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, the Apostle Paul wrote -- And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died (New Living Translation). When Paul said this, the Christians in the Thessalonian church were mourning for their dead, as if they had no hope of resurrection in the future. He reminds them, and us, that our hope for our deceased loved ones, who knew Jesus when they died, will be raised to life, and will return to earth when Jesus comes back to set up His Kingdom here on this planet. For those who have no hope, there is nothing but sorrow and pain, because they believe that life ends forever when they die. This is the hope that we need to spread around to those we love, and to those who are near. Even though there may be days when we as believers can't wait for the day to end, we know that, someday, we will be freed from all the frustration and headaches this life under the curse of sin can bring. The message of Jesus Christ brings life to those who are dead. Let's help them come back among the living.
God’s promise preserves my life
Psalm 119:49-50 says -- Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. (50)My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life (New International Version). David has a wonderful knack of reminding God of His promises to him. In all that David went through in his life, he reminds God of His promises to keep Him alive, since he was Israel’s future King. What good could he do as King if he were dead? David’s hope in God was strengthened every time God saved him from the hands of Saul, who was trying to kill him because Saul didn’t want to give up the throne of Israel.
God does the same thing for us every day. How many accidents has He saved us from without our even knowing it? How many angels has He sent to help us past some crisis? How many times has He saved us from ourselves? How many temptations has He gotten us out of that we would have fallen into if the decision were left up to ourselves? How many more items could you add to this list of questions? Let’s face it, without Jesus in our lives, life would have swallowed us up by now. As I have said earlier, where would I be now if Jesus had let me kill myself before I could accept Him into my life? He is my protector, and I am very happy that He is. Life is easier now that I know He’s got my back, my front, and every other position. “God saves” is not just a fancy saying. It seems to mean that He saves us just once. But in my experience, and I’m sure in yours too, He has saved you many, many times without you having to ask to be saved. Life is so much easier when you allow yourself to live under God’s protection. Give Him your life, and He will bless and keep you for eternity.
God promises me a rich and glorious inheritance
I am currently reading “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn. If you want your hope to soar even higher, then I highly, highly recommend that you read this book. Using a question and answer technique, Randy, using Scripture, tells us about all the things we will inherit when we get to the intermediate Heaven (before the Millennium), and the greater things we will inherit after God ushers in the New Earth and the New Heavens (after the Great White Throne Judgment, after the Millennium ends). He answers the many questions we, and others, have always wondered about Heaven, and what we will be doing there. As you read, you will discover things you have never thought of would happen in Heaven, and even some things that will surprise you. The reading of this book has increased my hope and joy for this lifetime. Our future is brighter than we could have ever imagined.
In Ephesians 1:18-20, Paul says: I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people. (19)I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power (20)that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms (NLT).
Knowing God gives us the opportunity for a long, happy, healthy life. The power of God is stronger than any disease on this earth; it is stronger than anything others can throw at us; it is stronger than your job, your finances, your family problems, your depression, and your marital problems. There is great hope in the power of God to change our circumstances in this life, and to better them greatly in the next. God’s power has no limits. The same power that created the entire universe is available to you as a child of God. Our hopes rest in the promises that God has made to us -- promises to take care of us in this life, and to give us life everlasting that will be filled with the culmination of those promises.
I say the same thing to you that Paul said to the Ephesians -- I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people. May God, in Jesus, be your hope today for a greater future tomorrow. Please don’t wait. What has just happened in Japan could happen here at any time. We could die tomorrow. Don’t die without Jesus. Please make God your hope. A friend of mine once said “Don’t place your faith in a thing that always ends.” He’s right – things that end have no future. Those that place their faith in the things of Satan will face the end of their time in the presence of God. They will spend eternity gnashing their teeth in anger and frustration because they chose the wrong side. They will spend their eternity wishing they could go back and choose Jesus. But they can’t. Once this life is over, those who have not chosen Jesus will end up in Hell of their own choosing. Jesus sends no one to Hell, people do.
In Joshua 24, Joshua was telling the people of Israel that they have a choice to make. They could choose to continue to follow God, or they could go back and follow the false gods of others. He tells them in verse 15, “…Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD”(New International Version). For yourself, choose life, not death. Jesus came to give us life in abundance. Accept it, enjoy it, and relish in it from now into eternity. Choose Jesus and inherit the Kingdom of God forever. Once you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can then truly say out loud for all to hear, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD”.
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