Hope…so what?

So what? That is the question. We have the Person, Plan and Place of Hope. But why? There is a Purpose of Hope and to illustrate it, there is an Old Testament story that most beautifully describes Hope.

Jericho. You remember the story, right? The promised land was right there in front of them. The Israelites just crossed the Jordan river. BUT in the way was the massive, walled city of Jericho. Joshua gave the orders that came from God. The people marched. The people shouted. The walls fell! Praise God!!! Now the conquest of the promised land could get under way. Hold on…we need to take a closer look.

walls of jericho

Joshua 6: 15-19 says, 15On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. 16The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! 17The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. 18But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. 19All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.”” You can read chapter 6 here.

The people followed God’s directions and the city was captured. Verse 18 says to “keep away from the devoted things,” Let’s keep that phrase in mind.

The first verse of chapter 7 give us a telling picture of the heart of man.

But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.” Italics mine.

Achan stole some plunder for himself. And, as a result, was stoned to death along with his family. Here are the last two verses of chapter 7, “25Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today.” Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.”

The Valley of Achor. This is where we meet the story. Yes, we are living thousands of years later but the principles are the same. We can “covet” the devoted things of this world. In fact, that word, Achor, means trouble or disturbance. You know what I am talking about here. Not all of us deal with the same stuff but we all have that sin in our hearts. You might be a chronic liar or filled with anger. Does gossip push your buttons? For me, I was addicted to pornography for years. I am sure that all of could identify with Achan. We want things. We can live in the Valley of Achor.

That would be depressing if we live in a valley of trouble all of our lives. So now we get to the Purpose of Hope. Turn in your bibles to Hosea 2.

The prophet Hosea comes on the scene. Israel is being unfaithful to God. Just like Achan, I might add. Kind of like us at times. The prophet is describing how God will bring judgement. Not good. But then in verse 14 of chapter 2, God starts pursuing Israel. Here are the verses, “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.”

The Purpose of Hope is to show us how much God loves us. He decided to allure her (Israel). They were adulterous. He will lead her, speak to her, give back to her the vineyards. In fact, what ever was trouble, God will turn into hope. Israel was in the Valley of Achor both literally and figuratively. But God changed things. That valley of trouble is now a door of hope. That is how much God loved Israel.

He loves you and me that much also. Romans 8 says that nothing can separate us from the love of God. We always can come back to God.

And that is the Purpose of Hope.

To remind us that there is Hope even when all hope seems lost. God will not forsake you. Come back to Him. Enjoy Him and all of His glory. Surrender your life to him. Let Him turn your Valley of Achor into a Door of Hope.

wooden door

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Heaven!

Heaven…streets of gold…no more crying or pain…living forever…no sin. Wow! Dwell on those things for a few minutes. Revelation 21 gives us quite a description of heaven. It sounds like an awesome place! With my  parents passed on, they are in heaven right now. I John 5:13 gives me that assurance. It will be great to see them again. We will all have perfect bodies (whatever that means) and will get to spend eternity with God. Makes me smile. I can see that picture very clear in my mind of being in heaven some day…

BUT SIN MAKES THAT PICTURE UNCLEAR. Sin muddies the water. It makes a mess of thing.

Here is what we have so far:

It all starts with Jesus Christ. He is the Person of Hope that will never let us down.

There is also a Plan of Hope which is the fact the Jesus is Coming. He will come back for us!

But right now…Jesus is Constructing. He is in heaven right now, the Place of Hope!

 

We are not in heaven yet. Therefore, sin is still an issue. But wait, didn’t Jesus break the power of sin? Did not the cross of Christ take the penalty of sin? YES! The power and penalty of sin have been broken! Praise God!!!

It is the presence of sin that still invades this world. It is this author’s opinion that the best part of heaven will be the absence of sin. We have been delivered from the penalty of sin. Forgiveness (I John 1:9) is there for us. The power of sin has also been cancelled. See Colossians 2:13-15. It is the presence of sin that remains.

Go back to chapter 21 in Revelation. Verse 27a says,

“Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful,”

There will be no sin in heaven. We won’t have to fight our fallen nature. The struggle for freedom is done. The war is complete. And that is the Place of Hope.

the point 2

Why should we see Jesus as the Person of Hope? Why is there a Plan of Hope? Why can heaven be the Place of Hope?

Rest assured, there is the Purpose of Hope.

May God go with you this week.

Hope…Heaven!

It all starts with Jesus Christ. He is the Person of Hope that will never let us down.

There is also a Plan of Hope which is the fact the Jesus is Coming. He will come back for us!

But right now…Jesus is Constructing. He is in heaven right now, the Place of Hope!

John 14:1-6 is a passage that is filled with hope. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Next week, I am going to look at heaven more closely. For today, let’s agree that heaven is real.

heaven

This picture may or may not represent heaven but it helps us to know that God has a fantastic place in store for us.

BUT WAIT, THERE IS A CATCH…

There is sin in this world and in our hearts. 

That sin must be accounted for before a person can go to heaven.

Jesus died on the cross. That death is sufficient to pay for the sin. The penalty is paid.

Our part is simple. We must accept this gift from God by faith. See John 3:16.

Now a person can walk through this life with Jesus. 

There is now a Place of Hope.

So for this week, dwell on heaven. Think about spending eternity in heaven with your Creator. That should put a smile on your face. =-)

More Hope

What do you hope for? That is the question I posed to my coworkers this past week. The answers were not surprising to me. They said things like financial stability, kids making good decisions, happiness etc. Those are all good things for which one can hope.

But like I posted last week, the one thing that does not disappoint is Jesus. Jesus Christ, the Person of Hope will always come through!

If we have the Person of Hope, Jesus Christ, then we can know that there is a Plan of Hope as well. It all starts with Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (click on the link to get the chapter), God has a plan. We are separated from God because of sin. But the Plan of Hope is that through Jesus, we can be reconciled back to God. Eventually, that leads us to heaven. We have a place in heaven because of being reconciled back to God! More on heaven next week!

The Person of Hope, Jesus Christ

The Plan of Hope, Jesus Coming

The bible gives us a definition of hope in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith and hope are closely related. In April, I will be posting about faith so please come back next month. =-)

Hope means that there is something out there that we don’t have but we know it is there. Faith gives us the action to keep us moving in that direction. Hope shows us the goal.

Here is an example that seems to make sense to me. You know those coin-push machines you see in gas stations? They are really a great way to exploit peoples’ hope in having a lot of money. Hope tells me that if I put a quarter in the machine, there will be some return. One quarter, or maybe even more, will fall into the hole and I will win! To be honest, I have spent $3 or $4 in the past year on these things. Faith means actually putting the quarter in the machine. Hope only tells us that there could possibly be a return. But this kind of hope is not good. Don’t waste your money. =-)

The culmination of this post is that my hope in Jesus is well-founded. Part of the Plan of Hope is that he will come back for me. He won’t leave me hanging. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 tells me about his return, the rapture.

Friends, Jesus is coming back. Are you ready? Do have your hope set on Him? He is the Person of Hope that will never disappoint us. His return is part of the Plan of Hope. That is really encouraging to me because some days, life sucks. It can be difficult to get through a day. I have issues and so do you.

problems

But let’s put our hope in Jesus. That way, all will end well. So be lifted up today. Hold your head up proud because Jesus is pretty much to most awesome person you have ever met. Spend time with Him today. He wants to hang with you. Don’t let your day slip by and not see Jesus.

Next week we will discover the Place of Hope.

 

Half Full

I had to shovel today. Twice. Living in Wisconsin can be frustrating. We have all four seasons but they don’t seem to be equal in length. Winter (cold, snow, ice etc.) seems to last 10 months with the other two months being composed of the other three seasons. Yes, I exaggerate but not by much. =-)

But as I kept throwing snow over my shoulder today, I was thinking about the warm weather that is soon approaching. It won’t be too long before I am outside wearing shorts. I look forward to cutting the grass again. But some people call me an optimist.

Yes, I am an optimist. You know why? Hope. That one word is reason enough to be an optimist. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic (hopeful) in this world but we don’t have time to list them all here.

But hope can be fleeting. I mean that my hope in stuff, events, or even people can be broken or disappointed. That hurts. Generally speaking, no one tries to let me down or do something that would hurt the hope I have but it happens. Life can be filled with despair.

So what?

Romans 5:5 says, “And hope does not disappoint us,” The hope that is talked about here DOES NOT bring shame or disgrace. It DOES NOT put us to utter confusion. It DOES NOT disappoint. That is the kind of hope that never lets me down.

To really get the whole picture, read Romans 4 and 5. It will explain why there can be hope and what our hope is in. If my hope is correctly placed then I won’t need to live in despair anymore.

When my kids are fighting…I can have hope.

When my wife and I are in a disconnect moment…I can have hope.

When my job really sucks…I can have hope.

When my body hurts just because I am over 40…I can have hope.

When I have to shovel snow, again…I can have hope.

When my former addiction flares up…I can have hope.

When ________________…I can have hope.

I can have hope BECAUSE…of Jesus Christ. It is all about what He did. Whatever is happening right now is does not change the fact that Jesus loves me and died for my sins. Like I said, Romans 4 and 5, is a really good place when looking for hope.

For the rest of this month Hope is the topic.

So today, week 1, the Person of Hope is Jesus Christ

Until next week, have hope. Is your glass half full?

half full 2