There IS Good News!
In the midst of the personal heartache that we all live with at some level, and in the face of all the pain and evil in the world…and uncertainties of the future, wouldn’t it be great to know that there is good news? Everyday we’re bombarded with the news that things are broken and that there is little hope that they will ever get better. But what if we discovered that there is hope, that wholeness and restoration are possible? Wouldn’t that make ALL the difference in the world? We think it would. And we think there IS…Hope! And that joyful expectation has changed and is changing us as men and women, boys and girls, and us together as a church family. Here’s that Good News!
We believe that there is One God, who created all things—like birds and oceans, roses and trout—and that the greatest thing He created was US! You and me. People. Everything else in creation is for our provision—nourishment & enjoyment—a place to live and work and play. This perfect, always loving, always good, always worthy God made us to KNOW Him…He wants you to know who He is and what He’s like. He made us to LOVE Him…not because He needs love, but because in relationship with Him, you discover His love, which satisfies your deepest longings. This One God made us to WORSHIP Him—to make much of Him—again, not because He needs worship, but because He’s the only God worthy of worship, and we are most alive when we acknowledge that. The God who made you, made you to TRUST Him…like a loving, faithful Father who always keeps His promises. No one is worthy of your trust like God. And just like we are often chips off the old block, God made us to be just like Him. Not to replace Him, but to REFLECT His character in how we relate to one another. God’s intention, His purpose was to create a people who knew Him, loved Him, worshipped Him, trusted Him, and reflected Him throughout His creation! He started with Adam and Eve…but sadly it didn’t take long for them to choose their own way…walking away from the One who made them.
Adam and Eve didn’t trust God. They wanted to do what they wanted, their way, and on their time. Sound a little familiar? It’s a rebellious posture we often identify with kids as the “terrible two’s”. But that heart posture is in all of us. Call it selfishness, call it pride…it is a rejection of God and God’s design…and God calls it “sin”. It is anything in us that falls short of what God made us for. Like a product that gets recalled for malfunction, we malfunctioned out of the gate when we made ourselves into miniature “gods”, and now each one of us enters this world broken, longing, disappointed, and discouraged. We don’t know WHO we are because we don’t know WHOSE we are! We’re missing this all-important relationship with the Living God, and that skews everything in life…our passions, our pursuits, our purpose! And no one is immune. Even the seemingly most kind and gentle among us have ourselves at the heart of our motivation. It’s a sobering reality check, but it explains the corruption of our world. Things are not as they’re supposed to be. They’re off, out of joint, awry. Every day reminds us of this. And all would remain hopeless…unless God graciously chose to do something about this mess we’ve created! He HAS!! That’s the Good News!
Even in the face of our rebellion, God was glad to make great promises. As Adam and Eve were removed from God’s presence, God gave a PROMISE that one day a son of Eve would overcome the tempting threat of evil in this world. Through a man named Abraham, God promised to bring blessing to all the nations of the earth through Abraham’s lineage, Israel. God delivered Israel from Egyptian captivity…a dramatic foreshadowing of God delivering us all from captivity to sin. In time God sent prophets to Israel promising that a day was coming when He would graciously intervene. A son would be born to a virgin, who would be “God with us”. And through His unjust suffering at our hands He would sacrificially take all of our sin upon Himself…offering us a PEACE we could never know apart from Him; setting us free from sin’s penalty—death—and sin’s power in our lives. God kept His promise! In the 1st century that son arrived, and He was given the name—JESUS—the One who saves.
Jesus was God in person. Fully God, yet truly one of us. He enjoyed a relationship with God the Father that we were made for. He modeled it. And He loved. Oh, how He LOVED! Everywhere He went Jesus pursued the rebel and loved the unlovable. Those who thought their sin was too great, discovered that no sin was too great for Jesus. It’s why He CAME! God was passionately, relentlessly pursuing people…through Jesus. And that pursuit culminated in Him laying down His own life—like a good shepherd would for His own sheep, suffering a Roman cross, dying, and being buried in a tomb. For 3 days, the tomb held Him. But on Easter Sunday the power of death gave out, and Jesus ROSE from the dead! Not just back to the life He lost, but through death and out the other side into a newness of life no one—to this day—has ever known! Resurrection life…new body, animated by God’s Spirit, unable to suffer disease or death again. And now Jesus is uniquely qualified to offer us LIFE!
But we all have a choice to make.
There are Two PATHS. Like Adam and Eve in the beginning, we can choose to continue on our own path…living life as we see fit, searching hopelessly, looking to possessions, or positions, to experiences or people to satisfy the lingering ACHE we all know so well. Sometimes it is satisfying, but it never seems to last. You ever notice that? There’s always a need for new, for more, for something…else. That’s life on our own path. And sadly it ends in death. If in this life you do not know God, you will have no desire or opportunity to know Him beyond this life. And thirsty, hungry, and unsatisfied become the hallmarks of life beyond death. FOREVER. But there is another way!
Jesus has opened for us a new way into LIFE…a new way to live. A life where sins are always forgiven—every sin you’ve ever committed and all those just up ahead. No sin too great! Imagine! A life where you are ADOPTED by the One who made you. A forever family! No more wondering if you belong, if you can be known, if you’re included. You are! ALWAYS. And no more loneliness. A life where God’s very own presence delights to dwell within you by His Holy Spirit. The very same Spirit that led Jesus when He lived on the earth. Think of it! ACCESS to the Living God 24/7. In your bedroom, in your car, at the office, in the store…there’s no place where you would roam away from His presence. His WISDOM…available. His guidance…always.
And His strength. The Spirit strengthens you from within to not only know what God wants for you, but to begin to want what He wants…and to pursue what He wants. This is what you were made for! But we malfunctioned, remember? God’s GRACE puts us back together again! We can’t do anything to make things right…not in us…or in this world. But God can…make things right. In fact, He has…through Jesus!
So which path will it be?
The one you’re used to…that you cling to only because it’s familiar, not because it’s wonderful. Or Jesus’ path? The trail He lovingly blazed FOR you. A path that leads to life…a full, meaningful life of growing love for God and for others in this life, and the promise of life with God and with God’s people…forever!?
Like any journey, if you get lost, you often have to turn around to move in the right direction. That “turn” is called repentance. It starts with acknowledging your sin—a life lived for self instead of for God. And then you receive His grace by FAITH and say “yes” to God’s new way of life led by His Spirit. None of us knows at the beginning all that that will mean, but a full “turn” includes a yielding of your will to God’s will; an invitation for Him to have His way in your life, more and more. For all of us there are ups and downs along the way; times when you feel close to God and times when you wonder where He is. He’ll always be right there with you. There will also be times when you feel clear on what He wants and you’ll delight to obey Him, but there will also be times when it is not clear, or times when you will choose steps from the old path. Those are mirages. They don’t hold out life. Thankfully, there is great grace available for you all along the journey! God offers you forgiveness whenever you ask, and will graciously reorient you back to the life He has in store for you.
What do you say, your path, or His? Faith in yourself, or faith in God?
If it’s faith in God…you might begin that journey with a prayer like this:
“Father, I don’t know all that it will mean, but I want to say ‘Yes!’ to you. I know that I have lived for myself, that I have sinned against you and others, and I am sorry. Would you please forgive me? I say ‘Yes!’ to your conviction in my heart.
I thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus, who laid down His life for me and rose again to give me newness of life.
I say ‘Yes!’ to your grace through Jesus Christ my Lord.
And I say ‘Yes!’ to the new way of Your Spirit. Fill me, change me, use me for your purposes and your glory. I want to grow to love you and to love others. Help me, Father. Thank you. I love you. Amen.”
Oh…and here’s the amazing promise regarding the FUTURE God holds out to anyone who believes: our new life-giving relationship with Him will never end! EVER. Nothing, not even death, which brings this physical life to a close…nothing can ever separate you from God’s loving presence. The moment you close your eyes in this life, you will open them anew in the life to come. In HEAVEN you are present with Jesus, satisfied, exhaled, at peace, at rest. Everything just…right. And there’s more!!
Life with Jesus immediately upon death, but then this promise: Jesus is returning!! Just as God promised long ago that He would come and in Jesus He did…so God promises again that Jesus, now reigning in the Heavens, will RETURN one final time to bring justice to the earth He created. Any lingering evil or sin will be dealt with swiftly and fairly. Those who refuse God’s provision of Jesus in this life, will find themselves acknowledging their grave mistake when He returns. They’ll remain in rebellion and move on with their lives in torment as their rejection of Jesus will find no end. They will have chosen HELL…for themselves.
But for those who are WAITING…Jesus’ return will mean great rejoicing, a massive party like a wedding feast for the greatest of Royals! A feast without end! God’s presence finally and fully on the EARTH. His presence filling every nook and cranny of His Creation! No more sin. No more dying. No more pain. No more grief. Only JOY and sweet reunion with those we love, who love God, living in a restored Creation!! Everything as it should be. Justice…Righteousness! Just…right!!
Does your heart not long for that day!?
There IS Good News! The GREATEST news ever! News that radically alters the course of one’s life when it is heard and believed! Males and females, young and old…rich and poor…Asians, Africans, Hispanics, Europeans, Americans…you name it! ANYONE who calls upon the name of the Lord Jesus will be SAVED…and will find great Joy and Hope welling up within them. Unexplainable…apart from God!! Anyone! Which includes YOU!
Your path or God’s?
Choose God’s GRACE through Jesus Christ…and you will LIVE! And if you do…tell someone who knows Christ soon, so that they can encourage you and perhaps direct you to take next steps in your new walk of faith. It would be our great joy to be a part of that journey with you! You can contact us at any time at Hope Church—513.459.0800. Just ask for the Pastor on call! Let the journey begin!!