Episode 1. Hope Matters
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A life without hope is no life at all. If there’s nothing to look forward to in the future, then frankly life just isn’t worth living. A lot of people feel like that. And yet Easter, this whole …
A life without hope is no life at all. If there’s nothing to look forward to in the future, then frankly life just isn’t worth living. A lot of people feel like that. And yet Easter, this whole Easter thing, is all about hope. Really.
Hope is a beautiful word, four letters, just one syllable, there’s a clear, pure ring to it, isn’t there? HOPE. I don’t know how your year is going so far, what just three months in but for most of us there have been some ups, there have been some downs and underneath it all that constant incessant grind that we all call life, the daily ritual.
I know there are some people on the London Tube with their headphones on listening in to this message today. I know that there is a farmer on his harvester listening in on his local radio station in Australia, in the US and in other places. I know that there is a man in Chicago down at the local gym probably tuned in to the podcast as he is most days and I know that there are refugees in camps wondering what the next day will bring, gathered around their radio’s listening to today’s message all over the world, all different circumstances.
Some good, some not so good, some downright awful, I know that so here as we head into this Easter time, Berni drops the word ‘hope’, pure, clean, crystal clear hope, what does it mean to you right now given where you’re at, what’s going on in your life? Hope.
My year so far has been a bit of a mixed bag, isn’t that always the way? Some great things, a short holiday with my lovely wife in January, awesome and some tough issues to grapple with here too in the ministry called Christianityworks that I’m privileged to lead. But the most constant thing, it’s like a drum beat that never stops, is the daily rhythm of the grind.
Up early each morning working on radio programs, dealing with staffing issues and all that comes with running an organisation that produces radio and television programs around the world. And for me, as I participate in this daily grind, punctuated from time to time with some delightful days and some dreadful days.
Here’s what this beautiful clear word hope means to me. It means that just around the next corner, just over the next rise there’s something more, something better, something that is really worth looking forward to, much more than my next holiday or next trinket or bauble that this world may have to offer. A solid hope, a certain hope that one day the trials and tribulations of this world will be over and that I’ll get to spend eternity in the presence of Jesus.
It doesn’t matter who we are, what sort of a life we’re leading, how rich or poor, north or south, east or west, our lives maybe, I believe that we’ve been hand crafted to hope for something in the future, I believe that there’s something innate inside each one of us that no matter how much we may delight in or despise this particular day, there is that something that reaches out to the future looking forward for, well what exactly?
Something better, something more, something beyond, something utterly delightful, you know it, don’t you? You often dream of the future, you hope for this and that. The young woman hoping for her prince charming to ride into her life. The middle-aged man hoping for release from the yoke of the mortgage that drives him to work these long hours under so much pressure. The hope of a frail, elderly, lonely woman whose joints are racked with arthritis hoping for deliverance from this world.
No matter what stage of life we’re in we’re always hoping for something. The sad thing is that we sometimes, often times, place our hope in things that simply can’t deliver what we’re looking for. I happen to enjoy technology, I like the way smartphones have revolutionised my life, sure. But I look at the hysteria, the overnight queues, the cheering and the waving that accompanies the release of certain brands of smartphones, it seems they always put it on the evening news these days as though somehow this idolatry is newsworthy and I shake my head. Surely life has to be about more than the next iPhone release, doesn’t it?
Might I ask you, what are you hoping for right now at this moment? What is the hope that is in you that keeps you going through the grind and through the dark days and through the fun days even?
Paul the Apostle was put on trial for his very life, his judge, the Roman governor, had the power of life and death over him. And in his defence this is what he says, Acts 24: 15 and 16.
I have a hope in God that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. Therefore I do my best always to have a clear conscience towards God and all people.
When it came to the point of life and death Paul was bold enough to tell the judge that his hope was in God, his hope was in the fact that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous and it is that hope that drives who he is, what he thinks, how he behaves.
I wonder how different the life of so many people would be if instead of hoping for the trinkets that this world has to offer, instead of placing their hope in things that can’t deliver and will in any case pass away – they placed their hope in the resurrection of Jesus which is a forerunner to their own resurrection one day.
If this life is all there is, then it ain’t all that much. If I live until I’m eighty years old then I have just under nine thousand days left to go. It’s not a lot when you think about it. If I placed my hope in the here and now, well the here and now is going to be done and dusted in just under nine thousand days, not much of a hope, is it?
But if the certain hope of the promised resurrection that Jesus ushered in on that very first Easter some two thousand years ago, if that’s what I place my hope in then that’s real, that’s forever, that’s a hope in the one thing that matters, a life eternal in His presence.
As the drum beat of the daily humdrum pounds away in your ears what hope brings joy to your heart? What hope drives you to feel and to think and to act? Is it the right hope? Is it delivering you what you’ve been looking for? Well, is it?
When a dear friend of His, Lazarus, had died Jesus said to the man’s sister, John 11:25, He said:
I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me even though they die will live and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?
Now that’s something, that’s someone worth placing your hope in don’t you think? I am the resurrection, I am the life says Jesus and everyone, EVERYONE who believes in me will never die. So do you believe this? Do you believe it for you?
Colossians chapter 1, verse 5 says that, ‘You have a hope laid up for you in heaven.’ And a few verses down, verse 27 the Apostle Paul goes on to talk about the mystery of God’s glory which is the hope which is in you.
Easter isn’t just about fluffy bunnies and chocolate Easter eggs, weird combination though that maybe, it’s about hope, a hope that is meant to be in you as God’s gift to you in you. A hope that drives your thoughts and your feelings and your actions. A hope that gets you through the stuff you need to get through today and tomorrow and the next day and for however many more days you have left on this earth.
The hope the Bible talks about isn’t some wishy-washy hope, a maybe kind of hope. Whenever you see that word hope in the Bible it means an absolutely, certain, rock solid hope of eternal life with Jesus.
Listen to me, hope matters, we’re all wired to hope in something, isn’t it better that we hope in the one thing that delivers instead of all those imposters out there, don’t you think?