Hope is the sustainer of life. It’s the motivator for action. It’s the promise of tomorrow. Life without hope is like a car without an engine, a jet without wings, a train without tracks. You just aren’t going to be able to get anywhere.
We are in the 5th week of looking at One Resolution that will give our hearts the one thing it longs for most of all: Contentment. The One Resolution that provide deep and abiding Contentment is to Live A Life Worthy Of The Gospel! Not the “Gospel of Our Best Efforts” but the Gospel Of God’s Best Effort For Us. It’s not left up to our best efforts to honor Christ, But To Honor Christ By Allowing Him To Live In And Through Us With The Power Of Resurrection!
This Life Of Contentment grows out of 6 Conscious Choices that we make over and over. Review time for the first four:
- Live With An Undivided Heart—Your loyalty and allegiance is to Jesus and His Work in our world.
- Be The Community That Has A Pinpoint Laser Focus On The Kingdom Of God—We focus on each other and those who are not here yet.
- Find Your Unique Life Purpose. Your Life Purpose Isn’t About The What You Do, But The Why! To reveal God’s love in ways that meets the deepest needs of others.
- Be Fully Alive In Jesus And Allow Jesus To Be Fully Alive In You—and the only way this happens is to live with Great Resolve, remembering that our Goal in life is to be just like Jesus in our thoughts, attitudes, words and actions.
In order to reach this Life Of Contentment we need more than a best guess estimate. Sometimes when we have a problem with our car or an appliance we want to know how much it is going to cost us. Without a thorough diagnostic, the best they can do is to give us a best guess estimate. But in this life in grace, we need more than a best guess estimate. Let’s pick up where we left off last week at Philippians 3:15-16 (The Message)
So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
Many people are drowning today—drowning in grief, drowning in fear, drowning in despair—all because they don’t have the One Hope. Oh, they had hope, but not the One Hope. They had hope in the stock market, hope in a political party, hope in that relationship they thought would never end, or hope in their own ability. And now they have cast their lot with some of the most miserable people in the world—those who have lost hope, and keep looking in the wrong places, or worse—have given up ever finding hope.
When human hope fails, there is another kind of hope—the One Hope—that does more than sustain us in the wilderness times of our life. This One Hope enables us to dream again and live again and it’s the one thing you need to remember—Live With Confidence That There Is A Resurrection For You!
How confident are you of God’s grace? Do you trust God enough to live in confidence that the grace Jesus showed people like Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman, that thief on the other cross, Peter, and an overly ambitious Pharisee named Saul is the same identical grace He extends to you? Or do you believe that it’s another, less powerful grace that He offers you?
Do you believe that the mercy Jesus lavished on lepers, the blind, the possessed, the woman caught in the act of adultery, is the same mercy He lavishes on you? Or do you think that He shows some other lesser form of mercy on you? Hope, the One Hope is built on the truth that in Christ God has only One Love that is full of grace and mercy for everyone. This grace and mercy that God freely lavishes on everyone has a reason and a purpose: that we become what we were created to be: an exact reflection of our Creator! And because we are not yet that complete image of our Creator, that Grace And Mercy Has A Resurrection With Your Name On It!
In 1993 a song written by Jenny Yates & Garth Brooks made its début, and in 1994 made it to #3 on the Country Western charts. The song was “Standing Outside The Fire”. The chorus of this song says so much more than I ever could. It goes like this: Standing outside the fire, Life is not tried, it is merely survived if you’re standing outside the fire. This is what life is like without the One Hope—just merely survived. Like the lyrics from this song, “There’s this love that is burning deep in my soul constantly yearning to get out of control wanting to fly higher and higher I can’t abide standing outside the fire.”
The life God offers us is not found standing outside the fire, outside of the risks. Sure, there will be times when we get burned by the risks, the fire of stepping outside our comfort zones. But it’s in the fire of God’s Holy Spirit that we discover what it really means to be fully alive in Jesus and Jesus fully alive in us! Jesus took the risk, not just in becoming human, but in going to the Cross.
Yes, he got burned by His creation, but it didn’t stop Him. Yes, he got burned by the pain of the Cross. But even that Cross didn’t stop Him. He went through the fire because He knew, He knew that the Resurrection was in that fire and the only way to reach it was through the trials and sufferings. And why would He do that? Because Of His Unconditional Love For Us. He knew that if He didn’t experience Resurrection we never would. We have the One Hope that will never let us down because There Is A Resurrection With Our Name On It! Because of His Resurrection, we can have a Resurrection In This Life and The Next Life.
1. He Gives Us Resurrection Over Sin
How do you suppose Peter felt when confronted with the truth that not once, not twice, but 3 times he denied Jesus? Jesus told him he would, but Peter was so confident. But he did the unthinkable—more than deny Jesus, he abandoned the One who called him “The Rock!” Then those crazy women came with a tale of Resurrection—and it wasn’t good news to Peter—because Peter would have come face to face with the One he denied.
Others May Have Been Finished With Peter, Peter May Be Been Finished With Peter, But Jesus Wasn’t Finished With Him. That’s why the angel said in Mark 16:7—“Tell His disciples and Peter that He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see Him there, exactly as He said.” The Resurrection came for Peter and 50 days later, Peter helped lead thousands to Jesus. What The Resurrection did for Peter, it does for us. We may have given up on ourselves and others may have given up on us, but not Jesus—because He has a Resurrection right now with your name in it!
2. He Gives Us Resurrection When We Doubt
The epitome of doubt isn’t in the story of Thomas—it’s in the story of a man named Cleopas and his unnamed friend in Luke 24. Cleopas and his friend are going back home. There was nothing left for them to do. By their own admission, they “Had Hoped” Jesus was the Messiah—Had Hoped but now they doubted. They knew Jesus had been crucified—and even heard the rumor of the Resurrection. But all they knew for certain was that the tomb was empty—beyond that was only speculation.
They Had Hoped, but now it seems like wishful thinking. But Jesus takes the time to come to those who were struggling with doubt. He comes to those who “Had Hoped” but now wondered and doubted. Why come to Cleopas and his friend? Because Jesus had A Resurrection and they needed A Resurrection.
3. He Will Give Us A Resurrection When We Die
He gives us a Resurrection when we sin and when we doubt because He wants us to experience Resurrection when we die! We do not have to live in fear of death because the only One who conquered death gives us the assurance that we will overcome death. John wrote in 1 John 5:13—My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion.
We do not have to face our death with feelings of uncertainty, wondering if we will make it. You do not have to be afraid to die, you don’t have to be afraid to LIVE! Because of The Resurrection and God’s unconditional love there is a Resurrection with your name and my name on it. You can count on God!
Why can you count on God? Philippians 1:6—There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.
God started this great work of grace to make you and I what we were created to be: to be the exact image of Him, to be just like Him in every detail. But we are not there yet—we are an unfinished project. But God has no unfinished projects. One day we will be God’s finished work, and He will step back, look at us and say, “You look just like me!”
God promises a Resurrection then because He gives us Resurrection now! And because He gives us a Resurrection now, we can count on the Resurrection then. Your One Hope is this: There Is A Resurrection For Us With Your Name On It! When we sin, when we doubt, and when we die, Jesus shares His Resurrection because, well because He’s The Resurrection!
Because you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, Here’s Your Next Step:
Bring whatever you “had hoped” to Jesus for YOUR Resurrection today.