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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 2014

Hope. Hope is not something we take seriously enough. It is a very powerful word that has become somewhat trite in our everyday conversation. Hope is nothing more than an amplified wish about the future. We hope for a raise, for a better job, for our kids get into a good school, that the Broncos don't disappoint us in the next year. We would be very happy and grateful if these things were to happen, and we do what we can to make sure they do. But there is very little certainty about any of this. Hope has to do with the future, and we are never certain about the future. We just hope everything works out.

This, however, is not how the Bible speaks about hope. A worldly definition of hope leaves us with doubt about what the future holds. The Bible defines hope as the anticipation of a certain future. Biblically speaking, hope is not some optimistic anticipation about an uncertain future. Rather, hope is being secured in the promises of God. It is about receiving a promise from God that, no matter how sinful, how broken, how dark, nor how bad things are now, a better day is coming! It is a promise. That better day is what we hope for, that is, what we anxiously await knowing that it is coming without a doubt.

The reason our hope is certain is because our hope is in God our Father who has raised Jesus from the hopelessness of death. As Jesus approached the cross, He knew death was imminent. He knew He was about to pay the price for the sins of the world. He knew He was about to enter the hopeless darkness of God's wrath. But, He did not enter that hopeless darkness hopelessly. On His way to the cross He told His disciples, "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him." (Mark 9:3la) Death, it would seem, is the end of hope. Death is the end; there is no turning back at that point, right? All hope is gone. But not with Jesus! He goes on, "And when he is killed, after three days he will rise." (Mark 9:31b). Jesus saw His cross and His death as inevitable for it was God's will that He should die. But, He also knew God's promises were bigger than death! His death for sinners was inevitable, but so was His resurrection! This was His certain hope!

In the book of Acts, during St. Peter's first sermon about the resurrection of Jesus, he quotes Psalm 16 saying, "I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption." (Acts 2:25-27). Now, what is interesting here is that, if you look up this verse in Psalm 16:9, the part about the flesh dwelling in hope is translated, "my flesh dwells secure." Jesus went to the cross with the secured hope of His promised resurrection.

April 20th is Easter Sunday this year. Easter is all about giving us security because it places our hope in Jesus who has conquered death and promised us everlasting life. Easter is the promise that Jesus' empty tomb means my empty tomb. Easter draws us back to that baptismal promise which says "if we have been united with [Jesus] in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his." (Romans 6:5) Putting your hope in this world will only leave you in fear and doubt. So, this Easter (and every day for that matter), put your hope in God who raises the dead! God's baptismal promise to raise you with Christ is certain and secure. This is a hope that does not disappoint!

Pastor Bob

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Faith Lutheran Church • 123 Park Lane • Moorpark, CA 93021 • (805) 532 1049 • Send Email