Sunday, October 28, 2012

Another SMOKE SIGNAL: A HOPE BEYOND AS WELL AS FOR LIFE

Some see hope as wishful thinking; a yearning for the improbable with little chance of it ever happening.

Some cling to hope that is false and disappointing, leaving a person dejected, disillusioned and bitter.

There is much about this world that can cause one to feel disappointed, disillusioned and bitter.

I was such an individual once. I was born with multiple deformities and health issues that left me a weak and inept child that had few friends, was ridiculed and mocked in school, never excelled at much of anything and felt the nevertheless up-beat and happy child that I was slowly wither away until all that was left was a hardened, bitter, vindictive and lonely person.

I needed answers in life, and sought out spiritual wisdom.

I was born into and raised as a Roman Catholic, but what answers they provided were superficial; the entire event of the Mass was one repetitive Sunday after the next with very little variation. It was ritual, but no reality of the spiritual sort for me.

I began to investigate the spirituality of the occult and thought that because I felt its power, that this must be the truth and therefore had answers for me.

All of this started when I came to the realization that life is utterly vain: it doesn’t matter if I succeed in all that life has to offer: monetary abundance, a spacious and luxurious house, a beautiful wife and children, friends and experiences to delight and bring me joy. It would all end at the grave.

The same goes for the beggar in the street that doesn’t have two pennies to rub together.

What was the point of life, if every path one might take leads to the grave where one becomes worm food?

Part of me couldn’t accept the idea that we are just 'thinking meat machines' that will simply cease to exist once we die and rot away.

There just had to be something beyond death! This was what propelled me on my search for spiritual reality and obtaining a hope to cling to.

Long story short, I had a terrifying experience that I felt was an indication that if I remained on the path of occult knowledge, it would be my ruin. Immediately I desisted all forms of occult participation (as well as drug use) and in my frustration hollered out to God –

“Why am I here?! What did You make me for?! Am I some kind of cosmic joke to you?!!”

A still small voice spoke to my heart just then as I stood ranting and raving in my parent’s living room. I had perceived ‘voices’ before in my dealings with the occult, but somehow this was entirely different; the Voice just said two words:

Turn around. I did, and my eye caught the family (Catholic) Bible; I dismissed the idea of picking it up and mumbled to myself,

“I tried religion, it doesn’t work.” Yet on the following day, on my way to the kitchen for some morning cereal, I saw the Bible again, and that same gentle ‘nudge’ told me to pick it up.
On my return back to my room, cereal bowl in hand, I scooped up that enormous Book.

In this world of heartache, sorrow, pain and anguish, addiction and misery; a life that holds such heavy burdens and wrongs done upon the soul – where starvation from food as well as love exists, and tragedy and turmoil, I found through the blackness of it all, a sure, piercing and brilliant ray of hope.

A hope that would secure me in all of my insecurity, to take away my fearful heart and replace it with sublime and lasting peace; a hope that when I feel dejected, disillusioned and bitter, applies a healing balm that provides me a rest beyond description.

This is a hope so powerful and so overwhelming, that not even the grave holds any terror for me; instead death is only a doorway that will lead me into the everlasting arms of this Hope.

I discovered that every wrong done, every sin committed, every trespass enacted was gathered together and laid heavily upon the scourge-shredded shoulders of Hope as He hung on a cross in Judea, two thousand years ago.
He was judged by the Father in my place, willingly receiving all the wrath and judgment that the Holy God demands in His Divine Justice.

Yet for those who received Hope – His name being Jesus Christ of Nazareth, to them, God extends His benevolent and unmerited favor (biblical grace) and bestows upon them His Spirit, causing them to be spiritually reborn and brought into the family of God, bearing His Holy name.

Not only have I been regenerated by His Spirit, making all things new, but I also have His promise that He will return and in timely fashion create a whole new world, absolutely pure and incorruptible – entirely void of sin and all of its terrible consequences that we sadly witness day in and day out.

My life isn’t perfect, nor am I – not yet; but I have this steadfast hope that one day I will be made complete by my heavenly Father as will the world that He will fashion anew on that Day.

This is a hope sure and steady and one that will not fail. It is a hope borne on the wings of faith; faith in God and in His Word – and I shall soar above the burdens and sorrows of life by the winds of His Spirit. This is not wishful thinking or a yearning for something improbable, for I have His Word and He is absolutely as good as His Word! This is a hope that I hold dear in life and a hope that will see me safely beyond this life!

PROVERBS 14: 32
32 The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.

ROMANS 8: 24-25
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for it?
25 “But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

ACTS 24: 14-15
14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

1 PETER 1: 2-5
2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.


This is the saving hope of life for every believer in Jesus Christ; we know for a certainty that this temporal life is not all there is, that there is far, far more awaiting us in eternity, and thus we wait patiently with hopeful and joyful anticipation for our LORD’s Return, and the abundant and eternal riches that are in store, even as it’s stated in the Epistle to Titus and Colossians –

TITUS 2: 11-15
11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

COLOSSIANS 1: 5-6
5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:


The Blessed Hope spoken of in Titus, is that Hope of His Return that brings purity and righteous living to the saints; this is why the study of prophecy, watching the scene played out in the world in accordance to the fulfillment of said prophecies, that declare the nearness of our LORD’s return is not a ‘pie in the sky in the great by and by’ sort of peripheral study in the Scriptures, but highly pragmatic and practical for Christian living:


1 JOHN 3:2-3
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

The Hope of His Return and of His coming Kingdom of justice, righteousness, grace, mercy and truth, and ultimately the ending of all sin, corruption, darkness and defilement is something we should be prepared to explain to everyone who asks of us the reason for such things:

1 PETER 3: 15
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

The Scriptures are the Inspired source for our hope, both steadfast and sure, undeniable and unassailable.
As we study the Word of God, and understand His faithfulness to His own declared Word, we can bank on the truth of the Scriptures, knowing that God cannot contradict His Word or His Holy nature of integrity and goodness; this is exactly what Abraham learned in God’s dealings with him (See Romans 4: 16-25)!

It’s in the many storms of life that come in the form of trials, sorrows, burdens, persecutions that we have this anchor of hope that keeps our vessels secure and not destroyed by such storms!

ROMANS 15:4
4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

HEBREWS 6: 13-19
13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.
17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;


Christians have every reason for hope and to hope with a joy sublime and unshakeable, for we have the Word of promise in the LORD Jesus Christ, and on Him and Him alone we may build this hope, knowing that this hope is not at all in vain, but wholly trustworthy and secure!

My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

Refrain
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

Refrain

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

Refrain

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

Refrain