JOHN SHIRK – Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.”
This statement was connected to Jesus in Matthew chapter 4. Jesus fulfilled these words of the prophet with His words of life, His touch of healing, and ultimately, by His death and resurrection from the grave.
In the Bible, darkness is often connected with sin and death. There is a spirit of despair in the heart of someone who is caught in the grip of spiritual darkness. Jesus came as the Light of the world. As we welcome His light, the shadows that cause despair flee under His influence of grace and truth. We live with freedom from guilt and shame. We live with the certain hope of eternal life. We live with the awareness that God loves us with an unfailing love. We live with a sense of joy in belonging to His spiritual family. And we live with a heavenly purpose, to reach souls for the Gospel through our witness for Jesus.
The hope that Jesus brought with His coming is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
JOHN SHIRK – In First Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul talked about our situation if Christ did not rise from the dead. He said in verse 14, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
He said, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ we are to be pitied more than all men.”
Paul was living with an eternal perspective. He assures us that Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, and because of His resurrection, those who are in Christ will be made alive.
Jesus told His followers, “Because I live, you also will live.” Because Jesus lives, our failures are not fatal, our faith is not futile, and death is not final. Our labor has purpose, our soul is secure, and our future is forever in the grace of God. This is our hope when our faith is in Christ to save us from our sins.
The hope of the resurrection is a lesson of faith worth remembering.
“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Here we see three benefits of God’s grace granted to those who put their hope in the Lord.
1) He renews our strength. He gives us the energy and motivation for doing His will faithfully.
2) He gives us forward momentum. As we walk with God, He guides us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
3) He helps us to overcome life’s challenges and difficulties. To soar on wings like eagles is a picture of rising above the obstacles on the ground. We can count on God to carry us through times of trial and overcome the hurdles that slow down our spiritual progress. Jesus said we would have trouble, but not without His presence.
Hope is an acknowledgment that life is not as glorious as it will be, but by God’s grace, we will go forward in God’s plan, accomplish what He called us to do, and reach the place He is preparing for us.
Hope in the Lord is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
ASHLEA BRENEMAN - Almost two years ago I was apart of something I didn’t think would happen in my life. It was one of those dreams I had shoved to the back of my mind and my heart. But God is too gracious and good and faithful to allow the dreams He’s placed in His children to go unnoticed. Little by little he will bring them to the forefront until they are a bright blinking neon sign before our eyes.
In January of 2009, I traveled thousands of miles to visit a country in Eastern Africa called Uganda with Compassion. A country filled with a tragic history and desperate situations but filled with beautiful people and a hope in the midst of it all.
My job was easy. Observe and take in. Be present.
It’s hard though when the scenario is not easy. When you’re in a little shack with a family who’s father died because of AIDS and a mother struggling to provide for her children who also have AIDS.
You sit there and wonder.
How can this be?
But in the midst of desperation, there is this thing ripping through your heart.
This belief that God is real.
That He is there.
That He cares.
That He loves.
That hope does exist.
It’s true. God is real. He loves and cares more than my heart could grasp or contain.
We can demonstrate a characteristic of God.
We can be hope.
Find out how you can be hope to a child in need during WJTL’s 26 Hours of Compassion. Click on the Compassion banner at the homepage or call 1.866.392.3690.
Here is a video recapping my time in Uganda. It still brings tears to my eyes.