Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Last night, my family went to see the African Children’s Choir. This was about the third time we have seen this choir perform and each time has been amazing. Last night was no exception. The group of children made the entrance with shouts of jubilation as they danced on the stage. The enthusiasm and power they showed were quite impressive. We clapped and cheered and sang along as they performed their songs and dances.

One of the most touching moments for me personally took place a little over half way through the evening. The children came out one at a time saying their name and what they wanted to be when they were older. I loved hearing about their dreams of being pilots, police officers, teachers, bankers, and pastors. I thought about what life must have been like for them early on. Most came from a home with at least one parent deceased or not present for whatever reason. Many had no running water, no substantial source of income. They all came from poverty. These children had seen and experienced more heartache in their young lives than most people experience in a lifetime. They could easily have the mindset that they have no real future. We may look at people of similar circumstance and have little hope they will become anything significant. Yet, they had the dream and vision and hope of becoming the best they could. They refused to buy the lie that they were insignificant.  They refused to let their dreams die. They desire to beat the odds and become someone of great significance.

The true reality is they are already significant. They were created in the image of God. They were deemed worthy of the blood of Jesus as he died to give them hope and a future that far exceeds anything they could ever even dream. The stage presence of these children possessed such power that you believed they would become all those things they said they wanted to be. Yet that fails in comparison to the awesome power of our Lord working in the lives of people. His power is available to all. He is the source of all power and all hope. As the children sang He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, I could not help but recognize how true that really is. He holds it all together. The stars, the land, the sea are all held together by Him. Mankind finds hope in Him. He’s got the homeless in His hands. He’s got  the widow in His hands. He’s got the child walking 45 minutes for water to do laundry in His hands. He loves the fatherless. He loves the single mother struggling to love and care for her kids and pay the bills. He loves the dad who works long hours to provide the best way he knows how. God loves the athletic and the uncoordinated. He loves the educated and uneducated. God loves the prostitute and the nun. He loves the rich and the poor. He loves you and me. He’s got the whole world in His hands. Therefore we can dream. We can hope. We have a future. We have love and acceptance no matter what this world throws at us. We have God, therefore we have all we need.

Victory – Good News

Posted: January 31, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Miracles, wonders, signs, and power displayed with love. These all describe what Jesus did on this earth. He worked many miracles. He displayed the power of God in a way no other had ever dared to try. He came as God in the flesh and made his dwelling among mankind. He walked as we walk, he cried as we cry, he laughed as we laugh, he was tempted as we are tempted, yet he remained sinless. What an amazing feat he accomplished.

But things began to change in his life. People began to plot against him. He was arrested. He was beaten. He was flogged. He was tried. He was falsely accused. He was nailed to a cross. He suffered death.

Did God fail? For a moment it seemed that darkness had prevailed. Jesus, God in the flesh, was dead. Was this the end? Was it hopeless? He was placed in a tomb. It looked as though the mission had failed.

Something amazing took place three days later as the women came to the tomb. The stone was rolled away. The angel made the announcement, “The Lord is not here, he is risen like he said.” Christ had conquered death. God was victorious. Satan had failed.

Through the resurrection, we are given victory. Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, our sins can be pardoned and we can be made new. Isn’t that good news. Aren’t you glad that Christ conquered sin and death?

When we look at the world around us, we can see so much pain and suffering. It gets depressing just watching the news these days. We hear of another rape, another murder, another robbery. We see another terrorist act, another casualty in the war. We see suffering all around. Many of you can recall where you were the exact moment a tragedy such as the Oklahoma City bombing or 9/11 occurred. Bad news is all around us. Tragedy often seems to be around every corner. Human suffering invades our lives on a continual basis.

We live in unstable times. We can recall the things that once seemed so safe and how they now have been scarred. Recall the group of people shopping in a mall when someone opened fire and claimed innocent lives. The tragedy that took place at a college campus when an alienated student went on a shooting rampage. What about the people attending a worship service that is suddenly interrupted by gun fire  – it wasn’t in a communist country it was in the heartland of the United States. We live in a time of uncertainty. And the people cry out, “Where is God?” They say, “If God is such a loving God, then why did this happen? Why did He allow it? Why didn’t He stop it?” We live in uncertain times. Each day people face tragedy: loss of a loved one, unemployment, bankruptcy, victims of violence, homelessness, hunger, poverty, and the list could go on and on. And they cry out, “Where is God? Does He care? Does He even exist?”

I have faced some tragedies of my own and I have found myself asking the same questions at times. I think back to driving in the car on Christmas Eve from Oklahoma City to Muskogee after leaving my grandfather’s funeral. Christmas Eve was always such a special time in our family and yet this one carried with it the loss of a dearly loved man. I think back to those times when I felt so rejected by people. I think back to the kid who was one of the leaders in a gang who said he wanted to make a change. When he asked if I could meet with him the next day, I responded yes and as I went to the housing project where he lived and hugged the kids in the neighborhood who were my friends and talked with parents, uncles, and siblings I hear gun shots and there lies the gang member who said he wanted a better life…And I cried out, “Why?”Why didn’t I make a choice to take him home with me the night before to get him out of the neighborhood? Why did God let this happen?” Tragedy has a way of slapping us in the face and daring us to respond.

Bad news is all around us. Not much has changed over the last couple of millenia. Since the beginning of sin, people have questioned why. Since sin entered the world, bad news has been showing its ugly face. And it is in those moments of bad news that we need hope. It is in the midst of tragedy that we need peace. It is in the eye of the emotional storm that we feel helpless to control that we need to experience the calm, gentle breeze.

God looked at this world and saw the hurt and pain that seemed to have overtaken us as a people. He sent prophets to the people and he sent various messengers, yet God still seemed so distant. He still seemed so far away. God knew the perfect solution. While He would still use people, He would do something that would truly impact the world. He came into the world and walked and talked and lived among us.

Luke 2:8-11 states: And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

This time of year is a reminder that God made a decision to come to this earth in the form of a baby named Jesus. He could not sit by and watch His people suffer, he responded by becoming flesh and blood and moving into the neighborhood. He went through the trials we go through, he suffered like we suffer – that is good news. And although tragedy still occurs, we know how to deal with it because He put on flesh and blood and taught us how to live. He understands what we go through. Have you experienced the death of a loved one, he understands. Have you ever been abandoned and betrayed by a friend, he understands. Have you ever put all your effort into helping someone only to have them reject you, he knows what that is like. That is good news for us. We have a God who understands pain. That is the Christmas story, that is God being proactive. He put on flesh and entered the world as flesh and blood so you and I could have a more peaceful life. This isn’t about nativity scenes, it’s about a God who gave himself as a gift.

Jesus life was spent serving others and bringing them hope, peace, and good news. One of my favorite sayings of Jesus is this: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” DO you need some rest? The world is full of bad news. Wouldn’t you like to take a rest. That tragedy has been heavy on your heart for so long – wouldn’t you like for him to carry it for you? That guilt and shame has taken your peace for too long now – wouldn’t you like to rest? God’s response to this suffering world is an invitation to rest. We live busy lives. We have appointments and deadlines. We have stress and burdens. We get tired and want to rest, but we say we must continue. We think we must keep carrying this weight, we must stay stressed. We feel that life is meant to be stressful, but Jesus offer rest.

When I look at the tragedies around me I wonder, “Where are you, God?” His response is that he is right here offering me some rest, but I look everywhere else. Don’t you think you have looked everywhere else long enough? Wouldn’t you like to rest in Jesus?

I have three questions for you to think about . Feel free to respond on this post or just to quietly answer these for yourself:

What personal hardship has affected your life?

How has it changed your life?

How do you need God to respond?