Sunday – January 26, 2014 “Hope & Change God’s Way- The Hope of Heaven”

January 26, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Hope and Change Week 5: The Hope of Heaven from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – January 26, 2014 Download / Print

 2 Corinthians 5:1-3
“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.”

Our culture is fascinated with near death experiences and what happens on the other side of life. Searching through under the subject of near death will bring up over 102,300 titles currently for sale. I wish I could say it is the fascination of unbelievers, but Christian culture is no different with over 150 titles available on on the same subject! Why have we been caught up with other people’s non-authoritative view of death and what comes next to the exclusion of what God has already revealed to us through His Word?

In 2 Corinthians, Paul speaks of death and dying, not in the sense of martyrdom, but in the sense of the normal aging and dying process of life. Those of us with a number of years behind us (and often with gray hair – or none – to prove it) can readily agree with Paul when he speaks of the gradual, but steady, decline of the physical body. The minute we are born we are on a path that will inevitably lead to our death. For some, it simply comes sooner than for others. But in spite of our “dying by degrees” in the normal aging process, Christians also experience life. As the outer man continues to perish, the inner man is being renewed (given life) day by day. This is not spoken of as maintaining a certain level of spirituality, but of actually growing and increasing in our walk with God.

Actually, the dying process of the body is a welcome thing because we will exchange these mortal bodies for new spiritual bodies which are vastly superior. Our present bodies are a tent while our permanent spiritual bodies are described as a temple. To be at home in this physical body is to be absent from the Lord; to be absent from this physical body is to be at home with the Lord. And so it is that just as Paul did not fear the death by martyrdom or old age, death produces life for the Christian. And thus death is not to be fearfully avoided by living in the safe zone; we can live dangerously for Christ, knowing that death brings life for us when we die, whether as martyrs or due to old age.

The book stores are filled with books telling us heaven is about being with friends and loved ones, rather than on our being with God. Believing husbands will see their believing wives in heaven, but they will not relate to them in marriage as they have done on earth. Heaven is spending eternity in heaven in the presence of God; hell is spending eternity apart from God. That is the main thing. Do not be misled. The fact that others we have loved on earth will be there is “icing on the cake,” but it is not the essence of what heaven is about.

Sunday – January 19, 2014 “Hope & Change God’s Way- Hope in the Gospels”

January 19, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Hope & Change God’s Way- Hope in the Gospels from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – January 19, 2014 Download / Print

Matthew 4:23-25
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.”

When we began this series, I said we should not study a subject by merely using a concordance to search out a certain word. The use of “hope” in the Gospels is an excellent illustration. One would be completely mistaken to conclude that there is little “hope” in the Gospels because the word “hope” is found there only twice. The problem in the Gospels is that the “hope” which we find is a misguided hope. In fact, hopes (expectations) were running high in Israel at the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry, but they were mistaken hopes, based upon wrong motives and expectations.

I believe it is safe to say from the hopes of the crowds looking to be fed to the hopes John the Baptist and the twelve disciples had that all were focused on what they expected Jesus to do for them. Yet each of them would falter in their faith and see that their hope had been rooted in false expectations of what the Messiah was supposed to do for them. And I would suggest, we are not that different in the foundations of our hope.  There are several common characteristics between the misguided hope we see in people of the gospels and believers today which causes all of us problems when the future looks less promising than we have hoped.

The primary problem is our focus is fixed on present earthly blessings rather than on future heavenly blessings. The disciples continually asked Jesus about the kingdom and when it was coming.  Jesus had told them that they would in the future sit on twelve thrones but they were eager to do so in the  present.  Jesus was quite clear in distinguishing between the “now,” with its troubles and sacrifices, and the “then” of the kingdom, with all of its glorious benefits. Jesus did not say there were no present blessings, but He did not obscure the line between present blessings with difficulties and ultimate eternal blessings. A disciple should live in the present in a way that “lays up treasure” in heaven, understanding he should expect little recognition from the world.

Far from hope being absent in the Gospels, I believe that correctly understanding hope is crucial to understanding what is happening in the Gospels. Reading the Gospels from the perspective of hope may be a new way of thinking through the life of Christ, but I believe that it is more than worth the time and effort to do so. My prayer is this study of hope in the Gospels opens our eyes to the hope of heaven and exposes areas in our lives where our hope has been built on something less than the blood and righteousness of Jesus.

Sunday – January 12, 2014 “Hope & Change God’s Way- Hope in the Old Testament”

January 12, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Hope and Change Week 3- “Hope in the Old Testament” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – January 12, 2014 Download / Print

 Romans 15:4
“For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope.”

Finding hope in the Old Testament may be more challenging than you would think. Yes, the word appears many times in the Old Testament, but it does not occur as many times as you might think. In fact, the word hope does not appear until you get to the book of Ruth, and there it is talking about Naomi’s lack of hope for her future. Simply studying the topic of hope by searching for the word may diminish our hope more than build it up.

Do not lose hope, weary pilgrim; the concept of hope may very well be present even though the specific word is not found. Sometimes the pertinent texts are going to be found by searching for synonyms of hope. But at other times, we simply have to know the Bible well enough to turn to those texts which deal with this topic in more general terms. Sometimes, the New Testament will give us the necessary clue, just as Hebrews 11 gives us unexpected examples of faith in the Old Testament. Just be aware of the fact that a concordance search is a good start, but it is not the end-all for studying biblical concepts.

The writer to the Hebrews sums up the superiority of the New Covenant to the Old Testament by pointing out that every Old Testament saint was saved by faith, and that their faith gave them hope – not a hope for present blessings so much as a heavenly hope for eternal blessings (Hebrews 11:13-16).

Paul’s words in Romans 15 should convince us that the Old Testament Scriptures are a source of great hope for the New Testament saint because we can now read these texts in the light of the coming and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. The mysteries of the Old Testament – which Old Testament saints did not grasp – are now ours to ponder, for our encouragement and hope.

Sunday – January 5, 2014 “Hope and Change God’s Way: What is Biblical Hope?”

January 5, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Hope and Change God’s Way: What is Biblical Hope? from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.

Word On Worship – January 5, 2014 Download / Print

 Romans 15:4-6
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Our series title, Hope and Change, God’s Way, was done purposefully and slightly satirically. Not only does it indicate that hope is the topic, but it also calls attention to the fact that this theme struck a very sympathetic cord in the hearts of many Americans as “Hope and Change” was the campaign slogan for our last two presidential elections. This slogan resonated with many Americans because they lacked assurance of hope for the future.

A number of events have occurred recently which make people fearful of the future. In the recent past, we have seen natural disasters in the Philippines or the winter storms affecting most of our nation this week. Then there are the man-made dangers looming in the future. There are threats of rogue governments in Asia and the Middle East and terrorist plots here and abroad. Young and old have lost faith in politicians, and many have lost hope in the political system altogether. People desperately want to find something or someone in which they can put their hope.

The hope which we have as believers in Jesus Christ is the only true hope. It is the hope which unbelievers lack – but desperately need. Let us keep our sure and certain hope before us, and may our hope cause unbelievers to ask us how we can be so hopeful in such a hopeless world. Just as the Scriptures teach, let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and let us fix our hope on the grace that is to be brought to us when He will be revealed at His second coming.

No political party or any presidential candidate (not even your guy) can promise the kind of “hope and change” that the Bible offers to any who will trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Most of us recognize that hope is often found in conjunction with faith and hope. “Faith, Hope, and Love” are mentioned together a number of times in the Bible. We have all heard some wonderful messages on faith and on love, but I would venture to say that we have heard too little about hope. (Even I do not remember ever teaching a message focusing primarily on hope.) This is why we will take the next several weeks to explore the hope of the Christian, rooted in the person of Jesus Christ.