From a Biblical perpective, HOPE is a CONFIDENT EXPECTATION. It does not imply a shred of uncertainty or any lack of assurance. Instead biblical hope is a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future. There is moral certainty in it.
This week as I shared with the students of Hilldale Baptist Church, I talked to them about Epic Hope... About the ultimate hope of Heaven and how that great hope changes everything about our lives today!
We focused on two basic questions:
WHAT WILL HEAVEN BE LIKE?
WHAT DOES HEAVEN MEAN IN OUR LIVES TODAY?
Next week, I will share my thoughts about these two questions... But for today, I want to simply ask you this question... Does your outlook on eternity impact your daily behavior today?
If you think about the Hope of Heaven, you are quickly moved to a place of unshakeable confidence, joy, and purpose! The struggles of this life begin to fade...(The Hope of Heaven doesn't mean that the struggles of this life, here and now aren't real or are not challenging...) Their power is broken, their severity placed in a perspective of limitation (light and temporary compared to the weight of glory to come)
Finally, the Hope of Heaven and the greatness of our reward affects us in two additional ways, both of which empower purity of life here and now in the face of opposition. It makes us passionate for purity, because the one we hope to see and be with and be like is pure, and it makes us fearless and happy so that people can’t stop us from pursuing this passion for purity and righteousness here.
1 Corinthians 15:54-58
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." 55 "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Richard Sibbes, one of the great old Puritan preachers of Cambridge who died in 1635, wrote a whole book on Psalm 42:5. He was called “the sweet dropper” because of how much confidence and joy his sermons caused. He called his book The Soul’s Conflict with Itself, because in Psalm 42:5 that is exactly what you have, the soul arguing with itself, preaching to itself. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God!”
Is your hope in God? Hope Changes Everything!
Hilldale Baptist Fall Student retreat...EPIC!
I've spent the last 3 days with an amazing group of students from Clarksville, Tennessee - the youth group from Hilldale Baptist Church. I have had the great privilege of being their camp pastor for the week. The theme of the week is "Epic".
Students have responded nightly to the presentation of the Gospel and to the challenges of living their lives out on an Epic Mission for God!
An "EPIC" describes the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the history of a nation. We have shared with these students that Jesus Christ is the ultimate "Epic" story... a story that is larger than this life and farther reaching that what we can see!
My three messages during the evening sessions:
Here is a summary of my first message:
EPIC TRUTH - The Grand Story of Scripture
"In order to build a biblical-theological framework for understanding God's mission, the church's mission, and the church's mission to the nations, one must first understand the unified biblical narrative, including its four major plot movements--creation, fall, redemption, and restoration." Bruce Ashford's Theology and Practice of Mission.
We explored how there is "A way that seems right unto a man, but the end of that way is death!" Proverbs 14:12
I challenged the students to understand that truth is true whether you believe it or not... or whether you can see it or not. Truth is not verified by your beliefs or your experiences... Truth is true, no matter what!
Just because you don't believe in God...doesn't mean He doesn't exist! My dog doesn't believe in gravity, but he has never (NOT ONCE) floated off our porch!
Just because you've never seen something, doesn't negate its existence! An eskimo may have never seen a surfboard, but that doesn't negate the existence of waves!
THE EPIC TRUTH of the story of redemption leaves us with no option, but to explore the exclusive claims of Christianity!
So I challenged the students to think about the reality of God and the reliability of the Bible! I used the classic "trilemma". Liar, Lunatic, or Lord... in other words, Jesus was either "MAD", "BAD", or "GOD"!
October 1st marks my first year as Pastor at Hardy Street Baptist Church. As I reflect on the past 12 months, I am overwhelmed with a sense of God's leadership. We have experienced tremendous growth as a Faith Family. Growth in spirit, unity, mission, vision, & values have lead to numeric growth and Kingdom expansion!
Looking back, here's a summary of my very first message at Hardy Street Baptist Church on October 4, 2015.
First Things First: The Foundation of our Faith
1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5
These words of the Apostle, Paul resonate with me here today! As I begin a new ministry of preaching and pastoring... I want to make sure that we are clear about matters of first importance! Not only sequentially, but in rank order of priority!
1) The aim of our ministry together will be to beget and build FAITH!
Paul's desire was to preach Christ and see people come to faith!
Without faith it impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6)
Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17)
It’s the difference between “religion” and “relationship”.
2) Our ministry together will be built upon the centrality of the CROSS of JESUS CHRIST!
It’s the difference between “therefore" and "nevertheless."
3) Our ministry together must be grounded in the POWER of God!
It’s the difference between God’s strength and our strategies.
4) Our ministry together must be established by an admission of our WEAKNESSES!
It’s the difference between the power of the cross and the persuasion of words.
How do we apply this? By living out G.R.A.C.E.
A servant heart
Embrace God intimately
Christ-follower, husband, dad, friend & the Senior Pastor of Hardy Street Baptist Church.