The death of those we love is confusing and severe. Where are they now? What will the future for them and us be like? Will we see them again? Today we learn what happens when a follower of Jesus dies and we discover that though clarity on what lies ahead does not remove the sorrow, it adds to our sorrow, divine hope.
We all have a way we interpret and react to the suffering of ourselves and others. We must recognize and resist any temptations to resolve it for others. The truth is, only God knows why He allows the suffering of the innocent; our role as listeners is to point those who are suffering to God, Who is with the broken-hearted. Through us mourning with them and encouraging them to be emotionally authentic with God, our friends are most likely to meet the challenge, be refined, and develop a greater love of God for who He is, and not merely what He does for us. In so doing they become more like Jesus Himself, who is God’s ultimate answer for suffering.
Last week Arik preached, “On Earth as it is in Heaven.” Yet, recent world events may make us feel like Earth is rather more like Hell right now. A series of tragedies between police officers and African Americans has created a climate of judgment, condescension, fear, and apathy. How are we to proceed as followers of Jesus Christ? In Matthew 7, Jesus makes it clear that when we are tempted to judge and lash out, we are to do serious self-reflection. We are to mourn with those who mourn, lament like David in the Psalms, carefully listen to Jesus and others, repent of what gets exposed in us (especially fear!), act in love and out of faith, and develop habits to continue to Heavenize as Jesus’ agents of reconciliation, no matter the environment.
Why did followers of Jesus change their day of worship from the Jewish Sabbath to the day of Christ’s resurrection? Why did they transition from an annual Passover to a frequent celebration including the bread and the cup? Why do followers of Jesus continue today to sing about, talk about, read about and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus? While there are many reasons to celebrate Jesus’ emergence from the tomb, on this Resurrection Sunday we reflect and give thanks to God for three. Through the resurrection of Jesus, God blesses us with certainty in our faith, clarity in our hope and charity in our neighborly love.
We are overwhelmed by the characteristics of the world: prejudice; war; disease; overpopulation; energy shortage; terrorism; economic depression; environmental issues; poverty. Yet, we are even more overwhelmed by the characteristics of Christ: enduringly strong; entirely sincere; eternally steadfast; immortally graceful; imperially powerful; impartially merciful.
Jesus is the hope for people of all ethnicities both here and around the world. If God’s heart is for people of all nations, do our hearts reflect His heart?
Disappointment comes from unmet expectations. Like everyone, followers of Jesus know how difficult life can be when things don’t go as we expect. Does God see? Does He care? As we study what happened in the 10 days between the ascending of Jesus to heaven and the descending of His Spirit to earth we discover that there is something about God that we need to learn in this world of disappointments. Before we head into Acts 2 (next week, hopefully) we must first discover God’s plan and vantage point in order to walk faithful in the midst of unmet expectations.
All of us, no matter our status of faith, encounter times when it seems Jesus is far away. In this post-resurrection account, we find two travelers literally experiencing just that. Suddenly Jesus himself appears and as he walks with them, unbeknownst to them, Jesus listens to their hopes and dreams and disappointment, revealing a pattern […]
Life on life discipleship often seems dark, difficult and impossible. Yet, God brings hope. In this message, Charlie Marquis (Hope’s Youth Pastor & staff member of Forge Ministries) shares an update on his recent trip to the Hadzabe Tribe in Northern Tanzania. Just as Abraham had “hope against all hope” moments, he – in hope […]
Has life been more difficult than you expected? If so, December may be a tough month as you see others celebrating while you struggle. On this second Sunday of Advent we recall a series of disappointments in Joseph’s life and we discover how these difficulties were used by God in a way that Joseph could have never imagined. His setbacks paved the way for the coming of Christ for the good of the whole world. In his first advent (“coming”), Jesus also modeled bowing in the midst of unexplainable difficulty and He taught His disciples to do the same. Therefore, we bow to our Sovereign God to plead our case, worship in our pain, and trust with full confidence that our difficulties in this damaged world will contribute (most likely in ways that only God currently knows) to God’s glory, our future joy and the restoration of all things.