EASTER 2016 "Enduring Hope"

Pastor Terry Inman

03-27-16

 

A few years ago I had the privilege of playing in a charity Golf tournament. Someone has to bring up the last tier of golfers. One of my partners was the well-known Christian painter Ron DiCianni. I’m sure you’ve seen his work you just may not know his name.

 

Probably his most familiar oil canvas is this one of a Father praying over his son at bedtime. It’s titled “Spiritual Warfare”. Another one I like it simply called “The Cross”. All his work is displayed in an online gallery at Tapistryproductions.com

The reason I mention this is because today’s message “Enduring Hope” is illustrated in my title slide with his newest painting of the Resurrection that is a 12’ by 40’ mural covering a whole wall in the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas Texas.

 

This painting is a depiction of the moment of Jesus emerging from the tomb, with waiting angels, fainted roman guards, and a crowd of Biblical notables from both the Old and New Testament waiting for His exit.

 

DiCianni says, The Resurrection, of Jesus Christ separates our faith from every other religion, philosophy and dogma. It authenticates The Nativity, The Crucifixion of Christ, and legitimizes every word Jesus said concerning Himself and His relationship to God. Many may ignore the Resurrection at their peril, but none can deny it as it is historically proven beyond doubt.

 

The Apostle Peter changed forever by the Resurrection writes,

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Pet. 1.3-5 NIV)

 

Today I want to break this down with a simple acrostic for HOPE. There are four very positive expressions that describe this enduring hope.

 

The first one is Horizon. (I didn’t say Verizon that's my cell provider) Hope gives us a new horizon, a new perspective or view on life.

The horizon is the place where the earth meets the sky—that all depends our present position or perspective. Astronaut Scott Kelly just returned from a year in space. While he was orbiting he carried on a dialog complete with incredible photos all from his elevated perspective.

 

They are now comparing him with his twin brother Mark to see how a year in space affected him. For starters he came back two inches taller! For the last year Scott’s brother Mark also an astronaut woke up to a horizon on earth that looks relatively flat. Which is what most people thought before Columbus failed to fall of the map. But for 365 days space gave Scott a completely different horizon than his brother Mark.

 

If you look at our social, moral, economic and political landscape right now its doesn’t appear all that hopeful, it looks a bit flat, in fact it looks like were about the reach the dead end and fall off.

 

Life could be like that for you right now. Life has a way of putting obstacles in our horizon that block a hopeful view of the present.

 

That’s what the Horizon looked like to Jesus’s followers the last week of his life here on earth. They had been following him around for a few years hoping that this young prophet, teacher, healer and reformer would take his mission to the next level.

 

They were looking for a political insurrection not a spiritual resurrection. The crucifixion dashed their hopes and confirmed their greatest fears.

A proverb says, “hope deferred makes the heart sick”. Prov. 13.12 (NIV) but it doesn’t end there, it adds,“a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a “longing fulfilled” it suddenly changed the horizon for these disheartened disciples. Hope was on their Horizon.

 

Jesus’ resurrection also changes our Horizon. That’s why Peter writes this affirmation. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1Pet. 1.3 NIV)

 

Hope in the Resurrection gives us a new perspective of praise that counters pessimism. At Jesus trial Peter fearfully denied any affiliation with Jesus. Just a few days later following the Resurrection he faced crowds of people and confidently preached the good news.

Peter begins this affirmation of the Resurrection with praise for God, who he introduces as, the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  

 

“Lord” (Greek Kurios) refers to a master or an owner, one who has authority or power. He is our leader, our director, the CEO of our life.

 

“Jesus” is his proper name. It means, "God saves”. The Hebrew form is Jehovah (Yahweh) “the Savior."

 

God the Father passed this name along to Jesus’ earthly dad Joseph.

An angel appeared in a dream to Mary’s fiancée. He told him Mary is delivering a baby boy you will name Jesus, ‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1.21NIV)

 

His name personified his hopeful purpose; to save us—to make us safe from Satan and the consequences of our sin. Jesus’ execution satisfied sin’s death sentence and repaired our broken relationship with the Father.

 

Peter also uses the word Christ. It is not Jesus last name it is his title.  

The word "Christ" (Greek Christos) means the "anointed-one" or "Messiah." He is the expected leader and liberator promised by God.

 

Jesus is God's son--He is alive today! The bible says He is at God's right-hand side, second-in-command awaiting the word to come back for us!

 

No wonder Peter has a new perspective. Our horizon is full of hope!

No matter what’s happening around us we have something to look forward too, because we have someone to put our faith in. The Lord Jesus Christ is our Enduring Hope.

The next letter of the acrostic for HOPE is “O” for Opportunity.

An opportunity is a chance, an opening or a break! It’s an advantage or a favor. God gives us a break because of his “great mercy” not because we deserve it.

 

Peter says it this way, “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. Peter personally experienced a merciful second change. After his resurrection Jesus gave Peter the perfect opportunity for a do-over! Paul’s hostilities against Christ followers would classify him as a terrorist, but he was also given a resurrection opportunity. He writes to the church.

 

All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

 

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:3-6)

Talk about a lucky break! This is like a new start-up! We have failed at this business called life but Christ’s death and resurrection provides the capital for a whole new start-up!

 

We are not just “saved” from a spiritual crash we are rebooted in Christ. We are “seated”—we are re-installed in a new spiritual realm with Jesus.

 

We are have unlimited opportunity because we have a whole new identity!

Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Rom. 5.5 NIV)

 

When we put our hope in Jesus Christ, His Spirit is lives in us. This opens our lives to unlimited opportunities both now in and in the future. Peter says, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

 

Enduring Hope also fills us with Purpose. The resurrection gives us a reason for our existence. We have a living hope—a life full of meaning and mission. The first Christians had no fear of the future. They didn’t even fear death. Their faith in the risen Lord gave them persistence and perseverance even in the face of persecution.

 

The book of Hebrews describes a Christian hall of faith. It’s full of hero’s of enduring hope. They are called a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on. Heb. 11.1 describes their faith. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

 

E. E. Cleveland Bishop of the Church of God in Christ was in his retirement years talking to group of us young Bay Area Pastor’s in the early 1980’s.

I’ll never forget his description of faith. “If you don’t see it before you see it you ain’t never going to see it”!

 

Hope gives us a purpose. That purpose will give us the spiritual tenacity to persevere until the unseen is seen. That’s enduring hope.

 

Finally the “E” is for Expectation. Expectation is the anticipation of something happening. Jesus is alive. It may feel like he is gone but he is on his way back. The bible calls this expectation the blessed hope. Paul said we are, Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2.13 NIV)

 

Now let wrap this with Peter’s affirmation of the resurrection.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

 

Then he adds even more value to the resurrection …and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1Pet. 1.3-5 NIV)

 

The message version of this promise makes our hope even brighter… “Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.”

 

This is enduring hope. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ gives us a whole new horizon. It’s a perspective that evokes praise and counters pessimism.

 

We are people of opportunity. It’s his mercy that gives us a fresh start. Resurrection power also gives us purpose. This purpose gives us perseverance. Hope will not disappoint us!

 

We are full of expectation. We live, not just for this life but the next one. His resurrection means ours is just around the corner. It’s a living hope!