- February 8, 2023
This past Sunday, the Christian world entered the season of Advent. Advent prepares us for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in much the same way Lent prepares us to remember His suffering, death, and resurrection. While Advent is associated with Christmas, its greater purpose is to serve as an annual reminder of
This past Sunday, the Christian world entered the season of Advent. Advent prepares us for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in much the same way Lent prepares us to remember His suffering, death, and resurrection.
While Advent is associated with Christmas, its greater purpose is to serve as an annual reminder of the imminent and glorious return of Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke very clearly of His return in Matthew 24. I strongly encourage you to read what He said because you need to be aware and ready. It could happen at any moment. In fact, He lets us know that it will happen when we least expect it. It could happen before you finish reading this article.
Here are the last words of the Bible, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” Revelation 22:20-21. The entire Bible story concludes with Jesus letting us know He is coming soon.
During Advent, I will be sharing four articles about some very special gifts we receive from heaven. The first gift is hope.
The return of Jesus Christ is our greatest hope. The anticipation of that glorious moment has kept believers moving forward with anticipation and joy for over 2,000 years – even in the midst of persecution and tragedy.
When you boil it all down, there are two truths that energize the believer with hope: the imminent return of Jesus and the promise of eternal life.
We, humans, know instinctively that death should not be a part of our story. That’s because God created us to live forever – and through Jesus Christ, we can be restored to God’s original intent. For the believer, death is nothing more than falling asleep here and waking up in heaven. Listen to Jesus in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” That everlasting life is the greatest hope of all believers – and if Jesus should return before we die, well, all the better!
To some people, such hope sounds crazy. For them, the grave is the end of the story. Well, to me, the grave being the end sounds crazy. Everything in me knows that the grave is not the end – it is the beginning – it is simply the launching pad to eternity.
Billy Graham lived with that confident hope, and he died with it too. He told people all the time, “Some day you will read in the newspaper that Billy Graham has died. Don’t believe a word of it. For in that moment, I will be more alive than I have ever been.”
We live in a hard world. The wise man summed up human existence on earth in one word: meaningless. See Ecclesiastes 1. Life was so hard on Job he wished he had never been born. Job 3. Jesus warned us that we would be hated by everyone because of Him. Matthew 10:22. Paul’s description of the human condition is awful. Romans 3:9-18. He also warned us that everyone who follows Jesus will be persecuted. Timothy 2:12-13. John pointed out that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. I John 5:19. The enemy is unleashing the full fury of sin as he prowls around, looking for people to devour. I Peter 5:8. The innocent and vulnerable are abused and exploited. The world is dark and filled with a sense of foreboding – that something bad is about to happen.
For people in darkness and despair, it’s no different today than it was just prior to Jesus’ birth. The prophecy of Isaiah is as true today as it was when he wrote it and when Matthew quoted it, “The people living in darkness have seen a great light, on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2 and Matthew 4:16. People today are living in deep darkness. Maybe you are too.
My Advent prayer is that the hope of the resurrection and eternal life will provide the dawn of light for you today. May hope pierce the darkness and fill you with a profound sense that something good is about to happen – and that the best is yet to come. May your face be turned upward, and may the warmth of God’s light chase all of the shadows of fear and doubt from your mind. May your heart beat a little faster as you wait in eager anticipation for what God is going to do next. May hope be the gift of heaven you open first during this Advent season. That is my prayer for you. Amen.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11