Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Hope in Difficult Places

     Last week was a particularly difficult week for me.  Not only did we say good-bye to our long time dog Roscoe, but in our church family, we lost two loving saints who served our fellowship faithfully.  Their lives were fruitful and it seemed they left us all too soon.  I remember remarking to my husband that life hurts when people we love and the creatures that offer us companionship die.  It was never meant to be that way in the beginning; for God created a perfect world without sin or flaw. Man and woman were meant to live forever without sickness and decay.  They were placed in a perfect environment and asked to tend it.  Their only restriction was to not eat of the fruit of one tree. Yet, they succumbed to temptation and directly disobeyed God (Genesis 3), and with this choice, they brought sin not only into their lives but into the world as well.
     Where once a perfect landscape covered the earth, now weeds grew up and choked the healthy plants.  Extra toil in working the land was required to bring forth a harvest.  All life on earth became subject to decay, death and loss.  Man, who once enjoyed a perfect relationship with God now had a broken one and Scripture tells us in Jeremiah 17:9:  "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" We have inherited the sin nature of Adam and in our natural state, we too
have a broken relationship with God.   Is it any wonder that we see man's depraved nature on display in our world today with murders, violence of all types and terrorism?  If this were the end of the story, we would not have anything to look forward to in the future.
     In the middle of this bleak scene in the Garden after Adam and Eve sinned, God promised a deliverer who would come and make a way for man to be free from this bondage of the will.  This foreshadowing of the Messiah is given in Genesis 3:15.  The fulfillment of this promise came in the person of Jesus Christ who came and walked among us teaching us and fulfilling all the Law and the prophecies of the Bible.  In addition, He offered His life as a sacrifice in place of the punishment our sin deserved.  Jesus was fully God and fully man.  As the Son of God, He lived a perfect life.  He was the new Adam who came to fulfill God's promise to redeem mankind from sin and death.  Not only did He die in our place, but He also rose from death as a conqueror over this curse upon man.
     When we hear the call from God to come to Christ, we pass into a new relationship with the Lord. The bondage of sin is broken and we pass from death into life which will last forever.  Jesus tells us in John 5:24:  "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life."  This is precisely what the two dear saints believed who were called home last week.  They knew that absence from the body means they would be present with the Lord.  This is the hope we have in Christ.  However, this is not the end of the story.  One day (we do not know when), our Lord Jesus Christ will return to rule and reign.  The Apostle John saw in a vision a new heaven and a new earth in Revelations 21:1:  "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more."  How glorious will this day be when God restores the glory of His creation!
     Presently, we know the pain of loss and the heartbreak it brings.  Yet, for those of us who trust in Christ for our salvation, we have the hope, joy and peace that comes in knowing that even death cannot take away the promise of eternal life.  He enables us to walk through this world as new creations who are citizens not of this world but of heaven.  Then, in the future, the Lord will establish His kingdom and once again, life in His presence will bring no more tears or heartache.  This is our glorious hope and longing.  If you have never trusted in Christ as your Lord and Savior, today is the day of salvation.  Do not delay to look to Him for in Him is life.  Selah!

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