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The Gospel - The Hope of 2014

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Revelation 3:8, “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”

We are pleased to live in the hope of a better world in 2014. Hope is a beautiful thing and is part of the human spirit that intuitively anticipates something better. Hope pulls us forward with dreams of better ways of living and better environments. We hope to be better marriage partners, better church members, and better business persons. These are noble things to aspire to and place our hope upon.

Hope, however, is elusive; it slides into reality, and the reality is that we live in a world that has consistently dashed hope with feelings of futility. Many are the people that believe that a truly better life is impossible. Things do not work out as we had hoped, even with the best laid plans. The Bible says in Romans 8:22-23, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” Even the best of Christians groan with the cares of this life and eagerly hope for the redemption of their bodies.

Often the result of futility is a life that is lived for the here and the now. The flesh lives for moments of passion that produce a lifetime of reaping and despair. Many are the innocent people who are affected by it. God’s plans for life, marriage, and the home are a means of lively hope. Satan’s hope is momentary. Godly hope is for eternity.

The church stands at the door of hope and beckons the world to come, while much of the world seems gripped in the despair that sin has brought. The Christian is a living expression of hope and compassion even while recognizing the futility of life in this world. First Corinthians 15:19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” The church looks for opportunities that bring spiritual life and health and repair to the lives, marriages, and relationships that have been dismembered, separated, and at odds with each other.

A door that is open to us is the divorce culture that we live in. In America there is a divorce every thirteen seconds, which means that there are nearly 46,000 divorces per week. Forty-three percent of children are growing up today without a father in the home. Nearly half of all children will witness the breakup of their parents’ marriage.

Christ’s love compels us to be responsive to the needs of the broken homes and the carnage of distraught children that suffer from abuse, loneliness, and rejection. This is a door we will endeavor to go through to give the light that the Bible calls us to give. While actual positive results seem few, we believe the promise to be true that “my word … shall not return unto me void.”

John 12:46, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” This verse defines the door that is ours to go through. Are we willing to step through the door and present the solution to the broken lives that are a result of this chaotic situation? Summer Bible schools and Bible study groups, that reach out to the hurting society, have been an attempt to meet this need. Can we help and give direction in a godly, positive way that keeps these programs expressing the compassion of Christ and honoring a conservative Biblical practice in our churches?

Another door that is open to us is the opportunity that comes with those who have suffered through the emotional trauma of choosing to terminate the life of the unborn. Invite them to a relationship that presents Jesus as the door of hope to their troubled lives. Every year in the world there are an estimated 40-50 million abortions. This corresponds to approximately 125,000 abortions per day. In the USA, there are over 3,000 abortions per day. Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies in the USA end in abortion.

While this need is sickening, it is an open door that the church should be aware of. We must remember that Jesus did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; He also came to seek and to save that which is lost. We also should recognize the needs of those experiencing emotional trauma that comes with the choice. One study found that at least 19 percent of women who abort suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. In a study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers found that women who had an abortion were three times more likely than the general population, and six times more likely than women who gave birth, to commit suicide in the following year.

To many of us this is uncharted territory, but it seems the darker the night of the world, the brighter the light of the open door of hope.

We tend to be intimidated by the daunting disregard for life that our culture has espoused. The price of sin is exceedingly high! Do we have the compassion that Christ had when he offered the living water to the woman at the well, a woman whose lifestyle was similar to many in the world today? John 4:14-15, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not …”

God has chosen the gospel solution to be carried to the world by His people one situation at a time. Matthew 9:36-38, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”

The hope of 2014 is the Gospel!
Columbiana OH
January 2014