Hello and welcome to Key to the Kingdom. My name is Bret McCasland. If there is one thing needed by the majority of the people in this world it is hope, and yet many live without any hope for their lives. They have little hope of finding sufficient food for the day, shelter for the night, or even someone to call their friend. Yes, many people have little hope of making it in this world. However, there is one kind of hope we all need, no matter who we are, and no matter where we live. It is a spiritual hope that comes through our faith in the Lord. Without that hope we are left to rely on what we can do for ourselves. We might think that our wealth, our careers, or our families is all we need. But what happens when it's all gone? Are we left with any hope for the future? In our lesson today, on "Key to the Kingdom," we will touch on 3 basic types of hope. They all have to do with our spiritual lives, and are absolutely necessary if we want to someday be at home with the Lord. The hope the Lord offers through His Son Jesus Christ is the hope that lasts for all eternity, and that will sustain us on judgment day. I trust you will watch this episode of "Key to the Kingdom" and allow the message to give you a hope that never fades or goes away.
A number of years ago, somewhere in the United States of America, a public school system decided to give an additional letter to the traditional A, B, C, D, and F on children's report cards, and it was the letter G. Now that G stood for the word hopeless. Can you imagine, as a child, receiving a G on your report card? Something that suggested to you that you don't have any hope to pass this subject. You don't have any hope perhaps even to move on to the next grade level. Now I cannot think of a sadder word in all of the human language than the word hopeless, absolutely devastating. And it says to a person, you don't have any hope. There is no hope for you. Oh, if there is something that the world needs today, perhaps more than anything else, it is hope. And yet many people try to live their lives without it. Can you imagine if someone was to say I don't believe in you and I don't believe there is any kind of a purpose or direction for your life? We also live in some uncertain and changing times, and many of the things in which we have put our hope in the past really don't seem all that secure anymore. It might be our money, investments, or retirement, perhaps even our relationships, but those things don't seem to be as secure as they used to be. And often times we struggle to find some hope or a reason to live. And again, that may be the one thing people need in this world more than anything else. They need hope for their lives. They need hope for their families, and hope for their jobs, and hope for their future. They need just some hope to make it from one day to the next. Part of this ministry of "Key to the Kingdom" extends into the nation in India. A few years ago, when I was in India working, we had the opportunity to open up a free medical clinic; and that gave the opportunity for us to minister to the physical needs of people in that area. They could come to this clinic and they could receive free medical assistance and medicine for their particular diseases or problems. We thought about a name for that clinic and we gave it the name "Hope Health Services" because we are trying to provide some hope; not only physically but also spiritually for the lives of those people. And indeed, it does give them some hope. You know, without hope there is not much of a reason to live. There is nothing to look forward to and there is no reason to try to keep on surviving. And yet, no matter who we are, there seems to be a degree of hope in all of us. We hope for good grades in school. We hope to find a spouse. We hope to live a long life. We hope our favorite athletic team wins the contest. However, that is not really the kind of hope that sustains our life. It might simply move us from one event, or from one day, to the next. But when we open up the pages of the Bible, we find that it gives us hope. I want to look at 3 types of hope the Bible describes for us. The 1st type of hope I want us to think about for just a moment is the hope of peace. Oh, we have our share of trouble in this world, don't we? I know I have my list, and I'm sure you have your list as well. But there is no place in this world we can go where there isn't some kind of trouble, some kind of obstacle, some kind of mountain we are trying to rise above and overcome. There is not a day that goes by when we don't experience some kind of trouble, or obstacle in our life, and we have to learn how to deal with or overcome it. I remember the time when Jesus was about to go back to His Father in heaven. He gathered His disciples and He told them this, in John 16:33. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world. And indeed His disciples had trouble. They experienced problems as they try to share the good news of Jesus, and all of them experienced death later on in life; because they were representing the Lord. And yet, even though they experienced these troubles, and even though they experienced death, they could still be at peace. They could still know the Lord had risen from the dead and they could live in peace knowing that their life was secure in Him. Well, the good news for us today is that no matter what trouble we might encounter, no matter what conflict we might experience, Jesus has already dealt with it and He has overcome. And when our life revolves around Him, and when we put our faith and our hope in Him, then we too will overcome whatever trouble that might be. And the result is peace. We can live in peace. Here is a 2nd type of hope we read about in the Bible. It is the hope of forgiveness. The hope of forgiveness. There is one problem common to every person on the face of this earth. No matter who we are and no matter where we live, no matter how old we are or how good we try to live our lives here upon this earth there is one problem we all face, and that is the problem of sin. We cannot escape that problem of sin on our own account, or by our own abilities. But again here's the good news, the blood that Jesus shed when He died upon the cross is for the forgiveness of that sin, according to Matthew 26:28. Yes, Jesus provided a solution for our sin problem and therefore there is no need to remember the sin in our life anymore. Jesus has already dealt with it and He has overcome that sin. And no matter what kind of sin it was, no matter what kind of sin it still is, when Jesus died upon the cross He offered a way for us to be forgiven of it. And because of that, we now have the hope of forgiveness. We don't have to deal with that any more. Our sin is forgiven. And when the Lord forgives our sin He also forgets it, and so should we. It is as if our sin is thrown into a great big lake and a sign is put up that reads no fishing allowed. We can not go back and get that, or reclaim that sin anymore. It is forgiven and it is forgotten. Here is a 3rd type of hope the Bible describes. It is the hope of heaven. The hope of heaven. Oh, some people believe life as they know it, here upon this earth, is as good as it is going to get; that as good or as bad as life is today there is nothing else to look forward to. They might say that heaven or hell is what we make it here upon this earth. But again, there is some good news. The apostle Paul, in writing to a group of Christians in and around the city of Colossae, wrote in chapter 1 about a hope laid up for them in heaven. Yes, Paul reminded those Christians that their present condition in this world would not last. Some day it would be much better because there was a hope for which they were longing. And when the Bible tells about that hope it is an assurance. It is not some kind of wishful thinking but it is a promise. It is an assurance from the Lord Himself. And the same is true for us. Our real hope is not found in what this world has to offer. Oh, it might provide a few nice things along the way. We might be able to experience some good and pleasurable things, and have some happiness from time to time, but our hope lies not in what this world offers but our hope lies in heaven. And that is the hope that really matters! The world as we know it today is not our home. For we know that a new heaven and a new earth is coming, according to 2nd Peter chapter 3 and also Revelation chapter 21. And for those who know Jesus Christ, and for those who put their trust and their faith in Him, we have that hope; the hope of someday seeing the Lord and spending an eternity with Him. As I think about those passages of Scripture I realize there is one thing they all have in common. There is a thread that runs through that hope of peace, and that hope of forgiveness, and that hope of heaven, and that one thing is Jesus Christ. It is His blood, and His forgiveness, and His home. We can look this world over for that kind of hope and we will not find it in any place else, except in Jesus Christ, the Son of the one true God. That's a hope that is centered in Him alone. And that hope is nothing new. In fact many of the Old Testament authors wrote about it. For example we read this, in Psalm 39:7 My hope is in You. Psalm 62:5 For God alone my soul waits in silence; for my hope is from Him. Psalm 130:5 I wait for the Lord. My soul waits and in His word I hope. Those verses tell us something very important; that our real hope is found in the Lord. The only hope the matters, the only hope that sustains our life, the only hope that really gives us a reason to live is found in the Lord Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God. Even Jesus Himself quoted from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, stating that He was the hope of the world. He was the one to bring this hope into the world, Matthew 12:21. That hope is centered in the story of Jesus; His death, and His burial, and His resurrection. And perhaps we have heard that story before. Perhaps we are very familiar with it and we know what it means to us. We think about the fact that Jesus left His home in heaven and He came to live upon this Earth. He ministered to people. He served. He blessed people's lives. He opened up their eyes. He fed them. He healed them. He showed compassion and goodness. But many people rejected His ministry. They rejected what He had to say and they turned against Him. They began to persecute Jesus and they beat Him severely. They even put Him upon an old rugged cross, and there Jesus died. He was crucified between 2 thieves. And even though He could have called down the angels from heaven to take Him off that cross and keep Him alive, He chose not to do that. He chose to die for you and for me. After His death, 2 of His followers took down the body and placed it in a tomb that had never before been used. He was buried in that tomb. They anointed His body, but then something wonderful happened. On the 3rd day Jesus rose from the grave. He came forth from that tomb alive. He was not held captive by death, but He came forth alive and He appeared to many people before ascending to His Father's right hand. When we think about the story of the death, and the burial, and the resurrection, that gives us some hope; doesn't it? But I want you to imagine with me for just a moment: if we were to go to a tomb outside of the city of Jerusalem and someone were to tell us, without any question, without a doubt, that this was the very tomb in which Jesus was buried, and we would go into that tomb and we would find some of His remains. What would that do to our faith? Oh, it would absolutely shatter and destroy it, wouldn't it? In fact Paul writes, in 1st Corinthians 15, that if Jesus did not rise from the dead then we would have no hope. We would have no reason to live or reason to put our faith in God. But we know today, without a doubt, that tomb is empty. We praise God for that. We know without a doubt that Jesus rose victoriously from the dead and ascended into heaven to be at His Father's right hand. Again, that is what we celebrate. We celebrate the death, and the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Oh, there are many things we like to celebrate here upon the earth. We celebrate people's birthdays. We celebrate people's anniversaries. We celebrate people's graduations, and a host of other things as we come together with friends, and family members, and celebrate something good happening in a person's life. And when we do that we do that, we do 2 things. Number 1, we reflect back on the years that were lived or the accomplishments that were made. But then number 2, we look forward to and we anticipate something that lies ahead. We look forward to more years being lived or we look forward to great things being done by a person who has graduated and moved on into some other areas of life. Well for those who believe in Jesus Christ, that is what we do on a regular basis. We look back and we look forward as we celebrate the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And that is our real reason for existing, as followers of Jesus. That is our real reason for existing when we come together in meeting with one another to celebrate and to rejoice over what Jesus has done for us, and the hope that we now have in the Lord. Take just a moment to watch this short video clip as it reminds us of the reason we have to celebrate in this world.
At least one time every year, nations all around the world celebrate what we call an Independence Day. They celebrate and they rejoice of their freedom that they enjoy in that country. And that happens all around the world. A day is set aside to take off from work and to enjoy fireworks, and parties, and a time with family and friends to celebrate freedom. But do we do that as Christians? Do we really celebrate and rejoice at the fact that Jesus Christ has set us free? Oh, I hope we do. There may be times when we celebrate with a baptism or with our church family, friends, or family members, and that's great; but I would hope that we do that on a regular basis. I think about the writings of the apostle Paul. Many times he wrote about the freedom he enjoyed in Jesus Christ. He wrote, in Romans 1:16 that he is not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God that brings salvation to their lives. In Galatians 2:20 he said, I have been crucified with Christ and it is not I who live but Jesus who lives in me. Then he wrote in 5:1 of Galatians, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free; do not go back to a yoke of slavery." As Christians, we are free in Jesus Christ. And that is something to celebrate and to rejoice about, each and every day that we live in Jesus Christ. I would hope that we do that. Not once a year, not once a month, but on a regular basis that we celebrate our freedom. We claim our independence in Jesus because of what He did for us. Why not take some time to celebrate and to rejoice your freedom in Jesus Christ!
When Christians pass away it's a very difficult time. It's a time of sorrow and sadness. It is a time when we have a void and an emptiness that is there in our heart because we miss our loved one. We want to be reunited with that individual. But yet, for a person who is following Jesus Christ and walking in His footsteps, it is also a time to celebrate. A time to rejoice in the fact that person has gone on to be with the Lord. We celebrate the life they lived here upon this Earth. We celebrate the fact that they were faithful followers of Jesus Christ. In fact, a funeral service for a Christian is a celebration of life as we reflect back but as we also look to what that person is now enjoying, in the presence of the Lord. Oh, even though we celebrate many things in life, even though we celebrate birthdays, and graduations, and anniversaries, and even to some degree the death of our loved ones, there is nothing greater than celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ; understanding there is no peace, and there is no forgiveness, and there is no heaven without what Jesus did for us. Yes, If Jesus did not rise from the dead then we would have no hope. There would be no reason to celebrate anything and we would be left with nothing more than an empty hope, which would be reduced to wishful thinking. Many people have very little to celebrate. Many people have very little to look forward to and upon which to build their lives. However, followers of Jesus Christ have the opportunity to reflect upon what Jesus did and then to celebrate the hope we have when we think about a crucified and resurrected Lord. I want to read one passage of Scripture for us, as we think about the hope that we have in Jesus. It's found in 1st Corinthians 15 beginning with verse 1. For many people this might be a very familiar passage of Scripture written by the apostle Paul; to a group of Christians meeting in the city of Corinth, but yet at the same time written to people like you and me. Listen to what he writes. Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. The apostle Paul writes; out of everything I have shared with you, out of all of my experiences with you in the past, there is one thing I want you to remember. There is one thing that rises above everything else. There is one priority. There is one thing at the top of the list, number 1A, that I want you to remember. And it is, the death, and burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Nothing is more important than that. And in that, we have our hope. I don't know where you are today, but you, or perhaps somebody you know, may be facing some very difficult times. There may be some mountains you are trying to overcome. There may be some trials and some obstacles in your life that seem insurmountable and you are thinking there is no hope for your life. In fact, you may have a big letter of G written over your life, and you feel as if you are hopeless. There is no future for you. There is nothing to which you can hang onto and survive, as you struggle through life. Yes, nothing looks very good when there seems to be no hope. In fact, life may look very unpredictable and uncertain at this time, and living in fear has taken the place of living in hope. But I want you to know today, that does not have to be the case. Because of what Jesus did for you, because of His death, and His burial, and His resurrection, we have a hope. We have a hope that lasts for all eternity, that lasts for a lifetime. I want you to remember something very important today; that when Jesus Christ is in your life you can live with hope in this world. And that may be something you need, more than anything else. If that is the case I would trust that you put your faith and your obedience in Jesus Christ and receive the hope that He is willing to give you today.
Thank you for watching this episode of "Key to the Kingdom". I trust the message about the hope we can have in the Lord encouraged you to find that hope, as you put your faith in God's Son. If we can assist you in your walk with the Lord, or by helping you with a free Bible study, we want to do that. Please go to our website, keytothekingdom.com, and download this or any previous message. It is absolutely free and we want you to have it. Other items, like short inspirational messages, along with 1 minute daily devotional thoughts, are also available. You can even enroll in a Bible study that is sure to be informative and beneficial. Please know we are here to help you in any way. Send us an e-mail or let us know how we can be of assistance. It is our privilege to share these messages and hopefully they bless you in a special way. Please take a few minutes to join us again next time, as we study the Bible on "Key to the Kingdom".