Two of my granddaughters, independent of each other, answered my question to them as to what I should write this week with almost exactly the same words! “Mamaw, just say, ‘I just hope 2021 will be better than 2020’! Then period. That’s all.”
What brings the hope that we need? The Bible has a lot to say about hope, such as Colossians 1:28, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” As sinners, we all “fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. Receiving His salvation, when He actually comes to reside in us, gives hope for everything good, even a better 2021.
I keep thinking of Hebrews 12:2, which admonishes, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Let’s look to Jesus. I’ve been told a good newspaper story would answer the questions who, what, when, where, why and how.
Who is Jesus? The angel said He would be called Immanuel, meaning God with us. Some would say He never claimed to be the Son of God. That is such a bald-faced lie! I have marked several places in my Bible in the gospels that record His words when He told the disciples or others that He was the Son of God, calling God Father. In fact, that was why He was crucified, as the religious leaders said He was expressing blasphemy by saying that His Father was God, that He came from God and was going back to God.
As the Son of God, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…” Hebrews 1:3. In other words, when we look at Jesus, we see God the Father. Without even going to a lot of verses, we can affirm that that means Jesus is love, compassion, righteousness, mercy, grace, giver of everything good!
But to give one passage of great hope, Jesus promised in Luke 11:9-13, “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth and to him to knocketh it shall be opened…If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” Jesus loved us so much, He gave us His Holy Spirit.
What was His message while He was here? Mark 1:14-15 records it. “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
When are we to repent and believe the gospel, or good news. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2. Jesus is the Light of the world, but people sometimes choose to love darkness instead of light. Jesus was amazed at the people’s unbelief, and He spoke of the hardness of their hearts. We are facing some very difficult days, then comes death, the judgment, and eternity. Jesus Himself promised in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Where? There was a hymn that was sung at least a million times during the twentieth century, especially at Billy Graham crusades, but also in countless churches. The hymn “Just As I Am,” tells the sinner to come to God just as he is, without trying to clean himself up or any such thing. That also implies that you can come to God for salvation anywhere. It does not have to be in church.
Why? Why should we turn to Jesus for salvation? We are hopeless and helpless without Him. We cannot save ourselves from sin, death, and hell. Jesus promised to make us to be new creations, with new hearts, hearts that would desire God and His life-giving commandments.
The last word, how, has already been answered above concerning how to be saved, which results in a life of “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” as we seek God first, His kingdom and His righteousness. (Romans 14:17 and Matthew 6:33) The question that is on everyone’s minds now is how to have hope in 2021, as we are all so concerned about the pandemic and the situation in our country.
I think of the passage in Psalm 42:11, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” Or, I Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” And from John 14:1, where Jesus said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me.”
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10. A strong tower with which God has blessed me throughout this last year is Psalm 91. I will end this message, which I hope brings hope to some, with a few verses from that Psalm. It has brought not just hope but faith and miracles to many who have clung to its promises.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God; in whom I trust. Surely, He will save you from the fowler’s snare, and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday… (vv. 1-6)
“‘He loves Me’, says the Lord, ‘I will rescue Him; I will protect him, for He acknowledges My name. He will call on Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation.’” (vv. 14-16)
Live for Jesus! He is coming soon! You may contact me at lagnesrussell@gmail or 601-635-3282.