THE GREATEST HOPE ON EARTH – updated

According to Webster, HOPE means “The feeling that what is wanted can be had”.  A year ago I wrote this blog and it received more hits in a day than any I have written in the past two and a half years.  Since we have just gone through the tenth year of 9/11 I thought we needed to take another look at the importance of HOPE with an update of what was previously written.   This blog has nothing to do with 9/11 except for HOPE. 

All through the New Testament one word stands out and that is hope.  I wonder how many realize how great of a motivator that can be.  I have never watched a Reality TV show.  I have read material and heard reports on TV.  I believe people will do about anything for money, power or fame.  Ask professional athletes how hard they train in order to become their very best.  Many have goals to be the best, earn millions of dollars and enter the “Hall of Fame”.  One thing you will find common in each one of these individuals is their hope and confidence that they can be a winner.  Without confidence and hope they would not spend many hours each day training to perfect their abilities.

Having participated in sports in high school and college I have a very good idea what it takes to excel.  The majority of us were just not willing to pay the price necessary to become all-stars.  After so much practice training is no longer fun and enjoyable, just grueling to the point of exhaustion.  It takes a lot of hours, energy and determination.  Having coached in high school there were very few willing to put in the extra time and effort to get extremely better.  Most young athletes have no long-term plans or goals, just dreams requiring little effort.  They do not understand or are unwilling to train to become a professional.  There was no hope for greater athletic achievements.  Many lack confidence with little or no hope.  As a result they never reach their full potential.

What is it that 90% of Americans hope will happen to them eternally?  They hope they will end up in Heaven. Yet, most are not willing to sacrifice and train as previously discussed.  The apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 9:25 – “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

As people worldwide are going through some very trying economical times the greatest problem that has become apparent is a lack of confidence and hope in government most everywhere.  Government over the past number of years has unconsciously substituted themselves for God.  Scripture says God will meet our need and governments say: “No, they will meet every ones need”.  What governments have promised in the past can no longer be fulfilled. Americans who used to depend on God were deceived into believing the government could do what God had promised.  Therefore, their dependence on God, they thought, was no longer necessary and the Bible, morality and respect became unimportant.  That’s when the morality of the American people slowly degenerated.

Previously people respected each other and their property, plus they had a respect for authority.  Most believed in God and lived understanding the importance of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  They lived helping each other with the hope that shortly things would become much better.  I remember what President Roosevelt said: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  And what I remember, most everyone depended upon each other.  They also knew that God was in control and their confidence and hope was in Him.  What’s different today is people’s hope turned to government and now they have become disillusioned.  My parents and others didn’t get any food stamps, government subsidized health insurance or unemployment compensation going through the 1930s.

I don’t remember how long I had been a Christian until I realized the importance of living with God and Jesus in eternity.  My hope was to be with Christ when He returns to rule the world for those 1000 years.  Another hope was to be in the Lamb’s Book of Life which assured I would be.  I then realized that the Bible teaches God’s grace is all it takes to be in that Book.  However, Scripture kept insisting that I needed more than just accepting.

I Timothy 4:7 – “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”  II Timothy 3:16 & 17 – “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

I was to train myself to be dependent upon God and live a holy life. Being holy meant to be set apart by God doing His services and acting responsibly.  I was to treat people faultlessly and above reproach.  There would come a time I would be with Christ throughout eternity.  I could even receive a crown that would last forever.  Does that mean what I do on earth makes a difference when I get to heaven?  It doesn’t mean I am to work my way to heaven but I am to prepare myself for heaven.  Never did I believe that government had taken the place of God.

My one hope was to be prepared to excel at the next level (Heaven).  I realize that many people are not interested in playing sports regardless of age.  As long as they can sit in the grandstand and watch the players, that is good enough for them.  I want to be a player and a doer.  Then what does that entail?  First, you must learn the rules.  You must exercise and get physically and mentally fit.  In most games you must learn the plays and the game’s strategy.  How well you learn and prepare depends on whether you get cut from the team, sit on the bench or become a starter.  Have you ever watched a person play a game who didn’t know the rules?  I don’t need to be in God’s Hall of Fame but my hope is to make His team.

Why will some Christians become workaholics to earn a living, get a promotion or earn big bucks; yet, spend little time reading their Bibles, studying the Word and preparing themselves for the “next level”?  What is more important, 80 to 90 years on this earth or 1000 years with Christ and longer?  My greatest “hope” is to be able to spend those years with Christ prepared to accept whatever responsibility I am offered.  Apparently what I am willing to do while on this earth will make a differences later on.  At least that is how I interpret the Bible.

Hebrews 6:10 & 11 – “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.”

So where do you place your hope?  Do you worship government or God?  Who do you depend upon, government or God?  Do you live according to God’s rules or the laws and rules government provides?  Who do you think has kept their promises the best?  In the end, and you pass on, which one provides the best chances in eternity?  To date, how would you rate Satan’s job in deceiving people?

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