Holding Fast to the Blessed Hope
I just returned from the memorial services for a favorite cousin. Two days ago the newspaper published a lengthy obituary of 8 paragraphs on his life. Besides family information, it described the highlights of his life- accomplishments as an all-star athlete, professional achievements, awards and recognition as an educator and leader in the community, state and at the national level. His exemplary character and life lessons he expoused were extolled by the author of his obit.
BUT the most important paragraph was the first one which was a testimony of who he was- a child of God who had an intimate relationship with God, his Father in Heaven:
(He was) ‘lovingly surrounded by family and friends, and filled with the Holy Spirit’. . . ‘called home to enjoy everlasting life with Jesus Christ in heaven. His family laid hands, and prayed the Lord’s Prayer saying a final aloha, knowing goodness and mercy shall follow him as his spirit lifted to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’
My cousin loved the Lord with his whole heart and knew WHO he was; he knew WHERE he was going when his time on earth was over; and he knew HOW he would receive salvation and eternal life by believing in the name of Jesus. He knew about the BLESSED HOPE and was holding on to it.
‘Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a peruliare people, zealous of good works.’ (Titus 2:12-14)
Hebrews chapter 11 says this about the ‘heroes’ or patriarchs from the Old Testament:
‘These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. . .
‘But now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.‘ (Heb 11:13, 16)
This is our BLESSED HOPE– That because Jesus was resurrected from the dead so we, too, can also HOLD ON TO THE BLESSED HOPE OF OUR RESURRECTION!
‘But I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words‘. (1Thess 4:13-18)
How to Live Forever- The 90 Year Old Man
Many of us occasionally think of our mortality, how long we will live. This is not just about old folks, but for everyone. Accidents, disasters, war, life-threatening sickness and disease can and do strike at any age. So how can we live forever?!
Being retired, Wyman and I would go shopping every Wednesday at the Grocery Outlet supermarket in Honolulu, where food prices were already very good, but an additional 10% discount was given to senior citizens. We would also meet some wonderful people there.
One day in 2006, as Wyman was browsing the shelves, a man alongside of him pointed out a particular bottle of olives, saying “if you eat this, you will live a long time.”
Wyman asked the man, “Yeah, how old are you?” The man answered, “I am 90!” The man looked very healthy like in his 70’s, so Wyman, in skepticism, challenged him saying, “What year where you born?” The man quickly replied, “1916!”
Wyman asked him, “What is your name?“ He replied, “George!“ Then Wyman said, “George, I can tell you how you can be young forever”.
George asked, “HOW!?” Wyman said “Very simple, just change your last name! You would then be George Young forever– you live Young, you die Young, but you would always be Young forever.” Wyman, as a fisher of men for the Lord, Mark 1:17, was witnessing to this 90 year old man and he took the bait!
Then Wyman said to George, “Now, I want to tell you how you can LIVE forever!”
George quickly asked, “HOW?”
Wyman said, “You must accept Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour and you will live forever in heaven!”
Without missing a beat, George responded, “My sister is a Nun in the Catholic church!” probably thinking that would get him into heaven.
Then Wyman told him straightforwardly: “I am not talking about your sister, I am talking to you, how YOU can be saved and live forever. Your sister cannot save you or herself, only Jesus can!”
The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved! C’mon George, let’s pray together and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour right now.”
The 90-year man, right in the middle of the aisle of the big store, prayed with Wyman and accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour! George confessed Jesus with his mouth and believed in his heart that Jesus is alive to save him. Praise God!
The Bible states,
“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” John 3:16.
Wyman never did see George again, and that was six years ago. George may have since died and already gone to heaven!
Folks, there is a heaven to gain, and a hell to shun! Jesus is the only way to heaven because He died for our sins, and because He lives today, we will also be with Him in heaven one day. Any other way to heaven is false and a lie of the Devil, who wants to take as many souls as he can to hell with him!
As for the Honolulu Grocery Outlet, it was shortly closed due to losing their lease. But like George, you can also live forever, too, if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour!
“Dear Jesus, I am a lost sinner. I believe that you died for me. Please forgive me for my sins and come into my heart today. I accept you as my Lord and Savior and with your help, I will live for you. Amen.”
The Bible says when one sinner comes to the Lord, all heaven rejoices:
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Luke 15:10