Do you have hope for what is to come in your life? Think about your past for a moment. Do you have hope with that in mind?
When I was a child, I can remember at least a time or two when my sin and rebellion caused my parents to threaten the loss of presents I was going to be receiving for Christmas or my birthday. Did that ever happen to you? “If you do that again, I’m taking all your presents back!” Empty threat? Perhaps. “If you don’t shape up, you’re getting nothing for Christmas!“
Do you know what never happened, though? Those presents never were returned to the store. I never experienced a Christmas or birthday without gifts. Was this because I truly “shaped up” and behaved well? Definitely not. Sure, perhaps in the moments of the threats I did, but I made plenty of mistakes that would have warranted my parents keeping their “promise.” Instead, though, they showed me grace. They gave me the gifts I really did not deserve.
How much more is this the case with God and His grace?
On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will begin a new sermon series through Ezra and talk about “Reclaimed Hope” (Ezra 1-2). Have you ever considered that we can actually celebrate our past and have resulting hope in the future? Of course, this is not possible with a clear conscience in and of ourselves because we are sinners who have much for which to be ashamed and a devastating future if dependent upon our goodness. When we turn to the Lord for forgiveness and salvation, though, He redeems us from our sins (past, present, and future) and gives us a resulting hope that will never fade away. For that reason, we can celebrate our pasts because, in our pasts, we are reminded of God’s grace and love for us and thus confident in the future to come because of His promises that never fail.
Even more than I never deserved all those gifts from my parents, I do not deserve the gift of eternal life from our perfect God. Yet, just like He kept His promises to undeserving Israel in Ezra’s time, He continues to keep His promises to all who surrender to Him through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.
Do you believe this? Have you surrendered? Are you hopeful and rejoicing in what is to come?