OUR HOPE IS IN THE LORD'S FORGIVING LOVE
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
28 MARCH 1993
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Corinthians 15:50-58
Now, when I say that our hope is in the Lord's forgiving love, I have to assume something. I have to assume that we all truly believe in the Lord our God, and the reason that Jesus came to Earth as a man, and why He died, and why He rose again.
I also have to assume that we all recognize the fact that we are all sinners, and that we have repented of our sins and desire to live righteous lives before God.
For if we don't believe this, then we are much less likely to admit to our own sins, and even less likely to repent.
Furthermore, if we don't feel the need to repent or change our lives, we will most likely deny our sins, or try to excuse them away, or blame our situations on others, including God Himself.
Thus, with these thoughts in mind, we come to the place where we can begin to understand what the psalmist of Psalm 130 is writing about.
Let's listen again to his words of prayer and wisdom:
1. Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord.
2. Lord, hear my voice!
Let Thine ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.
Can you hear the urgency of his prayers, and the trouble or concern upon his heart?
Something this person has done, or that his people have done, is of great concern to him; and because he fears, or reverences, the Lord, he is bringing his repentant petition before the Lord, seeking His forgiveness.
Listen to what he says in verse 3:
3. If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
Does the Lord mark, or take note of, our sins?
Of course He does!
But does He remember them and hold them against us?
Here we must answer this question with both a "yes" and a "no".
Because the Lord our God will remember all the sins we have committed and not repented of.
But He will also forget about all the sins that have been covered by the Blood of Jesus, because we have received Him into our heart through our faith and repentance.
It's just as the psalmist says,
4. But there is forgiveness with Thee,
That Thou mayest be feared [or reverenced].
If the Lord has the power to forgive our sins and to consider that we never did them, then He also has the power not to forgive and to punish.
Thus, we should have some fear of such power.
But the arrogant of this world don't even acknowledge this fact.
Forgiveness is of the Lord's love, and it is freely given to all who will receive it. But to deny this love, by not acknowledging it, is the same as showing that we don't love God.
And without this love, there can be no hope.
But with love and hope our whole being is comforted.
5. I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope. [says the psalmist]
6. My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
Back in the days of the psalmist, there were no night vision lenses and no electronic listening devices.
The watchmen on the wall of a city had to listen intently and peer into the darkness, looking for signs of movement.
They were responsible for the safety of the city, and if someone wanted to capture the city or break into it, they would first try to kill the watchmen under the cover of darkness, so that their entry would not be detected.
Thus, the watchmen hoped for the swift coming of the morning.
The sin that surrounds our lives is as the darkness of night, and the enemy, the devil, is seeking to destroy us if he can.
Just as the watchmen on the wall hope for morning, so are we to keep our hope in the love of the Lord to protect us from the enemy, and to retrieve us if we slip.
Then the psalmist goes on to pray for the whole nation of Israel to wake up to the forgiving love of the Lord.
7. O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
8. And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.
The Lord did redeem Israel over and over again, and usually for a remnant of true believers.
The reason that Israel, or any other nation, requires redemption is because they had turned away from the Lord their God.
When a nation, or just a group of people, turn from the lovingkindness of the Lord, and desire to keep hardness in their hearts and seek that which is hard and evil, then the Lord allows them to live as they desire, and they, in essence, destroy themselves.
But similarly, when people truly seek the Lord, turn from evil, and seek to live in love and compassion with the whole of creation, then the Lord will give them the desires of their heart, too; and they will be protected, for the most part, or delivered from evil.
Our main problem is that we usually fail to recognize this fact until things have deteriorated.
It isn't that God wants this to occur, for all along the way He has offered us His love and hope, that we would recognize His presence; but in this state of mind, most people reject the very things the Lord has given them.
And it is usually when everything has gone wrong that we call out to the Lord.
In Ezekiel 37, the Lord paints a vision for Ezekiel of dry bones, which represent the state of all who have dried up because of the nation's lack of living in the cleansing and life-giving waters which flow from the love stream of the Lord's heart.
Listen to what the Lord says to Ezekiel in verses 11-14; listen carefully and discern the unfathomable depth of the Lord's forgiving love:
11. Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.'
12. "Therefore prophesy, and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel.
13. "Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people.
14. "And I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it," declares the Lord.' "
This is truly God's redeeming love, but is it for everyone?
In 1948, Israel once again became a nation, and this prophecy was fulfilled, again.
But what about the other dry bones?
They go to two different places.
Note the vision that John saw in Revelation 20:11-15.
11. And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
12. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
14. And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
15. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
God's love and Jesus Christ came to earth for everyone, but His forgiveness was only for those who would receive His coming, and acknowledge His death upon the cross.
But the majority of the world was, and is, like the Israel depicted by the dry bones.
They foolishly convince themselves that they can play with God's holiness, and are not accountable for their actions; for they wrongly believe that God will forgive everyone, regardless of what they do.
Thus, those dry bones end up in the lake of fire.
But other bones dry up because of the evilness of others, and even believers’ bones dry up from old age and death.
1 Corinthians 15:50-58 tells us what happens to them:
50. Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
As we are, here and now, as flesh and blood and bones, we cannot inherit the imperishable heaven. First we must be changed.
51. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52. in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
53. For the perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory.
55. "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"
56. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;
57. but thanks be to God, who gave us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
This is why we can have hope in the Lord's forgiving love.
Each of us knows our self as we really are.
We know if we “play” at church or at religion.
We also know if we are truly sincere in our relationship with the Lord.
And if we are truly sincere, then we are also naturally repentant; and we can and should have hope, for our hope is in the Lord's forgiving love, and we will be with Him forever and ever.
Your Comments are welcome
| Home Page | Sermons Archive |
| Home Page | Animal Issues | Archive | Art and Photos | Articles | Bible | Books | Church and Religion | Discussions | Health | Humor | Letters | Links | Nature Studies | Poetry and Stories | Quotations | Recipes | What's New? |
Thank you for visiting all-creatures.org.