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Summary: The ultimate thing to look forward to - being in the presence of God - are you looking forward to it? You should...

Good morning everyone. This week we've been looking at reasons why you as a Christian can have hope. Remember what hope is? Hang On with Patient Expectation. Why should you hang on with patient expectation when someone you love dies? We talked about that on Monday. It seems like the most hopeless situation in the world - that mom or dad or brother or sister or best friend of yours dies - how can you have hope? It's over, right? Wrong. God tells us how to have hope - believe his Word, when he says that our loved one will eventually rise again from the dead.

How can you hang on with patient expectation when it looks like the world is out of control, when people are in charge that don’t agree with Christianity? When atheism and immorality and materialism are taking over the world, and false religions like Islam and anything except the Bible is growing in popularity - how do you have hope? Hang on with patient expectation - how? We talked about that on Tuesday - God tells us how to have hope - believe his Word, when he says that Jesus really is in control, and will someday reveal himself as the king of heaven and earth when he comes again in all his glory on Judgment Day.

How can you hang on with patient expectation when your life is not going well? When your body isn't what you want it to be? When your mind doesn't work the way you want? When you're not healthy, when you're not smart, when everything is going wrong for you socially, and your grades are bad and your family - life is a mess - how do you hang on with patient expectation? We talked about that yesterday - God tells us how to have hope - believe his Word when he says that someday he will raise you from the dead and change you into perfect - physically perfect, mentally and emotionally perfect, and everything will be perfect for you socially and with your health and with your whole existence, when he raises you and changes you on Judgment Day.

These are three big reasons why you can hang on with patient expectation - you can have hope. Today, we talk about one more. But before we do, let's read one more time that section of the Bible we've been looking at this week, written by God the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul to the Christians called the Thessalonians:

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.

The Bible gives us hundreds of reasons why we can have hope - the one that we are going to focus on today is highlighted by these nine words: "And so we will be with the Lord forever." God wants you to look forward to that.

Now wait a second? I thought that we are already with the Lord Jesus. Doesn't Jesus say, "I am with you always, to the very end of the age"? Don't we always talk about how God is with us and therefore we don’t have to be afraid of anything? It is true that God is with you. He is with you right now, and that is great comfort for us as Christians.

But what God wants us to look forward to that day when we will be with him in a way that we can actually see with our eyes. We can actually look at God and hear his voice and feel his presence. It's really a return to the way things were for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the fall into sin. The Bible describes how God would actually appear to them and go for walks with them in the cool of the day. They could actually see and hear and feel his presence.

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