Summary: A sermon about hope.
"The Love that will Not Let Us Go"
One of the questions which has plagued humankind from the beginning and remains a burden on the back of those who see little meaning to this life is: "Where did we come from, where are we going and why?"
There can be no doubt that we live in a world where there is great evil and injustice.
As soon as one war ends another war begins.
Many folks, rich and poor, dread having to get out of bed in the morning.
Some are burned out by the rat race and the continual fight for the top which causes their blood pressure to rise, and their bellies to bulge due to too much time spent in front of a computer and too little time spent exercising and enjoying life.
Others fear another day at the factory or the store, where a boss might mistreat them, or customers are sure to complain.
Some have aching backs and arthritis, but must trudge on just the same...
...otherwise who will pay the never-ending onslaught of bills?
Who will put food on the table?
Who will keep the family from being thrown onto the street?
Some are lonely.
Others are caught in abusive relationships.
Some run for the bottle for some kind of escape or relief--only to wake up the next morning in a much more difficult spot than they were in the day before.
Others just fall into a depression, or check out, drop out, give up.
Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu, a strong opponent of apartheid in South Africa, was once asked, "After all you've seen and endured, are you really as optimistic as you appear?"
Tutu replied, "I'm not optimistic, no. I'm quite different.
I am a prisoner of hope."
Are you a prisoner of hope?
Has God's love in Christ Jesus taken you captive to the degree where you can declare, along with the Apostle Paul, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
And are you convinced that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate [you] from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord"?
This life is difficult.
There are many miseries.
And though sadness tries to overcome us.
And though temptations seek to ruin us.
And though Satan seeks to deceive us.
Jesus has the first Word and Jesus has the final Word!!!
For Christ is the Love that will not let us go!!!
In our Scripture passage for this morning, God has given John a Revelation through Jesus Christ.
"Grace and peace to you from the one who is and was and is coming..."
This is a rich, hope-filled message from the God Who reigns now, even though the world's circumstances might suggest otherwise.
A Christian writer wrote, "One sleepy Sunday afternoon when my son was five-years-old, we drove past a cemetery together.
Noticing a large pile of dirt beside a newly excavated grave, he pointed and said: "Look, Dad, one got out!"
The author added, "I laughed, but now, every time I pass a graveyard, I'm reminded of the One Who got out."
And because Jesus Christ escaped the sting of death, we can live in confidence that God is fully in control and fully able to defeat any foe which seeks to do us in.
God is "the one who is."
As Revelation testifies, Jesus Christ is "the faithful witness, firstborn from among the dead, and ruler of the kings of the earth."
What does it mean that Jesus Christ is "the faithful witness"?
It means that Jesus Christ came to this earth as God-made-flesh.
He lived and moved among us, as our model of sacrificial service and perfect love.
Although He was tempted in every way we are--and far beyond--He never gave in.
He witnessed to the world the goodness, the power and love of God.
He proved that true strength is found in humility.
True humanity is expressed through service.
And since the word for "witness" is also the word used for "martyr" Jesus proved, the full extent God's love for us, for while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!!!
He took our sins upon His sinless self, died the death we deserve...
...but because the wages of sin is death, and Jesus was without sin--He overcame death and won the victory!!!
So that whosoever shall believe in His name shall not perish, but will have everlasting life!!!
Jesus Christ is "the faithful witness," and Jesus Christ is "the first born from among the dead."
And because Jesus defeated death, through His victory and His victory alone, we who believe, shall defeat death as well.