Summary: Christian believers are encouraged to have hope for this life and the next. Many people in our community live without hope. How about us?

To hope or not to hope: that is the question!

St. Paul is communicating some really important information to the Church and it is information which is important for us today. Indeed, it is information which, if true, will bring hope to thousands upon thousands of people in our country, if we are prepared to share this exciting information with them!

Just in case you are wondering, I do firmly and assuredly believe that this is true! Therefore, I believe it is Good News for all of us who believe and trust in Jesus, and it is Good News for our country, for our town, for our families, and for our friends and neighbours.

1 Thess 1: 14, “Jesus died and rose again.” This is fact! It is not hearsay or speculation. It is fact; and it is the reason for the hope that we have as Christians.

We can probably think of people right now, some of them loved dearly; people who died in the faith of Christ, people who have trusted in Jesus, and are now with us no longer.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, “when God brings Jesus back again, he will bring with him all who had faith in Jesus before they died” (1 Thess 1:14b CEV).

To hope or not to hope: that is the question!

Through our faith in Jesus, we will be with him when we die (4:16), we will be with him when he returns (4:17), and we will be with him for ever (4:17). That is Good News. That is a reason to have hope!

There are many people in our community who live without hope. We do not know when Jesus will return (5:2) but St. Paul encourages us to believe, to be alert and to know that he will indeed return (5:4-6).

“[Jesus] died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him” (5:10).

To be with Jesus now and to be with Jesus forever is a marvellous hope to have! True, when a brother or sister Christian dies we will miss them terribly, but it is only a temporary parting. We do not “grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope” (4:13).

I wonder, when was the last time someone asked you why you are a Christian? When was the last time you were asked to give a reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15)?

At school this week my son Matthew was asked a simple but direct question. It is a question which leads to persecution in many countries around the world depending upon the answer given. A Boy asked Matthew, “Why are you a Christian?”

Other children were craning their necks to listen to the answer! Matthew said, “I’m a Christian because I believe in Jesus. Jesus will always forgive me and he’ll always be with me wherever I go. That’s why I’m a Christian.” I didn’t train Matthew to give that answer. Matthew has a very real hope and a very real faith in Jesus and I praise God that when asked, he was not lost for words!

St. Peter encouraged the church like this: “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect …” (1 Peter 3:15).

To hope or not to hope: My prayer for this church is that we will be a people of hope; a beacon of hope for this local community; that we will be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have. Amen!

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