HOPE HAS A NAME

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I love the word Hope. It’s such a powerful word; pregnant with promise. I don’t think people can live without hope. And the God of the universe, the God who created us and knows us so intimately, knew this. He is a God of hope and He longs to fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of His Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to literally overflow with hope?

There was a time in my life when I felt like I had NO HOPE. Even having grown up in a Christian home, and knowing a lot about Jesus, I had never encountered Him in a personal way. I knew my baby faith had something to do with a “personal relationship with Jesus”, I just didn’t quite get the “personal” part. I did not KNOW HOPE.

I believe that there are many people that know a lot about doctrine… maybe even a lot about the man, Jesus, but they don’t really know Him.

And that was me in my early twenties… searching for something to hold on to… something to anchor me as the waves of life buffeted my soul. It was a very dark, fearful time. I searched for hope in relationships.  I searched for hope in a bottle and pills. But the waves of life continued to toss me deeper and deeper into that miry pit of despair.

Have you ever been there? If you have, you know what an unpleasant season it is, and you know that without hope, it’s nearly impossible to keep going.

BUT GOD… the God of Hope… is a relentless pursuer of His children, and He knew how much I needed Hope, and He knows how much YOU need Hope, so He sent Hope down! You see, Hope is a person, and Hope’s name is JESUS.

Just like God sent the beautiful star of Bethlehem to guide the Magi and the shepherds to encounter Jesus, God sent beautiful people into my life to guide me back to Hope.

My heart’s desire became to know Him better.  Yes, to know the reality of His presence within me. I committed to pray Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1 as my own personal prayer.

 “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I may know him better. I pray that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened in order that I may know the hope to which he has called me…

Did you catch what is said? “Know the hope…” Not NO HOPE, but KNOW HOPE!!! Yes, His desire is that we would KNOW HIM, our Hope of glory. (Col. 1:27)

Do you KNOW HIM?

If you do know Him, He may be calling you to know Him in a deeper way. He wants you to KNOW HIM as your HOPE. Scripture says in Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Jesus is the answer to whatever “seemingly hopeless” situation you may find yourself in. Let HOPE ARISE! Let’s Speak Life into our circumstances!

  • If you are feeling weak, hear HOPE declaring, “My grace is sufficient for you; my power is made perfect in your weakness!”
  • If you’re feeling disconnected, hear HOPE calling to you, “ABIDE INTIMATELY in Me, your True Vine. Cling to me for I have chosen you …”
  • If you’re feeling bound in sin, hear HOPE saying, “I AM your DELIVERER! I have come to set you free!”
  • If you are feeling lonely, hear HOPE saying, “I AM your Friend that sticks closer than a brother. I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you!”
  • If you’re feeling unsure… uncertain about life’s path, hear HOPE saying, “I AM your Good Shepherd leading and guiding you along paths of righteousness.”
  • If you are feeling fearful and anxious, hear HOPE saying, “FEAR NOT! My perfect love for you casts out all fear!”
  • If you are feeling sick in your body or mind, hear HOPE saying, “I AM Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals you.

Yes… Hope is a person. His name is JESUS!

Last Sunday we were blessed by an amazing Christmas production at Painesville Assembly. It was all about Hope; JESUS coming down to save us from our sins. Pastor Aaron challenged us to look at the lyrics of the popular Christmas Carol, O Holy Night.

“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn…”

This Christmas season may you rejoice in the fact that Jesus, our Hope, like an anchor for our souls, is holding on to you and longing for you to reach out to Him as He reaches out to you. He came down… for you.

Jenny Gallion

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Easter: There’s Nothing Religious About It

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Message Recap | 4.5.2015
Speaker: Aaron Taylor, Lead Pastor

We’ve all either heard of or witnessed historical events.  I remember early as a young boy the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas Texas.  I was in the 3rd grade but remember that day as if it were yesterday.  I remember watching Apollo 11 land on the moon on July 20, 1969. And I also remember vividly the events of September 11, 2001.  Our lives are literally changed because of events that happen in history.

Today, I share with you another event.  It’s the story of Easter.  The story of Easter is not a religious story, because the story of Easter is about something that happened. The story of Easter is about an event. On Easter, we don’t celebrate a teacher, we don’t celebrate a teaching, we don’t celebrate a religion, we don’t celebrate a philosophy—and maybe this is new information.  On Easter, we celebrate an event that actually happened. We believe a man actually came out of a tomb, which means that Easter is better than religion. Easter goes beyond religion. There’s nothing religious about Easter.

In fact, religion was formed to answer the undeniable and the unexplainable.  Something would happen like the seasons would change.  That’s undeniable, but it was unexplainable as well.  What causes the change of seasons? The weather would change; undeniable, but what causes the weather to change? Crops would grow, crops would die, the locusts would come, and there would be seasons when there were no locusts. It’s undeniable that the locusts came, but why did they come in some seasons? There were some victories. There were some battles where we were victorious and there were some battles where we were defeated.

So, there was all this unexplainable data that would happen in the ancient times, and in the gap between what was undeniable and what was unexplainable religion was born, because religion was an attempt to explain the unexplainable.

But also religion is an attempt to answer the unanswerable, like this: Like, what happens when you die? Will I ever see my loved ones again? What is the purpose of life?  And as humans, we don’t like the answer “nobody knows.”  Some explanations for things happening can be downright goofy.  And the reason we hold onto them is because we simply want an answer.  That’s what drives religion, and that’s why Easter is so un- and non-religious. There’s nothing religious about it, because Easter is not about trying to explain the unexplainable or answer the unanswerable. In fact, Easter happened at a time when first century Jewish people already had answers to the unanswerable and explanations for the unexplainable. They weren’t looking for answers or explanations. And Easter is not an attempt to answer questions or explain anything; Easter is about something that happened. It’s about an event, which means Easter isn’t really religious at all.

Christianity was birthed, not in a movement around someone’s teaching, not in a new answer to questions that people have been asking for generations, Christianity was not birthed because people finally decided we’re going to embrace a different explanation for the unexplainable. There’s none of that associated with the birth of Christianity.  Christianity was born the day something happened in history on the earth, in a city you can visit today. The resurrection of Jesus was an actual event!  And it is proven in Scripture.  It is found in the Book of Acts beginning in chapter 3 and continuing in chapter 4.

If you want to learn more about the event called Easter and how There’s Nothing Religious About It, listen to our podcast at http://painesvilleag.com/Easter for the complete message.

Friend, Easter has nothing to do with religion.  Easter is not a religious story because the story of Easter is about something that actually happened.  The story of Easter is about an event.  We believe a man actually came out of a tomb, which means that Easter is better than religion.  We celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ; the event that changed everything.  This week, spend some time in the Bible studying the Book of Acts, chapters 3 and 4 and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the real truth about why we celebrate Easter.

Lead Blogger,
George Leonhardt