Hope: It Will Carry Us Through

Reading Time: 5 minutes

As Christians, we have hope.  It’s beautiful and gives us something to live for.  As humans, however, we tend to forget what hope really means. The life we live right now will not last forever.  Today will pass, tomorrow will arrive, and eventually our earthly lives will end and eternity with Christ will begin.  The key to understanding hope, however, is knowing that hope will carry us throughout those passing days.

hope

I was looking through the 2014 guest lineup for YC Newfoundland and realized I didn’t have The  Afters’ newest album.  After buying it, I realized I was missing out on a number of fantastic songs.  One song that really hit home is called “This Life”[i].  If you haven’t already heard it, or want to listen to it again, feel free to listen to it here:[ii]

This life is full of unknowns, excitement, pain, joy, hurt, happiness and everything in between. Everything from childhood to old age is full of these ongoing moments.  The only thing we have to remember: “this won’t last forever.”

I’m a proud dad of a beautiful 7 month old daughter.  There have been nights, however, when I’ve repeated “this won’t last forever” to calm my tired eyes.  There have also been nights when that phrase has reminded me that she won’t be a baby forever – she’s growing up.  As Gretchen Rubin once said, “the days are long, but the years are short.”[iii]

So as I listened to the song, the challenge of the chorus and bridge became so real to me.

Life is temporary.

One of my favorite lines in this song is, “we can’t keep it, or save it for another time.”  Although many of us would like the concept, life isn’t made up of a series of moments we can pause, fast-forward or rewind.  We can’t save joyful  moments for later time, or blow past painful experiences to get it over with. We have to live each moment as they arrive.  We prioritize.  We make choices.  We live in those moments.  The hope, however, is knowing that life’s moments are temporary and that our eternal glory is far greater than any suffering on this earth.   Paul wrote:

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Rom 8:18)

Love is our legacy.

Culture wants to define a “full life” by the number of years we live, the number of successes we have, or perhaps the amount of influence we attain.  Scripture has a different message, and this song describes it so well: “how we love is what will last.”  People will remember us for who we were before they will remember what we did.  Out of the love we are known for, we are connected to the hope we have in Christ. How we love each other shows others our love for God, and our love for God and  God’s love for us indefinitely connects us together.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble of hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness of danger or sword? …No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:35, 37-39)

Hope is our energy.

We don’t have to live this life alone.  There are times when friends and family can help during difficult times.  There are other times, however, that the only help we have is our HOPE.  A hope in Christ.  A hope knowing that nothing can separate us from God’s love.  A hope that knows that God has his loving hand on every part of our lives.  “This hope we know will carry us through.”

“For in this hope we were saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently…And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:24-25, 28)

The hope that we have will carry us through this temporary life with enough energy to face tomorrow, enough love to leave behind, and give us an endless joy in eternity.


If you enjoyed this post and would like to support the author, you can donate securely through PayPal here:
[paypal-donation]

[i] Jason Ingram, “This Life,” SongLyrics, http://www.songlyrics.com/the-afters/this-life-lyrics/.  (All song references in this post are taken from this source.)

[ii] The Afters, “This Life,” written by Jason Ingram, YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLhu-T8OBEA.

[iii] Gretchen Rubin, “The Years Are Short,” YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KktuoQwb3vQ.

What Fire Can’t Destroy (Mk 10:17-31)

Reading Time: 5 minutes

This is Love, Part 1 – Mark 10:17-31

This is part 1 from YC This Is Love Series (thisisloveseries.com).  I’ve included some more info on this blog post.  Hopefully it is helpful.  If you have questions or want to comment with some more ideas, feel free to comment below!

 

Key Verse:

“‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’ And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God.  For all things are possible with God.‘” – Mark 10:25-27, ESV.

Description:

Teenagers have more disposable income than any other age group.  Unfortunately, the decisions teenagers make about obtaining possessions are life-impacting.  This lesson will explore Jesus’ response to a young man who wouldn’t give up his possessions to follow Him.

Opener:

Mark wrote around the time of Emperor Nero’s reign, and was, in part, responding to Nero’s persecution of Christians. In the summer of A.D. 64 Rome was devastated by a fire that destroyed 70% of the city, resulting in many becoming homeless and poor.  If your house was on fire and you could save 3 things, what would they be? (Remember answers or write them down)

Fire In Rome:

The fire in Rome in 64 was devastating.  To give a small picture, it damaged eleven of Rome’s fourteen regions. At first, Nero was blamed because he took much of the damage land and built his Golden House.  As time progressed, he tried to push the cause of the fire on the Christians in an effort to bring down the new growing group.  Fortunately it didn’t really work and many took pity on the Christians for the horrible tortures inflicted on them.  By 66 Nero regained public favour, and unknowingly gave Christianity fuel for growth as Christian martyrs (like Peter) gave the movement strength to propagate the gospel.[i]

Key Points:

1. We’re all on a journey – Mark sets up this story by first talking about a couple dealing with divorce (Mk 10:1-12), then about the importance of Kids (Mk 13:16), and now a young man concerning possessions.

Life brings all of us on so many journeys.  No matter what your age, you’re moving through these journeys.  Along the way, we make choices and decisions that impact the next journey ahead of us.  The question is, will we allow God to be at the centre or our human desires?

2. We naturally want stuff – The young man had lots of possessions, and they weighed more important than following Jesus (Mk 10:22). Even the disciples were double checking with Jesus on their actions (Mk 10:24, 26, 28).

If we have money, the first thing we think about is, “what am I’m I going to buy…how am I going to spend it…what am I saving up for?…”  It’s human nature to think this way.  Now, don’t get me wrong, having stuff isn’t necessarily the issue, but the question remains – what does God desire from us.

3. We are called to be like Jesus – Jesus came to serve, not to be served.  We not only obey, but serve those around us.  Possessions become a tool to serve, rather than to be served.  If Jesus is our priority, then possessions don’t rule our reality.

This is most counter-cultural concept in Christianity.  In our world, how much you make, how many cool toys you have, how many pairs of shoes you have, what kind of car you drive, all define who you are.  In eternity, our relationship with God defines us.  Will you allow yourself to be like Jesus.

4. It’s impossible without God – The young man couldn’t do it.  Jesus admits it’s impossible with man, but possible with God (Mk 10:25, 27). Transformation doesn’t come easy, but God can do anything.  It starts with us becoming less, and God’s eternal values becoming more.  How is it possible? (Mk 10:32-34).

Through the cross, what was impossible with us alone becomes possible with God.  How powerful is that?  Our human desires will stop us every time, but because of the cross, what defines us can change.  Will you let the transformation begin?

Application:

With God’s help, our human desire for material things can be transformed into eternal ministry. It’s a mind change that affects our heart.  When we put God first, then love will control how we use our possessions.  This change becomes what we value, and it will last forever.  Possessions will eventually be lost.  Early Christians knew their faith would continue, but Nero took everything else.  What do we value?

Small Group Guide:

The possessions controlled the Young Man.  God is calling us to control the possessions he has blessed us with.

  • Why do possessions control us?
  • Do possessions make you happy? Why or why not?
  • Think about the 3 items you said you would try to save from a fire.
    • Are these items controlling you?
    • What makes them special?

Activity:

Here are some activities you can do or encourage in your group (Make sure students chat with their parents before giving away things they own):

  • “Closet Clearout” – go through your closet/dresser, remove all the clothes you haven’t worn in a while and give them to a good-will charity.
  • “Gaming Give-a-Way” – go through gaming stuff/favorite pass-time, and select something to give to charity or someone who couldn’t afford it.
  • “Fast Food Friday” – every time you buy fast food on Friday, donate the same amount of money to your local food bank.
  • Do you have more ideas? Share them with us by commenting below!!

 


[i] Boatwright, Mary T., Daniel J. Gargola, and Richard J. A. Talbert. The Romans From Village to Empire. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 333-334, 349.

Quiet Moments – Zephaniah’s Impact

Reading Time: 3 minutes

This past Thanksgiving weekend, over 2000 teenagers and young adults joined together in Mile One Stadium in St. John’s, Newfoundland to do one thing – Surrender to the one true God!  Not only was the weekend filled with worship, popular Christian bands, keynote speakers, and break-out sessions; YC 2012 was a conference of many quiet moments.  With a theme like Surrender, such moments just made sense.

The quite moments…

Friday night ended in a quiet moment.  After Mike Pilavachi spoke on Zephaniah 3:17, he made the call to Surrender their lives to God.  Instantly, over fifty people responded with another fifty or more to join them as the night progressed.  People, some for the first time, started to really experience the words of Zephaniah…

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.  (Zephaniah 3:17, ESV)

Saturday night ended in quiet moment.  After Matt Maher led the YC registrants into a beautiful quiet moment of worship, the Spirit naturally continued to work in many lives.  As people started to respond accordingly, Mike Pilavachi embraced God’s plan for the night and proceeded to help bring facilitation and order.  There was a beautiful sense of God’s presence in the stadium.  In many cases, God truly spoke to individuals in ways they have never experienced before.  Some were experiencing the words of Zephaniah on a whole new level.

Sunday was no different.  Leeland closed the conference with a concert of worship.  While offering up some of their best material, Leeland took a minute to share salvation.  He shared Zephaniah 3:17 and offered a chance to repeat a prayer of repentance.  The afternoon was filled with: a call to serve the one true God; a story of love; and, a purpose for ministry.

God is at work…

You might be thinking, “This is a simple to pull off…all you have to do, is plan for a theme like Surrender, and schedule ‘quiet moments’ along the way.”  This might be true; however, many of these moments actually happened outside of the planned schedule.  The YC planning committee works hard every year to schedule a great weekend.  That said, they always pray that God’s will is accomplished no matter how much planning occurs prior to the event.  God’s authority is evident through the numerous unplanned powerful quiet moments of Surrender throughout the weekend.

The Words of Zephaniah…

It’s amazing how the words of Zephaniah rang true throughout the whole weekend!  From Friday night to Sunday afternoon, God’s promise of salvation, encouragement, love, and joy became the source of the quiet moments of Surrender.