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Easter Series Sermon 2 ~ Easter Sunday
~Where Does Your Hope Come From?~
Tyson Graber, Herscher Christian Church 
April 24, 2011
Hebrews 9:26-27

Where does your hope come from?  That is the question for each of us to explore this Easter.

When it is all said and done, what are you counting on in life?

The past few weeks has been very exciting as we have looked forward and prepared to being together here today to celebrate the hope we have in Jesus because He is alive!

But I have noticed as we live our lives, if we aren’t careful we find ourselves at times placing our hope in things other than Christ.  Too often we try to find security and hope for the future in things of this world.  If you are like me, at times you can get caught up in the hope of trying to hold onto stuff.

The Hope of  ‘Stuff'

Deep down inside of me I have a problem.  I inherited this issue from both of my grandfathers.  You see they both enjoyed stuff.

I have a friend who is getting ready for a big move who’s getting rid of everything to start all over.  So, he’s getting rid of all his ‘stuff.’  I looked over all the things he’s trying to sell, and after the past few winters, I decided the thing he had that I could use best would be a snow blower.  So I discussed it with Tiffani.

Now Tiffani has had to put her foot down with my past time of collecting ‘stuff’ because it was starting to get out of hand.  She’s a very basic personality, and likes to keep things simple, without a lot of clutter.... So when I said I wanted to buy my friend’s snow blower, her eyebrows went up at first mention. But I convinced her this was a good idea, and she agreed. 

So I went out to the garage and picked up a handful of bungee cords, and she asked, “Tyson, what do you need all those cords for?”  I said, “Its just in case I find something else I might need.....” “TYSON!!!!”

Stuff can be good. The problem is, once we get a hold of it we often hold onto it too tightly.

I had to appear in court recently as a character witness.  The first day I passed through the security, I learned what the scanner was all about. I took all the stuff out of my pockets and walked through the scanner setting the alarm off. The guard suggested I remove my belt.  I did, and tried again, setting the alarm off again.  “Oh,” he said, “it must be your shoes.”  So I took them off and passed through without tripping the alarm.

The second day, I was all prepared, I knew what to do (and what to wear), so passed through on the first try.  But while I was waiting to be called to testify, “a very important person” (I will not say whom) came in and was ordered to unload his pockets and pass through the scanner. Instead of obeying the order, he pulled some kind of ID from his pocket and flashed it at the guard.  The guard repeated his order.  This “important person” said indignantly, “But, you don’t seem to know who I am... I am ____.”  The guard replied, “I really don’t care who you are, empty your pockets and step through the machine!”

The man angrily emptied his pockets of all his stuff, and stepped into the machine setting off the alarm.  He tried again after removing his belt, and set it off again.  “It’s probably the shoes,” the guard said.  So he removed his shoes, showing his extreme irritation, but this time passed through the scanner without setting off the alarm.

Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to try to get by with doing as little as possible to get the job done.

Some of us try and strap down too much stuff in life that offers no real hope.
Some of us try to get through to where we are going by doing the minium required, and if we are not careful, we may miss the one and only true hope ... in Jesus Christ.

What is that the core of these problems?

I believe its one of the simple downfall of the human nature.  Most of us, at one point or another, begin to focus on this life more than the next.

One thing I am compelled to share of the utmost importance from God’s word this morning is this; one day, this life on earth will be over for each of us.  Every single one of our lives will come to an end here on earth..., but that is not the end!  Amen!?!

When your time on earth is done, that is not the end!

There will be a day when our earthly body and our spirit separate and there will either be death forever - apart from God, or life forever with God, and Resurrection Sunday has everything to do with that.

Hebrews 9:26-27

Christ appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.

Your eternal life is not based on what you get strapped down or what you hold onto in this world.  Your eternal destination is tied only to where you place your hope, and that must be in the Resurrection of the dead through Jesus Christ.  So let me ask you?  When it is all said and done and this life is over ...,

Where are You Looking for Hope to get to Heaven?

Are you trying to pack and tie down too much stuff from this world? (Packing too much in?)

Are you unwilling to let some things go that are holding you back? (Not willing to let it go?)

Many have said there are only two types of people in life; those that are hopeful and those that are hopeless.

You either have a hope or you don’t.  That is probably not accurate as we consider looking towards heaven.  I would put it more this way; “There are those that are hopeful and there are those that are wishful when it comes to heaven,” and there is a big difference between the two.

There are those that are hopeful about heaven. They believe in Jesus, they know He died for their sins, they have accepted Him as their savior, they have been baptized and believe in Him and Him alone for their salvation,  and they are full of Hope... especially in light of Easter.

But then there are so many that are not what I would call hopeless, but probably more appropriately called wishful thinkers when it comes to heaven.

These are the people that are less than hopeful or confident about what Christ has done for them, but are comfortable with wishful thinking concerning heaven.  They often have the wishful thinking that they have been good enough to go to heaven, or at least they would think that they haven’t been bad enough to go to hell.

Hear this, to be hopeful about heaven, our trust must be in what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, not what we’ve done or haven’t done.

Think about it this way.  True hope in Christ is built on the deep conviction that Jesus loved you enough to die on the cross for your sins, and came back to life as the victor over sin and death, while wishful thinking is built on what we want.

The conviction that Jesus did what He said he was going to do, He was crucified on the cross for our sins, and arose from the grave three days later.  This  is what Easter is all about.  Its the same conviction that gives us the hope that we to will one day be raised from the dead and live in Heaven with Him.

Make no mistake, the main conviction that you and I must have is about this day.  What is today .., Easter,  all about? 

The hope of Easter is not about celebrating that the grass is getting green and growing.  Its not about finding some colored eggs. Its not even about eating a special meal with family and friends.    The Hope of Easter is the resurrection of Jesus Christ

Our hope and all that we believe hinges on the fact that we believe and are celebrating today that Jesus came back from the dead and He is Alive today!

It is all about Jesus raised from the dead and alive today.

Read Acts 2:22-24 and Acts 2:36

This changes things.  People are saved through this knowledge.  I pray you have been changed.

Then, the people on this day said,

Acts 2:37-41  

In the Bible, we see that through Jesus many things were changed. People were changed based on the power of the Resurrection. But as time when on, some from the church who had not actually seen Jesus raised from the dead did not have a good or full understanding of the hope of the resurrection. 

Some thought they had missed it.   Others began to believe it wasn’t possible.  But Paul goes onto say, ‘if you think it isn’t possible, if you don’t believe in the resurrection from the dead, then we are really in bad shape, all that we are doing is pointless.’

Look what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:19

In other words Paul is saying if this isn’t true, if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead if He was just a nice guy with great teachings, who had a compassionate heart, like many make Him out to be today ..., if that is who Jesus was, then He was lying the whole time; He isn’t God.  Paul says if we have missed this one, if we are wrong, then everyone needs to feel sorry for us because we are fools and we have wasted so much effort, we have wasted our lives.

But do you realize that all of the disciples who were with Jesus and saw what happened to Him on the cross, and saw Him raised from the dead, except for John, who we understand died in prison because of Jesus, all of them died a martyrs death. 

Do you get that?  Those that really knew Jesus, those that saw Him live and knew He was dead and were blessed by Him after He was raised from the dead were willing to die for Him.

Why?  Because they knew they had the hope in Christ that they too would live even if they should die.

Paul, who was tortured as much or more than most early Christians, put it this way:  

Philippians 1:20-22

20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!

Paul and many of these first followers of Jesus believed in the resurrection from the dead so much they were willing to go through great pain, even being willing to die for the sake of Christ.

Sure, many people have died for a lie, but not if they know it is a lie.  These men knew the truth, they lived the truth, and they were willing to die for the truth and what they believed. 

You see a true hope in Jesus will lead us to not fear death, but look with hope towards Heaven.

Its up to you.  You have to choose.  Will you choose hope in Christ.., or will you choose to have it your way?

Will you choose to try and strap down what you can in the wishful thinking that you have done enough, or will you place your hope in Jesus?

Will you choose to hold onto your past and just expect to pass into heaven, or will you place your hope for heaven in Jesus?

The choice is yours, to believe in the one God sent to die for you and be raise from the dead.

Do you believe?  Will you place your hope in Him?

Hope will change your life!

Marriage, family, job, attitude, even during a difficult times, I have seen first hand how hope makes the difference in all these, even as we face death.

Recently, I witnessed the Elbert and Gross families have life giving hope in the midst of tragedy and death through the hope of Jesus with the loss of their family members Dave and Mary.  This past year, many of you have witnessed Brenda Leiser and her boys push on with tremendous hope through the name of Jesus, in light of the hurt of missing Eric, one of the most respectable friends I have ever met.

I would like to thank both the Elberts and the Leisers because you have been inspirational to me and many others this year as you have lived a life of hope in Christ with great constancy, even as you have faced tremendous trials.

God has made us to live our best when we are living in hope.  We are at our best when we are full of hope and trusting in Him.

I think that is one of the reasons I enjoy my son Declan so much right now.  He is our 5 year old who just believes he can conqueror anything that comes his way.  He is fearless. 

[Show picture of the jump]

I was working with our oldest son, Dawson, on his batting, and was pitching to him so he could practice really hitting a thrown ball to get him used to timing his swing on a fast ball.  So I was zinging them in to him. 

After a while Dawson took a break and Declan picked up the bat.  Declan has been doing T-ball, so I started him out by lobbing in some underhand pitches.  He just put the end of the bat on the ground and said, “Da-ad, Faster!  Like Dawson.”  He wanted to hit like his older brother with his big bat and the hard baseball with me throwing over handed from the normal distance.

So I threw some regular pitches to him, and he’d swing and miss. “Don’t worry, Dad, I’ll get it!”  So, I threw three more... “Don’t worry, Dad, I’ll hit it!”  Finally, he wore himself out.  He looked at me with a determined epression and said, “Don’t worry, Dad, I’ll hit it ... tomorrow..” 

I love that about Declan.  He has this hope, this understanding that he will one day get it, no matter what that “it” may be. 

In much the same way, I desire for each of us to have a similar hope.  I pray that through your hope in Jesus, that those that believe in Him, no matter how rotten today or tomorrow may seem to get, you have the hope that ... when this life is over we are headed to heaven to be with Jesus because we have been united with Him.

Its not because of all the things you have bungee strapped to your life, not because you snuck through carrying all that junk you were supposed to leave behind, but its because you trusted in Jesus to take away your sins through His sacrifice on the cross, and you have believed with all your heart God raised Him from the died and because your hope is in Him you will one day be in heaven.

The hope we have started on that old rugged cross, and can be celebrated because on that first Easter morning the tomb was empty!

Maybe, today, you want to claim that hope in Jesus?

Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-15

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Jesus goes onto explain about this gate in John 10.  He was the only way.  I am the only way to the father.

John 10:7-10

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

You see,  Jesus desires to bring each of us into heaven, but you must understand we have sinned. We have broken God’s heart, and we must come to God through the blood of Jesus.

We must believe in Christ; we must repent from our sins; we must confess that Jesus is our savior;  we must make clear in our hearts and in our minds that Jesus is the way. 

We must put in a plea of guilty before God, and allow Jesus to make us clean.  We must go through that door of being united with Him in both death and resurrection, and this is done through baptism.

 Romans 6:4-10

We were buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

Can you see it?  When we are united with Christ into death we are also united with him in resurrection!  We are united with Him into life!

At this point we must stop trying to grab all the junk the world offers.  We must let go of our sin, and we must place our hope firmly on Jesus alone for life in Heaven.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;

Our hope is based on our faith in Jesus, on what He has done and on what we believe He will do in the future!

The choice is up to you!

Will you choose to trust Him today?
Will you acknowledge your need for Him?
Will you accept His forgiveness?

Will you stop trying to get by doing the minimum required?
Will you stop trying to grab all that the world has to offer?

Will you -  today -  place your hope only in the truth of Jesus Christ, crucified, buried and risen from the dead?

Healer (I believe you’re my healer, you are all I need.  You’re my portion, you’re more than enough, Jesus you’re all I need.)