LEE STROBEL: HOPE IN EVIDENCE

Lee Strobel is a Christian who is impacting our world as a best-selling author of award-winning Christian books. He once held a position as award-winning legal editor at The Chicago Tribune — and a personal position as an atheist.

A miracle occurred when he used his investigative journalism skills and legal knowledge attempting to disprove Jesus as the Son of God. The miraculous result of his efforts lead Strobel to become a Christian and a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Why did his research lead him to such a life-changing decision?

“In short, I didn’t become a Christian because God promised I would have an even happier life than I had as an atheist. He never promised any such thing. Indeed, following him would inevitably bring divine demotions in the eyes of the world.

Rather, I became a Christian because the evidence was so compelling that Jesus really is the one-and-only Son of God who proved his divinity by rising from the dead. That meant following him was the most rational and logical step I could possibly take.”  (Lee Strobel)

Lee Strobel is the bestselling author of The Case for Christ, The Case for Christ Devotional, The Case for Christianity Answer book, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator, and The Case for Grace, The Case for Miracles, The Case for HOPE, and more.

He holds degrees that include a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale. His awards include four Gold Medallions for publishing excellence. He is co-author of the Christian Book of the Year. Strobel is Professor of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University.

Visit his website @ leestrobel.com and learn more.

Strobel’s personal experience may cause you to re-evaluate your faith (or lack of). If you will look honestly at the evidence, I believe you’ll come to the same conclusion of Truth and Hope. Consider yourself challenged!

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for me with all your heart.”        (Jeremiah 29:13)

 

RESURRECTION SONG: DAWNING of HOPE

In Christendom there is a common Easter greeting, “He is risen!” with the reply, “He is risen indeed!” Today I want to say, “He is risen!” and share the hopeful lyrics of Stuart Townend’s Resurrection Song.

“See what a morning, gloriously bright
With the dawning of hope in Jerusalem;
Folded the grave-clothes,
Tomb filled with light,
As the angels announce Christ is risen!
See God’s salvation plan, wrought in love,
Borne in pain, paid in sacrifice,
Fulfilled in Christ the Man for He lives,
Christ is risen from the dead!

See Mary weeping: ‘Where is He laid?’
As in sorrow she turns from the empty tomb;
Hears a voice speaking, calling her name:
It’s the Master, the Lord raised to life again!
The voice that spans the years,
Speaking life, stirring hope,
Bringing peace to us,
Will sound till He appears,
For He lives; Christ is risen from the dead!

One with the Father, Ancient of Days,
Through the Spirit,
Who clothes faith with certainty,
Honor and blessing, glory and praise
To the King crowned
With power and authority!
And we are raised with Him;
Death is dead, love has won,
Christ has conquered;
And we shall reign with Him,
For He lives; Christ is risen from the dead!”

(Stuart Townend)

He is risen indeed!

JESUS ‘ WORDS ON THE CROSS: LAST WORDS GIVE HOPE

Easter Day (sometimes called Resurrection Sunday) is a holy day that celebrates the fact that Jesus Christ arose from the dead and lives today in the hearts of Christian believers around the world.

Today’s blog post features the words spoken by Jesus as He was on the cross of crucifixion. His words are given in the New Testament gospels.

Thankfully His death and burial were not the end of the story. Easter followed, and a risen Savior lives!

FORGIVENESS BRINGS HOPE

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” (Jesus on cross)

As he suffered the greatest agony and pain while on the cross, Jesus forgave the very ones who were causing his suffering. I don’t mean only the soldiers instructed to carry out the execution orders. I mean those for whom he died. It was my sins and yours that caused Him to lay down His life. We caused His ultimate sacrifice and death.

Thank God His love and mercy were great enough to lead to Jesus’ willingness to die for us. Thank God His power and might were strong enough to conquer death as shown by Jesus’ resurrection. This amazing power over death indicates what He will do for us if we are His. We will live forever with Him, because we are completely forgiven.

This forgiveness brings hope to hearts of those of us who are born again… those of us who will live forever with Him!

HOPE FOR PARADISE

“Today you will be with Me in paradise.” (Jesus on the cross)

These words were directed to one of two thieves being crucified. He was a sinner condemned to death.

During his final hours or moments this one thief expressed words from a repentant heart by admitting his own sin. He showed faith in Jesus by asking Him to remember him in God’s kingdom.

What a blessing to hear Jesus’ reply! What peace to face death with the personal promise of Jesus! The thief went from dread of hell to hope for paradise based on a promise of the Lord of Lords and King of Kings!

Jesus was the Savior of the world, and now Jesus was this man’s own personal Savior reassuring him of life to come after death. How this great hope must have filled his heart!

When death comes, we choose in advance whether we’ll face it alone or whether we can have a sure hope that we will be with Jesus in paradise.

Just like that thief we are guilty, and also like him we need a Savior. Like him when we express faith in Jesus we will receive Jesus’ promise of eternal life. These words of promise by Jesus can bring hope for paradise and peace in our hearts no matter how close we are to death’s door.

HOPE  DURING SORROW

“Behold your son; behold your mother.” (Jesus on the cross)

These words demonstrate Jesus’ deep compassion for His beloved mother, Mary, and John, His beloved friend and disciple.

During a horrific crucifixion Jesus chose to show compassion to two humans He likely loved more deeply than any others. These were possibly the two strongest human relationships He had on earth.

Jesus’ words came from His heart of pure love, a deep feeling of responsibility for others, and an understanding and vision for their future. They both would gain from this new relationship during Jesus’ physical absence.

God has a plan for each of us just as He had a plan for Mary and John. Nothing could stop Jesus from caring for them nor expressing His compassion toward them. That surely gave them hope to hold onto in the midst of deep sorrow.

FORSAKEN YET HOPEFUL

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Jesus on the cross)

This cry relates probably the hardest aspect of Jesus’ suffering on the cross of Calvary. For a painful instant in time there was a separation between God the Father and God the Son. It had never happened before nor has since.

This separation was painfully unnatural to the Triune God. It occurred when the heavy weight of the world’s sin was placed on Jesus. He suffered this excruciating pain to free us from sin to make us acceptable to a just and holy God.

Without this extreme painful event there would be no way for sinful humans to enter God’s heaven and spend eternity with Him. It would not have occurred at all had God not loved us so much. Despite Jesus being forsaken for a time by Father God there is still hope, because it provided the way for our salvation.

Otherwise we would be left in our sinful condition that is chosen by ourselves. Jesus’ death was necessary, and by God’s grace the miraculous resurrection followed. Hallelujah!

Though the pain was real, the separation was not permanent. Jesus endured such horrific pain that I don’t believe we can possibly relate. I believe there is great hope where there is great love. The crucifixion showed the greatest love; the resurrection gives the greatest hope.

THIRST FOR HOPE

“I thirst.” (Jesus on the cross)

Jesus made a simple statement that expressed a dire need. His physical body had suffered massive blood loss from violent beating and was dangerously dehydrated. He needed water and relief for His physical body. His statement related a need that all human bodies have.

Jesus was uniquely God and man. The fact that He was man means He understands our needs. The fact that He is God means He could meet our greatest need for a Savior.

Just as He thirsted physically for water, we thirst for His righteousness spiritually. There’s only one way to receive it. It involves a rebirth –regeneration — by the Holy Spirit that transforms us spiritually into new creations. That makes us worthy to be in God’s family because of Jesus’ blood and righteousness covering our sin debt.

That thought gives hope when we understand that it’s not from our own efforts but by the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross. This greatest event in humanity’s history on planet Earth made personal salvation possible. A personal Savior met humanity’s greatest need that is greater than any physical need.

Thirst to a life-and-death extent was only part of what Jesus endured for us. May we hunger and thirst for His righteousness as we live according to His plan for our lives. May we thirst for Him, because He IS our greatest need, and that means He is worth placing our hope therein.

HOPE IN A FINISHED WORK

“It is finished. (Jesus on the cross)

This declaration is extremely hopeful. It means that our salvation was completed. Jesus had done what was necessary to accomplish our salvation.

We can add nothing to complete God’s free gift of salvation. That means not our own goodness, nor ethnicity, nor church membership, nor works, nor wealth, nor education, nor power, nor prestige, nor anything we can do….

It means our only need is to accept the gift and to hope in the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Thank You, Jesus! It is finished!

HOPE IN GOD’S PLAN

Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” (Jesus on the cross)

The last of Jesus’ “last words” on the cross showed His confidence in God His Father and in God’s plan since the beginning. The plan now accomplished meant His heavenly Being would soon return to heaven.

Jesus knew He would soon breathe His last breath in His physical body. He would soon exchange his human manifestation for His former full glory as part of the Triune God.

God the Son had laid aside His full glory when He entered time and space on planet Earth as Jesus the Incarnate God-with-us, the babe in the manger, the Messiah, sacrificial Lamb of God….

Now His greatest and most significant mission — our salvation — was completed. Jesus had lived fully in and by the power from God the Father, on Whom He relied fully. We should follow His example and place our hope in God the Father and in His plan.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

 

OH, HOW HE LOVES YOU AND ME: HOPE FROM DESPAIR

I have liked the song, “Oh, How He Loves You and Me by Kurt Kaiser, since first hearing it probably in the 1970s. It has a lovely tune with an important reminder of the great love that Jesus has for us all.

A song can have simple lyrics and still relate a powerful Truth. I believe this short simple song does just that.

The lyrics remind us that Jesus gave his life then asks, “What more could He give?” Also we’re reminded that Jesus went to Calvary to show His love for sinners (meaning all of us).

One line especially makes this song right for being included in my blog. The song acknowledges that what He (Jesus) did there (at Calvary) brought hope from despair.

As sinners we would be left in utter despair with no hope if a perfect Savior had not willingly gone to Calvary to show His love for us and pay the price required by a holy God. What Jesus did there at Calvary truly brought hope from despair.

When we have received by faith the redemption that cleanses and gives new life then we can experience a sure hope. We can agree with these simple yet powerful lyrics, “Oh, how He loves you; Oh, how he loves me; Oh, how he loves you and me.”

We know love by this, that Jesus laid down His life for us….” (I John 3:16)

CHURCHILL: A VOICE OF HOPE

I want to be open to recognize examples of hope, and I find them in various situations and places. I didn’t expect to find hope in a tiny magazine ad and certainly not an ad for help with speech impediments, but I did.

The ad was only about 2″ x 5″, but its photo of Winston Churchill caught my attention. I admire Churchill as a WWII hero and a great historical figure. I took a minute to read the ad and found hope.

I think too few today appreciate the greatness of people like Churchill and their tremendous contribution to the cause for freedom in the WWII-era world. However my intention today is not to share hope of the Greatest Generation and an Allied victory but to focus on this particular ad.

According to the ad,  Winston Churchill stuttered. Yet he became the voice that inspired his British countrymen during dark days of war. It is  remarkable that he overcame stuttering to deliver some of the most influential speeches in 20th century world history.

Whether or not your personal challenge is stuttering, each of us had, has, or will have obstacles to overcome. I find hope when someone clearly accomplishes success and sometimes even greatness despite the struggle.

Let’s be on the lookout for hope. It may be nearer than we think and often where we least expect it.

“I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)