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God’s Stimulus Package: How to Have Hope in the Pandemic

Mark Finley
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In a world where disappointment and disaster are normal, how can you have hope in a future? The Bible speaks of a time when sin and sadness will be no more. A place where disaster and disappointment have gone ( Heaven ). Is there an hope of us reaching this place? Jesus spoke about it and the disciples believed in it so much they gave their life with hope. Christ has promised never to leave us or forsake us. He cares for His own. One day Jesus will return at the second coming and all of life's trials will fade into insignificance in the light of His glory. Join Mark Finley as HopeLives365 presents a live church sermon from the Living Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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Mark Finley

Assistant to President for Evangelism at the General Conference

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  • April 25, 2020
    11:45 AM
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What do men and women living in the 21st century need most right now? If you were starving, it might be food. If you were homeless, it might be a place to live. If disease ravaged your body, it might be medicine. If you're lonely and discouraged, your greatest need might be friendship. Or you might be thinking, what I really need right now more than anything else is my stimulus check from the United States government if you live in the United States. On April 13, the United States Treasury began sending out the stimulus checks. Now based on your income, of course, the amount that you might receive on that check would vary and some people if they reach certain income levels wouldn't get anything in their check; but for single individuals, they would receive about $1200 if they met the income qualifications. For married couples, they would receive $2400. 

 

Now, what's behind these stimulus checks? What is it that motivated the government to provide these stimulus checks? Well, there were really 3 things. First, they wanted to stimulate the economy and they felt if they put more money in people's hands, people would spend more money; but there was a deeper motivation than that. There was something behind that. They felt also that if they gave people the stimulus checks it would provide a spirit of optimism. It would build positive feelings at a time of social isolation. Also, they believed that it would give people who are struggling with unemployment, struggling because they didn't have a job, with hope. You see, I don't deny that it's financially helpful to receive a stimulus check. I mean, I wouldn't mind receiving myself, to tell you the truth; but will that be the permanent answer to the discouragement, to the isolationism, to the lack of hope, and lack of optimism that people are having today?

 

GOD has a far superior stimulus plan because GOD deals in the currency of hope and you cannot quarantine hope. Social distancing doesn't mean that your distance from hope. The Bible talks about that intangible quality of hope. 

 

Take your Bible please and turn to Romans, the 15th chapter. Romans chapter 15, and here in Romans 15:13, we notice this – “Now may the GOD of hope…” Now, I pause there. The Scripture says, Now may the GOD of what everybody? The GOD of what? The GOD of hope. GOD is the GOD of hope. HE's not the GOD of discouragement. So, if discouragement floods into your life, where does that come from? Is the origin of discouragement GOD? Is the origin of disappointment GOD? Is the origin of down-heartedness GOD? It says, “Now may the GOD of (what?) hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing…” So the GOD of hope wants to fill you with joy. That's an inner sense of happiness. That's an inner sense of abundance and fullness in your life and peace. That's an inner sense of contentment. So GOD is the GOD of hope and when you have hope, you're filled with joy and you're filled with peace in believing. So how does this GOD of hope fill my heart with joy and peace in believing? So, I believe that whatever circumstance I'm going through; I believe that whatever heartache I’m experiencing; I believe whatever disappointment I have; that HE is the GOD of hope. HE fills me with joy and peace in believing. Why? That we can a bound in hope. GOD does not only want us to have hope. 

 

HE wants us to abound in hope. How? By the power of the Holy Spirit. So whatever you and I face in life, the GOD of hope desires to fill us with joy and peace in believing so that we abound in hope. Hope buoys up our spirits. Hope lives our vision to what is and what will be. Hope is the candle in our darkness. It provides us encouragement for our future. What oxygen is to the lungs, hope is to the human spirit. 

 

Now, how do you define hope? If I wanted to define hope, how do you define hope? Hope is that intangible quality that looks beyond life's difficulties to a better tomorrow. Hope leads us to live purposeful lives today because a new day is coming. It anticipates the best even when life is worse for us. Because it looks beyond what is and what will be. 

 

Hope keeps believing; it keeps trusting; it keeps anticipating; it keeps expecting; that out of today's darkness, tomorrows light will shine. See, without hope, our world is on a collision course to disaster. Without hope, the foundations of society crumble. Without hope, tomorrow’s light shines more dimly. 

 

There's an incredible story that I came across this week on the power of hope. There was a young boy and that young boy was in the hospital. He was in the hospital because he had been in a fire and was terribly burnt. He was conscious and certainly awake, but he wasn't improving very much at all. Now, the school system in that particular community had special education teachers that would go into the hospital and they would spend time with children there, tutoring them so the children wouldn't get behind in their education. A special education teacher was secured / hired to go into the hospital room. She met with this boy's teacher at his school before she went, and the teacher said, “Look, we're studying nouns and pronouns, verbs and adverbs, would you go and teach this boy?” When the teacher got to the hospital, she was absolutely appalled / amazed because the boy was burned so badly. And she showed her amazement; but she went through that lesson with him – nouns, pronouns, verbs, and adverbs. And she was quite distressed when she left. She felt she hadn't accomplished much. The next day, when she came to teach the boy, the nurse came, and she said, “I really need to talk to you.” What did you do to the boy yesterday? The special education teacher got quite nervous. “What do you mean what did I do to the boy yesterday? You know, what do you mean? I just came in and tried to teach him verbs, tried to teach him adverbs. What do you mean what did I do the boy?” And the nurse said, “Something happened to that boy. He seems to have new hope. He seems to have a new spirit of wanting to get well.” What did you do? The special education teacher said, “I just taught the boy.” Weeks later, the boy said this, he was now improved, he was now out of the hospital, and when he was asked, “What was the turnaround in your attitude?” He said, “Look, when that special education teacher came, it gave me hope because I said to myself, they would not send a teacher to a boy that was going to die.” You see what this badly burned boy needed more than anything else was hope. 

 

Hope powerfully motivates us to look beyond today to tomorrow. It paints the future in bright colors rather than dark shadows. Now, millions have found hope in the real assurance of God's presence. Take your Bible please and turn to Psalm 71:5. Hope fuels our spirits. Hope encourages our hearts. What is the source of that hope? Where do we find that hope? Psalm 71: 5. In the 71st song, David cries out to GOD and we look at Psalm 71:5. What is the origin of our hope? What is the foundation of our hope? Where is hope to be found? Psalm 71:5, “For YOU are my hope, oh LORD GOD.”

 

Hope began for David where it begins for us all. It begins with a belief that there is a GOD in heaven that is bigger than our problems; greater than our difficulties; larger than any challenge that we might face. Without a knowledge of this GOD that cares for us, without a knowledge of this GOD that understands our pain and knows what we're going through, and heals our hurts, that will defeat all the powers of hell, we are left alone. But with this GOD, our hearts are filled with hope. It is this sense of GOD's presence; it is this sense that will never leave us or forsake us that gives to us hope.

 

Back to the 71st psalm. Let your eyes drop down to verse 14. Now in verse 5, he says, “YOU are my hope, O LORD GOD. Verse 14, he says, “But I will hope continually…” Did you get that word? I will hope what everybody? I will hope continually, not simply when I am riding on the heights of ecstasy and my heart is filled with emotional joy. “I will hope continually. I will praise YOU yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of YOUR righteousness and YOUR salvation all day; for I do not know their limits.” David says, “I don't know the limits of GOD's goodness. I don't know the limits of GOD's righteousness. I don't know the limits of GOD's salvation. I don't know the limits of GOD's hope.” He says, “I will praise, I will hope continually.” Let your eyes drop down to verse 19 of Psalm 71 – “Also YOUR righteousness Oh GOD is very high; YOU have done great things. Oh GOD, who is like YOU? YOU have shown me great and severe troubles, but YOU will revive me again. YOU will bring me up from the depths of the earth. YOU will increase my greatness and comfort in every side.” What is David say? “I'm filled with hope, not because I'm going through darkness, not because I'm walking through the valley of death, not because I have challenges and difficulties, I am filled with hope because one day GOD's going to bring me through all these. One day, JESUS will enable me to come through on the other side in my hearts going to be filled with joy and confidence.” 

 

In CHRIST, there is hope. There is never a challenge we find ourselves facing that there is not hope in CHRIST. The CHRIST that created us and the CHRIST that cares for us has redeemed us and we are twice HIS. HE is the LAMB slain from the foundation of the world and when this world was plunged into the darkness of sin, when Adam and Eve, our first parents partook of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and what hopelessness and discouragement was injected into their veins with the virus of sin and the evil one, not the corona virus, but a virus that is much more serious, the virus of sin, and when death and discouragement and disappointment and darkness filled their lives, GOD came to the garden and he called out. And HE said, “Adam, Eve, where are you?” And there, and there, GOD says to Adam and Eve, “I'll send the Messiah. I will send JESUS CHRIST and JESUS will come one day; and HE will pay the ransom price for sin. And HE will pay the penalty for the broken law. And JESUS Himself will take upon the shame and guilt of sin and redeem you. Why do we have hope? First, because CHRIST has redeemed us, there is hope in CHRIST; hope that our sins are not too great to be forgiven, hope that our temptations are not too great to be overcome, hope that our challenges are not too great to be conquered, hope that our tomorrows will be much much better than today. Still CHRIST offers us more, much more; HE offers us more than forgiveness. HE offers us more than victory over life's challenges because if that's all we had, if death was a dark hole in the ground, if the tomb was a long night without a morning, if we had nothing more than this life, the hope that HE has would gave us would only be superficial. But CHRIST promises a hope HE's with us today. HE's with us tomorrow and HE is with us forever. 

 

The Apostle Paul beautifully blends the 1st and 2nd coming of CHRIST together in Titus 2: 13 and 14. And he tells us about this hope, this amazing hope we have - the hope that our sins are forgiven, the hope that there is power in CHRIST, the hope that through JESUS and faith we can have peace and joy and meaning. The Apostle Paul blends the hope in the 1st and 2nd coming. Look Titus 2:13. Here we have it verse 14 as well. 

 

“Looking for the blessed hope…” Looking for what? The what kind of hope? The blessed hope. “Looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great GOD and Saviour JESUS CHRIST (next verse 14) who gave HIMSELF for us that HE might redeem us from every lawless deed…” So CHRIST came on Calvary's cross to bear the guilt and shame and condemnation of our sin. It is written, Galatians 3:13, “Cursed is everyone that hangs on the tree.” But that which HE purchased, HE's coming back to redeem.

 

Years ago, there was something called lay away. You could go to a store, if you didn't have enough money and you could lay away an item and purchase it. I remember the first thing I ever laid away to purchase, it was a coat for my dear wife, she was not my wife at the time she was my girlfriend, and we were going to college at Atlantic Union College in Southland Castle Massachusetts. The winters are cold and I noticed she had just a very thin coat. And I thought, “Man, if I want to court this girl, I may do something significant, I'm going to buy her a winter coat.” I was a college student and have not much money and so I thought I'm going to put this coat on layaway and I don't remember what the coat cost at that time. It wasn't what coats cost today; it might have been 35/40 dollars. And I remember, week after week I would go down and I put $5; I put 10 down; and man I came to that day when I put my $35 down. I couldn't wait to go to that store and get that thing packaged up as a gift for my wife. Do you think, do you think that I would spend 40 dollars, 35/40 dollars on that coat and say, “Ah, you know what, I don't think I'm going to come back and pick up the coat?” I purchased it. I put my hard earned money into that coat. I put my sweat and blood into that coat. I was going back to get the coat. JESUS put HIS blood on Calvary's cross for you and me. HE took the shame and guilt and condemnation of our sin. Do you think HE paid that purchase price and would not come back to get us? HE is coming back to get us, to take us home. 

 

Erwin McDonald was a prisoner of war in Germany. HE is a chaplain to the American soldiers. And during this prison of war, the American prisoners were kept in one section, the British prisoners in another section. Now, McDonald came from a Scottish background and he spoke Gaelic. One day, somebody in the camp came to McDonald. They said, “McDonald, McDonald, there's a Scotsman. (McDonough was an American but he had Scottish background.) There's a Scotsman on the other side of the barbed wire fence. He has to say something to you.” It was early day, they had no idea that the allied forces had landed at Normandy. And there McDonald goes to the barbed wire fence, and the story tells us this, that as McDonald goes to the barbed wire fence, the Scotsman on the other side, in Gaelic, says 2 words, 3 words. “They have come!” “They have come!” McDonald runs back to the American camp and begins shouting. “They have come.” “They have come.” Everybody knew what it meant; the Allied troops had landed at Normandy. The reaction was incredible. They jumped. They cried. They laughed. They sang. They shouted. They hugged each other. They rolled on the ground. They were captives, but they were inwardly free. Why? Because they had the hope, that they had come. 

 

We have that hope that burns within our hearts that JESUS CHRIST is coming soon; that takes us through the dark valleys of life, that takes us to disappointments of life, that takes us through the challenges of life. ‘They have come!’ We will one day cry out, ‘HE has come. HE has come. 1,500 times in the Bible; 1,500 times, it talks about the coming of CHRIST. 

 

Now, the first one to make mention the second coming of CHRIST was Enoch. Now, there is no book in the Bible that's a book of Enoch. And you may see in that strange. No book in the Bible that's a book of Enoch; but Enoch was a prophet of GOD that lived in the Old Testament. He died just before the flood, in fact. And Enoch was the 7th generation from Adam. Enoch was taken to heaven, translated without seeing death. Those of us that live to the second coming of CHRIST, we too will be translated without seeing death. So Enoch is a very, very good example for end time people today. He's a very good example for that. Enoch was translated without seeing death. Now, don’t let that throw you off. Some people say, 365, that’s a long time to live.  When GOD created the human race, HE gave them the vital force to live forever. Death was not in the picture of creation. And here many people lived over 700 years. In fact, Adam and Methuselah lived over 900 years. 

 

So, Enoch, the 7th from Adam is the first to predict the second coming of CHRIST. And you find that in the book of Jude. The little book of Jude is just before Revelation. And Jude is quoting the words of Enoch. And you look there at Jude and you're going to look down in your passage to Jude 14 – “Enoch, the seventh from Adam…” That's millennium ago. If you look at the flood, over 4,000 years ago. You look at Enoch, he dies just before the flood. So these words are written well over 4,000 years ago. Now, “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, ‘Behold, the LORD comes with ten thousand of HIS saints (Verse 15) to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of  ungodly deeds.” The LORD comes with ten thousand of HIS saints.

 

You see, down through history, what is it that took the Bible believers through? What is it that took them through the challenges they faced, the trials they faced, the difficulties they face, the heartaches they faced? What is it that took them over the mountains that they had to climb that is so rugged and difficult? What is it that took them to be burnt at the stake? What is it that took them to be martyred in early Christians thrown to lions? Here is what took them. They had a hope, a hope that burned within their hearts, a hope that was beyond the ‘what if’. That hope was the candle in their darkness; that hope was the joy that beat in their heart, the GOD of hope filled their hearts.

 

We look at it David. Take your Bible now and turn to Psalm 50. Every verse in the Bible with the possible exception of one Esther mentions the return. Every book in the Bible rather, with the possible exception of Esther, talks about the Second Coming of CHRIST. This theme of the Second Coming of CHRIST is radiating in Scripture. It is what gives us hope. 

 

You take your Bible and turn to Psalms. And we turn to the 50th psalm. Psalm 50 and verse 3. Psalm 50. You're looking there at Psalms 50, the 3rd verse. David writes. David is being oppressed; he's being persecuted, he faces death: and here in Psalm 50:3, David talks about the coming of CHRIST. And he says, “Our GOD shall come.” Notice the certainty of David's words. Trials, yes; difficulties, yes; challenges, yes; but “Our GOD shall come and shall not keep silent; a fire shall devour before HIM, and it shall be very tempestuous all around HIM. HE calls from the heavens above into the earth that HE may judge HIS people. Gather MY saints together to ME.” Our GOD shall come. Gather MY saints together to me. Enoch writes at the 7th from Adam. David writes it. 

 

Isaiah, the prophet, encourages us to have hope. There's a day coming when CHRIST will return. The forces of hell that create disease, suffering, disaster, and death will be defeated forever. Isaiah chapter 35. It's as if Isaiah was writing to you and me at a time of corona virus. It's as if Isaiah was writing to this generation that is so filled with fear, so filled with anxiety, so filled with difficulty.

 

Last night, for example, I had the opportunity to speak to the front line workers in New York City. And I was able to speak to an E.M.T. that was on the front lines, a nurse who is in an unnamed hospital in New York who is at the epicenter of this corona virus. She sees people dying every day and very few leave the ICU; an emergency room physician. And we were on a panel together speaking to our brothers and sisters in New York City to give them hope and there as we talked about the essence of that hope. We talked to that nurse who had tears in her eyes about the day that CHRIST would come and the resurrection of the dead would take place. We talked about how to overcome fear and knowing that your medical profession is a calling and that when you walk into that ICU, you go out into that ambulance, when you go into that emergency room that CHRIST is there with you. HE is there to support you. HE is there to encourage you. HE is there to lift you up and inspire you and give you the strength. Because some of these medical workers were saying to me; we asked them the question, “Do you have any fear?” and they said, “Do we have fear? We fear every day that we go in. We fear that our patients are going to die. We fear that we may get the disease. We fear me we may take it home to our families.” Some of them are sleeping in trailers or campers in their driveways because they don't want to infect their families. And they say, “How do we overcome fear?” And we said to them, “You overcome fear by knowing that you are the hands of CHRIST. You are the feet of CHRIST. You are the eyes of CHRIST. And when you walk in there, CHRIST is with you. HE is ministering through you and you walk in there knowing that you need not fear because one day this will be over.”

 

Isaiah speaks. Isaiah chapter 35 and we look there at verse 4. Isaiah 35, notice what he says. Verse 3 starting, “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, (this is the word of the LORD to those who are fearful hearted.) “Be strong, do not fear! (Why not?) Behold your GOD will come with vengeance (HE will come) with the recompense of GOD; HE will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For the waters shall break forth in the wilderness,…” 

 

This world is not all there is. We have the glorious promise of the coming of CHRIST. The biblical prophets lived in hope, not despair. They look beyond the challenges, the trials, the difficulties. They faced tomorrow with the bright promise of the coming of JESUS CHRIST. They had absolute confidence that CHRIST would return, that sin, suffering, heartache, sorrow, disease, and death would be no more. These prophets did not die in despair. They died in hope. 

 

Before JESUS left this world, HE gave us this incredible promise you know it well. Many of you have memorized that I am sure. Where is it found? Where is the promise of JESUS found? You know it, don't you? John chapter 14. 

 

Take your Bible please and turn to John the 14th chapter. We've read it again; but we've read it before; but again and again, it comes echoing down the chorus of time to speak to our hearts. John chapter 14, Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled.” Do not fear. Why not? If you believe in GOD, believe also in ME. In my FATHER's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place you, I will come again…” CHRIST’s comforting words are like a promissory note. JESUS said, “I will return and we can bank on it.” 

 

The Second Coming of CHRIST is not based on idle speculation. It's not based on vain wish. It's not based on human philosophy. It's based on the unchangeable reliable certain promises of GOD's Word. The Second Coming of CHRIST reveals a tremendous truth that all of history is moving toward one glorious climax. Somewhere, someday, someday soon, we are to meet SOMEONE who has the ultimate answer to all of life's problems. And without this convict, there is a little left to live for. You see without the conviction of the coming of CHRIST, life loses a great deal of its meaning. But JESUS says, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Stop worrying, stop being so fearful. JESUS says, “I am coming again. In my FATHER's house are many mansions.” How many? They say, my father’s house are a few mansions. In my Father's house, there's a mansion here, there. In my Father's house are what? In my Father's house are what? Many mansions. When HE say, “many mansions,” why do you think HE said that? Because there is one there for you. And that's the hope that inspires our hearts. HE's coming back and there's a place for us in HIS heart today. And there's a place for us in HIS home forever. There is no shortage of space. There is room for you in HIS eternal Kingdom.

 

Earthquakes may devastate entire cities, fierce tornadoes may destroy entire neighborhoods, floods may cause havoc with entire communities, pestilences may destroy our crops, the corona virus may spread with lightning speed around the world killing tens of thousands; but do not lose hope. JESUS CHRIST is coming soon.

 

HE says in Luke 21 verse 8; where are we now in the stream of time? Where are we in the destiny of the world? Luke chapter 21, where the good in your eyes fall down into verse 8. Now in verse 28, Luke 21. Luke 21 verse 28, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up, lift up your heads because your redemption draws near.” Where is JESUS in the stream of time? HIS coming is near. HE is even at the door. JESUS says, “I'm right there. I'm right there.” We're living on the verge of eternity. We're living on the knife edge of time. The sands in the hourglass of time are running out. JESUS sees all these things.

 

Is the corona virus, I was asked on television yesterday, is the corona virus sign of the times? And my response was not ‘the’ sign ‘a’ sign. JESUS doesn't give one sign; but HE gives multiple signs of the times: famines, earthquakes, fires, floods, immorality. And these signs are being fulfilled around us today. 

 

Many years ago, a father was going to go on a long trip and he knew that his 3 year old son could never understand the length of time he’s gonna be going. It was May. They were living in the northeastern part of the United States. And the boy said, “Daddy, Daddy, how long are you going to gone?” The father thought for a moment. The boy doesn't understand the calendar, 3 years old too much, time seasons, and that kind of stuff. And so the father said to the boy, “Look, son, when you see the leaves on the trees getting yellow, when you see the leaves on the trees getting red, when you see the leaves on the trees getting brown and the leaves begin to fall off the trees, you know Daddy's coming home.” He knew, that Dad knew, that that would take place late September in New England. You know New England, beautiful, beautiful falls; Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts. You know, you have these beautiful maple trees, the ashes and the oaks, and they become red and yellow and brown and then they fall off, you know, mid-October, late October typically. And so, summer went on, the boy went to walks with his mommy, with the nurse that they had at home, the caretaker, and he would say, “When is Daddy coming?” The leaves are green. “When is Daddy coming?” August. Leaves are green. “When is Daddy coming?” September, they begin to turn yellow. The boy is looking up, you know, and by late September, early October, they're red and they become brown. And one day, one night, there was this terrible wind storm and the wind storm blew through and all the leaves were knocked off the trees. And the next morning, the boy walked out, he saw all these leaves. He begins to run and throw them up in the air and says, “Daddy’s coming. Daddy’s coming. The leaves are falling of the tree.” JESUS said something like that in a parable.

 

Take your Bible please. JESUS talked about it a parable. HE talked about a parable about trees. Matthew the 24th chapter. Matthew chapter 24. And you're looking there at Matthew, the 24th chapter, verse 32, verse 33. “Now, learn this parable from the fig tree: (Now the leaves weren't falling off.) When its branches has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near-- at the doors.”  

 

If I am coming to visit your house, if I'm coming to visit your house, and I travel for 50 miles and I'm knocking at the door, how close am I? The Bible says, “When you see all these things…” When that little boy saw those leaves fall off that tree, he knew that the promise of his father would be fulfilled and Daddy was coming soon. 

 

You say to me, when is JESUS coming? I say to you, HIS coming is near. Luke 21:28. You say, when is JESUS coming? I say to you, HE is even at the doors. If there was ever a time to prepare for the coming of JESUS and to be sure that our hearts are right with CHRIST, it is now. 

 

There is a marvelous statement in a little book from an author that I respect deeply; who wrote with prophetic insight and the book is called Christian Service. And on page 37, there is an appeal. It's an appeal to GOD's people. It's an appeal to the world. It's an appeal to men and women living everywhere who see the fast fulfilling signs of the times. GOD's people must take warning. I'm reading page 37, Christian service; GOD's people must take warning and discern the signs of the times. My friend, are you discerning the signs of the times? GOD's people must take warning to discern the signs of the times. The signs of CHRIST's coming are to plain to be doubted. The signs of CHRIST's coming are too plain to be doubted. GOD calls upon both preachers and people to awake. All heaven is astir. The angels are getting ready, FATHER, SON, and HOLY SPIRIT are getting ready. All heaven is astir. The scenes of Earth's history are fast closing. We are amid the parables of the last days, greater perils are before us, and yet we are not awake.

 

This is the time to be on your knees. This is the time to open your heart. This is the time to get ready for the coming of our LORD JESUS CHRIST. All heaven is astir and we have the promises from the Word of God. Now, think about the disciples. Every one of those New Testament disciples, we've surveyed the Old Testament from Genesis to Psalms to Isaiah. We've looked at the promises of GOD's Word. But look at the New Testament, every one of the New Testament believers died a martyr's or every one of the New Testament disciples, not all the believers but the disciples, died a martyr's death except John. 

 

Let's look at the hope that these disciples had when they died the martyrs death. James, you know the story of James. Acts chapter 12 tells us the story that James was beheaded by Herod. How did James die? James 5:7, James gave you a testimony. James speak to us from your word. We listen to the testimony of James, the 5th chapter. Did he die in despair? James chapter 5 we're looking there at verse 7. This man that was beheaded by Herod says this, “Therefore, be patient brethren until the coming of the LORD. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.”

 

You know what that is? Early rain to fall now, the Spirit; latter rain, the abundant outpouring of the Spirit of GOD to finish HIS work on earth. You also be patient, establish your hearts, for the coming of the LORD is at hand. And James did not die in despair. He died in hope because he believed in the coming of the LORD.

 

Peter gave you a testimony. Peter was crucified upside down we believe in A.D. 68 by Nero’s Roman guard. He died in hope. Here are Peter's words. Peter speaks to us today. Peter, give your testimony today. And although he is dead and can no longer verbally speak, his epistle still speaks to this generation. Second Peter chapter 3, we look there in verse 13. Nevertheless, Peter says, he is going to be crucified upside down. But he says, “Nevertheless according to HIS promise, we look for a new heavens and a new earth where in dwelleth righteousness.” Notice what Peter says in verse 9. Go back to verse 9. “The LORD is not slack concerning HIS promise as some men counts slackness, but HE’s long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish…” Peter does not die in despair. He dies in hope because he believes in the Second Coming of CHRIST.

 

The Apostle Paul spent years in a dark damp dungeon in Rome. He was martyred about the same time as Peter in 66 AD; yet, he was filled with hope and assurance. He looked beyond what was to what will be. He believed that CHRIST had conquered the tomb and one day JESUS would return to deliver him. Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul in 1st Thessalonians chapter 4. James dies in faith. Peter dies in faith. Paul dies in faith. They are filled with hope. Why? Because, they believe that CHRIST was going to come.

 

First Thessalonians chapter 4, we're looking there at verse 16. Again Paul says, “For the LORD Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of GOD and the dead in CHRIST shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the LORD in the air...” 

 

What was it that motivated these believers? What was it that caused them to traverse desert sands?  What was it that caused them to climb the mountain passes? What was it that caused them to sail the seas? What was it that caused them to face whipping and stoning and beating and death itself? It was the promise of the coming of CHRIST.

 

John, the last of the disciples, burned in a cauldron of oil, survives it, sent by Domitian in the last part of the first century to exile on a lonely barren island called Patmos. He’s visited by an angel who communicates with him the Bible's last book Revelation. Does John die in despair? Is John there in disappointment, in discouragement?

 

Revelation 1:7. Revelation rings with hope. It rings with assurance. It rings with the confidence that JESUS CHRIST indeed will come again. Revelation 1:7. We look there, “Behold, HE’s coming with clouds and every eye will see HIM, and they also that pierced HIM.” This is no silent event. This is no secret event. JESUS comes. It's the most glorious event in the history of the world. Revelation chapter 1 begins with the coming of CHRIST. Revelation chapter 22 ends with the coming of CHRIST. Notice Revelation 22:12, JESUS, “Behold, I am coming quickly.” Notice verse 20, second to last verse of the entire Bible. HE who testifies of these things says, Surely, I am coming quickly...

 

What is it that will take us through the challenges we face today? What is it that will take us through the crisis that will face tomorrow? What is it that takes us through the dark values of today into the Great time of trouble tomorrow that will break upon this world as an overwhelming surprise? What is going to get us through those periods of time? Two things. (1) knowing that CHRIST never leaves us. CHRIST never for sakes us. CHRIST is there in every trial. CHRIST is there in every difficulty. CHRIST is there in every heart ache. CHRIST is there in every tear. What is it that will get us through? It is the bright light that shines in the darkness. It is the candle that illuminates that darkness. It is that hope that burns within our heart, the hope of the coming of CHRIST. Every challenge that you face, every difficulty that you experience, every trial that you meet, will soon be over. Cling to the promise of JESUS’ soon return. 

 

Let your heart soar because the Bible is a book of hope. GOD is a GOD of hope. JESUS is a JESUS of hope. The HOLY SPIRIT is a SPIRIT of hope. JESUS comes again. Let this burn in your hearts. 

 

I love that song. I love that song that talks about the burning of JESUS and how JESUS burns in our hearts. HE is the ONE who is coming again. Would you like to say, “JESUS, let the hope of YOUR coming burn in my soul already. LORD, I know that life is short. The sands in the hourglass of time are running out. Just like that little boy in the story, when he saw those leaves falling off the trees, he knew that Daddy was coming.” As we see the signs around us, we don't know the day, we don't know the hour; but we know HIS coming is near. We know it's even at the door. And HE appeals to us, to open our hearts, to be on our knees; to be sure that everything is right with us and GOD. HE appeals to us to let that hope burn in our hearts. We have this hope that burns within our hearts. In pandemics, it burns within our hearts. In pestilences, it burns within our heart. In challenges and trials, and sickness, it burns within our hearts. We have this hope that burns within our hears, the hope that HE is coming soon…

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