Monday, September 02, 2013

Grandpa's Last Words

Hebrews 10:23 tells us to. “Hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”  The term “hold fast” is a nautical term speaking of a sailor keeping his ship on course in spite of the intensity of the storm around him.  What does that tell us?  First of all, it tells us that there's no way to get through life without storms.  Don't ever let anyone tell you that if you choose to trust Jesus as your personal savior your life will become easy.  Folks, listen, there will be storms.  These storms may be financial, occupational, relational, parental, marital, physical, medical, emotional, mental, or even spiritual.  Whatever the storm might be, we are to hold fast to the confession of our hope. 

Good evidence that there was true genuine faith in your life is when you hold fast even during the storms of life.  Many people today claim to follow Jesus but when the storms come into their life, they’re gone.  They may have professed faith in Jesus but they never really possessed faith in Jesus.  There are a whole lot of people like that today, people who claim to be followers of Jesus, but as soon as the storms came into their life, they say, “Forget you, Jesus!  I'm out of here!”  In contrast, those who have truly drawn near to God in faith will hold fast when the storms come into their lives. 
And why is it possible for genuine believers to hold fast during the storms of life?  It’s possible because God made a promise.  In Philippians 1:6, Paul said, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Because I have full confidence in the character of God and because I have full confidence in the promise of God, I know that He will come through.  As a result, I can hold fast to the confession of my hope no matter how bad the storm gets.  No matter what circumstance comes into my life, I can hold fast.  No matter what doubt comes into my mind, I can hold fast.  I can do this because the God that I serve has made a promise and I can count on His promise.  Folks, Listen, my salvation is fully built in the hope of Jesus Christ and because of what He has done for me, because of God's promise to me.  No matter what storm comes into my life, I can hold fast. 

My Grandpa Distler was a pastor for over 50 years before ending his ministry as a superintendent of a Rescue Mission in northern California.  He’s a big reason why I am a pastor today.  Years ago, my Grandpa was spending his final days in his battle against cancer.  I flew out to visit my Grandpa on the west coast knowing it would be the final time I would ever get to see him and talk to him this side of heaven.  I’ll never forget when it finally came time to say good-bye for the last time before I headed head back to the airport to return home. I walked into his bedroom where my Grandpa was laying on a hospital bed, his body riddled with cancer.  I laid my head on his chest, weeping, as I said good-bye to him.  I remember my grandpa wrapping his arms around me and speaking the last words to me that I would ever hear him say. He simply said, “Son, don't ever give up on the Lord”.  Those were his final words.  “Don't ever give up on the Lord.” 

I'm not sure I understood the power of those words back then.  But the older I get, the more meaningful they have become.  Since that day I've gone through some storms, and some of those storms have tempted me to “throw in the towel” when it comes to my faith and my calling.  But during those storms I remembered those last words of my grandpa, “Son, don't ever give up on the Lord.”  Or to put it in the words of the author of Hebrews, “Hold fast to the confession of your hope….for He who promised is faithful!”

Perhaps today you are going through a storm.  For some of you, there's a storm just ahead on your horizon.  And in the midst of that storm that you are enduring or will soon find yourself in the thick of, you may face the temptation to say, “Forget you, God!  I give up!”  I hope that when that temptation comes that you will remember the words of my grandpa.  No matter what storm comes into your life, no matter how intense that storm grows, don't ever give up on the lord.  Hold fast to your confession of hope because he who promised to complete the work He began in your life is faithful to do just that. 

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