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Hope Delivered

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Go ahead and turn with me to Isaiah 7:10-14 & then save that location and flip to the NT in Matthew 1:18-25.
Advent
Since the early 4th Century A.D. we have celebrated the birth of Christ on December 25th, but most scholars don’t believe he was actually born this day.
It was probably closer to mid-September. But the early church chose December 25th… why?
In the Northern Hemisphere, 12/25 is the darkest day of the year. It’s the December Solstice.
The idea was that the light of the world came, in the midst of earth’s deepest darkness.
That’s powerful symbolism isn’t.
So in the 1600s the church added to the commemoration of Christ’s birth with a Wreath.
The Candles represent the fragile light of hope amidst the deep darkness of the season.
Week 1 we light the Hope Candle.
Week 2 we light the Peace candle
Week 3 the Joy candle.
Week 4 the Love candle.
Week 5 The Christ candle
Each week, as his arrival gets closer the light burns brighter and can be seen in direct contrast to the bleak darkness of sin.
So today is our first week of Advent, a week that began with no candles lit.
No light on the bleak horizon.
A time of darkness, despair, and hopelessness…
but as we turn our eyes to Christmas Story. A Hope will be sparked.
Lets Pray Together

Introduction

Waiting on Dad for UGA Game
Proverbs 13:12 reads, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” That day hope was deferred and I was devestated.
— How many of you have ever experienced disappointment like this? It can be devestating can’t it?
— The reality is we have all been let down by people we love, and truth be told we have all been the one who has let others down as well.
But what we see in the Christmas Story, is that God is different. God never defers hope He never lets us down. In fact, God always Delivers.
So it isn’t Hope Deferred, it’s Hope Delivered.
Hope…
Hope is largely misunderstood word isn’t it. We tend to use Hope synonomously with “Wishful Thinking.”
“I hope it doesn’t rain today...”
“I hope the dawgs can keep winning...”
many of you may be thinking… “I hope this guy wraps it up soon...” But
that’s not real hope. That’s just wishful thinking. Especially if you think I can limit myself to 7 minutes.
Biblically, HOPE means a “Confident Expectation”.
So this morning, as we kick off the season of Advent, I want us to look at Hope. I want us to grow in Hope. Grow in our confident expectation of God.
We will be asking and answering the questio... “how does the Christmas Story provide Hope? “
I want to answer that this morning by looking specifically at the Virgin Birth .
We will notice 2 Big Things:
The Christmas story Reveals the Person of Jesus
The Christmas Story Fufills Promises of God
Let’s read Matthew 1:18-25
Matthew 1:18–25 (ESV)
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
The first thing I’d like to note is Hope Delivered in “The Person of Jesus”.
— Even before he spoke his first word, or took his first step, or performed his first miracle; here in the Christmas Story we get a glimpse as to Who He Was.

PERSON OF Jesus

That He was FULLY GOD & FULLY MAN.
In the Christmas Story we see The Doctrine of the Incarnation.
Now don’t check out at the word doctrine. Doctrine is just right belief, and right doctrine always leads to deeper devotion! So learning Right Doctrine is IMPORTANT!
That in the person of Jesus we see 100% divinity, as well as 100% humanity.
And THIS DOCTRINE… IT SPARKS HOPE.

Hope because He was Fully God

He was fully God, because He came from the Holy Spirit.
From the Holy Spirit (Verse 18).
Matthew 1:18 “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.”
Scripture clearly asserts that Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother Mary by a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit without a human Father.
He was conceived “before they came together” Matt 1:18.
Confirmed by the angel of the Lord Matt 1:20.
And Joseph knew her not until after his birth Matt 1:25.
The biblical writers are judicious in their wording throughout the Christmas Story to maintain the doctrine of the diety of Christ.
He was the promised “Immanuel”… GOD with us. He was no mere baby, but Fully God in baby form.
He was fully God because he came from a virgin mother.
From a virgin mother
do you hear the oxymoron here?
Physically, Jesus is Mary’s Son and Joseph was only Jesus’ adoptive fahter.
This is presented clearly in the geneology Matthew lists in chapter 1. Matthew 1:16 “and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.”
Joseph is Mary’s Husband. Mary is the Mother of Jesus.
Now why! Why must Immanuel Come through such an exepected way?
God could have created Jesus as a complete human being in heaven and then beam him down to earth without the need of any human parent right?
But if that happened it would probably be pretty hard for us to see how Jesus could be fully human… he would be alien. Other. Seperated from us. Not Immanuel. Not with us.
It would have contradicted his humanity.
On the other hand, God could have had Jesus come into the world through 2 human parents just like you and I, but with his full divine nature entact.
But it would probably be pretty hard for us to understand how Jesus could be fully God since his origin was just like ours.
It would have contradicted his diety.
No, The Person of Christ came on Christmas Morn through a virgin birth, because it is the Virgin Birth that makes possible the uniting of full diety and full humanity in one person!
Hope- But How does this deliever hope?
First and foremost, JESUS was fully God, as demonstrated in the virgin birth, showing that salvation ultimately must come from the Lord alone.
You and I cannot save ourselves. Our sin has seperated us from God, and there is nothing that we can do to wash our slate clean. That is why salvation is by grace. It’s a gift.
ONLY GOD CAN BRING SALVATION. NOT MAN.
SO GOD SENT IMMANUEL TO ACHIEVE FOR US, WHAT WE COULD NEVER ACHIEVE FOR OURSELVES.
Salvation needed a divine solution, So God sent Immanuel.
Immanuel is God, meaning He is perfect, sinless.
The fact that Jesus did not have a human father means that original sin didn’t apply to him.
This is indicated by the angel Gabriel to Mary
Luke 1:35 “And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”
This is to be taken to mean that because the child is conceived of the HS to a Virgin Mother, he is by nature HOLY, not sinful.
Only a sinless life, a perfect life, a divine life could suffice as a sacrifice for the sins of all humanity.
Hebrews 10:14 “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”
The Christmas Story, reveals the Person of Christ.
That He is Fully God. And because He was Fully God we can have HOPE.
Hope that our sins have been atoned for by none other than God Himself. The Problem of Sin, required a Divine solution.

Hope because He is Fully Man

But that he was born of a woman, also keeps entact the fact that He was Fully man.
He came as a crying, cooing, baby boy. It was a holy night, that He was born, but don’t fall for the lie that it would have been a “silent night”
How many infants have come into the world silent?
Jesus was born… just like us.
And as someone who is fully Man, he possess the full range of human characteristics.
He was like us physically.
He grew physically. His body was tired. His body experienced pain. His body experienced hunger. His body experienced thirst.
He was a baby that needed to be fed, and nursed, and nurtured. He was just like us physically.
He was like us mentally.
He increased in wisdom. He had to learn how to talk. How to walk. How to process. How to read. How to be a carpenter.
He was like us emotionally.
His soul was often troubled. He wept. He grieved. He felt sorrow. He laughed. He smiled.
The Virgin Birth shows us the Person of Christ, that He was Fully MAN.
So why is this so important?
It means that Jesus is able to fully identify with us.
Church that brings HOPE.
He can sympathize with us.
You have a God that knows what you’re struggling with. Not only knows what you’re struggling with, but a someone who struggled with it too.
He experienced Grief, and can be WITH you in yours.
He experienced physical pain, and can be WITH you in yours.
He experienced joy, and can be WITH you in yours.
This is the power of the incarnation.
God is for sure transcendent Right? He alone reaches to the highest heights and lowest depths. He is worthy of being exalted as other, distinct from us.
But in our desire to honor His trasncendence, do not forge the lengths He has gone to in order to establish His nearness.
He is with us.
But that Jesus was Fully MAN also means
Jesus is able to be our Substitute Sacrifice.
If Jesus had not been a man, he could not have died in your place, or pay the penalty that was due to you. .
Hebrews 2:17 “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Propitiation = sacrifice. He HAD to be made like us so that His sacrifice would be an acceptable substitue for us.
Ultimately, you can have HOPE that as FULLY MAN, His substitution for you was accepted.
The consequences of our sin is death. That is what we deserve.
Jesus on the other hand, as fully God, was Sinless deserving a life with God.
Here the EXCHANGE of the Gospel!
As Fully Man he took what you deserved.
As Fully God he gave us what we don’t deserve.
Ultimately, providing HOPE. Joyful and confident expectation that He is Immanuel… God with Us, and one day when He returns we will be with Him.

The Promise of God

Look at verse 22. We read, “all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:”
All this:
That Christ would come is God fulfilling His Promise. For centuries, really since Genesis 3, God had promised a Christ.
Remember Christ isn’t Jesus’ last name. It’s a title, meaning “Anointed One” or “Savior.”
So God had long promised a Savior,
But even How the Christ came was promised in the OT Prophets. The way in which he came was Promised.
vs. 23: The quote here is from Isaiah chapter 7.
So hopefully you kept your place, and go ahead and flip back with me to Isaiah 7:10-14
Isaiah 7:10–14 ESV
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Context (Buckle Up)
In the year 734 BC… Ok. You with me. 730 years before the birth of Jesus… the golden years of Israel have passed.
The Golden Years were under David and Solomon when the Kingdom fo Israel was unified, and all 12 tribes that descended from Jacob made up the Kingdom. But...
due to Solomon’s idolatry God grew angry with Solomon and we read in 1 Kings 11:11-13 God promised to split the Kingdom once Solomon died.
So just one generation removed, the unified Kingdom of Israel is split in 2 with
the Kingdom of Israel remaining the Northern Kingdom with its capital Samaria
While the Kingdom of Judah became the Southern Kingdom and its capital was Jerusalem.
MAP
The Books of 1st and 2nd Kings then tells story after story of various Kings (hence the title) that rule over either Israel or Judah, and most were wicked, idolatrous men who “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”
After generations and generations of these nations’ blatant defiance of Yahweh, with their idolatrous worship God finally begins to bring judgement upon them in the form of foreign invasion, and this begins right around the time of Ahaz.
The story of Ahaz is found in 2 Kings 16 and we read: 2 Kings 16:2-4 “Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done, but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. And he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.”
This King Ahaz was wicked. His heart was far from God. So the foreign king of Syria and the King of the northern Kingdom of Israel form a pact to wage war against Ahaz.
And instead of putting his faith in God, he begs the powerful king of Assyria to the far north to come down and defend him.
MAP
And here is where the Prophet Isaiah steps in:
Isaiah had told the King to not trust in Assyria or these foreign gods that aren’t really gods, but to trust in the Lord.
And as a sign of his great mercy and longsuffering with Ahaz, the Lord even says, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be as deep as sheol or high as heaven.”
In essence, “Ahaz I’m begging you to trust me, and I’m even willing to give you a sign that I’ll be with you.” Ask for it. It can be as miraculous as anything you can dream up. It can be as mystifying as hades, or as untouchable as heaven. Im’ willing to go to great depths and heights to prove to you my faithfulness. To prove to you my nearness!
But what does Ahaz do… he rejects the offer. This wicked man, far from God has no faith in this prophet, or His God.
So then we have Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah 7:14 ESV
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
The Lord takes it upon Himself, and solely due to His own love and faithfulness he says that he’ll provide a sign, a PROMISE of His salvation.
And what was that Promise?
The Virgin Shall Conceive a bear a Son and His name will be called Immanuel.
The sign of God’s faithfulness and nearness will be a Son, born to a Virgin who will be Immanuel… “God with us.”
730 years later, after hundreds of years of waiting for His Advent… A virgin did conceive… all in order to fufill His Promises.
Church, we can have Hope, because our God is a Promise Keeper!
The Story of Christmas fufills a plethora of OT Promises:
That the Savior would be born of the line of David (Matt 1:16).
That the Savior would be born in Bethlehem (Matt 2:1)
That he would arise from Egypt...
That a messenger would go before him
and many others,
but none reach to the depths or heights quite like the fact that Jesus was born to a Virgin.
And within this Christmas Story miracle, there are 2 quick points we should note about the Promises of God. Two things that I believe will spark HOPE in our lives today.
He Fulfills His Promises in Unexpected Ways.
Who would have expected that a Savior would come in this manner?!
Sometimes we have a hard time recognizing how God has fulfilled a promise or imagine how he will in the present don’t we?
So often, God’s activity just seems hidden, leaving us to feel like this empty wreath here. Darkness. Bleak. hopeless.
We want to believe He is faithful. We want to believe He hears us. Sees us. Loves us. But when we look to our circumstances we just don’t see Him…
We strain to see, but eventually all the straining and waiting lends itself to doubt, and ultimately from doubt to despair.
Leaving us feeling “hopeless”. A December Solstice!
This is why a story like Christmas is so important. IT PROVES the Promises of God.
Although his reasons ways elude us, and his methods may surprise us, God always fulfills His promises.
But He may do it in unexpected ways.
Reminded of Sarah in Hebrews 11:11 “By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.”
Sarah was well beyond the years to conceive. Bleak. Dark. Despairing. But she had hope. Hope because she believed God to be faithful to his promises.
Have Hope because God Keeps His Promises.
Secondly, His Promises will be Understood in His Time.
That leads us to another quick subpoint: His Promises are always understood in time.
730 Years!
I almost blew a Gasket Wednesday when our minivan full of 6 and a dog came to a halt in McDonough, south of Atlanta and our little Google Map ETA tracker kept adding minutes!
Minutes… I was frustrated by waiting mintues!
Yet, God’s promise fufilled in the Virgin Birth was kept 730 later.
Many of us have difficulty understanding God’s timing, but we have to remember that as time-bound beings, we cannot grasp God’s eternal purposes.
So when we don’t see his promises becoming a reality right now, we become impatient and tempted to despair.
We grow Hopeless. December Solscitce!
But it is in this moment that we return to the Scriptures, and find time after time a God that keeps His Promises.
Reminded of Abraham who waited 25 years for Isaac to be born.
Romans 4:18-21 “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”
Abraham had hope even when the situation seemed hopeless! How?
He was convinced of a Promise Keeping God.
And the Christmas Story truly illustrates that .
So as you dive into God’s Word this Chrismtas Season in advent… let the Word of God fill you with Hope. Hope in a God that fulfills His promises.
He Keeps them in Unexpected Ways and they will be Understood in Time, but HE ALWAYS KEEPS THEM.
He is absolutely faithful and true, and utterly trustworthy.
We have all experienced the pain of being let down by someone who said they’d do something and didn’t.
We have all been the person that let others down. Even this week I overpromised and under delivered.
But God never has… He Fulfills His Promises.
Seeing that here in the Christmas Story will spark Hope in your heart.
But there is something much deeper here in the Christmas Story that also sparks Hope.

Conclusion

Hope
Here in the darkness, and bleakness of the December Solscite.
The darkest night of the year.
A time where the darkness in your life is giving way to despair, and you are without hope.
A spark is lit, in the mysterious and miraculous birth of Jesus.
A Virgin bore a son, and His name is none other than Immanuel.
God With US.
And through this Christmas Story we can have HOPE.
Hope in the Promises of God
Hope in the Person of Christ
Hope wrapped up in the Christmas Story.

O Come, O Come Emmanual

Now we are about to sing our first Christmas Carol of the year, and it is by far my favorite.
It has been sung since the 9th century, and perfectly communicates our yearning for HOPE.
It’s “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”— Listen to one of its verses:
O come, Thou Dayspring (sunrise,flicker, spark), from on high, And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh; Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death's dark shadows put to flight. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.
Let me pray for us.
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