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Jesus the Hope of the World - Dec-10-2006_rev1c

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                                                                                                                                                                        December 10, 2006

For us Christians at this time of year we focus more intensely at the birth of Jesus, God coming to earth and giving us hope. The word hope is used in many different ways today.

Our lives are shaped by hope.

There was a story I read about a sailor who grew tired of wearing his life preserver but because his ship was constantly in an area of danger he was compelled to wear it continually. Many times he felt like throwing it overboard but the thought of being torpedoed forced him to keep it on. Then one day the wonderful news came; the war was over. The first thing he did was to tear off the life jacket, and running to the side of the ship he flung it over-board. As the life jacket hit the water, his face turned a sickly pale. He couldn't believe his eyes for the thing which he had put his hopes in during the many months of danger, sank to the bottom like a rock. It was a defective piece of equipment and had he jumped overboard he would have drowned.

What do you place your hope in and will it let you down?

Any hope that is not in Jesus is a false hope.


Jesus the hope of the world.

Jesus is my hope, He is our hope.

Chuck Swindoll wrote:”We can live several weeks without food, days without water, and only minutes without oxygen, but without hope – forget it. “

As oxygen is necessary for the physical body to be healthy and survive so hope is necessary for us to have a healthy relationship with God. When we lose hope, we are overcome with feelings of senselessness, purposelessness, and despair. Lack of hope can destroy our lives.
God encourages us to put our hope in his promises, which never fail; but often we are content to put our hope in the promises of the world, which rarely succeed. Greed, lies about how well the economy is doing or how medicine can help us live forever, or false economic theories, these and many other man made promises can destroy what we thought were guarentees for success, taking away our hope. God’s promises will not fail, they are guarenteed by Him for He made them.


What is hope?

Hope is an expectation, it is a prospect

A desire of something good with the expectation of obtaining it.

God defined hope for the people of Israel while they were in Exile In Jer(29:11-12) by giving them a positive future where if they would call on Him, He would listen to them and bring about that hope of a restored relationship and provide for them.

But some people define hope in terms of things that they can obtain like wealth, prosperity, success.

As I searched for some news headings on hope during Christmas these were some of my findings:

From the OTTAWA Citizen -- Retailers preparing their stores for what they hope will be the sound of ringing cash registers, won't be disappointed this holiday season as consumers will spend $1.6 billion more than they did last year, analysts are predicting.

From The Associated Press

Retailers hope sales pace continues…Retailers got what they wanted over the Thanksgiving weekend -- a strong start to the 2006 holiday shopping season as consumers crowded stores in search of huge discounts on flat-screen TVs and other hot merchandise.

From the National Post

U.S. retailers hope tills will jingle with 'must-have' gift this Christmas

From the Business section of One news in New Zealand

Retailers hope for Christmas boom

With Christmas just a month away, retailers are hoping the festive season will loosen shoppers' purse strings.

From Reuters

Lebanese hope UN troops bring peace -- and business

Some hope in the military to bring them freedom and success.

The majority of the news articles I found on hope during Christmas are those on hoping do better financially. There hope is placed in money, material goods and the success that it can bring.

Many will hope to fullfill all their dreams of success or they feel rejected by others, shunned and shamed by those they value.

We all need to put our hope in something or someone but if my hope is placed in objects that are weak, finite and based on selfish motives there will be no success just more failure.

Hope Needs a Solid Foundation

Some put there hopes in man thinking that he is a solid foundation. If I hope in what is limited it is going to fall apart, its going to crumble and leave me in misery, feeling betrayed and not wanting to trust.

This is how Jean-Paul Sartre atheist and philosopher choose to live his life, hoping in himself or man. He taught that one finds his own way in life, as there are no standards for moral decisions. Truth is arrived at by personal experience and acting on one's own convictions. Since God does not exist there is no hope in finding help, other than through yourself.

He believed and taught in individual existence, my freedom, and my choices for the here and now.

With this kind of view towards hope and life no wonder he and others who hold to this view of life ultimately live in despair as they live life all alone. A self-conceited person or a person wise in his or her own thinking is more hopeless than a fool (Prov. 26:12).

A little over a month before he died in 1980 this famous atheist who resisted any feelings of despair, would say to himself, “I know I shall die in hope.” Then realizing with sadness, he would say, “But hope needs a foundation.”

Indeed hope does need a foundation, a solid foundation, one that is not limited to man but is found in our great and powerful God.

Paul In Timothy talks about whom to put our hope in.

1 Tim 1:1-2

1          Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

2          To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

(NIV)

Jesus our hope is the foundation that will not fail or crumble.


Christ Jesus is the solid foundation of our hope.

Let me explain how Jesus is that solid foundation.

Sometimes life seems bleak and depressing.

What do we when life seems this way, when it is depressing, hopeless or when doubt sets in?

David was faced with depression and hopelessness and shows us how to deal with it in:

Ps 6:6-9

6          I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.

7          My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.

8          Away from me, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping.

9          The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer.

 (NIV)

Scripture: Psalm 6

Negative people are lurking around every corner. Sometimes they are as close as our own thoughts, for all of us go through bouts of the blues. Where life seems hopeless. David struggled with these feelings in Psalm 6.

1.      Our Troubled Soul (vv. 1–3). David is fearful of displeasing God, yet troubled in his bones, asking God how long these feelings will last: “My soul also is greatly troubled....O Lord—how long?”

2.     Our Only Hope. He feels he might die, describing himself as weary, wasting away, and weeping. But by pleading to God, he appeals to the One who is his only hope: “Return, O Lord, deliver me! Oh, save...!”

3.     Our Renewed Strength. Through a season of honest, earnest prayer, David drew close and received God’s strength. A change of tone occurs in verse 8, as he takes command of his feelings. “The Lord has heard my request! The Lord will receive my prayer.”

Honest, earnest prayer to God is our great weapon in chasing away the blues. You will find that as you call out to Him, our God who cares for the oppressed and hopeless will give you hope and strength. (Job 5:16; Ps. 9:18[19]).

It was a couple of weeks ago when I was feeling very tired, felt kind of depressed and didn’t want to prepare this sermon any longer. I needed much sleep and just wanted to quit. I had studied God’s word and knew what it said about Hope in Jesus, strength in Jesus but I felt depressed. I asked myself was the Lord’s word true in my life? Was his word not more than just writings about Him? did I experience His power? I prayed to God and I had the privilege of talking to other believers about my situation and then God reminded me of Eccelesiastes 4

Eccl 4:9-12

9          Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:

10        If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

11        Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?

12        Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

(NIV)

Being accountable to other believers helped me stay focused on Jesus my hope. It was not my hope in Jesus as the One who would or could deliver me that had failed but my flesh which is weak.

I did ask God for help and he gave me rest. I hoped that He would give me strength and help me do what is right and He did. It was difficult during my time of depression but He helped me back onto my feet and took my hand and led me forward. Praise be to God for the confidence He gave me as I put my hope in His promises, and the experience that I gained in my relationship with Him.

We have hope today because of the relationship we have with Jesus, and His return motivates us to right living.  It is sometimes difficult to stay hopeful, excited and motivated in a promise of our Lord’s soon return which was made so long ago. But we are encouraged by Paul in his leter to the church in Titus to have a positive, joyful attitude of hope founded on Jesus as we wait for Him to return.

Titus 2:11-14

11        For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.

12        It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,

13        while we wait for the blessed hope-- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

14        who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

(NIV)

How does this hope we have in Jesus help us live rightly?:

Purifying Hope,

Protecting Hope,

And a Positive Hope.
The three ‘P’s of hope.


One. IT IS A PURIFYING HOPE
I Jn 3:2-3

2          Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

3          Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

The hope of the Lord’s soon  return should have a practical application to our lives. If we are expecting the Lord’s return, we should live and work as if He were coming the next moment; always in a state of readiness, eagerly anticipating His coming back.
I really believe that the Lord Jesus Christ could come NOW! At any moment! If that hope is truly in each of our hearts, it will help us to keep clean in our daily living, and pure before the Lord. The fact that Jesus could come now, is a ‘purifying hope’. I want to be found ready when He comes. I want to be found faithful when He comes.

The second ‘P’ of hope. IS A PROTECTING HOPE
I Thessalonians 5:8 [NIV] But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

This hope is a ‘Protecting Hope’, in the same way as a helmet protects a soldier in the battle. This hope is able to protect us as we look on with expectation to the completeness of our salvation, which only happens when we are taken away from the presence of sin and temptation, into the presence of the Lord.

There was:

A man and his wife who were on a long trip and they stopped at a full-service gas station. After the station attendant had washed their car’s windshield, the man in the car said to the station attendant, “It’s still dirty. Wash it again.”

So the station attendant complied. After washing it again, the man in the car angrily said, “It’s still dirty. Don’t you know how to wash a windshield?”

Just then the man’s wife reached over, removed her husband’s glasses from his face, and cleaned them with a tissue. Then he put them back on and behold—the windshield was clean! He could see more clearly.

Our attitudes and our thinking has a great deal to do with how we look at things.

This hope of salvation as a helmet helps us with our attitudes by protecting our thoughts. As believers when we put on this helmet of hope our focus turns to Jesus who is our salvation. With my focus on Jesus my desire becomes to please Him, to see my relationship with Him grow and draw closer to completion. By keeping that hope before me, Jesus our source of help will enable me to strive to do what is right and enable me to avoid sin and temptation. As children of God we are able to have a joyful attitude because of this hope in Jesus


The third ‘P’ of hope IS A POSITIVE HOPE
Heb 6:19-20

19        We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,

20        where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. (NIV)


The symbol is of the ‘Anchorius’, a small boat propelled by oars. When a sailing boat seeking to enter harbour met a very strong offshore wind, making it impossible to enter the shelter of the harbour, the ‘anchorius’ would row out and take the ship’s anchor on board, and returning to the harbour would cast the anchor inside the harbour, securing the ship.
We have this hope, we are not anchored in the world, our anchor is in heaven, where Jesus is. One day, very soon, Jesus is coming again. Until then we have this wonderful positive hope.

Thank God for the Protecting, Positive, and Purifying hope of the Lord’s return.

 

What is this hope founded on Christ Jesus and How does having hope in Christ Jesus help you live faithfully?

The believers hope is founded on Jesus Christ who has made us promises

 

Jesus has given us promises to hold onto, to hope in until He comes and makes them complete. There are four promises that I would like to share with you.

A PROMISE OF THE SECOND COMING

The promise: “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him he will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Heb. 9:28).

  The Messiah had come. And His first ministry was to be offered up as a sacrifice, that He might bear the sins of many.

But there was more to the Messiah’s story. Christ was destined to appear “a second time.” When Jesus comes again it will not be to deal with the sins of the world.

When he returns, he will proclaim the full benefits of salvation. When we the believers are finally in the presence of Christ, we will no longer experience death, mourning, crying, or pain (Rev. 21:4). We will be with Christ forever. We will be free from the pain that sin brings. Jesus gives us the hope of freedom today, and in the future we will live in this freedom with Him.

There is a poem titled Hope of Freedom that that I want to share with you.

Hope of Freedom

Born in a stable
His mother a virgin
He was raised in a carpenter shop
His parents were poor
His people were slaves
His friends were a lowly lot
His chances in life are very slim
He’s expected to be a slave
But people in darkness
Saw light in Him and hope of freedom He gave.

Source Unknown

[1]

Jesus further promises that He will come back for us.

A PROMISE OF HIS RETURN TO COME BACK FOR US

The promise: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).

John welcomes us into the little group which gathered the night before Jesus was crucified to listen to what Jesus taught that fateful night.

Jesus was going to go away to “prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). But His leaving did not mean abandonment. Jesus promised to return. And when Jesus returns, He will take His followers to Himself, to be with Him forever. He is preparing a place for us in the world to come. And when the time is right, Jesus will come back to claim us as His own.

John adds, “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).

How eagerly we should look for Christ to come back. The more we focus on Jesus’ return, the greater our motivation will be to live for Jesus now, that we might greet Him with joy rather than shame.

A PROMISE OF INHERITANCE

The promise. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:13, 14).

The Spirit has sealed us. We belong to God, and He will take possession of us when Jesus comes. How are we to respond to this awesome gift of God? In Eph.1:18 Paul asked that “you may know what is the hope of His calling” (Eph. 1:18). That “hope” is absolute and utter confidence that because we trust in Jesus our salvation is assured.

God gives us promises which show that He expects us to know our eternal destiny. There is no uncertainty about our sealing by the Holy Spirit of promise, who is Himself God’s guarantee of heaven.

Our certainty is based on the realization that salvation is a gift. We will be in heaven because of what Christ has done for us—not because of anything we have done. Rather than feeling more holy than others, we who know we will be in heaven are more aware of being sinners who have no hope in ourselves. All the credit and glory for our salvation belongs to Jesus.

 

Yet further promises are made by our Lord

A PROMISE OF FUTURE REWARD

The promise: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9).

 The person who lives in the flesh—motivated by sinful desires—will receive what his way of life deserves. And the person who lives in the Spirit—eager to please and respond to God—will receive what his way of life deserves as well.

The promise of these rewards are in the future so they seem unreal, they are in the distance, it seems along time  before we are able to obtain them. It is easy for the believer to become discouraged and “grow tired” in doing good.

God reminds us that “in due season we shall reap.” He promises those who have chosen to live for Him a rich reward in heaven. But this is a reward that is delayed.

 It is like young children who do not understand the idea of delayed gratification. Have you ever noticed that as they walk through a grocery store with Mom or Dad, they point to candy and demand it now. But as they grow older, they generally learn the value of delayed gratification. We can’t have everything we want “now.” God asks all of us to delay the gratification of some desire because delay is right and best for us.

Are you willing to live in hope of a future reward, which is long delayed? The rewards God promises us may never be possessed in this life. Paul warned us against losing heart or growing weary in doing good. Only the Christian who has learned the value of delayed gratification will remain totally enthusiastic in serving Christ and be satisfied to wait for his or her rewards.


As believers our lives are marked with the hope that comes from Jesus which is in contrast to the hopelessness of the world (Eph. 2:12 [cf. 1 Thess. 4:13]). Hope in Jesus is part of the Christian’s experience that is made complete in heaven.

The righteous person’s hope is ultimately and completely in God (Ps. 62:5[6]);

Advent is a time of hope as we wait for the coming of the risen Christ.

Put your hope in Him for you will succeed with Him.

Sing the hymn ‘My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ…’ On Christ my solid rock.


----

[1]Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.

cf (compare, comparison)

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