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The Blessed Hope

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The Christian HOPE is not invain or with uncertainty as the world's, but rather, our is a confident expectation of that which is to come!

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OPEN WITH VIDEO, “Christmas Really Happened”

I think that it is important that we not look at a day or a season to celebrate Jesus! Many people are already out of the Christmas frame of mind and looking towards the New Year’s celebration. That is, they did the “Christmas” thing and paid homage to the Messiah and now it’s time for the next holiday celebration! Then, these same people, when Easter roles around, will adorn themselves with their “new” clothes and show up at the church again, to show their gratitude.

The thing is this; let’s stop looking at a time of the year to celebrate and remember something about Jesus and start thanking Him everyday for who He is in our lives! Lord, Messiah, Savior, King, EMMANUEL!
Yes, the day that men set aside to recognize the birth of Jesus, “Christmas”, is done and over for the year of 2017 and we are officially at the threshold of the New Year, 2018.
Don’t run past Christmas at full speed ahead and into the New Year with your life! Rather, stop and remember each and every day of this New Year and every year thereafter,that Jesus did come, He was born of a virgin and He did die on that cross so that you and I could live eternally with He and His Father in Heaven!
Keep that on the forefront of your minds each and every day; JESUS HAS COME......................... AND HE IS COMING AGAIN SOON!

OK, so here we are again, at the close of one year and looking into the face of a new one! And with it, what will it bring?

What will be different about this year for you, versus that of last year?
What will change in your life? What new things will you embrace and what old things will you walk away from?
What differences will you make in the lives of those who exist in your world?
Will you be an influence to the lives of others that are in and of this world, or will you allow those others to influence you?
What will other people see in your life this year?
And what will you hide so that others can’t see it?
How much of you, if any, are you TRULY willing to let God have control over in your life for this New Year?
And bearing that thought in mind, what is it that you TRULY want to see happen through your life this year?

You know, it is no secret that we are at that time of the year, where many people will formulate and devise RESOLUTIONS for this New Year and for their lives.

I have in fact, over the past couple of years, opened up my sermon for this time of year, talking about resolutions and why people make them.
I have even asked in the past, how many of you were making resolutions for the coming year, right?
I would list off the top ten resolutions from the previous year and then jokingly ask, “Which of you have made of any of these”, or something to that nature.
The point being, is that people tend to look to the New Year, as a chance for a “new” and better life for themselves, right?
I mean, people, for some reason, seem to have the mindset that the New Year has the power to offer a new life and a better life for them.
They forget about the fact that, each and every day, is a new day and holds the same potential for change in their lives!
If you blow it this year, then just go on with your life until next year and try again! That is the way that many people look at it.
Why is it that we can’t say, “Well, I messed up today, but tomorrow I will start over and get it right”?
Anyway, many people all over this nation, have already planned out their resolutions for the coming year. Many in fact, are WRITING down their resolutions for accountability sake.
As I have mentioned before, writings things down has power to it.
In fact, psychology and medical science have proven that writing down our goals and plans can increase the rate of succeeding in those goals, by as much as 42%, over those who do not write them down.
They say that when you just plan out your resolutions, but don't write them down, then you are only using the right side (the imaginative/creative side) of your brain.
However, if you write these goals down, then you recruit the left side (the logic-based side) of the brain in conjunction with the right hemisphere; thus you are now recruiting the entire brain into the process and this creates more investment into the goal setting!
SKIT WITH JON ON NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS AND WANTING HOPE!

You know, I shared some with you last week, about the world and all of the stress and turmoil that comes with it in every day life and how, because of this turmoil, many people are weighed down and heavy with grief and stress.

It was Jesus, Himself, who said to the world, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
This is what a lost world needs and this is the message they must hear!
The world wants HOPE, yet the way that most people use and understand the word HOPE is drastically different than that of the way that God gives HOPE!
The very definition of the word HOPE is: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best; to feel that something desired may happen.
The natural/secular meaning of the word HOPE, has no assurance and is, at best, a chance or simply put, a possibility!
When people use the word HOPE, they will say things like: “I HOPE that it doesn’t rain this weekend”, “I Hope that I get a pay raise this year”, “I HOPE that it warms up this week”, or “I hope that the Lakers win the NBA championship this year!”
These statements are not based upon confidence.
When people speak of medical issues, they will say something like, “I sure HOPE that the doctors can help them!”
This is all linked to chance and odds; not assurance!
Most of the time when we use the word, HOPE, it expresses uncertainty, not assurance!
Even with the scenario of resolutions, you could take the top 10 of these and phrase them this way:
I hope that lose weight this year and look better in the eyes of others
I hope that I can spend more time with my loved ones this year.
I hope that I can get out of debt and start saving some money.
I hope that I can become more organized.
I hope that I can stop smoking/drinking, etc.
The main problem with these statements and with most things in our lives, is that the answer, the solution, is always based upon SELF, or reliance of others.
Anytime that you depend upon self or others, (no matter how good of a person they may be) for fulfillment in your life, you are automatically set up for failure! One fallen person cannot truly fulfill and bring lasting HOPE to another.
Now, if you look in the Bible and read of how the word HOPE is used, or the portrayal of the word, you will find something completely different.

Now, if you look in the Bible and read of how the word HOPE is used, or the portrayal of the word, you will find something completely different.

All the way back in the Old Testament, throughout the Psalms, we can see HOPE being expressed like this:
Psalm 25:5 NLT
Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.
Psalm 37:34 NLT
Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you by giving you the land. You will see the wicked destroyed.
Psalm 39:7 NLT
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.
Psalm 94:19 NLT
When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.
Psalm 119:114 NLT
You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope.
Psalm 78:7 NLT
So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.
Psalm 119:116 NLT
Lord, sustain me as you promised, that I may live! Do not let my hope be crushed.
Even in a period of punishment for rebellion Israel could hear God saying this to them and to us today, ,
Jeremiah 19:11 NLT
Then say to them, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: As this jar lies shattered, so I will shatter the people of Judah and Jerusalem beyond all hope of repair. They will bury the bodies here in Topheth, the garbage dump, until there is no more room for them.
Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
These uses of the word HOPE do not present with uncertainty or doubt, and most especially, they do not portray the source of the HOPE, coming from self or from others!
In fact, one of my favorite Psalms that deals with the assurance that we have with God and the confidence of HOPE in Him is ,
Psalm 121 NLT
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
1 I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.
The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.
The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
“Both now and forever”......this passage closes with an eternal assurance, an eternal HOPE!
And throughout these verses that I just read, the ancient Hebrew words that are used, all dealt with a similar understanding; CONFIDENCE, CERTAINTY!
It is the eternal perspective that we find fulfilled in the New Testament and the source from which we find our HOPE today and that which I am speaking about this morning!

Until the New Testament (the new covenant) came into being, HOPE was linked to the then and now and through God (as in, He will not let me stumble, He will watch over me, He will protect me, He is my shield, He is my provider), the then and now, unless of course, it was a prophetic mentioning of that which was to come.

And what was to come?
The MESSIAH, the Christ, Jesus the Son of God!
He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament and the reason that all of creation has HOPE!
In the New testament the Greek word for HOPE, is predominantly the word, elpis, and it used to represent a CONFIDENT EXPECTATION! (everyone say, confident expectation!)
This confident expectation is not based upon logic, or scientific calculation or mathematical probability, or anything like this. This assurance, this confident expectation is based solely upon our faith and trust in God, through Jesus as Lord of our lives!
The reason that I said earlier that when we look to ourselves or to someone else as a source of HOPE or fulfillment, it is set up for failure, is because we are, by nature, sinful. We are born that way, and even as Christians, we are still subject to commit sin, because our flesh, our natural fleshly desires, are constantly waging war against us, thus keeping us from fulfilling, completely, someone’s expectation of HOPE!
In and of ourselves we are not capable of producing confident expectations for a future and a HOPE. The only way that we can produce something that instills confidence and assurance is if we bring God and His moral character into the situation.
Even in an imperfect, broken and sometimes corrupt judicial system, they still cling to the use of God as part of the oath that is taken from a witness, because there is no other name or no other source and standard from which morality can come!
Let me give you an example of how the world uses HOPE, versus how the Christian understands it to be.
When Desirae and I were married, almost 17.5 years ago, by Pastor Linus, from this very church, and he was giving us the vows, if he had turned to me and asked, “Will you take Desirae Marie Anderson, to be your wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the Holy estate of matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her, so long as you both shall live?
And then with all eyes upon me and my beautiful wife-to-be staring directly at me, if I would have answered, “I HOPE SO”, can you imagine the expectation that would have come from the longevity of that marriage?
(Can you imagine Desirae saying, sound good to me, let’s do this!)
She would have said “NO WAY”! And why?
Because she would want some confident expectation of a future with me. She would want to have FAITH and HOPE for a future life with me, not the world’s understanding of HOPE!
When Desirae and I talk about our future and our lives together, there is no mention of, or plan B for divorce. We have a confident expectation for a life long marriage together.
This does not come from our belief in or our complete and total trust, just in one another, since we already know that we are fallen and subject to sin, but rather, her confidence in me and mine in her, stems from our knowing that each other has faith and belief in the very ONE whom we made a covenant agreement with at the time of that wedding; the Lord God almighty!
We have a confident expectation that as long as we keep our marriage intact with His word and as He has created us to be, we are covered with the and protected by the very God of creation!
I cannot think of anyone or anything else that I would rather put my HOPE and future trust into, than in the hands of the one who spoke the world into existence!
You can have the “good hands” of Allstate! I am placing my future into the hands of His-state!
Again, it is the Psalmist who asked and then answered his own question, “Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God.”
And as great and as true as this psalm was, it still was written before the fulfillment of God’s plan for our salvation; that is, it was written before the coming of the Christ, the Messiah!
And that is the major difference between the Hope of the Old Testament saints and those who came after the finished work of Jesus the Christ.
Our HOPE is now based upon the future glory that is to revealed, when Jesus returns for His church, not for temporal time here under His care.
That is not to say that we have no HOPE while we are here, nothing could be further from the truth.
The finished work of Yeshua, is for us now in FAITH in this life and for an eternal future with Him!

It is important to note here that since we are talking about the HOPE that every true believer has in Christ, we should take note of something that Paul told us that ties in with this.

Paul said in , “But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)”
The point is, if we are truly a blood bought child of the Lord, then we have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within us. And if we have Holy Spirit dwelling within us AND HE is the one in control of our life, then we will have a very strong confidence about our HOPE!
Turn with me in your Bibles please to the epistle of and 16-18.
verses 13-14 says, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed (marked for possession, to make secure) with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee (a sure down payment) of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Point here, is that Holy Spirit is placed within us, to mark us God’s own and also He serves as a guarantee of the future HOPE in Christ for the believer! HALLELUJAH!!!!
Verses 16-18 tells us, “I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident HOPE he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.”
Holy Spirit within the believer serves as the source of affirmation and the guide to all spiritual truth and knowledge about the great and mighty HOPE that we have!
NOTE: Paul said that Holy Spirit would illuminate the eyes of our HEARTS, not our minds.
Nothing is more dangerous than someone who is full of head knowledge, but no Spiritual/Godly knowledge within their heart.
That is, this person has memorized scripture, but has no relationship with the Lord and thus they speak of their own limited knowledge, versus that which comes from Holy Spirit!
This is a person who, when trials or hardships come their way, they will falter and question, or even turn away from God, because Holy Spirit is not active in building them up and giving the peace and assurance that comes from the BLESSED HOPE of the believer!
The heart that is turned towards God and listens to Him and His word, has a supernatural faith to follow the future glory of HOPE, as opposed to the someone to only has head knowledge.
Paul said this in of Abraham, “Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.   He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.”
Now go back a couple of verses and read what it says, “In HOPE he believed against HOPE, that he should become the father of many nations.”
In other words, even when, in the natural, there was NO HOPE in his situation to be able to have a son, he still kept HOPING and believing!
And here is powerful point that Paul makes to us, that ties in with what James mentions of our trials.
At the opening of the next chapter, Paul says this in verse 3-5, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces HOPE, and HOPE does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
As we go through the trials and tribulations of life (whatever they may be), we develop endurance and this is the seed that germinates into HOPE!
OK, so when we are filled with Holy Spirit, we are enlightened and strengthened about who we are in Christ Jesus, as sealed, sanctified children of the ONE TRUE GOD! We have HOPE!
And once He is living within us, according to ,“The God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in HOPE”, He produces within the believer, an abundance (excessive, more than enough) HOPE to sustain them!
This is one of the reasons why some people walk in such great and amazing faith in the Lord; the Holy Spirit active and alive inside of them is constantly building them up and reminding them of the their future HOPE in the Lord!
Imagine if you knew today, right now, that you were going to inherit an amount of money equal to the size of our nations national debt ($20.6 trillion) in 10 years. During that time frame, you would have to live a life in accordance with the rules of the guarantor of this inheritance.
Failure to accept this life, would result in total annihilation at the end of the time frame!
Who, in their right mind, would turn this down!
It is the same thing spiritually with what we have been given! We have an immeasurable, spiritual inheritance within the Kingdom of God!
I’m not talking about wealth/money, but an eternity with Jesus, Himself spent in the perfect realm of heaven, that is the immeasurable wealth that we inherit!

We need to stop right here for a moment and remember what Paul said to us in , “In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without HOPE. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.”

Before you knew Jesus Christ as Lord and savior, you and I were WITHOUT HOPE! The same as every other man, woman and child in this nation.
It doesn’t matter how rich they are or how poor they are, without them hearing the TRUTH of the Gospel Message by us, the true believers, (and their believing it withing their hearts and confessing it with their mouth), they are lost and without HOPE and they will die in that same condition!
tells us, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?”
You and I are to radically change the world in which we live by sharing the Gospel Message to it! (Anyone who asks you, should be told the truth of why you believe and what you believe, in; yet without malice or prejudice towards them!)
says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the HOPE that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
And what, by definition, is that HOPE that is within us?
In other words, I keep mentioning our HOPE, but what is that HOPE; what is the Bible talking about. HOPE for what?
Paul answers that very question in , “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our BLESSED HOPE, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
Titus 2:11–14 ESV
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Jesus Christ, Himself and His coming to call us home with Him, is the BLESSED HOPE (that confident expectation) of every believer!
The Bible says that He is coming back for us, just as it said that He would come the first time. All of God’s promises, are “YES” and “AMEN” through Jesus Christ! He is the fulfillment of God’s promises to us; HE IS OUR BLESSED HOPE and our eternal reward in heaven!

THIS WORLD WE LIVE IN, NEEDS HOPE! You and I are the ones that are to give it to the world around us, by sharing the Gospel Message. We are to become HOPE DEALERS out on the streets, at our jobs, in our homes, everywhere we are, HOPE should be found!

Read The Power of Hope
Read Brezhnev’s Hope
People need HOPE! The Bible tells us that, “HOPE deferred makes the heart sick.”
Yes, there are many people right now who are looking for HOPE, grasping for it in whatever way they can get it.
Re-do skit with Jon.

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

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