2 Dec 18 - First Sunday of Advent
The Anticipation of Hope
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.
You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien.
That is a quote from JR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
It was said by a Hobbit - small folk - 3-4 feet tall.
They preferred to stay within the safety of their homes in a place called the Shire.
On occasion, a few would venture off into the big world, and indeed, it was a dangerous business leaving the safety of the known and heading into the unfamiliar.
It can be frightening and dangerous.
There’s fear, apprehension, uncertainty.
Perhaps one of reason we find Christmas so appealing is it symbolizes peace, sanity, safety - especially in a rapidly changing and unpredictable world.
We long for something normal in our lives, something that lacks chaos.
We want a break from the “real world.”
Somewhere in Christmas we search for peace, hope, joy.
We long for a silent night.
Just once, could we have peace on earth.
If not on earth, at least in my neighborhood, in my home, in my life.
The cold wintery truth is; however, we won’t find that in lifetime.
We will find glimpses here and there, but we will not find lasting peace and rest in this life.
And frankly, it will get more chaotic, more dangerous, more volatile before the end.
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door.”
Soon, 2018 will be behind us and 2019 will come and go too soon, too fast.
It’s a strange new world out there - it’s changing faster than anyone can keep up.
Scientists, inventors, business men and women from different faiths and cultures are saying we need to put the brakes on.
We’re moving too fast, too far, we’re crossing lines humans are not ready to cross.
But no one knows how to stop it.
And so what do we do?
How do we as people who claim to follow the Messiah face this brave new world?
How do we keep our feet in an everchanging landscape?
We can’t stay home.
We can’t hide and wait for Jesus to return.
Jesus saves us and sends us.
We are called to go out our front doors and onto the road - but we do need to keep our feet, keep our wits about us.
In Luke 21, the disciples were facing similar times.
Israel was under Roman occupation.
The disciples were kind of getting caught up in the here and now; enamored with this world.
He was just reminding them (and us) not to get too caught up in this world.
No matter how impressive or advanced the world gets, it’s all temporary.
Jesus is reminding us don’t get too distracted or too enamored with this world - you might lose your feet; might lose your way.
They’re curious - like most people are - they want information: when, where, how ….
Starting in verse 8 is what we call the “The Olivet Discourse.”
Jesus and his disciples have made their way to the Mount of Olives where Jesus preaches this prophetic sermon.
It is recorded in greater detail in Matthew 24–25 and Mark 13. Understand, prophetic passages do not always flow in a progressive orderly sequence, nor do they give all the details we would like have.
We’re not going to cover everything in this passage - but stick to the theme of Advent and the Anticipation of Hope.
The Advent season is a time of hope.
We look back to the birth of Christ, who is the Hope and Savior of the World.
Our hope is found in nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
And we look forward to His second coming when He will bring justice, judgment, and redemption.
What’s interesting is that the disciples asked for information, for signs and dates, but the first thing Jesus told them was a warning.
Do not be deceived.
He wanted to give them hope - something to hold onto - something so they wouldn’t lose their way.
And so the first thing we need to know about hope is-
1) Know where to place your hope.
What do we mean by hope?
Hope has a lot to do with looking forward to the fulfillment of God’s promises - that one day Jesus will return to this earth and deliver us once and for all.
That’s the great hope of Christianity - that this world is not it.
We have hope that a new and better world is coming - whether we die first of Jesus comes back - it matters not for we our bound for the Promised Land.
So, here’s the question: when your day comes, what do you hope to find or experience on the other side?
What you hope for may not be what you get.
See, a lot of people put their hope in things that only get them through this life: IRAs, 401Ks, medication, healthcare etc.
But what hope do you have that will carry you through to the next life - in Heaven or hell?
Some put their hope in religion - when they die, they hope will either be absorbed into the universe (in other words, you no longer exist - that’s exciting).
Or, they hope to be reincarnated - get another chance at life (we can see that that’s working well).
Or some hope that being a good person will pay off and somehow be enough.
Or they hope that there is no such thing as an afterlife.
This is it.
And some hope that all roads lead to God.
Do you realize that that statement is purely human ideology?
Who has enough knowledge and wisdom to know that is true?
And people want to risk their eternal destinies on something a person made up?
Why not believe in something that has yet to be proven false - i.e. the Bible.
Where have you placed your hope?
How secure is your hope?
How confident are you that it will get you through the worst of tribulations and into eternity in Heaven?
If your hope is in something other than Jesus Christ and His grace and mercy and His salvation, how secure of a hope is it?
Psalm 25 tells us that those who hope in God will never be put to shame.
In other words, hope in God’s love and salvation and truth are secure and trustworthy.
Do not be deceived - Jesus is the only hope we have in this life and in the next.
He came so that we might be free from sin and death, trust in Him and have eternal life.
No one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born-again, born of the flesh and born of His Spirit (John 3) - by placing your hope and trust in Him.
So, where have you placed your hope?
Nothing new since the beginning; however when you look at the whole of prophetic writings in Scripture, it is clear that there will be an increase in intensity and frequency.
Then Jesus talks about how bad the world is going to get - especially for believers in Christ.
Then verse 17 -
Second thing else we need to know about hope is this:
2) Know where to plant your feet .
“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”
~ Abraham Lincoln
Standing firm in the wrong place can get you killed.
Standing firm in a false religion, a false salvation, a false philosophy and ideology … won’t do any good when it comes time to leave this world or when Jesus comes back.
If you want to have hope, know where to plant your feet.
In other words, know where to plant your mind, your beliefs, your values - because if you don’t there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.
The Psalmist wrote -
My friends, where are your feet planted?
Where do you get your strength to stand firm in the faith of Jesus Christ?
If we’re alive during the End Times, knowing sports statistics won’t help you stand up for Jesus.