Faithlife Sermons

Surprised By Hope (2)

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Intro
This is my favorite time of the year. Christmas is supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year.” A time where joy and thanksgiving are felt as we spend time with family, friends and associates.
Christmas is supposed to be a time of “peace on earth and good will towards men.” It’s supposed to be a time when we greet each other with Merry Christmas and send Christmas Cards.
Christmas is the time of year we sing Jingle Bells, and Joy to the World and yet, it’s a well documented fact that people struggle with depression & discouragement more during the holidays than any other time of the year.
One survey reported that 45% of all Americans dread the Christmas season because it’s another reminder of the death of a loved one, or a painful divorce, or the loss of a job, or unrealized dreams as one more year passes by.
So, what can get us through the holiday Doldrums? Blues? Depression?
Hope

Hope is an essential ingredient for an Abundant Life

Look at the WOG
Proverbs 13:12 NLT
12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.
Dr Victor Frankl, a psy. who was a POW in Auschwitz Prison Camp during the Holocost said this in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning.
“The prisoner who had lost faith in the future, his future was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future he also lost his spiritual hold. He let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay.”
Hope is a powerful force in the human heart but it can wane during the holiday seasons, but there is HOPE.
Not talking about pumping yourself up with positive thinking and optimism about the future. I believe true and lasting hope comes as a result of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Because Jesus was much more than a human child born 2018 years ago on the outskirts of nowhere, a family, a nation and the world were surprised by hope.
700 years before Jesus birth, the prophet Isa described what the coming of the Savior would be like.
Isaiah 9:6 NLT
6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
There are 4 qualities that Isa uses to describe the coming Messiah.

Four Qualities of the Savior

1. Jesus as my counselor reveals God’s love for me.

He is Wonderful Counselor. What a wonderful thing it was when God revealed his love through the Savior.
Romans 5:8 NLT
8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
Jesus came to earth 2,000 years ago to die on a cross and pay the price for sin and everyone who puts his or her faith in Him will have everlasting life.
John 3:16–17 AMP
16 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.
Jesus did not die just so we could go to heaven, He died so we can be in relationship with God. Do you understand that the God of the Universe, the creator of everything wants a friendship relationship with you?
God loves you and I so much, that humanly, we can’t understand it. His love is so vast and powerful that once we really embrace it, live in it and be controlled by it - - everything will change & you will never be the same again.
When you really understand this, you will be surprised by hope.

2. Jesus as the Mighty God is in control of all things.

The attribute that Jesus gives me the most hope is his sovereignty… the fact that he is in control of everything. He is in control of everything in your life… the good, the bad and the ugly.
Jesus doesn’t cause the bad things in your life, but he allows them to strengthen your faith and develop your character.
That’s why James wrote…
James 1:2–4 The Message
2 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. 3 You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. 4 So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
1 Peter 1:6–7 NLT
6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

God accomplishes His purposes through my problems!

No matter what’s happening in your life, you can be confident of the fact that Jesus the Mighty God is on complete control.
ILL - Atom Illustration -
Everything is made up of Atoms.
Atoms have: protons, neutrons, & electrons. The Protons and Neutrons make up the center of the Atom called the Nucleus and the electrons fly around above the nucleus in a small cloud.
I also want you to notice that Protons have a positive charge but the Neutrons don’t have any charge.
Physicists have discovered that positive charges repel each other (think of this as trying to push two magnets together, remember when we were kids we used to do that?)
So all the Protons should not stay together.
So what holds the Nucleus together? Scientist don’t know, but we do.
Dr Karl Darrow, a physicist with Bell Labs...
“...all the massive nuclei have no right to be alive at all. Indeed, they should never have been created, and, if created, they should have blown up instantly. [So we should be having nuclear explosions all over the place because everything in life is made up of matter; therefore it’s composed of atoms.] Yet here they all are… Some inflexible inhibition is holding them relentlessly together. The nature of the inhibition is also secret… one thus far reserved by Nature for herself.”
It’s not really a secret. we know what holds everything together.
Colossians 1:17 NLT
17 He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.
Holds all together = “to cohere” to be constituted with. Jesus is literally holding the universe together. Every atom should explode but it doesn’t because Jesus holds it together.
One day he will let it go…
2 Peter 3:10 NLT
10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.
“What holds the universe together is not an idea or a virtue, but a person: the resurrected Christ. Without him, electrons would not continue to circle nuclei, gravity would cease to work, the planets would not stay in their orbits.” Dr. Douglass J. Moo: The Pillar New Testament Commentary
So do you really think that if Jesus holds the universe together, that he can’t handle your problems?
No matter what’s going on in your life, there is hope because Jesus is the Mighty God and he holds everything together. So you don’t have to be afraid or worry… you can place your confidence in Jesus.
That’s why Peter says...
1 Peter 5:7 NIV
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
When you believe that Jesus is the Mighty God, you will be surprised by the hope that you will have!

3. Jesus as the Everlasting Father keeps His promises.

If you have kids, you always want to keep your promises… right?
I used to just scratch my head as to why parents would take their kids through Toys R Us. It was always a struggle because the kids want everything. Whenever you would finally say yes, they would say something like...
You promise? Really?
You don’t want to break your promises, but sometimes we have even though we didn’t want to. We want to grow up trusting our parents.
ILL - daddy throwing my up and catching me… Johnny’s dad missing him
Broken promises break little hearts and no daddy wants to do that… neither does God our father.
Hebrews 1:3 NCV
3 The Son reflects the glory of God and shows exactly what God is like. He holds everything together with his powerful word. When the Son made people clean from their sins, he sat down at the right side of God, the Great One in heaven.
Jesus as God has the heart of a Father for his children and he always keeps his promises.
So when the Bible says,
Psalm 46:1–3 NLT
1 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. 2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. 3 Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude

You can believe it

Psalm 84:11 NLT
11 For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

You can believe it

Psalm 92:12–13 NLT
12 But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. 13 For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God.

You can believe it

Isaiah 41:10 NASB95
10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

You can believe it!

John 14:3 NLT
3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

You can believe it

Jesus the everlasting Father keeps his promises.

4. Jesus as the Prince of Peace has made peace between God and me.

When Isaiah refers to Jesus as the Prince of Peace, he is referring to the fact that Jesus has made peace between God and me.
Before a person receives Jesus Christ as their Savior, the Bible says they are an enemy of God because of their sin.
Sin has separated them from a Holy and Righteous God so all they can expect to receive from God is His wrath. That’s the bad news.
But, here’s the Good News:
Jesus took on Himself the full wrath of God while hanging on the Cross and shed His own blood to pay the penalty for my sin.
And once I accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, once I believe in faith that He died in my place, at that moment of belief, I become reconciled to God. God is no longer at war with me: Jesus has made peace between me and God.
Colossians 1:19–20 NLT
19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, 20 and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
Don Richardson was a missionary to a cannibalistic, headhunting Sawi tribe of Irian Jaya in Indonesia.
The Sawi were a very violent people and were constantly at war with the neighboring villages.
Being that treachery, revenge, and murder were highly honored among them, there seemed little hope that they would ever have peace between themselves.
However, there was a custom that was legendary among the Sawi called: The Peace Child. This child was a baby boy that was given to another village and as long as that baby boy was alive, there would be peace between them.
Don Richardson took this custom and used it as the analogy of the reconciling work of Christ.
He told them that Jesus Christ was God’s peace child to all men and because Christ lives eternally, through Him there would always be peace between God and those who believe in His Son.
As a result, many of the Sawi came to believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Peace Child and soon after that a strong Evangelical church emerged.
Jesus as the prince of peace has made peace between you and God and when you believe that, you will be surprised by hope.
So where are you at today? Which of these four qualities did you need to hear or be reminded of?
Reminded of God’s love for you?
Reminded that Jesus is in control, and that he has your problems under control?
Or that Jesus is the everlasting Father that KEEPS his promises.
Maybe there’s some of you here that have finally connected the dots and you realize that as a sinner you’re separated from a holy and righteous God. But he wants to fix that. You understand now that Jesus wants to be the peace child for me.
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