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God's Christmas Gifts: Hope

God's Christmas Gifts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Intro:
Matthew 7:7–11 NKJV
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
For the month of December, we have studied various gifts God gives. We’ve looked at [The Word], [Salvation], and [The Church]. Today the subject of my message is [Hope].
One of my favorite definitions of hope is, to expect with confidence. Other define hope as an expectation or belief in the fulfillment of something.
We think about hope at Christmas time. I still remember the feeling of Christmas Eve. Mom always tried to get us to go to sleep as quick as possible. It was the one time a year that I did not argue to go to bed, because I hoped my morning my presents would be under the tree.
As I have grown into adulthood, I still have hope. I still expect with confidence that good things await us, in our relationship with the Lord, in our church, in our families, and in our friendships.
I hope
My hope is more than wishful thinking. It is more than living with a false reality of what “might happen.” Rather, it is confidence that something good is waiting for us.
How can we possess such hope? We have hope because of what Christmas means.
One of my favorite Christmas carols reads, “O holy night, the stars are brightly shining; it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pinning; til He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of HOPE the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
A thrill of HOPE. The word hope is only found once in the gospels. But the message of hope is best told through the story of Jesus’ birth.
What hopes did Mary have for her new baby?
What hopes did Joseph have for His new family?
What hopes did those who met the baby Jesus have?
When He came on the scene, the world was in spiritual darkness. God’s people were in a difficult place, both physically and spiritually.
But the angels gave a message of HOPE:
Luke 2:10–14 NKJV
10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Luke 2:11 NKJV
11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Fear no longer needs to grip us, for we have HOPE in the future. What is our hope, Jesus is born and His birth will change everything.
Let’s look at the Christmas story from the lens of Hope from the writings of Paul in Romans: [The Remnant who Hoped], [The Resource of Hope], and [The Reason to Hope].
Let’s begin
1. The Remnant who Hoped
Romans 8:18–21 NKJV
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Romans 8:18–21 NKJV
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
As I mentioned, the events surrounding Christ’s birth seemed hopeless. God’s people, Israel, had long fallen from their place of prominence in the world.
Gone were the days where they ruled with great prestige. It was generation since their good King David ruled in Jerusalem. Instead, for centuries they became wards of the state.
First the Babylonians controlled them, then the Persians, next it was the Greeks, and now the Romans. God’s people adjusted to life under the Roman empire, but they were not a free people in the sense we are free.
They worked where they wanted, they worshipped how they wanted, and they lived how they wanted. But creeping over their shoulder was the watching eye of the Roman Empire.
To compound the problem, God chose to remain silent for 400 years. He did not speak through a prophet. Gone were the days where men like Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Daniel provided insight into the future.
Now, they solely relied on God’s written word. Because of the circumstances, many people stopped hoping for a better tomorrow.
Instead, they developed a go along to get along mindset that caused them to focus on what they could see, and not live with the false reality or hope of what they could not see.
However, in this time there was a remnant. This remnant eagerly awaited for God to reveal His promised Messiah. They longed for the glorious liberty that is promised to the children of God.
Mary and Joseph were a part of this remnant. They believed the words of the prophets. They trusted in God’s plan for humanity.
Romans 8:24–25 NKJV
24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
They knew their history, over and over God provided for them when the odds seemed stacked against them. How many times had the Lord come through for them?
The Lord saved them before, therefore they hoped for the redemption of God’s people. They did not know how or when, but they hoped. They could not see how everything would work in their favor, but they eagerly awaited, with hope.
They were a part of the remnant that expected with HOPE that God would fulfill His promises.
2. The Resource of Hope
Romans 15:4 NKJV
4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
Let’s try to put ourselves in Mary and Joseph’s shoes. They were faithful people who believed in God and trusted in His promises. What was their lifeline? What enabled them to join in the remnant of people who awaited the coming of their Savior?
They possessed an invaluable resource. I love the way Paul explained it: because of the scripture, we can wait with patience and hope as we look toward the future.
When Jesus arrived in Bethlehem, it might have caught some by surprise, but to the remnant, they knew what was coming because they knew what the scripture promised!
God foretold the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, for instance Micah prophesied Jesus’ birthplace:
Micah 5:2 NKJV
2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
Mary’s supernatural conception of Jesus was not a surprise to God:
Isaiah 7:14 NKJV
14 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 shepherds and the kings came, fulfilling:
Psalm 72:9–10 NKJV
9 Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him, And His enemies will lick the dust. 10 The kings of Tarshish and of the isles Will bring presents; The kings of Sheba and Seba Will offer gifts.
Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt, because:
Hosea 11:1 NKJV
1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.
As part of the remnant, they had hope because they possessed a resource others did not have. They had the inspired word of God, which will never fail!
3. The Reason to Hope
Romans 15:13 NKJV
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I love the Christmas story because it effects my life, but imagine being a part of living history. How did Mary and Joseph feel when they held Jesus in their arms.
Like any parent they had joy in His birth. They had peace knowing His delivery went smooth. But more than that, they held within their arms the God of Hope!
They did not know the whole story, but they knew enough to trust that God had great plans for the world because of Jesus’ birth.
They did not know Jesus would grow, become strong in spirit, be filled with wisdom, and that God’s grace would be upon Him, but they had reason to hope.
They did not know Jesus would confound the teachers in the temple when He was twelve years old, but they had reason to hope.
They did not know would be baptized in the Jordan River, receiving a seal of approval from heaven, but they had reason to hope.
They did not know He would face intense temptation from Satan, and that He would overcome, but they had reason to hope!
They did not know the names of the twelve disciples that would follow Him, but they had reason to hope.
They had not heard His prolific teaching or illustrated parables, but they had reason to hope.
They did not know that He would have a target on His back from the religious leaders and the people He came to save, but they had reason to hope.
Mary had no idea that the baby she held in her arms would die on a cross for a crime He did not commit, but she had reason to hope!
Their hope was not in what they could see, but in what they could not see. They had no concept of His burial and resurrection, but in that moment the God of Hope filled them with joy and peace.
For in their arms was the Savior of the world. No wonder the angels sang Glory to God in the highest, no wonder the shepherds came to worship, and no wonder the wise men brought gifts!
They did not hope in what they could see, but in what they could not see! They did not know the future, but in the present, they knew the Christ child was here for a reason, and they did their part!
Close:
Proverbs 13:12 NKJV
12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
For generations, they hope of a Savior was deferred, but when the day came, the Way, the Truth, and the Life lay in a manger. Now, thousands of years later, WE CAN HAVE HOPE!
Though the specifics differ, our circumstances are similar to that of Mary and Joseph.
We live in a seemingly hopeless world. Washington D.C. offers little hope. Many see no hope on the job or in their family.
So we have a choice, will we trust in what we can see or will we have hope in the unseen? Will we be a part of the remnant that declares, I do not know the future, but I will trust in the God of the future!
I want to be a part of that remnant, because we have a supernatural resource:
Psalm 119:81 NKJV
81 My soul faints for Your salvation, But I hope in Your word.
Colossians 1:5 NKJV
5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,
Colossians 1:27 NKJV
27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Titus 1:2 NKJV
2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,
Titus 2:13 NKJV
13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
We have a reason to hope! Because of Jesus we have hope that:
He will save us from our sins
He will heal us in our sickness
He will baptize us in His Spirit
He will enable us to speak in tongues
He will give us peace in difficult situations
He will provide joy unspeakable and full of glory
I have hope in a God I cannot see. I have hope in a future that is unknown, because:
Romans 15:13 NKJV
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, I will praise, I will worship, I will pray, I will sing, I will shout, I will dance, I will clap my hands, I will glorify the maker of heaven and earth, because He sees what I cannot see, He knows what I do not know,
But I expect with confidence that everything will be okay, because I have this hope and His name is Jesus!
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