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04-The God of Hope

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Chapter 2

Christmas  2008

I.  IntroductionII.  Seven Reasons as to why The Son of God came into the WorldA. Matt 1:21, to save His people from their sinsB. Mk 10:45, to give his live as a ransom for manyC. Lk 5:31-32, call sinners to repentanceD. Jn 9:39, give sight to the blindE. Matt 10:34, not come to bring peace, but a swordF. Jn 3:17-18, to save from divine condemnationG. Jn 3:16, to give everlasting lifeIII. Point of Action A.      The Perfect PlanB.      An urgent response 

Living Hope

1 Peter 1:3[1]

I.     [Slide 29] Introduction

In the Gospel of Mark, which most believe to be the first of the gospels written, the Gospel of Hope begins in the wilderness. There is no Christmas story in Mark. No wise men, no shepherds and angels, no star of Bethlehem.

Mark’s Gospel is a gospel of action -- fast-breaking action -- packed into sixteen chapters.

. . . it starts from the get-go, with a wild man named john out in the wilderness. He dresses funny and eats bugs. At first glance he might seem like a nut case.

His lifestyle is similar to that of Elijah, that Old Testament prophet.  And in many ways John was a new Elijah sent forth as a big "wake-up call" for the Jews.

V1, This is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God.

Mark tells us in v5, that the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the wilderness to meet this man. And this was John's message in the wilderness in part:

V7, "after me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the holy spirit."

The wilderness . . . it’s dry, hot, harsh, bleak, like the darkest of times. The wilderness can take many forms in today's world.

§         there is the wilderness of broken homes and divorce.

§         there is the wilderness of unexplained tragedy, striking almost at random out of the heart of darkness to take away people we care about.

§         there is the wilderness of random violence that gives school children and their parents bad dreams . . .

§         the wilderness of domestic violence that can turn a home into a minefield.

§         there is the wilderness of escape -- of running away from reality at full-speed, whether that means getting loaded on alcohol and smoking weed, or through sexual relationships that are devoid of god's blessing, or simply by nestling into a pile of money and hoping it can insulate us from all the craziness that surrounds us.[2]

It is in the wilderness, in our darkest times,

§         where hope can begin to bloom,

§         where we can be delivered from the world of death and move into the world of hope, the world of new life.

Despite all the advances of technology and modern living, we can never seem to escape the wildernesses of life.

Charles Colson, who knows well from personal experience about the pain of being lost in the wilderness, said, "I meet millions who tell me that they feel demoralized by the decay around us.  Where is the hope?"[3]

So John the Baptist comes:

. . . pointing the way to a new hope, and cautioning people not to be confused by the power and authority of his own prophetic word. there is one who is coming who is far greater than he . . . one who will baptize with the holy spirit.

In a poem entitled Hope In A Hopeless World

Baby born in New York City
Wrapped in a blanket all tattered and worn
Mama's doin' the best she can
It takes hope in a hopeless world

Her eldest son, he stayed in school
Listened to his mother, he never drank or used
But every job he wants he gets refused
It takes hope in a hopeless world

Looking for hope in a hopeless world
Trying to find love in these hateful times
Try to stay strong but my mind is weak
Looking for hope in a hopeless world

Churches are full, but the prayers are not heard
Saturday's child don't wanna to go to Sunday school
Whatever happened to the golden rule
It takes hope in a hopeless world

D'you got a quarter for the homeless man
Spare some change for the soldiers who fought the war
Put a little money in those hats and those tins
Give them hope in a hopeless world

Looking for hope in a hopeless world
Searchin' for love in these hateful times
Try to stay strong but my mind is weak
Ease my mind, ease my mind

And on the corner there stands a young girl
The home she left was in the better part of town
Daddy did things she never talked about
It takes hope in a hopeless world

Somebody out there gotta listen[4]

I am here today to tell you that ‘somebodies’ listening.  Isaiah puts it this way:

“There is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:21–22). 2,000 years ago an angel announced to a bunch of shepherds: “Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Jesus Christ will showed us the Way, he died for our sins, rose from the grave and poured out the Holy Spirit to establish His church.

Peter stated it this way: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. [1 Peter 1:3-5 (ESV)][5]

§         For Isaiah, the only righteous God and a Savior is the rallying cry, challenging us to place all our hope in Him. 

§         For Peter God’s great mercy is the rallying cry, challenging us to place all our hope in Him.

Make Him our priority. Give Him our loyalty. Fan the flame of our love for Him. Live for Him. Serve Him. Be faithful to the great God of mercy, to the one and only God. The great Savior to whom, one day every knee will bow!

II.   Seven Things that Hope Ignites:[6]

This morning I want to give us seven character traits of living hope.

A.  [1] Hope Ignites Faithfulness to His Word

The vision of His mercy ignites our faithfulness to the Word because, increasingly, we will experience its firm stability as everything else in the world around us seems to collapse. There is

§         no other foundation on which to build our lives,

§         no other Rock on which to stand,

§         no other purpose to live for,

§         no other Lord Who is able to rule our lives so that we live victoriously in a world that is increasingly defeated and hopeless—only Jesus! And He is revealed by God through His Word!

Therefore, you can do nothing more important than to make time for the Word every day.

\\ B. [2] Hope Ignites Faithfulness in Worship

To worship God literally means to attribute worth to Him. We attribute worth to God

§         by being preoccupied with Him,

§         by making Him our first priority,

§         by focusing on Him,

§         by obeying what He says,

§         by praising Him for who He is and what He has done,

§         by prostrating ourselves at His feet as though dead as John did in the Book of Revelation.

The vision of His great mercy ignites our faithfulness in worship by exalting the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. No one else, nor anything else, is worthy of our worship. Only Jesus Christ! In light of his great mercy, be faithful to worship Him.

C. [3] Hope Ignites Faithfulness to His Work

The vision of His great mercy ignites faithfulness in our work for Him because it motivates us to make use of every moment we have left.

It keeps our focus on the big picture lest we grow “weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9, NIV). In light of the vision of His mercy, we live for the crowns given as rewards for service to Christ—crowns that one day we can lay at His nail-pierced feet in the ultimate expression of devotion to Him. In light of His great mercy, be faithful to work for Christ!

D. [4] Hope Ignites Faithfulness to being Washed

When Jesus told John, “Blessed are those that wash their robes”[7], He was saying, in effect, blessed are those who are not only forgiven but who daily confess their sin that they might be cleansed, maintaining right, sweet, loving fellowship with the Father.

The vision of His great mercy ignites our faithfulness to wash our robes—confess our sins daily—because we never know when we will suddenly find ourselves standing face to face before the One who is Lord of lords and King of kings. And we don’t want that moment to come when we are living out of fellowship, in a broken relationship, with Him.

\\ E. [5] Hope Ignites Faithfulness to Witness

The vision of His great mercy helps us to be faithful in our witness because it makes us aware that any moment, the One who is Lord and King may return for His bride. And those who do not belong to Him will be left to endure His judgment!

§         How many people do you know who would come under the judgment of God if Jesus were to return today? Name them.

§         How many people will be saved from judgment because you were faithful to extend to them His invitation to come?

Would you make it a priority to lengthen the second list? In light of His great mercy, be faithful to witness.

\\ F. [6] Hope Ignites Faithfulness to God’s Warning

At the very beginning of human history, God clearly told Adam, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17, NIV).

Made in the image of God already, it was going to take a life time of molding to flesh out the wonder of what it would mean to be “as God” [Genesis 3:4-5].

But Satan cast doubt on God’s Word and God’s goodness, and provided a shortcut to the molding process. In the moments that followed, they both eat the forbidden fruit, the immediate effects were shame, self-seeking, self-centered, self-willed, . . . sin entered the world, and physical death followed . . . disobedience ruled.[8]

What had Eve done? Eve’s seemingly harmless act was rooted in rebellion against God’s command and had devastating impact on herself, her husband, her children, her grandchildren and every generation since!

The vision of God’s great mercy ignites our faithfulness to God’s warning by giving us a holy fear of His displeasure, judgment and wrath. Those who destroy, dilute, deny, despise and defy God’s Word ultimately disobey it—to their own personal destruction, and the destruction of others! In light of the vision of His glory, be faithful to His warning.

G. [7] Hope Ignites Our Faithfulness to Watch

We know He is coming soon. Paul tells Timothy, “we know this,. That in the last days there will come difficult times . . .” [2 Timothy 3].  Jesus said in Matthew 24, 32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.33 So also, when you see all these things [events listed in v5-31], you know that he is near, at the very gates. [Matthew 24:32-33 (ESV)][9]

He hasn’t arrived yet. Hope wakes us up and keeps us awake. In light of his great mercy, be faithful to watch!

His great mercy ignites our hearts with passionate anticipation, challenging us to live faithfully every day, every hour, every moment in the light of the imminent return of the One who alone is worthy as … the only hope of the world!

III.  Action Point

1 Peter 1:3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

For us to have that kind of hope, Jesus had to become a man. The writer of Hebrews states it like this: “. . . he took on flesh and blood, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. [Hebrews 2:14-15ESV] Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. [Hebrews 4:16 ESV] 

Christmas is not just a date on the calendar.

§         It is not just another annual holiday.

§         It is not a day just to glorify selfishness and materialism.

§         It commemorates the day Jesus Christ, the son of the Living God, became flesh.

§         It is the celebration of the event that set heaven to singing, an event that gave the stars of the night sky a new brilliance.

At a specific time and at a specific place a specific Person was born and that Person was God of very God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

From the lips of Jesus came these words: “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

  • These words herald the breaking in of the Divine into human history.
  • They declare that heaven has come to earth’s rescue and that God has not left us to stumble on earth’s pathway alone. What a wonderful and glorious hope we have because of that first Christmas!

At Christmas, “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, KJV).

§         Christmas means that Emmanuel has come and that He walks with us through the shadows—it means that God is with us (Matthew 1:23).

§         It means our sordid, failure-fraught past can be wiped out by His sacrifice on the cross and we can become members of God’s family, heirs of God and citizens of heaven.

§         Christmas means that He comes into the wilderness of our suffering and sorrow, saying, “I am with you. Let Me share your burdens.”

Today, in the midst of trouble, terrorism and war, that hope can be yours—if you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. He is offering to every one of us a living hope if we will put our trust and our faith in Him.

The gift of living hope can be yours now. Living hope begins not when you die but when you believe and put your faith in Jesus Christ. “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12). This is the real meaning of Christmas.

Will you accept Christ into your heart this Christmas season? If you do that, His great mercy will cause you to be born anew to a living hope.

The church in Liberia, Africa, was cut off from the rest of the world during that country’s bloody civil war. The pastor of a church in the capital city of Monrovia, writing his Christmas letter by candlelight to the leaders of his denomination, expressed the hope of his heart:

“My candle is soon to go out, but the sun is rising. And who needs a candle when you have the Son?”[10] 


[1] Anne Graham Lotz, “The Hope Of A Returning Savior” Adapted from “The Vision of his glory,. ©1996 Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tenn.;  Billy Graham, A Light In Our Darkness, DMag_article.asp?ArticleID=1046; Dave Kepple, “Hope in a Hopeless World” http://www.gbgm-umc. org/ unionchapel-oh/sermons/Dec05_99.html

[2] Dave Kepple, “Hope in a Hopeless World” http://www.gbgm-umc. org/ unionchapel-oh/sermons/Dec05_99.html

[3] Ibid.

[4] (Roebuck 'Pops' Staples/Phil Roy/Bob Thiele, Jr.), transcribed by Daniel Gold,

[5] Cf., Romans 15:13 (ESV) May 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.

[6] Anne Graham Lotz, “The Hope Of A Returning Savior”

[7] Cf. Revelation 22:14

[8]A. W. Pink, Gleanings in Genesis, electronic ed. (Escondido, CA: The Ephesians Four Group, 2000), 34.

[9]The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.

[10] Anne Graham Lotz, “The Hope Of A Returning Savior”

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