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Christmas Hope

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have a picture of a wrapped present or presents on the screen.
Think about the thing that you want the most this Christmas. What would be the one thing you would want to be in this box?
It could be an apple product… or jewelry… new game… camping equipment… train…
No matter who we are, we all like to get presents, more than anything, most people would like for HOPE to be in this box. I think right now after the last 2 years we have had, hope is the perfect gift to receive especially since so many people are struggling in the face of loss... disappointment… difficulty… and anxiety. And on top of what we have been through, the holidays often intensify those feelings.
Today, we will begin to turn our sights on Christmas. The stores did a long time ago. We will begin a series titled The Best Christmas Ever. Let me ask you, What a makes something the Best Christmas Ever?
What characteristics or adjectives come with something that exceeds expectations?
My Christmas memory when Allen got me into my wheelchair and rolled me into where Santa had brought us a train…
The fact that he wanted me in there with him to play was what made that special… not ever the train.
Now, we are coming towards the end of the worst two years of people’s lives. Two years ago right now, we were cruising along enjoying life and then this little virus showed up and rocked the world. For some, it’s been the worst couple of years ever… losing family members… jobs… friends… normalcy.
This is why we are going to end on a high note because as dark and dreary as the last year has been, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. During Christmas we celebrate the hope that we have in Jesus Christ as we look at and remember how he chose to enter our world. Listen to me…
Psalm 30:5 NLT
5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Let’s begin this journey of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love and make this The Best Christmas Ever.

1. We will experience our Best Christmas Ever when we realize our hope is in Christ

Jesus arrival into our world was a source of great hope for people. For hundreds of years, the Israelites, God’s chosen people, had stumbled around in the darkness. They were tormented and defeated by the evil that was all around them. Maybe you like many others know what it’s like to be surrounded by darkness as you struggle with disappointments… mistakes… failure… temptations… and sin. It’s difficult to have hope when all you can see is darkness. Yes, it’s easy to see darkness in our world right now… if you don’t the news will help you see it.
Here is what I know.

The best way to eliminate darkness is to expose it to light.

Light chases out the darkness. When Jesus entered our world as a baby, hundreds of prophecies were fulfilled and the world found hope in the birth of its Savior.
Jesus is the light of the world
John 8:12 NLT
12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
John 9:5 NLT
5 But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Jesus is the light of the world…
John 1:5 NLT
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
Jesus is the light and nothing will extinguish it.
Look what Isaiah said hundreds of years before Jesus was born.
Isaiah 9:2 NLT
2  The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.
Isaiah was perhaps the greatest prophet God used in the OT. He was prophesying to a broken and defeated people who were filled with despair and hopelessness during one of Israel’s darkest times.
What Isaiah offered, the the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was hope.

Isaiah offered the people hope

Specifically, there would be light in place of darkness and that light would shine on those living in the darkness.
Now today, we know Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus coming into our world. We also know that not only has Jesus, the Messiah, already come once, but we know that He is coming again, so with patience and hope we look for Jesus 2nd coming.
As we proceed through this season of Christmas (or Advent) we must recognize and acknowledge our hope is in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Jesus is the Reason for the Season. He is the light piercing through the deepest darkness that’s trying to destroy our lives. Jesus one day will return for each of us who follow him, but until he does, we must trust him here and now to do what he says he will do. And we must follow his leading and accomplish what he wants each of us to do.

Our shared hope is in Christ alone.

2. We will experience the best Christmas Ever because Hope sees light in the middle of Darkness

Hope is what allows us in the middle of a Pandemic… or in the middle of a personal crisis… in the middle of a long sickness… in the middle of our kids our spouses not living like the should… Hope lets us see the Light in the darkness.
Look what Paul said,
Romans 15:12–13 NLT
12 And in another place Isaiah said, “The heir to David’s throne will come, and he will rule over the Gentiles. They will place their hope on him.” 13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul is quoting Isaiah in Romans 15 and saying that the heir to David’s throne is the source of hope. He’s talking about Jesus.

Jesus is the source of our hope.

After quoting Isaiah, Paul gives us a sort of benediction and encouragement. He prays that we will be filled completely with Joy and peace because we trust in Jesus. Think about this. Do you want joy and peace in your life? Joy and peace come as we trust in Jesus, which leads to an overflow of hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Hope doesn’t increase because our circumstances improve. That’s nice when it happens. Hope doesn’t decrease with difficult times come into our lives. Hope resides in a person… the person of Jesus Christ. So even in the middle of suffering, of pain, and of loss, we can be overflowing with hope.
The difficulty is to maintain trust and confidence in God’s plan for our lives. It’s natural to have doubts and it’s not abnormal to be scared… confused.... or even frustrated.
Actually that means you are in fact - human. You are exactly the kind of human God sent his Son Jesus to die for. On your worst day, Jesus is for you and with you shining His light into the darkness trying to destroy your life.

3. We will experience our Best Christmas Ever when you let Jesus live in you and shine through you.

When you give your life to Jesus, something amazing happens. Everything changes. Things you thought were important are not so important anymore. Everything you thought you could not live without loses it’s shine. Here’s what happens. You become a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
You become a new creation… a new person. Everything becomes new… new motives… new desires… and new goals. Paul describes how it works.
Galatians 2:20 NLT
20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Living the Christian Life is not a matter of us trying to live for Christ ourselves… or even with Holy Spirit’s help.

Living the Christian life is about dying to ourselves and allowing Jesus to live in and through us.

As you grow in your faith, you will begin to overflow with hope.
Romans 15:13 NLT
13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
As the hope comes pouring out of you in every situation and through any adversity, where do you think it goes? Whats is the purpose of being filled with hope?
share a time where hope shined through

4. We will experience our Best Christmas Ever when you let your light shine

Don’t hide the light Jesus is shinning into your life. Let it shine.
Pic of a lighthouse
Think with me for a moment about a lighthouse. It’s a tall tower with a light at the top that shines out to sea. The two purposes of the light house are to aid in navigation of ships and to warn boats of dangerous places.
Hope is a lot like the light house. Hope will help guide you through uncharted, unknown and dangerous territory. Hope in Christ will get you through that health crisis… the teen years… a pandemic… loss of job… retirement… It will get us through. But hope not only helps us, it can overflow in our lives and out into other’s lives.
Peter said,
1 Peter 3:15 NLT
15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.
When we live with the light os Jesus shinning in our lives, people will notice, and they will ask… ask how you can have peace and joy when you just lost your job… or your freedom… when your teenager just did… when a pandemic has everyone walking in fear, but you are not because your hope is in Jesus. Then you can shar it with them. You don’t have to preach, just share how you can be calm, filled with peace and joy even when things are not going your way, but...

Always be ready to share your story

Then Jesus said it like this.
Matthew 5:14–16 NLT
14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
IOW, you are a lighthouse to a broken and lost world. Don’t hide your light. Let it shine. Let the hope of Jesus Christ light you up so bright that others can’t even help themselves and ask you what’s going on. Let the light that shines on you light the way for others.

The best Christmas ever will be rooted in love

There is no better gift that you could give someone than to give those around you the eternal hope of Christ. When we believe that God will come through on his promises to us, then we will be stirred to let our hope spill over into those around us. Choose Hope this Christmas and let it be contagious.
Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were the ones who thought most of the next. CS Lewis
It’s easy to feel overcome but the craziness of our world, but we should not lose heart. Jesus has overcome the world.
Stop believing the lies that say things will never change. Choose to find hope in the promises of God. Choose to believe that Jesus birth changes everything. Live with eternity in mind. Each day we can feel defeated by the darkness of our world or find victory in the light of Christ.
Choose hope and share it with others
This coming week, think about the people in your life who you spend the most time with… family, friends, co-workers… waitress at your favorite restaurant… and consider ways you can share the hope you have … with them.
Leave a bigger than usual tip… pay for someone groceries in line… pay for some gas for someone …
Altar time
God, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for hearing our cries for help and being attentive to our needs. Help us to see that the arrival of Jesus means the arrival of hope in my life. Help me choose to see the light in the midst of the darkness and may I be one who shares this hope with others.
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