Believe in Hope
Pastor Terry Inman
Today we begin the Advent season. Advent means arrival. In most churches Advent is the four Sundays before Christmas. It is a celebration of Jesus’ first arrival and the anticipation of His second coming.
A common tradition is lighting advent candles at church or at home. The first one is the candle of hope. Hope is all about expectation. God gave His people hope when He promised to send them a Messiah, a Savior, a Deliverer. This promise was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ.
In the book of Romans the Apostle Paul quotes from the ancient prophecies of Isaiah. "A descendant of Jesse will appear; he will come to rule the Gentiles, and they will put their hope in him."
Then he tells us to Believe in Hope. “May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom. 12:15 (GNT)
We also look forward with hope to the day of Christ’s second coming, His Second Advent, when all the promises that were initially fulfilled at His birth will be completely fulfilled at His return.
If you think about it, it’s entirely appropriate for Jesus Christ, who is the hope of the world, to have come in the form of an infant, because babies are hope personified. They are pure potential.
Is there a mother or father who hasn’t looked into the face of their newborn baby and wondered, “What will my kid accomplish, what will he/she become? A doctor saving lives, a lawyer pursuing justice, an engineer; painter, ballerina, astronaut, college professor, athlete, research scientist, even a Pastor! Anything is possible.
Mary had much more than an expectant mother’s hope for her baby boy.
An angel gave her an incredible promise. “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." Luke 1:31-33 (NIV)
Jewish girls were raised with the hope that Messiah might be their child. Mary’s promise echoed a prophetic hope given seven centuries earlier.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV)
That’s not all--Joseph received a hopeful promise in a dream.
An angel of the Lord appeared in his sleep, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matt. 1.20-21 (NIV)
God made it very clear that this baby was the one hope the world had been waiting and watching for…a Savior, a deliverer, a righteous ruler!
Mary and I have had to opportunity to welcome a few sons into the world. Can you imagine the mixed emotions these expecting parents’ felt that first night in the manger? I’m sure they were overwhelmed with joy and hope but also along with a few questions.
What kind of royal birthplace is this animal shelter? How will anyone believe our story? First time parents looking into the face of a newborn is overwhelming enough without this astonishing destiny.
This newborn was a package supernaturally delivered with all of God’s hopes for humanity. This helpless baby would somehow give the world the hope of forgiveness of sins. In him we find true and lasting peace. He came with the promise of an eternal kingdom of justice.
This young couple held incredible hope in their arms. It must have felt like an awesome responsibility that God had given them. The Carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem says, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight!”
Our faith is all about hope. It looks forward to the future, to the time when God’s promises will be ultimately fulfilled. Thousands of years before Jesus was born the world awaited and anticipated a Messiah. Now we look forward to his return at any time. We are people of hope!
We are not just hanging on a future hope. We have hope here and now. It’s this hope that motivates us to live out our purpose and potential now.
We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. Titus 2.12-13 (MSG)
Hope is not automatic. In fact, sometimes hope is very challenging. Sometimes our circumstances seem anything but hopeful. Prov. 13.12 says, “Hope deferredmakes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” So how do we sustain hope in the middle of disappointment--when everything in us wants to yield to despair?
We’ve all faced situations where there seems to be little objective reason for hope – in our jobs, in our marriages, in our relationships. Some of us have faced seemingly hopeless medical or financial problems. Some of you, right now, may be in situations that seem hopeless. How do we hold on to hope during those times when our circumstances seem hopeless?
First, put your hope in God. That may sound simplistic. But don’t just believe in Hope trust God for Hope. Trust in Him for help. That may seem obvious, but too often we to seek help from anyone and anything before we turn to God. He becomes the appeal of last resort.
We will try everything we can think of, and then if nothing else works, we will think of praying. But that’s all backwards! We should go to God first, not last. Listen to these words about hope from the Psalms.
No king succeeds with a big army alone, no warrior wins by brute strength. Horsepower is not the answer; no one gets by on muscle alone.
Watch this: God’s eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for his love. He’s ready to come to their rescue in bad times; in lean times he keeps body and soul together. Psa. 33.16 -19 (MSG)
David was a king, is he saying kings shouldn’t have armies—and that their warriors shouldn’t ride on horses? No! He’s saying that even if a king has a large, well-equipped army, it doesn’t guarantee success.
Our hope should be in God. And when we place our hope in God, it pleases Him. He delights in rescuing those who place their hope in Him.
This Psalm says His “eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for (hoping for) his love. He’s ready to come to their rescue”
I’m not saying we don’t go to the doctor when we’re sick, or that we don’t go to the bank when we need money, or that we don’t see a counselor to help us work out conflicts in your marriage. I’m saying that our hope is not in these things. Our hope in God!
Here’s what to do. When your situation seems hopeless, just stop. Say, “Lord, I don’t know what to do. I’m not sure how to handle this. But my trust and my hope are in you. I’m relying on you to resolve this situation. Please show me what you would have me do. Amen.”
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. James 1.5 (Message)
Can I guarantee you the outcome you desire? No. Can I guarantee that nothing bad, nothing painful will ever happen? No. Our hope is not in our preferred outcome, our hope in in God himself!
Joseph and Mary were given unprecedented promises, and God delivered on them. But it certainly wasn’t an easy path.
We trust Him to do what is best. It may not be what we expect or desire. But I can guarantee that God will prove Himself faithful. He will not disappoint us. We won’t regret putting our trust and hope in Him.
“The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”Psalm 147:11 (NIV)
God’s goodness and wisdom are not always immediately evident. Sometimes it’s looking back, in retrospect, that we can see how God has been caring for us, providing for us, and protecting us all along.
Sometimes when we’re right in the thick of things, we can’t see any evidence of God working at all. But if we continue to trust Him, to place our hope in Him alone, we will not be disappointed.
So where does this kind of hope come from? Let’s be real. It’s one thing to say, “put your hope in God.” It’s another thing to actually do it. We actually need his help just to have some hope. He gives us his Holy Spirit.
We began with this verse. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom. 15:13 (NIV) One way to develop an attitude of hope is to believe in the hope of his word of God.
“We we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Cor. 4:16-18 (NIV)
The more we focus on our life to come, the less troublesome our current problems will seem by comparison. We think too much about our current concerns, and we think too little of what God has in store for our future.
The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ assure us of hope.
What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! 1 Peter 1.3-4 (MSG)
Do you know Him? Have you put your hope in Him? Are you trusting in Him right now? I want to invite you to put your hope in him right now. Would you join me in a simple prayer?
Father I thank you for the hope of forgiveness, freedom and a forever life in Jesus Christ. I put my hope in you now. Jesus, thank you for giving your life for me. I give you the leadership of my life right now. AMEN