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Summary: A message on Christian HOPE preached in the lead up to Christmas - but applicable any time of the year.

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READ: Romans 15:7-13 (Text: v12-13)

It’s Christmas time. A season of great hope. We are very mindful of Jesus’ coming to earth as our Saviour. He came to a lost world, and brought us the HOPE of being FOUND again in the grace of God. He came to a blind world and a deaf world, and brought us the HOPE of restored SIGHT and SOUND spiritually, so we should see again and hear his voice again - come back into restored communion with Him. It’s a season of HOPE.

You may recall that several weeks ago I preached a message on FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE (The Measure of a Church). At that time I said that "HOPE" is the "Cinderella" of this great threesome, Faith, Hope, and Love. It is the one always left out! Never taken to the ball! We hear a lot of messages on Faith, and a lot of messages on Love, but not so much do we hear specifically of this HOPE.

Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about hope, and this morning I want to teach a little bit on it.

I remember when I was a child, growing up in church, we used to often sing that hymn: "Since Jesus Came Into My Heart". And I seem to remember being bemused by one particular line that goes like this: "I’m possessed of a HOPE that is steadfast and sure, since Jesus came into my heart, And no dark clouds of doubt now my pathway obscure, since Jesus came into my heart ..." And I used to think HOW CAN YOU BE "POSSESSED OF A HOPE"? Surely that’s bad grammar - you can possess hope, but "hope" can’t possess you?! And so it never quite made sense to me - UNTIL I CAME TO KNOW CHRIST FOR MYSELF - then it all made absolute, marvellous sense.

This Christian HOPE is not merely a wishful thinking (without any foundation) that we’re clutching on to - IT IS A SURE EXPECTATION THAT ACTUALLY TAKES A HOLD OF US! It’s TRUE - hope possesses us! BIBLICAL HOPE is "a confident expectation based on solid certainty - it rests on God’s sure promises." In the New Testament, the Christian’s "great hope" particularly relates to the return of Jesus.

We said that hope is a "companion" to faith - they are very closely linked. Hope is never inferior to faith, but is the GROUNDWORK of faith. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith is the substance (the stuff) of things HOPED for...”

Now this passage that we read this morning in Romans 15, looking particularly at verses 12 and 13, is chock full of information about the Christian hope. As we examine the statements that are made we’ll see what it has to say, and I trust you’ll be greatly encouraged today.

Firstly, note, at the end of verse 12, Paul quotes from the prophet Isaiah and says:

1. "In HIM the Gentiles shall hope."

Isaiah was writing here of JESUS ("the root of Jesse"). And the first thing we must note about all Christian hope is that it ALWAYS LOOKS TO JESUS AS IT’S FOCUS.

Our hope looks to Jesus:

A. For ETERNITY.

Proverbs 23:17-18 says: "Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; FOR SURELY THERE IS A HEREAFTER, And your HOPE will not be cut off."

Our ultimate HOPE is an eternity with the Lord - we believe in the resurrection of the dead, and that Jesus is coming again!


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