Sermons

Summary: Only when Christ is the OBJECT of our hope can EXPECTATION be realized. Find your hope in Jesus this Christmas.

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Dakota Community Church

December 2, 2012

Hope for the Season

Isaiah 59:1-11

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things. No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider’s web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched. Their cobwebs are useless for clothing; they cannot cover themselves with what they make. Their deeds are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands. Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways. The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks in them will know peace.

So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes.

At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves.

We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away.

The problem is not inability on God’s part. His arm is not too short to save!

The problem is man’s sin - vividly illustrated in verses 3-8

Ignoring the problem we still look results as though there were no problem! “God how could this happen to me?” “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Proverbs 20:4

A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.

He doesn’t plow but he still looks for a harvest! This is how we are regarding righteousness.

THE FALL HAS LEFT US WITH A KIND OF BROKEN/SKEWED VERSION OF HOPE

1. We are a people of (false) hope

Hope is hardwired into us; we cannot help ourselves – as the poet Alexander Pope says – “Hope springs eternal in the human breast”!

All of our choices are fueled by the hope of a better future.

We begin or end relationships based on hope, hope that the decision will lead to something we now lack – something better.

We choose a course of study, or to drop out and stop following that course of study; because of hope.

We gather as families at Christmas – regardless of the family track record – in hope, “This year will be different.”

Your happiest moments in life are moments of realized hope – longings fulfilled!

A wedding, a graduation, a house warming, the cool blue water washing over your vacationing toes – hope realized = happiness!

Your saddest moments in life are moments of crushed hope – hope disappointed by cruel reality.

Cleaning out the desk, signing the divorce papers, absorbing the doctor’s report…

We look for light - we grope along – We look for justice - for deliverance

Hope always has an OBJECT and an EXPECTATION

What messes us up is trying to find hope in places that cannot give it

You buy a lotto ticket – your hope is in money, your expectation is that you can buy happiness

Object: Spouse – Expectation: End loneliness

Object: Children – Expectation: Dream realization (Sports)

Object: Ministry – Expectation: Approval & Affirmation

Object: House – Expectation: Status & Acceptance

You get the idea; but understand this, none of these objects can deliver hope as expected.

That does not hinder us from continuing to try – even retry after repeated failure.

When life is hard for you, when it’s difficult and confusing, when you’re dealing with the unexpected, when your story is not what you would like your story to be, where do you run for hope?

Where do you run for comfort? Where do you run for security? Where do you run and hide? Where is your functional hope?

You are hardwired for hope – where are you placing that hope?

Ecclesiastes 3:9-14

What does the worker gain from his toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.

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