Summary: Our Epistle lesson is a text of HOPE. Hope is what the season is all about. Hope for a better day, hope for a better way, hope for all of humanity which seems to swell during the Advent/Christmas season.
December 16, 2001
INTRODUCTION: 12/9/96 FRESH SERMON ILLUSTRATIONS #1
There is more to the holiday than this, Christmas eve services, opening gifts, and spending and making money!!! Advent is the season of four weeks including four Sundays. Advent means “coming.” Advent and Christmas are two different seasons. The Advent season proclaims the comings (plural) of Christ - whose birth we prepare to celebrate once again, who comes continually in Word and Spirit, and whose return in final victory we anticipate. Each Sunday has it’s own distinctive theme. We have experienced, counting today, three Sundays in Advent. The first theme was the focus on Jesus coming again in Glory, with the understanding that Jesus was the fulfillment of the hopes of all the true prophets of God. The second week we shift themes to that of John the Baptist preparing the way. Now we shift to the Hope that Comes from this Child and the difference HE should make in all of our lives in tangible ways.
So back to the idea that this season is about more than services, big breakfasts, gifts, and spending and making money. This season is about Hope. Hope in the one who was to come and did. Hope in the one who came and is to come. Hope in the midst of the struggles of life, which the holidays may only exacerbate. A few years ago on Dec. 22 I had a funeral. Every Holiday reminds us of pain and suffering. Things not as they were in years past. Each day, much less each year has its share of trials and hardships.
But, This is a season of Hope, real hope. Hope is defined in the New Testament as to anticipate, usually with pleasure. It is expectation with confidence.
TRANSITION THOUGHT: Our Epistle lesson is a text of HOPE. Hope is what the season is all about. Hope for a better day, hope for a better way, hope for all of humanity which seems to swell during the Advent/Christmas season. Hope in the midst of despair, which can be the case for many in the holiday season. This day, I hold out hope to you. So, what is Hope, and how does the Apostle Paul describe it in the book of Romans?
I. HOPE LEADS TO ENDURANCE AND ENCOURAGEMENT (Verses 4& 5)
ILLUSTRATION: HOPE/ ETERNAL 1692 KEPT ALIVE BY HOPE #2
A. Endurance is the word.
1. Endurance comes from the word, God’s word. The scriptures have been given to us so that we may have endurance.
2. The word can mean patience, or steadfastness. The GK points to cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy: enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting).
3. Hope therefore is the ability to make it when things don’t seem to be going your way. This is the testimony of Scripture. Remember Abraham and the promised child. He believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness. In the darkest hours of doubt scriptures teach that God is and God will!!!
B. Encouragement is the word.
1. Comfort/ consolation- to call near, invite, invoke, implore (root of the word) - be of good comfort.
2. This comes from the witness of scripture. Not only does it teach us to have endurance, but it calls us to be of good comfort, for God has drawn near.
3. In a season of cheer, the world is not always a cheerful place. Our circumstances are not always cheerful. We have family distress, financial distress, work stress and distress, emotional turmoil. The list is endless. Just because it is a festive time of year doesn’t change the reality of life. Only God can do that!
4. VERSE 5: “MAY THE GOD WHO GIVES ENDURANCE AND ENCOURAGEMENT...” IT IS A GOD THING. DO YOU WANT IT??!!
ILLUSTRATION: PERSEVERANCE 3441 8.1989 VICTORY TAKES PERSISTENCE. #3
II. HOPE LEADS TO UNITY AND ACCEPTANCE (VERSE 5& 7)
A. UNITY IS THE KEY WORD “...A spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus (5b).” God’s desire for us, the thing that will give us hope in the midst of all of life’s ebb and flow, Unity.
1. Unity is the ability of a group of believers to have one heart and mouth to glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (VERSE 6). Without unity we can’t glorify God!!!!
2. Unity is oneness. It is likemindedness one toward another. Not being alike, but sharing the same mind and that being the mind of Christ (I CORINTHIANS 2:16B)!!
3. Unity is the ability to live in complete harmony, because we share the same attitude as Christ!!
ILLUSTRATION: WHY IS UNITY IMPORTANT: WE NEED EACH OTHER!! #4
B. ACCEPTANCE IS THE KEY WORD (VERSE 7). Having hope causes us to accept one another.
1. Acceptance may well be the definition of unity. If we can’t accept one another the way we are and as who we are, warts and all, we have no unity. We won’t reflect of love of Christ.