Summary: As Christians we have hope! 1. The hope of God's protection (vs. 13). 2. The hope of Godly purpose (vs. 13-14 & 19-23). 3. The hope of God's prophecy (vs. 14-23). 4. The hope that overcomes our pain (vs. 16-18).
Hope that Overcomes the Horrors of Life
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Dec. 26, 2012
*We had a great Christmas yesterday, with all 3 children home, plus Katie's husband Wes. Mary pulled out all the stops to make sure that everything was just right, and it was. But over in northern Nigeria, radical Islamists attacked an evangelical church that was celebrating a midnight mass. Gunmen from Boko Haram shot six Christians dead including the pastor. They then torched the church. (1)
*This massacre reminds us; this Scripture reminds us that there are horrors in this life. But as Christians, we have hope.
1. First, we have the hope of God's protection.
*This may seem like an odd thing to say in light of what happened in Nigeria on Christmas Eve. But according to God's grace and according to His perfect will, we have God's protection in this world. In vs. 13, Matthew says: "Now when they (i.e. the Wise Men) had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, 'Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.'''
*We may think, "Well, God has never protected me like that." But if you are breathing in this world, it is because Almighty God has protected you. Daniel spoke to wicked King Belshazzar of the judgment that was about to fall on him. And here is part of what the prophet said in Daniel 5:23: "You have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. . . and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified."
*God holds our breath in His Hands, and He is protecting us moment by moment. One great place to see this truth is in Psalm 121. But before I read it to you, understand that our words "keep" and "preserve" are the exact same word in the original language. And it means to "guard" or "protect". So six times in this short Psalm, God promises to guard and protect His people.
*No wonder the Psalmist said:
1. . . I will lift up my eyes to the hills -- From whence comes my help?
2. My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
3. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who KEEPS you will not slumber.
4. Behold, He who KEEPS Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5. The LORD is your KEEPER; The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.
7. The LORD shall PRESERVE you from all evil; He shall PRESERVE your soul.
8. The LORD shall PRESERVE your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.
*Let me tell you about one of the times God protected me. I was a senior in high school, lost as a goose and as foolish as can be. Two of my best friends and I had been to Atlanta for some function at Georgia Tech. And we started talking about finding a new place to have the next summer's week-long beach-party for our high school fraternities and sororities.
*On a whim, we decided to drive over to Myrtle Beach South Carolina, and check it out. Of course our parents didn't know. We were 2 or 3 hours out of Atlanta on I-20, when we looked over at the west-bound lane and saw people waving and hollering. We thought maybe it was a caravan having a party or something like that. And for no particular reason, my friend driving switched over to the right-hand lane.