Summary: Basic elements of faith - Hope Hope in God is much more than a wish it is a promise.
I Can’t Wait!
Well the stores are already starting to decorate with Christmas things. Since they have already started to celebrate the Christmas season there is no reason that we should not as well. So I went out and picked up this item to share with all of you in the church.
As a kid I was so curious and sometimes a little sneaky. When the presents started appearing under the tree, I would feel the papers and try to figure out what was in the package. The square boxes were the hardest. If the rapping was on tight, all you could do was to guess based on size and weight. When no one was looking give it a quick shake. Mom never gave any hints. She would just tell me to leave it alone or she would make it disappear and I could only hope she would ever let me have it.
Perhaps you have someone in the family that acted like me. So excited about what was un-seen, someone that was almost desperate to tear into the package. They could hardly stand to wait until the appropriate time.
--- We will talk more about this package a little later.
Today our scripture reminds us of the basic elements of our faith. This scripture picks up by telling us we are justified by faith. Justified, is a word that means that we are made right with God. Because of Jesus Christ we get the benefit of the price he paid with his suffering.
Then it uses a phrase that caught my attention, “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Hey wait a minute, At the beginning it said faith was the required step. Where does the work hope come from?
Today we tend to say the word hope and mean Wish. We don’t have any feeling of certainty. We say I hope it does not rain tomorrow. I hope dinner is ready. For us the word hope includes more doubt than assurance. When someone is very ill in the hospital, the doctor might tell the family bad news and then say there is always the hope that God will step in. Personally, I wish that more doctors had a real hope when they said that.
The school system in a large city had a program to help children keep up with their school work during stays in the city’s hospitals. One day a teacher who was assigned to the program received a routine call asking her to visit a particular child. She took the child’s name and room number and talked briefly with the child’s regular class teacher. "We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now," the regular teacher said, "and I’d be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn’t fall too far behind."
- The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon. No one had mentioned to her that the boy had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, "I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs." When she left she felt she hadn’t accomplished much.
- But the next day, a nurse asked her, "What did you do to that boy?" The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and began to apologize. "No, no," said the nurse. "You don’t know what I mean. We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live."
- Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization. He expressed it this way: "They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?"
My point is that when we read the word hope in this scripture we might not give it the weight that the situation deserves. We are all too often like the young Boy. Things get bad and we think we are going to die. People call on us to have hope but until we find the inspiration we will just decline.
The key to the work hope here is that we are hoping that the promise of God to save us through his son is true. For us to down grade a promise from God to being anything like a promise from man is really not fair to God.
My kids often have hopes of wonderful gifts at Christmas. And all too often they get disappointed. My only excuse is that I did not make a promise to get the super popular and usually expensive gift they hoped for.