Summary: Christmas is about hope. The same hope that we see in the children at Christmas is the same hope that Jesus brought with him at his birth.

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I Hope, I Hope, I Hope

John 3:16,17

Intro: This morning, for just a moment, I am the ghost of Christmas past. I want each and every one of you to think back to a Christmas when you were a small child. For some it will be easy, it was not that long ago. For some of us, it will stretch our memory just a little. It’s Christmas eve and you are going to bed and the anticipation is so real and so thick you could cut it with a knife. As you are lying in bed, trying to go to sleep, what are you thinking. Most of us are probably wondering what gift we will receive the next morning. You were basking in the expectation of a great and marvelous gift aren’t you?

. I remember going to bed on Christmas Eve and the last thing I remember before drifting off to sleep was the hope that I felt. I drifted off with the words I hope, I hope, I hope sounding loudly in my head. Hoping that when I woke up, I would have a wonderful day with my gifts.

. That’s what Christmas is all about, the excitement that the gift brings.

. You see, Christmas is about gifts but not the ones we see wrapped in pretty paper and shiny bows.

. Christmas is about the gift of hope.

. Hope is an amazing thing. Hope can transform a life from meaninglessness into a life that is full of purpose and direction.

. I recently read a story of self-made millionaire Eugene Land, who drastically changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in East Harlem. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth-graders. What could he say to inspire these students, most of whom would drop out of school? He wondered how he could get these predominantly black and Puerto Rican children even to look at him. Scrapping his notes, he decided to speak to them from his heart. "Stay in school," he admonished, "and I’ll help pay the college tuition for every one of you." At that moment the lives of these students changed. For the first time they had hope. One student said, "I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me. It was a golden feeling." Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school.

. That’s what hope is. Something to look forward to, something waiting for you.

. In the gospel of John, the third chapter, the sixteenth verse, Jesus told this to Nicodemus, the Jewish religious leader.

16“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

17God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

. On that first Christmas, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to save those that would place their faith and hope in him.

. He did this for everyone.

. The KJV translates the word everyone as whosoever.

. That means anybody and everybody that does this is saved through this gift of hope.

. 2,000 years ago in a little Middle Eastern town God sent the source of all Christmas gifts to come to earth in the form of a little baby named Jesus.

. This little baby would grow up to be a man, a man that lived a perfect life and then died a criminal’s death.

He died a criminal’s death because he traded all our shortcomings and sins for his perfect life.

Jesus made us perfect in God’s eyes.

He gave us HOPE.

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator;

If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist;

If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist;

If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer;

But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior. Jesus life and death gives us hope.

Hope for our past, Hope for our present, and Hope for our future.

It’s because of Jesus that we have:

Hope for our past

. If our past was how we were judged, we would all be in trouble wouldn’t we?

. This gift from God can remove the stain of sin from our past.

. We don’t have to live in despair, we can live in hope.

. Many people still have those deep, dark secrets that hold them down, all those mistakes and poor choices from our past can be made right with a new life that gives us hope.

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