Summary: Today we focus on hope. Advent is all about hope. But hope isn’t something we can manufacture. We can’t just try to be more hopeful. Hope doesn’t come with the power of positive thinking. Hope is based on who Christ is and His promises to us!
Living with Hope
Intro: Advent is a time of preparation and expectation for the coming of Christ, the time before celebrating the “joy to the world” that God’s incarnation becomes. In advance of a celebratory Christmas season that follows Advent, it is good for us to take time to reflect on the themes of hope, peace, joy, and love, which gets us ready for a world that Christ has entered. We plan to follow the themes of Advent over the next few weeks. We are joining with believers all around the world as we remember the story of what God has done and look toward where God is going. Today we focus on hope. Advent is all about hope. But hope isn’t something we can manufacture. We can’t just try to be more hopeful. Hope doesn’t come with the power of positive thinking.
Colossians 1:27 “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
-G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate.” It is not a blissful ignorance or wishful thinking but a subversive cheer that refuses to let circumstance triumph over courage, doubt overcome faith, or adversity conquer compassion. This is not easy; it is not our default setting. When we hit brick walls, the first emotion that naturally arises is generally not hope. Hope requires a strength that comes from focusing on a greater vision than what is wrong. We may not have every problem figured out, but we serve a God who loved this world enough to join us in it. We trust that when Jesus said, “Behold, I am making all things new,” he meant it. (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/billykangas/2013/11/reflections-on-advent-as-a-time-of-preparation-bread-for-the-world-have-faith-end-hunger.html#ixzz3JMIddWZ5)
-This past week I’ve shaken hands with hope on several occasions, only to see it fade away at the end of the day. I’m talking about my elk hunting experience. (See sign, hunt in great looking areas, follow tracks, walk miles, get hopes up, come home empty handed. I prayed, pleaded, and plodded all to no avail. I have come to the conclusion that elk are extinct… at least on Mt. Harris. We all need hope, or else we just give up! If we feel we have no hope for something better, then we will most often quit trying.)
-Hope does not mean groundless expectation, but confidence in something yet to be, with an accompanying endeavor to reach it. Hope is based on the sure promises that God has given us in the Bible. We will see Him. We will be like Him. We will be with Him forever! We have many reasons to hope and believe God that everything He has promised will be fulfilled. I’d like to look at a few of them today.
1. We Have Hope Because God is with us (Immanuel- first advent)
Matthew 1:21-23 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."