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Summary: As Christians we offer a hope greater than our present circumstances or those of others this Christmas.

“Opening Ourselves To Real Life”

Opening Ourselves to ‘Christ’-mas

Romans 15:4-13, Matthew 3:1-12

(quotes taken from the NKJV unless noted)

Wakelee Church ~ December 5, 2004

Theme: As Christians we offer a hope greater than our present circumstances or those of others this Christmas.

Introduction – “Hope during hopeless times…”

For those who may be wondering why Karie sang the song she just did, it was at my request.

During this Christmas season it is so easy to get wrapped up in the gift-giving and tree-decorating that we often forget that the same hope we celebrate in the birth of the Christ-child, is the same hope that alludes many people during this time of year.

For some, the real life of the Thanksgiving and Christmas season is anything but candy canes and gifts under the tree…for some, their real life has taken all the hope out of this holiday.

We know the list don’t we? Some may feel the loss of loved ones. Some may have been downsized from a company they expected to retire from. Some, even in the midst of an abundant corn crop, are still facing the facts that the farm must be sold. Some, might feel the anxiety of expectations instead of the joy of the season.

For some, their real life situation has found them in hopeless times. But there is hope…

There’s hope in the good news message…

Hope in the act of repentance…

And there is hope when we turn to one who created hope in the first place.

John Maxwell in his book entitled, Think on These Things answered the question, “What does hope do for humankind?” by saying…

“Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.

Hope motivates when discouragement comes.

Hope energizes when the body is tired.

Hope sweetens while bitterness bites.

Hope sings when all melodies are gone.

Hope believes when evidence is eliminated.

Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.

Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.

Hope endures hardship when no one is caring.

Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.

Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.

Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.

Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.

Hope brings the victory when no one is winning.”

When we open ourselves to the real lives of others, as well as ourselves…we then have the opportunity to offer hope in even the most hopeless situations.

I – Hope comes through the Good News story…

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” – Romans 15:4 [example – the Gentiles (i.e. US!)]

II – John the Baptist knew that repentance was the key to everlasting hope…but it had to be offered.

“Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.” – Matthew 3:5-6

A number of years ago a couple traveled to the offices of an Adoption Society in England to receive a baby. They had been on the waiting list along time.

They had been interviewed and carefully scrutinized. Now at last their dreams were to be fulfilled. But their day of happiness was another’s pain.

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