Video Transitions from Announcements:
1. Love came down by Kim Walker Smith
2. Skit Guys, Advent Hope!
Series: Love Came Down
Thesis: Love came down from Heaven at Christmas 2020 years ago to bring us Hope and to light our way through the darkness and lead us into the presence of Love – which is the greatest Christmas blessing of all times.
11the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.
5Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
6He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Selah (Pause and think calmly on this thought)
4For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
1 Timothy 6:17-19:
17Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Sermon 1: Love came down to bring us Hope!
Thesis: Hope is a significant key to finding in the journey of life because it is a wonderful gift from God, and it will become a source of strength and courage in the face of life’s severest trials. Hope will bring you joy when you think there is no joy! Hope will help you see the light in the darkness! Hope will fuel your passion for the things of God. Put simply, when life hurts and dreams fade, nothing helps like Hope!
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:3-9:
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Love Came Down Lyrics of the song we just heard and sung today:
In a moment, everything changed
On a silent night came the promised child
In a stable so humble and poor
Unto us was born the Savior of the world
Love came down, Hope was found
A star lit the sky, the angels cried glory
Light broke through, the darkest night
Hope is alive, hope is alive
Cause love came down, love came down
In a moment, peace broke out, now the Prince is here, there’s no need to fear,
In a manger, eternity rests, Unto us was born, The Savior of the world
Love has come for you, Love has come for me, All the earth will sing, Emmanuel
Love came down, Hope was found
A star lit the sky, the angels cried glory
Light broke through, the darkest night
Hope is alive, Hope is alive
Cause love came down, Love came down
Love came down
Love came down
Love came down
As I listened to this song and to the words – these phrases sounded in my heart and my spirit - “Love came down and Hope was found!” “Hope is alive because the light broke through the darkness.”
Love came down – which was the baby Jesus – sent by the power of Love to be found by you and me – but also to be experienced because He is alive. Hope is alive today – are you with me? Hope can be found in the message of Christmas!
So today I want to talk about Hope! Many need Hope today – would you not agree with me? I hear a lot of hopelessness talk and messages today – do you? Maybe you are felling hopeless today or know of someone like this?
Illustration: Many are looking for Hope – for many it may be right beside you, or even beneath you, but you don’t see it or believe in it. But who here wants to find hope – a real hope this Christmas season? Who here knows of someone who needs hope? So, let’s find hope today – it’s not lost – it’s here – we can discover it! Action: Look for the letters under the chairs which spell HOPE!
See Hope is closer than you may think!
Chuck Swindoll from his book Hope Again states this about hope:
Hope is a wonderful gift from God, a source of strength and courage in the face of life’s harshest trials.
• When we are trapped in a tunnel of misery, hope points to the light at the end of the tunnel.
• When we are overworked and exhausted, hope gives us a fresh energy.
• When we are discouraged, hope lifts our spirits.
• When we are tempted to quit, hope keeps us going.
• When we lose our way and confusion blurs the destination, hope dulls the edge of panic.
• When we struggle with a crippling disease or a lingering illness, hope helps us persevere beyond the pain.
• When we fear the worst, hope brings reminders that God is Still in control.
• When we must endure the consequences of bad decisions hope fuels our recovery.
• When we find ourselves unemployed, hope tells us we still have a future.
• When we are forced to sit back and wait, hope gives us the patience to trust.
• When we feel rejected and abandoned, hope reminds us we’re not alone …we’ll make it.
• When we say our final farewell to someone we love, hope in the life beyond gets us through the grief.
Put simply, when life hurts and dreams fade, nothing helps like hope! (Swindoll page xi and xii).
Hope isn’t merely a nice option that helps us in a tough moment, but it is essential to our survival and for finding peace in the journey of life. Hope gives us a future and vision of what can be with God at our side!
T.S. - So let’s explore the meaning of hope and learn the difference between a wish and genuine authentic biblical hope.
I. Preparing for Love to come down and for hope – it is a Christmas Blessing!
a. In the OT and right before the coming of Jesus there was preparation for Love to come down and a message of making sure you connected with real hope – it took effort to get ready – this why the Jewish people did what they did in their religious actions and study.
i. Today many are preparing for Christmas for many people this takes a lot of effort and work – Kathy and I do a lot preparation for Christmas inside and outside of our house.
ii. Kathy and I decorate our house for the celebration of Christmas – to connect with the Christmas Hope and to bring a light to our neighborhood – to get people to smile and think of the wonder of Christmas.
iii. So I do all these crazy decorations – see video – my wife and I decided years ago that our street seemed dark and gloomy for Christmas -- no one put up decorations -- so we started the traditional decorating the house with a few lights and blow ups and it has emerged in to this today – it has expanded.
1. See video Isa made!
2. But you know happened from our show of light and hope to our neighbors? Others have followed suit and have started decorating too! Seriously – our street is really starting to light up for Christmas!
3. I like to think - I am encouraging people to get into the Christmas spirit and connect with the true spirit of Christmas!
a. Our manger scene is front and center at our house and the neighbors all know I am a pastor!
b. We want people to see that there is hope especially this year with all the bad news going on around us and on the news.
i. Hint do you want hope – peace and encouragement this Christmas – then shut off the news and media.
b. Question: Are you preparing to discover Love and Hope this Christmas? Are you looking for it!
i. As Brennan preached last week the Old Testament was looking for the Messiah – preparing for Him – John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way - the Jews were doing the stuff they thought would bring Him to them. Then He (Jesus) came – love came down and brought a bunch of Christmas blessings! But!
ii. But there is a caution in all this preparation – because when Jesus came – He did not fit into their prepared gift box for Him so they rejected Jesus because he did not get in the gift box they had created – they even said He was not the Hope – He was a fake a fraud. They wished for a Messiah but did not grab ahold of true Hope and what that looked like from God.
1. I wonder today how many people are wishing for a Merry Christmas but are not putting their Hope in the power of Christmas?
a. They want God’s blessings for Christmas – but they don’t know what true Hope is!
b. They want the Christmas blessing but not the true hope -instead they place their trust in their wishes rather than in Jesus.
iii. Have you found real hope and love? The real truth and Messiah – the Savior of the world!
iv. Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus and Hope! Jesus is sent by Love to bring us hope in wicked world!
c. The people of Jesus day were waiting and preparing for the Messiah – for Love to come down and bring them hope!
i. But their hope was in the wrong things – actually they were wishing for the things they wanted and not trusting in real Hope. You could say they had a Christmas list for God – this is what they wanted:
1. Their false hope (wish) was to be delivered from The Roman Empire.
2. Their false hope (wish) was to see Israel restored to her past glory days like under the leadership of David.
3. Their false hope (wish) was to be free from outside powers.
4. Their false hope (wish) was to be God’s one and only people again – everyone else excluded.
5. Their false hope (wish) was that God would do what they wanted done.
6. Their false hope (wish) was that God would fit into their little box for Him.
7. Their false hope and (wish) was that God would look what they wanted Him to look like and do what they wanted Him to do.
d. The acrostic HOPE:
i. H – He Jesus
ii. O – offers – gives freely
iii. P – peace to all who seek it and ask for it and
iv. E – encouragement
1. True HOPE brings with it peace and encouragement!
T.S. – We too need to be careful we don’t become like many of the Jewish people of Jesus day – ones putting their hope in their wish lists and not in what true biblical hope wanted to do! So, we need to understand there is a big difference between True Hope and a personal wish.
II. Is hope and wishing the same thing? Not according to the Bible! Hope is not a wish.
a. What does it mean to make a wish and what does it mean to have true biblical hope – are they the same thing?
i. Hope by the way is not a wish and it is not wishful thinking. Hope and wishing are two different attitudes and actions to life and death.
1. Hope is real – it can be found and it is alive – hope comes alive in a relationship with Jesus – which came down and dispenses hope.
2. Do you know real Hope – Have you experienced Hope?
ii. Let me illustrate the difference and see if you can figure out which one of these two you embrace wish or hope.
1. One brings a flood light into the midst of darkness while the other is just a small flickering match in the midst of darkness.
2. One brings encouragement in the midst of discouragement while the other only brings a glimpse of encouragement.
3. One brings a positive view of problems, trials, and tribulations while the other only lifts our burden for a brief moment in time.
4. One brings peace in the midst of pain and suffering while the other only brings a mindset of looking for a fairytale ending from pain.
5. One brings us through the pain to healing while the other teaches us to live in fantasy land.
a. Paul reminded the Corinthians and us what real biblical hope does – it causes us not to lose heart!
b. 2 Corinthians 4:1-18:
i. 1Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 13It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
ii. Paul talks about Hope as alive – active – in motion – changing perspectives and attitudes. Have you experienced this kind of Living Hope?
b. Biblical hope is only found in Jesus – this kind of hope causes us to see the good when everything else around us is wasting away. It helps us see beyond this world into the spiritual world. It helps us see in the darkness!
i. This hope has the ability to see beyond our failures, our crises, death, suffering, temptation, sin, battles, hurt, depression and perverted culture.
1. It sees what can be! What can be with God!
ii. A wish cannot do this because a wish is what we do but hope is what God does!
1. A wish is what I do – Hope is what God does!
a. Hope – real hope an alive hope transforms things – it changes things from the inside out – it breaks through the darkness to highlight the light.
iii. So, let’s define the act of wishing for a moment: What does it mean to wish for something?
1. From wikpedia.com - A wish is a hope or desire for something. Fictionally, wishes can be used as a plot. In folklore, opportunities for "making a wish" or for wishes to "come true" or "be granted" are themes that are sometimes used.
c. When we explore the idea of making a wish we discover that wish and hope are very different.
i. Some wish they will win the lottery – been there? - so they go out and buy a ticket and then many more tickets but soon they discover they did not win and their wish was not granted.
1. Believe it or not, statistics show 70% of lottery winners end up broke and a third go on to declare bankruptcy, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education. Runaway spending, toxic investments and poor accounting can burn through a lucrative windfall in next to no time. From rags to riches then back to rags again.
a. From https://www.lovemoney.com/gallerylist/64958/lottery-winners-who-blew-the-lot
2. But oh, how they imagined what they would do if they won.
a. The paying off of their many extravagant bills.
b. The new car.
c. The new home
d. The world traveling
e. Quitting their job
i. I have even had people say to me. “I played the lottery and if I win - I will give a large sum of money to the church.” But the money never comes. The wish is just that a wishful thought.
1. I notice people who say this never give to church, and somehow they want God to bless them to win the lottery so He can have some of their winnings.
2. If the truth be told – it’s this - if you don’t give now when you have little you won’t give when you have more. Because it’s a matter of the heart and of really trusting in God.
ii. Do you want to experience hope now – give to God what is rightfully God’s.
1. We all actually need help with our budget do you want to be blessed and filled with hope give to God now!
2. Also, God is not into “let’s make a deal” with you on winning the lottery.
3. The truth is 99% of the people who wish and try to win the lottery never see it manifested and therefore they become discouraged because their wish does not come true – this is not hope! Are you with me?
a. Matthew 6:31-34 (CEV): “31Don’t worry and ask yourselves, “Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?” 32Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these. 33But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.
34Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today.
b. Hope understands – realizes that when you put your requests – prayers and life into the hands of God – all other things come as needed – even some of your heart’s desires.
i. The move to Grygla as pastor of Liberty Chapel and God’s financial provision.
ii. The move to CHC as associate pastor and provision of housing.
iii. The miracle summer – resigning from here and the move to Minnesota and eventually New Life and God’s provision of finances.
iv. This is what Hope does for you – a wish cannot do this!
ii. Some make a wish for their birthday and then blow out the candles.
1. My birthday is Wednesday I turn 61 – there will be a lot of candles on my cake, And I will need a lot of hot air to blow them all out!
a. But I don’t make wishes on my birthday cake or when I blow out candles because my hope is not in a wish - my hope is in the real Hope of Jesus!
i. I may pray when I blow out the candles! Do you want to know my prayer?
1. I pray the church of Jesus Christ will wake up and re-commit themselves back to Jesus and following Him – and reject all the idols of today!
2. There I said it!
b. The myth here is to not tell anyone that their wish will come true. But I told you my prayer! So, you see I don’t buy into that!
iii. Some wish upon a star.
1. You see a shooting star - so you make wish. Many movies have portrayed doing this and then seeing the wish come true.
iv. Some wish on ornaments – to snowmen – to?
1. I have seen recent movies on these wish making items.
v. Some have read you can get three wishes from rubbing a Jeany lamp.
1. But remember that is a fairytale not a reality.
a. A template for this type of 3 fictional wishes comes from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, specifically the tale of Aladdin, although in the tale of Aladdin the actual wishes were only part of the tale. Also if you recall, Aladdin's demands, while outrageous, were mainly variations on wealth (which is still often taken as the most common request).
b. Thought – this is why people wish to win the lottery for a dollar or two.
vi. Some make a wish and throw money in a fountain.
1. Movies have been written with this thought in mind too.
a. I watched one the other day centered on this type of making a wish.
2. Actually, this custom emerged as a way to worship the gods of the water and to ask their help with a problem.
a. A wishing well is a term from European folklore to describe wells where it was thought that any spoken wish would be granted. The idea that a wish would be granted came from the idea that water housed deities or had been placed there as a gift from the gods, since water was a source of life and often a scarce commodity. If you through money in as a sacrifice the gods would grant you request or wish.
b. So, we all know about making wishes but once again I want you to know this is not true biblical Hope.
d. I made an interesting discovery about the word “wish” when I looked it up in the Bible. I never found this word in my New International Bible.
i. I did a search with my Bible Software “Quick Verse” and it came back 0 matches? The term wish is not found in the Bible? Some of you are saying “Really – yeah really!”
1. We are not to be in into wishing but into having a faith in the Hope of the World. True Hope.
ii. In the Bible we have a better word called HOPE which is not a wish!
1. So, what is the difference between a wish and a hope? Let’s explore the biblical word hope more to see the difference.
a. Hope is not something we have naturally. It's something supernatural!
b. Hope is beyond this realm of life – it is discovered through Jesus and in Him.
2. Someone has wisely stated that if you could convince a man that there is no hope, he would curse the day he was born and then give up.
a. Swindoll states, “How vital is (hope)…Without it, prisoners of war languish and die. Without it, athletic teams fall into a slump and continue to lose…fledgling writers, longing to be published, run out of determination …addicts return to their habits…marriage partners decide to divorce…inventors, artists, entertainers, entrepreneurs, even preachers, lose their creativity (and quit – some even commit suicide!)
i. I hear of many losing hope today – suicided is at all time high – Hope is lost to these people!
ii. Hope plays a vital role in the journey of life.
e. The question of "Is there any hope?" is common in our world today. We hear this question being asked by young, middle aged, and older people.
i. We hear the cry of the depletion of the Ozone layer and Climate Change.
ii. We hear the effects of what could happen in a nuclear war or if terrorists got a hold of a nuclear warhead.
iii. We hear that our country is on the brink of financial collapse, moral collapse, societal breakdown is showing all over the nation and our government is broken.
iv. Covid is running wild killing everyone we hear from the media!
v. We see our children drifting into lies and deceptions stealing them of their lives and future!
1. Many have lost their God given destiny and identity!
2. Many are caught up in sexual immorality.
3. Many are exposed to sin at younger and younger ages!
vi. We see public schools promoting lies and deception setting our kids up for heartbreak, failure, hopelessness, lostness and absence of joy in the journey of life.
1. No wonder many are losing hope!
2. Lies – sin – immorality never create hope!
f. The list could go on and on and we ask, "Is there any hope?" And the answer to this question is, "Yes, there is!" But to clarify this "yes", let's understand this term "Hope" even more.
i. The following thoughts are from "A Future and a Hope", Ogilivie:
1. Hope cannot be humanly induced on demand. I cannot give myself hope.
a. Jesus is the source of Hope!
2. To better understand what "Authentic Hope is we need to see what it is not!"
a. Once again - Hope is not wishful thinking.
i. We try to wish our dreams into reality and we try to wish away the hurts of life but it never works.
b. Hope is not yearning.
i. Ogilivie states, "We often incorrectly use the word, "hope" to express our yearning. "Oh, I hope so!" We say, expressing a longing for something to be true or to happen. "Here's hoping," we say in response to a possibility." (47)
ii. The sad fact here is we usually end up with disappointments because our expectations are not met our wish is not granted.
c. Hope is not simply cheery optimism.
i. "Hope certainly can produce and optimistic attitude, but an optimistic attitude is not a substitute for true hope." (48)
ii. Optimism that is not based on God's promises, power, and faithfulness fades under the pressure of disappointments.
3. The truth about Hope is that it is centered in the person of Jesus Christ. Christ's life, message, atonement for the sins of the world and resurrection are now the basis of hope.
a. Jesus Christ is the object of Hope, but also He is the one and only who enables us to truly have lasting hope.
b. Hope comes to us by having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It comes from knowing God on a personal level.
i. Hope is personal – it’s not abstract!
1. Did you hear that – it’s not intangible – you can grab ahold of Hope!
c. Hope comes from pinnacle moments with the Lord in our times or distress. It comes from connection with Him.
i. Romans 5:1-5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
ii. Hope is real – tangible and powerful – true hope will never disappoint us in this life!
4. True Biblical Hope will not disappoint us – BUT making wish’s will!
a. Hope is based on what God does for us while a wish is based on what we want done.
b. Case in point Story: True stories of hope: A boy was dying of cancer and needed an expensive brain surgery, but his family, broke and desperate, couldn't afford it. His 8 year old sister Tess took her piggy bank savings to a pharmacist in order to buy a 'miracle'. It just so happens that the right man witnessed the little girl's tears at the pharmacy counter: a neurosurgeon. He performed the surgery for free. http://www.givesmehope.com/Inspiring+Feats/A-boy-was-dying-of-cancer-and-needed-an/2300
T.S. - We have defined the difference between a wish and true biblical hope – are you getting the point of this message?
Question: So, what do we need to know from this message?
Answer: As Christians we are not to put our hope in wishes, fairytales, fantasy land or other false things? Christians – please hear me - We also do not place our hope in the following systems of thought and belief:
• In the world system?
• In our talents or gifts?
• In our jobs or money?
• In the US Government?
• In the military?
• In the State?
• In public education?
• In people?
• In preachers?
• In parents?
• In family?
• In wishes?
• In the lottery?
• In the news?
• In Hollywood?
• In drugs?
• In alcohol?
• In parties?
• In sex?
No! We put our hope in Jesus (The True Hope) and His ability to supernaturally strengthen us deliver us – guide us – direct us through the hard times of life! None of these other things listed can do what True Hope can do!
Question: What do we need to do from this message? Grab a hold of true Hope!
Answer: Yes, we need to embrace it and learn how to receive true Biblical Hope?
• It comes from faith – you have to believe in Jesus.
• It comes from believing, seeing and then receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
• It comes from the Holy Spirit’s insight and direction.
• It comes from trusting in truth and rejecting the lies.
• It comes by forsaking sin.
• It comes through having a vision of your divine destiny.
• It comes from the throne of Heaven and the Bible.
• It comes through and from Jesus!
• It comes by looking at Jesus as a Baby in the manger and seeing True Hope.
When we do this and find true biblical hope – it changes our perceptions – it encourages us - it empower us – it gives us visions of breakthrough – it helps us focus on the real purpose of life.
Real biblical hope is not abstract it is a living hope! When we find it – we know it – we experience it – we embrace it with love! It changes everything!
So go celebrate – embrace True Biblical Hope this Christmas – Connect with it and help others connect with it – It will change everything!