Sermons

Summary: To wish is about what we want from God; hope is waiting for that which God wants for us.

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Eugene Peterson (Living the Message: Daily Help for Living the God-Centered Life) points out that what a lot of people call hope is in reality something different. It’s wishing, not hoping: and wishing and hoping are not the same thing.

"Wishing," Peterson says, "is something all of us do. It projects what we want or think we need into the future. Just because we wish for something good or holy we think it qualifies as hope. It does not. Wishing extends our egos into the future; hope grows out of our faith. Hope is oriented toward what God is doing; wishing is oriented toward what we are doing."

Peterson goes on to say that we can picture wishing as though it were a line coming out from us with an arrow on the end, pointing into the future, pointing toward that thing we most want to possess. Hope is just the opposite. It’s a line that comes from God out of the future, with its arrow pointing toward us.

"Hope," he continues, "means being surprised, because we don’t know what is best for us or how our lives are going to be completed. To cultivate hope is to suppress wishing -- to refuse to fantasize about what we want, but live in anticipation of what God is going to do next."

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Advent marks the beginning of a new church year. I like new beginnings. They afford us an opportunity to analyze our past and make course corrections for the future. I especially like the season of Advent (Latin adventus, coming), because it brings to focus the coming of Jesus Christ: as a babe to Bethlehem (1st) and as a king coming for his people (2nd).

B. Advent is a time to draw near to God—a time to restore and be restored. With that in mind, we begin a series on restoration that represents each Advent Candle. We begin with the restoration of hope. OYBT Psalm 80.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Scholars believe the references to Israel, Joseph, Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh suggest the lament (grief-stricken wailing) is from the northern kingdom (10 of 12 tribes). They have been ravaged by a foreign power, and seek God’s restorative power.

B. A quick read might lead us to believe it is a psalm of despair, in which the people cry out to God as though there is no hope for them. Fortunately, a more careful reading reveals a fascinating plea for restoration based in hope, not wishful fantasy.

C. The structure of the psalm defines its movements: (1-3) Invocation and petition; (4-7) Lamentation; (8-11) Recitation of God’s saving acts; (12-16) Description of the vine’s current condition; and (17-19) Petitions and vow.

D. The recurring refrain of the psalm defines its tone: Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved. Listen to the surety of that refrain! (repeat 2X)

[Hope is oriented toward what God is doing; wishing is oriented toward what we are doing. Choose hope—hope is living in anticipation of what God is going to do next.]

III. ISRAEL COMES BEFORE GOD

A. Invocation and Petition (1-3)

1. Hear us, O Shepherd | who leads us | who sits enthroned. They call upon God, acknowledging him as Almighty, Protector, and Leader.


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