The God of Hope
Sunday, December 3, 2023
Calle to Worship:
God of Hope,
we come into your presence this morning
with confidence that you will meet us here.
Where there is sadness, bring joy;
Where there is tiredness, bring refreshment;
Where there is despair, bring a renewed sense of hope.
Let this place be a sanctuary,
a haven for us,
a home for holy words and songs and prayers
as we devote ourselves to you.
We pray this in Jesus’ name Amen
With eyes to see,
And ears to hear,
With lips to sing,
And hands to help:
Let us worship God with the fullness of our being.
Advent reading: Susan
Jesus Christ is our hope of glory. He is our hope of what is certain and true. When we say we place our hope in Christ, this is not just wishful thinking for good things to come. This is professing our faith with an assurance of God’s promises for us no matter what we see now- we know God is working all things for good. Hope is a knowing and our hope increases, the more we come to personally know Jesus as our Savior and trusted friend.
When life can look bleak or dark, we stand in hope and we look for the glimmer of light that is always shining, reminding us Jesus is still there and the darkness cannot overcome. His light remains ever-shining. When pressures mount and we feel we are facing the impossible or that everything might crumble at any given moment… we stand in hope because we know with man things are impossible but with God ALL things are possible. We stand in hope because Jesus says in this world you will have troubles, but take heart, I have overcome the world! He says, take My yoke for I am gentle and humble in heart and My yoke is easy and My burden is light. We have hope because He tells us we were never meant to carry the weight of the world alone on our shoulders have been designed to yoke with Him because He makes our burdens lighter.
Even when our bodies fail, we who believe, have hope. Hope that we don’t have to fear death and while we will grieve the loss of loved ones or they will for us one day, there is a hope that our goodbyes are not forever, just for now, and that our loved ones will never again face the hardship and sorrows of this world-they are free from it forever and filled with eternal glory, rejoicing in the heavens. Having this hope is a comfort in our grieving process, so even though we grieve, we stand in hope of what has come for our loved ones and what will also come for us one day.
As we begin Advent and head towards Christmas which is a celebration of hope brought to the world, let’s look more closely today at why we can have hope in Jesus Christ and remain in hope, even during our darkest times in life.
Hebrews 10 gives us good insight as to who Jesus is and exactly what He did for us as our Savior and sacrifice. I want to summarize the first part of this chapter.
The author of Hebrews begins by sharing how the Law-given through Moses was only a shadow of the good things coming-not the realities themselves. He was teaching how in that time, before Jesus’ arrival, the priests had to perform regular sacrifices for the sins of the people and for themselves. The author also clarified that the sacrifice of animals could not save anyone; it merely atoned for the recent and past sins of the people. But those sacrifices would have to be done over and over again.
We read: 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me; 6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, my God.”
10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
The priests before Jesus stood and performed their duties day after day, offering sacrifices that would not save, only temporarily atone.
12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First, he says: 16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” 17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
Jesus came to this world to offer His body, which was spotless and without sin, as the sacrifice for all humanity, once and for all. He is our High Priest who reigns over His Church and because His work is finished, He no longer stands as earthly priests had to. He sits at the right hand of the Father until the time comes for His return to gather all His people to our eternal home. He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in the heart of every Believer, as a guarantee of what will yet come, an assurance of His promises. His Spirit also makes known the righteous ways of God for the Spirit writes them on our hearts and puts them in our minds. So, when darkness looms, temptations beckon us, and things look impossible, the Holy Spirit reminds us what has already been done on our behalf. The Spirit reminds us we have a high priest who is seated on the throne and shows us what is true.
The Holy Spirit points us to the hope we have in Jesus-for He is our hope.
Hebrews 10: 19-25 NIV
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
How do we hold unswervingly to hope with all the pressures we face in this world?
- Draw Near to God.
Just as we have likely done for Thanksgiving take time to lift grateful hearts in praise to God and count our blessings, so we must continue to do, day to day, and draw near to God. For when we let our hearts draw near and we gaze upon Him, our hope renews and strengthens. Gratitude makes a way for us to shift our perspective. If we only look at all that is wrong or all that we don’t have, we can feel miserable, pretty quickly. Choosing to be grateful in every circumstance allows our hearts to be reminded of the greater truths we have as redeemed children of God. Our circumstances will always be in flux. But our promises in God do not change-they are constant. This is the covenant we have with God through Jesus Christ, our hope of glory.
Hebrews 7: 18-19 18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’” 22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.
That better hope is Jesus who makes a way for us to draw near to our holy God with confidence.
Hebrews 7: 24-26 also affirms our hope in Christ:
24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he can save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them.26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.
And we read in Ephesians 2:13 how Jesus Himself, brings us near to our holy God: 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
It is the shedding of His blood sacrifice, that makes a way for us to come freely before God and be seen as righteous.
James 4:8 NKJV Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
This is a promise-as we draw near to God and open our hearts to Him, He draws near to us. It is in this nearness and closeness that we feel hope rise within us, for it is Christ Himself who is our hope. It is His presence we are encountering.
Let us cling to Christ He is and His power flowing within us.
- Hold on to Hope (that is Christ).
Hebrews 10:23 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
He is faithful. To what? To uphold every Word spoken and fulfill every promise declared. But we must know what He has declared for us, for us to hold on to what He promises. We must truly know Him to cling to Him as someone we trust and place our hope in.
We discover all of this by reading His Word, for He is the Word and, in His Word, we learn of His truths and we come to meet Him personally.
Romans 15:4 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
In His Word, we find truths we can also proclaim to restore our hope when it begins to waver. We learn and are reminded how faithful Jesus is to remain by our side every moment. We learn we don’t have to fear people or circumstances in this world, for the hope we have in Christ is greater than any fear.
Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
Do you know this to be true for you? Can you say this with confidence when fear comes knocking at your door? When we hold on to Christ, we can.
Sometimes, life’s pressures can get the better of us and we are no longer standing in hope. We are weighed down, depressed, and overwhelmed by everything. If we turn to His Word, we will find the truth we can speak over our souls to bring us back to hope in Jesus.
Remember we are made up of 3 parts- our spirit joined with God as we believe in Jesus; our soul that makes up our emotions, will, and mind; and our physical body that carries us around and enables us to do what we think about.
So, when we are anything other than hope-filled, joyful, and at peace, we are letting our soul be our guide, not our spirit. We can talk to our soul as King David did and tell it what to feel and do. We are saying stand down soul, you are not in control of how I live. I am choosing to yield and let my spirit within-that is joined to God- be my truth and guide.
Psalm 42:5 says this: 5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
We can all have moments like this. I pray we don’t let them become seasons that linger on. A way to overcome these moments and feelings is to recognize which part of you is leading and engage the spirit within you to take the lead once again-shifting your focus back to God, drawing near to Him, and clinging to Jesus in His Word.
There is a final charge for all of us as Christians in our key Scripture today, that significantly increases our likelihood to hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.
- Live in Harmony with the Body.
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Ephesians 4 speaks about unity and maturity in the Body of Christ
Vs. 15-16 state 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
We are fashioned together as the Body with Christ as the head so that together, we will build up in love and grow to be the mature Body of Him.
We are called to come together often to learn, to pray, and to enjoy fellowship for this keeps us in hope.
The blessing when we gather as Believers is Jesus is there among us; Hope Himself is there, manifesting His presence in and through us. We experience the hope of Christ, together and that is a powerful thing.
Matthew 18:20 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Conclusion: Jesus Christ is our living hope. To hold unswervingly to this hope we profess, we must draw near to God, speak truth over our soul that doubts, and live in harmony with the Body that strengthens us in our faith. Let's do these things all the more and experience the God of Hope with increasing measure this Advent season. Let us give thanks to the God of hope today.
Pray: Thank You Lord for the gift of hope through Your Son Jesus. May we abound in hope as we believe the promises spoken through our God of hope.
Communion: We come together to share in this holy sacrament of communion remember why Jesus came to earth-His purpose was to become the sacrificial lamb-without spot or blemish-to shed His blood that would atone for the sins of the world. He came to make a way for us to have right standing again with our holy God and in doing so restore us that we might be called children of the Most High God. His sacrifice allowed us, as we believe in Him and call on Him as our Savior, to be adopted as sons and daughters, sharing in His inheritance in the heavenly realms. We are heirs with Christ-all because of what He did on the cross because of God’s great love for humanity and His desire to have a close and eternal relationship with us.
We remember and reflect on the sacrifice made and the depths of His love for us today. We reflect on the hope we have-knowing if Jesus would go to those lengths and give His own life; then surely that was not in vain but we also then will share in His glory. This is the hope that if He did that for us; all that He promises must surely be true because why else would He go to such lengths if there wasn’t a certainty of His victory?
Let us take a moment to give our thanks for His sacrifice and His gift of redemption and eternal hope. If you need to receive Him as your Lord and Savior, do it today on this first day of Advent. Don’t wait and let another Christmas pass by without knowing Jesus as your Savior. Invite Him into your heart today. Let Him show you through a personal encounter, the true wonder of Christmas.
Luke 22: 17-20 7 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
Prayer: Thank You Jesus for Your great and wonderful sacrifice that redeemed and restored us; and gives us new life. We bless Your holy name. We exalt You and we are humbled by Your love.
Christmas Eve 10 am with a brunch to follow. Invite family and friends to join us.
Next Sunday or New Year’s Eve- LG gear picture? 3rd Sunday Festive wear!
Final Blessing: Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.