Scripture: Isaiah 9:2-7; Matthew 1:22-23; Romans 15:4
DARKNESS THREATENS OUR HOPE
The center of the Christmas story is focused squarely on the birth of Jesus. He is the fulfillment of Israel’s hope that God would push back the darkness and shine a bright light into the world.
One of the reasons Christmas resonates in our hearts is because we, too, live in a world that is similar to Israel. Our world is dark and corrupt because of the sin in every corner of the globe. There is war, disease, conflict, and oppression all around us. We, too, are in need of the Messiah, the Christ to bring light to push back the darkness around us. If all our focus is on the world’s darkness we will live in constant fear and anxiety. We may even lose hope.
Christmas is a reminder that whatever it is we hope for in our lives—healing, restoration, forgiveness, or a fresh start—it is available to us through Immanuel – God with us. Hope does not come because we have it all figured out. Hope does not come from other people or even from scientific advancement. Those things we hope for may be resolved here and now or it be later in heaven. All true hope is a result of the presence of God. And because God is trustworthy and keeps all his promises our hope in Him is sure and steady.
GOD’S PRESENCE GIVES US HOPE
The hard part about hope is that it often takes longer than we would like to be fulfilled. Like the Jewish people experienced, hope requires patience.
How many enjoy waiting for things? Next day delivery has kind of taken away our need for patience. We order things and they show up in a day or two. And if they don’t we are tracking the package around town on our delivery app. It’s not like the old days when shipping was typically 6-8 weeks. We would almost forget something in that time and then be so excited and surprised when the package showed up two months later. Can you imagine?
Paul said everything that had been written in the past — all of the prophecy and fulfillment —is meant to teach us how to hold onto faith in God to answer our prayers. What has been written gives us endurance and encouragement that we might have hope. It is important that we revisit the prophetic words of the Old Testament and the fulfillment that comes through the birth of Jesus because it reminds us that God can be trusted to come through and meet us in our greatest times of need.
THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS IS HOPE
Though there are many distractions during the Christmas season, this message is a reminder that hope is offered to us through Jesus’s arrival in the manger. The hoped for Messiah finally arrived right on time.
Our God is always right on time. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. He can be trusted to reveal the light of Christ in order to push back the darkness in our lives. In a land full of deep darkness, the light has truly dawned. And each Christmas as we remember the hope that came with Immanuel, God with us, we can be encouraged to look to that hope that Christ will return, bring us home to heaven, and set all things right again. God will fully restore His creation.
Through the ages people have placed all their hope in a wise leader, or in a larger army, or in science and medicine. But after several global wars, many horrific acts of hatred and terrorism, changing weather patterns, many people lost hope. Children have lost hope as parents abandoned them and spouses lost hope as marriages dissolved. Even trusting solely in your own knowledge and abilities will lead you to hopelessness.
We were created by God to know Him and to be known and loved by Him. Without that connection to your creator, your heavenly Father there is no lasting hope for this life or the next. The good news that we celebrate at Christmas time, is that God the Father sent His son into the world to offer forgiveness of sin, redemption, peace with God, and eternal life. You can find real hope only in a relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Are you looking to people, government leaders, science, or a really big retirement account to bring you hope? Your faith and hope belong in God.
Have you confessed your sin to God, and trusted Jesus as your Savior? Put your hope in God alone. Contact Pastor Mark if you want to talk more about this.
You can find real hope at the heart of Christmas.