The Christmas story is full of hope, and it is the hope from that very story that can sustain us through some of the toughest times.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.
I want to talk with you this morning about hope.
Ever think about the crazy things that hope can make us do?
Hope makes people certainly do crazy things
For you single ppl: Somebody tells you that there’s a one in a million chance that they’ll date you, and people can still respond, “So you’re saying there’s a chance?”
We have hope for all sorts of different things, and hope is what keeps us going.
For instance, many of you know that I’m a fan of the MN Timberwolves.
Now, let’s just stop for a moment and think about this rationally.
Why in the world would any one be a fan of the Timberwolves. Perhaps one of the most tortured franchise in all of sports?
Why watch loss after loss after loss after loss?
One simple word: Hope.
Hope in the future. And in this case, the distant, distant future.
But because I have hope, I’ll keep watching. Because someday they’ll be good, and I can say I was there all along while the rest of you just jumped on the bandwagon.
We are continuing this morning in our Believe Again Christmas series where we are looking at Faith, Hope, and Love in the Christmas story.
This morning, we are looking at hope.
Hope just exudes from the Christmas story. The whole story has this hopeful excitement around it.
You can almost just feel it as you read. The people know: It’s going to be different. Things are going to change!!
Let’s read our passage for today…
(Luke 2:8-20) – NIV
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
So look at the hope in this passage:
This is a dark time of history for God’s people Israel.
They are living as a conquered people. The Romans control them. They are being governed by a pagan governor, an evil King Herod, and led by hypocritical priests.
It’s not a good time.
But people have been talking a lot lately… “Remember, the Bible says God will send a savior. We could be delivered. We could be changed.”
Can you feel the hope in the darkness?
And then angel appears: With good news of great joy! A SAVIOR has been born!
This is crazy. The prophets have been silent for 400 years
This is the moment when the hope-o-meter goes from 2 out 10 to 9 out of 10!.
And we see the shepherds going around spreading hope to all who would hear.
“He’s alive. He’s been born. The savior is here. THERE…IS…HOPE!”
WE LOSE HOPE
But is there hope? Cuz a lot of us don’t live with a lot of hope.
In fact, it feels like this world hasn’t given us a lot to hope in.
Or, at least we’ve lost the ability to hope as time’s gone on.
Just as we talked about last week, it’s easier for kids to have hope. Just like it is for kids to have faith.
Sorry to use 2 sports examples in one message, but I was actually at the Timberwolves game this Wednesday, and the Wolves were losing by 7 with 3:00 minutes to go.
A bunch of adults started leaving the Target Center at that time because you know, they only spent $50 on tickets, so why see the whole game when you can “beat traffic” and get home 45 seconds earlier.
But where I was sitting, there were some kids in front of me.
Let me ask you: Do you think they wanted to go when we were down by 7 with 3:00 minutes still to go?
There’s hope! One of my favorite movies as a kid, “Angels in the Outfield,” featured a kid who would always say when his baseball team was down, “It could happen.”
By the way the T-wolves lost. J
But as adults, we become jaded. “Like Vikings fans who’ve watched their team blow it for decades, we treat life that way.”
We tend to come to life with a “what can go wrong, will go wrong” sort of attitude.
And it comes down to: Can you keep your ability to hope that you had as a child, can you believe again, or will you eventually just led all hope fade?
I often joke that there are two types of senior citizens: The nicest people in the world and the crabbiest people in the world.
Now, this is a severe generalization: But it’s as if, some people learn to hold on to hope, and others don’t. And when you don’t, when you start to let hope slip out of your hands, the ramifications for how you then view life are brutal.
WHY IS HOPE IMPORTANT: IT GETS US THROUGH
And that’s why viewing God as our “hope” is SO important.
It literally has massive implications on you view life.
When you hit rough patches in your life (and you will), the degree in which you can trust in that “Savior,” that came to earth on that Christmas morning has HUGE implications for how you will deal with roadblocks.
Let me give you a few examples of that.
I’ve always been fascinated by rescue stories. Who isn’t?
It’s why the world was so overtaken with joy at the rescue of the Chilean miners.
And think about how much hope factors in with that story.
Without hope…people never make it
Perhaps you missed it in the news last month, but there was another great survivor story that got kinda dwarfed by the Chilean miner story
There were three boys that set out from a small island by Fiji, and were trying to cross to another small island in the middle of the night to “see a girl” they met at a rugby tournament
If that doesn’t show the hope of children and teenagers, I don’t know what does
…I saw her at a rugby tournament…and I bet if I show up at 1am at her place, she’ll want to date me. Love it.
Anyway, they got lost trying to get to the other island and eventually drifted off into the ocean.
They only had enough food for a few days…but they never lost hope. They drank rain water. Ate flying fish. They even killed a seagull and survived for many more days. Even when their clothes were eventually melted off by the heat, they didn’t lose hope.
And at day 50 they were spotted by a tuna fishing boat and rescued.
What kept them going??? The captain of the boat that rescued them said were incredibly tough mentally and had an unbelievable amount of HOPE!
They often say that the difference between those who survive being prisoners of war and those who don’t, is the ability to hope.
Let me give you another example: And if you’re not a fan of experimenting on animals, you’re not going to like this. So, all I can tell you is, it’s over, you can’t save the rats from this exp. now, so just try and learn from it.
But they did an experiment where they took 2 sets of lab rats. The first group they placed in a large tub of water to see how long they would swim for before eventually giving up and drowning.
They all gave up right around the hour mark and drowned.
For the 2nd group, They would leave them in for periods at a time (say 20 minutes, then 40 minutes, then 60, etc., and then they would rescue them and lift them out of the water. Then eventually, they left them in to see how long they would last for: And they lasted for 24 hours.
Cruel, but incredible. Look at the power of hope. The power of the hope of being rescued.
In the Bible, when Jesus is born as the Savior, things change. These people now know that despite the struggles they will face, despite being felt like they are left in the water sometimes, that they have a savior, a rescuer, and because of that, they can hope.
Hope is the key ingredient that keeps us going through the tough times of our lives.
And you and I might not be literally lost at sea, but we’re on a turbulent journey. And it’s easier than you think to give up. Or at minimum, just throw in the towel and start drifting.
So let me ask you: DO you have hope? Are you trusting in the Savior that He controls your life? Are you hoping in Him for changes in your life? Delivery in your life?
WHAT IS HOPE: TRUSTING IN SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOU
Because we have to hope in something bigger than ourselves. If you haven’t figured it out yet, you will soon enough, that you are not enough.
You are not enough to make your life work. Not enough to bring peace. Not enough to know true love. That comes from something bigger.
And I challenge you to trust and hope in something bigger.
And trust that His ways aren’t always your ways. True hope is the ability to hope in God even when He doesn’t work just as you expect.
Listen, the people of Jesus’ day that were hoping for a Savior, weren’t expecting him to be born to a teenage nobody in a manger behind some inn and to be visited by lowly shepherds.
They were expecting the Christmas story to look more like the Lion King. Take the newborn savior, bring him out and front of royalty and have the whole kingdom shout out.
But just because it doesn’t look exactly like you expected it to look, doesn’t mean we give up on hope.
If life always worked out exactly how you expected, you actually wouldn’t have hope. It would just be you trusting in yourself.
Imagine with me that you are trapped down at the bottom of a well
Your hope might be that they’ll send you down a rope, and you’ll be rescued. That’s how you picture it
But when the experts get there, they say, “Can’t do that. Rope could snap. You could lose your grip. Jagged metal pieces on the side. It’s not safe. That’s not how we’re gonna do it.”
Do you lose all hope in that moment?
Do you say, “It’s not working out exactly how I saw it happening, thus there’s no reason to hope that I’ll survive.”
Hopefully not. I would assume you would have HOPE that they know what they’re doing. And when they tell you minutes later that they’re going to dig a safer side hole and tunnel in, you would trust them.
But too often with God, when He doesn’t act just as we expect…and things aren’t working out how we wanted…or when we find out the “lowering the rope” idea in our lives just isn’t going to work…………too often, we lose hope. There’s no hope.
Forgetting all the while that God is the expert here. He knows exactly what He’s doing!
He’s like the people trying to save you out of the well. He knows the best method.
So put your trust in Him. Not in your own ideas on how life should work out.
WHO ARE YOU TRUSTING IN?
Which brings up a good question.
WHO are you trusting in?
We all have some sort of hope that life will be ok or maybe even that it will get better.
But who are you hoping IN??
You may not realize it or not, but even though we can give lip service to God, all too often are hope for things getting better is really in someone else.
It’s in our spouse making our marriage better, in our boss turning things around, or in us getting a job, or keeping a job. We put hope in politicians to change the world, and super Christians to save the world.
But here’s the 1 incredible thing all of those things have in common: They all have the ability to let you down.
So having hope is one thing…but having hope in the right thing is even more important.
Because having hope in the wrong thing can potentially be even more devastating than never having hope at all.
Before Jesus was born, Godly people held on to hope that one day He would come…
In fact, 700 years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah prophesied the following: starts with “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.”
(Isaiah 9:6-7) – NIV
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,[b] Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.
And Godly people believed He would come, & they hoped in that.
But now, our hope is even different. We’re not hoping that a Savior will one day come. He’s already come.
Jesus is real. He came to earth on that glorious night in Bethlehem, and his birth gave real hope.
Hope to his parents. To the shepherds. And to everyone who heard.
And his life gives us hope too. The fact that He is real. The fact that He can direct our steps, Speak to our hearts. That He can deliver us from evil.
And his death gives us hope.
Jesus Christ came to die for messed up people like us, and if we would believe in that, and accept his forgiveness, we would be completely forgiven and could spend eternity with Him.
You’re not putting your hope in some other person who’s going to let you down, some company that’s never going to come through, or some politician that’s never gonna keep his promise.
You’re putting your hope in the King of Kings. The Lord of Lords. The God of creation!!
And in Him we also have the ultimate hope: Eternal hope.
Here’s what I mean:
There was once a terminally ill young man who went into the hospital for his usual treatment. He was trying to hold onto hope, when a new and crabby doctor said to Him, “Listen, you’re not going to make it even through the end of the year.”
The man left and stopped by the director’s office to complain. Weeping, he said to the director (who was a Christian), “That doctor took away my hope!”
The director replied to him, “I’m sorry about that. But maybe it’s time to find a new hope.”
Because here’s the reality. Even when hope is taken away. Even when there’s nothing left to hope for in this world.
And listen, we don’t want to admit that in our fake, everyone’s happy sort of world, but listen, sometimes there’s nothing left to hope in.
People die. I’m sorry they do.
But here’s the incredible news of great joy that the Angels proclaimed that night:
Now, even in the face of death, we have reason to hope because Jesus came to earth on that night. And he came to save the world.
So even if I should die tomorrow, I will die with hope.
For, because a savior was born, our hope can not be taken from us.
That…is a deep hope. Hope in Him.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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