Christmas, Part 3

Home » Sermons » Christmas 2016 » Christmas, Part 3

Auto Generated Transcript

I want to invite you to turn to Hebrews chapter four as we continue the theme of our series together as it relates to Christmas and some important topics that we will discuss as a in this week and next week as it relates to, uh, this time of year and what it represents. We’ve, we’ve looked at some themes as it relates to Christmas and, and what it means for us to celebrate in this holiday. And today we’re going to talk about a significant word that I think is, uh, impactful towards what Christmas represents and not just Christmas, really in a broader perspective, what the gospel represents. Because Christmas is what birth for us, God in the flesh, who, who gave us the gospel, who gave his life for our sins that we could trust in him and have a, an eternal hope in him. And so the theme of what we’re going to look at this morning is actually the topic of hope and how hope is an essential ingredient for us to experience abundant life in, in our relationship to God and for all of eternity.

When you look at the the subject of hope, I think it’s significant for us as as individuals. In fact, there’s a proverb that says in Proverbs 13 chapter chapter 13 verse 12 that hope deferred makes the heart sick. That we as beings, part of our creation being made in God’s image. We long for hope that if you encounter an individual that lacks hope in, in their position in life, what you find is a person that is sort of frozen in the moment, that that doesn’t want to really move forward. You’re looking for just the desire to want to get up and do something. But hope hope is that anticipation that gives us something to long for a future that we look forward to and reason to move forward. And so hope is an important word as it relates to Christmas. And, and one of the things that I, I don’t want to sound like as we discuss this topic of hope, I really don’t want to approach this as someone that sounds somewhat disingenuine because I understand when we talk about the nature of hope, how to experience hope and how to live in that hope that we come to a word like this and different circumstances in life.

I mean, even this morning, some of us may be struggling and hope is some sort of a word that sounds like I might just give you this way of positive thinking today that’s really not going to impact your life. And I want you to know, I don’t want to approach the word hope like that at all. That is, that is not my desire. This, this word for hope. In our culture today, we tend to use it as a word that, uh, it really means more luck or just sort of wishful thinking. It’s kinda like, um, golly, gee. Willikers I sure hope so. You know, it’s like, uh, you’re just sort of anticipating things will go well, but you’re not really sure. But you’ve got a lot of wishful expectations in that. And so when you, but when you study the word hope and you root it, and scripture hope has this, this definition of confident expectation. And in fact a hope was so important that Jesus himself said it this way. In Matthew chapter 12 verse 21 and in his name, the Gentiles will hope ref referencing Jesus. And he’s quoting Isaiah chapter 42 talking about what he would fulfill and he’s saying the gym towel world would, would find hope in this.

And so when we talk about the word hope, the word hope is, it’s an important word to understand because if you’re looking at life and you’re feeling like you’re in a difficult situation or you know someone that is and you want to, you want to give them something to look forward to, you wanna encourage their life. It’s important when you study the word hope to understand hope. Hope is not an isolated word.

You can’t just decide, I want to have hope. And so therefore you just pursue hope. I mean you can do that, but what often happens in, in pursuing that is that you sorta just create this, this hope and you have hope in hope, but there’s really no foundation to that hope. But when the Bible describes hope, the way that the Bible paints a picture of hope is more of a, a synergistic way of thinking that hope isn’t isolated but, but it’s interdependent with another, uh, another word within Christianity that has a as very powerful as it relates to who we are. And that is the word for faith. In fact, when you study the word hope in scripture, when you look at it in the new Testament, this word for hope, a good percentage of the time that it’s used within scripture, I think it’s about 20% of the time that the word hope is used, that you will find the word faith within the context of that same verse.

And so hope isn’t an isolated word. It’s a synergistic word that correlates to the idea of faith. And it gives us a route for how we experience hope. But if you just read certain passages on hope, like Romans five two it says through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand and we exalt in hope of the glory of God. Galatians five five for we through the spirit by faith are waiting for the hope of righteousness. Hebrews 10 23 let us hold fast. The confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. So when you asked the question this morning, you look at the word hope and you say to yourself, well, how do I have hope? Or how can I continue to experience hope? In this world? It’s important to see. Hope is not isolated but rather synergistic depending on other other correlations to what the Bible says is faith. And so the question is, how do I have hope? If we’re asking that, I would start with this as the foundation, what do you lean your face against?

Because the way that scripture paints the picture of hope is that hope comes from the initiation of a foundation of which you place your faith. So if you ask, how do I have hope, you’ve got to begin with what do you lean your faith? Again, maybe in the opposition or the opposite way of thinking in that context would say, um, if someone has lost their hope, possibly it’s because you’ve leaned your faith against something that’s moved when it comes to losing hope, losing faith, I think in, in, in our Christian life or, or according to what Jesus describes, the way that we build our hope there, there are a few things in life that that erode our hope. One is lifestyle patterns and the other is unexplainable circumstances that we experience by lifestyle patterns. What I mean is you may have, you’ve made it grown up in a particular environment that’s hot. You say lying is wrong, right? And you go and you begin to live your life and you get involved in a, maybe a certain company whose ethics aren’t always there. And they began to teach a certain culture that that dishonesty in certain cases are, are okay.

And so and so you begin to adapt living in that culture, that lifestyle, that, that in certain practices in, in your arena that it’s okay to not always be completely honest. And so you began to adopt your, your lifestyle to pattern what you’re around in your environment. I mean the same could be true in, in Christian circles like you’re taught in in a, well let’s just say a religious environment cause I don’t want to use just necessarily Christianity. It’s just unhealthy religious environment that if you do a, B and C, that God then has to do D, right? And so you, you, you learn to anticipate, you do these certain, put these certain ducks in a row and then, and then you expect, or you put God in this box where he is obligated to do you and rather you’ve made yourself Lord rather than, than him Lord, because you’ve done these certain things where God then is your servant and requiring to do these specific things for you.

And so when God doesn’t do D, what you find is that your faith begins to erode because what you’ve learned is to anticipate doing these particular things in order to have this specific result. And so when the result doesn’t happen in that lifestyle that you’ve patterned faith of roads in addition to lifestyle patterns, unexplainable circumstances for us, you look at circumstances and they’re what you thought they should be. And so you begin to doubt the existence of God. And the problem with circumstantial is that circumstances are fragile in life. Life is always changing. And what tends to happen in circumstances of faith is that when things go well, you praise God. And when things don’t, you hate God. And don’t get me wrong, when we talk about circumstances, I think God uses circumstances to launch our faith and God uses circumstances to build our faith, but God never intended them to be the foundation to her faith. When it comes to finding hope, hope is built on faith and faith is resting in something. It is impossible not to have faith.

And even in the Christian life, we’ve got to be careful because sometimes we rest our faith on good things, but not necessarily God things. And when pressures of life arise, it reveals where we put our confidence. Pressures of life can reveal to us where our confidence or faith rests, but not just pressures in life. I think even pleasures in life do the same thing because in Christianity, the thing that we learn about faith in the Lord is that eventually at some point Jesus will call me to die to something. I mean the Christian walk is die to self live to God and at some point that will require sacrifice of letting go of something for the Lord. And if that’s something is what brings you pleasure in life and pleasure really is where you put your faith when it comes to that position in life where you have to let go to, to grab ahold of God rather than the holding of the thing that brings you pleasure, what you’re going to choose if your faith is in pleasure is that pleasure over the Lord. And so circumstances, unexpected circumstances, plush pleasures and pressures, lifestyle patterns, they they reveal to us in in many cases of where, where we put our faith. One of the reasons I love being Christian and one of the reasons I think that we can have and find hope is that the thing that we lean our faith on, it’s not a philosophy. It’s not an experience. It’s not a behavior pattern. It’s not a lifestyle choice. Not a prayer, but rather, Hebrews four reveals that to us.

Hebrews chapter four and verse 14 is a position in scripture of which I think is significant too to Christianity as it relates to the topic of hope. Because when you read the book of Hebrews, what you find is that the believers that this book has written to are going through pressure in life. Their faith is being challenged, their circumstances are unwanted. Uh, the, the outside situation of their lifestyle is, is being persecuted. Hebrews chapter four in verse 14 is, is this section of scripture that writes to the believers to explain to them how they can find hope in the midst of anything that surrounds their lives. When you look at Hebrews chapter four in verse four or verse 14, excuse me, it says this. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

So this, the, the, the passage of scripture begins with this, this, this proposition word in which we are to, to really prop ourself up against this word for therefore he’s reading from the, the, the context of chapter four, describing the life of believers that are going through an unwanted circumstances, challenges in life that are pressuring them in their relationship to God. And he reaches this concluding thought. Therefore, what he’s saying is, cause I know this is hard. I know your circumstances and what you always, what you go through in life may not be easy. I know in present reality, um, the difficulty of which you face my challenge you to be hopeless. Therefore, I want you to consider this since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the son of God, let us hold fast our confession. This idea of holding fast is holding firmly meaning in order to have hope, you’ve got to ask the question, what you lean your faith against. And when the root of your faith is solid, the ability to hope then is sprung forth from that. And so what he’s saying in the book of Hebrews is he’s recognizing for them where their foundation rest. It’s not in circumstance, it’s not in lifestyle. Our faith is not in philosophy. It’s not in a prayer. Her face is in a person. You’re 2000 years ago came to this world and as he said in Matthew chapter 12 to be a hope to the Gentiles.

Our faith is rooted in a person that who was prophesied about in the old Testament in such specific ways that it would be impossible for anyone to fulfill who called his his own death in the way that he, he would die in the specific manner that it would take place and then things that would be accounted around him at the crucifixion and even predicted his death upon a cross hundreds of years before the crucifixion even existed. And if you remember his followers, his 12 at his crucifixion, they gave up on him, they ran away. The gospels point that out to us, which I think is significant for us to understand because the disciples were the ones that ended up giving their lives for Christ. Now you look at that and you say, well, people die for ideology all the time. I mean, all you have to do is watch the news today. People develop these religious zealous ideologies and they die for that cause. But what’s important to understand about the disciples is that the disciples did not die for an ideology. They died for a truth claim.

The reason the disciples gave their lives for Christ, it’s because the claim that they gave that they saw a dead man walking and they couldn’t deny it so, so much so that they, they gave their lives for the statement, the belief that that Jesus came back from the grave, that he gave us the hope that all of us will live beyond this grave because of what he has accomplished for us. So much so that Paul says, even in Corinthians 15 chapter 15 the first four verses that Jesus, after his resurrection appeared to dozens of people. In fact, he appeared to 500 people at one time. I mean, it was Paul’s way of saying at the time, if you don’t believe that Jesus was resurrected, go ask the people. Those people are still alive and they can validate that Jesus came back from the grave. And so when it talks about what do you lean your faith against, it’s important to recognize that our faith is not based on circumstances.

Circumstances change. Our faith is not based on lifestyle patterns, but our faith is based on a person, regardless of what happens around us, the foundation of that faith always rings true. And in that therefore we as people will always have hope. And so regardless of what happens, I always have hope because my hope is so much bigger than any of my circumstances. And so what he’s writing to the believers in the Hebrews chapter four after explaining to them the adversity that they’re facing and and recognizing it and knowing it’s hard, he says, but therefore, since we have a great high priest, it’s passed the heavens. Jesus, the son of God, let us hold fast our confession or let us home hold firmly to this. My faith is not based on the proximity to my circumstance, but it rests in Jesus. And so then he goes further and he says in verse 15.

He says in verse 15 I think this is an important phrase for us to understand because when it comes to Jesus and and understanding who he is in a religious environment or even in the culture that exists today, God’s sort of the idea of God can, can seem like he’s, he’s somewhat of a distant beam. Like what does he care about me? Right? Okay, Jesus has gone on, but where do I fit in this? And so the writer of Hebrews says this in verse 15 for we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, one who has been tempted in all things as we are, and yet without sin what he’s saying is Jesus has felt what you felt and he’s experience.

What were you felt leading up to the night of his crucifixion? Jesus knows what it means to lose sleep, tossing and turning in turmoil. Jesus knows what it’s like to be wrongly accused and tried. Jesus knows what it’s like to see the pain from the death of a loved one when he lost Lazarus. Jesus knows what it’s like to experience betrayal from a close friend or abandonment from friends or rejection from his family or hate from a crowd or the loss of his dad or being used by others. Jesus knows that’s important to recognize. It connects itself to verse 14 because what it calls Jesus for us is our high priest, which means he is our representative before the father. And so when it communicates about Jesus, when it talks to us about laying ourself in that foundation of the faith in which we are to hope, and it’s, it’s important to recognize that, that Jesus relates to us as individuals and cares about us in our weaknesses and has experienced the very same difficulty in circumstances of which we experience in life. So he says in verse 16 sort of the summary response and all of that.

What do we do? Right? So see the foundation of what my faith is because that, that then is what brings me hope. And I see how God cares for me in the circumstance. But then, but then in verse 16 he gives this sort of response for us in that moment. Where were we? We get to enter into that high priest who cares about us so much. And so he says in verse 16 therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace. So we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need. Let us draw near with confidence. It’s been said that, okay, formality is the enemy of intimacy. What this passage is reminding us is because of the the foundation that we have resting in the person who that we can continually come to because it is secure. Run to that with confidence to that throne of grace. There isn’t this formality. I mean when things in life aren’t going the way that you desire to go, when it’s, when it’s adverse, when it’s difficult, when it’s challenging and just go run to that throne with confidence not because of you, but because of him. He relates, he understands, he cares. He is your foundation as high priest to invite you in. There’s not this structure around it. There’s not these hoops that you’ve got to jump through. There’s not ABC in order to see God do D, it’s, it’s that God has created you for this intimacy and called you into this position so that you can draw near to him. And then he gives these, these two important words through what he expresses. And he says so that we may find and receive mercy and grace in our time of need.

Well, that was, uh, in grade school. I remember as a kid, we always played this game and I don’t know how I always, I made it through without any broken fingers, but maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s called mercy. It’s like you interlock knuckles with another kid and you just press back and forth on each other’s hands until one of you cries out for mercy. But if you’re the one that ever wanted that game, you know that there’s this a part of you that always just wants to give a little extra band just to hear that mercy wards out. It’s the, it’s the idea of I’m going through a circumstance that’s so difficult. I just need it to let up, right mercy or grace in addition to letting up,

I need your strength, God to pour in to me in the midst of this moment. Sometimes when we approach God and those challenges, sometimes he delivers us from the circumstance, but other times he delivers us through the circumstance. What’s significant to see within this passage of scripture is that God meets us in those moments.

For some of us that’s not completely comforting, right? Cause I know how the prayer goes when you, when you just live it out in your life, you’re like, Lord, I’ve been asking for a new boss. I just, I don’t want to deliverance through it. I want from it. He’s helped me in this. But what’s important to see is that the foundation of your hope, it’s not depending on the circumstance, but through the faith that you carry in. The one who is trustworthy, hope comes from faith. And the greater your rest of the faith in something that endures, circumstantial experience, the better. So if I just practically give you a fought in the, in, in conclusion of how, how all this relates for us. If I, if you ask someone in this world, um, typically in the, in America you ask someone, are you a Christian? The answer often is yes. Right? But then if you ask, if you ask someone, do you have a close relationship with Jesus? Sometimes we’re taken back from that and we, we sort of step back and, and balk at the question, well yeah, I called myself a Christian, but I don’t know that I necessarily have an intimacy or intimate relationship with Jesus. But, but the truth is that it is Christianity. It’s not this intellectual exercise, but this daily connecting with God and being aware of his presence and everything that you do in the way that you honor him in this world, it’s that, it’s that walk with him and this is where it sort of, the rudder sort of meets the road in our lives and the way that we, we live this out.

And it’s important to think about because when it comes to hope, if you’re out or life is in turmoil, but your inner life rests in a faith and confident hope in Christ, you can move forward. I’m not saying it’s always easy, but I think when your inner life is secure, regardless of your outer life, it gives you the strength to move forward. You know, the opposite of that isn’t true when your outer life looks pretty together, but your inner life is all messed up. I don’t think we find the strength to move forward. This becomes important, and this is significant because your relationship with Jesus becomes paramount to living successful in this world. So the question then becomes, how do you have a sustaining relationship in Jesus that indoors and all stems from this? The confident hope that once you trust him, it’s not a philosophy that moves. It’s not in a circumstance that changes it’s faith in Jesus because of what he’s done, not trusting in an idea rather, and a person a little over 2000 years ago came to this world. Yeah. So the Gentiles could have hope. And in that place of hope, you find a place to confidently come before him, receive mercy and grace in your time of need.

Christmas, Part 2