Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Hope of Christmas

[message given at Conrad UMC 12.17.06]
Illustration: “Let There Be Light” sung by Point of Grace
I compare the verses of this beautiful song to a story in Isaiah (Chapters 8 and 9): The horizon looked dark and bleak in the eyes of Isaiah, wondering if this would be the end of his people as he voiced a message of doom and destruction. Darkness as black as pitch prevailed upon the land through the sin of the people and the coming judgment by the hand of God.
Isaiah 8:21-22 They will pass through it hard pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22 Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness.

Our hope at Christmas time is usually built upon the tangible things we expect or want to happen. But the Bible never allows a person of God to build their hope upon the likes of man but upon the unchanging nature of God Himself.

Where is your hope today? Is it wrapped up in the expectations of the holiday happenings or a gift under the tree? Or is it lost in the darkness that surrounds your life?

By all appearances there was no hope in the days of Isaiah. The nation was quickly coming to an end. But out of the darkness a voice was heard that spoke of the light of hope that would touch the very soul of man. It was the hope of Christmas!

Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

A Child would be born and given to bring hope into the hearts and lives of the hopeless. This Child was the "Light of the World" and He came to pierce the darkness that we might live. The Child of Hope is Jesus! The One whose birth, our hope, we celebrate at Christmas.

It was Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, who prophesied of the light of the Christ Child.
Luke 1:79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.

The coming of Christmas is filled with the wonder, counsel and peace of hope that exceeds our expectations and lifts us from our darkness into the Light of Christ.

Christmas Hope is Wonderful
Christmas is wonderful! In other words Christmas is full of wonder. And it is more than, "Wonder what I'm getting?" It is a wonder that exceeds the minds of men and women for it is composed in the miraculous.

This wonderful hope comes to distinguish itself from the empty hope in the world.
This wonderful hope comes to accomplish in our lives what man cannot.
This wonderful hope is incomprehensible but available.

It is the psalmist who expresses to God that His works of wonder are many (Psalm 40:5). Today we have in our world and hopefully in our hearts the most wonderful work of God, salvation through Christ. This is the wonder of Christmas for Jesus came to save us.

He came to save us from . . .
The wages of sin ... death. (Romans 6:23)
Everlasting punishment ... hell. (Matthew 25:46)

He came to save us for . . .
A heavenly home ... heaven. (John 14:2-3)
A heavenly inheritance ... reserved in heaven. (1 Peter 1:4)

The apostle Paul reminds us that we were once people without hope . . . but we are people who need to know the hope of the calling of Christ to save us from our sins and know the hope of our calling to salvation. The wonderful hope of Christmas comes to accomplish what we cannot ... salvation. Christmas is wonderfully hopeful!

Christmas Hope is Counseling
It seems like never before a greater number of people are seeking out a counselor of one sort or another. You can now attend counseling sessions and self help groups for most anything that troubles you. It is all a sign of hopeless lives in need of the good Word.

Jesus as the Counselor and the Hope of Christmas comes to give . . .
Counsel that is deliberately designed to resolve our problem.
Counsel that is good advice for everyday living.
Counsel that guides and gives us purpose in life.

Jesus has the Spirit of Counsel upon him (Isaiah 11:2) and He speaks the words of eternal life. We must seek His counsel concerning the issues of life.

The hope of Christmas comes as the Counselor that speaks to us in our moments of despair to look to Jesus.

Christmas Hope is Peaceful
Fear, stress, confusion and heartache are the trademarks of our day because of an absence of peace. And they seem to be enlarged in this season of hope, love, joy and peace.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Through the wonder and counsel of Christmas Hope we find peace through the Prince of Peace.

Real peace . . .
Peace that brings healing and health to our fragmented lives. (Isaiah 53:5)
Peace that brings about a prosperity by the hand of God. (3 John 1:2)
Peace that brings the assurance of the past-present-future of life. (Hebrews 6:11)
Peace that brings restoration by making amends. (Acts 3:19-21)

When we have peace with God through Jesus Christ, we have peace with ourselves (Philippians 4:7) and others (Romans 5:1). Christmas peace is a great gift to give and receive through Christ.
This Christmas, wrap your hope in the wonderful counsel of peace that Christ brings to our lives by the hand of our Mighty God and Everlasting Father. I invite you to know the wonder, counsel, and peace that only Christ can give. Today, I want to give you the gift of Jesus Christ, the Savior. Will you invite Him into your heart and accept His gifts of mercy and salvation? Will you turn from the darkness and seek the light of Christ?


sugarcreekfarm said...

Girl, you're really good that you can now read my mind! When I read your blog this morning I thought I should leave a comment and ask if you were going to post your message from Sunday. Didn't get around to it, and yet here it is! Very nicely done.

KSmilkmaid said...

Very moving and inspiring!!! Thanks for posting this.