Best Christmas Ever – Hope
Today we begin a Christmas series called, The Best Christmas Ever. I know it’s kind of a goofy way to say it, but what makes something The Best Ever? What characteristics come with something that exceeds your expectations? How does something move from ordinary to extraordinary?
Obviously, this has been a difficult year and for some it has been the worst year ever.
Which is why I want nothing more than for this year to end on a high note. For as dark and difficult as things have been, there is a light at the end of this tunnel. (It is not a train coming in the other direction) During Christmas we celebrate the hope we have in Christ as we remember His humble beginnings and miraculous journey into the world.
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning (NLT)
Let’s begin an extraordinary journey of hope, peace, joy, and love together today. Let’s believe that this can be The Best Christmas Ever.
Jesus’ arrival on earth was the best source of hope to all people. Until Jesus, God’s people stumbled in darkness. They were tormented and defeated by the evil that was all around them.
Especially after this past nearly two years, many of us know what it feels like to be surrounded by darkness as we struggle through disappointment, mistakes, failure, and sin. It is hard to have hope when all you can see is darkness.
We also know that the best way to eliminate darkness is to expose it to light. When Jesus came to us as a baby, the prophecies were fulfilled and the world found hope in the birth of our Savior.
He is the light of the world and the darkness can not overcome us.
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. (NLT)
Isaiah was a prophet of God. Some would say he was the greatest prophet– and all would agree he was prophesying to a broken people, filled with despair, during one of the darkest times in Israel’s history.
What Isaiah offered, through the Spirit, was hope. Specifically, that there would be light in place of darkness and that the light would shine on those living in deep darkness.
And we now know Isaiah was prophesying about the coming of Christ into the world. We also know that Christ has already come once, and we patiently wait as we look for his second and final arrival.
As we go together through the season on our way to Christmas we have to first recognize the hope we share in Christ our savior. He is the light of hope piercing through the deepest of ours and any darkness. Christ will return for His Church and in the meantime, we trust that He will do exactly what He said He would.
Our hope must be in Christ alone not in this world, ourselves, or what we can even do but…. In Christ alone
There is always light in the darkness
And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.” 13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (NKJV)
Isaiah is being quoted in Romans 15 as Paul is pointing to the “root of Jesse” as the source of our hope. He makes this statement to point to Jesus Christ who is the source of our hope.
After quoting Isaiah, Paul gives us a mini encouragement. He prays that we would be “filled with joy and peace that would overflow with hope because we have the Holy Spirit in us!
Think about this for a moment; Our joy and peace increase as we trust in Christ, which leads to an overflow of hope through the power of the Spirit, the Spirit is always in us….so we have an unlimited amount of hope available to us
Hope doesn’t increase because of good circumstances in your life, nor does it decrease because of bad ones. Hope resides in Christ. So, even in the midst of deep darkness, pain, and loss we can be overflowing with hope.
The problem… is to maintain a trust and confidence in God’s plan for our lives. It’s natural to have doubts and it is even normal at times to be scared – confused – or even frustrated.
Actually… it means you’re human – you’re exactly the kind of human God sent His one and only son to die for.
On your worst day, Christ is for you. His light is shining on and through the darkness in your life.
Let Christ shine through you
It’s important to remember in all of this that when you give up your life to follow Christ, something amazing happens…
The material things you once thought you couldn’t live without seem to lose their shine. You truly become a new creation 2 Cor. 5:17, with new motives, new desires, and new goals.
Paul says it this way in his letter to the Galatians…
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (NKJV)
And as you grow in faith, you begin to overflow with hope… remember Romans 15:13?
And as hope comes pouring out of you in every situation and through any adversity where do you think it goes? What is the purpose of being filled to overflowing with hope?
Don’t hide the Light
Does anyone here know what the purpose of a lighthouse is?
“It is a tower with a bright light at the top, located at an important or dangerous place regarding navigation (travel over water). The two main purposes of a lighthouse are to serve as a navigational aid and to warn boats of dangerous areas.”
Hope is a lot like the light in a lighthouse. Hope helps to guide us through uncharted, unknown, and dangerous territory. Hope not only helps us, but we share it with others – through the overflow in our lives.
In fact, Peter said….
“….always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” (NKJV)
1 Peter 3:15
And Jesus said….
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (NKJV)
You are a lighthouse to a broken and lost world. Don’t hide your light – LET IT SHINE!
Let the hope of Christ light you up so bright that others can’t even help themselves and ask you what’s going on.
Let the light that shines on you – help light the way for others.
The best Christmas ever will be rooted in Hope
There is no greater gift we can give to those around us than the eternal hope of Christ. When we believe strongly that God will come through on his promises to us, then we are stirred to let our hope spill over into those around us.
Choose hope this Christmas season and let it be contagious.
C.S. Lewis said;
“Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.”
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the state of our world, but don’t… Jesus has overcome the world.
Stop believing the lies that things will never change. Choose to find hope in the promises of God. Choose to believe that Jesus’ birth changes everything. Each day we can be defeated by darkness or find victory in the light of Christ.
….Choose hope….and share it with others.
This coming week, think about the people in your life who you spend the most time with… Family, friends, coworkers, your local barista… And consider ways you can share the hope you have with them.
And if you’re running low on hope, if you’re feeling like your light isn’t shining as bright as it used to… we’re going to pray for you this morning.