‘‘Tis the season to be jolly’ (T Olliphant)
We are entering the time of advent, which comes from the Latin word ‘adventus’, which is the translation of the Greek word ‘parousia’, and this term, is commonly used to refer to the second coming of Christ. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent – accessed 2/12/18).
This is the first week of advent, and in the first week of Advent, we consider hope, the hope that comes to all people on earth. As we light the first of the Advent candles, and look at the light of the candle, we think of, and celebrate hope, the hope for the whole world, because Jesus was sent by God who loved us so much, to save whosoever, the whole world (John 3:16).
Jesus came to be the hope of the world; to free the world from sin by being a perfect sacrifice. That was to be the final part of the perfect plan, set in motion by His Father, our loving God. And it is all possible, because of Bethlehem.
Isaiah gave a prophecy of hope, about the coming of Jesus (Isaiah 9:6-7). He also continued to say that the coming child would reign on the throne that belonged to king David. When this actually came to pass, in the beginning, there was the young boy, born in such a humble setting. This child grew into a man; God had a plan for this man just as He does for us all (Jeremiah 29:11).
What hopes and aspirations did he have? Did he want to follow in his earthly father’s footsteps? We will not know the answer to that question for some time. For now though, we have the hope that is given to all who follow Jesus, because of Bethlehem. Hope is like a light shining in a dark place.
As we look at the light of the Advent candle, we celebrate the hope we have in Jesus Christ; we put our hope in the word of God;
‘because I have hoped in your word’ (Psalm 119:74).
We know that through the endurance of the scriptures, and the encouragement they provide, we can have hope;
‘For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope’ (Romans 15:4).
We live now to serve our God; if we put off our hope in salvation to a later time, our heart becomes sick, but ‘a longing fulfilled is a tree of life’ (Proverbs 15:12 NIV).
Hope is available to us all, and all we have to do is repent of our sins and trust God with our lives, and try living as Jesus did, we may not be perfect, but we can work towards perfection, towards the day that we will meet Him face to face.
As the Psalmist said, we should;
‘put our [your] hope in God‘ (Psalm 42:5 NIV).
‘we [I] have put our [my] hope in your word‘ (Psalm 119:74 NIV).
The Lord wants us to turn to him, and to love Him, because,
‘the LORD delights in those… … who put their hope in his unfailing love‘ (Psalm 147:11 NIV).
The hope we have in our Lord Jesus Christ, is an eternal hope, ‘if only for this life we have hope in Christ‘ (1 Corinthians 15:19 NIV), and, ‘in this hope we are [were] saved‘ (Romans 8:24 NIV), and with this hope, we can be joyous in life, ‘Rejoice in hope’ (Romans 12:12 ESV).
The Scriptures give us everything that we need, they are spiritual food for us and give us encouragement, that we, ‘might have hope‘ (Romans 15:4 NIV).
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, Paul said that our hope should not be put in the things of the world, but we should, ‘put our [their] hope in God‘ (1 Timothy 6:17 NIV).
We all occasionally lose focus in our walk with the Lord, but when we are in tune with him, and walking closely, we need not worry, for;
‘When everything shakes, God remains unshaken.’ (Max Lucado – Because of Bethlehem – pp 44).
We know that Jesus has risen from the dead, and that death has been defeated and this gives us our greatest hope, because of Bethlehem.
Why do we need hope?
Well it is simple really, because without hope what do we have?
‘You may save yourself from a broken heart or going broke or running out of gas. But you aren’t good enough to save yourself from sin. You aren’t strong enough to save yourself from death. You need a Saviour. Because of Bethlehem you have one.’ (Max Lucado – Because of Bethlehem – pp 31).
So the question is;
What do you put your hope in?
‘The innkeeper missed the opportunity.’ (Max Lucado – Because of Bethlehem – pp 53), will you?
When darkness deepens
The path unsure
The sun is hidden by the storms
I look to heaven
And cry to Thee
Oh God be here with me
In every breath
Every joy and tear
Every passing hour
Let me know You’re near
In life, in death
Oh God be here with me
When faith is shaken
When fears surround
My feet will stand on solid ground
In every season
My song will be
Oh God be here with me
And in that moment
We’re face to face
I will not need these eyes of faith
Forever after, God I will see
That You’ve always been with me
You’ve always been with me
Here With Me (Pocketful of Faith #1)
Tim Hughes, Phil Wickham, Nick Herbert
Father we thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to be the light of the world, and to show us the way to live our lives, and to give us hope. Help us at this time of year to be more patient with those around us as they rush along their way, help us to be ready to tell about your love, and the hope that it gives us.