Present – A Gift of Hope
o Some people’s homes may be filled with happiness, some filled with sorrow, some with grief, some with anger, and some with despair. You may have lost a loved one this past year. You may be going through a sickness that is trying to steal your joy this holiday season. I am here this morning to encourage you that you are loved! Psalm 62:5-8 (NRSV) 5 For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. 6He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. 7On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God. 8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. o You see, when we accept His hand in our lives we give up the right to tell Him what is best for us. When we are in Him, we have safety. o A household could be filled with anger, such anger so great that tomorrow will be a formality, nothing real or everlasting. Why should we let it get to this point if we are in the Lord’s hand? Isaiah 29:15-16 (NRSV) 15 Ha! You who hide a plan too deep for the LORD, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?”16You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay? Shall the thing made say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of the one who formed it, “He has no understanding”? o The Lord will bring each one of us to a place in our lives where we experience a period of difficulty to change for Him to be presented to others. Just as a gift that you can see what it is because you see it before it is wrapped, once it is wrapped as a present for someone else the gift becomes unknown to the one receiving the gift. o We place all the gifts under the “Christmas Tree” for a beautiful display of festivities before we “get down” to the unwrapping of the presents. We too must be “unwrapped” by others.
Question: What kind of gift are you to the Lord? Question: Have you ever received a gift you didn’t like or want. What did you do with it? Did you have a choice? Does the Lord? Hosea 2:10,13-16,19-20 (NRSV) 10 Now I will uncover her shame in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand. 13I will punish her for the festival days of the Baals, when she offered incense to them and decked herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers, and forgot me, says the LORD. 14 Therefore, I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. 15From there I will give her her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she shall respond as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. 16On that day, says the LORD, you will call me, “My husband,” and no longer will you call me, “My Baal.” 19And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. 20I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD. o Just as Abraham had to believe by faith that he was the father of many nations (remember he was old – 100 years – and his wife was barren). When we “asked for” things for Christmas, or was asked by others what we “wanted” we too had to believe by faith this is what we were getting. But is this the purpose of Christmas or is it an excuse for one day to get those things for our loved ones that they want. Romans 4:13-19,23-25 (NRSV) 13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. 16For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the
father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” 19He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.” 23Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. o Suffering for others sake. When we suffer in our personal lives we need to be used of the Lord for others. o Your greatness weakness, might become someone else’s greatest strength. Romans 5:1-8 (NRSV) 1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. 6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. o We have to allow ourselves to be changed for the sake of the Lord. We as creation will be placed on display for others to see. o When we go through the store to preview all the different things on the shelf. This is the same process the Lord goes through the earth choosing certain “gifts” or people to be presented to others. o Through our personal prayer in suffering we experience feelings and emotions we can’t put into words. When we go through this change we are being transformed into something the Lord can use for His glory.
Romans 8:26-30 (NRSV) 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.28We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.30And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. o As we are going through a change for others we must allow the time for the Lord to complete His work in us. We must be able to “step up” to the plate and be “greater” than the persecution that may be against us for the sake of those around us. o You might be exchanging gifts tomorrow and with that person you may have a problem. It could be between a husband/wife, father/son, father/daughter, mother/son, mother/daughter, brother/brother, brother/sister, or sister/sister. Christmas is the day we place all issues under the tree and them go. But is it? o There may be death tomorrow whether it be by purpose, by accident, or by nature. We will need each other! Romans 12:9-18 (NRSV) 9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
o When we experience and go through a suffering we do it on behalf of others not of ourselves. o HIS PURPOSE OF LIVING WAS TO DIE…. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NRSV) 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, 4who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. 6If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. 7Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation. o We become the hope for others in their despair….. 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 (NRSV) 1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we? 2You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; 3 and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. o We just as a gift that is in the store waiting before it was purchased by someone to be given to some else so too are we in Christ to be purchased by Him be given to someone else. Ephesians 2:11-13 (NRSV) 11 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”- a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands - 12remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Question: Did you ever wonder why you have to contend with the Satan and his cohorts? o Others are the reason we contend with the enemy. We contend with the enemy for the sake of our brothers and sisters. 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 (NRSV) 17 As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face. 18For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, wanted to again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20Yes, you are our glory and joy! o There are certainties about the Lord – 1) he can’t lie; 2) he made a way for reach one of us to reach him on our own. o If the Lord has “wrapped” you in His hand, then no harm can come your way!! o He wraps us in His love, His Spirit, and His hands. Hebrews 6:15-20 (NRSV) 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. 16 Human beings, of course, swear by someone greater than themselves, and an oath given as confirmation puts an end to all dispute. 17In the same way, when God desired to show even more clearly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it by an oath, 18so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us. 19We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, 20where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. o The Lord has given each one of us the opportunity to reach him personally. He is faithful to deliver all of us.
Hebrews 10:19-25 (NRSV)
Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. o Be assured that as have been “wrapped by the Lord” as a present of hope to others your reward it greater than the any suffering you may go through. o Christ came as a present to us – a present of hope. To present a gift of hope to us, wrapped in flesh and swaddling clothes to live His life of unselfishness only to die for something He didn’t deserve. To take something upon Himself that something being our sin so that we wouldn’t have to pay the price of eternal death. o We too are to be that Present – a Gift of Hope – so others may reach Christ as we have reached Him.
Closing Song: It is my desire (during the Altar Call)
Altar Call: o Call those that may be experiencing something this holiday that be feeling helpless in not being able to find the answer. o Call those that may be experiencing a “stumbling block” to finding their joy. It may be someone in their family, it may be a broken relationship, it maybe a sickness, or it may be the loss of a loved one. o Call all the rest.