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11-28-21 “The People of Hope”

“The People of Hope” (Jeremiah 33:14-16)

Advent C / Hope / Jeremiah 33:14–16

Sermon type: Textual-Topical

Proposition: Hope comes from a personal knowledge of God and his ways (being grounded in his love) and gives rise to a vision of how the world should be and the power to work towards that vision in the here and now.

Introduction

1. Optimism vs. Hope

Illustration about two identical twins

2. Christians are not necessarily optimists but are people of Hope.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary (Hope)

“Hope is an essential and fundamental element of Christian life, so essential indeed, that, like faith and love, it can itself designate the essence of Christianity (1 Pet. 3:15; Heb. 10:23). In it the whole glory of the Christian vocation is centred (Eph. 1:18; 4:4).”

Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Hope)

Hope is basic to the Christian view of life, and it issues forth in a changed perception of and approach to reality.

Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Hope)

Hope distinguishes the Christian from the unbeliever, who has no hope (Eph. 2:12; 1 Thess. 4:13). Indeed, a Christian is one in whom hope resides (1 Pet. 3:15; 1 John 3:3).

Our hope is a gift from God:

I. Our Hope is grounded in a Person who has made Promises (Jer. 33:14)

1. The natural human position, “without hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:12 NIV).

Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Hope)

Hope does not arise from the individual’s desires or wishes but from God, who is Himself the believer’s hope: “My hope is in You” (Ps. 39:7). Genuine hope is not wishful thinking, but a firm assurance about things that are unseen and still in the future (Rom. 8:24–25; Heb. 11:1, 7).

2. Believers are in a new position, they know God and are GROUNDED in God (Eph. 3:16-19).

Christ dwells in their hearts through faith (Eph. 3:17). Christ (the Lord) fills us with his holy PRESENCE in the here and now (1 Thess. 3:12-13).

3. Specifically, we are grounded in the God of love who has been working out his purposes and will bring his plan to completion.

Jonathan Feng, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at University of California Irvine, says: “What is truly amazing about the Christian faith is the idea that God made the universe—from quarks to galaxies but at the same time cared enough about us to be born as a human being. To come down, to die and be crucified in the person of Jesus, and to bring forgiveness and new life to broken people.”

You can here him speak here.

4. We can GROW in knowing God.

Paul prays in Eph 3 that believers would have these things. As the great 19th century teacher Charles Hodge said there are degrees of being filled with God’s presence.

This provides us power in the present:

II. Our Hope Provides Power in the Present (Jer. 33:15)

1. Hope fills our lives with JOY, BOLDNESS, FAITH, LOVE, COMFORT

Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (Hope)

Hope leads to joy (“Be joyful in hope” Rom. 12:12) boldness (since we have such a hope, we are very bold 2 Cor. 3:12), and faith and love (“faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven” Col. 1:4–5). Hope also leads to comfort; we are to encourage one another with the knowledge of the resurrection (1 Thess. 4:18).

2. Our joy arising from hope is not grounded in circumstances like happiness

Yesterday’s New York Times, “How Liberals Can Be Happier”, article references study showing many self-identified liberals tend to be less happy because they’ve abandoned faith and family in large numbers.

Read the article here.

3. Because God is inexhaustible we have a never-ending energy for living in this world. (“whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” John 4:13).

And far from leading to a self-centered satisfaction, our hope leads us to live for God:

III. Our Hope Provides the Pattern for us as a People (Jer. 33:16b)

300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans (RICHARD SIBBES)

The life of a Christian is wondrously ruled in this world by the consideration and meditation of the life of another world.

1. Our ultimate future is perfect righteousness (Jer. 33:16b)

2. We are shaped by this vision of what will be.

Even popular music reflects the power of the Christmas story to shape our vision. “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”, “Someday At Christmas”

3. Christians know the this hope is not mere wishful thinking, as in the hopes of popular culture. It has an actual basis in God.

4. We have the antidote to despair and giving up. We know God wins.

Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (Hope)

Hope also stimulates good works. Following his teaching on resurrection of the dead, Paul exhorts his readers to do the Lord’s work abundantly since such “labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:51–58).

Conclusion

American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1863

“In 1861, two years before writing this poem, Longfellow’s personal peace was shaken when his second wife of 18 years, to whom he was very devoted, was fatally burned in an accidental fire. Then in 1863, during the American Civil War, Longfellow’s oldest son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, joined the Union Army without his father’s blessing. Longfellow was informed by a letter dated March 14, 1863, after Charles had left. “I have tried hard to resist the temptation of going without your leave but I cannot any longer”, he wrote. “I feel it to be my first duty to do what I can for my country and I would willingly lay down my life for it if it would be of any good.” Charles was soon appointed as a lieutenant but, in November, he was severely wounded in the Battle of Mine Run. Charles eventually recovered, but his time as a soldier was finished.

Longfellow wrote the poem on Christmas Day in 1863.”

From Wikipedia article available here.

Logos Digital Hymnal I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas day

Their old familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet the words repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

2 I thought how as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along th’unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

3 And in despair I bowed my head:

‘There is no peace on earth,’

I said ‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.’

4 Then peeled the bells more loud and deep:

‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men.’

For a powerful modern rendition by Casting Crowns, see here.

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