The Good News that brings Hope for all the seasons
Greetings in the wonderful name of Jesus who is our Hope eternal.
The God of hope was the promise of hope in Genesis, then experienced and encountered by Judges, Kings and Prophets and finally arrived as a person of Hope in the Gospels after 400 long years of silence & desperation. Now He dwells in us as Eternal Hope for ever.
What an assurance when we remember and celebrate the God of Hope in midst of pandemic, disappointments, deaths and losses. 2020 was a tough year but the God of hope is guiding us through.
Isaiah 9:2 says people walking in darkness saw a great light and those who were living in the land of shadow of death, the light has dawned on them.
Walking in darkness and dwelling in the land of shadow of death – exact representation of 2020 for most of us or all of us.
But what made the light to dawn in darkness and life to death. How come? The Prophet continues in verse 6 – for unto us a child is born and unto us a Son is given.
The Lord Jesus reassured this promise of light for darkness and life for death in His words in
John 8:12 – “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 11:25 – standing at the tomb of Lazarus Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die”
Are we all not in similar situation in 2020? So much of darkness and desperation surrounding us and so many deaths of loved ones. But The Good news of Hope is Jesus who is the light of the world and life eternal will guide us through.
A famous painting by Dutch artist Rembrandt called “The adoration of the Shepherds” beautifully brings out the truth that Jesus is the light and life and He gives to everyone who believes in Him, the eternal hope.
The drawing depicts a night scene inside what appears to be a barn. The center is the Babe in the feeding trough. Mary is by his side and Joseph not far away. The shepherds are gathered around along with the sheep. To the right there is a ladder leaning through the shadows on a crossbeam. Next to the ladder is a rooster a symbol of betrayal in the distant future. But the most significant feature is the light. Unlike other artists, Rembrandt didn’t paint Jesus with a halo. The baby is very normal, very human baby, the light is not shining on the baby but it’s shining out from him. This was Rembrandts’ way of saying that all hope of light and life shine from the Holy Child – Born Messiah to the darkened and death filled world.
Romans 15:13 says, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
According to this verse there are two important things we need to note when celebrating this festival of Hope and festival of light and life.
First, it is about the Good news of hope to those who are hopeless, who are walking in darkness and who are dwelling in the shadow of death that - A savior is born to forgive, to deliver and to give new life. The God of Hope is the Hope giver who will fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in Him.
Secondly, it’s a call and commission to those who already believe and follow this God of Hope that we need to become the hope givers to those who are with us. That’s what the verse says – you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The God of Hope is the Hope giver and makes us the hope givers through the good news of hope to all.
Let me quickly highlight 3 people from first Christmas who received the God of hope and became the hope givers to the rest of the humanity.
- The mystery of Good news of hope was received by Joseph
- The mighty of Good news of hope was received by Mary and
- The majesty of Good news of hope was received by Shepherds
A} The Mystery of Good news of hope is God with us;
When you read Matthew 1: 18-25 we come across the angel in a dream speaking to desperate Joseph who was confused, not knowing how to handle this complex situation yet did not want to shame Mary because He was a righteous man, standing at a dead end to make a decision by revealing the mystery through two names: Jesus who saves us from sins and Emmanuel – God with us.
The mystery of Good news of hope is God with us – the divinity becoming humanity
What kind of mystery?
The maker of human beings became a human being
The image giver became image bearer
The owner of heavens and earth became homeless
The Bread of heaven and living water experienced hunger and thirst
The love eternal hated by all
The Holy one was known as friend of sinners
The Judge of the living and dead was brought to trial by a mortal judge
The Just was condemned by the unjust as guilty
The Way, the truth and the life was accused by false witnesses
The Healer was wounded and will bear the scars for eternity
The author and everlasting life was born to die so that you and I will have eternal life
God with us – The Holy and Divine God dwelling among us and with us.
Job laments in 9:32-35 – God is not a man that I might answer Him, we might confront each other in the court. If only there was a mediator between us.
Paul responds to this lament in I Timothy 2:5 : there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ
Jesus took the form of human being to be the perfect mediator between God and man.
How often we ask this question when we go through pain and suffering, where is God, why he is hiding,. The good news is God is with us – God become like one of us. So perfectly He understands us and our situation. There is no struggle or pain or betrayal that he is not aware of.
His presence is ever present with us. When we walk through the wilderness, waters, fire, suffering, pain and death. That’s the mystery of this good news of Hope. God is not far away from you but with you whether it’s night or day, mountains or valleys or good times or bad times.
As we live in this fallen world with the consequences of Sin from the Garden of Eden, the good news of Hope is – God with us - A Saviour is born to forgive us from all sin, to redeem and deliver us and to give us a new life.
No more you need to live in bondage, fear, guilt, darkness and hopelessness, you have a Saviour who not only will save you but will live with you forever. He is Jesus and He is Emmanuel. The God of Hope is able to fill you with real joy and peace and to give a new start with a purpose and meaning to life because He is with you.
The Good news of hope is your sins are forgiven, your past is forgiven, you are given a new life, a new start and importantly this God is with you till eternity, even after death.
Dear Friends, take this opportunity to share this truth to your friends and collegues who are in desperate need of this Hope. Be a hope giver.
2} The Mighty of the Good news of hope is God for us
When you read Luke 1:26-38, the visit of Angel Gabriel to Virgin Mary, he says – who is this child, what kind of a baby - the child who is to be born will be great, Son of the Most High, David’s throne will be given to him, he will reign over Jacob’s descendants and his kingdom will never end. – wow…power packed announcement about the Mighty God.
Verse 37 says, “Nothing is impossible with God”
The antidote for fear, doubts, anxiety and uncertainty that Mary was going through, the almighty power of God was more than enough. So she was able to say in verse 38, “I am the Lord’s servant,” “Let it be according to your word”
The mighty of the Good news of hope is God for us
Mary was holding the power, authority and majesty as she cradled the baby in her arms. The small lips were the lips that had spoken words that the world into existence. The song writer Mark Lowry beautifully penned the song, “Mary did you know that your baby boy will someday walk on waters, will save our sons and daughters, this child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you, would one day rule the nations”
The God who formed the world out of nothing, to Him everything is possible. So like Mary we can boldly say, if the almighty God is for us;
There is no situation too difficult to overcome with His guidance
There is no trail too hard to go through as His grace is sufficient
There is no battle too intense to be won because the battle belongs to Him
There is no mountain too difficult to climb because the mountains quake at His voice
The author to Hebrews says in 13:5,6 : because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
Hope is not a concept or a philosophy or a wishful thinking but it’s a trust worthy person who is able to fulfil the Hope promised.
Bethany Hamilton, who is from Hawaii, has surfed since she was a toddler. She began surfing competitively when she was 8. She was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing at age 13. Hamilton lost her left arm as a result. Through determination and faith in God, she was able to return to professional surfing. Hamilton has since won several national championships and written several books. Her autobiography, "Soul Surfer," was made into a major motion picture in 2011.
Hamilton shared "As I grew up with one arm and relearned how to surf, God taught me that He can take the hard times that I went through and turn them into something beautiful," she said. "I think that He can do that for each and every one of you. He can take what you have been through and use it for good if you are willing to share what He has done for you."
" I would never take back anything I have gone through. I would never take back losing my arm because I know God allowed me to go through something like this to be able to come and share with millions the message of hope in Him," Nothing is impossible with God.
"I look back on my life now and I am just in awe that God can take a little girl from a tiny island in Hawaii and use my story all over the world to reach so many people," she said. God is for us and He will fulfil His purpose no matter what happens to you. Trust Him.
Are you going through tough time, is life challenging, are you asking where are you God… please don’t give up on life. We have the mighty God for us who can make impossible possible. He perfectly understands, walks with you and will give you the deliverance, the answer, the victory.
This season, God calls you and me to be a hope giver because of the God of Hope who is for all. He doesn’t want anyone to perish but to have life. That’s what Jesus said in John 10:10 - I came to give life and life in abundance.
The mystery of the Good news of hope is God with us
The mighty of the Good news of hope is God for us
3) The majesty of the Good news of hope is God in us
When you read Luke 2: 8 -15 the visit of host of Angels to Shepherds this is the message that was proclaimed;
Good news of great joy to all people - Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Why it’s majesty - The overwhelming spectacle of scene this to a few lowly shepherds on a Judean hillside really defies description. They are suddenly confronted with an army – and not JUST an army, but an army of thousands of angels in the sky. The Greek implies a massive number of angels. “a multitude of the heavenly host” – a great number – in the thousands.
And not only that, this was not a silent army. Just imagine thousands of supernatural beings suddenly appearing to you in the night sky when you are out in the country and virtually alone – and then this army praising God!
For these few moments in time, these shepherds were allowed to see a glimpse of Heaven’s own response to what has just happened – the birth of Jesus Christ.
1st. They were announcing that glory is being given to God right now – in the highest places – in Heaven itself. One commentator noted: “This phrase, Glory to God in the highest”: means “The Heavens are glorifying God right now because of the sending of the Christ-child. Because of this pouring out of peace in the giving of the Prince of Peace.”
2nd, Is the announcement that peace has come among men, because God is pleased to extend it to them. It is freely given.
The child, this baby who was born – is none other than this Prince of Peace prophesied so many centuries before.
It is the announcement that Jesus alone is the One who can bring peace with God through His atoning work on the cross, for all who believe.
Because the Prince of Peace rules – we can live in perfect peace .
The world we live in is longing for peace. The world is not just longing for peace but is also worrying about whether it ever will or can achieve real peace. These are only the conflicts making current headlines; there are other battles and wars throughout the world.
The promised Prince of Peace is the one who actually brings peace into the world and into our lives—God's "shalom." It means not simply psychological ease but a holistic sense of fulfillment, well-being, and flourishing. That kind of comprehensive shalom-peace is what the Old Testament prophets, like Isaiah, envisioned for the future. All creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom."
Jesus said in John 16:33 - "In the world you will have tribulation. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace" (v. 33). Earlier, he told his disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you" (John 14:27). When Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection, do you remember his first words to them? Here is what we read, "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you'" (John 20:19).
Romans 15:13 that we read earlier, Paul clearly says, the God of hope will fill you with Joy and Peace. The God in us gives us the peace that passeth all understanding.
Peace not in absence of pain and problems but in midst of.
The peace of God will take away our guilt, anxiety, troubles and give us joy.
The God of Peace dwells in us as peace of God.
Philippians 4:6-7 : Do not be anxious (opposite of peace) about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Horatio G Spafford, successful lawyer and business man, his wife Anna and 4 daughters’ accident on 21 Nov 1873 crossing Atlantic.
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul
Most of us go through painful relationships sometimes with friends and family. Some of the pain can be from years. And some of it is new. Ask God the grace this Christmas to give you peace in your relationships.
Colossians 1:27, NIV : "To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
Jesus in us is the hope of Glory. God in us through His peace.
Be certain that you have peace with God. That peace will give you peace within and peace with others.
May we remember this season the God of hope so that we can become the hope givers to the hopeless world and to your family and friends who might need this hope.
May the mystery of hope – God with us
May the mighty of hope – God for us
May the majesty of hope – God in us
Be with us now and in the coming New Year. God bless.