Sunday November 29 2020 – Advent 1 – Hope

The following short video shows Pastor Bob Muir giving a brief introduction followed by the lighting of the first Advent candle with readings by Wanda Jamieson and Theresa Mount Pleasant. Click on the “candle of Hope” to play the video.

 Candle of Hope – – Sunday November 29.mp4

 

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 29

OUR HOPE OF COMFORT AND GLORY

1st Advent – Hope

Hope has been defined by some as ‘desire with expectation.’

Many today are hoping for a safe and warm place to lay their head. Others are desiring a cup of clear water for tomorrow. Others may be hoping for a safe and rewarding return of daddy from the day’s hunt. Others are hoping that mommy will stop crying. All these, and many more, reflect strong desires, but with varying degrees of expectation. Hope helps us bear the difficulties of the day. As  Thich Nhat Hanh has said, “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”  The hardships of our present world are immense, far-reaching and unsolvable. In our flesh things have become too profound for us to find a way out. I am reminded of Luke 21:26.

“Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”

 

For those of us who have placed our hope in Christ, just how does this relate to ‘desire with expectation’ and how does this, our hope, differ from that of the world? Listen to Job 11:18-19.

“You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. You will lie down with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favour. But the eyes of the wicked will fail and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp.” (NIV)

Our hope is a hope of comfort.

Job is reminded, that because of the hope he has he will be secure. He is told that he will take his rest [death] in safety! That when the moment comes that he must lie down, there will be no one who will be able to cause him to fear.

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” Ps.116:15

The word for comfort, as used in 1 Thess. Is informative.

1 Thess. 4:18 concludes the passage concerning the rapture of the body of Christ with these words: “Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.” The hope of the resurrection of believers is outline in the previous verses 13-17, and verse 18 sums things up with the admonition to comfort one another with this hope; the hope of resurrection. The word for comfort here is “parakaleo” meaning, ‘to call to one’s side, to summon.’ Can there ever be greater comfort than to be called to His side; to know that such is our destiny as believers! This is our hope, our desire and expectation. This is what the ears of Job heard, that he would be safe and secure when it was time for him to lie down. Safe and secure because he would be among those called to the LORD’S side. And that at that time, Job would have no one who could cause him to fear, for after all, “Perfect love casts out all fear.” 1John 4:18.

Besides our comfort in the knowledge of our future resurrection, there is also much comfort here and now as outlined in 2 Cor. 3-7.

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort; who comforts us in our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

So not only do we look ahead with desire and expectation to the comfort of that Day, but we experience a comfort of hope here and now in our tribulations. As quoted earlier, Thich Nhat Hanh has said, “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”

God promises to comfort us through our tribulations. And not only that, but He equips us with fruits and gifts of the Spirit, acquired in our tribulations, to comfort those in difficulties with whom we have contact. We have the promise – the hope – that the very comfort we receive can be empowered to be passed on to others, and they are then recipients of this self-same-comfort. So our hope-of-comfort is two-fold. First, we are comforted by the Father and then, we are comforted a second time, in that that we are now useful – fit – to comfort others. Continuing with 2 Cor. 3:5-7 we read:

“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”

Paul is basically telling us that the Father’s comfort is a living, breathing, reproducing aspect of His Spirit. That believers, be they mature or babe, are being continually imbued with this hope-of-comfort that is the means of seeing them through difficult times.

Our hope is a hope of a future

Jeremiah 29:11 puts it this way:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This hope was given to the nation of Israel as they were about to come out of their seventy year judgment of exile in Babylon for disobedience but the promise also applies to all believers who have been grafted into Abraham.

There is a hope-of-a-future given to us all who believe. There is this promise by GOD that He desires to prosper us and not harm us. And, He promises to give us a hope for a future. For many, when sin occurs in our life, we expect that God is out-to-get-us. Nothing can be farther from the truth! First of all, as believers, our sin has been judged and is firmly nailed to the cross. Also, as has been addressed in an earlier message, the sin of believers has been accounted for and can be dealt with and eliminated by following 1 John 2. Once repentance has been activated fellowship with the Father is completely restored. The world may see God as a god of vengeance and wrath but this is not the view Christians should adopt. For us there is a future. Every prayer uttered has a future; every praise from our lips has a future; every song we lift up to Him has a future. These expressions of our faith and wonder will never die. Every tear shed for the needy has a future. Every dollar given in faith to His work has a future. Every act of kindness performed in His name has a future. Each one of these actions placed upon the altar of His worthiness is given a hope and a future. And nothing has the power to cut them off. No power of hell can intercede to deflect these offerings from their course – they have a life, a hope and a future.

Our hope is a hope of glory

Colossians 1:27

“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”

We are reminded that Christ is in us! And it is this indwelling of His Spirit in us that is in fact our hope of glory. The passage is speaking of the time when we will experience the glorification of receiving our new incorruptible bodies at the resurrection. The giving of the indwelling Spirit is as a down-payment speaking of a future hope of full glory.

2 Cor. 3:18 speaks of this.

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

There is coming a day, our hope of glory, when we will see Him face to face, in all His glory, as we take up our glorified bodies. We will be changed into such a glory – the same image as Him – that we will be speechless! We will not be completely identical to Him for He is and always will be God, but we will acquire an image of glory that far exceeds anything we can image.  This is our hope of glory. And part of this is reasoned in John 17:22-24 as it says,

“And the glory which you gave me, I have given them; that they may be one even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me that they may be made perfect in one . . .that they may behold my glory which you gave me because you loved before the foundation of the world.”

An aspect of our hope of glory is this oneness we will experience with the Godhead. Christ in us and the Father in Christ giving us the gift of being made perfect in this union which will allow us to truly see His glory. Such hope we have. Such is our desire and expectation. And our expectation is based upon the sure truth of His word. It is based upon the assurance that He is Faithful and True. It is an expectation that is far more than a wish, a fling of frail faith. This hope is sure, grounded and established by the holiness and righteousness of God.

At the stable in Bethlehem the shepherds gathered in expectation and hope for the arrival of the Promised One. And the glory of the LORD shone round about them as they drew near in this hope of the promised coming One. And God did not disappoint. The Word made flesh tabernacled among us. This Word, this Jesus, set aside His glory and took on the form and likeness of man. He set aside His glory so that we would one day be clothed in His glory. The Hope of the ages came and we drew close to Him. We gathered about His wooden cradle marvelling at the goodness of God. “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14). Soon, and very soon, we will gather once again to his side where we will find comfort from all our cares and sorrows. But this time we will not have to leave. For, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you appear with Him in glory.” (Col. 3:4)Our Hope of glory.

“Then we which are alive and remain,[unto the coming of the Lord], shall be caught up together with them, [those Christians who have died], in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.1 Thess. 4:17.

As the shepherds gathered about His wooden cradle on that first Advent so long ago, let us gather about His wooden cross on this Advent. Let us remember and give praise for so great a salvation. Let us lift our eyes and look for another Advent, yet future. For with the same certainty of that first Advent is the certainty of His coming Advent. Rejoice in the hope we hold dear, “Even so, come Lord Jesus”          (Rev. 22:20.)

Pastoral Prayer

Father, just as You sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus, help me to clear the path in my heart, too. Show me the distractions in my life that block me from all-out worship of You this Advent. Lord, I await Your coming! As I celebrate the first Advent––the first coming––I look toward the day where I will see You face to face. I imagine what it will be like. Give me a heart, Lord, that looks for Your coming on a daily basis. Help me to live my life where I’m constantly seeking Your presence. My offering to You today is my righteous life for I know I am only clean because of Jesus. Show me today how I need to be refined, purified, forgiven. Give me the strength to ask for forgiveness and to then change my ways. 1

This Christmas, Lord, come to the manger of my heart. Fill me with Your presence from the very start. As I prepare for the holidays and gifts to be given, remind me of the gift You gave when You sent Your Son from Heaven. The first Christmas gift, it was the greatest gift ever.
You came as a baby born in a manger. Wrapped like the gifts I find under my tree, waiting to be opened, to reveal Your love to me.

Restore to me the wonder that came with Jesus’ birth, when He left the riches of Heaven and wrapped Himself in rags of earth. Immanuel, God with us, Your presence came that night. And angels announced, “Into your darkness, God brings His Light.”

“Do not be afraid,” they said, to shepherds in the field.
Speak to my heart today, Lord, and help me to yield.
Make me like those shepherd boys, obedient to Your call.
Setting distractions and worries aside, to You I surrender them all.

Surround me with Your presence, Lord, I long to hear Your voice.
Clear my mind of countless concerns and all the holiday noise.
Slow me down this Christmas, let me not be in a rush.
In the midst of parties and planning, I want to feel Your hush.

This Christmas, Jesus, come to the manger of my heart.
Invade my soul like Bethlehem, bringing peace to every part.
Dwell within and around me, as I unwrap Your presence each day.
Keep me close to You, Lord. 2

Lord we ask that you bless our congregation and all who attend and worship with us within the community of Ohsweken. Grant each of us a touch from Your healing presence as we pause to seek You this Advent season. Grant us Your peace and keep aflame the torch of hope. We ask all of this in the worthy name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

 1 Sarah Martin, from “The Awe & Wonder of Advent: Day 18

2   Renee Swope, “The Manger of My Heart” from Proverbs 31 Ministries

 

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