Sermon Reflections from Awaiting Hope | Alex Hardt | December 3, 2023
What does hope mean to you? Is it in some person, thing or event? Or is it the biblical hope Paul speaks of in Romans 5:3-5 “ Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” The hope Paul describes comes from God and comes with persevering in Him. The Psalms have much to say about hope. Psalm 25:5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” 33:20 “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.” 52:9 “For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.” David saw God as the source of His hope no matter what the circumstances.
Pastor Alex spoke about the darkness that surrounds us just like it surrounded Paul, David and Mary. Each one of them looked to God as the source of their hope. Mary was in a difficult position with an unplanned pregnancy by a young unwed mother. However, Mary’s focus on God and His provision for her far outweighs the darkness and obstacles she faced. God in His mercy sent an angel to speak to Joseph so he was told of the coming child. He was told to not be afraid to marry his betrothed Mary and that much blessing would come to him through this expected child. Mary’s response to the angel’s message was one filled with questions about how she could be with child, but her questions were not filled with doubt. She knew the power of God and believed in Him. She knew of the prophets, the Messiah that was to come, the miracles God had performed in her nation’s history and the power of God over life and death. Her response in Luke 1:38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” and later in her song known as the Magnificat shows her humility and the acknowledgement of God’s power at work in her. Luke 1:46-49 “And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me--
holy is his name.
Mary allowed her hope in God, His power, might, love and knowledge of His compassion to sustain her through the difficult times ahead. She had many obstacles to overcome but God was with her.
I’ll ask again, Where do you place your hope? Can you access the hope you have in God through your past experiences? Paul had many harrowing experiences as he walked with Jesus. 2 Corinthians 11:24-26 “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.” Even in all this Paul’s testimony remained strong as he testified in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ Like Mary’s faith in God, Paul’s personal knowledge of Christ and faith brought him through very tough times. David likewise faced great difficulties in his life and clung to his love and knowledge of God. His hope was placed in God as he fought battles, faced giants, was persecuted, hunted by Saul and plagued with family difficulties. As the Psalms attest David knew God as his shield, guide, teacher, savior and hope.
God promises to be with us in every circumstance. I love Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” All of us have thems in our lives. Our giants, persecutors, hardships and family difficulties are different but we can claim God’s protection as we belong to Him. We can trust Him like Mary, Paul and David. They knew He would never leave them or forsake them! He will not abandon you either. God is our hope in the midst of darkness, He is our LIGHT!
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