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Hope - Advent 2022

There is an uncertain hope and there is certain hope. Uncertain hope relies on feelings. Certain hope relies on God's promises.

Corby Stephens
Corby Stephens
8 min read
Hope - Advent 2022
Photo by Luke Ellis-Craven / Unsplash

Table of Contents

The following text is the raw, unedited transcript from a sermon given on Nov. 27, 2022. You can also listen to the audio. Better yet, subscribe to the podcast! :-)

Well, it's Advent and that is something relatively new for me. Jess reminded me that when we, uh, my first youth pastor job was at a little baptist church out in the country. They out of nowhere said, hey, would you bring your kids up and read for Advent and light the candle and we went, what, what is that? We had no idea. That was many moons ago and uh it was a part of our sort of walk for a little season there and then it wasn't for a long time and and now it's back and uh if it's new to you also, I hope that you come to appreciate the pattern, the rhythm of it.

It's another unknown to me was the fact that there is a christian calendar. I mean there was Christmas and Easter shopping calendars, but there is a christian calendar, just like there is a jewish calendar or muslim, there is a christian calendar that has a beginning and an end and, and this starts off the new year. Happy New Year, that's right. And it starts with hope, what a wonderful way to start the year with hope. In the Bible there are two kinds of hope. There is a, well I guess maybe you could just say life too, not just in the bible, there is an uncertain hope and there is certain hope, uncertain hope relies on feelings.

It's more like a wish like I, you know as a child, I really wanted a bike and so I'd be like, I hope I get the bike for Christmas, no idea if I'm actually going to get it or not, but I really want it? I hope for it. I wish for it. It must be too, yeah, it's, it's just, it's a feeling. It's more, it's more emotion based than anything else, a certain hope, which is the kind of hope you read about in scripture, relies on the word of another, specifically the word of God, not just the word of God, but the words of God, his, his promises.

When God says he's going to do something, we can have a certain hope that that thing is going to happen. However, a lot of times it feels more like an uncertain hope because it might ebb and flow. Like sometimes I feel like, yeah, I can, I think, I can trust God to think that. I think I know he's going to do what he says, he's gonna do other times. It's, yes, I, he said it and that's all I need to know is that he just said it, that kind of hope.

It does take time to build. And it must be lived out or it's just an academic thing you can say. I believe what God said and you can just believe it up here, but it's got to be lived out also for it to have any relevance, any significance, any meaning, any power. So how do we, how do we learn certain hope, How do we, how does that, how does that work? Well, looking at today's readings, I believe that hope is learned.

Hope is learned about in the House of the Lord and therefore in the presence of God.

It's in, it's when you spend time in God's house, when you spend time in God's presence. One of the things you learned about his hope, it was interesting to me that looking at the Isaiah two and the psalm 1 22 passages that they really are about the elevating the lifting up of God's city of God's house like figuratively and literally the lifting up of of that place and the, the authors calling people attention to going up to the house of the Lord and receiving God's word and receiving God's teaching, that's where we learn about it is in God's presence, not just in these four walls, which is an important place to be and learn together, that we come together as the church like that.

Hope is practiced not when it’s easy but when it’s difficult.

But it's also as you spend time with him on your own in his work, it's not one or the other. It's both. Hope has learned about in the house and therefore in the presence of God Hope is practiced. Not when it's easy, but when it's difficult blah who wants that right? In the romans passage. We are well in the romans and in the the Matthew passage were told to to be awake to wake up in romans as I was reading it and then listening to it being read this morning.

He seems to be on such a good, positive role and then he brings up don't you know, no orgies right? He must have said it for a reason because I don't know about you. I often hear people say things are just getting worse and worse in this world and I don't know that that's true. I think with our media we can just hear about more of it. I think people have always been as bad and weird and wicked as they are. Uh now we just celebrate it on online but he gets into that list at the end of sin and one of the things that sin does is it numbs hope when you find yourself moving from maybe you were in a place of hope and you were counting on God for something and believing in him for something and that did not happen in the time frame that you wanted it to happen.

It is easy to fill that hole with sin because you want to feel something so we can slide into sin to numb the feeling that hope is not fulfilled. One of the many things that sin does, but I think that's what it does concerning hope is that it's a numbing agent. But when hope is practiced properly and again it's it's learned over time that becomes less and less. Hope also has to do with expectations. The 1st and 2nd Comings of Jesus despite the prophecies and the signs that were given to us to look for in in the old testament.

We're not for the First Coming and will not be for the Second Coming  still what people are looking for, you ever get the sense that like if I had been around in Jesus time, I would have known what to look for. Those guys are idiots. I would have, I would have been, I would have been at, I would have known, uh huh, and I think that can be true for his Second coming. We can we can we are told to watch for signs. So we should we are told to watch for the Seasons.

And Jesus himself gave the illustration today that when the fig tree, when the leaf comes out, you know summer is near, so there are things we should be looking for, but it's still that Second Advent is still going to happen in a way that we don't expect surprise. And whose problem is that? Well, it's mine. I mean in the beginning, at the beginning of the Book of Acts, when Jesus is with his disciples one more time before he ascends finally his disciples asked him, will you now restore the kingdom to Israel and he's like you guys still don't get it, you're looking for the wrong thing.

They had a hope, their hope was first looking for that restoration of God's Kingdom of the Kingdom of Israel, but God had something else in mind first for the second Advent. I want to keep my own personal expectations in check and focus on what it is. God wants. I have lots of hopes. I have lots of hopes of what God might do in the world. I have lots of hopes of what God will do in the lives of my family and my kids and all kinds of things, for this, the actual second coming I have, I don't even, I, you know, when you read the end of the book, it's a little scary, it's a little overwhelming.

And then what, what leads to that in in today's reading in Matthew? Because you may remember that that started with a question that started with the question from the disciples, when will these things be? And Jesus spends a couple of chapters in Matthew and a couple of chapters in Luke answering those questions because they wanted to know and he said, well let's talk about it. Their hope was he was I wonder if they were like, he's finally talking about this kingdom thing, that's what we've been hoping for.

But he ends with, you know what nobody knows when, at the time, he didn't even know when and that's a whole other fun theological conversation that we will not get into today. Okay, so the other fun thing about hope is what we expect to happen. So like I said, hope, hope has learned about in the House of God and it's practiced when it's not easy. When it's difficult, you need both. You need to both. Well, first you have to know where the hope, what the hope is.

This is what you find out what our hope should be in right here this book. And then we get to walk in that hope and I don't know about you. As I was looking at this, I'm like, wait a minute. Hope feels a lot like faith doesn't it? Hope feels a lot like faith. When you get to 1 Corinthians 13 and Paul talks about faith, hope and love.

What's the difference between faith and hope?

I think faith involves action and hope involves waiting again. Waiting is lame and I don't wanna wait. I want it now. I am the worst at Christmas, am I not? I don't even I don't just just she'll be like, I got your president today, we'll give it to me. Don't tell me you got it, give it to me now. I don't want to wait for it. I'm maybe that means I'm bad at hope. I don't know. But when it comes to God in his word, hope involves waiting and that's not always easy. God literally has all the time in the world. I don't, but then I guess that means he has enough for both of us, doesn't it?

So I don't know what you're hoping for in your season of life right now. But if you can get to the place where you have the certain hope and a certain hope says, I don't know how, I just know that that's what we're trying to get to. And there are times when I have that certain hope, I trust that Jesus is coming back as we will get to in the creed, to judge for for judgment and righteousness and restore his kingdom. I I believe I have a certain hope that that's gonna happen because he has said it and I don't know how or what it looks like or when I'm not gonna pretend that I do.

And I have other hopes as well that maybe God will tell me at all, it will become a certain hope. But for now, what are you what are you hoping for in this in this season? Let's let's pray. Maybe God will tell us what's going on



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