Monday, December 28, 2009

Understanding the Christian Hope

Christian Hope = expectation, confidence, assurance. Contrast this to the modern usage of hope - yearning, longing, based on nothing

Without rehashing last week's message, In Christ what can we hope for?
What can we expect from Him?

We'll begin with an "umbrella" statement. You can expect God to be God, ie: faithful to His Word, His will, His character.
All of the following will fall under this statement. If you are outside of this umbrella, you can't trust Him for it.

Therefore, there are two points.
I. You can't (legitimately) hope or expect Him to do what is contrary to His Word, will, and character.

II. You can't know His will and character apart form His Revelation (Word). You can't base it on your emotions or feelings. That is empty hope.

So, based on these 2 premises, ie: 1. He wont' act contrary to Himself
2. His Word, will, character are revealed in Scripture.

What can I expect from God? (in/through Christ)
What can I reasonably (and Biblically) expect from Him???

You can expect God...

#1. to see, hear and care. (He's omniscient, concerned, personal) Luke 12:6-7
This is true for all people.

#2. to act, intervene according to His wisdom. Isa. 55:8-9
not necessarily the way you want it done.

#3. to walk with you through any and all situations. Heb. 13:5 Psalm 23:4
Hope that says you won't go through trauma or terrible situations is not Christian hope.

#4. to work in any and all situations Rom. 8:28
We can't be confident that we'll see enough good come out of a bad situation to satisfy you. But God is working and will bring about good. Whether we see it or not.

#5. to hear and answer all your prayers. BUT, can't be confident He will answer according to your desires, your satisfaction.

#6. ultimately and finally to deliver you from all evil and harm. This doesn't mean that evil cannot touch or take you in the physical sense. It means it cannot keep you. 1 Cor. 15:54-55

#7. to reserve your place in eternity. John 14:1-2

#8. to take you to that place. John 14:3 Can celebrate death and the assurance of where they went.

#9. to return in glory. Rev. 19:11-16

#10. to set all things right Rev. 21:1-5

This is the Christian Hope! In this you can trust, be confident. ie: if you are IN Christ.

1 Cor. 15:58

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Christian Hope

I. Understanding the Christian Hope
Christian hope is: confidence, certainty, reliance on and in God based on the Person of Christ.

Definition of Hope:
A. in contemporary use, it's a yearning, longing for, sentiment, etc. not based on anything. ie: "I hope Santa ......, I hope it snows... I hope the electricity doesn't go out, etc.

Contrast this with
B. the Biblical use: expect, confidence, certainty, trust. Heb. 11:1 Faith s being sure of what we hope for.

C. Old Testament hope = confidence in YHWH - Psalm 25:4-5 Psalm 71:5-6

D. Christian hope = confidence in God as more fully revealed in Christ
1 Pet. 1:20-21 - His coming verified, clarified, solidified this hope

The more we know, the stronger our faith should be. Faith is not emotions or feelings, but based on something solid and certain.

Question? how does this differ from other hopes? ie: Islam, Buddhism, secular, agnostic?
#1. this hope is in Christ!! Not in relationship, tradition, holy man, prophet, etc. Not in your own ability, righteousness, works, etc.

#2. This hope is based on His words....
His deeds... miracles, ministry, fulfilled prophecy, resurrection
His character....
His promises...
Christ came to solidify our hope in God and His promises, and left his Holy Spirit as the guarantee of that hope.
All hopes are NOT created equal!!!

Question? What can I be confident of?
Answers: salvation, reconciliation, right standing, eternal life, eternal home, reunion with all who have gone on before, final justice, "all set right" Heb. 6:19 a

Meanwhile, we can be confident that: He's in control - regardless of life's situations
He's with us in all situations
He'll make even bad turn into good! Rom. 8:28

Note: Just because there is a Christian hope, doesn't mean you can avail yourself of it.

II. Utilizing the Christian Hope. ie: employing, putting to use, benefiting from, etc.
BECAUSE, existence and availability does not necessarily equal benefit. You must accept and make it yours personally.
A. Examine the Christian Hope. (look at, study, understand)
Eph. 1:18
Christian hope does not necessarily: 1. provide all you desire
2. grant you all that's available

So, you must
B. Embrace the Hope. (conscious, deliberate choice and action)
by embracing 1. Christ (you can't possess the Hope without Him!!) - John 14:6
2. Christ's teachings, truths, etc.
Don't live outside His will but expect Him to bless anyway. In relationships, business dealings, lifestyle, habits, etc.

C. Re-embrace the Hope (Re-new, re-dedicate, re-commit)
Because, we tend to waver, wander, slip away, etc.

D. Live the Hope (day to day practical application of what we declare!!)
Contrast constant emotional and verbal comments with daily applications, actions, lifestyle - in marriage, in Christianity. Eph. 4:1

E. Share the Hope because it's not just for you and yours. It's about the whole world.
1 Pet. 3:15

Closing scripture:
Jer. 29:11

Monday, December 14, 2009

Completing the Incarnation

INCARNATION - Dios con Carne (God with flesh)
Matt. 1:23 John 1:1, 14 Col. 1:15 (a) Col. 1:19 Col. 2:9

Question: Why would God become a man?
A. The General Answer is: it was the best way and only way to accomplish His purpose(s)
B. The Specific Answer is: God became man to:

#1. Reveal truth. further revelation of God and man, origin and destiny, life and death, heaven and hell, right and wrong

#2. Redeem man ie: buy back - through the sacrifice of the cross
He didn't just pay the penalty, but bought us back.

#3. Reconcile God and man - salvation plus intimacy. An Abba/Father relationship between God and his people

#4. Model humanity (as it should be) - Therefore, "what would Jesus do" should lead to "what should I do?"

#5. Minister God's grace - Acts 10:38 - so when touched by Christ, are touched by God.

#6. Establish His Kingdom
- ON earth ..... until the end...

#7, Offer hope. - certainty, expectation. Based on His words and works.
So, when 'life happens', we can have confidence... in God and in the outcome.

Therefore, Remember Him, celebrate Him, worship Him - especially at Christmas.

BUT, Question??? Is the work of the incarnation done? Is it complete?
Answer: Yes - John 17:4 The work of the incarnation is complete.
However: No - Acts 1:1 - The work begun at the incarnation is not complete.

Question? So how is it to be done?
Answer: by the hands of His people!! God has chosen to do it this way. So what Christ started is to be finished by us.

So, go back through the list..... and see
Your part in the works of incarnation.

#1. Revelation?- on one hand, the Canon of Scripture is closed. However, not all people have heard!! The Great Commission - Matt. 28:19-20 - teach, make disciples - We're to be His hands, feet, and mouth.

#2. Redemption? - The work of redemption is completed. John 19:30 However, are all saved?? Therefore, there should be personal evangelism.

#3. Reconciliation? - The bridge is built, but not all people have: A. crossed the bridge
B. established a relationship with Him

#4. Modeling the faith? - preachers and Christians. We're here to model Christ. He's being revealed through His people's behavior.

#5. Ministering Grace? - 1 Pet. 4:10 - when touched by His people, touched by God.

#6. Building the Kingdom? - this is more than individual salvation. God has called us to Social Transformation. We're to be Salt & Light, and Make A Difference

#7. Dispensing Hope? - this hope is not just idle notion, empty sentiment, feel good faith, etc.
but, a certainty, assurance, confidence BASED ON the truth of His Word(s)
There's lots of false hope around.

Stay balanced here!! On on hand, you ARE NOT God in the flesh.
you ARE NOT Christ incarnate
But, on the other hand, you are (to some degree) His hands, feet, presence..

Christmas day is a great time to give "self" fully to Him, His work.
A better time is today!! (so you can be His hands and feet through the Christmas season).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Activities for Advent

ADVENT (from the Latin adventus) - is a coming/an arrival

The Advent season begins the 4th. Sunday before Christmas and ends Christmas Eve

Advent is a time to: 1. Celebrate His coming (Christmas/His incarnation)
2. Anticipate His return (2nd. coming)

Meanwhile we live in the "tween time". - Between His 1st. coming and 2nd. coming

Question: Is there current application beyond celebration and anticipation?

Answer: Yes! Hab. 3:2 Things we can all do during Advent. Pray as Habbakkuk did for "now".
Point: as You've come in the past... As you will in the future, SO Come Now!
Come among us/make Yourself known/work in, on, and through Your people!!!

Come and do a Mighty work in the "tween time".

One one hand, He's always among us and always working. However, the times of intense, obvious activity were most times in response to the cries of His people. Ex. 3:7-10 Judges 3:7, 9

The point: as we celebrate Christmas and anticipate His return, we should be saying, "Come again...Now!"

We should be praying Hab. 3:2 "do it again"...... "do it now"


Activities for Advent

As Christians we should:

#1. Cry for deliverance.
On one hand, A. we are not oppressed - compared to Israel and Egypt, the exile, Roman rule.
But, B. others are!!! - Christians in China, Somalia, Iraq
And, some things that have been banned here:
C. prayer in school, religious symbols in public property, prohibited scripture reading in jury room, etc.
2 Chron. 7:11-14

#2. Pray for justice - God's heart (things as they ought to be) Rom. 89:14 a
- Messiah's job - Is. 9:6-7, 42:1-4 a
Example: we protect a convicted guilty killer, but NOT the helpless, innocent pre-born child.

#3. Admit our inability. (to accomplish deliverance, to establish justice)
This does not mean we are helpless or inept. It does mean we are unable to change HEARTS of people. Only God can do that!
We can never change things permanently.

#4. See His assistance. Neh. 1:4-6, 22 Neh. 2:4-5 (God moved the heart of a pagan king)

#5. Acknowledge His presence
John 5:17 - we can ask Him to come and work. BUT, He IS working!!
Point: balance requests with recognition and thanksgiving Phil. 4:6-7

#6. Increase our efforts. Phil. 2:12-13
WE are his hands, feet, mouth "Waiting on the Lord" does NOT mean being inactive, rather Active Submission!!
He has chosen to do His work largely through His people.

#7. Prepare our hearts. Individually.
Question: If He said he'd come, ARE YOU Available????
God's will is to get in your heart, get on the throne of your heart, then get out into the community, family, etc.
Change this to: IN - ON - AVAILABLE

God probably won't do it apart from you (us).