Beyond the Present
Topic: Sunday Message Verse: Isaiah 9:1–9:2, Isaiah 9:6–9:7, Matthew 4:12–4:17, Romans 15:4
Beyond the Present
Week one in a series about the hope of Christmas found in Jesus Christ
Christmas and Waiting
Opening question: As a child, when would you start making your Christmas list?
A. Wait until December
C. In the fall before Halloween
Hope has Three Elements
The Present (usually not so good)
The Future (better than today)
The Time in Between (the waiting gap)
Overcoming the waiting gap means the difference between hope and despair. So how do you do it? How can the story of Christmas help us?
Christmas Against The Backdrop of the Entire Bible
If you just want to dig into details of the birth of Jesus and the actual Christmas story itself, then you focus solely on the New Testament, because that’s where you’ll find everything about it. It’s all right there. BUT if you want to discover why the story of Christmas is a story of hope, then you need to step back and see the bigger picture, which includes the Old Testament and everything that happened before Jesus came.
Isaiah 9:1-2 NIV
1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan— 2 The people walking in darknesshave seen a great light;on those living in the land of deep darknessa light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV
6 For to us a child is born,to us a son is given,and the government will be on his shoulders.And he will be calledWonderful Counselor, Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peacethere will be no end.He will reign on Davidʼs throneand over his kingdom,establishing and upholding itwith justice and righteousnessfrom that time on and forever.The zeal of the Lord Almightywill accomplish this.
Matthew 4:12-17 NIV
12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: 15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people living in darknesshave seen a great light;on those living in the land of the shadow of deatha light has dawned.” 17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Romans 15:4 NIV
4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
Endurance and Encouragement
We all need endurance and encouragement, because everyone who embraces the hope that Jesus brings is going to go through times of doubt and discouragement... those seasons of darkness where we think: “I can’t make it.” Or “It’s just not worth it.” You need to know you’re not alone. Doubt and discouragement aren’t proof that God isn’t there. They’re not proof that you’re faithless. And they’re not proof that you’ve done something wrong. No, they’re just proof that you’re human. They’re proof that while Jesus has defeated the darkness of sin and death, they still have not yet been destroyed. The darkness is still around and if we lose sight of the light that Jesus brings us at Christmas, it can rob us of our hope.
That's why we need to keep going back to the Christmas story--reading the Bible passages, singing the carols. The same God who was faithful to His promises in the past will always be faithful to us in the future. So hang on with hope.