November 28, 2021 Service
Advent Week 1: Candle of Hope
  • Christmas Together for All the People

    is the theme for this year’s

    Christ’s Birthday Observance

    from the Christian Women Connection of the Church of God—previously known as the Women of the Church of God.
    This observance will bring us to a special offering on December 19, the Sunday before Christmas, where we honor God’s gifts to us in Jesus Christ with a special gift to God as we remember Jesus’ birthday.
    Even in these last 20 or so months of isolation and disconnection, God wants to bring us back together under his protection and love. God knows we need to feel like things are more normal. And God will help us along, because

    God is the Author of Life

    God sets the standards for our New Normal.
    Our old normal is something that we probably don’t want to return to. Most of us have, as I like to say, “Interesting pasts”. Or sometimes I say, Complicated Pasts.
    Some of those complications can lead us to a sense of hopelessness.
    And because we are complicated beings, a bundle of life and living and disease and dying, minds and bodies and emotions and everything else that makes up our being as humans, sometime things just sneak up on us.
    You get up in the morning and do what you normally do but for some reason a sadness comes on you; or because of some unexpected trigger, you connect to an emotion that maybe something unhealthy.
    Sometimes it shows up in a sense of depression, which can come from anything, or a sense of despair, which is the opposite of the hope we need.
    You feel lost—sometimes, not always, thinking that somehow this is because you’ve really messed up. Even during this Christmas season, do you have that sense of lost hope?
    On this First Sunday of Advent, as we remember the first candle that has been lit is a Candle of Hope because. . .

    God is the Author of Hope

    and that hope comes to us in this amazing reality that comes from God:

    The Good News Is There Is Good News

    and Today we will discover how the Word of God gives us a recipe for hope that will help you cope.
    The candle we lit is a light that can shine into the darkness of our despair when we remember that. . .

    God doesn’t give us what we can handle; He helps us handle what we have been given.

    In my life, I could dwell on the problems that were present in my life when I was growing up.
    My home was not a quiet home. After my mother had been pregnant 13 times, with only 4 live births, her sense of coping was pretty thin.
    Because from those 4 babies born breathing, my older brother, myself, and my younger sister are still here after 65 and more years.
    When I was just 6, I had a baby sister born that I never met. Christine Marie was a thalidomide baby—her organs and body were malformed because of a drug that was used to settle down morning sickness. Christine Marie lived just 12 hours.
    60 years ago, we didn’t have ultrasound to check on the health of the unborn baby. There were very few tests that were used during pregnancy, and sometimes unhealthy habits were even encouraged for unhealthy reasons.
    Bobbi and I even had an obstetrician that encouraged pregnant women to take up smoking to cope with pregnancy!
    My mother and father came home different than when they left. From that point on in my home growing up, there was despair, abuse, addiction and way too many secrets.
    There was a loss of hope that spilled over into a loss of looking to the future with faith.
    But not every trauma comes out the same. It depends on how you focus on what you are given in life.
    Hope is something that the world has been searching for because of how vital it is to our survival.
    Dr. Dale Archer said, “If I could find a way to package and dispense hope, I would have a pill more powerful than any antidepressant on the market. Hope is often the only thing between man and the abyss. As long as a patient, individual, or victim has hope, they can recover from anything and everything.”
    Because,

    A Person Can Handle Almost Anything When That Person Has Hope

    but the question has to be,

    Where do we get our hope?

    Finding God’s Hope to Cope

    A Recipe For Hope

    HOPE—“Holding On,

    Praying Expectantly.”

    Christian Hope Comes From Knowing God’s Promises...

    And Believing Those Promises Because It Is God Who Has Promised.

    Where Is Your Trust? In Whom Do You Hope?

    In the Word of God, the Roman Christians needed to base their lives on truth rather than on circumstances that
    seemed to challenge truth. Paul encouraged the believers in Rome with this prayer of hope:
    Romans 15:13 CSB
    13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
    The picture is of God as an overflowing fountain of hope who fills us with enough hope that it not only satisfies us
    but also spreads to those around us. The God of hope creates hope inside of us, which radiates hope to others on God’s behalf.
    The Word of God is your way out of any situation. Because God’s Word is infallible and contains burden-removing, yoke-destroying power, when you can meditate on it and speak it, you will see changes in your life.
    Most of us are the same, aren’t we? After a lifetime of disillusion, we’ve come to expect little else but disappointment.
    However, while the facts about your situation may look bleak, the truth found in God’s Word brings light, hope, and deliverance. You can’t handle life’s challenges alone, and God doesn’t want you to. He loves you, and as long as you believe this in your heart, you have access to His divine intervention.
    To Timothy the Apostle Paul said,
    1 Timothy 6:17 CSB
    17 Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy.
    And in his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul said that without Christ, without God, a person really doesn’t have any hope at all:
    Ephesians 2:12 CSB
    12 At that time you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world.
    Throughout God’s Word—which we are told to place our hope upon because it has always been true and transformative—we are told to place our hope in the Lord.
    One of my favorite verses is Psalm 146:5,
    Psalm 146:5 CSB
    5 Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God,
    And so, this all begs the question: What is hope?
    The word itself comes from the old English word hopa, which means having a confident assurance in the future.
    Many relate hope to an emotion or feeling, but it’s so much more than just a feeling or thinking that something good might happen. Nor is it wishful or pie-in-the-sky thinking, like, “The Weight Loss Cure They Don’t Want You to Know About.”
    Having hope is a certainty. It’s a belief that sustains us, it holds us up under than most adverse circumstances, and it enables us to endure life when all hell is breaking loose around us.
    The only place that such hope comes from is from the Lord God. It is the knowledge that God loves us so much that He was willing to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth to die upon the cross to pay for our sins, so that we can have an abundant life both now and in heaven. Jesus said,
    John 10:10 CSB
    10 A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
    While the thief—that is Satan—comes to steal, kill, and destroy, He has come to not only bring life but abundant life at that.

    What Ingredients Do We Need to Create An Environment of Hope?

    Believe God’s Purpose

    Jeremiah 29:11 CSB
    11 For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

    Love God

    Matthew 22:37–39 CSB
    37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

    Be a Missionary

    Matthew 22:19 CSB
    19 Show me the coin used for the tax.” They brought him a denarius.

    Live the “Cross Life”

    Luke 9:23 CSB
    23 Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.

    Remember God’s Love

    Psalm 103:2–5 CSB
    2 My soul, bless the Lord, and do not forget all his benefits. 3 He forgives all your iniquity; he heals all your diseases. 4 He redeems your life from the Pit; he crowns you with faithful love and compassion. 5 He satisfies you with good things; your youth is renewed like the eagle.

    Practice God’s Presence

    Deuteronomy 31:6 CSB
    6 Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For the Lord your God is the one who will go with you; he will not leave you or abandon you.”

    Pray without ceasing

    1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 CSB
    16 Rejoice always, 17 pray constantly, 18 give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
      • Romans 15:13ESV

      • 1 Timothy 6:17ESV

      • Ephesians 2:12ESV

      • Psalm 146:5ESV

      • John 10:10ESV

      • Jeremiah 29:11ESV

      • Matthew 22:37–39ESV

      • Matthew 22:19ESV

      • Luke 9:23ESV

      • Psalm 103:2–5ESV

      • Deuteronomy 31:6ESV

      • 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18ESV

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