My Sunday sermons given at Sellwood Baptist Church in Portland, OR, for those who missed church or just want to see what we're up to. You can also listen to these sermons if you prefer. Just go to our church website and click the "Online Church" tab. Here's the link:

Monday, November 30, 2009

"The HOPE of All Who Seek Him" - (11/29/09)

Today, on this first Sunday of Advent we remember the HOPE, the anticipation, the looking forward to the appearing of the promised Messiah, the One who would be the Savior. For centuries, people awaited the fulfillment of the promises of God that He would bring forth the Anointed One at just the right time. Christmas is when we celebrate and commemorate the Savior’s appearing.

The dictionary defines HOPE as, (1) “a cherished desire accompanied by expectation of fulfillment; (2) to long for, with an expectation of obtainment.” Notice that there is a big difference between hope and “wishful thinking.”

Hope is an important part of our lives. The word “hopeless” is one of the saddest words in the English language, when it is applied to a person or to a situation.

Of course, Christmas time, at least for the kids, is all about hoping, about looking forward to receiving something wonderful that they have anticipated and dreamed of [e.g. a new dress, a special toy, a new red bicycle, etc.]. But what are the kinds of things that we big people hope for? What are the things to which most of us look forward with expectation?
  1. To go to a “good” college
  2. To land a high-paying secure job/career
  3. To marry the woman/man of our dreams
  4. To have wonderful healthy children
  5. To buy that first house
  6. To get raises, have an excellent salary
  7. To retire early so that we can travel
  8. To live “happily ever after”
One of my favorite Gospel songs is one that we always sing at Easter time. It is entitled, “He Lives!” The third verse says, “Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ, the King! THE HOPE OF ALL WHO SEEK HIM, THE HELP OF ALL WHO FIND, none other is so loving, so good and kind.” That phrase is especially fitting as we move into this Advent Season of anticipating the coming of Messiah, and focus our attention on the HOPE that we have in Christ.

It all comes down to the fact that God Himself is the basis for our hope. Without Him and His faithfulness we would indeed be HOPELESS. But we hope and trust in Him, especially in four areas:
  1. We hope and trust in His love and mercy. — Psalm 33:18-22, “But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in You.”
  2. We hope and trust in His promises. — Psalm 119:74, 81, “May those who fear You rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in Your word… My soul faints with longing for Your salvation, but I have put my hope in Your word.”
  3. We hope and trust in the Holy Scriptures. — Romans 15:4, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
  4. We hope and trust in His calling of us to Himself. — Ephesians 1:18, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.”
HOPE is one of the Three Enduring Graces spoken of in I Corinthians 13:13. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

In I Thessalonians 5:8 HOPE is likened to a Helmet to protect our minds: “But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.”

Moreover, in Hebrews 6:18-19, HOPE is described as an Anchor to protect our souls: “God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

But what are the specific things we are trusting in God for? What are the objects of our hope?
  1. We hope in God for our resurrection from the dead. I Peter 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
  2. We hope in God for eternal life. Colossians 1:3-6 declares, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints-- the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in Heaven and that you have already heard about in the Word of Truth, the Gospel that has come to you.”
  3. We hope in God for His promised blessings. Jeremiah 17:7-8 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is in the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”
But how do we get from God all the things for which we have hoped? What is the secret of tapping into His promised blessings? Here it is. This is the secret. This is the essence of the story of Christmas: Whoever takes the Son gets it all! The Bible puts it like this in I John 5:11-13, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

So, the question that remains is, “Do you have the Son?” In other words, do you really know Jesus? All the blessings that God wants to pour out on your life, and the things you want and need—the peace, and joy, and hope, and Heaven—these are all wrapped up in Jesus. The one who has the Son, has it all. When you have Jesus you get the rest as well!

I entitled this message, “The HOPE of all who seek Him.” The shepherds of Bethlehem left their flocks and went to seek Him, and they found Him, and the Bible says that they “…went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.” The Wise Men left their own land to seek Him, and they found Him, and they fell down and worshiped Him. If you are seeking Him today, really seeking Him with your whole heart, you will find that He is right here, just waiting for you to call out to Him and ask Him to come in to your life to be your Savior and Lord.

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About Me

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Since 1994 I have been the pastor of Sellwood Baptist Church in Portland, OR. Before that I was a missionary in South Brazil for many years. Until just recently I have also served as a police chaplain with the Portland Police Bureau. Now, however, God has a new assignment for us. My wife and I have been appointed with WorldVenture and are preparing to move to Ireland to help plant a new church in Sligo, a small city in NW Ireland. I'm married to Ramel, a crazy, beautiful redhead that I love more than life itself. We have three great kids, Jonathan, Chris, and Simoni who have given us ten wonderful grandchildren. We are truly blessed.

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