Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Teaching Hope”

Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 24:36-44

                                                           November 28, 2010                              

by James Greene

 

           Have you ever wondered what gives people Hope?  What gives people that drive to continue in the midst of the sorrow that surrounds them?  What inspires us to carry on when all things seem to go wrong? 

The bookReach For The Sky” by Paul Brickhill is the biography of Douglas Bader.  Now Douglas Bader was a pilot during World War I.  After the war, he continued flying in the military, and gave demonstrations.  In the 1920’s he was involved in a crash that caused him to lose one leg below the knees and one at the hip.  He was totally crippled.  Through attempts, he learned to use artificial legs, and he learned to walk again.  Then he learned to Play golf, and then driving, using peg legs with the clutch and gas. 

Then he figured, that if he could drive a car, he could fly.  By the middle of the1930’s he was able to fly again.  With World War II, he tried to return to the Royal Air Force.  After several attempts, though fully disabled, he came back on active duty fully able.

He became and Ace during the war.  The thing that kept him going was his determination.  He was determined not to let his loss stop him.  He looked at it like playing soccer.  His approach was to treat it like a game, because if he ever focused upon the reality of his condition, he would have given up.  Through his determination, focus, and his example, he taught hope to those who had been maimed like him.   

           The title of this Advents sermon is “Teaching Hope”

 

I  The Teaching of Hope– Isaiah

 

In Isaiah we see where V-3 “He [God] will teach us his pathsthat we may walk in his paths.  It is understanding God’s paths for us, that gives us hope.  It is God teaching us his way that gives us hope, in being our salvation and redemption.  (OT God is our shield and protector)

This is done through “The Law” that teaches hope, which is god’s intent for us that we may live and be saved.  It is Christ -“the Word” - that teaches hope in the fulfilling of “The Law”.   (It is Christ who is the living example of The Law, and of God’s hope.)  It is in the Good News that Christ brings us that gives us, and gives the world hope.

 

           Change in our understanding that in God’s rule, over the nations, there will be hope, and the change of people’s hearts to stop their disputes, end war, and the study of war.  It is a paradigm change in our thoughts and our hearts with the focus on the paths/directions that God teaches.   They are “walking in the light” of God’s teaching hope, as the people of God.  It is God’s power to teach us hope.

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II  Teaches God’s Hope – Psalm like Isaiah

 

Psalm 122, is one of the Psalms of ascent that the pilgrims sang when they went up to Jerusalem.  It is talking about going up to the house of the Lord, to learn God’s teachings.  Like Isaiah, it is teaching a change in behavior.  It is teaching the love of their brothers, the neighbor, and the strangers that lived among them.

 

God teaches that being secure within yourself yields hope.  We also see how God is seeking our prosperity.  Because of that, we praise the name of the Lord, which yields hope. V 7-9 There is a change in our heart.  We care (love) our neighbor, and seek the welfare of ‘the other’ because of God’s standards.

 

Christ comes into history as “the man for others”.  He is the living example ofwalking in the light” of God’s teachings.

 

III The Teaching of Hope Romans

 

           In Romans, Paul talks about our identity in being a part of God’s Community, and the standards we need to live by in being a follower of the Christ.  It gives us a "standard of excellence" in being a part of the God’s People.  The commandments give us a list of "do's" and "don'ts".  We are to lay aside deeds of darkness, and behave decently.  It is about the heart.  It is a reflection of the teaching example of Christ and the wisdom in God’s paths. We are to reflect Christ in our behavior.  We are to put on Christ, just like putting on the armor of light is a reflection of what it means to take up the Identity of God’s people and God’s teaching.

In clothing ourselves with the Christ, we adopt the identity of the Christ in our being and in our actions as Christians.  We live in Hope.  It is a key part of our behavior to be followers of the Christ.

 

The heart is the center of physical vitality, the center of rational activity, the center of volition."  All "reflection and understanding occur within the heart."  One wills with the heart.  It is a place for moral choice.  It is also where God confronts the self.

 

           The heart through out the Bible is described as "hardened", "uncircumcised", or "renewed".  This referring to calloused attitudes, or an unfeeling nature, or one that has been reawakened to, or aware of, or have sensitivity to other people, or to God, and The Word.  This, to me, describes the essence of the will.  How we live some times in our struggle, whether in the dark waters or the deserts of life, is a reflection of our heart, and the path we are on and our identity.  It is because our struggle is on, and in the right path, that we have Hope, through our trust in God, and his promises.

 

           Our identity is a matter of the heart.  It is the essence of our core focus in life, and the major element that grounds us in our identity as a child of God.  In our love for each other, is to be one of God's people, and is to have hope.

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So let us remember that, as Christians, we represent the teachings of the living God to each other, and to the rest of the world.  We have both the privilege and the responsibility to demonstrate the servant and sacrificial love of Christ to all, in putting on the armor of light and clothing ourselves with Christ.  It is the intimacy of the Christian fellowship to be one in accord in our behavior and our "standard of excellence" and identity.  We are called to teach hope, and to live in hope.  We are called to change from the darkness into the light of God’s teaching and God’s hope. 

 

It reminds me of the question – If you were placed on trial, would there be enough evidence to convict you as a Christian, and a follower of the Christ?

   

IV The Teaching of Hope - Matthew

 

           In Matthew we see Jesus speaking of his return in the second coming as the Son of Man.  He is teaching about being prepared.  Just as Noah was prepared, before the coming of the flood, we are to be God’s work and living in his light.

           “Therefore keep watch”.-   We must be ready like Noah, because we know what is coming.  So when it comes, we are not afraid, but have Hope, because we were taught and prepared for what was and what is to come.

           The Lord is coming, be prepared. (like the Boy Scouts)   Since we do not know the day or the hour of Jesus’ (the Lord’s) return as (the Son of Man).  When we pray the Holy Spirit (who is the source of inspiration) is the one that gives to us, and brings us Hope.

 

Conclusion -

 

           As the people of God, with the Good News of the Bible, we are called to understand  “the way” that God has laid out for us in his Word.  We are called to a higher standard (like that outlined in Romans).  We are to continue to work and to walk in the light of God’s teachings and teaching Hope in Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection.

 

As His followers, we need to be caught, doing what we have been taught,

 

Doing what is right in all that we do, and

 

“living in the clear and certain hope” of God’s teaching.

 

 

                                 In the Name of    the Father,   the Son,   and the Holy Spirit.  Amen

 

 

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