Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. Ever since I was a little boy I have felt the excited anticipation of Christmas day approaching. There were the traditions of church services, singing carols, drinking eggnog (non-alcoholic, of course), and lots and lots of wonderful food. The sights, the smells, the sounds ‘ they all filled my heart with a sense of wonder and joy. And then there was the Baby.
Ah, the Baby Jesus. Could any other image bring such innocence and purity to the season? This perfect child, conceived by God’s Holy Spirit, and born to the young virgin, Mary.
Can you picture this holy, yet unusual, scene? A city bustling beyond its capacity, a young couple tired from a long journey, an innkeeper with enough mercy to provide a stable, and a night sky filled with twinkling stars awaiting the moment ‘ the moment God becomes a man. Words like peace, joy, and awe come to mind. And in my Christmas nostalgia I smile and take another sip of eggnog.
For many, this is where the season ends. A pleasant nativity, festive music, and all the sweet food you can eat. Christmas has become all about a feeling. But is there more to it? Did something else happen that cool, dark night in Bethlehem? Is there more to the story than the marking of an annual holiday?
Yes! Hope was born that starry night. Jesus, though a baby, was also the eternal king, our hope of glory. He came, not to mark off a holiday on the calendar, but rather to set captives free from the shackles of sin, shame, and despair. He was born to offer hope to you and me, broken sinners in need of a savior.
What I have come to appreciate most about the Christmas season is remembering that Jesus’ birth was only the beginning of the hope to come. In His birth was the anticipation of the hope that would eventually be realized only through His death on the cross. And by His death (and subsequent resurrection to new life) we were offered hope of freedom from our sin.
Did you know that hope really isn’t hope if what you hope for is never realized? Let me explain. The definition of hope is to desire with expectation of fulfillment. If you hope for something with a sort of fingers-crossed-one-eye-closed-toss-
fairy-dust-over-my-shoulder-while-chanting mentality, you aren’t really hoping; you are wishing. Hope has a certainty to it. This is why we can confidently place our hope in God, because what He says He will do, He does! We can expect Him to fulfill His promises.
God said to Abraham, ‘You will have a son.’ At 100 years of age, Abraham had a son.
God said to Noah, ‘A flood will destroy the earth and only those on the ark will be saved.’ It rained forty days and nights, and everything was destroyed that was not on the ark.
God said to Moses, ‘You will deliver my people from Egypt.’ Moses delivered God’s people from Egypt.
Time and time again throughout Scripture God tells His people what He will do. And time after time He keeps His promises. God does what He says He will do. This assurance that He keeps His word helps us to place our hope, our expectation of fulfillment, in Him.
He also makes some particularly powerful promises to you and me.
John 10:28 ‘ I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. (NIV)
We have hope that nothing (no cause, no opponent, no addiction, nothing!) can remove God’s salvation from us through Christ. Do you believe God will keep His word?
Romans 8:1-2 ‘ Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (NIV)
We have hope of a life free from shame and self-hatred because we have a God who erases the penalty of death we owed by covering us with the life of Christ. God is not ashamed of you. Do you believe God keeps His word?
2 Peter 1:3-4 ‘ His [Christ’s] divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (NIV)
We have hope of walking in purity and wholeness because God has given us everything we need to experience His power to live free from this world’s wickedness. Purity is possible for every man. Do you believe God keeps His word?
What is blocking you from having hope?
What lies are pulling you away from the truth that you can expect God to do what He says He will do? Hope in God is not wishing. God promises to finish the good that He started in you. (Phil. 1:6) Will you believe Him to do it and stop resisting His leading?
Christmas is a special time of year for me. And not just for all the peripheral festivities that adorn the season. It is special because I am once again reminded that it was at Christmas when Hope was born.
May the Hope of the world change your life’
For more help on this subject, please see Every Man’s Battle.