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Hope

• Greg Boyd

We all have a song of hope in our hearts. During this advent season, it is important to remember that God is the one who we should look to write the words of that song. In this sermon, Greg shares how we sometimes get in the way of seeing God’s hope.

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Hope is an unidentified tune in all of our hearts. We all hope for something, even if we can’t quite put it into words. And even if we achieve all of our hopes, there would still be an unsettled feeling in our souls. Even the richest and happiest people hope for more in this world. And this has been true throughout history.

In Biblical times, the Jews were waiting and hoping for a messiah. After being taken over by the Assyrians and Babylonians, the Jewish people were scattered across the land with no home to worship God. During this time, prophets came forward and prophesied about a coming Messiah who would restore Israel. This was called the consolation of their faith, because the only thing they could have faith in was the coming messiah. That’s why, in Luke, there is a story of Simeon that says Israel had finally received their consolation and their messiah had arrived in the baby of Jesus.

However, this messiah didn’t fit the hope that the Jewish people had. They wanted a warrior king who would reestablish the nation of Israel and push out its political and military enemies. Jesus, instead, solved the greater problem facing the world. And it led them to misunderstand Jesus’ mission and reject him to the point of the cross.

The people of Israel were supplying their own words to the song of hope in their hearts. Instead of depending on God to supply the real hope that would be fulfilled, they were instead choosing ways of the world to hope for. Even though Jesus supplied them with the ultimate gift and the real satisfaction for their hope, they chose not to listen.

Our hope should be supplied by Jesus and in the unwavering love of God to renew creation. It’s often easy to write the words to the hope song. We can fill that song with hope described on job, family or health. And we can become angry when those hopes aren’t filled. Like when Greg’s child never got better through 10 years of prayer, we can begin to blame an all-powerful God for not acting and filling our hopes. But the truth about these hopes is that they’re based on our desire to fix people and problems in this world. We want to control our hopes. And while some of these hopes may be answered, there are some that won’t be until God restores creation.

To deal with these types of problems, it’s important to know that the way it is won’t last forever. We need to let God take care of the details while we keep our eyes on the future. Because our God works in unexpected ways. Greg, his family, and his friends all prayed for his son for 10 years, with hardly any answers. But one day, a woman came up to Greg after a service, and asked if Greg had tested his son for autism. With that suggestion, Greg had his son tested and found a diagnosis that fit. With therapy and understanding, they found a way to help manage the situation. But it still didn’t solve the original problem of a broken world where sickness still thrives. We should do what we can in this world, but we should place our hope in Christ’s plan. In the meantime, we should continue to look forward to the future and dwell on that reality to help us during troubled times.

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Topics: Healing, Hope, Peace


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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 2:25-32

    Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

    “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

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9 thoughts on “Hope

    Gopher says: Monday December 9, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Outstanding message, Greg. Thank you.

    Reply
    Jacob says: Tuesday December 10, 2013 at 8:45 am

    One of your best Greg… Thanks! As much fun as it is to have dialogue about the “deep” theological subjects to tweak our understanding. We rest in the knowing that our Father in Heaven is our unrelenting hope in all that we don’t understand!

    Reply
    kevin says: Tuesday December 10, 2013 at 11:48 am

    That “song without the words” can also be that spiritual ‘groanings’.

    Reply
    Peter says: Thursday December 12, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Hope

    Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune–without the words,
    And never stops at all,

    And sweetest in the gale is heard;
    And sore must be the storm
    That could abash the little bird
    That kept so many warm.

    I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
    And on the strangest sea;
    Yet, never, in extremity,
    It asked a crumb of me.

    Perhaps another takeaway from the poem is that hope is seen as self existent, it is always present unchanging in its nature….like a lifeline ever present to the believer, no matter the circumstance.

    Interestingly, Paul says in 1Corinthians 13:8-13:-
    “Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

    So when Jesus returns, our faith and hope we have in this temporal world will have been fulfilled from a Christian viewpoint…..but love has an eternal dimension (unlike faith and hope) and hence is the greatest.

    Reply
    Ann Thakkar says: Thursday December 12, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    So grateful for this message Greg. Our little family has been through wave after wave of trauma and I have been struggling with hope. Hope seems so dangerous because it can lead to more disappointment. But life without hope is flat and colorless.

    To be reminded that we serve the God of the Unexpected, the One who sees and knows and cares about our struggles and is what I needed to hear…once again.

    Thank you for sharing the gifts of a friend and cleaner for Nathan. I needed to hear that too.

    Ann

    Reply
    Nancy Sundra says: Friday December 13, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Powerful message. Really resonated, because, we too, have a special needs son (adopted from Russia). In our case, we know what the issues are, but knowing how to deal with them, and how to get help for him (and us) are overwhelming. There are days when I think that surviving with him and bringing him to adulthood may be all that I ever accomplish, other days, I’m not even sure of that.
    Thinking of the hope that lies ahead……..days when I know that this day is over, we’re one day closer to the ultimate Comfort and Peace. We just keep going.

    Reply
    Kathy D. says: Friday December 13, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Thank you Greg for this message. It is very helpful, this message, to think about the coming kingdom, where all will be restored to His original intention, to meditate on that – I will incorporate this into my walk with Christ. My heart of hearts passion is for the animal kingdom. Seeing the horror they face in our consumerized, industrialized, corporate controlled systems that they now have been forced to be a part of, like the wall paper, the furniture, the walls themselves – they have become part of the inter-workings of our factories. It is tragic, heart breaking – there aren’t words to describe what they go through and the horrible helplessness an advocate feels; the problems are so ingrained in our societies and cultures, they seem monumental, impossible even. This is one of the areas of brokenness of this world that may be so broken it cannot be un-broken until the world is no longer broken (your words, awesome); I’ve known this for some time, this isn’t new to me in hearing this message. It is a point really for despair and depression, for what do advocates do? What is new is the piece in your message to visualize the peaceable kingdom when all things are made right, visualize the details, and bring it back to today in the here and now – the animal kingdom restored, our relationship with them restored, we no longer exploit or lord it over them (we advocates find so much trouble finding joy and peace). Your words “this is temporary” – I hang on them – to visualize the kingdom in all it’s glory and bring this home, deeply home in my heart, to bring this into my awareness so that it becomes completely real and touchable – I needed this. Sometimes there seems to be no hope, the news in animal advocacy is 95% negative. This is a way to incorporate hope in my vision to help animals, and hope in my prayers, and to keep on praying and know as you say “our situations are more kingdomized than they would be had we not prayed.” Prayers for the animal kingdom, mans eyes to be open, our hearts to be softened, to see what the Lord sees, and for our hearts to be broken for what breaks His. Thanks again, Greg.

    Reply
    Lindy Combs says: Sunday December 15, 2013 at 8:36 am

    I used to hope…that I would have hope. It seems that every sermon from Greg is full of refreshing answers. Thankful for this.

    Reply
    Jerrine says: Sunday December 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    I always appreciate your vulnerability. How often people shy away from that and your situation clearly describes the benefits of sharing from the heart with others so encouragement and hope can take flight. I think of so many Pastors I have know who would never dream of sharing anything of a personal nature in regards to their families and also how they arrive in the “pulpit” and immediately leave the area after the sermon because they don’t want to “meet” the people in the congregation. Such a loss for them and the rest of the body.

    Reply

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