Pastor George’s Message...
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Oct 13, 2013 —Steve Hildebrand
Oct 20, 2013 LESSONS FROM PROVERBS SIX ~ “Warning On Adultery” (Prov. 6:20-35)
Oct 27, 2013 WHICH WAY IS THE GOAL: "Attitudes to Renewal -- Numbers 13:17-33 & 14
Nov 3, 2013 WHICH WAY IS THE GOAL: "What Does Renewal Mean For Us? -- John 15:1-11 RSV
Nov 10, 2013 WHICH WAY IS THE GOAL: "The Word of God Increased -- Acts 2:1-21; 6:7
Nov 17, 2013 WHICH WAY IS THE GOAL: Mountain-top People Called to Work in the Valley -- Mark 9:14-29
Nov 24, 2013 GRASPING AT GRATITUDE: “Why Suffering, Weakness, and Death Deserve a Place at the Table of Thanksgiving” –Thess. 5:18
Dec 1, 2013 1st Sunday of Advent: HOPE: (Listen) “Our Hope Is In The Word” –Lk 2:8-20
Dec 8, 2013 2nd Sunday of Advent: HOPE: (Look) “Look to the Light of Hope” –Matt. 2:1-12
Dec 15, 2013 3rd Sunday of Advent: HOPE: (Smell) “Our Hope is in the Fragrance of Christ” –Lk. 2:1-7 & Matt. 2:11
Dec 22, 2013 4th Sunday of Advent: HOPE: (Touch) “Our Hope is in the Rock of Our Salvation” –Lk. 2:4-7
Dec 39, 2013 Pastor George on Vacation
Jan 5, 2014 WHICH WAY IS THE GOAL: Communion Together --I Corinthians 11:23-30
Jan 12, 2014 WHICH WAY IS THE GOAL: We Hold These Truths --Hebrews 2:1-4
Jan 19, 2014 ?CHARACTERISTICS OF LOVE: Love is to act. Love is a verb; love is something you do.
Jan 26, 2014 ?CHARACTERISTICS OF LOVE: Love involves response. Love as response means that love usually involves some degree of emotion. It involves freedom to respond… love cannot be coerced.
Feb 2, 2014 LAST SUNDAY AT TR: ?CHARACTERISTICS OF LOVE: Love involves an element of Well-being… happiness… shalom (See: --Relational Holiness, p. 69-73)
Pastor George’s Preaching Schedule...
Called By God To Be A Multicultural Church
Reaching... Loving... Caring... in Jesus' Name
Tillman Road Church of God
Fort Wayne, IN
Our Hope is in the Word
Scripture: Luke 2:8-20
Children’s Lesson: Headphones (ear buds) to listen to music and protective headphones (earplugs) to keep sound out.
Today is the First Sunday of Advent.
The Christ Birthday Offering theme for this Advent season is: “HOPE”.
We use the word “Hope” often and in many different contexts… “I hope the Colts win this afternoon… “I hope the restaurant still carries my favorite dessert”… “I hope the weather is good for us going home”…
Unfortunately the word can sometimes be overused and it often becomes trite in meaning.
“Hope” as a verb is defined in the Merriam/Webster dictionary as: “to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true”.
“Hope” as a noun is defined as “the feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking it could happen”… or “someone or something that may be able to provide help”… “Someone or something that gives you a reason for hoping.”
I like that last definition: “Someone or something that give you a reason for hoping.
People cannot live without hope.
Throughout history, human beings have endured the loss of many things.
People have lost their health, their finances, their reputations, their careers, even their loved ones… and yet they have endured.
The pages of history books are filled with those who suffered pain, rejection, isolation, persecution and abuse… there have been people who faced concentration camps with unbroken spirits and unbowed heads… people have been devastated by Job-like trials and yet found the strength to go on without cursing God and dying.
Humans can survive the loss of almost anything but not without hope.
Hope is how we live… Hope is what gets us from one day to the next.
Christmas is all about the Goodnews of Hope.
The hope we find in the Christmas story does not direct us to a “why”… or “where”… or “when”… but the hope we find in the Christmas story directs us to a “whom”… that “whom” is “Jesus”.
When Jesus is the ultimate object of our hope, our hope becomes more than a wispy aspiration… “I hope something is true”…
--our hope becomes more than a chance prospect… “I hope I win the lottery”…
--our hope becomes more than optimistic thinking… “I’m sure it will all turn out OK”…
But the good-news of the Christmas Story is that our “hope” is based in a real person… as Johns says in John 1:14 (MSG) The Word… (i.e. God) became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
Because God “became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood” we can experience hope through our five senses?... not just though “wishful thinking”!...
This year as we embrace hope, let us experience it through our five senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing.
Our hope is in Jesus, the Light we see.
Our hope is in Jesus, the Bread we taste.
Our hope is in Jesus, the Word we hear.
Our hope is in Jesus, the fragrant offering for our sin.
Our hope is in Jesus, the Touch on our soul.
Paul writes in Romans 15:13 (NIV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Today I want us to use our sense of hearing… I want us to Experience the Sound of Hope… Our Hope is in the Word.
I want us to look at the “Story of The Shepherds and Angels”… Luke 2:8-20 (NIV) 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Notice the story concludes by saying: (vs. 20) “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praise God for the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
This morning I want us to make four observations about “Our Hope In the Word” that can be taken from this story of the Shepherds and Angels.
They listened intently:
First: Even though the Shepherds at first were filled with fear, they listened intently to what the Angels told them.
A question we might ask to begin with is: “Is there ever a time when fear keeps us from hearing or listening to the message of hope?”
Story: I can remember one night when I was a kid when my big collie dog came out of the shadows and I through a coyote was about to get me…
I was so afraid I was totally petrified with fear… I was so afraid I couldn’t move… I was so afraid I couldn’t scream… I can’t remember whether I was so afraid I couldn’t hear or not.
Our Scripture Lesson says: Luke 2:8-9 (NIV) 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
I have never had an angel appear to me that I know of… I have never had the glory of the Lord shine around me… but if I ever had that happen, I’m sure I would be “terrified” as were the Shepherds.
But in their fear the angels say to the Shepherds: Luke 2:10-11 (NIV) 10 "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
If our fear is able to deter us from listening and responding to the message of hope, what would that say about our view of God?
There are some people who have a fear of God which keeps them from hearing the message of God’s love.
This fear of God sometimes comes because they have grown up in an abusive home… or had a Father who abused or abandoned them.
The Bible particularly the OT speaks of “fearing God”.
Proverbs 1:7 (NIV) says: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
The kind of “fear” being spoken of here in Proverbs 1:7 and other places throughout time Bible is not the kind of paralyzing fear that keeps us from hearing the message of Hope…
A better translation is probably “awe”… we need to have a healthy “awe” and “respect” of God.
The message of Hope the angels gave to the shepherds was a message of love…
The Psalmist in Psalm 33:18 (NIV) But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
Again in Psalm 103:17 (NIV) But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children--
And then in 1 John 4:18 (NIV) There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
The Bottom line is: You and I have a choice to listen or to disregard what we hear.
Our choice will always have outcomes… and those outcomes will directly or indirectly impact ourselves and others.
So…we must intentionally focus on the message of hope.
Why did the angels appear to the Shepherds and not to someone else?
Maybe the angels did appear to others… maybe the angel’s appearance was through the Bethlehem region… but only the shepherds were able to hear and see them.
The shepherds gave their full attention to the angels and the message they shared.
This Christmas season, we must shut down competing noises or activities in order to intentionally focus on the message of hope.
They Responded Immediately:
The second observation about the Shepherds: “They Responded Immediately” to the angle’s instructions.
Luke 2:15-16 (NIV) says: 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
They didn’t wait until it was daybreak… they left immediately while it was still dark.
Sometimes we hear a message or word from God and we wait… we wait for a more convenient time… I’ll do that when I retire… I’ll do that when the situation or problem passes… I’ll do that when I have the money…
And the problem is: We often end-up never responding to God’s Word or message to us.
The Shepherd’s heeded and obeyed the angel’s instructions.
The Bible is clear that God desires our obedience more than he desires almost anything else.
After God gave Moses and the Children of Israel the Ten Commandments he reminds them: (Deuteronomy 11:26-28 NIV) 26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse-- 27 the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; 28 the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.
Then in 1 Samuel 15:22 NIV Samuel confronts King Saul’s disobedience by asking him: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
Years later the prophet Jeremiah again reminds the people: (Jeremiah 7:23 NIV) but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.
In the NT Jesus tells his disciples: (John 14:15-16, 21) “If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you. The one who obeys me is the one who loves me; and because he loves me, my Father will love him; and I will too, and I will reveal myself to him.”
If God’s word is to be a message of hope… it must be responded to immediately.
The power of the Word is in its application to our life.
Without application… without obedience we will not experience the power and hope of God’s word.
“Hope” is the fruit of our response and obedience to God’s word… on the other hand “fear” is the fruit of disobedience to God’s word.
The shepherds responded immediately to the angel’s instructions.
And as a result of their response and obedience to the angel’s word and message from God, the Shepherds found Mary and Joseph and God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
They Informed Others About What They Heard and Saw:
A third observation about the Shepherds: “They informed others about what they heard and saw.”
Hope is something that is contagious… just as pessimism and negativity is contagious.
Hope is something you want to share… Hope is something to be passed on to those within our sphere of influence.
Luke 2:17-18 (NIV) 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
If something special happens to you, the first thing we want to do is share it with our best friend… or our family.
And once you’ve shared it with your best friend or family… pretty soon the whole world knows about your goodnews…
“Hey, did you hear, so and so got engaged?… Hey, did you hear, I’m going to be a grand-dad again?… Hey, did you hear so and so and so and so are going together?...
Goodnews is like a fire with a wind behind it… if you’re all excited and you share it… pretty soon the whole world is on fire.
That’s the way the Goodnews of the Gospel works… if we get on fire and excited about what God is doing in our life… and we share it with our family and friends… and then if we allow the wind of the Holy Spirit to blow on that fire and excitement… pretty soon our world is on fire.
Jesus promised the Disciples in Acts 1:8 (NIV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
But… you and I have to be on fire to set someone else on fire.
You and I have to have experienced the Goodnews of Hope before we can pass that hope on.
The question for us who know the Goodnews of Hope is: “How am I passing on the message of Hope?”…
Will the next generation have hope because I have been obedient to the Gospel of Hope… Will the next generation have hope because I have shared the Gospel of Hope.
Hope is intended to echo from one generation to the next… Question is: “Am I passing on the message of Hope?
The Word of Hope Led Them to the Word In Whom Their Hope Was Placed:
A fourth observation about the Shepherds: “The word of hope led them to the Word in whom their hope was placed”.
Hope is not a “why” or “where” or “what”… Hope is a “Who”!
Life brings a lot of questions.
“Why do bad things happen to good people?”… “Why do innocent children have to suffer war… hurricanes… disease… hunger?...”
And people go on pilgrimages… people go from doctor to doctor… seeking “where” they can find answers and relief.
We look to the “what” of science, education, and modern medicine to answer our questions.
But Hope is not found in the questions of “why”, “where”, or “what”… Hope is a “Who”!... our only Hope is found in the person of Jesus Christ.
As John describes Jesus in John 1:1-5 (NIV) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it… (vs. 10-13) 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.”
Our only true Hope is found in Jesus.
As John says in John 1:12-13 (TLB) 12 But to all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust him to save them. 13 All those who believe this are reborn!—not a physical rebirth resulting from human passion or plan—but from the will of God.
Our hope is steadfast because it is rooted in a relationship with God, himself.
Because God became a real living human being in the person of Jesus Christ… because Jesus Christ took our place on the cross… because Jesus Christ rose from the dead as victor and conqueror of sin and death… we have the “right to become children of God”.
That is our Hope… that is our reality.
I have four applications I want to close with:
First: Object Lesson: Every time you pick-up your ear buds or earplugs, ask yourself the question: “Am I experiencing the sound of Hope in my life?”
God is trying to communicate to us messages of Hope…
The choice we have this Advent season is to either: 1) Ear buds: listen intently to these messages of hope or 2) Earplugs: “block out the message.”
Second: How might you and I share our testimony of Hope during this Advent Season?
What message does my life speak to the world who is “listening” to my actions?
Third: To whom in your sphere of influence do you need to carry the message of hope?
Who in your sphere of influence needs a message of hope?
Fourth: What action is the Holy Spirit telling you to do upon “hearing” this message?
Upon hearing the message of Hope from the Angels Luke 2:16 (NIV) says: “So they (shepherds) hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.