So I was watching the NBC Evening News on Tuesday of this week. There was a panel discussion that included four political experts discussing the atmosphere of the United States electorate. Respected pollster Peter Hart painted a dark picture of the United States electorate. In no uncertain terms he talked about lack of confidence and hope in our Country. When asked to give a view of our Country from ’50,000’ feet he stated, “It’s terrible. 70% of the people think the Country is headed in the wrong direction. How are people feeling about this year? One of the worst years. When they look at this Congress they say, ‘This is the worst Congress.’ Every element. How do I feel about the economy? How do I feel about America going forward? Every element the American people come up negative. There is no sense of optimism or sense of hope.
Around the world you hear the same story. We have witnessed what some call the Arab Spring. Hundreds of thousands of people have protested and overthrown their governments all because of a desire for something different. Estimates are that in Syria over 5000 citizens have been gunned down by the government while trying to express their hunger for a different life.
In our own country we have people at the opposite ends of the spectrum that have expressed their unhappiness. Tea Party people on the right and Occupiers on the left have demonstrated a hunger for something different.
It is into this world that we have been challenged to be Christ body. It is into this world that Christ sends us to spread the hope of the Christmas message; His message.
For the last three weeks we have listened to what He said about Himself as recorded in Luke 4:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free . . . Luke 4:18 NLT
Who are the blind? Some would say that you shouldn’t talk about people outside the church as being blind or lost but I didn’t choose the language. It’s the bible that uses this word blind over and over.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly. Psalm 146:7-9 NLT
In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book, and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness. Isaiah 29:17-19 NLT
And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf.
Isaiah 35:4-6 NLT
What does God allow us to see when He cures our blindness?
Is there any hope? In a world that is wallowing in despair and cynicism we should understand that difference that Jesus Christ will make in our lives.
If the church has any message to share it is the Good News that Jesus came to this earth so that those that were blind could see. I am not talking of course about physical blindness but spiritual darkness.
Let me suggest four things that you will see when God cures your blindness:
1. You will see the hope of forgiveness Amazing
There is nothing better than after realizing that you are a sinner without hope in this world or the world to come, and then discovering that Jesus died to rescue you and give you back your life. He was born to die and give you and me new life.
Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 2 Corinthians 4:3-5 NLT
I read of a house fire in the Middle East where a man ran back into his burning house to get his valuables, but he didn’t make it out. He was found in the ashes clutching an ivory idol. The headlines read, "Man dies trying to save his god." Two thousand years ago on a hill called Calvary, the Son of God hung bleeding and dying for a lost world. If there had been a Jerusalem Post back then, the headlines might have read, "God dies trying to save his man." How can we fail to live for such a God who gave his everything for us that we might have everything in him?
When we experience unconditional love…we live in the light of God’s love we will have hope. Life is about learning how to love. His love for you is unconditional.
James Van Tholen in his book Where All Hope Lies writes: From the human perspective, when you compare (God ) to the other gods of the other religions in the world, you have to say our God is really sort of odd. He uses the most common of people, people that aren’t any different from any of us here; he comes in the most common of ways, when by his Spirit an anonymous young woman is found to be with child. And the strangest thing is that he comes at all…he’s not the Above-Us-God, too holy to come down. This God’s love is so immense that he wants to come down. And he has proven his love by the fact that he did come down and touch our ground.”
Stop talking about God’s love, stop studying about God’s love, just get out there and do Christianity. (Douglas Gresham stepson of C.S. Lewis)
This unexpected hope cause us to sing with John Newton:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.
T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved. How precious did that Grace appear The hour I first believed.
2. You will see the hope of overcoming your failures Abandoning
One of the things that often derails one’s efforts to follow Christ are the things that seem to have them bound. It could be bad habits, bad relationships or even bad addictions but when Jesus announced His ministry through the words of Isaiah He declared that He came to set the captive free. That means that He will give you the ability to abandon the old life and begin to live a new life. One that is rooted and grounded in Him. He will give you the ability to overcome.
Open your eyes and your will see what God wants to do for you. When I was young one of the few songs that we ever sang that could be considered a hymn (sung directly to God) was this song:
Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!
Open my ears, that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear;
And while the wave-notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!
Open my mouth, and let me bear gladly the warm truth everywhere;
open my heart and let me prepare love with thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my heart, illumine me, Spirit divine!
Let God open your eyes to what He wants to do in you and through you.
3. You will see the hope of raising a godly family Anointing
I don’t have the time to teach on this today but I want to assure you that it is possible to raise kids to love God with all of their heart soul mind and strength and their neighbors as themselves which is what Jesus says we are to do.
There is something that will happen when you allow God to open your eyes and you follow Him with all of your heart. I mean you follow Him in the way you talk, what you choose to do, how you spend your money and what you do with your time.
Train a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it. Prov. 22:6
I want to give you another promise that God handed out a long time ago through the prophet Jeremiah:
They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Jeremiah 32:38-41 NKJV
This hope unexpected will cause us to see hope for our children. . .
4. You will see the hope of a future Appealing
I believe that you will hear more and more misery in the coming year. As the world keeps getting smaller and we keep getting more and more connected we will find ourselves encountering the pain of the world without the hope of Christ. Those of us that live in the land of plenty known as the United States may have to deal with hardships in the future that are not very appealing.
As this world wraps up and things seem to be unraveling before our very eyes it is not a time for the church to get smug and arrogant but a time to get on our knees and draw closer to God then we have ever been.
You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. Revelation 3:16-18NLT
Before us we have the hope of eternity with God. We have the hope of living with Him forever when this life is over. We celebrate the first advent of Christ at Christmas but the fact is that He is coming back and we need to be ready for His return.
In his book Dare to Believe, Dan Baumann illustrates what it is like to know that something is yours even though you have to wait for it. You may even have it in hand, but are not able to enjoy it “out of the box.” He says that when he was young he always did a lot of snooping at Christmas time, trying to find his gift and figure out what was in the wrapped packages which his Mom hid. One year he discovered a large package with his name on it that he knew was a set of golf clubs. One shake of that box revealed the unmistakable sound of clubs. He says, “When Mom wasn’t around, I would go and feel the package, shake it, and pretend that I was on the golf course. The point is, I was already enjoying the pleasures of a future event; namely, the [unwrapping]. It had my name on it. I knew what it was.” It was his, but it would not be handed over to him until Christmas morning. Then he would see with his eyes what before he had only seen with his heart.
Christmas means that Christ has given us the gift of heaven. At this point it is still wrapped. But the package has our name on it. We know what awaits us. It is ours. We would never have received the gift if it were not for Christmas. But we wait longingly for the day when we will enjoy the gift of heaven in all of its unwrapped wonder. As the Bible says, “But in keeping his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). The day will come when we too will hear the words, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4)
Are you ready? Is your house in order? Have you had your eyes opened to the truth of God’s word? Are you living your life in such a way that you won’t spend your elderly years wishing you would have done things differently?
IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER
(Written after she found out she was dying from cancer.)- by Erma B.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained or the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the ’good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."
There would have been more "I love you’s." More "I’m sorry’s."
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it, live it and never give it back.
Through Jesus Christ you can look at your life totally differently if you will but turn to Him.
The hope of forgiveness: Amazing
The hope of overcoming your failures: Abandoning
The hope of raising a godly family: Anointing
The hope of a future: Appealing
Jesus is the Messiah: He is the hope unexpected that came to bring us life. He loves you and invites you into His life on this earth.