God with Us Brings Hope

December 1, 2021

Pastor John Hering

Genesis 28:15

Genesis 28:15

15 Now, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back again into this land. Indeed, I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised to you.”

I’ve had the opportunity to go deep sea fishing.  Once it was off the coast of Florida 50 miles offshore to the Gulf Stream.  Being out there made me think about stories of people lost at sea.  About 5 years ago we heard about two fishermen—John and Anthony, who set out from Long Island, New York. They were about 40 miles offshore with Anthony below deck sleeping and John was prepping for their big catch.  The boat was on autopilot.  John was pulling on a handle with all his might when it snapped off, sent him off-balance right off the back of the boat.  When John resurfaced he screamed for Anthony to help, but knew he wouldn’t hear.  He watched the boat go up and over the waves and in a short time it was gone. John was all alone, without a life jacket, treading water in the Atlantic Ocean.  He thought he was going to die.

Can you imagine how lonely he felt?  It was a hopeless situation as he thought this was it.  He tried to calm down and realized he still had his big rubber boots on.  He took them off, emptied it out and plunged it back into the water to create an air pocket.  The same with the other boot.  Now, he had both boots under his armpits as floatation devices. That bought him some time and gave him a flicker of hope.  He started to think about his wife and family, but they wouldn’t even know he was missing.  It got dark and he set the goal of just trying to survive until morning.

After 4 hours of sleeping Anthony woke up and realized John was gone.  He called the Coast Guard and they started the search.  They didn’t have much hope of finding John in open water.  John made it alive until morning.  In the light he could see nothing….. except a fishing buoy.  He swam toward it and climbed onto it.  This gave him a new surge of hope. About an hour later a Coast Guard helicopter spotted him and pulled him up to safety.

Amazing to hear stories of survival like this. We think of people with such determination to never give up hope!   But, hope is like that. It whispers to turn the boots upside down and float on them.  Hope is the first candle you light when the electricity goes out.  Hope is breathing again after struggling with a cold or worse.  Hope is the percentage the doctors give you that you can beat cancer.  Hope is hearing the words, “You’re going to be okay.”  Hope is the fuel of faith and dreams.  Hope is a part of our Advent celebration.

The word “Advent” means “coming” or “arrival.” For the next month we’ll talk about expectations, waiting, and anticipation.  Advent is a season that looks back to link the prophesies of the Old Testament, see them fulfilled by Jesus, and looks forward to his coming again.  Advent is alive with Hopeful Waiting.  It was the same sort of hopefulness that God gave to Jacob.  He was running for his life, but God assured him that he was not alone.  God was with him to bring him hope.  So,

God With Us Brings Hope

Hope Based On God’s Word

The story of hope started right after the Fall in the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve lived the separation from God, the heartache of living in a sin-infected world.  But, God worked to Bring them Hope.  He gave them his Word!  Then God went to work to restore and heal mankind.  It took generations of people through whom God worked.  For instance, God came to Abraham with this promise, I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse anyone who dishonors you. All of the families of the earth will be blessed in you (Gen 12:3).  Abraham had the miracle son, Isaac, and then came Jacob.  You remember how Jacob stole the inheritance from his brother and was running for his life.  He was all alone and without much hope.  That’s when God came with this promise: 15 Now, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back again into this land. Indeed, I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised to you.  Jacob had hope based on God’s Word.

But, students of the Bible know how long it would take for the promises of God to be fulfilled.  God kept making his promises to David, Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah.  We also realize how God’s people swung from faithfulness to rebellion against God.  They really weren’t too different from us.  When things went well, it took about a generation to forget God.  Then, when things got bad, they cried out to God for help again.  But, throughout all these generations the same promise was repeated.  God With Us Brings Hope based on God’s Word.  God’s people continued to have hope while they waited for the promises to be fulfilled—even after thousands of years of waiting. You heard one of those promises from Isaiah this evening, 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give a sign for all of you. Look! The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and name him Immanuel (Is 7:14).  Can you imagine the hope that they received from this promise of God?  They knew God was with them and they knew they could depend on God’s promises.

I didn’t just go through this quick history lesson so you could say, “Great!  I’m happy for those people who lived thousands of years ago.  I’m happy they had hope, but what about for me?  They weren’t fighting cancer, dealing with Covid, their spouse hadn’t recently died, they weren’t looking for a job or trying to pay bills with run-away inflation.”   Yes, we acknowledge that our life has problems, go through seasons of darkness and pain, and we have discouragements.  However, do not abandon the hope we have in God’s promises. Hope is alive in us because God Is With Us!

How can we know?  How can we keep hope when we’re on the verge of losing it and giving up?  We turn to God’s Word and hear his promises once again.

God With Us Brings Hope Based on God’s Word

Do you need a ……

Word of protection:  The Lord will watch to keep you from all harm. He will watch over your life.  The Lord will watch over your going and your coming from now to eternity.” (Ps 121:7-8).

Word of security: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matt 11:28).

Power of Hope: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

Trust even in suffering: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Rom 5:3-4).

These are God’s promises.  Think about these promises when doubt arises.  Fill you hearts with these promises especially during times of troubles. God With Us Brings Hope!

God With us Brings Hope Based on God’s Character

Not only do we have his promises, but we also know who God is—his character!  There is a small account in Mark (5:25-34) about a woman that learned all about Jesus’ character.  For 12 years this woman had been bleeding.  No doctor could help her and her condition only go worse. Those of you who have experienced a long-term illness can relate.  She was probably considered unclean and an outcast.  Could she possibly have hope?   Yes, she heard about Jesus—his miracles and healings and she hoped Jesus could help her.  This hope fired up her heart for healing, back with family and friends and a new life.  She went into action. The crowds were surrounding Jesus, but if she could only get close enough to touch him he could her. It was a bold hope!  Nervous? Probably.  Scared? No doubt—especially when Jesus said, Who touched me?”  Jesus knew.  The women knew, too! 33 The woman was trembling with fear since she knew what had happened to her. She came forward, fell down in front of him, and told him the whole truth.  34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your suffering.  Jesus Brings Hope Based on his Character: He cannot break his promises.  Jesus is worthy to live for us, die for us and rise again from the dead for us. He lives to help you.  He lives to save you, if not for this life, for the life with him in heaven. Jesus Brings Hope Based on his Character!

Do you see how Hope based on God’s promises and his character change lives?  When God’s people heard his promises and receive his blessings what is their reaction?  Thanksgiving.  It might be a man rescued from the ocean.  How many times do you think he said, “Thank you!”?  It might have been Jacob after God blessed him with family, possessions and a win while wrestling with God, how may times do you think he said, “Thank you!”?  It might be you after you hear God’s promise: 15 Now, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back again into this land. Indeed, I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised to you.  God With You Brings Hope based on the promises of his Word and the unchanging character of our God.  May God with you bring you hope—real, true, confident hope!  Amen.

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