A Reason To Hope

big2Jeff was such a great friend! He had gone to a great high school , and belonged to the larger clique that was made up of friends whose interests were on getting high grades while enjoying school. College was the next step, and it wasn’t long before his class had scattered all across America in various jobs, universities, military, or family.

His family lived just down the road from us, and during college he married his high-school sweetheart. Living with his folks provided some ways to cut the cost of married life, and still continue in school. This particular evening the family held off having supper, waiting for Jeff to get home. Long minutes went by. With each passing quarter hour, the fear became stronger, as the whole family knew he would not scare his wife or parents intentionally.

The dreaded knock came at the door, and as every parent’s nightmare, it was the deputy from the Sheriff’s Department. They explained a car had come upon a wrecked vehicle; it looked as though it had slid going around a sharp curve, and overturned, possibly by over-correcting. The windshield was broken, and there was no body inside the car. The man had run to the nearest house to call the cops, and then went back to search.

Jeff was found nearby, thrown from the car, with a large stone under his right temple, a bruise and lump already formed. He had come down hard on the rock. He was alive but unconscious. The family quickly readied to go to the local hospital.

Over the next few weeks, he laid in a coma, until finally he started to wake up. The family had kept a vigil around his bed twenty four hours a day, all of them filled with hope that he would make it. He had made it through the wreck, was alive, so he would wake up. No one wanted a different outcome. Prayers were going up all over the town.

The morning he began to show signs of consciousness, the excitement was greater than if a family had just had a baby! He was alive, his eyes were open, and the swelling and bruises had all but gone away. Everything was going to be alright. Until he spoke. “Who are you?” he finally asked of those around his bed. No one wanted to answer, as much from being stunned at the unreal feeling of the question as not knowing how to answer. How do you say, “I’m your mom; your dad; your wife?” As the day passed, reality set in: Jeff suffered badly from amnesia. He had no idea who he was, who they were, no past, and no future.

Over the next few days he gained ground physically, but not mentally. The doctors had to release him to go home, but no one knew how to tell Jeff that he would be going to a place he would not recognize. His wife was beside herself with grief and “what if’s.” What if he didn’t love her if he regained his memory? What if he never got better? They constantly cried out to God, but there was no answer. A couple of months went by.

We visited often, but it’s hard to talk to someone who doesn’t remember you. It’s hard to say, “I was your best friend,” or “We did… (this or that) together all the time.” His wife was like a child who was totally lost.

By the time a half-year had passed, little pieces of memory were starting to return. For awhile he thought and talked as if he was back in high school, and wondered why they wouldn’t let him get on the bus, or drive his car to class. It was a long, very long, recuperation. Eventually, he grew to remember his family, his wife, and was able to re-establish a semblance of life as he had known it.

Hope is the one thing that gets a person or a family through the most difficult of situations, although I am by no means discounting God’s presence and sovereignty in every second of life. But life as we know it–physically looking at it, especially during long, dark valleys–is the ability to “hope” that tomorrow may be different. If not tomorrow, one day. If not one day, one year. Sometime, somewhere, things will be good again. Losing that hope, deciding within our deepest soul, that nothing will ever change, is the trigger that conditions one to give up.

Christians, of all people in the world, have a hope that the world can’t understand. We know that our hope is found in the Creator, the one who left glory to come to this earth in order to offer those who would accept His payment for their sins a life of eternity with Him. How do we know this is true? Millions and millions of changed lives testify that He came, He lived, He died, He rose from the grave, and forty days later ascended back to heaven, to wait for the day His Father says, “Son, go get Your children!” We have this hope–this surety: a changed life. His strength gets us through the toughest of days, the struggles of real life, the tribulations that face us, and the crises we have to go through.

Now is a good time to get your notebook, a cup of coffee and your Bible. If you have a friend, family member(s), or group of those who would like to join you, watch the sermon from Thomas Road Baptist Church for Sunday, December 4, 2016, and then do the study below. If you’ve seen the service, just go to the study. If not, and you have some extra time, enjoy the music time as the congregation worships the Lord Jesus Christ in song! Click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and choose the last service. It will thrill you to join other Christians as we look at the hope that Jesus brought to this earth when He was born of a lowly virgin named Mary. What a day that would have been! Settle in for the “reason to hope” in a bright future!

Self on the Shelf: A Reason for Hope                                                                                       December 4, 2016                                                                                                                            Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

If you could ask for one thing for Christmas, and you knew you would get it, what would it be? Write down your answers, or discuss them if you have someone you are studying with. How many of these were material desires? Were any intangible things?

This week we continue to fill our hearts and minds with the right perspective of the Christmas season. We want to re-live the miracle of Christ’s birth as He left His glory as the Sovereign God of the universe to come to this earth as a baby. His birth provides us with salvation through the greatest story ever told. We will focus today on Mary’s role in His coming, and the hope that His life can give us.

Focal Passages: Luke 1:26-45; Isaiah 9:6,7

Think About or Discuss:

Christmas is a Reminder that Christ Reigns

  1. Christianity is different from all other religions. What are the reasons given in Luke 1:32 and 33?
  2. Many prophecies were given foretelling the coming of a Messiah who would reign for eternity. Read Isaiah 9:6,7. How is this impacting how you live today?

Christmas is a Reminder of His Power

  1. Jesus did not leave His power in heaven when He came to earth, but came fully God, and fully man. What was His first miracle? (Hint: Luke 2:11).
  2. What are some reasons that Mary and Joseph never doubted that Jesus is the Son of God?
  3. What does verse 37 tell you? What does “nothing” mean? What is a “nothing” in your life that you feel it is impossible for Him to fix? (How much time do you spend praying about it?)

Christmas is a Reminder of God’s Plan

  1. In verses 38 and 45, why does the scripture say that Mary was blessed?
  2. Can you list a promise or promises that God has given to you in His word? Do you really believe them? Are there any that you have a problem with? As you can see from the text passage, belief brings blessings!
  3. What is the promise for you in Jeremiah 29:11? How do your actions show that you believe that?

Close:

The Christmas season reveals our hearts like no other time of the year. It is easy for our thoughts to be centered on parties, decorations, cards, and gifts, but we need to lay open our deepest desires, and look at them through the eyes of God: do we have a “give me” attitude, or are we examining our lives to see that we are fulfilling the purpose He had for us when He gave us the free gift of salvation? Do we allow Him to always reign supreme as we live life, believing His promises and not doubting His ability to handle anything that happens to us? Are we using this season to bless others as He has blessed us? There are a multitude of opportunities that exist to give of yourself to your neighbors, friends or your community (or even your world). Be aware that even in a church body Christmas can be a time of sorrow for those who are alone, or have lost a loved one, and ministry occasions abound. Even a friendly smile or a listening ear can ease someone’s burden, and may, in turn, possibly open doors for you to tell the “greatest story ever told” to a lost and dying world. Above all, pray that your walk with Christ is deeper than it was last year at this time.

Memory Verse: Isaiah 9:6: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulders. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Focal Passages: Luke 1:26-45, Isaiah 9:6-7.

Some of God’s Promises:

“For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Heb. 13:5b                      “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21                                                                                                                                         “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5                                                                         “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12                                                                                                                                                               “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Rev. 21:4.

Let the Reason for this Season wash over you in a glorious bathing of hope!

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