Mom was running around town, dragging her three children with her, as she ran errands on a Saturday afternoon before Christmas. There were so many things to accomplish – her list seemed to grow longer each day no matter how any items she marked off. Frazzled, they entered the last stop – a department store where she could pick up a few groceries as well as a few other items.
The children begged to go by the toy aisle – and after a chorus or two of “PLEASE??” – she consented. “We can only stay about 10 minutes and I am setting my timer.”
She watched as her three kids ooooohed and aaaaaahed over everything they saw. Each would pick up and review several options before proclaiming individual preferences. She was taking mental notes for future reference.
As they were leaving the store, one of her boys commented, “I sure HOPE I get that Nerf gun for Christmas.” Mom felt an urging to correct her son and she replied, “I think what you mean to say is that your WISH is that you will get that Nerf gun. Son, our HOPE is not in things of this world – our HOPE is in Christ Jesus.”
The word “hope” in scripture means “a strong and confident expectation.” Hope stresses two things: something that will happen in the future and something that you cannot see. (Romans 8:24-25)
The Jews had been waiting and waiting for a Messiah and they trusted that God would send one. The Jews expected that this Messiah would conquer the world and restore the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, to be the most powerful and highly respected. What they didn’t understand was that the Messiah that God was sending, in the form of a baby, would set free all who trusted and believed in God. All people and all nations will be able to stand in God’s favor if they trust, believe, and follow Jesus Christ.
Our HOPE begins when we believe, confess, and decide to follow Christ. From that point on, as we grow in our faith, our HOPE becomes stronger and stronger. As we follow Christ in our journey of faith, our HOPE:
- Affects the way we think and behave – 1 John 3:1-3
- Gives us joy and peace – Romans 15:13
- Gives us protection – Psalm 33:18
- Gives us strength and courage – Psalm 31:24; Romans 12:12
- Gives us confidence as we serve God – 1 Timothy 4:10
“Hope” is trust and a confident expectation. Our hope is not in the things of this world – toys, clothes, and gifts. Rather, our HOPE rests in the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the Son Jesus’ unending love, and God’s steadfast grace.
BELIEVING -- TRUSTING -- EXPECTING -- WAITING
Why is it so hard to wait?
What is the difference between a WISH and HOPE?
What does it mean to expect something?
If we believe that Jesus is worth waiting for, how can we share our HOPE with others?
Cut out 7 yellow stars and punch a hole in the top of each. Each day throughout the week, a star will be added with yarn or ribbon to make a chain. Read the following scriptures each day and then add the star onto the chain. Write the scripture on one side of the star. End each reading with a prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come.”
- - Sunday: Jeremiah 31:31-40
- - Monday: Jeremiah 33:14-26
- - Tuesday: Isaiah 40:1-11
- - Wednesday: Psalm 33
- - Thursday: Psalm 130
- - Friday: Romans 5:1-11
- - Saturday: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11
Instead of “Elf on a Shelf,” try “Shepherd on a Search.” Find a small doll and dress it like a shepherd. The shepherd searches in the night for the Messiah. Each morning, the shepherd will be in a different place – with a scripture written on a piece of paper – pointing to the coming of Christ. On Christmas morning, have the shepherd find the Messiah in your family’s nativity. Use some of the following scriptures:
Genesis 49:10 Isaiah 9:6-7
Psalm 72:10-11 Isaiah 11:1-10
Micah 5:1-2 Jeremiah 23:5
Isaiah 7:14 Numbers 24:17