Our nation has experienced some of its greatest trials during the past few years and, if there is anything that is needed now, it is Hope. Thankfully, as Christians, we realize that there is hope. Christ gives hope. His birth in Bethlehem brought hope to a hopeless world. And His soon return gives us the hope we need to face each day. Praise God for the hope He gives!
There is a memorable Christmas reading entitled “If Christ Had Not Come.” I have shared it at past Christmas Eve gatherings and it fits in well here. Here is the heart of the story.
It is Christmas time. There are sprigs of holly on the mantle shelf and cards from friends on the desk. Carolers in the street are singing, “O Come All Ye Faithful.” My New Testament was in my hands, and I began to read the fifteenth chapter of John when I saw these words, “If I had not come.” I could read no further. If Christ had not come, what? The Testament dropped upon my knees and I began to dream of a world into which Christ had not come.
In my dream I found myself looking through my home. But there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, no Christ to comfort, gladden and save. I walked out to the street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to Heaven, no rejoicing over the season, no glad Christmas songs. I returned home and sat down in my library, but every book about the Savior had disappeared.
I was summoned to the home of a poor, dying mother. I hastened to be with her weeping child and, when I reached the home I sat down and said, “I have something here that will comfort you.” I opened my Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended with Malachi. There was no Gospel, no provision for healing, no promise of hope and salvation. I could only bow my head and weep with her in bitter despair.
Two days later I stood beside her coffin and conducted her funeral service. There was no message of consolation, no assurance of resurrection, no hope of heaven. All I could repeat were the chilling words, “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
With that I awoke to find tears upon my cheek and a sob in my throat. There were sprigs of holly on the mantle shelf and cards from friends on the desk. There were carolers singing glorious carols, and my New Testament was upon my knee.
I never knew how much the world owed to Jesus Christ until I dreamed of the world into which He had not come. And so when Christmas morning broke bright and clear, my heart was full of Christmas joy.
What an incredible treasure we have in the Hope that Christ gives. Paul uses the word five times in Romans 8:24-25 (it appears a sixth time in verse 20). “For in this hope we were saved” (v24). Hope is an important theme in Scripture.
I never quite understood the meaning and value of the word “Hope” until I met Ritchie. Ritchie had been a successful businessman, including serving as a professor at the University of Washington. But alcohol disintegrated his family, nearly destroying his life and losing all hope. At his lowest point, Ritchie lay curled in a fetal position on the floor of his living room and cried out, “If there is a God, please help me!” God answered his cry and brought him to salvation and the church I pastored. Ritchie and I met every week to study Scripture and to help him grow in the Lord. He would often say to me, “I am SO thankful for the Hope that Christ brings!” Ritchie, I am too!
Our Christmas series, “The Gifts of Christmas”, continues this Sunday, December 3, with the glorious story of “Shepherds: The Gift of Adoration” from Luke 2. Shepherds were the lowest in their society but they were chosen by the Father to be the first ones to worship the newborn King. Please invite someone to join you at 10:35am in the building or online for the Live broadcast on either Facebook (Honolulu AG) or our YouTube channel (Honolulu Assembly of God). We livestream every Sunday to both locations.
Our 12th annual Christmas Lunch and Treasure Trade for ladies and children takes place this Saturday, December 2, at 11:30am (Preview items starting at 10:30am). Our December Drive-Through Prayer outreach in the parking lot is also this Saturday from 11am-1pm. Pastor Ron Peer will speak on Sunday, December 10, about the gift the Father gave to the Son. What is it? Come and find out.