Sheep in pasture

Sheep in pasture
Feed My Sheep, Feed My Lambs, Feed My Sheep

Monday, January 4, 2016

“Why Do I Feel Hopeless…”

December 20, 2015
Stetson Memorial UMC
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Inspired by Marcia McPhee
Sermon Series “Awed and Odd”
Hope in the Midst of Hopelessness
Presence in the Midst of Loneliness
Matthew 1:20-23
Hebrews 6:19
Romans 15:13
Job 8:13-18
Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
(All Scripture is taken from the NIV Bible)

“Why Do I Feel Hopeless…”

Prayer for the Spirit’s leading…

A reading from the book of Job…chapter eight…verses thirteen through eighteen…listen to the word of God for you and me…the children of God.

Each Sunday that we gather here together there is an air of hope all around this sanctuary. We share our hopes, our dreams, our pain and our joy with one another. We have heard answered pray and we have heard new prayer request. There is hope. But most of all, each Sunday I come here I get to see Nolan Howes. That little cherub is hope…hope for our church… and hope for the future…hope for the world.

Can you imagine a life without any hope at all? I think that we all have those days when we may feel a little hopeless…unending tasks we must do, trying to get the cross word puzzle done in ink, dishes to be done and dinner to prepare…needing to do…fill in the blank. I am talking about a hopelessness that brings you to your knees because you can’t stand…hopelessness that you just can’t shake and so you sit in sack cloth and ashes as Job did. Job lost everything even his best friends didn’t understand the depth of his sorrow. But Job did one thing that you and I can find strength in…Job never cursed God…he never really gave up the faith that he had in God. There is where his hope was found…the treasure of his heart…with Emmanuel, God with us.

This advent, we are journeying to the cross by another road than what we may usually travel. We have been traveling a road that at times may have made us squirm a little. We have been inspired by Marcia McPhee’s “Awed & Odd” Sermon series where she states:
“We Christians believe in “folly”–that there is peace, love, joy and hope in the midst of the good and difficult times. This makes us “odd”–according to those who proclaim the victory of decline and death all around. It is especially in this season of expectant hope that we can instead proclaim the awe-inspiring presence of God’s reign that continually makes all things new. This is a season of odd “union”–swords into plowshares, wolves and lambs resting peacefully together, and the “speechless” singing for joy!”

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent…we have taken off our blinders and have seen God in world and working even though broken. We have talked about seeing peace in the midst of conflict and have decided that even though the world around us may be that God is always working out His plan even if I don’t perceive it. We know because we have seen the light of God working within situations that others might deem hopeless.

We also decided that we are a little “odd” because we are “awed” by God who even in the darkness is there creating order out of chaos. And we decided that we would rather be awed for God even though the world calls us odd.

One place we have gone is finding “Love In the Midst Of Hate”. We decided that Jesus, our Risen Lord, is the One to show us the way by the example that He set. We also decided that as Jesus judges and reigns there will be peace in the midst of conflict and no more hate because all there will be love. And we have decided that if we look with eternal eyes we can see and react to “Joy in the Midst of Despair?” We have also realized that no matter what the circumstance…Joy is a choice…

So,”hope in hopelessness”, how do we find…Ok…how can we even find hope in hopelessness? As I stated last week about joy…hope too is a choice. Now we can give up hope or turn to the One who gives all comfort and strength. I am not going to make it sound easy to have hope just exude out of us. That would be a lie. But maybe…just maybe, we can look at Job’s example.

Now Job had lost everything…lost his home, his family, his wealth…even though the mill is closed and I have lost all that I held dear I will hope in the God of Job who is the giver of all that is good…but Job chose not to curse the Lord and trust that God was working out his plan for his life…
Hebrews 6:19New International Version (NIV)
19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,

Last week we talked about Mary and how she found joy in the midst of despair. She really did trust in God her Savior because she could have had bad things happen to her because of this blessed condition. But what about Joseph, he could have divorced her quietly. Joseph could have divorced her publicly but he chose hope when he listened to the angel.
Matthew 1:20-23New International Version (NIV)
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Not only hope for himself but hope for all who would come after him. He chose hope for you and for me. We now have God within our midst all because of one man’s choice of hope…

Because of one man’s hope we can have the choice of feeling God’s presence in the midst of loneliness. We can say to ourselves “God is here with me through this…” or “God is far away from me and doesn’t fulfill His promise to walk with me.” Which would you rather choose?
Isaiah 9:2, 6-7New International Version (NIV)
2 The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
6 For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

We really do need eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart that is open to what God is doing in the world around us. Then we will be able to see the peace and love that is evident to all who seek love. We will have joy even though there is despair around us. We no longer have to feel hopeless and alone. But it begins here (touch chest) and here (touch eyes). As we have an open Heart and lead by the Spirit of God we will use eyes of love and grace as we seek the love of God in the world around us. We are no longer hopeless but hopeful because of loves work one early morning in a stable for we realize we are never alone.

Romans 15:13New International Version (NIV)
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…pray for us to awaken and experience and see the joy of the Lord in the midst of despair…


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