We all hope for something. We hope for a better job, a bright future for our children, early retirement, a long, rich life.
Did you know that when you hope, you are modeling God’s character?
Let’s take a look at the Christmas story as an incredible example of God’s hope.
By today’s standards, Mary is a girl. A teenager at best. Perhaps a high school student. She’s engaged to be married. She’s never been a wife. She’s never raised her own children.
Joseph is the man to whom she’s engaged. We don’t know much about him. He’s not a rich man. But a man with skill in a trade. A man who comes home and shakes the sawdust off his jeans and washes the sweat off his face. Who has callused hands from his work as a carpenter.
This is the couple chosen to raise the Son of God.
Not a King and Queen
Not the president and the first lady
Not William and Kate
Not even Brad and Angelina
Just ordinary Joseph and Mary.
This is the couple God has chosen. This is the couple in whom God has placed his hope; who will raise the Son of God, the Lion of Judah, the Savior of the world, Immanuel, God with Us.
A young girl who has no experience in raising a child herself. Whose child would be doing homework before she herself graduates high school. And some guy who, until an angel sets him straight, seriously considers walking out on her because the child she carries is not his own.
God certainly knows how to create a situation that requires hope. Not just a situation that requires Mary and Joseph to place their hope in God. But for God to place his hope in them.
And God places his hope in you as well. Every talent you possess, every day you have been given, is an opportunity for you to fulfill the hope God has placed in you.
Hope is not wishful thinking. It is trusting in the promise of God. That he has a future and a plan for you. God has placed his hope in you. What will you do with it? Something to think about as you begin your week.
It's Saturday of my final week as pastor at Bethany Church. If you know the days of your week you know that I have to preach my final sermon in one day. I think I'm ready.
It's Wednesday of my final week with Bethany. Will I find the faith and courage I need?
Ever get worked up over something? I mean so worked up that you can’t even address it? So worked up that you can’t even think straight? How many times in the past year would you say you were really worked up over something? Let me ask you this… Out of all those times this past year, can you remember exactly what it was you were worked up about? Not many? It’s like I always say,” It’s not like the bear has the Cheerios.”
That’s right, “It’s not like a bear has the Cheerios.” I’ve been saying that for almost two days now.
Two days ago, my wife and I were packing up the Highlander after spending a few nights in the Smoky Mountains. I was upstairs brushing my teeth and my wife came running into the cabin shouting, “A bear has our food!” I thought a bear had walked into the kitchen and I was trying to figure out a way to get outside. We both panicked. I tried getting out by running in a circle in the bathroom before going out the door, then I did another panicky circle in the bedroom, then ran out the first door I saw into an enclosed patio. This wasn’t going so well. I was pretty worked up. After all, my only knowledge about how to deal with angry bears is from Bugs Bunny cartoons. Apparently, if you play dead, they’ll come up and sniff you and then make a face and walk away.
My wife then said, “He’s not in the cabin, he’s in the car!”
Not Actual Bear. This is an Actor
Now I’ve heard about bears smashing in cars just to get a candy bar and recently a friend, who I told this story to, informed me he once watched a bear peel a door off a ¾ ton truck because he saw a bag of chips inside. (Probably Sun Chips. Those things are awesome!) So now I’m no longer concerned about my safety, I’m worried about driving home in a car that is completely torn to shreds on the inside and whether or not my insurance covers bear attacks. Not to mention that horrible bear smell that doesn’t come out no matter how much FeBreeze you use.
As soon as my wife said he’s in the car, she said, “He’s walking off with our Cheerios.”
I have nothing against Cheerios. But I couldn’t be more relieved to know that the bear was walking away with them. And if you are wondering, these were not Honey Nut Cheerios, those apparently just attract bees. These were multi grain Cheerios, which seem to attract black bears. I think bears are beautiful creatures, especially when they’re walking away from you, Cheerios or not.
Ever since that fateful day, two days ago, whenever I get worked up over something (remember I am the Mad pastor) I think, “It’s not like a bear has the Cheerios.”
Do you have something that is gnawing at you? If it’s a black bear, it’s probably pretty serious. If it’s something else, ask yourself, “Is this worth running around in circles over?” Jesus warns us about getting overly worried. He said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food [aka Cheerios], and the body more important than clothes?... Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25, 34)
When life seems overwhelming, take stock of what you have, think about what Jesus says, and maybe even say to yourself, “It’s not like a bear has the Cheerios.”