By Pastor Wu
02 Dec. 2012 Sunday
|Sermon: Hope In Jesus||video||audio||doc|
|Worship song: Here I Am To Worship||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Majesty||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Hope of The World||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: I Sing Praises To Your Name||video||audio||lyric|
Worship song: Here I Am To Worship
|Verse 1||Light of the world
You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes, let me see
Beauty that made this heart adore You
Hope of a life spent with You
|Chorus||Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You're my God
You're altogether lovely
Altogether wonderful to me
|Verse 2||King of all days
Oh so highly exalted
Glorious in Heaven above
Humbly You came to the earth You created
All for love's sake became poor
|Bridge||I'll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross
Worship song: Majesty
|Verse 1||Majesty, worship His Majesty,
Unto Jesus, be all glory, honor and praise!
Majesty, kingdom authority, flows from His throne,
Unto His own, His anthem raise.
|Verse 2||So exalt, lift up on high the name of Jesus.
Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus the King.
Majesty, worship His Majesty,
Jesus who died, now glorified, King of all kings.
I invite everyone to pray with me, to pray everything you want to pray.
Dear Lord, Heavenly Father, we thank you that the Christmas time is coming (which reminds us that) You gave Your Only Son to us, who took the punishment we deserved. We thank You, we praise You. Dear Father, we really thank You.
Dear brothers, sisters and friends, we are God’s beloved people. If we receive Jesus as our Savior, we no longer live in darkness, and we have hope in Him. Amen.
Good morning (quiet response – “Good morning.”… That was a lame response. Let’s do it again. Good morning. “Good morning!” That is much better.
“Today is the first Sunday in Advent. Advent means ‘coming’. We celebrate Advent during the weeks before Christmas Day as we look forward to celebrating Jesus’ birth.
And this year we will follow the traditional Advent wreath. The Advent wreath was first used in Germany in the sixth century.
An Advent wreath is like a crown made from branches of evergreen trees which are shaped into a circle.
This is a sign of the love of God which has no beginning and no end. The Advent wreath also has five candles -- four on the circle of the wreath, and one in the center.
One candle is lighted on each Sunday in Advent, and then the center candle is usually lighted on Christmas Day.
The candles remind us of special themes and events surrounding the birth of our Lord Jesus.
God’s people in the Bible were waiting for the coming of their Savior -- Jesus Christ.
We are praying that he will keep coming into our lives more fully.
About seven hundred years before Jesus was born, during dark times for God’s people, God told His prophet Isaiah about a special child who was to be born for all the people.
The prophet Isaiah said (Isaiah 9:6-7a):
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, and Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
These promises gave the people Hope that God would send their Savior, who would overcome the darkness of sin and sadness, and bring the light of God’s grace.”
Kid, “Why are we lighting this candle?”
Pastor Wu, “This candle represents HOPE.
Jesus’ birth was the fulfillment of the HOPE the people had based on God’s promises to send a child who would become their Savior.”
“We are also living in HOPE based on God’s promises.
The New Testament says that we must live ‘upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed HOPE -- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:12-13)
Jesus is coming again for the fulfillment of the gifts of righteousness, peace, joy, and the gift of eternal life, and that gives us hope. No matter what kind of difficulties we are facing today.”
Scripture Reading: John 1:1-13
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood a it.
6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.
7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.
8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 9:6-7
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 increase 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.
Happy Advent! Happy our coming Christmas!
Thanks to the worshipping team
Majesty and worship His majesty. Why should we come to worship the Lord? Because He is the Lord of majesty. He is the Lord who is everything of ours. And He is our everything. So that is why we should come to His presence to worship Him because He is the Lord of majesty and all authority.
I love the song. So I want to, first of all, give thanks to our worship team because every time I sing together with the worship team, it seems to me I am made laid down on the green pastures. It seems to me I am led to the quiet waters. So thank you very much for your service.
Brothers and sisters, the topic for today is “Hope in Jesus”, or “Hope from Jesus”, or “Hope comes to us through Jesus”.
What non-Christians pursue?
Brothers and sisters, people in this world, I mean non-Christians, tend to buy hope. People in this world tend to manufacture hope. People in this world tend to dream of hope. They manufacture hope. They buy hope. And they dream of hope.
I remember one Chinese New Year, one of us was visiting somebody in their house, in their home. The first thing I saw on the door was an upside-down Chinese character: “Happiness”. Why do people put that character there? Because they want to wish a happy new year for the coming year. Then people meet in the streets on the first day of the New Year. They like to say to each other, “Wish you wealthy happy new year.” Why do they do that? Because they want to wish people to have a wealthy year, a year full of money, full of wealth, full of treasures. You see, that is the way people, non-Christians, want to have hope realized in their lives. You see, people in this world, non-Christians, I mean by that, tend to manufacture and tend to buy hopes.
People tend to manufacture or buy hopes. A lot of people work so hard simply to save enough money so that at some point of their lives, before they get too old, they could buy a decent house, they could get married and meet the requirements of their mothers-in-law over the sons-in-law. People in this world work so hard to fulfill their dreams and hopes. You can see that people in this world not only tend to dream of hopes, but also buy hopes. Today many people in this world, I mean non-Christians, tend to manufacture hopes. For example, they manufacture cars to buy and sell; they buy cars and travel around the world to show off their expensive cars, a sport car, a decent car, to say I have what you do not have, I possess what you do not, and I am greater than you are. That is the hope of people and how they get it realized. People in this world tend to buy, dream of and manufacture hopes.
What Christians should pursue?
But let me tell you, brothers and sisters, we, as Christians, we do not have to do that. Because Jesus has the best hope ready for us to receive and accept.
Because John 1:4 says,
“In him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
1. Jesus gives us abundant eternal life
In Jesus we have the best hope and gift better than what this world and history could offer us - Life, which is eternal after Jesus comes for the second time and we get resurrected. Eternal life, which is also abundant that God would give us if we receive Him. An abundant life, a more meaningful and significant life in this life time. That is the life God gives us in Jesus. That is the Hope God gives if we receive Him and believe in His name; and all of this shall be given to us.
In Jesus, we have eternal and abundant life; and in Him we have the light. In Him, God also promises us (that) if we believe in Him, God shall give us the right of becoming the children of God. Brothers and sisters, in Jesus Christ, God prepares three gifts and hopes for us, first life, second light, and third becoming the children of God. You do not have to buy it, manufacture or dream of it. It is already there. It has been there since the beginning of history. What you need to do is to receive it.
In Luke Chapter 19, we came to know a man by the name of Zacchaeus, who was also a wealthy person, a chief tax collector. He was loaded with money. He was a wealthy person. But before he met Jesus, he had a miserable life. He was exploiting and oppressing people. He was taking money from people who worked hard to make ends met. People hated and condemned him and even spat on him when they met him. Before he met Jesus, he knew what was going on in his life.
He was so sad and wanted to change his life. So when he knew Jesus was passing through Jericho, he rushed to meet Jesus. Being a short man, he had to run ahead of other people and climbed up a sycamore-fig tree in order to see Jesus. Do you know what happened next? After Jesus spoke with him and when the power of life was upon this person, a chief tax collector, his life was completely changed. Zacchaeus was transformed from a bad and wicked person to somebody else, to someone who was willing to give away what he possessed to help others. He might have thought in his heart, “I would climb down the tree as you (Jesus) stay at my home tonight. You know who I am, a wicked person, and I was exploiting people, yet you do not despise me. You do not look down on me. Thank you Lord. I would like to give away half of my possession to the poor. And if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."
Before Zacchaeus met Jesus, he was exploiting people, taking away their possessions. But now, when the light and power of life coming upon him, his life was completely changed, from an oppresser to somebody who was willing to give away what he had. His life became more abundant and he was able to help people in need.
John 1:4 says,
“In him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men”.
That is the hope we could have in Jesus. That is why Jesus can change people. Because Jesus gives us hope.
Isaiah 9:6 says,
“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”.
Our Almighty God can change people and change their lives. As the old Chinese saying goes, “It is easier to remove the mountains than to change people’s hearts. （江山易改本性难移）” But Jesus changes people because He is the Mighty King.
Our Lord says,
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” (John14:6)
Brothers and sisters, people of this world, people who belong to this world, people who love this world, tend to buy hopes, tend to dream hopes, and tend to manufacture hopes. But we, as Christians, do not have to do that. We do not have to buy, to purchase, to manufacture or to dream of hopes. Instead, it is in Jesus that we can find hope for free. What we can expect from Jesus and in Jesus, first of all, eternal life, and abundant life.
2. Jesus is the light of life
The second point is the Light. John1:4 says,
“In Jesus was life, and that life was light (of all mankind).”
What light is that! That light can bring us the understanding of the Word of God, which can lead us into the presence of our Heavenly Father, and that bright light can lead us into the understanding of the teaching of Jesus so that we can worship God, because He is the Only One that is worthy of worship. And that light can bring us to wisdom, with that wisdom we can know how to preach the gospel in this world and to glorify the name (of Jesus) and to come to the presence of the table of our Heavenly Father.
You see, the second gift and the second hope we have in Jesus is already there. It is given to us for free. You do not have to purchase or dream of it. It is there; that is light.
In John 4, there was a Samaritan woman. Jesus met her at the Well of Jacob. Before this woman met Jesus, she had a miserable life as well. Jesus told her, “You have had five husbands. (John 4:18a)”
You know what kind of messy life is that? She had got five husbands! Unbelievable!
“And the man you now have is not your husband. (John 4:18b)”
Maybe he was somebody else’s husband. She might be a “小三”(paramour)。 “Why the husband you have is not yours?”
But Jesus knew all the details of her life, and that truly amazed her. When Jesus was speaking to her, when the light of the Lord was shining upon this lady, she gradually, little by little, understood that Jesus was the coming Messiah, Jesus was Lord, Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus was Christ.
But in order to know more, in order to strengthen her power in knowing that person who was standing in front of her was the Lord, was the Christ, she asked another question,
“Lord, our fathers told us that we should worship on this mountain, but you Jews said you should worship in Jerusalem. Where should I go to worship God?” (John 4:20)
And Jesus said,
“A time is coming, and now is the time, you will not worship neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…. True worshippers worship the Lord in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21, 23)
Wow, this lady was so moved, because the answer from Jesus was different from the teaching she used to get. She knew the person who was standing in front of her and speaking to her was the Lord. So she rushed into the village where she did not go in the past, because she was despised and looked down in that village because she was sinner. She did not care what people would say about her; she was running there and sharing the light of God.
Brothers and sisters, when the light of the Lord Jesus Christ shined upon the woman, her life was changed. She came to know and understand the Word of God.
Zacchaeus again, he was on the tree. And Jesus said to him, “Come down from there and tonight I will stay at your home. Today, I must stay at your home even though you are a sinner, you exploit people, and oppress people, I want you to be saved. I do not care what you have done in the past. What I care about is now you must be changed. I am the light of life, now this light is shinning upon you and you must be changed.”
Zacchaeus was changed from a son of hell, a son of the infernal into a son of light. Why? Because Isaiah 9:6 says,
“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, (Jesus is Wonderful Counselor, in him we have hope, and he is Mighty King (God)), Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
And from then on, Zacchaeus could have peace with himself, peace with people whom he used to exploit and oppress; he could be friends with them, because Jesus is the Prince of Peace.
When Peter came to Jesus and asked,
“How many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Seven times? Is it enough to forgive him?” (Matthew 18:21)
Jesus said to him,
“Seventy-seven times you should forgive the person who is sinning against you.” (Matthew 18:22)
What does Jesus mean that? “You should forgive people forever.” We as Christians should not be enslaved by grudge, by anger, by hostility, by hatred or by enmity. Instead our heart should be filled with love and kindness, that we can really show the glory and the love of the Lord our God to people whom we are meeting with.
In Chinese there is another saying, “I can forgive a person once, even twice, but never thrice.(再一再二，沒有再三再四)” But our God tells us, “You should forgive people forever.”
Because Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. And that is the light that is shining upon you, upon me, upon everyone who is listening to His teaching. Brothers and sisters, people of this world, who love this world, who are in this world, tend to buy hope, tend to manufacture hope and to dream hope. But we Christians do not have to, because of Jesus Christ that we can have faith in Him.
3. Jesus makes us children of God
What we can expect from Him, in Him and through Him? We can expect eternity and abundant life in Him. And we can expect light that can bring the understanding of the Word, teaching and wisdom. We can expect another thing, the third kind of hope in Jesus, which is for us to become children of God. I can tell and assure you, it is much better to be God’s children than to be my children. There are so many benefits with being God’s children. Because if you are God’s children, He will come along side you, He will protect you, and He will be with you any time. He will be with you whenever you are in trouble. You see, we want this kind of protector; we want this kind of people, who can guide us and help us, and be around us to safeguard us.
Psalm 23 shows us the benefits of being God’s children.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall never be in want.” (verse 1)
You see, “never be in want”, our Father could provide us with everything we would ever need. Do you want this kind of father? A few days ago, I was reading a piece of newspaper, on which it talked about a young boy who wanted to have an iPhone. But the iPhone was so expensive that he could not afford it. You know what he did? He sold one of his kidneys because his father did not give the money to him. But you see, our Father, our shepherd, if we are with Him, we shall not be in want.
“He makes me lie down on green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters.” (verse 2)
You see, over the years, my wife has been complaining, “You are always busy; you never had time for me.” In retrospect, indeed, I had never laid down on green pastures with my wife, I am so sorry to her and for her. (Where is my wife? I think she is shy….)
All the years my wife has been complaining that I do not have enough time for her. I just could not remember a time when I led my wife beside the quiet waters. But our Lord always makes us lie down on green pastures, and leads us beside quiet waters.
“3 He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.” (verses 3-6)
What kind of hope we have in Jesus! We have hope in Jesus because in Jesus we have life, abundance in this lifetime, and eternity; and light, which could bring us the understanding of the Word of God, the teaching of Jesus and the wisdom to follow Him. And also, if we receive this life, God promises us we will be given the right to become the children of God. It is so good to be children of God.
So let’s not buy hope, purchase it, dream of it or manufacture it. Instead, let’s altogether come into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, come inside of Jesus, into the hope that is given to us for free. Amen!
Transcribed by Esther, Emily, Feel and Franz and edited by Liu Laoshi with grace and help from the Lord Jesus.