Topic: Source of Hope
HYMN: ALL HAIL THE POWER OF JESUS’ NAME”
Text: Psalm 146
Memorize: Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.
Scripture Reading — Rom. 15:4; Lam. 3:24; Psalm 119:114; Rom. 5:5; Titus 2:13;
What do you mean when you say “I hope so”? If you are a believer, hope is not just hope for its own sake, but hope in something and hope in someone. We are invited to hope neither by our own strength nor by the strength of anything in the world around us. Rather, we are invited to hope by the character of God. God makes and keeps promises, which means we can have hope for the future because of the Lord our God.
Psalm 146 points out the futility of trusting in earthly rulers and other leaders. Although we might like to put our hope in princes of industry or in political leaders or in our own good efforts, this psalm makes clear that all those things will fade away. Even our most respected human heroes have their limits. The only true, remaining source of hope is the Lord God. As we focus on hope this month, God will provide us with the strength and resources to hope on Him.
Unlike the princes of ancient Israel and many political leaders today, the Lord cares for more than just the wealthy and powerful. The Lord makes promises in Psalm 146 to people who are oppressed, hungry, imprisoned, and blind.
No matter who you are or how hopeless you may feel at times, God is the one true source of hope. In times of despair, look to him as your help for today and your hope for tomorrow.
Lord, our only source of hope, forgive us for trusting in other things. Help us to put our trust in you for the challenges of the present and the uncertainty of the future. Amen
Topic: Need for Hope
HYMN: I STAND AMAZED IN THE PRESENCE
Text: Genesis 3:8-15
Memorize: The man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God . . . and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. — Genesis 3:8
Scripture Reading — John 16:33;Isaiah 41:10;Deuteronomy 31:6;Psalm 9:9-10;Joshua 1:9
There are many good things about this world, because it was created by God. But there is also something wrong with this world. We can tell there is something wrong when we look around us and see disease, war, and famine. We can also tell there is something wrong when we look inside ourselves. Our own consciences tell us that something is wrong, that we are not living the way we were meant to live.
Genesis 3 describes this situation. God had created Adam and Eve as a good part of his good creation. But they were disobedient to God, and they tried to hide from the Lord in shame. Adam and Eve were in what seemed like a hopeless situation.
But even in this story of sin and seeming hopelessness, we find glimpses of the hope that God gives to human beings. Adam and Eve could not hide from God.
God called out to them because he loved them so much and wanted to seek them out. Then God promised to give them victory over the evil that seemed to overwhelm them.
We still live in this world of sin and evil, but we can have hope in the God who seeks us out, forgives our sin, and promises to overcome evil.
Creator God, we confess that we have fallen away from your good intentions for the world. Forgive us, and give us hope in the new creation you have promised. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Topic: Rewards of Hope
HYMN: O GOD, OUR HELP IN AGES PAST
Text: Psalm 126
Memorize: Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. — Psalm 126:6
Scripture Readings: Colossians 3:23-24; Daniel 12:3; Matthew 25:28-29; Matthew 19:29;
Luke 18:28-30; 2 Timothy 4:7-8
In Psalm 126, a metaphor from farming is used to describe our lives of hope in the Lord. The psalm says, “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.”
After sowing with tears, a farmer might well despair of seeing any harvest at all, let alone a joyful harvest. But in the metaphor of this psalm, the sowers return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves of grain.
In our lives, we sometimes feel as if we are sowing with tears. We weep for ourselves, or for our families, or for our world. And yet God assures us that because he sent Jesus into the world, we will reap with songs of joy. Our hope in Jesus Christ is that God has been faithful to his promises to save his people. Our tears can turn into songs of joy because of our hope of salvation through God’s love for us in Christ. “We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.”
God of promise, we lament the things in our own lives or in the lives of others that cause tears and pain. We cling to your promise of a future filled with joy. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Topic: God’s name gives Hope
HYMN: AMAZING GRACE! HOW SWEET THE SOUND
Text: Jeremiah 14:7-9
Memorize: Although our sins testify against us, do something, Lord, for the sake of your name.
— Jeremiah 14:7
Scripture Reading: Psalm 9:10; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Jeremiah 17:7-8; Hebrews 13:5;Isaiah 26:3-4
What can we count on? Is there anything in this world that we can really be sure of?
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” That may seem like a pessimistic way of looking at the world, but sometimes it also feels true. Sometimes the people we trust betray us. Sometimes we lose things we rely on, like a job or good housing. Sometimes we even fail ourselves.
We cannot rely on our own goodness. Our sins make us unreliable too, just like many other things in our lives. We let others down, and we let ourselves down. But in the midst of all this uncertainty, as word of God reminds us, God has a reputation of being reliably loving and faithful.
God has made a name for himself that is a source of hope to us. God’s name is not just a name. God’s name is about his identity and character. God is reliable, forgiving, and steadfast in his love.
God’s identity is the one thing we can count on in this uncertain world. God’s promises are sure, and that gives us hope. Death and taxes might still be certain, but God’s faithfulness is the most certain thing of all.
Do you hope in the reliability of your God and Savior?
God of hope, give us hope, because we know you have a reputation of faithfulness and love. Thank you for being the God we can count on. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Topic: Reason to Hope
HYMN: MY DWELLING PLACE IS GOD MOST HIGH
Text: Lamentations 3:19-24
Memorize: Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. — Lamentations 3:21-22
Scripture Reading: Psalm 28:7; Psalm 32:10; Proverbs 28:25; 2 Corinthians 3:12-14;
1 Peter 1:13
Hope is a Christian virtue. It’s a good and positive thing. We need hope because the world is not yet the way God intends it to be. We need hope because we are waiting for things to get better. Hope means believing in the light even when we are in the darkness. Or, as Wendell Berry put it in his poem “Manifesto: Mad Farmer Liberation Front”: “Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.” Hope opens us to have joy whatever the facts may be.
The facts around us show that the world can be a scary place. But Christian hope is bold to say that even in the darkest times, God’s light still shines. Even when we are afraid, God remains in control of the universe, and he loves and cares for us more than we can imagine.
To those who do not know the Lord, hope might seem like a crazy virtue. If we consider the facts, we could be frightened about our lives and our world.
But because of the great love God has for us, we have reason for hope. We have reason to believe that we are safe in the care of a faithful and powerful God. We can boldly hope in God and in the promises God makes to us.
Faithful God, thank you for giving us reason to hope, even when our lives are difficult and the world seems like a scary place. Thank you for being true to your promises. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Topic: Sure Hope
HYMN: A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD
Text: Romans 5:1-5
Memorize: Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. — Romans 5:5
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 26:3; Isaiah 33:6; Jeremiah 29:11; Proverbs 23:18; Psalm 11:3
The bible said that even Abraham, who was considered a God-fearing and good man, was praiseworthy not because he was so good but because he believed God.
If you go read the story of Abraham in Genesis, you will find quite a few examples of Abraham making mistakes and committing sins. For example, twice he lied and told someone that his wife, Sarah, was his sister (Genesis 12 and 20). He was a good man in many ways, but he was an ordinary, flawed person, like anyone else.
The great thing about Abraham was not anything about Abraham himself; it was that he put his trust and hope in God. Abraham believed God’s promises, and he put his hope in God’s being true to his promises.
The same is true for us today. If we hope in our own power or our own goodness or strength, we will be disappointed. In ourselves, we do not have enough goodness to give us hope for the future. But faith in God, given to us by the Holy Spirit, is a sure source of hope.
Do you have that hope?
Dear God, we praise you because you are true to your promises, and we thank you that you are the true source of hope. Help us, by your Holy Spirit, to put our hope in you. Amen
Topic: Wakeful Hope
HYMN: BE STILL, MY SOUL! FOR GOD IS ON YOUR SIDE
Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Memorize: Since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. — 1 Thessalonians 5:8
Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6; Isaiah 60:1; Revelation 3:2-3;Ephesians 5:14; Isaiah 35:3-6; 1 Corinthians 15:34
Christians hope for the day when Christ will come again, as he promised. Many people try to guess the time of Christ’s return. The year 2000 was a popular guess. A radio preacher also guessed that the world would end on May 21, 2011. When that didn’t happen, he revised his guess to October 21, 2011. Today, many years later, his predictions still have not come true.
The truth about Christ’s second coming is that we cannot predict when it will be. Today’s verses tell us, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” Jesus himself said, “About that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32). We shouldn’t worry too much about the precise timing. What’s most important is that Jesus’s second coming is good news for believers because God has promised that he will make everything new and whole at that time.
The Bible encourages us to live in wakeful hope as we look forward to the day when Christ will come again. And as we wait, we are invited to begin living already in the ways of heaven, as the Holy Spirit helps us. The second coming is not scary for Christians; it’s something we look forward to with hope.
Dear Jesus, we look forward to the day when you will come again. Thank you for the hope we have because of your gift of salvation. Amen.
Topic: Dawn of Hope
HYMN: THERE IS A HOPE THAT BURNS WITHIN MY HEART
Text: Romans 13:11-14
Memorize: The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. — Romans 13:12
Scripture Reading: 1 Cor 10:11; Eph 5:8; Eph 5:11; Eph 6:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:8
We do not know when Jesus will return. But we know we will die one day and when we died it will call for judgment on how we lived our lives here on earth, this call for dawn of hope in our lives, to start a race of hope for eternity.
We do not know when we will begin our heaven life with Jesus. But we do know that heavenly life with Jesus is how our story can end. Because of his death and resurrection, we know that the story of this world will end with the victory of good over evil. Since that is the end of the story as we know it, the Bible encourages us to live with that confident hope in mind. We are called to live as Jesus desires us to live. That is difficult sometimes, but we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live in that way because we know that Jesus will return and that all creation will be restored.
This is our last lap, in a way. Though we may be tired, we can still run quickly because the glorious finish line is just ahead of us.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus. We trust that you will come soon, as you have promised. Help us to live in the light of your coming kingdom. Help us to follow you in hope. Amen.
Topic: The Anchor of Hope
HYMN: ABIDE WITH ME
Text: Hebrews 6:13-20
Memorize: We who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. — Hebrews 6:18-19
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 33:6;Proverbs 23:18;Psalm 61:2; 1 Peter 5:6-10;Psalm 33:18-22
SONG: WHAT CAN WASH AWAY MY SIN?
The writer of Hebrews uses the image of an anchor to describe the confident hope we can have in God. When a boat is in open water, away from a dock, nothing can keep it in place but an anchor. The anchor keeps the boat from drifting off in any direction. No wonder Hebrews calls hope “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” That is what an anchor is for a boat, and that is what hope is for our souls.
Hebrews 6 tells us about two people who assure us that hope in God is an anchor for the soul. The first is Abraham. God promised Abraham land and descendants. Even though those promises were threatened many times during Abraham’s life, Abraham hoped in the anchor of God’s promises, and those promises eventually were fulfilled. The second person is Jesus, “our forerunner.” Jesus ran ahead of us. He ran the race of human life. He ran through death, and he returned victorious to life, rising from the dead. Following in his footsteps gives us an anchor for our souls. Because he lived, died, and rose, we have hope that God will also give us new life after death.
When the waters of life get rough, or when we can’t see the shore, let our hope in Jesus be the anchor for our souls.
Faithful God, we often feel like a boat that is far from shore. At those times, and at every time, give us the sure anchor of hope in you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Topic: Living Hope
HYMN: IT IS WELL, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL
Text: 1 Peter 1:3-9
Memorize: In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. — 1 Peter 1:3
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 1:1-25; Romans 12:12;Romans 15:13; Titus 3:7; Colossians 1:27
Most often we celebrate our birthday, we can also think about the other end of the life spectrum, remembering that we will eventually die.
This is a frightening thought to many people, so we often try to avoid even saying the word death. Instead we often say that someone “passed away.”
But for Christians, death does not have to be frightening, because it does not get the last word. We might be frightened of the pain that can come before death, and we may grieve the deaths of our loved ones while we are still living. But death itself does not have to be frightening, because we have hope in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
When God raised Jesus from the dead, he promised that we too will be raised from death to eternal life. We have hope that even though our earthly lives will end, our lives with the Lord will never end.
Some Christian traditions refer to a funeral as “a service of witness to the resurrection.” That is a good reminder of the hope that Christians have in the face of death. Death does not have the last word; God does, and his Word is life!
God of life, thank you that in the resurrection of Jesus you have promised us the gift of eternal life with you. Give us hope in the face of death. In the name of our resurrected Lord we pray. Amen.
Topic: Mysterious Hope
HYMN: THERE IS A HOPE THAT BURNS WITHIN MY HEART
Text: 1 John 3:1-3
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him. — 1 John 3:2
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 1:18; Isaiah 40:31; Philippians 1:6
In a Bible study some people had a discussion about heaven. What will it be like? What will we be like when we are there? The answers to these questions were as varied as the people in the room. Some of the musicians in the room said that we will sing praise to God all the time. One woman who was very active said that she couldn’t imagine standing still all day long in order to sing. In the end, we don’t know exactly what heaven will be like, or what we will be like when Jesus returns to live with us in a new heaven and earth. We can imagine it, but the Bible doesn’t give many details about the life to come.
As 1 John 3:2 puts it, “What we will be has not yet been made known.” We will only know when the time comes—and not before then.
But the Bible does tell us clearly about something that is much more important than those details. It says that “when Christ appears, we shall be like him.”
Because of God’s love for us in Christ, we will actually become like Christ. That will allow us to enjoy communion with God.
Until then, we are already children of God, loved by him and called his own.
God our Father, thank you for calling us your children. Make us like Christ when he appears, so that we can be with you forever. Give us patience as we wait on this mysterious hope. Amen.
Topic: Unswerving Hope
HYMN: IMMORTAL, INVISIBLE, GOD ONLY WISE
Text: Hebrews 10:19-25
Memorize: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. — Hebrews 10:23
Scripture Reading: Psalm 130:5; Psalm 146:5-10; Jeremiah 14:22; Romans 12:9-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
The book of Hebrews tells us how Jesus Christ makes possible a loving relationship between the holy God and his unholy people. Jesus has actually become our perfect priest, having made a sacrifice of himself in order that all God’s people might be united with him. In today’s verses the writer turns to talk about our response to God’s gracious love in Christ. If God has done all this for us, how should we live?
One way is to live in hope—unswerving hope. But even here, as the writer turns to talk about what we should do, it’s clear that unswerving hope is possible only because of the faithfulness of God. It is possible to hope in the promises of God because God keeps his promises. It is possible to hold unswervingly to the hope we profess because God, who promised the things we hope for, is faithful to keep those promises.
The writer of Hebrews also counsels his readers to continue meeting together regularly and encouraging each other. Worshiping or gathering with other Christians is an important way to hold unswervingly to the hope we profess. Other Christians are a valuable gift from God to encourage us in hope.
Do you meet regularly with other believers? If you don’t, I urge you to find a Bible-believing church where you can be encouraged in your faith.
Holy God, help us to stay true to the hope you have given us in Jesus Christ. Surround us with other Christians who will encourage us in this life of hope. Amen.
Topic: Hope in the Unseen
HYMN: WHEN WE WALK WITH THE LORD
Text: Romans 8:22-27
Memorize: The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. — Romans 8:26
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 1:3; Job 13:15; Zephaniah 3:17; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; Romans 8:24
One of the ways Jesus taught his disciples to pray was to ask God the Father, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). This is often a difficult prayer for us to pray honestly. How can I pray for God’s kingdom to come when it is a kingdom without selfishness and I tend to be a selfish person? God’s will is different from my will, and it is easier for me to pray that my own will be done than for God’s will to be done.
A person might hope and pray to get a new job that pays a lot of money. But God’s will might be that he get a lower-paying job that will help him grow in dependence on God.
That’s why we can be thankful for this promise: “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” God the Holy Spirit wants what is best for us and for God’s kingdom. The Spirit is praying for us, interceding for us in ways that human language cannot even express. God knows what we need, and God cares for us, providing what is best for us. Even when it is hard to pray, we can trust that the Spirit is praying on our behalf. We can live in the hope that God, by his Spirit, will work out his perfect will for our lives.
Holy Spirit, pray for us. We do not have the words we need, but we trust that you know everything we need. Your kingdom come, O Lord, and your will be done. Amen.
Topic: Hope of the World
HYMN: CHRIST THE SURE AND STEADY ANCHOR
Text: Romans 15:7-13
Memorize: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope. — Romans 15:13
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:15; Philippians 2:10; John 6:53; Luke 10:25-37
We get along well with people who have a lot in common with us or who are similar to us. But what about those who are in other groups, those who are different, those who make us uncomfortable, or even those who are our enemies? We’d rather stay away from them. We may even imagine that God doesn’t love those people as much as he loves us.
Thankfully, God’s ability to love is much broader than ours. God promised the people of Israel that they were his people and that he would love them. In Jesus Christ, God broadened and extended that love to people of all nations. Now the Gentiles, people who are not from the line of Israel, can have hope in the promises of God too.
I am a Gentile. I am so thankful that because of Jesus, God has included me in the love he has for his people. Paul reminds us that this broad love of God empowers us to love all who are different from us. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
Even when it doesn’t come naturally, I pray that God will strengthen me to love people who are different from me. I pray that for you as well. After all, that’s the kind of love God has for me, and that’s what gives hope to us all.
God of all nations, thank you for offering salvation to all people around the world. Give me grace to love all who are different from me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Topic: Hope in Life and Death
HYMN: TIS SO SWEET TO TRUST IN JESUS
Text: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Memorize: And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. — 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18
Scripture Reading: Revelation 21:4; 1 Corinthians 15:42-44; Jeremiah 29:11; 1 Thes 4:13; 2 Corinthians 5:8
In Advent we await Christ’s return. After he rose from the dead, Jesus ascended to heaven. As he did, his disciples were promised that he would come back again (Acts 1:11).
The first Christians had hope in the fact that even though life was hard and they were often persecuted for their faith, Jesus would return to the earth to make everything right.
As they waited through the years for Jesus to come again, some of their fellow Christians died. They wondered, “What about my loved ones who died before Jesus’ return? Will they be a part of the new life in Christ too?” They worried about their friends who had died before Jesus’ coming again.
In 1 Thessalonians, we are assured that Jesus’ second coming and his loving restoration of creation is both for those who are living and for those who have already died.
We do not know exactly what it will look like when Jesus comes again, but we have the assurance that all who are in Christ will be with him, whether they live or die. Christians “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” Instead, the second coming of Jesus gives us great hope that, whether we live or die, “we will be with the Lord forever.”
Coming Lord, we await your return with great hope. Thank you for the assurance that all who are in Christ will be with you forever. Grant comfort and hopeful assurance to those who grieve. Amen
Topic: Certain Hope
HYMN: WHEN I FEAR MY FAITH WILL FAIL
Text: Jeremiah 33:14-22
The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. — Jeremiah 33:14
Scripture Reading: Romans 15:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; Philippians 1:20; 1 Timothy 6:17
But at sometimes we may feel that cheer is something on the surface, even something false, while underneath we feel sad or empty.
The prophet Jeremiah was in captivity in the courtyard of the king’s guard when he spoke the words of our text for today. He was not a “Christmas cheer” kind of prophet; he spoke the sad truth about the world and about people’s sin. But Jeremiah did have words of hope for the people of Israel and Judah. He said that God was going to keep his promises. He said that God’s promise-keeping was as certain as the sun rising every morning and setting every night.
For us today, Jeremiah offers something better than Christmas cheer. He offers Advent hope. He offers the assurance that God will keep all his promises.
As we wait for the second coming of Christ, we wait with joy and hope, which are deeper. We wait, knowing that God will certainly keep his promises to save and renew us.
Lord our God, we thank you for the assurance that you always keep your promises. Give us hope as we wait for all your promises to be fulfilled. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Topic: Longing Hope
HYMN: A SAFE STRONGHOLD OUR GOD IS STILL
Text: Psalm 42
Memorize: Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. — Psalm 42:5
Scripture: Reading: 1 Peter 3:15; Romans 15:13; Psalm 119:74; Titus 2:13; 1 Thess 4:13
One way to describe our sin and our life in a sinful world is to say that we are thirsty. We thirst after God. We were created for communion with God, but because of sin we thirst for God. Psalm 42 says this poetically: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”
The psalmist remembers times when God has been faithful to him in the past. Those memories give him hope for the future. He trusts that God will quench his thirst.
We can have confident hope that God will make everything right. But the psalmist also lets us know that we can cry out to God with our longings and our pain. This can be a model for honest prayer, even for telling God about the ways we are disappointed or angry with him. God wants us to pray honestly, and God delights to hear our prayers.
A prayer like this psalm is not a sign of weak faith. In fact, it is a sign of strong faith. Psalm 42 is a prayer trusting that God cares for us in our weakness and forgives our sins. We can cry out to God with longing hope, praying that he will quench our thirst and knowing that he is near.
Dear God, we long for you as the deer longs for streams of water. We thirst for you. Draw us near to you and quench our thirst. We put our hope and trust in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Topic: Patient Hope
HYMN: PRAISE, MY SOUL, THE KING OF HEAVEN
Text: James 5:7-10
Memorize: Be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. — James 5:8
Scripture: Reading: Romans 12:12; Isaiah 40:31; 1 Thess 5:14; James 5:7-8; Hebrews 6:12
When a person is hungry, it is hard to be patient for the next meal. When you are feeling the burden of a long to-do list, it is hard to be patient with people who hold you up or take extra time.
These are just small things to be patient about. What about adoptive parents waiting for a child, or a prisoner waiting to be released, or citizens in a war zone waiting for the conflict to end? In these situations, patience might seem almost impossible.
James calls us to be patient as we wait for the Lord’s coming kingdom. In the book of James, patience does not imply an absence of eager longing. Patience doesn’t mean that we don’t want the Lord’s kingdom to come very soon. Instead, according to James, it means that we “stand firm” and that we “don’t grumble against one another.” He compares patience to a farmer planting a crop and waiting for the seasonal rains to come.
Patient hope means that we long and pray for God’s kingdom, while at the same time we live with courage and compassion in a world that is still waiting for God’s kingdom to come fully. May we live in such patient hope.
God of compassion and mercy, may your kingdom come soon. As we wait with eager longing, give us patience to stand firm with courage and compassion. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Topic: Daily Hope
HYMN: A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD
Text: 2 Peter 3:8-15
Memorize: You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. — 2 Peter 3:11-12
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Isaiah 43:2; Psalm 33:18;James 1:2-4; Hebrews 10:23
I have a wise friend who asks, “How would I spend my time today if I knew that I were going to die tomorrow?”
He answers the question by saying he would live a rather ordinary day. He would go to work, eat dinner at home with his wife, and take a walk around his neighborhood. The end of his life would not be an occasion for bucket-list adventures or wild parties, but an occasion to relish the ordinary gifts of God and live in obedience to God’s daily call.
I don’t know if I’m wise or mature enough yet to answer that question the same way, but it is my prayer that I will grow into answering that question as my friend has done.
Every day of our lives is lived in the light of God’s coming. Even if we are going to live for many more years, we are called to the same kind of obedience and gratitude as if today were our last day on earth.
God knows the day of your death. He holds the big picture of your life and death in his hands, and he promises to care for you. Your part is to follow the Lord in daily obedience and confident hope. You can do this in gratitude for his provision for all of your days.
God, you hold our life and death in your hands, and you promise to care for us. Thank you for the hope we can have in you. Give us the wisdom to live in obedience and gratitude each day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen
Topic: Hope for Restoration
HYMN: SHALL WE ALL MEET AT HOME IN THE MORNING
Text: Zephaniah 3:14-20
Memorize: The Lord your God . . . will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. — Zephaniah 3:17
Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:6-7; Acts 3:19-21; John 14:27; Zechariah 9:12; Job 42:10
Because of the wrong that we do, God would be right to rebuke us. God would be right to punish us for our sin. But in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God offers us salvation instead. These words from the prophet Zephaniah point to the hope of salvation we have in Jesus. They point to the way God restores us in Jesus. Instead of rebuking us, Zephaniah says, the Lord rejoices over us with singing. Like a mother singing a lullaby to her baby, or like the winner of a contest singing a victory song, God rejoices over us with singing.
The birth of Jesus is God’s greatest love song for his people. In Advent we sing a song of hope because of this love song from God. We sing a song of hope because of the restoration God brings to us in Jesus.
Lord, we deserve your rebuke for the wrong we have done. Thank you for responding instead with a song of rejoicing over us. Give us hope because of your love for us in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Topic: Hope for Peace
HYMN: MY HOPE IS BUILT ON NOTHING LESS
Text: Isaiah 2:1-5
Memorize: They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. — Isaiah 2:4
Scripture Reading: Romans 15:13; Isaiah 26:3; 1 Peter 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:16;
Those who follow Jesus hope for peace. The prophet Isaiah promises a Savior called the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), and Jesus is called “our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). Different groups of people within the Christian church have held different views about war, peace, and the role of government in our world. Some Christians believe that war is never the right choice, while others believe that sometimes there can be a just war. But not everyone agrees on what makes a war “just.” What all followers of Jesus do agree on, however, is that war is tragic. War is not the way in which God means for people to engage with each other. Though it might be necessary at times, war is not a part of God’s good plan for creation.
We can give thanks for the hope we hear in Isaiah 2 about God’s peaceful kingdom. These words paint an interesting picture of weapons that have been turned into farming implements because they are no longer needed for war.
This is a picture of hope even in times of war. Weapons are still used for violent purposes, but one day they will have no purpose other than for growing good crops for food. We pray that God will grant us wisdom now as we engage in the realities of war, and that God will grant us hope as we long for a future of peace.
Prince of Peace, we lament that war is still a reality in our world, and we pray that your peace will reign everywhere soon. In your name, Amen.
Topic: Hope for Completion
HYMN: OH, GLORIOUS HOPE OF PERFECT LOVE
Text: Philippians 1:3-11
Memorize: He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. — Philippians 1:6
Scripture Reading: Romans 5:3-5; Psalm 46:1-3; Lamentations 3:21-23; Isaiah 40:31
Some Christians can point to a single moment of conversion, a moment when they accepted Jesus into their heart and began to follow him. Other Christians grew to know Jesus so gradually that it is hard for them to point to just one moment of conversion. They talk about experiencing several different moments of conversion instead, or a lifelong process of conversion.
No matter how one’s Christian faith began, it is never finished at that moment. Following Jesus is a lifelong process. When the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians church, he prayed that their love would abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. When the Philippians first became Christians, they began to love God and their neighbors, but they still had much more growing to do. And so do we.
The process of Christian growth should not be daunting or intimidating. God has promised to generate the growth within us. Even the process of growth comes to us as a gracious gift from God.
Our growth and progress as Christians will not reach completion in this life. No matter how mature we are, we can still grow more in Christ likeness and in love. But God promises that our love will continue to grow, and that when Christ comes again it will be complete.
Dear God, we praise you for the lifelong process of growth that you work in us by your Holy Spirit. Give us patient endurance as we grow to be more like you. Amen.
Topic: Future Hope
HYMN: THERE’S A LAND THAT IS FAIRER THAN DAY
Text: Jeremiah 29:10-14
Memorize: I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. — Jeremiah 29:11
Scripture Reading: Acts 3:21; Isaiah 38:18; 1 Peter 1:23; Hebrews 6:18-19; 1 Timothy 4:10; 1 Timothy 3:16
I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. — Jeremiah 29:11
This verse could be printed inside a graduation card. It sounds encouraging and positive about the future. We might imagine that these words could be used to give encouragement to someone who has accomplished great things and is on their way to even greater things.
But the Lord was speaking through the prophet to people who were in exile. What’s more, they had just heard the news that they would be in exile for many more years before they could return to their homeland. These were not people who had accomplished great things, and they were not people who were feeling positive about their future. They were probably feeling quite discouraged about the exile and about their dim prospects for the future.
To these people—and to us today—God does not promise health and wealth and a great personal life. Instead he promises something so much deeper and better: God promises that he is saving the whole world and that we can be included in that salvation. Our hope for the future rests not in our own selves but in his power and love. In our own exile of sin, God gives us not just a graduation card but certain hope for a future held in his care.
God of the past, present, and future, we entrust ourselves to your care. We trust that in times of joy and in times of sorrow, our hope is in you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Topic: Promised Hope
HYMN: WHEN THE TRUMPET OF THE LORD SHALL SOUND
Text: Isaiah 9:2-7
Memorize: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. — Isaiah 9:2
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Jeremiah 17:7; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Romans 8:25
The prophet Isaiah tells us why the birth of Jesus is such great news for the world. This good news comes to people who were “walking in darkness.” But now those same people “have seen a great light.”
In the prophecy of Isaiah, darkness and light are used to represent sin and salvation. Without Christ, we are lost in the darkness of sin. But because of the birth of Jesus, we have hope in God’s light, his victory over sin and death. God promises us salvation in Jesus.
In our world and in our lives, it can sometimes feel as though the darkness is overwhelming. It can seem as though sadness and sin have the upper hand, while the light of goodness and joy are hidden in shadow.
But God’s Word promises us that light is coming to the world in Jesus. Isaiah promises a Savior who will rule the world. “He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.” His reign will bring peace and joy to the world. “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.”
Jesus rules the whole world, and his rule is one of peace. That news is light for a darkened world.
God of promise, we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus tomorrow. We thank you for the light of hope you have given us in him. In his holy name we pray. Amen.
Topic: Hope Fulfilled
HYMN: I LOVE TO TELL THE STORY OF UNSEEN THINGS ABOVE
Text: Luke 2:8-20
Memorize: Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
— Luke 2:11
Scripture Reading: Psalm 39:7; Proverbs 13:12; 1 Peter 1:3; Micah 5:2; Proverbs 23:18; Romans 15:13
When Jesus was born, a great company of angels announced his birth. He was the Son of God, after all—he deserved a grand entrance into the world. They sang a glorious song, and they must have looked amazing as they shone in the night sky.
But the angels announced the Savior’s birth to a group of peasant shepherds. They were not a very grand audience to receive the King of all nations, “the Messiah, the Lord.” Nevertheless, the birth of Jesus was announced to lowly shepherds.
It’s fitting that the birth of Jesus was announced to a lowly group of people. The purpose of the Messiah’s coming was to bring God’s love to lowly people like us and to fulfill the hopes and dreams of lowly people like us. The purpose of Jesus’ coming was to restore lowly people like us to relationship with God. So the shepherds were just the right kind of people to hear this news.
The world desperately needs God. We desperately need God. But no matter how hard we try, we cannot get to God on our own merit..
Dear God, with the angels, we give you glory and praise. With the shepherds, we thank you that by your grace you have come to lowly people like us in the birth of Jesus. Amen
Topic: Light of Hope
HYMN: SOFTLY AND TENDERLY JESUS IS CALLING
Text: John 1:1-14
Memorize: In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. — John 1:4-5
Scripture Reading: Titus 1:1-2; Proverbs 13:12; Romans 4:18; John 8:12; Zechariah 9:12
We rejoice that God loved the world enough to send his only Son. We join our voices with the angels and the shepherds and with Christians throughout the centuries who have sung praise to God for the wonderful gift of Jesus
John describes Jesus he says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John talks about the great good news of Jesus’ birth, saying, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”
But after sharing the good news of this light, John does not pretend that the darkness is completely gone. There is still darkness in the world. It’s not literal darkness, but the darkness of sin and despair.
The truly good news in John’s message, then, is that the light that has come into the world in Jesus is stronger than the darkness. The darkness cannot overcome the light that has come into the world in Jesus.
What wonderful hope this gives us! The light of God’s love for the world in Jesus is so strong that nothing can take away its power.
God of light, give us hope in the power of Christ, whose light is so powerful that no darkness can overcome it. Thank you for the amazing gift of Jesus’ birth. Amen
Topic: Dawn of Hope
HYMN: JUST AS I AM, WITHOUT ONE PLEA
Text: Luke 1:68-79
Memorize: The rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death. — Luke 1:78-79
Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 17:7; Psalm 147:11; Psalm 71:5; Titus 3:7; Philippians 3:13-14; Romans 8:24-25
John the Baptist pointed the way to Jesus. When John was an adult, he told people about Jesus and the salvation that Jesus would bring for them. When John was just a baby, his father Zechariah sang a song of praise to God. Zechariah sang because knew that when John grew up, John would point the way to Jesus. Zechariah was thankful for God’s gift of salvation in Jesus.
Zechariah’s song of praise is recorded in our Scripture reading for today. Zechariah sings of the God who fulfills his promises. Jesus had not even been born yet when Zechariah sang, but Zechariah was sure of the promises of God. He sang praise to God already for the saving work God would do in Jesus.
As in other places in the Bible, this song compares salvation to a light shining in the darkness. After the long night of sin, Zechariah rejoiced that the morning dawn of forgiveness and salvation had come in Jesus.
Our suffering and sin sometimes seem like a night that will never end, but Jesus is like the rising sun that comes in the morning and drives out the darkness. Our lives now are lived in the light of his love. Because of that wonderful hope, the light of Christ can “guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Lord, we praise you for the light of Christ that has come into the world. By his light, guide our feet into the path of peace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Topic: Loving Hope
HYMN: BE GLAD IN THE LORD AND REJOICE
Text: 1 John 4:7-12
Memorize: This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. — 1 John 4:9
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 6:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; Romans 8:28; Psalm 42:11;
1 John 4:16; 1 Peter 4:8
The book of 1 John in the Bible makes clear that God’s love is what empowers us and enlivens us to love others. John says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God,” and, “Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” When I read these words, I imagine God saying to me, “I love you. Pass it on.”
The birth of Jesus is the greatest gift of love that God gives to us. God showed his love to us by sending his Son into the world to give us life.
Now we can pass it on. We can show the love of God to other people by putting others before ourselves. The love of God is the greatest gift we can give.
Our hope for a Savior was fulfilled in Jesus. We show our gratitude for God’s love in Jesus by loving one another.
God of love, thank you for the great love you have shown us by sending your one and only Son into the world. Strengthen us to share that love with one another. Amen.