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Hope that Overcomes the Horrors of Life

Notes & Transcripts

Hope that Overcomes the Horrors of Life

Matthew 2:13-23

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Dec. 26, 2012

*We had a great Christmas yesterday, with all 3 children home, plus Katie's husband Wes. Mary pulled out all the stops to make sure that everything was just right, and it was. But over in northern Nigeria, radical Islamists attacked an evangelical church that was celebrating a midnight mass. Gunmen from Boko Haram shot six Christians dead including the pastor. They then torched the church. (1)

*This massacre reminds us; this Scripture reminds us that there are horrors in this life. But as Christians, we have hope.

1. First, we have the hope of God's protection.

*This may seem like an odd thing to say in light of what happened in Nigeria on Christmas Eve. But according to God's grace and according to His perfect will, we have God's protection in this world. In vs. 13, Matthew says: "Now when they (i.e. the Wise Men) had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, 'Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.'''

*We may think, "Well, God has never protected me like that." But if you are breathing in this world, it is because Almighty God has protected you. Daniel spoke to wicked King Belshazzar of the judgment that was about to fall on him. And here is part of what the prophet said in Daniel 5:23: "You have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. . . and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified."

*God holds our breath in His Hands, and He is protecting us moment by moment. One great place to see this truth is in Psalm 121. But before I read it to you, understand that our words "keep" and "preserve" are the exact same word in the original language. And it means to "guard" or "protect". So six times in this short Psalm, God promises to guard and protect His people.

*No wonder the Psalmist said:

1. . . I will lift up my eyes to the hills -- From whence comes my help?

2. My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.

3. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who KEEPS you will not slumber.

4. Behold, He who KEEPS Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5. The LORD is your KEEPER; The LORD is your shade at your right hand.

6. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.

7. The LORD shall PRESERVE you from all evil; He shall PRESERVE your soul.

8. The LORD shall PRESERVE your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.

*Let me tell you about one of the times God protected me. I was a senior in high school, lost as a goose and as foolish as can be. Two of my best friends and I had been to Atlanta for some function at Georgia Tech. And we started talking about finding a new place to have the next summer's week-long beach-party for our high school fraternities and sororities.

*On a whim, we decided to drive over to Myrtle Beach South Carolina, and check it out. Of course our parents didn't know. We were 2 or 3 hours out of Atlanta on I-20, when we looked over at the west-bound lane and saw people waving and hollering. We thought maybe it was a caravan having a party or something like that. And for no particular reason, my friend driving switched over to the right-hand lane.

*A few seconds later, we topped a big hill, and passed a man who was driving on the wrong side of the Interstate. If my friend hadn't changed lanes, we would have hit that car at a combined speed of 140 mph! We would have surely been killed. But our merciful God spared our lives. And Heaven only knows how many times He has protected us from danger and death.

*Christians, we have the hope of God's protection.

2. And we have the hope of a Godly purpose in life.

*Joseph reminds us of this great truth in vs. 13-14, where God's Word says this:

13. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.''

14. When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt,

*An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream here, and that is an extraordinary thing. But please focus on what happened next: "Joseph took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt."

*Joseph didn't have to do that. Danger was coming and he could have bailed on them. But Joseph was faithful. He was faithful to his family and faithful to our God. And I want to stress that Joseph was also faithful to serve in the ordinary things of life: packing for the trip, helping provide the food and clothing for his family, helping provide all of the things they needed to live.

*Joseph also helped teach the Lord how to walk and talk. He helped teach Jesus the things that all fathers need to teach their sons. Joseph was taking care of the ordinary, everyday duties of a Godly man. This was his Heaven-sent purpose in life. And what a difference he made! All eternity was changed because Joseph was faithful in the everyday things of life.

*And you may not have thought much about it. But I want to tell you that if you are a Christian, God has a heavenly purpose for your everyday life.

*And guess what children in Great Britain wanted for Christmas this year? -- A dad. I read yesterday that a dad was the tenth most requested thing for Christmas. (2)

*One Father's Day, Clara Null had her Sunday School students make a card for Dad. Miss Clara gave the little 5-year-old boys all the materials they needed. Then she suggested they draw something their dad liked, such as a fishing pole, golf balls, or a pet.

*After hearing all of Mrs. Clara's suggestions, one boy raised his hand and asked, "May I draw a picture of my mom? My dad sure likes her a lot!" (3)

*Way to go dad! That man's example of Godly love for his wife will have an impact that lasts forever.

*Of course, moms make a difference too. Chuck Swindoll once saw an example in the life of a young mother who sat across from him in a doctor's waiting room. She was pregnant, already had a toddler, plus one in diapers in her arms. Was she busy! Swindoll described the scene: "Untied shoes, runny noses, twelve questions a minute, dropped rattle -- (five times), three falls, -- once on his face, loud crying, a bottle of juice that spilled in her bag. And as she mopped it up with her last clean diaper, the baby barfed right down the back of her neck. Yet with incredible patience, that mother hung in there." Chuck Swindoll wondered if that young mother realized that she was modeling an unforgettable display of Christ's message. She was going the extra mile out of patience and love. (4)

*Just being a dad or a mom or a good friend or a good worker doesn't sound like a glamorous thing to do. But Christians, God can add eternal value to our everyday lives. And we have the hope of a Godly purpose in life.

3. We also have the sure hope of God's prophecy.

*And in these few verses, Matthew shows us 3 of God's Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled.

[1] The first fulfilled prophecy is found in vs. 13-15:

13. Now when they (i.e. the Wise Men) had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.''

14. When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt,

15. and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son.''

*This prophecy came from Hosea 11:1, and it was written 725 years before Jesus was born.

[2] The second fulfilled prophecy is found in vs. 16-18:

16. Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.

17. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

18. "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they were no more.''

*This prophecy came from Jeremiah 31:15, and it was written 600 years before Jesus was born.

[3] The third fulfilled prophecy is found in vs. 21-23:

21. Then he (i.e. Joseph) arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee.

23. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene.''

*This prophecy is hard to pinpoint, but it may refer back to Judges or Numbers, and both of those books were written over 1,000 years before Jesus was born. J. Vernon McGee suggested that fulfilled prophecy may be related to the fact that the Hebrew word for Nazareth was "Netzer," which meant "a branch or shoot." And there are several Old Testament verses that talk about the Messiah being a branch. For example, Isaiah 11:1 says: "There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots." (5)

*But here we see three of God's Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled, and that is a big, big deal.

*Also let me point out that some people criticize Jesus for arranging situations in order to fulfill Old Testament prophecy. And there are times when Jesus could have done that. (Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Jesus seeking to fulfill Old Testament prophecy, if He is the Almighty Savior, who was prophesied to come. And He is!)

*But here we find three prophecies fulfilled when Jesus was just a small child. That young pre-schooler couldn't have manipulated these things. These prophecies were fulfilled because Jesus IS Lord!

*And these are just a few of the many that have already been fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Josh McDowell tells us that the Old Testament contains over 300 references to the Messiah that were fulfilled by Jesus. And that is mathematically impossible to have been a coincidence.

*Mathematician and author Peter Stoner considered just eight of the Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ, not all of them, just eight. And he showed that coincidence is ruled out by the science of probability. Dr. Stoner wrote: "We find that the chance that any man might have lived and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power." That would be one out of the number that is a one followed by seventeen zeroes! -- one hundred million billion, whatever you call that number.

*Then to help us understand this staggering figure, Dr. Stoner gave an illustration using that many silver dollars. And he said, "Suppose we take 10(17th) silver dollars, and lay them out, covering the state of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars, and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes anywhere in the state. But he must pick up the silver dollar that was marked. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man." (6)

*Christian, this means that if you brought your Bible to church tonight, you have a miracle sitting in your lap! This miraculous book proves that Jesus is Lord. It proves that Jesus is the promised Messiah. And it gives us the sure hope that Jesus Christ came into the world to save us from our sins. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. And now the Risen Savior offers the sure hope of eternal life to everyone who will trust in Him.

*Christians we have the sure hope of God's prophecy.

4. And we have the hope that overcomes our pain.

*Verses 16-18 remind us how painful life can be:

16. Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.

17. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

18. "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they were no more.''

*Just because we are Christians doesn't mean we won't have terrible hurts in life.

*A replay of the Bethlehem agony is going on right now up in Newtown CT. Everybody has heard about the madman who went into the Sandy Hook School. On Friday, December 14, about 9:30 in the morning, Adam Lanza massacred 20 children and 6 adults who worked in the school. He had already killed his own mother.

*After killing the Principal and School Psychologist, Lanza entered a first-grade classroom, and killed the substitute teacher who was there that day. All but one of the children in her classroom were also shot dead.

*A 6-year-old girl was the sole survivor. Her family pastor said that the child survived the mass shooting by playing dead and remaining still until the building grew quiet, and she felt it was safe to leave. She ran from the school, covered in blood, and was the first child to escape the building. When she reached her mother, she said, "Mommy, I'm OK, but all my friends are dead." (7)

*Just because we are Christians doesn't mean that we won't have terrible hurts in life. But we have hope that goes beyond the hurt!

*Please listen to the rest of God's prophecy from Jeremiah 31. Here God made a wonderful promise to the grieving mothers of Bethlehem:

16. Thus says the Lord: "Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded," says the Lord, "And they shall come back from the land of the enemy.

17. There is hope in your future," says the Lord, "That your children shall come back to their own border."

*Christians: We have hope! We have hope, because Jesus Christ came to share in our suffering, and because Jesus came to overcome our death.

*There were horrible cries of anguish that night in Bethlehem. But the Child who was saved that night would also die a horrible death. Thirty years later, Jesus Christ died on the cross, -- not for His own sins, but for our sins. And through His resurrection, He defeated death forever for all who will trust in Him. So we have hope that goes beyond the hurt! (8)

*Cathy Wilburn had this kind of hope. In April of 1995, Cathy lost her two small grandsons in the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.

*Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols had such deep hatred for our government that they set off a truck bomb that destroyed the front half of that federal building, including the day care center. One hundred sixty-nine people were killed, including toddlers Chase and Colton, Cathy's two grandchildren.

*Cathy's family was crushed, but hate and suffering did not have the last word. At the trial for Terry Nichols, his mother and sister were alone in the courtroom, bearing the brunt of hate from the victims and the public.

*As a Christian, Cathy Wilburn knew what she should do, so she reached out to Terry Nichol's mother and sister. In fact, she opened her home to them, offering hospitality to two women she could have easily hated. (9)

*How could Cathy Wilburn do that? -- It's because of the difference that Jesus Christ made in her life. She found the hope that went far beyond her hurt.

CONCLUSION:

*As Christians, we have this miraculous, life-changing, life-sustaining hope.

-The hope of God's protection (according to His perfect will).

-The hope of Godly purpose in life.

-The sure hope of God's prophecy.

-And the hope that overcomes our pain.

*I hope you are a Christian tonight, -- because nothing is more important in life! Put your trust in Jesus Christ as we go to God in prayer, and you will have His hope.

(1) "Islamists Gun Down Six Christians at Midnight Mass Then Torch the Church" - Posted by Jim Hoft on Tuesday, December 25, 2012, 6:41 PM based on reports from BBC and AFP - www.thegatewaypundit.com/2012/12/islamists-gun-down-six-christians-at-midnight-mass-then-torch-the-church/

(2) Tenth most popular request for kids' Christmas gift: a 'dad' - Rick Moran - December 25, 2012 - Source: Telegraph - Posted on: www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/12/tenth_most_popular_request_for_kids_christmas_gift_a_dad.html

(3) Original source unknown - My source: "In Other Words" - Summer 2001 - p. 10 - produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - 6130 Barrington - Beaumont, Texas 77706 (409) 866-2111 www.iows.net

(4) "Intrusions" - Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers)

(5) Through the Bible with J. Vernon McGee - Matthew 2:23

(6) SermonCentral illustration contributed by David Parks - Source: "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell

(7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Hook_Elementary_School_shooting

(8) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Christmas: Do You Hear What I Hear?" - Melvin Newland - Matthew 2:13-18

(9) Stephen Arterburn, M.Ed., Paul Meier, M.D., Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., Fear Less for Life (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2002), pp. 181-185 - Source: Sermons.com sermon "Yes" by King Duncan - John 20:1-9

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