Christmas: ‘It’s the season of hope!’ Hope in what? You can’t hope in hope, hope requires an object: Something to hope for or hope in. What do you place your hope in? Education, contacts, resume, family, bank account? What is hope to you? Is it something that reflects reality or is it fantasy? True hope is grounded in reality but it involves trusting in ‘things un-seen’. There is a difference between unseen and not real. When we put our hope in things that are not real, those things cannot deliver and we get hurt. Some hurts are bigger than others with more lasting effects… We have all been hurt and it makes reduces our capacity to hope.

As Christ’s Followers we have hope in our relationship with God. He is worthy of placing our hope in Him because He is real: CHRIST CAN DELIVER!!

Ephesians 1:1-19

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Paul is unequivocal that who he is, his position, is all God’s doing, not his
  • To the community of believers, the surrendered disciples of Christ
  • To those who have received God’s grace in salvation and know God’s shalom
  • Grace and peace enable hope

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

  • This is a rejection of the idea God is concerned with giving us material things
  • It is all about Him, HE has blessed us, HE has chosen us!
  • We have hope because HE has placed us IN HIM! (United us with Him)
  • We can only hope to be blameless before God if HE makes us holy

5 In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.

  • He has made us holy & blameless so we can be HIS children by giving HIS son
  • God is glorified in each person who is predestined by God’s will to ‘Sonship’
  • In LOVE HE adopted us…not because any of us deserve it
  • Predestination: It is a Biblical Doctrine woven throughout the Scriptures
  • What is our assurance of the hope we place in Christ? Wait for it…

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, 8 in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. 9 With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

  • ‘IN HIM’: Because of Him, By Him, For Him, Together with Him…
  • We have been bought back from Hell by the sacrifice of The Cross
  • The rebellion we were all born into has been paid for, our sin forgiven!
  • Not just some grace… but the extravagant wealth of grace for all our sin!
  • God reveals HIS reality to us He choses to redeem
  • The reason any of us surrenders our life to God in Christ is because we ‘Get it’
  • But we don’t actually get it now (Eternal Life) So we need hope…

11 In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.

  • Repetition is used to bring clarity: Chosen & Predestined
  • HIS plan, HIS work based on the purpose of HIS will; all resulting in HIS glory!
  • It is for us as it was for them

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.

  • Each of us who have believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ are made part of HIM
  • The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the down payment on eternal hope
  • It is He Himself who assures us of the hope we have
  • For those who are sealed, this season is special
  • We can focus on renewing and embracing that hope of eternal inheritance
  • We don’t have heaven yet, so God gave us HIS Spirit to mark us as HIS
  • This ‘Blessed Assurance’ is the hope we live on… extra good this time of year

So that is the basis for our hope, the last part is how God’s people intentionally help each other know the fullness of that Hope! The purpose of The Body of Christ / Christian Community!!!

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

  • The Ephesians have proven by their action they have God’s Spirit in them
  • So because God has chosen them Paul prays for their development of hope

17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in His holy people, 19 and His incomparably great power for us who believe.

  • It starts by God revealing Himself to you and you surrendering your life
  • Next it grows by learning to live by The Spirit through discipleship
  • This leads to His Spirit giving you wisdom & revelation to build your hope
  • The assurance of Spirit-Given enlightenment: HOPE IN HIM!
  • Hope that you are His no matter what
  • Hope in the knowledge that the power of God will give us eternal life IN HIM

SUMMARY:

Faithfully living as Christ’s disciples will bring grace and peace to our lives!

The blessings that come from being chosen by God for eternal life with him are not material blessings.

The gift of salvation is God’s alone to will, to give and to enjoy.

The grace God gave to forgive His children was also to enlighten, so we may fully hope in Him!

When God saves us He gives us assurance of eternity by placing His Holy Spirit into every believer, making us His forever.

The indwelling of God’s Spirit adopts, assures and enlightens us so we can know true hope: hope in HIM!

APPLICATION:

How does your ‘faithfulness In Christ’ effect your experience of God’s Grace & Peace?

How do you feel about yours and other’s salvation being predetermined by God?

What is your plan to grow in wisdom & understanding of God’s will?

How can your hope bring grace and peace to others this Christmas season?