GS Christmas Message – Hope that Makes a Difference

GS Christmas Message – Hope that Makes a Difference

Hope that Makes a Difference

Rev Dominic Yeo

Circuit Breaker’, ‘Heightened Alert’ or ‘Stabilization Phase’—whatever name it’s called, the question at the top of people’s minds is: “When will they see the light at the end of the tunnel?” The world has been battling COVID-19 for almost two years. It’s been quite a long dance back and forth with the virus. Resources are drained. Relationships are strained.

We wish for a public announcement to say: “Today, COVID-19 is no more a pandemic!” Some 2,000 years ago, a similar proclamation was made in the town of Bethlehem. In Luke 2:11, an angel declared, “Today… a Savior has been born to you.”

How precious those words were after 400 years of being in captivity, and under the rule of Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. The Israelites were probably thinking: “Is there an end to our suffering?” or “Is there hope available for us?”

These are the same questions we ask today as we approach the end of another year. As we make another turn into a new year, will there be an end to COVID-19? Is there hope available for us to hold on to?

Christmas is a reminder that HOPE came and invaded darkness.

Christmas is a reminder that HOPE came and invaded darkness.

Luke 1:5 tells us “in the days of Herod” and Luke 2:1 records that it was in the “days (of) Caesar Augustus” that a Savior, a Messiah had arrived! Hope had come!

In the days of Heightened Alerts and whatever phases, Jesus is here with us. He’s our anchor and peace in stormy seas. He’s our shelter and stronghold.

A Difference in Our Views

When we have hope, we have faith. Hebrew 11:1 tells us: “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

In 2 Chronicles 32, the Assyrian army was about to come for Jerusalem. The men were overwhelmed and outnumbered. There was no way they could overcome the Assyrians. Fear paralyzed them. But King Hezekiah reminded them in verses 7 and 8, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged… for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And true enough, God fought the battle for them and annihilated the Assyrian army.

In 2 Kings 6:14-17, when an army of horses and chariots surrounded the city and the servant panicked, Elisha prayed for his servant to see that “those who are with us are more than those who are with them”. And when he looked, he “saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha”.

What do you see? As you reflect upon the many things that have happened in 2021, do you see God’s hand of protection? Do you see His armies surrounding you, fighting for you, and defending you?

A Difference in our Responses

There are two responses in 2 Chronicles 32. The first is the response of being an encourager, just like King Hezekiah who encouraged his men. Sometimes people do lose sight of the hope we have in Christ. Sometimes people forget the goodness of God. But we can be an encourager who will bring confidence to people.

Hebrews 10:24-25 reminds us to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another”.

Your response to be present in church and in your small groups encourages and brings confidence to people. Don’t let fear ring-fence you in from reaching out!

The other response is a response of confidence in the Lord. After King Hezekiah’s encouragement, “the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said”. Even when the enemy continued to call out to them “to terrify them and make them afraid in order to capture the city” in verse 18, they did not give ear to the enemy, but instead took it to the Lord in prayer.

Hebrews 10:23 tells us: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Confidence is holding on to the hope we profess! A response of confidence is a response of declaration.

2 Kings 6:18 says: “As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, ‘Strike this army with blindness.’” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.

When you know who fights your battles, you will respond with courage, boldness, and authority. You won’t let fear cripple your faith. You won’t be like a headless chicken running amok!

So even when the year comes to an end, and COVID-19 doesn’t seem to end, let’s remember that hope came in the times of Herod and Caesar. Hope is available in the darkness of nights.

May the hope of Christmas make a difference in your view and your response as you cross over into the year 2022.

Have a Blessed Christmas!

有盼望就不一样

阻断措施、提高戒备或稳定疫情阶段 — 不管什么名 称,人们最想知道的是“什么时候才能看见曙光”?全世界和2019冠状病毒对抗几乎两年了。我们和病毒共舞,来回搏斗,资源耗损,人际关系紧张。

我们期待听到公告“今天,2019冠状病毒不再是大流行”!两千多年前,在伯利恒镇有类似的公告。在路加福音2:11,天使宣告: “今天……一个救主为你们降生了。”

对于被掳四百年,在希腊人、埃及人和罗马人的统治下生活的以色列人来说,这是多么宝贵的话语。他们或许曾想“我们的苦难有尽头吗”,“我们看得到希望吗”?

年关将至的这个时候,我们也问着同样的问题。当我们进入新的一年,2019冠状病毒会消失吗?我们是否有盼望?

圣诞节提醒我们盼望来到人间,侵入了黑暗。

路加福音1:5告诉我们“希律执政期间”,而路加福音2:1记载“凯撒奥古斯都”的时候,救主,主基督降生!盼望降临!

不论在提高戒备或其他阶段,耶稣都与我们同在。是我们在狂风暴雨中的锚和平安。是我们的庇护和山寨。

不一样的看见

当我们有盼望,我们就有信心。希伯来书11:1告诉我们“信就是所望之事的实底,是未见之事的确据。”

在历代志下第32章里,亚述大军要攻打耶路撒冷。以色列人寡不敌众,不知所措。他们无法战胜亚述人,感到恐慌。然而希西家王在第7和第8节提醒他们:“你们当刚强壮胆,不要……恐惧、惊慌;因为与我们同在的,比与他们同在的更大。与他们同在的是肉臂,与我们同在的是耶和华 — 我们的神,他必帮助我们,为我们争战。”果然,神为他们争战,剿灭了亚述大军。

在列王纪下6:14-17,当车马军兵围困城池,以利沙的仆人惊慌时,以利沙祷告让仆人看见“与我们同在的比与他们同在的更多”。仆人就看见“满山有火车火马围绕以利沙”。

你看见什么?当你回顾2021年发生的许多事情时,你看到神的保守吗?你看到的天军围绕你,为你争战,护卫你吗?

不一样的回应

历代志下第32章中有两种回应。第一种回应是作鼓励者,就像希西家王如何勉励他的百姓。有时人们看不见在基督里的盼望,有时人们忘了神的美善,但是我们可以成为鼓励者,将信心带给人。

希伯来书10:24-25提醒我们“彼此相顾,激发爱心,勉励行善。”“不可停止聚会,好像哪些停止惯了的人,倒要彼此劝勉。”

你出席教会聚会和小组聚会的回应能鼓励他人,把信心带给他们。不要让惧怕圈禁自己,阻止你接触他人!

另一个回应是对神的信心的回应。希西家王鼓励百姓后,“百姓就靠犹大王希西家的话”。即使在第18节,敌人不断叫嚣“要惊吓他们,扰乱他们,以便取城“,他们都置之不理,反而因此祷告。

希伯来书10:23告诉我们“要坚守我们所承认的指望,不至摇动,因为那应许我们的是信实的”。信心就是抓紧我们所承认的盼望!信心的回应就是宣告的回应。

在列王纪下6:18“敌人下到以利沙那里,以利沙祷告耶和华说:“求你使这些人的眼目昏迷。”耶和华就照以利沙的话使他们眼目昏迷。

当你知道谁为你争战时,你会以勇气,胆量和权柄回应。你不会让惧怕绊倒你的信心。你不会像无头苍蝇一样手忙脚乱!

虽然这一年将要过去,而2019冠状病毒却仍肆虐,但是让我们记住盼望降临在希律和凯撒执掌期间。在漆黑的深夜里是有盼望的。

跨入2022年,愿圣诞的盼望使你有不一样的看法和回应。

圣诞蒙福!