• Hayling Island Baptist

28 November 2021 - Advent 1

Isaiah 11:1-10 HOPE in the promises of God


Please note that our Carol Service will take place on the evening of 12 December at the Hayling Island Community Centre, 6:30 pm. There will be no morning service that day.


The services on 19 and 25 December and 2 January will take place at Hayling Library.


There will be no service on 26 December.


Due to a technical error, some aspects of the service did not come through clearly. The sermon is therefore printed beneath this video and the questions for D-groups are beneath that.

Isaiah 11 v 1 -10 “All I Want for Christmas is…HOPE”


I wonder what sort of person you are when asked what you would like for Christmas? Are you the sort that immediately directs the questioner to a shop window or internet site and says: "This please!" Or have you been more subtle and made hints for the last 6 months. Are you one of those slightly annoying people who say: “Oh, don’t bother getting me anything”? I’m always tempted to get them nothing…! You may have a particular hobby like my brother who is into cycling and consequently he just points out weird and wonderful bike things. In fact, I’m sure I have actually bought him a wheel recently.


So why am I wondering what you would like for Christmas, well sadly it’s not because I’m buying you all presents, but because today we start our Advent series and I have in fact, borrowed the series title from my brother, and Mariah Carey: “All I want for Christmas is…dot, dot, dot”. We will be looking at four key aspects of our relationship with God and considering what our hearts, spirits and souls really do want and need for Christmas.


Today all I want for Christmas is… Hope, so please turn to your Bibles to read: Isaiah 11 v 1 -10.

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together; and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. 10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.”


This is an amazing prophecy from Isaiah given at a time when the people of Israel were threatened on all sides but mainly by the Assyrians. They were living in constant fear for their physical safety, and it is in this context that Isaiah speaks out about the coming of the longed-for Messiah. When life is uncertain, when we are physically or mentally under threat what more could anyone need than the promise of a saviour? It is this prophecy and the clarity of Jesus’ family line that Matthew writes about at the very beginning of his gospel, the beginning of the New Testament. The Messiah will come from “the stump of Jesse”, “the root of Jesse”. There are fourteen generations from Abraham to David (Jesse’s son), fourteen generations from David to the exile of the Jews and another fourteen from this to the birth of Jesus. We look back at the birth of Jesus set in time, but Isaiah was preaching not only to the listening Israelites but to future generations. He did not know the timing of Jesus’ birth on earth, but he trusted God and believed that it would happen one day. We too do not know when Jesus will come again but we trust in God’s promises and have hope in the Kingdom of God coming in all its glory.


This passage then, gives hope not only because of the promise of a Saviour but also hope in a new world order, where our relationship with God is transformed, now and in the future. It gives a clear picture of who Jesus is and how the people will recognise Him as the true messiah. Isaiah tells the future generations that they will know Him because of His character and His actions: The Spirit of God will be on Him, He will be wise and understanding. He will show us the right way to live in the fear of the Lord, meaning how to be in a close relationship with a Holy God. Nobody wants to believe in a small, limited god, a harsh god or in a group of deities who really are little more than human themselves. The world is searching for a true saviour and one who can show us the essence of God. We want and need a Messiah who is wise and understanding beyond our imagination. A Saviour who does not judge on superficial appearances but sees to the heart of people and always judges fairly. Verse 3 says this: “He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.” When we read the news and see the awful reports of hate, poverty and injustice, isn’t that what we long for? Here is the promise that one day this will all end because our righteous God will put an end to all evil deeds and in fact, evil itself. Hope rests in the promise that a world of peace, mercy and justice will come into being one day when the Messiah will rule heaven and earth.


The Saviour that Isaiah describes - the one who has the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel and might - comes not just to save us but to turn the world upside down. There has been love before but not like this. There has been justice before but not like this. And then when Jesus comes again the whole of creation itself will be shaken up. Animals that were predators will lie down with their prey. Huge natural disasters will cease and creation itself will be harmonious: “for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea”. We are told that children- the most vulnerable ones in the world - will be safe. Isaiah proclaims and we too believe, that one day this world will come into being.


When someone experiences feelings of hope it is usually when something, however small, has changed. It may be a practical change or a change in perspective or attitude. When someone is given money when they need it, a food parcel when desperate, or an unexpected gift, hope begins to grow. There is a moment of happiness in what may be a difficult time. The thought that there is kindness in the world and even more, that maybe there is a loving God who wants to provide for them. A God who wants them to feel hopeful again, not depressed. To feel joy, not despair and peace not shame. Paul put it like this in Romans 5: “…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.” We are commissioned to be part of this “pouring out”. We must never underestimate how our kind words or relatively small actions might change how someone feels or thinks about themselves and the world. We have received the gift of forgiveness and a new life and that is what we must demonstrate and preach to others: The hope of a relationship with a loving and forgiving God. The hope of being loved by a God who truly understands this often confusing and challenging world because He once lived here as a divine human being.


It may come as a surprise to you all, but I am not yet perfect! Sadly, neither are you. God changes us gradually and faithfully, step by step. The one advantage of this, is that we understand the stress and frustrations of life and how it might impact those who are not Christians. The same Spirit that is changing us into our better selves is also at work to show us who to talk to, who to help, who to share with – in essence, who we need to be Jesus to. We are in the process of becoming better people than we were before, and while this is happening, we still have a job to do. Our church logo is there as a constant reminder that individually and as a church, we are here to “make a difference”. We are to bring hope not cynicism, we are to bring kindness not judgment, clarity not confusion. We too have struggled and have faced disappointments and failure at times in our lives, but we have been brought out to the other side by Jesus. Now we can reach out to others from a place of empathy. Even more so we may have experienced tragic events that have tested our faithfulness and our sense of hope. Not a lot looked hopeful to the Israelites when Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah, but there was still a hope for the future because of their relationship with God. In the next few months, we may meet someone who is experiencing great loss or tragedy. They may not be facing an army of Assyrians, but they may be facing their own physical or mental enemies. Will we be ready to help them? Are we ready to be a light in their world?


A few years ago, I had a traumatic experience which I also believe was a miracle. Someone I loved dearly had struggled for several years with medical and mental health problems. They rang me from A & E in the night and I drove over to the hospital. However, they were considered mentally well enough to leave and they texted me to say they were fine and going home to bed. The text was long and articulate and I had no reason to think that I shouldn’t go home. But as I began the return journey home, I knew God was telling me, no go back, go and check on them. Such a clear strong voice, so I did. I won’t go into all the details, but I found them with a knife in their stomach and so I was able to call for an ambulance and they were saved. Nearly every day of my life I thank God for what He did for us that night and how He has healed that person. But during the writing of this sermon, I had a question: what would have happened if God had not intervened as I wished, and that person had died. Would grief have led me to lose all hope? Maybe for a while, but then I thought of all I know about our God. Despite my loss, I would still have had Jesus walking beside me, I would still have had God our Father drying my tears and I would still have had the Holy Spirit showing me hope for the future.


Isaiah explains clearly in his prophecy that the Messiah is going to be born – that essentially one day there will be the first Christmas. He doesn’t know the details, but he certainly knows what the Messiah will be like and how He will change the world. We all have been lost and hopeless at some point in our lives and God stepped in to save and transform us. This Christmas our mission is to bring hope to those who are hopeless and comfort to those who are in pain. In the same way that God holds us safe in His hands, we too hold the gift of the Holy Spirit in our hands. This Christmas we need to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and bring the gift of the God of Hope to all those around us.


Let us pray using the words of Paul: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”

Amen


D-Group Questions:

1) Why do you think that Matthew wrote the lineage of Jesus? Why is it important?

2) What speaks to you most about Isaiah’s description of the Messiah in verses 2 -5.

3) When you consider the second coming of Jesus, what is uppermost in your mind?

4) Have you experienced a time in your life when something that someone did has renewed your feelings of hope and lifted you out of disappointment or depression?

5) Do you agree that “actions speak louder than words”?




1) Why do you think that Matthew wrote the lineage of Jesus? Why is it important?

2) What speaks to you most about Isaiah’s description of the Messiah in v. 2 -5.

3) When you consider the second coming of Jesus, what is uppermost in your mind?

4) Have you experienced a time in your life when something that someone did has renewed your feelings of hope and lifted you out of disappointment or depression?

5) Do you agree that “actions speak louder than words”?


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