Pastor Danny Schulz of Sun City Church gave this talk to the staff at UGM for our Christmas party this morning. We were encouraged by it and wanted to share it with our donors and volunteers, as well, because you are our partners in this work. We truly could not do it without you, so Pastor Danny’s words apply to you. We pray you will be blessed by them.
By Danny Schulz
Recently, I’ve been reflecting on one of my favorite Christmas carols, “O Holy Night.” This line really jumped out to me: “A thrill of hope: The weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
Our world is a weary world. We are, as a whole, overwhelmed, anxious, making poor decisions. We’re struggling in our relationships. Ourfamilies are broken. Our friends are afflicted by cancer, diabetes, addiction, depression.
But in the midst of the weariness is a thrill of hope.
You live in and work in the weary world. So many difficulties. So many challenges. But here’s what you bring to the weary world – a thrill of hope.
And his name is Jesus.
The manger scene evokes emotion for me. (OK, I cried during The Star…an animated Christmas film for kids).
Maybe it’s because of setting up the nativity scene in our home when I was a child. There’s the Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and wise men, and the cows that are lowing (I had no idea what that meant).
It all creates this picturesque scene in your mind…which probably doesn’t bear much similarity to the actual scene that night.
Let’s think about what really happened: There was this teenage girl who was pregnant by the Holy Spirit (that brings up a whole new round of questions and thoughts). She and her teenage fiancé traveled on the back of a donkey. Nine months pregnant on a donkey traveling 80-120 miles. (I took my wife Jamie to the hospital in my little grey Saturn…and that was rough enough.)
They get to town and there’s no place to stay. Most scholars believe they ended up in a cave where animals would find shelter. This was one of the worst environments in which to give birth. Unsanitary…animal poop everywhere. No epidural. There was no angel softly singing. It was a young teenage girl screaming her guts out in a cave.
The night was chaos. But on the other side of the night was the Thrill of Hope. On the other side of the night was a “new and glorious morn” with Jesus in it.
I want to take you back to the Old Testament to the book of Lamentations. Here’s the context: Jerusalem has fallen. Everyone is mourning and Jeremiah the prophet is mourning with them. But in chapter 3, there’s a switch to hope:
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. 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. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” -- Lamentations 3:19-26, NIV
So here, from this passage, are 3 truths you bring to this weary world:
1. Each new day with Christ brings exactly what you need.
Not what you want, but what you need. They are often different.
Look at verse 24: “I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' ”
When you are getting up to go to work, have you ever had to preach some truth to yourself? Speak to your soul?
“The Lord is my portion.” What does this mean?
Many scholars believe it refers to the time when Israel was wandering in the wilderness and God provided bread from heaven: Exactly enough for each day. Hoarding the food would cause it to rot.
God was teaching them they needed him EVERY day. Jesus taught us in the New Testament to pray: “Give us this day our DAILY bread.”
The Lord is our daily portion. Every day, we need to connect with God. He doesn’t want you to think that just because you had an experience yesterday it’s enough for tomorrow.
There’s provision for today. There’s hope for tomorrow.
Check this out: God’s already in tomorrow. He’s got everything that you need for tomorrow – the grace to work with difficult people, the strength for your body, the joy to fight discouragement.
Every new day with Christ brings exactly what you need.
2. every new day with Christ brings the hope to keep going.
You have the Thrill of Hope in a weary world; you can trust that there’s a morning coming after the chaos of the night.
Verse 25 says, “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.”
Someone said: “We can live 40 days without food. We can live 8 days without water. We can live 4 minutes without oxygen. But we can only live a few seconds without hope.”
So many people, including many at UGM, are trying to survive in a hope-deprived life. And because of this they are putting their hope in all kinds of wrong places: jobs, relationships, substances, money.
If you put your hope in the wrong place, you’ll become hopeless and bogged down by the weary world.
“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” (Hebrews 10:23, NLT)
UGM staff, volunteers and partners are dealers in hope. You are helping people grab hold of hope. Don’t ever lose the hope in what a new day in Christ can bring.
One of my friends got married back in Oregon, and for his bachelor party, he wanted to hike one of the Three Sisters peaks and camp for the night. I’m not a big camper…or a big planner. Somehow, I managed to show up for this hike without a sleeping bag or a tent, so when the sun set, I was COLD. I had my jacket, and one of my friends lent me his coat to cover my legs, but I shivered throughout the whole night. At some point, I got out of my friend’s tent and just started pacing to get warm, and then I saw the sun break over the horizon. The whole sky lit up in color, and I realized why people do this kind of thing in the first place.
If you can just make it through the night…the sunrise is so wonderful.
Some of you, even as you work with the broken, are in the depths of despair yourselves right now. It might be dark right now, but there is a new day coming!
There’s a weary world…but there is a thrill of hope.
Some of you are thinking of quitting. Don’t do it. Do not give up. You need hope because so many that you serve need hope.
3. A new day with Christ brings the help that you are seeking.
“It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord (verse 26).”
Honestly, you can’t even quantify the difference that can occur when Christ comes into your life. Consider these examples:
- Lazarus was dead four days. Everyone had given up hope. (The King James Version says, “He stinketh.”) But Jesus said, “Lazarus come forth.” And everything changed. What was dead was now back to life. One day with Christ made the difference between life and death. Literally.
- The woman with the issue of blood had lived 12 years in agony. Doctors could not solve the problem. She had spent all her money trying to figure out what was going on. And then Jesus came into her life. In a moment, as she reached out and touched the hem of his garment, everything changed.
- A man couldn’t walk for 38 years. 38 years! Jesus showed up at the Pool of Bethesda, and everything changed.
You are in the weary world. But listen - Jesus is coming!
Romans 13:11-12 says, “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.”
This is the message you are bringing to a generation of hurt and broken people!
The night is nearly over. The day is almost here.
Celebrate the "new and glorious morn" of Jesus' coming with our free Advent devotional!