Ben McSpadden: Now, I have never been accused of wearing my emotions on my sleeve, but this morning, maybe close. I can use all the help I can get in expressing my emotions of the holiday seasons. Have the holidays got you like this sweater? Super excited. This is the time to celebrate. This is the time for festivities. We just had Thanksgiving, we had lots of turkey or ham or both. I had both. Lots of feasting and friends.
Now, over the next couple of weeks, as you can see, we're going to look at what we call the Box Office Wisdom Christmas edition. Sometimes we do this in the summer where we'll look at some of the box office hits of the summer, and look at what the message is that they have for us and what the Bible actually has to say about that. But we thought this Christmas season, many of us, we re-watch some of our favorite family classics for Christmas.
And so we thought, let's take a look at some of the well known Christmas movies. What are those messages that they're giving and what does the Bible have to say about that? So today we're going to look at Elf. Elf, it came out in 2003 and it's become a more current classic for us.
It's a story about on Christmas Eve when an orphan child in an orphanage crawls into Santa's bag of toys and then he gets taken to the North Pole and he's raised as an Elf. And when Buddy ... That's the name of the Elf ... When he learns that he's adopted later on, he decides he needs to go and look for his true place in the world and also find his biological father.
That journey takes him to New York City, and all along the way, he's spreading Christmas cheer among a lot of really cynics, but it's a fun movie and it reminds us to appreciate some things in life and to be joyful and celebrate. One of my favorite lines is this in the movie, "I just like to smile. Smiling is my favorite." And he's just weirds people out is how cheery he is.
So maybe Christmas has got you like that. You're just excited about the next thing that's gonna happen. Maybe it's got you like this sweater, "Ooh." We're excited about the Christmas. Or maybe it's got you like this, "Oh man." Remember that part? "Does somebody need a hug? Does somebody need a hug?" Maybe you've run into people like that who aren't interested in another holiday greeting. Maybe you've been that person, maybe you're having a bad time.
Holidays do have a mixture of happiness, but there can also be hurt associated in the holidays, but what Buddy the Elf teaches us in the movie is to try to lift our spirits wherever we find ourselves. And it reminds us of the simple things to be excited about in life. Buddy, he was always looking forward to something. He was looking forward to Christmas Day, he was looking forward to finding his long lost father, he was looking forward to when Santa was coming.
You saw that in the role and he was super excited. I'm looking forward to some things, part of the festivities. I already got to experience some and I'll experience it again, but that's my grandmother's chocolate pie, her recipe. I love that. And so I got to have some of that this weekend and we're going to make it again, and then there is the stuffing. I love the stuffing and the turkey and the ham.
Maybe what are you looking forward to? Maybe you're looking forward to friends and family and maybe presents, maybe ugly sweaters and maybe if you're lucky, you'll get one of these ugly sweaters as a present. And I don't know what that means in your family. It might mean you're on the nice list, it might mean you're on the naughty list, depending on your family and ugly sweaters. I'm not sure.
But for me, Norman Rockwell captures that nostalgic emotion and feeling for me. The picture of all the family coming to grandma's house. They're just laden with presents and ready to celebrate. Or the other picture where they're feasting around a table with a turkey. All of those things, they well up these emotions in us this time of year and it's a reminder in the holidays to celebrate, and there's so much that we can celebrate.
Holidays give us an opportunity to step outside the normal pace of life and really remember what's important to us. Now in Elf, we're reminded of all kinds of things that happen this time of year. There's lights, there's decorations, there's family, there's singing, but as Christ followers, we have some very special things to celebrate. The holidays remind us to celebrate our hope.
There's a listening guide there for you to follow along, and holidays remind us to celebrate our hope. Now, hope it's a positive forward looking idea. We hope for good things, we hope for lots of food, we hope for a great holiday. We don't hope for doing our taxes or paying our bills. We hope for presents, not credit card statements.
We have something we're looking forward to with excitement. And when the Bible talks about hope, it's talking about a confident expectation, not creative imagination. It's confident expectation because it's confident because it's based on truth and it's an expectation because we haven't fully experienced what we're hoping for yet. We haven't experienced all that it will be, and it's based on what will be true, not what we wish will become true.
So it's a confident expectation, not just creative imagination. God's people have been marked with hope throughout history, whether they've been wandering somewhere, they'd been slaves in Egypt or they've been rescued from slavery and they've had their kingdom and then their kingdom fell and they got thrown into exile by outside countries taking over, but they have been marked by hope all along the way.
They've had a hopeful outlook on the future, so they've been marked by hope, but they've also been marked by trouble. Trouble in the midst of that captivity or that slavery or that exile. Before Jesus came to Earth, God's people were anticipating a messiah. This was part of their hope. This was an anointed one. Somebody who is designated for a special purpose, and this messiah was going to do some things that was going to bring hope to them.
It was their hope, and this messiah had a special assignment and he had God's power with him. And it was the one who would save God's people from the troubles that they found themselves in. Now, early in the history of humankind, God had chosen a specific people, the Israelite, to highlight how he was going to mend his relationship with humankind.
You see, we as humans, early on, we rebelled against God. We were the ones who broke a good relationship with God. And so we were separated from him, but he wasn't going to let us just stay there. He had a plan to rescue us. He had a plan to make our relationship with him right once again, and he was gonna use the Israelite people to highlight how he was going to do that. And so the Israelites, they were chosen but they weren't perfect.
Actually we can relate a lot with what they went through. Over and over again we see them begin to neglect who god is and what he is for them and even reject him at times. And he uses hardship to turn their hearts back to him to get their attention. They end up in slavery at one point, but then they're rescued after they cry out for him, and he uses that time to get their attention.
He rescues them and then they build their kingdom, but they become arrogant and they begin to neglect and reject God again. And so he sends them into exile. He lets foreign powers take over and take them out of the promised land that they were living in. So they begin to cry out again, and then he has a plan. He had a plan all along to return them to their promised land.
And all this time during their kingdom, during their exile, during the return to exile, God is actually sending messengers. We call them prophets. And so you have the Prophet books in the Bible, and they're there to warn, to remind, to offer hope, and to call his people, God's people, to return to him.
One of these messengers after returning from exile, his name is Zachariah. Zachariah, he gave them a message from God. He said this, "Rejoice greatly O Daughter of Zion. Shout Aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold, your king is coming to you. Righteous and having salvation is he humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."
Now, what we see here is God's people are called to rejoice greatly and shout. Now, you got to understand though that when they came back from exile, it was not home sweet home. It wasn't like they came back and everything was in order. In fact, it was not a pretty picture. When they came back the walls of the city were down, they'd been destroyed.
In those times if the city didn't have a wall around it, it was a very vulnerable and so they were a vulnerable people coming back to a city that wasn't what it once was and they were still vulnerable. They're coming back and there are a people that were extremely connected to their God even when they've rejected him in the temple that they worship him in is still in ruins.
It hits their ears a little different than we might think when they're told to rejoice and shout greatly. See, in our own time sometimes we step into maybe like the holiday season and it's not everything that we want. The presents aren't perfect, the people aren't perfect, the turkey isn't perfect.
All of our circumstances, they're not perfect when we walk into them and yet it's a time to celebrate. So we're not celebrating though our present circumstances. In fact, some of our present circumstances we really just need to pray about, but we're celebrating something that we're hoping, that we have this confident expectation is going to come about. That is what we are celebrating.
And the Israelites were called to rejoice and shout. Shout, it's this idea, it's this word. It's the same word that's used when they have a great war cry or a victory. It's this great emotion and Buddy the Elf in the movie, he has this great emotion when he hears that Santa is coming to the department store and you saw it in the role and where he's like "Santa!" And he's just super excited and everybody's kind of weirded out by how excited he is.
But he has this great emotion and we're called to have this great emotion, this shout, this rejoicing for who God is and what he's doing. The Israelites, that's what they're being called to right now in this passage, and they're to rejoice about a king who is coming. He is coming. He's a king, he's righteous. Says he's righteous, he's having salvation. He's humble and riding on a donkey.
Now, what is that about? Well, in those times a donkey was a common mode of transportation even for princes. But see, this represented the ideal ruler, the ideal king for them. Because if he came in on a horse that would evoke war and they'd had plenty of war already, they were at war with each other and they got overthrown by foreign powers and war is not something that ... They were looking for peace.
And this king is coming in on a donkey. Now, we live in a time where Jesus has come, he's fulfilled these prophecies. He came riding in on a donkey when he came to Jerusalem. And we know that today because we get to read the New Testament, hear those stories. At Christmas and Easter, we hear about Jesus coming being born and at Easter he's coming in, and he dies on the cross. And so we see that fulfillment, but for them, they're still waiting.
They're still anticipating that there's this king that's coming, and they had a different set of expectations. Sometimes you and I, when we think of Christ, maybe our expectations are a little off too, but theirs were a little off. They weren't sure because they had this imagery of there was this king that was peaceful. He's going to bring peace, but then there is also this mighty warrior that was going to put their enemies down and Jesus actually is going to be both that mighty warrior and that king who brings peace, and some of the Israelites, they thought it was two different people that was going to help them out.
But Jesus actually fulfills that hope in one person himself. He's both the mighty warrior and the peaceful king. He's both the lion and the lamb and he's going to fulfill that. And this is good news to them who heard it immediately because they were looking for a righteous king. They'd had kings in the past that got them in a lot of trouble and that's why I got allowed foreign kings come in and take them into exile.
And so they were used to wicked kings. A righteous king, a good king, that was good news and a king that was going to bring peace. And that's a welcome thought after being held in captivity by those you warred against. So this is good news, and Zachariah, the prophets, their names, they have some really cool meanings and that fits with the ministry that they were given.
Zachariah, his name means God remembers. And what we are reminded of in Zachariah is God doesn't forget his promises. He still has a plan, even though they are going through all this trouble, he has a plan to redeem, to rescue, to return people to him, and he will care for them. He goes on to say, "I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off and he shall speak peace to the nations. His rule shall be from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth."
Now, there are a lot of words here that maybe don't quite hit us the way it would hit them, but it's talking about peace coming in the midst of a family feud. You see, before they went into exile, they had actually fought with each other, the Israelites, God's people, and they'd actually split into two kingdoms. And so there was this big family feud. I don't know if you've ever had a family feud especially at the holidays.
It's where see him once a year, or we see him every so often, because there's maybe some faction down the line somewhere where part of the family doesn't get along. I'm sure that's never happened in your family, but it happens. It does happen. And it happened to God's people who he chose. There was this family feud, and so when it says that he's going to cut off the chariot from Ephraim, that's talking about one side of the family and the war horse from Jerusalem, that's another side.
So what God is saying here is, "I'm going to bring peace to the entire family." Wow. Can you imagine going home for the holidays and there's peace? There's no drama mama there. Everybody behaves. That's good news. But what God is saying is that he's going to bring peace to both sides of the family and not only that to all the surrounding nations.
Now, that is good news, and the good news of those of us who follow Christ is that even now he gives us opportunity to be at peace with one another. He gives us that ability to forgive. We live in a reality where we can actually give and receive forgiveness. And so maybe you've had that drama, but you've worked through that because maybe both parties were really walking with Jesus and they are able to work through that.
Maybe you haven't. Maybe you're still in the midst of that and that's troubling, but God said he will bring peace so we can pray for that. We can hope for that. The good news is that when all eternity happens, and it's wrapped up and we are with Jesus, there will be no more family feuding. And that's good news to imagine eternity where the family reunion everybody is at peace with one another, 'cause he brings peace not only between us and him, but between each other.
And that is good news and that was good news for them to hear that both sides of the family will have peace and the surrounding nations will have peace. God will rule to the ends of the earth. They were a special people to be sure, but they were going to highlight God's salvation plan, but he would not stop with just that family, just that tribe.
And that's good news for most of us in the room 'cause just like myself, I'm not part of the tribe of Israel. I'm not ethnically Hebrew. And yet this good news is for me too and for any of us who would choose to follow Jesus. We find in the book of Isaiah the Prophet, he says, " It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel. I will make you as a light for the nations that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."
And again, Isaiah, he's a prophet. He has a cool meaning for his name. His name means God is salvation. And he teaches us that God will save, and this prophet reminds us that God is going to offer salvation to all peoples who choose to follow him. You and I, we've been in God's plan all along to reconcile people to himself. He's made a way that we can be made right with him again.
God's speaking through his prophets to offer hope. When we come to the New Testament, the time of Christ, and even after Jesus died and rose again and went to heaven, we hear that why God allowed these prophets to speak to us and why they were written down.This is what it says, "For whatever was written in the former days was written for our instruction. That through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures, we might have hope."
God knew we would face trouble. His people have been marked by trouble, and this is why he sent messengers to remind us of the hope, the confident expectation that there is something beyond the difficulties we face. We are marked by hope. The Israelites were marked by hope. Christ followers are marked by hope, and we need hope because we faced challenges. The passage says through endurance, you endure hard things, you enjoy good things, but you endure hard things.
We need endurance and we need encouragement and he sent the prophets to remind his people that there's something beyond the trouble that we will face, and it's not just positive thinking. It is a hope that addresses are real needs and situations. It is a confident expectation that this will be. It's not creative imagination.
What's involved in this hope? Well, God gives us reason to celebrate. Speaking through another prophet ... And this guy you may not heard of as much, his name is Zephaniah, but he prophesied before the southern tribe part of the family went into exile. So he's a little bit before and this is what he says. Again, we're going to hear about the command to shout and rejoice and great emotion.
He says this, Sing aloud O Daughter of Zion, shout O Israel, rejoice and exalt with all your heart O daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord has taken away the judgments against you. He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord is in your midst. You shall never again fear evil. On that day, it shall said out Jerusalem, '"Fear not O Zion, let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save."
There is hope. Now, we get to learn about the treasure of our hope here. The things that maybe we didn't fully understand, there's some things hidden and that's actually what Zephaniah, his name means is one that's God has hidden or God has treasured. There's a treasure we get to uncover in this passage here that he's going to take away our judgments against us. He's cleared away our enemies.
Now again, this is good news immediately for these folks because for them, they had just probably had the worst king in their history. A guy named Manasseh, and Zephaniah's prophesying after that. This Manasseh guy, he's considered one of the worst kings that Judah had. It says that the sins that he led Judah to commit, those are the reasons that Israel or Judah was going to go into captivity.
So man, he brought the judgment on them. He was wicked, he did child sacrifice, which is just a terrible thing in the sight of God and in the Israelite people knew it. He went that far. One of God's people, one of his leaders committing one of the worst things, but Zephaniah says, "Your judgments will be taken away."
Now, in the movie Elf, I like the code of the elves that we learned about. There's one that says, "There is room for everyone on the nice list." Now, that's a nice idea. Kids know when Santa's coming they better start behaving, they start about December second. They're like, "Okay whatever I did this whole year, I need to really be good for mom and dad 'cause Santa's coming and I want presents, not coal, and I want to get on that nice list."
And really the nice list is some holiday help that really speaks to a much deeper human reality. None of us want to be on the naughty list. We don't want punishment. We want to be on the nice list. We want blessing, but the stakes are higher for us than just presents versus coal in our stockings. The good news of the Gospel is God has made a way for us to be moved from the naughty list to the nice list if we choose to follow him.
Even Manasseh the evil king, he repented while he was in captivity and God was kind to him and let him return to his homeland. The good news is that even the worst of sinners, God can forgive. He removes our guilt. That's part of our hope. He removes our guilt. Again, we read: on that day, I will purify the lips of all people so that everyone will be able to worship the Lord together.
When it's talking about purifying lips, out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Often when you're reading scriptures, the lips, they represent what's reflecting on the inside of somebody, and when he says he's purifying their lips, he's purifying them to the core. They're going to be purified. Their guilt is going to be taken away and they're going to be able to worship God.
Guilt, it's a weighty thing. Imagine the most embarrassing wrong thing that you've ever done, that you wouldn't want anybody to know about. It can be very damaging, very embarrassing, very shaming. You don't want anybody to know about it. We all got something, but if we have committed our lives to Christ, we probably haven't felt that weight in a while because he's lifted it. He's forgiven us of whatever sins that we've committed.
But guilt is a weighty thing when you haven't received forgiveness. It's a burden though that has been lifted for those of us who follow Christ, and this is good news and it was good to news for them because they knew the wickedness that they had been a part of and partook of. And it's saying that he's going to purify their lips and that everyone will be able to worship the lord together.
But God also addresses some of the things we fear most and that's death, and death is what we deserve because of our rebellion against God. But God is gracious and the Prophet Isaiah, he says this, "He will swallow up death forever and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth for the Lord has spoken."
It's hard to imagine because death ... It seems like it has the final say. None of us have really been on the other side of that. Most of us have not. So it just seems like death is the end. Game over. If I didn't get to accomplish any of the things I set out to accomplish, no more chance. In fact, when they say there's only two things in life that are certain, that's death and taxes and we're not hoping for either one of those.
Our confident expectation, our hope is that we have Christ, and this confident expectation is there's something that's greater than the certainty of death. Christ offers us eternal life, and it has no mixture of suffering in that eternal life. Now there's this nagging thing about life. You can be as positive as Buddy the Elf and still know just is it quite what you want or what you expect. There's something not quite right.
And we get a taste of this in Buddy's own life in the movie when his dad takes him to work to get him out of the way. He sends him to a large dingy mail-room at the bottom of the business building. And this is what Buddy says in all of his positiveness, "This place reminds me of Santa's workshop, except it smells like mushrooms and everyone looks like they want to hurt me."
There are some elements in life where you can be as positive as you want to be, but there's just still something that's just not right. God lets us enjoy it, whether we acknowledge him or not. Maybe there's that feeling of Santa's workshop. We have some experiences like that, that are great, yet we can't get away from the reality that life is not everything we hoped for.
We need God's intervention in our life because sometimes it just smells like mushrooms. It isn't what we wanted, it isn't what we expected. It isn't what we planned for. Bad things happen. You don't plan for them. They just happen.
And there are people who want to hurt us, not even that they look like they want to hurt us, they really do want to hurt us. We have real enemies that we cannot overcome with our own strength. Death is not only tied to our guilt that God removes in a relationship with him, but it's also connected to our enemy. Again, Zephaniah, he talks about this coming Messiah will battle for us. He says, "The Lord has taken away the judgments against you. He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord is in your midst. You shall never again fear evil."
Now, part of the good news is that he defeats our enemies. He defeats our enemies, and we read how Jesus fulfills this promise later in the Bible when it says that: since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
He defeats our enemies. Death is a thing we fear that causes us to be subject to all kinds of forms of slavery, but he defeats it. Jesus died and he rose again. He conquered death. He defeated death, and more importantly, he defeated the one who has the power over death, the devil. Jesus delivers us from the slavery that the devil tries to keep us in.
He delivers his followers from their enemies. If you watch much of the evening news, there's a lot of things to be fearful of. If it's not domestic, political enemies during midterms, "Who's going to be in power? I don't know." "I hope I agree with them or I hope they agree with me." It can get a little, "Where's the country going?" You can get into that fear or on a global scale, international terrorism, "Where's the world going? What's it going to be like for my kids in 20 years?"
And you can get into fear. There's a lot that you can get into fear, but we have to realize that our hope involves that one day evil will be put away with, will be dealt with for good. Once and for all and there will be no reason to fear evil again. It also says that Jesus took on flesh and blood. Now this humble king, he was fully God, but he became fully human. And though he's great and mighty, he intends to be close to us and to share in our experiences again.
The good news is he dwells among us. He dwells among us. "Sing and rejoice, O Daughter of Zion for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst," declares the Lord, and many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day and shall be my people and I will dwell in your midst and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.
They didn't fully understand that then when he's talking about that, and we don't always fully understand it now, though we get to live after Jesus has already come and we get to sing "Away In A Manger" and "Oh What child Is This?" We know that he's come. He's fulfilled some of these things, but even then we don't fully grasp it. We just get to peak. We get a peak at a present that's not fully unwrapped for us in Jesus Christ.
And this is what we celebrate at Christmas, that the birth of a savior, Emmanuel, God with us. No longer do we have to remain separated from God, but he's with us. We have a relationship that can be restored. This is hope fulfilled. God's presence with us indicates something new that he brings to us. He brings us new life. We're given a new full life and what we find lacking in our life situation, we find fulfilled in the new life that he brings.
In the Psalms we read, this is my comfort in my affliction that your promise gives me life. In the midst of my affliction, there is comfort. That your promise gives me life. There is a confident expectation of what God is going to do for us. There is hope and has been good and he's fulfilled many of those promises already and there's still yet hope to come.
And this is comforting when you face really hard things to know that it's not the end to die 'cause sometimes you find yourself ... I've been there ... You find yourself overwhelmed, "Are we ever gonna recover from this financial loss?" "I don't know how we're going to pay the bills again." Just got scammed at all that money," or "This relationship, how will it ever be resolved? Will we ever relate rightly again?"
The problems can seem overwhelming and yet what God offers us is a hope beyond the circumstances we find ourselves in. He offers us hope beyond our troubles, and you can breathe again. Wow. Whatever you find yourself in right now, today, going into the holidays, there's a reason to breathe again because there is hope beyond the troubles that we experience, and I know you have trouble because if you hold your hand right here and you have a pulse, you've got trouble.
It's part of the human experience. I've got trouble. We've all got trouble and I can't touch the depths of your heart to know how it feels, and the same you can't do for me. And yet God offers us hope beyond hope. It can overcome those troubles. That far surpass those troubles, and this new life it's not yet fully taken hold up, but it's something we can hope and it's an assurance of when Christ returns.
Again, the Bible tells us: blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to his great mercy he has caused us to be born again, to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading kept in heaven for you.
It's a living hope. It's something that we can be sure of, certain of, it's going to happen. It is a living hope. He's risen from the dead. He's defeated death. And that makes our hope in overcoming death that much more certain. It's an inheritance. Our hope is an inheritance that is imperishable. It's going to last forever. It's undefiled. It doesn't have any corruption. It's pure, it's unfading. It's not going to lose its quality over time.
Now, I don't know if you've ever inherited anything from a family member. Maybe you got great grandma's quilt or some civil war replica or something that you got from a relative. Maybe it's a car. And some things, maybe if it's great grandma's quilt, the person you got it from, maybe it was grandma or mom, it's like, it's older than them. So you think, "Man, this is old. This is going to last forever. It's stale," but you know that some of those things, there's a lot of work done to keep it up, whether it's been patched up or re-finished or whatever it is, it's had to have some work put into it, and then some things you get and it hasn't had as much work put into it and it kinda has faded over time.
Maybe the sun worn out or rust got on it. So you've inherited some things, but this inheritance, it says that it's imperishable, undefiled, unfading. This inheritance is that God gives us is beyond time. It's pure. It's not corrupt. It's not going to lose its quality over time because it is built for eternity. Now, I have not inherited anything else like that. Something that is built for eternity. This is something worth far more than what rust and moth can destroy.
And this is something to celebrate. This is something to be hopeful for. To look forward with confident expectation of an unfading inheritance, and when we look forward to something, we get excited. Kids have trouble sleeping when they know Santa is coming. In the movie Elf, there's this great line where he had just spent the day with his family and it's the next morning, they ask, "How'd you sleep?" And he says, "Oh, it's great, I got a full 40 minutes."
And you're like, "What! What is this guy on?" For moms of young children, you're thinking, "|it would be great if you could get a full 40 minutes without being woken up." The baby didn't wake up in the middle of the night or the dog didn't bark or the rooster didn't crow, whatever. All those things happened last night by the way in my house.
Getting a full 40 minutes uninterrupted, it's great. Then you would probably feel refreshed. It's funny how our values shift over time. As a kid you just can't wait for Santa, you can't wait for the presents, and as adults you're like, "Wow! A day off, I can sleep in." We are looking for the rest, and part of our inheritance with God is this sense of rest, but there is so much more to look forward to and with that, with our hope, it's our anticipation that feeds our celebration.
Our anticipation feeds our celebration. Now, I think it was sugar that fed most of Buddy's celebration in the movie. In fact, he said he stuck to the four main Elf food groups. Candy, candy cane, candy corn and syrup. Those were the four things, but our anticipation is beyond what the Elf showcases.
Now, what the Elf showcases is, there are really things that help us celebrate. It's sweets. I love those. Chocolate pie, we're going to do that again. Pumpkin Pie, we're going to do that again. Decorations, presents, singing songs loud and clear for all to hear, to spread Christmas cheer. All those things. Family, friends. Those are great. They help us celebrate our hope.
However, if this is all our hope is wrapped around is the things that help us celebrate, it's more like a sugar rush at Christmas. You've seen the sugar rush, right? You have an altered mental status, emotional outbursts, usually a good like an outburst of the emotion like glad. Your Forex state, but here's a warning with a sugar rush. You've had this other kid live at your house too enjoying the holidays. This next one, a sugar crash.
With the sugar rush comes the sugar crash. There's a sudden drop in energy, you're tired, you're weak, and maybe you have an emotional outburst that's not so glad, but it's more sad or mad. And I know I've seen this kid at my house, but even Will Ferrell could not escape that reality in making the movie Elf.
It says, here's a little bit of trivia for you, Will Ferrell suffered from headaches throughout filming as he had to actually eat all of the sugary food stuffs in the Elf food pyramid on camera. "Oh, we got to retake that Will. You've got to eat that again." He had headaches so he couldn't even escape that reality.
But if our main course, this holiday season is just the sweets, just the trimmings and we forget the meat, the substance, the sustenance of our hope, then we're going to probably walk away feeling kind of empty or even disappointed like, "Oh man, I didn't get those presents I want," or "I didn't see that person that I wanted to see," or "I didn't sing that song that I wanted to sing," or "Grandma didn't do that thing," and we can walk away feeling like we got ripped off, and we've got to wait a whole nother 12 months before we can be happy again, if all we're focused on are the things that help us celebrate.
Bible says, hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. So some of our hope is deferred, but some of it has been fulfilled. Christ has fulfilled some desires force, and there is a tree of life beginning to grow in us. We're already beginning to experience some of the new life Christ as he forgives us. Our guilt has been removed, our weight is lifted.
Again, the Bible says: he drew me up from the pit of destruction out of the miry bog and he set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord, and this is good, this is good for them and this praises God. This honors God because for those who trust God to the extent that we obey him and we really believe in who he says he is and we have this confident expectation there is much to hope for.
We have much to be thankful for, Christ has come. He's fulfilled so many promises. God is faithful and he's consistent and there're still promises ahead. He says he's going to return someday and wrap up all of history and deal with evil once and for all. We never have to fear it again, and there's so much to be looking forward to as we celebrate what's already been, so we can be thankful for what's taking place.
God's already begun to fulfill his promises and we can wait with confident expectations, but Christ is going to return once and for all. The Bible gives us a glimpse of what it's going to be like. Sin and suffering will no longer be a part of the equation. Will no longer have influence our lives.
And the last book of the Bible tells us about that in time as time is being wrapped up, it says this: through the middle of the street of the city, also on either side of the river, the tree of life with its 12 kinds of fruit yielding its fruit each month, the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.
Wow. The tree, the leaves of the tree of life were for the healing of the nations. We go into the holiday seasons, we know it's not perfect. We're excited. There's a lot of good things, but we know it's not perfect. One of the hopes we have is that one day we will be healed completely. No more mixture of suffering or pain. There is a tree of life for the healing of the nations, so we have much to hope for. We have much to celebrate.
Let's thank God today and as we go into the holiday season, let's celebrate the hope that we have in Christ. Let's pray.
Lord, we are grateful. We're grateful that you are a God who is trustworthy. You again and again and again have fulfilled your promises, not in ways that we necessarily knew or understood, but when they come and they're fulfilled, it's like, "Oh, that's what you have been trying to tell us all along," and you are good.
Your promises bring us life. Thank you so much for being kind and loving to offer those of us who have rejected you in the past, to offer us friendship and life everlasting. We thank you for that. As we go into the holiday season, may we remember the hope that we have in you. May we honor you, may we point others to you and that they may fear and trust you that they can grab a hold of that hope you offer to all people and we just ask you help us do that this holiday season and that you would be praised and that we could be a help to those around us. We pray these things in Jesus Christ's name. Amen.