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Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
December 1, 2010

LeBron James and Advent hope

A pig is being roasted tomorrow in Cleveland. This would not make today’s New York Times, except that it has been branded with LeBron James’s number 6. Last summer, the basketball superstar spurned their town to join the Miami Heat. Fans burned his jersey in anger. Now they’re looking forward to sharing their feelings with their former hero in person.

Everyone needs hope in something. That’s why I’m glad we have each year an Advent “week of hope.” Psychologists know that hope is essential to happiness. One example concerns a group of starving children who were rescued from a concentration camp at the end of World War II. The soldiers immediately fed them and gave them clothes and beds. But weeks later, the children were still restless through the night, unable to sleep. A counselor hit on the solution: he gave them a piece of bread when they went to bed. They were to hold it, but not to eat it. This tangible proof that they would have food in the morning gave them security to sleep through the night.

What “bread” are you holding this morning? Where do you find hope today?

The Scriptures call us to place our hope in our Father’s love for us: “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you” (Psalm 33:22). This is a choice we can make today: “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you” (Psalm 39:7); “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 43:5).

The sooner we make this decision, the better: “You have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth” (Psalm 71:5). We can choose hope in God all through this day: “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long” (Psalm 71:14-15).

The Bible promises that nothing can ever separate you from Jesus’ love for you (Romans 8:35-39). If he would die for you, what won’t he do for you today? One of the first stories I ever heard in a sermon was about a boy who built himself a little red toy sailboat. He loved it and played with it every day. Until the day the string broke and it sailed down the river and out of his sight. He was crushed.

A few days later he saw his boat in the window of a pawn shop. He went to get it back, but the owner told him he’d have to buy it. So he saved every nickel until he had enough money. He took it to the shop and retrieved his boat. As he left the store he said to the boat in his hands, “Now you’re mine twice. I made you the first time, and I bought you the second.”

Can you hear Jesus say the same to you today?

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