PROMISES AND HOPE (I Tim 6:6) ADVENT

 

Some are ‘Dog people’ and others are not. My wife falls in to the former category, and how! The kids and I learned with some glee that she was to take a service for Hearing Dogs and their owners over in Great Missenden Church. Hearing Dogs are trained up as are Guide Dogs for the Blind, but with the obvious difference. Round the lunch table we surmised that if the organist played certain notes, the doggies would howl all the way through the hymns. Or perhaps some swine would toss a bit of raw steak in front of them and cause a scrap. Best of all, one of them might take a nip at the Bishop as he walked past to the pulpit. I had real hopes for this occasion, but I have to report that it failed to live up to its promise. The doggies were good as gold.

 

1 Timothy 6:6 St Paul writes, “There is great gain in godliness combined with contentment.”

 

Winning the Lottery promises happiness. Except that usually it doesn’t deliver. Did you see how a couple won £8 Million in the Euro Lotto last Friday? Almost without exception, winning the Lottery fails to live up to the promise, because the best things in life are free. But God’s promises can be relied on and are worth more than anything this world has to offer.

 

Some Christians believe in what we call the ‘Prosperity Gospel.’ In other words, live a good life and God will make you rich and protect you from bad things.  What utter rubbish this is.

Christians are not spared the ups and downs of this life, in fact quite the opposite. Look what happened to Jesus, and he lived the perfect life. To all who follow him by faith he says, “Take up your cross and follow me.”

 

And yet despite all that this world can do he promises hope; hope of blessing now amid the difficulties of life and hope beyond death.

 

Here is an example. Some weeks ago, a girl in her 20s called Emily was badly injured in a hit and run accident. It was bad, severe head injuries plus lots more. It was not at all sure whether she would pull through. As the days and weeks passed, the family faced the challenge together, and her granny was telling me what great comfort and strength they drew from the community, and the hope which faith in Christ offers. There was no guarantee that God would answer their prayers in the way they wanted, but nevertheless his day-to-day blessing was of enormous value. Hope in Christ has sustained them. It so happens that Emily is in Amersham Hospital making good progress for which we are all very thankful. But let me ask you, if you were in the same circumstances how would you manage, and would you have the same hope?

 

St Paul was right. “There is great gain in godliness combined with contentment.” God’s promises can be relied on and are worth more than anything this world has to offer.