Steven Furtick — Learning Hope The Hard Way
You are sitting in one of Christmas Eve worship experiences that we're hosting in physical locations, and what a privilege to minister the Word of God to you today. I decided just to use one verse. It's completely coincidental that this is my eleventh Christmas sermon as the pastor of Elevation Church and my text happens to be Isaiah 11.
This is the coolest Christmas Scripture you've never heard. You've probably never heard this little verse of Scripture, and I know you've never heard it in a Christmas sermon. I had not either, so I decided to preach it. The Lord has really been using it. I want to read you this verse. Don't worry if you don't see what it has to do with Christmas right when I read it, but you will in a minute.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1)
It is a very promising prophecy that Isaiah delivers to a people who have been cut down and reduced to almost nothing. One of my favorite country preachers used to have a saying. He would say, "When you're down to nothing, God is up to something." Elbow your neighbor and tell them, "God is up to something in your life."
Even if you can't feel it, even if you can't see it, even if you can't discern it with your natural senses, I want you to know that God is up to something in your life. If you've had a banner year or a barren year, God is up to something in your life. He was up to something in the nation of Israel. They had placed their hope in other gods, and yet the promise of redemption echoes over years before the birth of Christ through the prophet Isaiah.
He says, "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." Let me back up and read that one more time, because I think I see Jesus in this text. "From his roots a Branch will bear fruit."
Could it be that the branch Isaiah speaks of is the baby that was born in the town of Bethlehem? Could it be that the eagle-eyed prophet is seeing through seven centuries into our present hope? Peter calls it a "living hope."
The author of Hebrews calls it an "anchor for our souls." We celebrate this season that hope has come. Somebody shout, "I have a hope!" Let the Devil hear you say it, because he's been messing with you and you've had a hard year, but let him know you're still standing by the grace of God and you have a hope.
Somebody shout, "I have a hope!" It's a certain kind of hope. It's not a floating hope. I saw Holly watch a movie a few years ago. It's been quite a few years. They called the movie Hope Floats. I didn't watch the movie. Holly had it on. I don't know anything about the movie, but I know the title isn't accurate, because real hope is like an anchor.
It doesn't float on the surface of your situation, but it gets down to the bottom and holds on tight while you're going through hell. When you get Paul involved... Paul is the New Testament apostle who took the gospel to the Gentiles.