Saturday, December 15, 2012

Advent 3

Philippians 4:4 
O Rejoice Ye Christians Loudly
The theme of rejoicing for this the third Sunday of Advent reminds us that Advent is not all sorrow, solemnity, and seriousness. For example, the much-loved carol “Joy to the world” is an Advent hymn, not Christmas. The focus of this Sunday is that you and I as Christians are to rejoice for Christ is coming to visit His people. You and I rejoice for we anticipate Christ is coming. Today is a time of excitement over who is coming. 

1.      What to do – Rejoice – under all kinds of circumstances – even in the midst of suffering.  The prophet Habakkuk tells his hearers that he will rejoice regardless of the circumstances, which surround his life. We have just come off a challenging growing and harvest season. It is easy for circumstances, especially difficult conditions, to dictate our rejoicing and the reasons for us to rejoice. Recall however, what the Prophet tells us:“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Vv. 17-18)
Transition: The prophet’s rejoicing is not dictated by circumstance, a difficult as they may be. The target of His rejoicing is in the Lord.
2.      Why should we rejoice – We rejoice in the Lord – We live in a dark and sinful world. Circumstances and factors beyond our control can bring us low. But what is truly at the root prohibiting our rejoicing is our sin. And to break the bondage of sin Jesus has promised to come.
Jesus is for those who feel bad. They look to their lives and see failure. Their sins rise up against them in a flood of accusations. Jesus has come for people whose faith is battered and weak. He has come for those who want to enjoy the Christmas cheer and join in the holiday celebration, but often feel less than joyous this time of year, so they feel bad about that, too, wondering is Scrooge wasn't right after all.       
To these people comes the Child of Bethlehem. He gives them what they need. He is not content to make them "feel" good. Soothing words are not His to give. Sentimental tripe never comes from His lips. For He is areal Savior who saves real sinners. He didn't come into this world to be cute and adored. He came to us to be abandoned. He was born to die, not a noble death applauded by the religious, but a death of loneliness engulfed in scorn and shame. And that miserable death saved us. For it was our sin which He took, away. The reason for our rejoicing is that we focus our rejoicing in the Lord Jesus.
3.      When do we rejoice? –  We rejoice Always!  This is what prompted Paul to write  “I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,  who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:4-8)
You and I have the peace and presence of God, which sustains us regardless of circumstance. Not the peace of mind, not the peace of heart, not the peace of men, but the people of God. This divine peace passes all understanding, and keeps the heart and mind focused on Christ. Surely this is good reason for us to rejoice.  Rejoice in the Lord always, again, I say, rejoice!

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