Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Mid-week Advent 3

Advent Mid-week 3
December 19, 2001
Isaiah 35:3-4

“Farewell to Fear”

INTRODUCTION:  Fear, FDR reminded a terrified nation “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” In the past three months as a nation, a society, and as a people we have dealt with the topic of fear. How is it that we address our doubts and our fears? 

We live in a unique time.  What will the future bring?  How do we face the future?  Is it possible to eliminate fear?  In the prophecy of Isaiah the Lord directs us to a point in time when our fears will all disappear.  That time has come as God has come to visit His people. These are certainly words of comfort and hope as Isaiah bids us to say farewell to our fears. Listen again to Isaiah’s comforting and encouraging words: “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear…” How can we be so bold? Isaiah assures us

I.                    Your God will come.

A.                 Jesus came into this world the first time as a mere baby. That was His first Advent.  He came for a specific purpose, which was to save people from their sins. He came wrapped in flesh to be our substitute; to take our place under the Law, to redeem us who are under the curse of the Law. As Jesus lived the perfect life as He went to the bloody cross and broke from the sealed and silent tomb He gives to us salvation and life.

B.         But that was only His first Advent. King Jesus has promised that He will come for a second time as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Lo! He comes with clouds descending
Once for ev’ry sinner slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of His train
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Christ the Lord returns to reign.
[ Lo! He comes with clouds descending Hymnal Supplement ’98 #802 stanza 1]

II.                 When He comes it will be with vengeance. 

A.                 Isaiah reminds us that He will come with divine retribution.  There is still one score to settle.  Those who have denied the Savior, those who refuse to depend upon Him; those who seed to destroy His children because they bear His name and bear up under His cross will be visited.  Jesus reminds us “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12) The matter that will be settled.  All will be made right when Jesus comes in sight.  When He opens His mouth death meets its death.

Every eye shall now behold Him
Robed in glorious majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold Him.
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall their true Messiah see.
[Lo! He comes with clouds descending Hymnal Supplement ’98 #802 stanza 2]

B.                 We need not take matters into our own hands. We need not try to force the Savior’s hand. We need not try to settle the matter. Christ will settle things in His own way and in His own time. We as His children are to content ourselves and, to the best of our ability, should live in peace. God is at peace – with you and with the world – for He has sent Christ, the prince of peace into this world, to win for us his true and abiding peace.

III.               The prophet tells us clearly “He will come to save”

A.                 Already He has save the world once – at the cross when Jesus suffered and died for your sins and for mine. Because of the cross and empty tomb we can say without any hesitation that there really is peace on earth good will toward men!  In Jesus Christ all sin is forgiven period!

Those dear tokens of His Passion
Still His dazzling body bears,
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshipers.
With what rapture, with what rapture,
Gaze we on those glorious scars!
[Lo! He comes with clouds descending Hymnal Supplement '98 #802 stanza 3]

B.                 The Lord’s peace will again be realized and perfected in us by either one of two realities.  Either you and I will be transferred from this vale of tears into the kingdom of glory or our eyes shall behold Him face to face when we see Him in the clouds of heaven.  Whatever it may be we can say now without any hesitation: “it is well, it is well with my soul.

Yea, Amen, let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the pow’r and glory,
Claim the kingdom as Thine own.
Alleluia, alleluia,
Thou shalt reign, and Thou alone!
[Lo! He comes with clouds descending Hymnal Supplement ’98 #802 stanza 4]

CONCLUSION:  "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”  Luke 12:32

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Mid-week Advent 2

Advent Mid-week 2
Isaiah 11:1-10
December 12, 2001

"A Profile in Greatness"

INTRODUCTION:  In this Advent season we look forward. As we look forward we anticipate one of two great events happening. Either we will celebrate with family and friends yet another Christmas or we will see Jesus face to face as He returns in glory.  If it is to be yet another Christmas celebration we will welcome Him into our hearts and homes.  If it is to be His Second Advent – we will be ushered out of this world only to spend our time in glory. Certainly we need to be prepared for these coming events.

But who is this expected one and what is He like?  Is He worth the effort?  Is He worth all of the preparation?  Is He worth the wait?

Admissions officers of colleges and universities often prepare profiles of new students to acquaint the faculty with the lives of incoming students. In business, the personnel director might do something similar with a new hire profiling a city of a community; highlighting schools, churches, and community attractions. Profiling can be a positive thing.

In our Old Testament lesson for this evening Isaiah draws a profile of the Messiah about 800 years before He came into the world. This evening, lets consider the portrait that Isaiah would paint for us as we consider the One who is coming. This evening, consider the profile of greatness.

I.                    Who is He?

A.                 He is a prince – v. 1 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a branch will bear fruit” As Isaiah wrote this prophecy the Assyrians had all but destroyed Judah.  Things got even worse! The Babylonians which took Judah into exile brought the kingdom of Judah to an end in the year 586 BC.  How could a prince emerge from such great odds stacked up against them?

With God all things are possible – In these word we have the Lord’s promise that the Messiah will grow as a shoot from the stump of David’s dynasty. As Jesse, the father of David has the promise of an even greater son emerging on the scene.

B.                 This coming one not only is He a prince – He is also a man of spirit. “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord” (v. 2) The Holy Spirit will endow Him with the wisdom to undertake wise purposes and with the power to carry them out in the fear of the Lord.

C.                 This coming one will also be a God-fearing man. “and He will delight in the fear of the Lord” Jesus, speaking to the people, speaks of the validity of His testimony.  In the gospel of John He says: “ The one who sent Me is with Me; He has no left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him” (v. 29)  Then John replies with this observation: “Even as He spoke, many put their faith in Him”

Transition: We see who this coming one is but what will He do?  Many a skeptic may question “but what have you done for me lately?”  Isaiah replies to this question:

II.                 What will this chosen one do?

A.                 He will judge righteously, not on outward appearance or on hearsay – “He will not judge by what He sees with His eyes, or decide by what He hears with His ears” (v. 3b) This is good news for you and me.  Despite the holy and pious things people might say, often time people act from selfish, self-centered and self-serving motives. They ask “what’s in it for me?”  Jesus establishes a new standard. He will judge by the standard He sets for the world - a standard that is centered in the cross and empty tomb. “With righteousness He will judge the needy with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth” (4b)

B.                 He comes to destroy the evil in the world through the power of His Word.  “He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth; with the breath of His lips he will slay the wicked” (4b)

As in Isaiah’s day world rulers many times lacked those qualities needed for leadership. Jesus, on the other hand, rules with righteousness and equity. You will always receive a fair hearing with Jesus on the throne.

III.               What will this coming Messiah accomplish?

A.                 He will establish peace on earth. “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a young child will lead them” (v. 6) We see this verse depicted in Christmas cards which we receive in the mail at Christmas time. On the cover we see a lion and a lamb lying down together.  As the world works, you would expect to open the card and find a picture of the lion licking his chops having just devoured the lamb!  The world knows nothing of peace! The world knows only strife, contention and war. It is only Jesus who can bring about real and everlasting peace.  That is why the prophet says “And a young child shall lead them”.  It was only at the coming of the Savior that the angels could sing “peace on earth, good will toward men”.

B.                 With the coming of this child to earth the sons of men will come to know God – They will neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mountain for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (v. 9) As the Word of God is taught people come to the knowledge of the truth. As Christ came into this earth so He reveals Himself to the whole earth that people now can come to know God.

C.        Wise men still seek Him. As the coming one enters time and space so now the nations seeks after God.  Isaiah writes: “In that day the root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to Him and His place of rest will be glorious” (v.10)

CONCLUSION: This is the profile of the coming one Jesus our new born king.  Jesus, a descendant of David comes as the righteous branch with healing for the nations. As we prepare to celebrate His entry into time and space as an infant may we even now prepare our hearts and minds to be welcomes by Him when he comes again as judge and king.  Oh, come let us worship Him, Christ the Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Mid-week Advent 1

December 5, 2001 
Luke 23:35-43 

"Peace in Our Time?"   

INTRODUCTION: The world is ever in pursuit of peace. Each succeeding decade makes peace a greater necessity because of the sophistication and proliferating of modern weapons. The great world powers have difficulty agreeing to limit armaments. Yet, the world longs for peace and fears the coming of the next war. This longing for peace is exhibited by the words of verse 4 carved on the outside wall of the United Nations building in New York City.  “And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Why has this dream of world peace not been realized? Our text for this night gives the conditions for peace, a peace the world has yet failed to pay. We need not a false hope of peace now when the nations are far from the Lord. This evening lest us consider this pressing question: is peace for the world possible?

1.     Is peace possible? Not now but in the last days – Listen to v.2 of our text for this evening:

And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

Peace can only come to this world when Jesus, the Prince of Peace returns in glory. Until that day comes the world, as we know it, will remain in turmoil and conflict. As long as this world runs there will be a world filled with strife and turmoil. This passage does not promise peace for the world today. Trouble and toil will continue until Jesus returns. But there will come a day when these words will be fulfilled. At Christmas we will celebrate the Savior’s first Advent –when He was born in Bethlehem’s manger. But there will come a time when His Second Advent will arrive. We wait and watch for His appearing> When Jesus returns and will stand upon the earth there will come to pass the words of this verse.
And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

On the last day, the Lord will return in glory where all the nations will flow to Him.

2.     Peace will become not only a possibility but also a reality when God our heavenly Father is hailed and considered the Lord and King of all.  God is “highest of the mountains” the center of the world, the hub of the universe. In Him we live and move and have our being. There is nothing that exists which has its foundation apart from God. He spoke the world into existence at the time of the creation and continues to sustain this world to this very moment. When God is considered to be the true God – that’s when peace will be realized. v. 2

And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

What does this mean? God is in control. When things appear not be going our way, when we can’t see the forest for the trees, when we can’t find any direction God still remains in control He orders our days and orders all things according to His perfect will. This is what the peace of God means for you and for me. We receive peace when we can’t find it any other place.  

3.     Peace will bring all nations to God. That’s when we will experience real and lasting peace…when all nations come to God and are brought under His rule then peace will become a reality. - vv. 2-3

And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.  And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem.

When people make peace with God they will have peace among themselves. How can we experience this peace? How do we know than there is “peace on earth and good will toward men”? There is peace because God is at peace. He has accepted the sacrifice, death and resurrection of Jesus His Son and our Savior. He exchanges our sin for His righteousness and grants us His peace. Christ Jesus the prince of peace has given us His eternal peace. Is there a possibility for peace? In Jesus we can only know the Father’s peace.
Then will come to pass verse 4

And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Are you searching for God’s perfect peace? Receive it this night in Jesus’ Holy Name.  O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just words do proceed, give unto Thy servants that peace which the world simply cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Thy commandments, and also that we, being defended by thee from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and in quietness. Amen