Tuesday, December 31, 2002

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve
December 31, 2002
Hebrews 13:8
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forevermore"

INTRODUCTION:  Well here we are at the end of another year.  365 days have come and gone. On a night such as this we come with many mixed emotions. We might look back at the past year and wish that the year would not end. On the other hand some might wish that 2002 would be past history that we might get the year over with and move on to something more positive.  In any life there are years that we savor and other years we would much rather forget.

Tonight we look back on a year gone by. We look bat at this past year and realize triumphs as well as failures. We see both disappointments and blessings; we find pains as well as pleasures. And yet, as we look at time that seems to fly by so quickly we see that our Lord Jesus remains timeless. In fact, what's more He never changes. Jesus remains consistent beyond time.

I.                    Jesus Christ has been right by our side in the past.

There was never a time in the past year when He didn't know of your situation or circumstance.
1.      He's all knowing

2.      He's all seeing

3.      He's ever present

He has never left you down
1.      There have been times when we have left Him down.

2.      There have been times when we would not listen to His Word

Transition:  But He remains changeless and that is why in the beginning even before time began before this world existed He established an eternal plan to save and redeem you.

II.                 He is with us right now.

A.                To forgive us our sin

1.      Establishing us as His own

2.      Drawing us to Himself

3.      Ever guiding and leading us

B.                 Where there is the forgiveness of sins there is also life and salvation.

1.      Jesus said: "I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly…"

2.      Salvation, having peace with God is a byproduct of this forgiveness.

III.               As He has never left us down in the past and is actively involved in our lives at the present we can be assured that He will go with us in this New Year.

A.                Changes might come our way in the New Year of 2003

1.      Our Lord has some things to teach us.

2.      All this is to draw us closer to Himself.

B.                 No matter what comes our way He's mighty enough to handle any problem we might have.

1.      This is the only way we'll survive in this often-unpredictable world.

2.      We can depend on Jesus our Savior.

CONCLUSION: We live in an ever in an ever increasing world of change. But in the midst of change Jesus remains changeless. He will be with us as He has in the past and will continue to be so even in the New Year. In His hands we will rest safe and secure.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Christmas Day

Christmas Day
December 25, 2002
Luke 2:1-20
"The Reality of Christmas"

INTRODUCTION:  A common opinion among "enlightened" people in our post-modern world holds that Christmas is only a story, a myth, a legend - something akin to the story of the sugar plum fairy and Santa. Such folk believe that Jesus is no more real than Rudolph the red nosed reign deer.

The reality happens to be that Jesus came to this earth as He broke into time and space. Consider, from the original Christmas story, how real Christmas happens to become reality. The Christmas story is based on concrete, specific details.

1.      First consider the political realities. - There were specific political realities and circumstances happening at the time Christ was born in Bethlehem.  Luke puts it this way: "And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed".

The Lord Jesus was born at a time in which the Romans controlled the world.  Jesus came to this world when a tyrant ruled the world from the safety and security of Rome. Nothing but Caesars' rule and Caesars' reign mattered.

Yet look closer.  Jesus the Lord of life is being born into this world. He is the mighty God who spoke the world into existence - yet He comes into this world like all of us. He is born as an infant, a baby; born to take on our nature. The apostle John puts it this way: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us - full of grace and truth" (John 1)

Jesus was also born at a specific time. Luke tells us: "And this taxing took place when Cyrenius was governor of Syria".  Jesus' timing couldn't have been better. He came at a specific point in time - He came into this world when the world was held in sin and darkness.  In the midst of this world's sin and darkness Jesus Christ - the Very light of the world - burst forth His divine light to dispel the darkness of sin and death. Isaiah the prophet simply tells us: "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.  The people dwelling in a land of deep darkness, upon them the light has shined".  When He created this world the Lord spoke and said: "Let there be light".  At Christmas He became that light which brightens the souls of men and draws men to Himself. 

Transition:  There were political realities, there are also principle characters - Mary and Joseph.

2.      This couple will make the trip up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth into Judea unto the city of David called Bethlehem because Joseph was of the house and lineage of King David.  Mary and Joseph engaged to be married found themselves in a troubled relationship before the marriage even began!  Matthew will tell us that before they came together Mary was found to be with child by the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph knew only two realities. First, his fiancĂ©e' was pregnant.  The second reality - he was not the father!  That's why we find Joseph in Matthew's gospel contemplating how to put Mary away quietly.  He's at a crossroads and appears to be a man in crisis. He has deep emotional feelings for the girl - he cares for her immensely. But at the same time He fells betrayed and broken. Frightened and confused, feeling slighted and betrayed Joseph ponders what he should do.  What should he do? 

A divine intervention is needed.  An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him: "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit".  There you have it!  Joseph and Mary will marry - they will become a family and as far as the rest of the world is concerned folk will assume that Joseph is the father of his son Jesus. But you and I know better. We're reminded of this divine intervention every single time we confess the creed together!

3.      Then there's the place where Jesus is born. The delivery room is an out building connected to the house where the animals were kept. A barn would be too elaborate a description.  It's more like a pen or a lean-to. Jesus is born there for there is no other place for Him to be born. The street is the only other place available.

What does this mean? You can never be too low for Jesus! No matter where you have been and no matter what your circumstances - you can never sink too low for Jesus. His birth is a predictor of His death. His birth among those of humble means will not diminish the fact that He alone is a priceless treasure!

4.      Then there are those, whose lives were forever changed due to the circumstances of these events.  They all saw it - they witnessed the greatest miracle of Christmas - they welcomed the Lord Jesus into their lives - never again would their lives be miserable again.  Sure there would be sad and lonely times but in an instant they were granted audience with the Lord of life. They had witnessed a miracle - God coming to man in the presence of His Son Immanuel - God who is with us.

CONCLUSION:  That's what makes Christmas so special - it's not the gifts, the noise the lights - it's the story just as it happened - God coming to man in time and space. We have seen it too and beheld the wonder of it all!  A blessed Christmas to one and to all! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Mid-week Advent 3

Mid-week Advent 3
December 18, 2002
Psalm 146
"When you care to send the best…"

INTRODUCTION:  "When you care to send the best choose FTD!" So says the American floral group.  We are just one week before Christmas. In our mad dash to make everything perfect we want to make sure that we choose someone who will send our cards, gifts and goodies the best. As we place our confidence in Him who broke into time and space we see Him in all of His glory as He delivers the goods in triumph, trust and truth.

1.      Triumph in the form of praise (Psalm 146:1-2)

A.     Praise Deliberately Provoked V.1 
1 Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul.

B.     Praise Distinctly Promised V.2
2 I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

2.      Trust

Misplaced Trust Vv. 3-4
1.      Subtle enticement -V.3 
3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.

2.      Simple error - V.4 
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.

Meaningful Trust Vv. 5-7
1.      Our song -V.5
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God,

2.      His strength - Vv.6-7

a.      strength to create a universe – 6
6 the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them- the Lord, who remains faithful forever.

b.      strength to control a universe – 7
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free,

3.  Truth

God's infinite mercy - V. 8a
8a the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, 

God's inflexible morality - V.8b-9
8b the Lord loves the righteous. 9 The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 

God's invincible majesty - V.10 
10 The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord.
God of glory and power, happy indeed are those who have put their trust in You. Shine the brightness of Your light upon us, that we may love You always with a pure heart and praise You forever through Jesus Christ our Lord.

For All the Saints A Prayer book for and by the Church, Year 2: Advent - Pentecost American Lutheran Publicity Bureau - Delhi, NY © 1995

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Advent mid-week 2

Mid-week Advent 2
December 11, 2002
Psalm 19
Glories in the Heavens

INTRODUCTION:  The company of the angels who sang to the shepherds concerning the Savior's birth said: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace good will toward men."  Our Psalm for this evening, Psalm 19 sings the same new song.  As we count down the days before Christmas we consider the Lord of heaven and earth who has come to visit His people. He has made His revelation known in the heavens and in the Scriptures, which give light to the life of men. Consider the glory of God made known to men.

1.      God's revelation concerning Himself in the heavens

A.     An Unmistakable witness V. 1
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

B.     An untiring witness V. 2 
2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

C.     An understandable witness Vv. 3-6
3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, 5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.

Transition:  God is made known in the world. But we know Him best through the testimony of the Scriptures.

2.      God's revelation of Himself in the Scriptures

A.     God's Word is precious  Vv. 7-10

1.      It challenges us V. 7 
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

2.      It cheers us V. 8 
8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

3.      It changes us Vv. 9-10 
9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure 
and altogether righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.

B.     God's Word is powerful Vv. 11-14

1.      It convicts us V. 11
11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

2.      It cleanses us V. 12 
12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.

3.      It corrects us  Vv. 13-14

a.      It will keep me from folly V. 13 
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

b.      It will keep me in fellowship V. 14 
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Heavenly father, You have filled the world with beauty. Open our eyes to see Your gracious hand in all Your works, that rejoicing in Your whole creation, we may learn to serve You with gladness, for the sake of Him through whom all things were made, Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

For All the Saints A Prayer book for and by the Church, Year 2: Advent - Pentecost - American Lutheran Publicity Bureau Delhi, NY © 1995

Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Advent mid-week 1

Advent mid-week 1
December 4, 2002
Psalm 98 
The Magnificat of the Old Testament

INTRODUCTION: As we turn our sights toward Bethlehem's manger we prepare ourselves to celebrate once again the coming of the Christ child into our heats at Christmas. Mary upon hearing that she was chosen to bear the Son of God responded in a song of praise call the Magnificat. This was not the first time such a hymn was sung.  In fact, our Psalm for this evening, Psalm 98 is such a hymn of praise. As we remember all of the tender mercies, which the Lord has showered down on us let us too join with the Psalmist offering to the Lord our praise and thanksgiving.

1.      The Lord's might (Psalm 98:1-2)

A.    The Song of the Lord -V. 1a 
1a O SING to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things

B.     The Strength of the Lord -v. 1b 
1b  His right hand and His holy arm have wrought salvation for Him.

C.  The Song of the Lord - V. 2 
2The Lord has made known His salvation; His righteousness has He openly shown in the sight of the nations. (Luke 2:30-31)

2.      The Lord's mercy (Psalm 98:3-6)

A.    The remembrance of that mercy - V. 3 
3He has [earnestly] remembered His mercy and loving-kindness, His truth and His faithfulness toward the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have witnessed the salvation of our God.  (Acts 13:47; 28:28.)

B.     The result of that mercy - Vv. 4-6 
4Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy, yes, sing praises! 5Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the voice of melody.6With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

3.      The Lord's majesty (Psalm 98:7-9)

A.    The jubilation of the earth - Vv. 7-9a
7Let the sea roar, and all that fills it, the world, and those who dwell in it! 8Let the rivers clap their hands; together let the hills sing for joy 9a Before the Lord, for He is coming to judge [and rule] the earth;

B.     The judgment of the earth - V. 9b
9b  with righteousness will He judge [and rule] the world, and the peoples with equity.

1.      The Lord will rule faithfully

2.      The Lord will rule fairly

Lord, we sing to You a new song, for Your victory is ever new. In the empty tomb You have given us a glimpse of Your future and in Your victory over death You have shown us how we shall overcome the last enemy.  As the seas roar and the hills sing together, we too will praise You for Your great triumph; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen

For All the Saints A Prayer book for and by the Church, Year 2: Advent - Pentecost American Lutheran Publicity Bureau Delhi, NY © 1995