Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve
December 31, 2005
Romans 8:32
The Christian's Hope

He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?

INTRODUCTION: Once again we have come to the conclusion of another year of grace – another year in which we have been permitted by God’s amazing grace to live, and serve and have our being in Jesus Christ. What shall we say concerning all of the events which have transpired during the course of this past year? Possibly they can be best summed up in the words of St. Paul in our text for this night: He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Paul gives evidence of a hope we have in Christ – a hope we have in fact.

I.        This hope is founded in the fact that Christ suffered for us.

A.     That Jesus Christ, God’s Son, our Savior has suffered for us. Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary at Christmas is the Father’s gift to us; “He spared not His own and only Son”

B.     Because of this fact, we can conclude that the suffering of Christ can only be equaled by the suffering of God.

II.     This hope is founded in the fact that man's lost condition affected him more than the suffering of His Son.

A.     God our heavenly Father delivered Christ up “for us all.”  “God so loved the world…that He gave his only begotten Son…” {John 3:16a}

B.     The Father could not bear to see us in darkness but He could ask Jesus to “humble Himself and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

C.     Thus the Father closed His eyes to the agony of Jesus hat He might the better contemplate our need. [“Why hast Thou forsaken Me?”  - Jesus on the cross]

III.   The hope is founded in the fact that he grave again restored to the Father His Son.

A.     If in the death of Jesus, God was mindful of us, how shall He not, “with Him” restored to love, “freely give us all things?”

B.     That our risen Lord is our Mediator in the presence of the Father.

CONCLUSION: As we say farewell to yet another year know that your salvation is grounded in fact this is our hope - He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Sunday, December 25, 2005


December 25, 2005
Luke 2:1-20
“Christmas Without Christ”

INTRODUCTION: Luke sets the events of the gospel against the background of world history. The pagan emperor's decree about a census created the situation in which the Messiah was born in David's city of Bethlehem.

Jesus did not bring political peace to the world, but he made it possible for men and women to have peace with God. Charles Wesley (1:183) interprets the message as “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” Yet, to a skeptical world this is too much! Have you grown tired of Christmas? Do you believe possibly that Scrooge was right? Consider our text for today.

Christmas is bunk, unless…

Christ is born anew in us. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
In worldly terms Christmas is a happy time in terms of parties, banquets, gifts and friends. This is happiness that may wither with the Christmas tree which is discarded soon after Christmas day. Our joy is different.  In fact, joy is far different then happiness. It is deeper because it is based on good news. A Savior is born to save us from our sin. It is a joy that remains long aft the Christmas celebration is over. For this reason people who are unhappy at Christmas because of unfortunate circumstances can still have experience this Christmas joy.

Transition: Christmas is bunk unless Christ is born anew in us. You must also experience the worship of Christ.

Worship of Christ child is experienced. “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” Luke 2:15-16
With a heightened sense of excitement and determination, the shepherds rushed off to the baby's side. Notice the missionary interest of Luke in the spread of the gospel, this thing..., which the Lord has told us about. (v.15)

In the recorded history of the world, there have been few years of universal peace. There has been very little peace among nations since the first Christmas. How can Jesus then be called the “Prince of Peace”? The peace Jesus brings is not necessarily peace among men but peace between God and humanity. Only when spiritual peace prevails will there be peace among nations. There will not be peace between God and people until Christ is accepted by faith.

Transition: The bunk of Christmas disappears when salvation’s joy is found.

The joy of Christmas is the joy of salvation. “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10
The angel's announcement includes several of the most frequently used words in Luke's gospel: " I bring . . . good news," "joy," "today," "Savior," and "Lord." This shows the tremendous importance of the angelic pronouncement.
It is a bold proclamation of the Gospel at the very hour of Jesus' birth. The time has come for the fulfillment of the prophetic expectation of Messiah's coming.

Christmas was a communication event. The shepherds told the Holy Family what the angel said. If Christmas is good news, it must be told. It is told spontaneously. Here is good news! What has been promised and longed for over thousands of tears has at last happened.

CONCLUSION: The cradle of Christianity is evangelism – the telling of good news to sinners that they might have life in Christ. This leads to a joyous celebration because for us a Savior has been born!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Advent Mid-week 3

Advent Mid-week 3
December 14, 2005
Characters of the Nativity-Mary – Mother of our Lord

The circumstances regarding the Savior’s birth point to the fact that Jesus was born in time and space. There were circumstances involving His birth – there were persons who witnessed His nativity.

It was probably some time after Mary returned to Nazareth that “she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). Joseph, being a just but also kindly man, planned to divorce her quietly, rather than expose her to public disgrace, but was reassured by the message of an angel, given in a dream, that Mary’s child was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Joseph was instructed, as Mary had already been (Luke 1:31) to call the baby’s name Jesus (“Jehovah is salvation”), “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Immediately Joseph took Mary to his home as his wife, but had no union with her until after the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:25).

If we had only Matthew’s account, we would have thought Joseph and Mary belonged to Nazareth, but Luke makes it clear that the birth of Jesus occurred in Bethlehem only because of the census, which brought his parents to their ancestral home town. Matthew and Luke bring Bethlehem into the picture to make the record fulfill the prophecy of Micah 5:2.

A census was taken in the Roman world every fourteen years, so one would have occurred about 8-7 B.C., and it may have been somewhat delayed in Palestine.  In a census in A.D. 104 people in Egypt were required to return to their own town for enrollment. When Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria in A.D. 6, it was his second such appointment; he may well have been an additional governor at the time of an earlier census. There seems no valid reason, therefore, to reject Luke’s clear statement about the circumstances of Jesus’ birth.

The census would account for the shortage of accommodation in Bethlehem. The “inn” (katavluma), probably was a simple lodging place, and of course, with no reservations in hand the inn was full. Somewhere nearby, perhaps in a cave, Jesus was born and laid in a “manger” (favtnh)—not a stall, but a feeding trough for animals.

Joseph and Mary stayed in the environs of Jerusalem until two further requirements of the Jewish law were fulfilled. For every first-born child, a redemption price of five silver shekels, about $3.65 in American money, or ten days’ wages for a working man, had to be paid to the Temple a month after the birth (Numbers 18:16). Then, forty-one days after the birth for a boy, the ceremony of the mother’s purification took place (Leviticus 12:2-4).

For convenience, these two ceremonies were commonly combined in one visit to the Temple, as was the case here. The offering for a mother’s purification was a lamb and a turtle-dove or a young pigeon. Joseph and Mary offered the alternative permitted to a mother too poor to afford a lamb, of two turtle-doves or pigeons (Luke 2:24)*

Luke tells us (Luke 1:26-38) that the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. This messenger from heaven comes to a young girl in Nazareth to tell her that she is to be the mother of the Messiah. Joseph was a son of King David. By physical nature Jesus was a son of David. He was also the Son of God and his kingdom is eternal. This is all God’s work; the child would be the product of the Holy Spirit. Humbly and submissively, Mary consented to be God’s instrument in bringing His Son on earth as a human being.

The only question Mary will ask is “how will this happen?” When Mary receives the news of her coming motherhood of the Messiah, she asked a sensible and normal question, “How?” Since she is unmarried, how could she become a mother? In this twenty-first century, not every girl would need to ask that question! How is this miracle to be performed?

The answer is in the Holy Spirit who would be the Father of God’s Son. The question, “how?” was vital to Mary, but to Christians there are more important questions about this child. Who is He and why is He coming?

The circumstances surrounding Mary turn the impossible and the improbable into our reality. This is an impossible situation! A birth without a father, a peasant girl becoming the mother of God, and God becoming a person! Nothing is impossible with God! Christmas is God’s work and action! He comes to us in the person of Jesus Christ. He chooses Mary. He produces a life by the Spirit. Because Christmas is of God, the impossible becomes possible.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

*Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, “The Birth and Infancy Narratives” Grand Rapids MI D. G. Stewart editor 

Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH pp.22-23

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Advent Mid-week 2

Advent Mid-week 2
December 7, 2005
Characters of the Nativity-Shepherds

INTRODUCTION: Out in the fields a group of shepherds stood guard over their flock that night. Such flocks were always needed for the sacrifices of the Temple at Jerusalem, a mere six miles away. Informed of the birth by an angel, the shepherds went to Bethlehem, found the babe wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger, and excitedly repeated the message they had received. For others, the shepherds’ words were a passing wonder, “but Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).*

By faith we journey with them to Bethlehem. For this good news of Jesus’ birth was given by the angel to shepherds who went to see the new born king.

With the shepherds we visit the new born king. The shepherds were keeping watch to guard the flock against thieves and marauders. Into the night of the world Jesus came as the true Light. A symbol of this truth was the heavenly light.
A question. Why is it that so few experience the true joy of Christmas? The answer quite frankly is that they have not heard the good news told by the angel to these shepherds. It is told to us this night. The source of our joy is found in verse 11 of our text: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”   Luke 2:11

Who is born? “To you is born this day a Savior” This is good news to those in need of a Savior. And when is He born? “This day” Christmas is a contemporary experience, not an historical observance of an ancient event. Today is the day of salvation. This is the day the Lord has made. Now He is making all things new.

Transition: “To you is born a Savior”. We now tell His story with joy.

Like the shepherds we share His story with others. The shepherds were afraid in the face of the divine glory and holiness but they had no need to fear because the angel’s message was not of judgment but of salvation, not only to the shepherds but to all people.
To whom is He born? He is born “to you”. “To you is born this day a Savior.” It is not Christmas for you unless Christ is re-born in you. Thus we can say with the hymn writer: “Cans out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.”

CONCLUSION: The Christmas story is for real. It was to real live humans that the story of the Christ child was delivered. The first announcement of this birth came to a despised people. It came not to the rulers, the educated, the scribes or the pious Pharisees. This news came not to aristocratic elite but to shepherds – the despised, unlearned, crude, rough people listed with publicans and sinners. For He is a real Savior who has come to save real sinners and in His birth, suffering, passion, death and resurrection there is forgiveness, salvation and life.  

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

* Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, The Birth and Infancy Narratives Grand Rapids MI D. G. Stewart editor