Saturday, December 15, 2018

Advent 3

Advent 3 – Series C
December 16, 2018
Philippians 4:4
O Rejoice Ye Christians Loudly

The theme of rejoicing for this the third Sunday of Advent - Gaudete Sunday - 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 are to rejoice for Christ is coming to visit His people. You rejoice as you anticipate Christ who is coming. Today is a time of excitement over Jesus and His 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 your rejoicing and the reasons for you 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.” (Habakkuk 3: 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.

There is trouble. That comes simply from living in a fallen world. Things don’t work right. Cars break down. Nature doesn’t work right. Tornadoes and hail damage and flooding. People don’t do the right thing. They do things that hurt us, whether directly or indirectly. Economic decisions, way above our heads, cost us money. Or, more directly, thieves break in and steal our stuff. There’s emotional hurt, too. People we care about betray us and break our hearts. People we love–we see them suffering, and we suffer, too. We lose the people we love, whether to death or to distance, and we miss them. All these are troubles we face simply by living in a fallen world, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian or not. You’ve got your troubles; I’ve got mine. We’ve all got them, in one form or another - together.

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 nonsense never comes from His lips.  He is a real Savior. Who saves real sinners. He didn't come into this world to be venerated or 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 your sin which He took, away. The reason for your rejoicing is that you focus on 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 have the peace and presence of God, which sustains you 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 you to rejoice.  Rejoice in the Lord always, again, I say, rejoice!
Passive Sentences – 4%
Readability – 78.8%
Reading Level-5.2

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