below are listed 9 sermons

 

 

 

“Thank God for God”

Psalm 97

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

 

A college professor, an avowed Atheist, was teaching his class.   He shocked several of his students when he flatly stated he was going to prove there was no God. Addressing the ceiling he shouted:  "God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform.   I'll give you 15 minutes!"

 

The lecture room fell silent. You could have heard a pin fall. Ten minutes went by. Again he taunted God, saying, "Here I am, God.  I'm still waiting."   His countdown got down to the last couple of minutes when a Marine - just released from active duty and newly registered in the class - walked up to the professor, hit him full force, and sent him tumbling from his lofty platform. The professor was out cold!

 

At first, the students were shocked and babbled on in confusion.  The young Marine took a seat in the front row and sat silent.  The class fell silent...waiting.  Eventually, the professor came to, shaken. He looked at the young Marine in the front row. When the professor regained his senses and could speak he asked: "What's the matter with you? Why did you do that?" "God was busy...He sent me."

 

J. I. Packer:

"Disregard the study of God and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you.  This way you can waste your life and lose your soul."

 

When we express our thanks, most often than not it is to for the things which God does.  We are thankful for the visible, what we can see; and, not for the invisible, WHO we can’t see.

 

Yet, more than we should be thankful for what God does, we should most thankful for WHO GOD IS. 

 

Everyday, we should thank God for God!

 

1. His SUPREME PREEMINENCE!

 

[v. 1, 9]

Theme of Psalm 97 is the supreme preeminence of God. 

 

The average person’s God is not too big, but too small. 

 

Yet, the God of the Bible that the universe cannot contain Him; yet, He is so small that He can live within our hearts.

 

How big is God

How big and wide

His vast domain.

To try to tell,

These lips can only start.

He’s big enough

To rule this mighty universe;

Yet, small enough to live within my heart.

 

Benjamin Franklin:

“I have lived a long time, and I am ever more convinced that God governs the affairs of men.”

 

Daniel 4: 25, “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.”

 

Proverbs 21: 1, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water:  He turneth it whithsoever He will.”

 

The king may hold the title, but GOD IS ON THE THRONE!

 

Because of His supreme preeminence, we can rest assured that nothing can happen apart from:

 

A) God’s ALLOWANCE

 

[v. 1] “The Lord reigneth”

[v. 9] He is “exalted far above all gods.”

 

Whatever happens must first be sifted through the Sovereign fingers of Almighty God. 

 

“God may not will every circumstance, but He has a will FOR every circumstance.”

 

God’s will is for all men to go to Heaven, yet millions will go to hell.  God doesn’t desire it, and He didn’t design it; but, if it happens, He must allow it.

 

B)God’s AWARENESS

 

[Vv. 2-6]

“The heavens declares his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.”

 

Proverbs 15: 3, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”

 

Matthew 5: 45, “He maketh His sun to shine on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

HAS IT EVER OCCURRED TO YOU THAT NOTHING HAS EVER OCCURRED TO GOD?

 

There is no plan B in Heaven, because plan A works every time as far as God is concerned.

 

5 words not in God’s vocabulary: 

I DID NOT KNOW THAT!

 

C) God’s APPROVAL

 

[v. 2] “Clouds and darkness are round about him:  righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.”

 

God’s dwelling place and habitation are righteousness and justice.

 

Whatever He does is right, and can never be wrong!

 

Genesis 18: 25, “Shall not the judge of all the earth DO RIGHT?”

 

Lady once asked me, “Pastor, where was God the day my son was killed?”  I said, “He was the same place He was the day His Son was killed.  He was still on the throne, still in charge and nothing out of His sight.”

 

F. B. Meyer, "As the brook hides the footprints which are imprinted on its soft ooze, so are God's footprints hidden. We cannot detect his great and wonderful secrets. He marches through the ages with steps we cannot track.”

 

God’s ways are marvelous, miraculous and mysterious.  We cannot see them, we may not know them, and we will not understand them.

 

I understand my wife better than I understand God; and, I don’t always understand my wife!

 

Yet, He is still the God of supreme preeminence, and I thank Him for it.

 

2.  His SOVEREIGN POWER!

 

We know that God is all-powerful (omnipotent), but the Psalmist speaks of God’s power as it relates to God’s people. 

 

His power makes Him able:

 

A) To PURIFY His People

 

[v. 10a] “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil.”

The indication is that if we love the Lord, then we will hate sin.  God will give us the power to “hate evil.”

 

You should me how much you hate sin, and I will show you how much you love God.

 

A group of fraternity fellows pulled a college prank.  They stole a goat, which was the college mascot and placed it in the boys’ dorm.  One boy, fearful that they would be found out asked, “What about the smell?”  The fraternity head said, “The goat will have to get used to it!”

 

Many Christians have “gotten used” to sin.  But, God never saved us in our sin, but FROM our sin.

 

B) To PRESERVE His People

{v. 10b] “He preserveth the souls of his saints.”

 

God’s past occupation was to pardon us, but His present occupation is to PRESEVE us. 

 

His past work was to save us; but, His present work is to KEEP US SAVED.

 

Thus, if a man could be able to lose salvation, it would not be a failure on man’s part, but on God’s part.

 

C) To PROTECT His People

 

[v. 10c] “he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.”

 

Aren’t you glad to know that God is building a hedge of protection around us?  He is protecting us from self, from sin and from Satan.

 

We should thank Him for it.

 

3. His SPECIAL PROVISION!

 

2 things God has given to His people that He hasn’t given to anyone else:  LIGHT & LAUGHTER!

 

A) We will be GUIDED by the Lord

 

[v. 11] “Light is sown for the righteous”

 

Light removes/light reveals.  It guides our path.

 

His Word is to become a “lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path.”

 

B) We can be GLAD in the Lord

 

Man visited Metropolitan Tabernacle and wrote Spurgeon a letter after his visit.  In his letter he said, “He was convinced that it wasn’t a Baptist church.  For one thing, the crowd was too large; and, for another thing, the people seemed so happy.”  He said, “When I watched the joy on their faces, I knew that these people did not recognize the depravity of their own heart, else they would not have been so happy.”

 

Yet, it is because I know the depravity of my heart, where I was and what I was before God saved me that makes me happy.

 

You ask me why I’m happy,

Then, I’ll just tell you why

Because my sins are gone.

 

Contrary to what most Baptists think, GOD WANTS HIS PEOPLE TO BE HAPPY!

 

[v. 11b] He has sown “gladness for the upright in heart.”

 

Someone who is guided by the Lord will be glad in the Lord.  A person who truly knows God will be a healthy person, a holy person, and a HAPPY person.

 

C) We should be GRATEFUL for the Lord

 

After all that God is to us, and after all that God has done for us, we should have no problem being grateful for the Lord.

 

[v. 12] “Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.”

We should thank God for God.  We should be grateful for His preeminence, His power and His provision.

 

C. L. Brenner was a renowned atheist who worked with Madelyn Murray O’Hare for a number of years.  One day, through gospel tract, he was brought under conviction and gave his heart to Christ.

 

He embarked on a journey of theology, and the study of God, and wrote:

“I spent more than half of my life attempting to prove that God did not exist.  Yet, in that journey, I only proved that God did exist even more.  I do not know everything about God, but what I do know has radically changed my life.”

 

I once heard the story a about a construction worker named Johnny. He was working with a crew that working downtown on a building. One day, the pastor of a large church just a few blocks from the construction site, walked into the sanctuary of the church. There sat a construction worker in his dirty clothes and hardhat.

 

The pastor walked up to him asked and if he could help him. The fellow said, "Mister, I ain’t ever been in church like this. I was raised back up here in the mountains and we didn't have any churches like this. Anyway, Ma and Pa never took me to church. This is my dinner hour and I just wanted to come and see what a church like this looks like." The pastor asked him his name and he said, "My name is Johnny, Sir."

 

The pastor said, "Well, Johnny, you just look around." The pastor told him a little about the church and then Johnny said, "Mister, can you tell me something about your God?" The pastor began to tell him about the Lord. After a little while Johnny looked at his watch and said it was time to get back to work, but wanted to know if he could come back again and talk some more. For several days, during his lunchtime, Johnny came back and talked to the preacher about the Lord. One day Johnny bowed his head and asked the Lord to save him.

 

He asked the preacher, "Do you mind if I come over here during my lunchtime? It only takes me about ten or fifteen minutes to eat, and I would like to just come over and talk to the Lord." The pastor said it would be fine, and for weeks he come by and spend his lunchtime in the church auditorium.

 

One day the pastor was in the auditorium when Johnny came in. He didn't see the pastor. He walked down front, took off his hardhat, and then knelt in the altar. He was an uneducated and unlettered person that didn't know how to pray all those fancy prayers such as, "Thou great Jehovah, Thou who scooped out the valley and piled up the mountains," etc. He got on his knees and began to pray, "Jesus, this is Johnny. Don't want a thing today. Lord, I just wanted to tell you that I love you and thank you for saving me. Lord, you know how much I love you. I can't thank you enough for saving me. Lord, I've got to get back to work now, but thank you again for saving me."

 

If God never did another thing for us, we would still have reason to not only thank Him for what He’s already done, but we would have to Thank Him for being Him! 

 

I say, “Thank God for God!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Coming Home

 

 

 

 

Luke 15: 11-24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

Gardenview Baptist Church

Jacksonville, FL

 

October 14. 2007

HARVEST HOMECOMING CELEBRATION

“Coming Home”

Luke 15: 11-24

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

October 14. 2007

Sermon Outline

1.  The Wayward One GOES OUT!

A) His Selfish Request

           1) Where it Took Him

           2) What it Cost Him

B) His Sad Ruin

2.  The Wounded One GIVES UP!

A) Reality Sets In

B) Humility Takes Over

3.  The Welcomed One GETS BACK!

A) His Arrival was Anticipated

           1) The Father Looked for Him

           2) The Father Leaped toward Him

           3) The Father Lunged at Him

           4) The Father Loved on Him

B) His Arrival was Celebrated

           1) He was Robed with Forgiveness

           2) He was Ringed with Favor

           3) He was Reshod with Fellowship

           4) He was Rewarded with Festivity

William J. Kirkpatrick began his song writing ministry when he was a fife major to the 91st Regiment P.V. with the Union army in the Civil War.  But, it was not until after the death of his first wife in 1878 was he able to devote himself full time to his great love. William wrote the tunes to many favorite hymns: "Jesus Saves, “"'Tis Sweet to Trust in Jesus," "Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It," and "He Hideth My Soul."

However, one of his most famous hymns was written to express his desire to see souls saved, and changed by the power of Christ.  In his later years, he became a much-requested song leader at camp meetings. 

In one of the meetings, a soloist had been hired to provide the special music.  He had a magnificent voice, and was able to put tremendous expression into the music he sang.  However, William noticed that the young man always left after he finished singing, and never stayed to hear the sermon.

Afraid that the soloist was not a Christian, William knelt in his tent and prayed long and earnestly for his soul. As he prayed, some words began to form in his mind.  He wrote them down and set them to a haunting tune.

That evening, William handed the newly-written words and tune to the soloist. Visibly moved after he had sung them, the man stayed for the sermon, went to the altar that night and gave his heart to Christ. The song became a popular invitation hymn in evangelical services, winning many others beside the man it was written for.

 

It was these words, written by William J. Kirkpatrick, that the Holy Spirit used to bring salvation to a lost soul:

 

I've wandered far away from God
Now, I'm coming home
The paths of sin too long I've trod
Lord, I'm coming home.

Coming home, coming home

Never more to roam
Open wide thine arms of love,

Lord, I'm coming home.

 

The story of the prodigal son is a perfect fit to the great hymn, “Lord, I’m Coming Home.”  At the end of the day, there was a homecoming all because of his coming home.

 

I recently read of two men who were enjoying a luncheon together.  One of the men was an established business man, whose wealth launched into the millions.  The other was a young, ambitious businessman. 

 

The wealthy man, however, had a son in prison for drugs.  As they talked, the young man looked to the older tycoon and said, “You’re so successful.  I would give the world to have what you have.”  Without any hesitation, the older millionaire replied, ‘Son, I’d gladly give it all up today if my son were right with God!”

 

I’m sure that there are many, in this room that has loved ones that are not right with God.  And if the truth be told, you would give anything, or do anything to see that husband, wife, son, or daughter come home to Jesus.

 

Luke 15 is a wonderful example of a loved coming home.  The verses do not tell 3 different parables, but 1 parable which gives 3 different pictures.  However, they each comprise the same purpose.  One picture is of a lost sheep; another picture is of a lost silver; and, the other picture is of a lost son.

 

The theme is that something which is lost must be found.  Thus, these 3 pictures explain to us how God views the glorious work of salvation.

 

God sees salvation as a shepherd, who leaves the ninety-and-nine, to go after one lost sheep.  God sees salvation as a woman who moves heaven and earth to find a lost silver in her home.  And God sees salvation as a lost son coming home to where he belongs.

 

Landrum P. Leavell said of the story, “It perfectly describes the inexpressible joy that comes to the heart of God through finding, or recovering a lost sinner, and restoring that one to Himself.” [1]

 

Jesus told this parable in response to the criticism of the Pharisees in verse 2, when they accused Him by saying, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” 

 

Jesus responds, to their religious hierarchy and hypocrisy, by telling the parable of the lost sheep, the lost silver and the lost son.  It is the lost son that I draw your attention to today for our Homecoming service, because we see that there was a homecoming due to the son’s coming home.

 

I want you to notice 3 things about this boy.  First, we see as:

 

1.  The WAYWARD One GOES OUT!

 

The father, in this story, had “two sons.”  All that we know of these “two sons” is that the younger brother is a sinner, and the elder brother is self-righteous. 

 

One day, the youngest son decided he had had enough of the rules, regulations, and restrictions of living at home, under his father’s roof.  Thus, we watch him as a wayward son who goes out from his father’s care.

 

I can just picture the boy as he goes into the living room, he walks up to his father, and we see two interesting things.  First, is:

 

A) His SELFISH REQUEST

 

The young boy walks in, filled with pride and arrogance, his chest held out, and in verse 12, lets his selfish request known.  We read that, “The younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.”

 

Apparently, the father did not put up a fight, because we read that, “he divided unto them his living.”  At the death of the father, the Jewish law allotted ½ as much to the younger son as to the elder, the equivalent of 1/3 of the total estate. [2]

 

However, this young renegade could not wait until his father’s death, because he wanted it now.  Perhaps he thought he deserved it, or had it coming to him, but whatever the case, he presented his selfish request. 

 

Instead of dedication, there was demand. "Give me." Instead of loyalty there was lust. "Give me." Instead of surrender there was selfishness. "Give me." He wanted what he wanted, and he wanted it when he wanted it.  

 

However, I want you to notice a couple of things about his selfish request.  First, notice where it took him.  The father agrees to give the son the “portion” of his “living,” or inheritance.

 

Then, the wayward one takes off, suitcase in arm, and in verse 13, “not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country.” 

 

A. T. Robertson suggests that the phrase, “took his journey,” implies that the boy “burned all of his bridges behind him.” [3] In other words, he never looked back for a moment, because at this moment, it was all about him.

 

It took him to a “far country.”  The word “far” is the Greek word makros.  It is used to speak of space or time.  In other words, the boy apparently went some where that was a fair distance from his home.

 

However, he could have gone just a few hundred feet down the road, and that would have been a “far country.”  The space, time or distance wasn’t important, because no matter where, or how far the boy went, he was still away from the father’s home.  Thus, in that regard, anywhere would have been a “far country.”

 

Perhaps today, you’re not an out-and-out sinner, guilty of murder, robbery, adultery, or theft.  In fact, you may be a pretty good “old Joe,” but you are not where you need to be with God.  Thus, you are living in a “far country.”

 

The “far country” is the place where you have society without the Savior, pleasure without prayer, self-indulgence without self-control. It is the place where you indulge in the material and ignore the spiritual, where you stuff your stomach but starve your soul, that place which leads to a dead-end road called "Emptiness."

 

If you are not saved, you are living in a “far country.”  If you are saved, but not living in fellowship with God, you are living in a “far country.”  The “far country” is where it took this boy, and where it takes us as well.

 

Because of where it took him, we see what it cost him.  The young boy gets what he has asked for.  The father grants his request for his “portion of goods,” but it took him farther than he wanted to go, and cost him more than he wanted to pay.

 

We read in verse 13, that when he arrived in the “far country,” it became the place where he “wasted his substance with riotous living.”  The word “riotous” speaks of living dissolutely, or profligately.  Phillips translates it, “he squandered his money in the wildest extravagance.”

 

In other words, he just started throwing his money around on anything, and everything that afforded him a good time.

 

Apparently, the boy’s pockets had holes in them, because we read in verse 14, “And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.”   The money stopped, but the misery had only begun.

 

No doubt, this young boy thought that when he finally got out from under the rules of the house that he was going to live in freedom.  But, ironically enough, what this boy thought was freedom, was actually slavery of the worst kind.

 

He had become a moral and physical outcast.  He had debauched himself, as well as his wealth.  Thus, he began to be in want, because he had wasted his time, talents and treasures on what he wanted, because he possessed the Frank Sinatra philosophy, “I Did It My Way.”

August Van Ryn says, “Here is the story, graphically told by our Lord, of millions of human lives:  from wealth to waste to want to woe.” [4]

 

Where did his request take him?  To a “country” “far” away from his loving father.  What did his request cost him?  It cost him much more than money; it cost him misery.

 

Paul Lawrence Dunbar wrote the autobiography of many sinners in these poetic words:

 

“This is the price I pay

Just for one riotous day.

Years of regret and of grief,

And of sorrow without relief.

 

Suffer it I will, my friend,

Suffer it until the bitter end.

Until the grave shall give relief,

Small was the thing I bought,

Small was the thing at best.

Small was the debt, I thought,

But, O God, what interest!”  [5]

 

Yet, ladies and gentlemen, that is always where sin takes us, and what sin costs us.  There is “pleasure in sin for a season,” because if sin wasn’t fun, or enjoyable, it would never be attractive, appealing, and alluring.

But, many forget that while sin may carry a wholesale price, it always ends up in a retail cost.  When we sin, we always pay more than we bargain for.  It always takes us farther than we want to go, costs us more than we want to pay; and, makes us stay longer than we want to stay.

 

As a result, his selfish request led only to:

 

B) His SAD RUIN

 

The boy’s money runs out due to his profligate spending.  As a result, a boy who left home with everything is now far away from home with nothing. 

 

He goes to the unemployment office and finds work with a farmer in the “far country” who, in verse 15, “sent him into his fields to feed swine.” 

 

Before long, the young boy went from feeding the swine to wanting to be fed like the swine.  In verse 16, “he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.”

 

The husks were only the shell without the kernel.  It was the covering without the contents.  What a sad ruin!  Here is boy who had left home dressed up in his best togs, only to go to the dogs and wind up with the hogs!  He was to the point that even the gristles in the hog slop would have been a tasty meal for him.

 

This was the ultimate degradation for a Jew, because Jewish regulations made any form of swine defiling and unclean.  To this day, a devout Jew looks upon pork as something that is forbidden, and totally unclean.

 

Yet, we find this boy at the very place where a Jew would dare never go, intentionally or unintentionally.  The pig pen was a place of defilement, degradation and desperation.  This was all because of his foolish and selfish request.

 

Yet is that not a perfect picture of what sin is, and what sin does?  In fact, companies have finally figured this out in relation to how they advertise their products. 

 

That’s why the beer commercial shows the most beautiful women, scantily clad, holding a foaming glass of beer.  But, they never show you the back side of the picture which reveals a man who has lost it all to his own sensual and sinful appetite for more.

 

Perhaps you may be one of the ones who thinks, “Preacher, you don’t understand, it’s just a little thing that doesn’t hurt anybody.  I can handle it.”  But, my question to you is, “Can it handle you?”  The answer is, “No,” because it holds the winning hand, and will ultimately win the game.

 

The story is told of a famous smith, in Medieval times, that was taken prisoner and held in a dungeon.  He began to examine the chain that bound thinking that he would find a flaw that would make it easy for him to break it.  As he studied it, he discovered that the chain was a piece of his own work.  For years he had boasted how that no one could ever break a chain that he had made.  However, now, he found himself bound by his own work.

 

Sin fascinates, but it frustrates; sin thrills, but it tortures; it woos, but it wounds. It hums at first like a humming bird, but it pains at last like a hornet. All sin's cisterns are broken, and they hold no water. All sin's flowers hold the worm, the canker, and the grief.

 

What a tragic picture of this prodigal, as well as millions of people still today.  Secondly, I want you to notice that the wayward one goes out; and, then:

 

2.  The WOUNDED One GIVES UP!

Get the picture.  Here is a young boy who began as a prince, but has become a pauper.  He started the day with promise, but ends the day in pity.  Living at home, he possesses dignity; but leaving from home, he possesses defilement, degradation and disgrace.

 

He doesn’t make an appointment to see a counselor, because apparently he holds a counseling session with himself.  As a result, the wayward one who had gone out becomes the wounded one who has given up.

 

Notice how:

 

 A) REALITY SETS IN

 

I love the opening words of verse 17, “And when he came to himself.”  In other words, reality sets in on a boy who looks around and finds himself in the very place he never thought he would end up; a pig pen of all places.

 

Once he recognizes where is, he then remembers, reflects and recalls where he used to be.  “He said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!”

 

He remembers how much food was available at his father’s house; he reflects on how good the food used to taste; and, he recalls that, after the servants had served the food, they were able to eat themselves.

 

Yet, here he is in a hog pen.  Once, the servants served him; now, he is serving another man’s hogs.  What a contrast to what he had to what he has now.

 

In his work, “Christian Element in Plato,” Ackerman stated that the great mind, Plato, believed that “redemption was coming to oneself.”  If that is what he truly believed, I am in full agreement with him.

 

You see a person must become lost before they will ever be saved.  A person must become helpless in order to receive help.  A person must become hopeless in order to receive hope.  A person must become desperate before they can be delivered.

 

I well remember the Saturday morning when I “came to myself.”  A preacher’s kid, who thought he had the world by the tail, but I finally realized that I was as lost as ball in tall grass; and, that I could not get to Heaven because my parents were Baptist.  But, if I wanted to go to Heaven, I had to become a BELIEVER!

 

I always knew that I wasn’t saved, so every time that I got in trouble, I would walk the aisle, cry crocodile tears and think that everything was all right.  I made so many professions of faith, and was baptized so many times that the tadpoles knew my Social Security number, but I was still lost.

 

However, that morning, reality set in and I “came to myself.”  Because of my upbringing, I was well versed in the Bible.  That morning, I knew what the Bible said, but I got it down anyway.  I opened it to Romans 10: 9 and God said to me, “If you will, I will; so I DID AND HE DID!

 

I got saved, because I “came to myself;” and, if you get saved, it will because you “came to yourself,” and realize that Hell is hot for sinners, Heaven is sweet for saints, and Jesus will save your soul.

 

After reality sets in:

 

B) HUMILITY TAKES OVER

 

The boy began the day full of pride, but he ends the day full of pity.  He started out high, but he ended up humble.  Once the reality of his condition set in, humility over his condition took over.

 

We read his humble confession in verses 18-19, I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.”

 

Once and for all, he recognizes where his sin took him and what his sin cost him.  He began up-and-out, but ended up out-and-out.  He sees his own pitiful condition, and admits that the high servants once beneath him, are now far above him.

 

My dad used to say that, “God does business with honest and humble people.”  If that be true, then business is about to pick up, because we not only watch as the wayward one goes out, and the wounded one gives up; but:

 

3.  The WELCOMED One GETS BACK!

 

Reality has set in.  Humility has taken over.  The boy remembers that things weren’t so bad back home, so in verse 20,he arose, and came to his father.” 

 

I don’t know if the pig pen confession was a rehearsal or not, but, in verse 21, we hear him say the same thing to his father he had said to himself, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.”

 

The wayward one who had gone out and the wounded one who had given up becomes the welcomed one who had gotten back.  Notice how:

 

A) His Arrival was ANTICIPATED

 

The scene changes from the son to the father.  We read, in verse 20, “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him.” 

 

The indication is that the father anticipated his son’s return.  The word “saw” is the Greek word oida, which means, “To know by perception.”  In other words, the father perceived, or anticipated the son’s arrival.

 

I can just see the boy as he staggers up the road.  His hair is uncut, his face is unshaven, and his clothes reek beyond compare. The father would go and stand on the porch every morning when he got up, and every night before he went to bed in hopes that the son might be walking up the path.

 

However, this particular day, the flower of hope begins to bloom in the father’s heart.  As a result, the father looked for him.  “When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him.”  Finally, the one for which he had looked so far, had come home. 

 

Then, the father leaped toward him.  He had compassion, and ran.”  The father, in this story, is a wonderful of God.  Thus, what we have is the only time in the Bible where God ever got in a hurry.  He, in the character of the father, “ran” to welcome a wayward boy back home.

 

After he looked for him and leaped toward him, the father lunged at him.  He “fell on his neck.”  The uncut hair, the unshaven face and the unbearable smell didn’t matter to a loving father.

 

Finally, after he looked for him, leaped toward him, and lunged at him, the father loved on him.  We read that he “kissed him.”  The word “kissed” is the Greek word kataphileo, which means, “To kiss fervently.”  In other words, the father kissed him, kissed him again, and kept kissing him over and over.

 

Yet, that is exactly how God Himself reacts to a lost soul that comes home.  He is looking for you, waiting on you to come.  He will leap toward you, lunge at you, and then love on you, kissing you with the sweet kisses of forgiveness and grace, over and over again.

 

Because his arrival was anticipated:

 

B) His Arrival was CELEBRATED

 

Once the son arrived at home, and once the father composes himself, IT’S PARTY TIME!  The son asked to be treated not like a son, but like a servant.  But, the father had something different in mind.

 

We read in verses 22-24, “But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: [23] And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: [24] For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.”

 

There was no remembrance, rehearsal, or recital of the sins the son had committed.  Not a word of denunciation, condemnation, or exasperation over the life he had lived.  All that mattered was that the one that was “lost” had been “found and that called for a celebration.

 

As a result, he was robed with forgiveness.  In the Bible, robes are used to speak of righteousness.  It pictures acceptance and standing.  Yet, the father doesn’t simply ask for a robe, but the “best robe.”  Not the first robe you find, but the first in rank and value, the finest in the house.

 

Once he was robed with forgiveness, he was ringed with favor.  In Bible days, a ring was given as a pledge of love and loyalty, fidelity and favor.  A ring identified that the recipient was a part of the favor of the giver. 

 

Since the ring was circular, it revealed unending love and favor.  The ring said, “I don’t care what you have done, or what you will ever do, you will never get beyond my love.”

 

He was robed with forgiveness, he was ringed with favor; and, then, he was reshod with fellowship.  By putting “shoes on his feet,” the father rebutted the son’s request to be a servant, because servants were barefoot and possessed no shoes.  Shoes were only given to those who belonged to the house.

 

Finally, after he was robed with forgiveness, ringed with favor and reshod with fellowship; he was rewarded with festivity.   The “calf” was kept “fatted” for festive occasions.

 

Other than Genesis 18, when Abraham had lunch with God and killed the fatted calf; this is the only time it is mentioned.  The “fatted calf” indicated that the Redemptive father and the repentant sinner were going to sit down and eat the same food.

 

Yet, ladies and gentlemen that is exactly what God does for us when we come home to Him.  First, he robes us with fellowship.  Our righteousness is nothing more than “filthy rags;” but, when we give our heart to Christ we are suddenly robed, not with just any robe, but the BEST robe, and “made the righteousness of God in Him.”

 

Then, he rings us with favor.  Once we are saved, he seals us with the “Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.”  In other words, the ring of the Holy Spirit’s favor guarantees a home in Heaven, as well as reminds us that, no matter where we go, or what we do, we can never outrun God’s love.

 

Then, he reshods us fellowship.  We who were once sinners that “walked according to the course of this world,” and deserve to be in hell with our back broke, are equipped with our “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”

 

Our new shoes identify that we are no longer servants, but sons; and, “if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.”

 

Finally, after he robes us with forgiveness, rings us with favor, and reshods us with fellowship; He rewards us with festivity.  We who deserve to live on the devil’s scrap pile are able to put our feet under His table today; and, we will put our feet under His table one day when the Bride and the Bridegroom sit down at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

 

Hallelujah to God, I’ve been robed with forgiveness, ringed with favor, reshod with fellowship and rewarded with festivity.  I couldn’t go to hell if I wanted to, because I’m Heaven bound with the hammer down, all because of the day that I came home.

 

I love the old story of a wealthy man who had only one son, who he loved dearly.  The wealthy man was interested in collecting expensive and rare pieces of art.  He taught his son to love art as well, and together they began to collect some of the most exquisite pieces of art in the world.

 

A war broke out and the son was called away to fight.  After a few months, the father received the word that his son was missing in action, and not long after that his son had been killed.  The father's heart was shattered.  He had accumulated all of these treasures, but none of them could compare to his only son.

 

One day, a knock came to the father's door.  As he opened the door he saw a soldier, in full uniform.  The soldier said, "Sir, I was a good friend of your son.  I want you to know that he died trying to save the lives of other people.  I am not an artist, but I painted a picture of your son just before he died, and I wanted to give it to you."  The father was overjoyed.  He had seen better, more quality work, but none of that mattered, because this was a portrait of his son.

 

The father took the painting and put it over the mantle in his home, in the midst of millions of dollars worth of art.  In time, the old man died.  Invitations were sent to come to an auction of the old man's art collection.

 

Many came from around the world to bid on these rare items.  As the auction opened the auctioneer started off with the painting of the old man's son.  Many of the famous art collectors shouted, "That isn't worth anything.  It's the worst painting I've ever seen.  We came to see 'real' art.  Let's get to the good stuff."

 

The auctioneer stated that the stipulation of the father's will was that the painting of the son was to be sold first.  They started the bidding at $100, but no bids.  Then $50, but no bids.  Finally, the bidding went to $10, and one of the old man's servants, in the back, said, "I'll give $10 for the painting."

 

Suddenly, the auctioneer lowered his gavel and shouted, "This auction is officially over!"  Cries came back from the crowd, "What do you mean this auction is over?"  The auctioneer then informed them that, according to the will of the Father, "WHOEVER GET THE SON, GET’S IT ALL!"

 

I came to Him a sinner, but He made me a saint.  I came to Him a pauper, but He made me a prince.  I came to Him a child of the devil, but He made me a child of God.  I came to Him in a famine, but He gave me a feast.

 

I came to Him with grief, but He filled me with glory.  I came to Him in humiliation, but He threw me a celebration.  I came to Him a beggar, but He made me a believer.  I came to Him a victim, but He made me a Victor.  I came to Him fallen, but I left Him fixed.

 

I came to Him corrupted, but He made me converted.  I came to Him with Him nothing, but He gave me everything.  I came to Him on my way to Hell, but He put me on the road to Heaven.

 

He robed me with forgiveness, He ringed with favor, He reshod me with fellowship; and, He rewarded me with festivity that I will enjoy while the ages roll.


He did it for me, and He will do it for you, if you will only
“come to yourself” and say:

 

I've wandered far away from God
Now, I'm coming home
The paths of sin too long I've trod
Lord, I'm coming home.

Coming home, coming home

Never more to roam
Open wide thine arms of love,

Lord, I'm coming home.

Endnotes

1) “For Prodigals and Other Sinners,” Landrum P. Leavell, pg. 11.

2) Word Pictures in the New Testament, A. T. Robertson, pg. 207.

3) IBID, pg. 208.

4) Meditations in Luke, August Van Ryn, pg. 133.

5) “Payday Someday,” Sermon by R. G. Lee, pg. 41.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Is God Through with the Jew?”

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

October 7. 2007

National Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem

Sermon Outline

1.  A People Severely Despised!

a)  Displacement

b) Mistreatment

2.  A People Supremely Desired!

a) The Covenant God Gave

b) The Covenant God Guaranteed

           1) A Marvelous Blessing

           2) A Miserable Burden

3.  A People Supernaturally Delivered!

a) The Turning Back of her Enemies

b) The Turning Back to His Elect

 

The history of the nation of Israel and the Jewish people is an old as the foreknowledge of God Himself.  God determined in eternity past to “elect” these people as His people, the people of God.  It is a thread that runs straight through the eye of the needle of the Bible.

 

However, as far as modern history goes, the nation of Israel reappeared at 6: 01 p.m., May 15, 1948.  The news reached the desk of President Harry Truman who proclaimed:

“This government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the provisional government thereof.  The United States recognizes the provisional government as the defacto authority of the New State of Israel.” [1]

 

Yet, 58 years later, Anti-Semitism is the blood that runs through the veins of Muslims, Islamic extremists, and even many Christians.  However, the idea of a “Christian anti-Semite” is an oxymoron, and absolute contradiction in terms.

 

Anti-Semitism is a synonym for “hated of the Jews.”  Christian is a synonym for love.  A person who claims to be a Christian anti-Semite is a person who is spiritually dead; whose hatred for God’s own people has strangled the neck of their faith. 

 

Derek Prince writes, "Almost limitless understanding, ignorance and distortion have pervaded the church for many centuries concerning the identity of Israel, yet the statements in the Bible regarding Israel are so clear.  Nevertheless, a Christian who has no particular love for the Jew and Israel is 'deficient' and 'incomplete.'

 

I want us to find an answer to the question, “Is God Through with the Jew.”  In order to that, we must consider several things.  First, when we consider the Jewish nation, we must examine:

 

1.  A People SEVERELY DESPISED!

 

It is a miracle that Jewish people still exist today.  After thousands of years of persecution, there should be none left.  Their severe persecution fell at the hands of men like Pharaoh, Haman, leading up to people like Hitler, Hussein, Bin Laden, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who is a modern day Haman from the book of Esther.

 

They have been severely despised in the area of:

 

A) DISPLACEMENT

 

When did the doctrine of hatred toward the Jewish people begin?  How, that within 300 years, could the church inspired by a Jewish rabbi and his 12 Jewish disciples begin to kill Jews as a matter of protocol?

 

It is traced all the way back to the year A. D. 70.  Following the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Christ, for the most part, many Jewish and Gentile believers continued to worship together in harmony.

 

When Titus marched from Rome, in A. D. 70, he laid siege to the city of Jerusalem for months, crippling and eventually destroying the Holy City.  Jerusalem was left in ruins, including the center of its faith, the Temple.  The massive stones were crushed into rubble, leaving only a portion of the Western Wall, which became known to the Gentiles as the “Wailing Wall,” because of the deep mourning of the Jewish people at the loss of their Temple.

 

More than 1 million Jews died during the Roman siege of Jerusalem, most by starvation.  The majority of the remaining 97,000 Jews were taken back to Rome, where many were crucified on Roman crosses while their wives and children were forced to watch.  Some were martyred in stadium, and 70,000 of them were enslaved, and forced to build the Roman Colosseum. [2]

 

Many Gentiles, however, fled Jerusalem for the nearby city of Pella to escape the attack, while the Jews remained behind.  The Jews saw the Gentile exodus as a betrayal, and a breach began that has never been repaired.

 

The displacement, or separation, of Jews and Gentiles became official early in the 4th century, when the emperor Constantine “Christianized” the Roman Empire.

 

In one swing of his pen, in one day, Constantine made Rome’s version of Christianity the official state religion.  But, it was a religion of full idolatry because of pagan influence. 

 

It was known in history as the mother-child cut, and in ancient Israel as Baal worship, which was introduced by Jezebel. 

 

The displacement, or as the Bible terms it the “diaspora” (scattering, dispersed) caused many from the 10 Northern tribes to be lost, a tragedy that has only begun to be resolved within the last few years.

 

With their displacement came also:

 

B) MISTREATMENT

 

What the Jews saw as Gentile betrayal and isolation created a wound that only deepened with the years of mistreatment at the hands of many of the early church fathers.  Instead of driving the Jewish people to jealousy, the Church has simply driven them away.

 

Justin Martyr was one of the first to accuse the Jews of inciting to kill Christians.

 

Eusebius alleged that Jews engaged in ceremonial killing of Christian children each year at Purim.

 

St. John Chrysostom said that there could never be expiation for the Jews and that God had always hated them.  He said that it was "incumbent on all Christians to hate the Jews, because they were assassins of Christ, and worshippers of the devil." 

 

Jerome, translator of the Vulgate, sought to prove that Jews are incapable of understanding the Scriptures and that they should be "severely persecuted until they confess the "true faith."

 

Augustine said that the "true image of the Jew was Judas Iscariot, forever guilty and spiritually ignorant.”  He declared that Jews, “for their own good and the good of society, must be relegated to the position of slaves.” 

 

Thomas Aquinas picked up on Augustine's belief and demanded that Jews be called to "perpetual servitude."  He believed that "because of their sin against Christ, the Jews rightly deserved death.  Yet, as with Cain, “they are not to die...for they are doomed to wander the earth.”

 

The perfection of Christian hated of the Jews eventually gave birth to the Dark Ages and the Crusades.  During the 1st Crusade to the Holy Land, in 1096, the crusading armies, called the Knights of the Cross, left a trail of Jewish blood across Europe.  Within a 6-month period, more than 10,000 Jews were slaughtered, that equals up to 1/3 of the Jewish population of Germany and France.

 

The Crusaders herded Jews into the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem.  When they were securely inside the locked doors, the synagogue was set of fire.  The misguided Crusaders, with the lies of perverted sermons fresh in their ears, sang as they marched around the blaze, "Christ, We Adore Thee!"

 

The Fourth Lateran Council met in November 1215.  It gave a formal declaration supporting the “oppressive, violent conduct of the Roman church toward the Jews in prior centuries.”  The Council declared that all Jews must “wear the badge of shame,” out of concern that Christians and Jews would enter into sexual relationship.  The Church fathers forced the Jews to wear distinctive clothing that would make them recognizable. 

 

This was a practice continued by Hitler’s reign of terror when he forced the Jews to wear the “yellow badge,” a Star of David emblem, to make any Jewish person recognizable, thereby targeting them for abuse and execution.

 

When Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Thesis to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenburg, Germany on October 31, 1517, he was convinced that many Jewish people would eagerly follow this new brand of Christianity, and would join his attack on the Catholic Church.

 

But, when the Jews did not join him, Luther turned on them with a vulgarity and vengeance that would eventually provide many suitable texts for Hitter’s program of extermination.  Luther wrote, “What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews?  We must prayerfully and reverentially practice a merciful severity against them.  Their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered, or spread over with dirty so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder stone of it.  And this ought to be done for the honor of God, and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians.”

 

Then came Adolf Hitler.  In his hatred of the Jewish people, Hitler quoted the Bible, chapter and verse, to seek to justify his attack upon them.  He wrote in Mein Kampf, "I am only continuing the work of the Church.  Hence, today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the Almighty Creator; by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."  [3]

 

As a result, 1/3 of European Jews were choked to death on Zyklon B gas, a cyanide-based insecticide; many were slaughtered in open pits with their nude bodies piled in heaps.

 

Yet, their mistreatment continues even today.  In an United Nations speech on June 3, 2007, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated the Lebanese and Palestinian had pressed a “countdown button to bring an end to the Zionist regime.”  He went on to say, “By God’s will, we will witness the extermination and destruction of this regime in the near future.” [4]

 

By the way, the reason that the book of Esther is so relative to today is because that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is our modern day Haman, out for the extermination of the Jewish people. 

 

For thousands of years, they have been a people severely despised, even at the hands of Christians. 

While they are a people severely despised, they are also:

 

2.  A People SUPREMELY DESIRED!

 

Through their inhumane displacement and mistreatment, it is wonder that many Jews are still alive today.  Yet, in Jeremiah 31: 35-36, God said, “as long as there is a sun and moon and stars, and the Heavens cannot be measured, the seed of Israel will remain.”

 

In other words, God loves Israel.  They are the “apple of His eye.”  They are a people supremely desired by God for 2 divine reasons.  One, is because of:

 

A) The Covenant God GAVE

In Genesis 12: 3, God gave a covenant to Abraham.  God’s covenant to Abraham was, I will bless them that bless thee, I will curse him that curseth thee:  and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”

 

That is more than just a promise or a vow, IT IS A COVENANT!  The Hebrew word for “covenant” is berith.  It literally means, “A contract, a will, a testament, or a bond.”

 

A berith, or a covenant in Scripture can never be revoked, replaced, altered, or annulled.  A new covenant can enhance an old covenant, but it can never replace it. 

 

So, with the covenant God gave comes:

 

B) The Covenant God GUARANTEED

 

God gave His berith, His covenant to Abraham in Genesis 12, but He guaranteed that covenant in Genesis 15. 

 

There are 3 types of covenant in the Bible.  There is a salt covenant, which symbolizes preservation; God gave this covenant to David, in 2 Chron. 13: 5 regarding the throne of Israel.

 

There is a sandal covenant, which is identified in Ruth 4: 7-8, where Boaz “drew off his shoe” to buy a piece.  A sandal covenant was a token given to guarantee a transaction.

 

But, the third type of covenant was a blood covenant.  When 2 people wanted to close a deal they would sacrifices and divide them evenly on the left and the right.  Then, the 2 parties would walk down through the midst of those sacrifices confirming, guaranteeing, or sealing their berith, or covenant with blood.

 

In Hebrews 6: 17, we’re told that once God gave His covenant to Abraham, He “confirmed it by an oath.”  Then, we’re told that there are “two immutable things,” which make it impossible for God to lie.”  What are those 2 things?  They are the God’s counsel and His covenant.

 

In verse 13, we read, For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.”

 

In Genesis 15, God told Abraham to take sacrifices and “divide them in the midst, and lay each piece one against another.”  Then, as the sun was setting, a deep sleep came upon Abraham.  While Abraham was sleeping, God came walking down through the midst of those sacrifices.

 

Why?  God was guaranteeing the covenant He had made with Abraham by the means of blood.  He “could swear by no greater,” so, “he sware by himself.”

 

It is a doubly-binding covenant, because by “two immutable things” He “confirmed it by an oath.”  Romans 11: 29 tells us that, For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. 

 

In other words, the berith, or covenant God gave and guaranteed with Abraham is irrevocable, irreplaceable and irreversible. 

 

What is the covenant God guaranteed?  “I will bless them that bless thee; I will curse him that curseth thee.”

 

That covenant guarantees a marvelous blessing.  I will bless those that bless thee.”  God guarantees an irreversible blessing to any country, continent, or commoner who blesses His people.  God has blessed His people, and His people have blessed us.

 

Those who propagate “Replacement Theology” have no concept as to the irrevocable and irreplaceable covenant of God.  Replacement Theology advocates that God is finished with Israel; hence church has replaced Israel and is now “spiritual Israel.” 

 

However, Replacement Theology is not a new revelation, it is an old heresy. It is a destructive, divisive and damnable doctrine.

 

The greatest disproving of Replacement Theology is found in Romans 9-11.  These 3 chapters are a CODICIL. IN other words, they are a complete work within themselves.  They stand alone, and represent God’s post-Calvary position on the Jewish people.

 

Many of those who believe in Replacement Theology claim that Romans 9-11 refers to the church’s election, rather than Israel’s election.  However, Paul drops a bombshell on that thinking when he opens Romans 11: 1-2, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.”

 

The covenant God guaranteed with Abraham cannot be revoked, reversed, or replaced.  Why?  Because when God replaces something, YOU NEVER HEAR FROM IT AGAIN!  It is done.  It is gone.  It is finished forever.

 

Yet, on May 15, 1948 national Israel was reborn after nearly 2 millennia, sending a theological earthquake through the foundation of Replacement Theology.

If Replacement Theology is correct, then that means God has revoked, reversed and replaced the covenant He gave and guaranteed with Abraham.  If God would revoke His covenant with Abraham, how can we be sure that God would not revoke the covenant He has made with us as believers?

 

While the church can draw certain parallels and applications from Israel, the church has not replaced Israel.  The New Covenant teaches that the church, “spiritual Israel” and national Israel exist side by side, and neither replaces the other!

 

The covenant God gave and guaranteed to Abraham not only guarantees a marvelous blessing, but a miserable burden.  God guarantees, “I will bless them that bless thee, I will curse him that curseth thee.” 

 

In Matthew 25 we read of Christ’s 2nd coming to judge the nations of the world.  However, this judgment is based upon ONE thing:  those nations treatment/or mistreatment of the nation of Israel.

 

When He comes the 2nd time, Joel 3:2 describes it by saying that He, “Will gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehosophat, and will plead with them there for my people Israel…whom they have scattered among the nations and parted my land.”

Jesus will divide the nations as “sheep on his right hand and goats on his left hand.”  He will remind the sheep nations, on his right hand, who clothed Him when He was naked, fed Him when He was hungry, gave Him drink when He was thirsty, visited Him when in prison, and took Him in as a stranger.

 

Those nations will ask, “When did we do these things?”  Jesus answers in Matthew 25: 40, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

 

The word “brethren” is the Greek word, adelphos.  It literally means, “From the same womb.”  It is a family term which speaks of those related through blood.  In other words, Jesus is referring to His people, the Jewish people.

 

He will judge the nations based on how they treated, mistreated, neglected or defended His “brethren,” His people, the nation of Israel.  Those that “blessed” Israel will go to “life eternal.”  Those that “cursed” Israel will go to “everlasting punishment.”

 

Why?  Because God guaranteed His covenant with Abraham and guaranteed blessing to those who “bless thee,” and a burden to those who “curse thee.”

 

Today, like never before, the nation of Israel is constantly being pressured to give up, and divide their land to create a recognizable Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.  World leaders believe that if this happens, it will create peace in the Middle East. 

 

However, the problem is that is not our land, or anyone else’s land to give away, give up or divide.  It is a land reserved for the people of God.  It is their Promised Land.  It is the land which God guaranteed to them in His covenant.

 

When the beleaguered Jews returned to Jerusalem, from 70 years of Babylonian captivity, to rebuild their city, Nehemiah said to the other nations who had come to help the Jews, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.”  (Nehemiah 2: 20)

 

As a result, every single time that the United States has been involved in pressuring Israel to give up their land, unthinkable atrocities have occurred.  For example, In his book, "God's Final Warning to America," John McTernan documents that when American has turned against Israel, we have suffered "warning judgments."  He found hundreds of examples, many coming within 24 hours of the anti-Semitic action.

The 1st President Bush iniated his 1991 peace plan for the Middle East right after the 1st Gulf War.  As part of that plan, he tried to pressure Israel to surrender land for peace.  Is it just a coincidence that, despite enjoying historically high approval ratings after the Gulf War, Bush lost his to bid for reelection to Bill Clinton?

 

God guaranteed, “I will bless them that bless thee, I will curse him that curseth thee.”

 

On October 30, 1991, the President Bush gave a speech to "open the land for peace" conference in Madrid, Spain.  The next day, one of the powerful storms that had ever occurred in the U. S. smashed into New England.  The storm damaged the East Coast from Maine to Florida.  30-foot waves pounded President Bush's home in Kennebunkport, Maine, inflicting irreparable damage.  The storm was later called, "The Perfect Storm."

 

God guaranteed, “I will bless them that bless thee, I will curse him that curseth thee.”

 

On August 3, 1992, the Madrid Peace Conference again dealing with opening Israel's "land for peace," was transferred to Washington, D. C. During the first day of the conference Hurricane Andrew hit southern Florida.  At that time, Andrew was the worst natural disaster to ever hit the U. S.

 

God guaranteed, “I will bless them that bless thee, I will curse him that curseth thee.”

 

On September 5, 2001, the Bush Administration formulated a policy of recognizing a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.  The Secretary of State, Colin Powell, was going to notify the Saudi Arabian ambassador of the plan on September 13, and was scheduled to announce it at the UN General Assembly on September 23.  It was all interrupted by the events of SEPTEMBER 11!  The very time the U. S. was going to force Israel into coexistence with terrorists that were dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish nation, the U. S. came under attack by the same terrorists.

 

God guaranteed, “I will bless them that bless thee, I will curse him that curseth thee.”

 

From August 13 through September 25, 2004, the United States suffered a record 4 direct hits from powerful hurricanes.  During that very time, President Bush was pressuring Israel to divide its covenant land.  America pressured Israel to evacuate Jews off their land, and those 4 hurricanes forced 9 million Americans to evacuate.

 

God guaranteed, “I will bless them that bless thee, I will curse him that curseth thee.”

 

In August 2005, as a result of U. S. pressure, Israel began to destroy 25 Jewish settlements on their covenant land.  Just 7 days after the evacuation was completed, Southern Louisiana and the Gulf Coast of Mississippi were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. [5]

 

God guaranteed, “I will bless them that bless thee, I will curse him that curseth thee.”

 

It would behoove America, as well as any other country in the world to recognize that when God gives and guarantees a covenant, He will uphold His end of the bargain, because the Jews are the people He supremely desires.

 

Finally, to answer the question, “Is God through with the Jew?” we must consider:

 

3.  A People SUPERNATURALLY DELIVERED!

 

God delivered the Jews numerous times in the Bible.  God has delivered the Jews through countless massacres that sought to destroy them.  God has delivered the Jews by allowing them to officially be recognized as a Jewish state.  God has delivered them by allowing the 10 lost tribes of Northern Judah to be located, and begin the process of returning home.

 

Think about it.  Where are the nations that have persecuted the Jewish people?  Where are Pharaoh and his army?  Where are the Babylonians?  Where are the Greeks and the Romans?  Where is the Ottoman Empire?  Where are Adolf Hitler and his Nazi hordes?

 

Yet, where is Israel?  Where are the Jewish people?  Where are those who were scattered through the Diaspora? 

 

I’ll tell you where they are, the Supreme, Sacred, and Sovereign hand of Almighty God has gathered them from the nations of the world and allowed them to become reborn.

 

They have been a people supernaturally delivered in the past, and they are going to be a people supernaturally delivered in the future.

 

Get the picture with me.  In Matthew 24, the disciples ask Jesus to reveal to them the “sign of His coming,” as well as the “end of the world.”

 

Then, in verses 7-8, Jesus says, For nation (ethnic group) shall rise against nation (ethnic group), and kingdom (religion) against kingdom (religion): and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrow.” 

 

The word “sorrow” literally speaks of “Labor pains.”  In the ancient world, many of the midwives would use the word, “travail, or labor pains” to speak of the nearness of a birth.

 

I am not a doctor, but I am a parent, and I remember when my wife was going through her labor pains of travail and sorrow.  However, the last sign given that she was about to give birth was when HER WATER BROKE!  That was the sign that the baby was pushing his way out of her womb.

 

Jesus said that the signs of his coming would be that “ethnic group would rise against ethnic group, religion against religion,” (sounds like we’re listening to Fox News, does it not?) and this would be the beginning of “sorrow” when the water would break.

 

I need not remind you of the Tsunamis that have devastated certain parts of the world, as well as the major hurricanes that have handicap our own country.  Not to mention, the flooding that has recently occurred in the Midwest.  What’s happening?  Could it be that the WATER has BROKEN, and we are at the threshold of the rapture?

 

After the rapture, God will supernaturally deliver His people one more time.  There will be:

 

A) The Turning Back of Her ENEMIES

 

Once the church is raptured, the Antichrist will rise up and, in Daniel 9: 27, he will “confirm” a peace treaty with Israel for 7 years.  It is during that time of peace that, in Ezekiel 38-39, the armies of the North Iran, Russia, Germany, Libya, and Ethiopia will seek to come down and invade Israel during their time of “rest” and “safety.” (Ezekiel 38: 11)

 

But, as they come down, in Ezekiel 38: 4, God says, “I will turn thee back, and put hooks in thy jaws.”  Then, in Ezekiel 39: 2, I will turn thee back and leave but the sixth part of thee.”  As a result, in verse 12, “seven month shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land.”

 

Once again, God will supernaturally deliver His people by the turning back of her enemies.  And then there will be:

 

B) The Turning Back to His ELECT

 

Fast forward with me 3 ½ years into the tribulation, the Antichrist will break the peace treaty he made with Israel by the heinous “Abomination of Desolation.”  He will march into the rebuilt Temple, 2 Thessalonians 2: 4, so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”

 

God will raise up 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from every tribe, to go through the world preaching the gospel of the Risen Messiah in order to turn back to His people so that His people might turn back to Him.

 

God will send 2 witnesses, Elijah and Enoch, who the Antichrist will kill, only to have them resurrected with the entire world looking on by the means of satellite, or internet.

 

The Jewish nation will know that they have been deceived.  And, God will then begin to turn back to the “apple of His eye,” the nation of Israel.”  Why? 

 

Ezekiel 39: 28 says that, Then shall they (Israel) know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.”

 

God will then open the seals, blow the trumpets, send the plagues, gather the nations to war at Armageddon, destroy the harlot Babylon, throws the beast and the false prophet into a lake of fire, and cast the “old serpent” the “devil” into the bottomless pit for a thousand years. 

 

That’s where we come in.  After we have finished eating supper with King Jesus, we will come back with him in Revelation 19: 11, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

 

Jesus will come back the Second time to once and for all supernaturally deliver His “brethren,” His family, His people, the Jews; and, oh blessed thought, we will come with Him.

 

Through all of this, Paul says in Romans 11: 26-28, And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: [27] For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. [28] As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.

 

Is God through with the Jew?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  He will, once again, offer restoration and redemption to His people.

 

Thomas Boston, the faithful witness of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland said, "Are you longing for a revival to the church, now lying like dry bones, would you fain have the Spirit of life enter into them?  Then pray for the Jews?  That will be a lively time, a time of a great outpouring of the Spirit, that will carry reformation to a greater height than yet has been." [6]

 

If God is not through with the Jew, what should we do for the Jew?  For one thing, we owe a tremendous debt to the nation of Israel, and the Jewish people.  Why?

 

Let me suffice it to say that Christianity could not, and would not exist were it not for the Jewish people.  Jesus was not a Christian, HE WAS A JEW! 

 

He was born to Jewish parents, he was dedicated to the Jewish traditions, He was reared studying the words of Moses and the prophets; He became a Jewish rabbi, and He died with a sign over His head written in 3 languages:  “KING OF THE JEWS!”

The Jewish people are the family of the Lord Jesus Christ, and thus because we, as Gentiles, have been “grafted” into the vine, they are our extended family who we are commanded to love. 

 

Remember this, Jewish people do not need Christianity to explain their existence, but WE CANNOT EXPLAIN OUR EXISTENCE WITHOUT THE JEWISH PEOPLE!

 

The Church can play the role today that Esther played in her day.  When wicked Haman sought to destroy the Jews, Mordecai said in Esther 4: 14, “if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

 

Could God be saying to Christians today, “If you remain silent, I will see to it that deliverance comes to the Jews from another place, but you and your house will perish?” 

 

But, in “such a time as this,” we can appropriate the full provision of God’s guaranteed covenant to Abraham by helping His people, protecting His people, honoring His people, blessing His people, and praying for His people.

 

God will “bless” those that “bless” Israel, and I don’t know about you, but I’m interested in the favor and blessing of God.  As the Psalmist declared in Psalm 122: 6, if we Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love thee.”

 

Endnotes

1) Reader’s Digest, December 1954, Quotes on Enotes.com

2) Israel’s History of Persecution, Gil Kaplan, pg. 23.

3) The Incomplete Church, Sid Roth, ppg. 58-61.

4) Associated Press, “UN Ignores Israel’s Threat to Tehran,” June 19, 2007.

5) God’s Final Warnings to America, John McTernan, ppg. 82-119.

‘6) IBID, Roth, pg. 158.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Eating at the King’s Table”

 

 

 

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

 

 

40 Days of Prayer Kick-Off

 

 

 

 

Gardenview Baptist Church

Jacksonville, FL

 

 

 

October 28. 2007

 

 

“Eating at the King’s Table!”

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

October 28. 2007

40 Days of Prayer Kick-Off

Sermon Outline

1.  Seeking His Face!

A) A Humble People

B) A Hungry People

C) A Holy People

D) A Heard People

E) A Healthy People

           1) Nationally

           2) Personally

           3) Spiritually

F) A Happy People

2.  Finding His Favor!

A) What Does it Mean?

B) What Does it Matter

3.  Experiencing His Fire!

A) What they Requested

B) What they Received

           1) Unity

           2) Authority

 

Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman once told of how he had been holding meetings in England, but the attendance had been disappointingly small. Then he received word that a man named John Hyde, referred to many as Praying Hyde, was going to pray down God's blessing upon him and his work. As a result of Hyde's powerful praying, the tide soon turned and the meeting hall became packed with people. At Chapman's first public invitation, fifty men received Christ as their Savior.

 

Relating the story, Chapman said: As we were leaving I said, "Mr. Hyde, I want you to pray for me." He came to my room, turned the key in the door, and dropped to his knees, and waited five minutes without a single syllable coming from him lips. I could hear my own heart thumping, and his beating. I felt hot tears running down my face. I knew I was with God. Then with upturned face, down which the tears were streaming, he said, "O God." Then for five minutes at least he was still again; and then, when he knew that he was talking with God, there came from the depths of his heart such petitions for me as I had never heard before. I rose from my knees to know what real prayer was."

 

I got up early one morning

and rushed right into the day;

I had so much to accomplish

that I didn't have time to pray.

 

Problems just tumbled about me,

and heavier came each task.

"Why doesn't God help me?" I wondered.

He answered, "You didn't ask."

 

I wanted to see joy and beauty,

but the day toiled on, gray and bleak;

I wondered why God didn't show me.

He said, "But you didn't seek."

 

I tried to come into God's presence;

I used all my keys at the lock.

God gently and lovingly chided,

"My child, you didn't knock."

 

I woke up early this morning,

and paused before entering the day;

I had so much to accomplish

that I had to take time to pray.

 

God has rolled out the red carpet for us to walk into the “throne of grace and obtain grace and find mercy to help in time of need.”  The red carpet is called prayer.  It is an invitation to eat at the King’s table, but in order to RSVP we must be:

 

1.  SEEKING His FACE!

[2 Chronicles 7: 14]

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

 

A) A HUMBLE People

 

Hebrew word is kana.  It literally means, “To become low.”  When we ‘humble” ourselves, we put ourselves in our proper position before God.  We recognize who He is, what He is, and where He is.  We recognize how BIG He is, and how LITTLE we are.

 

Humility is to be a normal posture, and position of God’s people.

“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt thee in due time.”  [1 Peter 5: 6]

 

An elderly minister who survived the great Johnstown Flood of 1889 loved to regale audiences with tales of that harrowing event. When he died and went to heaven, he found himself in a meeting of saints who were sharing their life experiences. He took St. Peter aside and asked if he could tell about surviving the Johnstown Flood. Peter hesitated, then said, "Well, you can tell your story, but just keep in mind that Brother Noah will be in the audience."

 

WE have nothing to be proud of, or proud about.  Spiritually speaking, our father is Abraham, our grandfather is Adam; and, our great-grandfather is DIRT! 

 

We are nothing, He is our EVERYTHING!

 

B) A HUNGRY People

 

Hebrew word is baqash.  It literally means, “To consult, or to seek to secure.” 

 

A hungry people are those who consult, and seek to secure God’s counsel, and God’s will.

 

C) A HOLY People

 

If we become humble and hungry, we will become holy.  We will “turn from our wicked ways.” 

The word “turn” is the word shub.  It has a 2-fold meaning:  “To turn from, and to follow after.”

 

We see sin as God’s sees it.  We become sorry over our sin, not because we got caught; but, because we have violated God’s law and broken God’s heart.

 

In his book, “Wash Your Hands Before Praying,” Joe McKeever gives a prayer that gets us ready to pray.

 

"Father in Heaven, my Lord and Savior, Lover of my soul, Friend in need; Helper and Encourager, hear the cry of my heart:

Please cleanse me and make me whole.  Take away from my heart:

--anything that does not bow before Thee as Lord;

--whatever in me does not have Thy name on it;

--all that is resitant to the Holy Spirit;

--everything impure and unworthy of Thee;

--attitudes and opinions and convictions that do not originate with Thee;

--desires, motives, plans and ambitions in conflict with Thy will for my life;

--anything that runs and hides when You enter,

--that laughs when I believe,

--that squirms when I pray,

--that fears when I trust;

--whatever in me that does not give Thee joy, make Thee proud, or serve Thy purpose;

--all of this and everything else that holds me back, weighs me down, and cheapens the product.

 

O Lord, by Thy precious blood, purge my iniquity.  Take away my sin.  Make me holy, pure and clean.  Give me a heart for Thee, O Lord, one that longs to do only Thy will, that answers only to Thy call, that serves only to hear 'Thy will be done.'

 

And now, Holy Father, I am ready to pray to Thee....."

 

Ivor Powell tells of a man who used to always close his prayer the same way by saying, “Lord, knock down the cobwebs in my heart.”  Finally, after hearing the man pray this way, one old saint jumped up and said, “Lord, forget about the cobwebs, and just KILL THE SPIDER!”

 

We need to become humble, hungry and holy and ask God to KILL THE SPIDER in our lives.

 

As a result, a humble people, a hungry people, and a holy people have the promise of becoming:

 

D) A HEARD People

 

If we meet the preceding requirement, God gives an outstanding and overwhelming promise.  He promises to “HEAR FROM HEAVEN.”

 

What a thought that God would incline His ear unto us and step into our prayers.  Once we become a heard people, we become:

 

E) A HEALTHY People

He will “forgive our sin,” which speaks of removal; and, He will “heal our land,” which speaks of restoration.

 

I believe the promise can be taken Nationally.  This was a promise God made to Solomon, but included the entire nation of Israel. 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, the only hope for our country is not found in gold, goods, greed, or gain, but in GOD.  The hope of this country is not in political reformation, but in spiritual transformation. 

 

The promise can be taken Personally.  God promises to, personally, “forgive OUR sin” and “heal OUR land.” 

 

The promise can be taken Spiritually.  God is not a “respect of persons,” but He is a Respect of Principles.  God doesn’t love one church any more than He loves another church; and, He doesn’t love someone else more than He loves.

 

He doesn’t respect persons, but He does respect principles.  If we do it HIS way, we will be blessed.  If we do our way, we will get blistered.

 

Finally, a humble people, a hungry people, a holy people, a heard people, and a healthy people will be:

 

F) A HAPPY People

 

If the previous conditions are met, God promises in verse 15, “Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.”

 

I think of an old, godly Methodist woman, years ago, named Clara Tear Williams.  She lived in a one room shack, with a dirt floor, curtain walls, and lighting courtesy of an oil lamp.  She had a day's supply of food in the cub bard, and her only money was found in a Tupperware bowl behind her bed.  However, one day, a friend asked her to write a poem, and this is what she wrote:

 

All my life I had a longing

For a drink from some clear spring,

That I hoped would quench the burning

Of the thirst I felt within.

 

Hallelujah!  I have found Him,

Whom my soul so long has craved!

Jesus satisfies my longings,

Through His blood, I now am saved!

 

All of this comes from seeking God’s face!  Then, from seeking God’s face we move on to:

 

2.  FINDING God’s FAVOR!

[Psalm 80: 19]

“Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.”

 

A) What Does it MEAN?

The favor of God is something that is quite mysterious, but also quite marvelous.

 

The word “shine” is the word sa ah.  It literally means “to light up, to gaze, or to take an interest in.”

 

The favor of God means that God’s face lights up with pleasure and approval.  We have met God’s terms; thus, He takes an interest in our plans, prayers, and petitions. 

 

The face is known for many expressions.  But, here we are told that it is possible for God to cause His “face to shine” upon us.  In other words, it is possible for God’s face to light up, and take an interest in the endeavors of our lives.

 

B)  What Does it MATTER?

 

As you study the Bible you quickly learn that the favor of God is something that altered the course of history.  All the way from Abel to Jesus to the church, the favor of God has turned the world upside down.

 

The favor of God protects us.  The favor of God prepares us.  The favor of God preserves us.  The favor of God prospers us.  The favor of God provides for us.  The favor of God promotes.

 

F—FAVOR

A—ALWAYS

V—VERIFIES

O—OUR

R—RELATIONSHIP

 

The favor of God qualifies the unqualified.  The favor of God gifts the ungifted.  The favor of God enables the unable.  The favor of God equips the unequipped.  The favor of God empowers the powerless. 

 

The favor of God does what natural, human ability could never do! 

 

The favor of God, Psalm 84: 11, “gives grace and glory,” and will cause Him not to “without no good thing from them that walk uprightly.”

 

The favor of God, in Psalm 90: 17, causes “the beauty of the LORD our God” to “be upon us”; and, causes Him to “establish the work of our hands.”

 

The favor of God, in Genesis 39: 21, causes “the Lord to be with” us as He was with Joseph.

 

The favor of God, in Psalm 5: 12, causes Him to “bless the righteous; with favour” and “compass him as with a shield.”

 

The favor of God can transform a nation, alter the course of history, bless a life, invigorate a church, and open doors no man can shut, and close doors no man can open.

 

Jacob begged for it.  Hezekiah looked for it.  Nehemiah cried for it.  Daniel prayed for it.  And, we can ASK FOR IT!

 

3.  EXPERIENCING God’s FIRE!

[Acts 4: 31]

“And when they had prayed, the place was shaken.”

 

This is our theme verse for our 40 Days of Prayer.  We are praying that God will shake me, shake you, shake this church, shake our community, shake our city, shake our families, shake our friends and shake our loved ones. 

 

I believe you would agree that if the early church prayed, and God shook the place, there must have been something about their prayer.

 

A) What they REQUESTED

 

The goal of their prayer meeting is found in verse 29, “grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.” 

 

Their motive was pure.  Their hearts were clean.  The request was sincere.  They prayed responsibly, and they prayed righteously.  They were a spiritually expected people; as well as, a scripturally excited people. 

 

They knew how to pray.  They knew when to pray.  They knew where to pray.  They knew WHAT to pray.

It reminds me of the prayer of Jabez, “Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me.” [1 Chronicles 4: 10]

 

I mentioned earlier the prayer life of John Knox.  It is said of John Knox that we could get anything from God that he asked. Having become familiar with John Knox through biographies, I am of the conviction that his prayers always had the will of God and the glory of God as the motive.

 

They weren’t asking for beautiful budgets, bigger buildings and better business; although there is nothing wrong with those things if it is the will of God. 

 

Rather, they asked for to be BOLDER BELIEVERS for the Kingdom of God!

 

As a result of what they requested, we see:

 

B) What they RECEIVED

 

They have laid our their request before God; as a result, we read in verses 31-33, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. [32] And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. [33] And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

 

They became the recipients of God’s favor and God’s fire.  They were bestowed with Unity.  They were of “one heart and of one soul” and “had all things common.”

 

We don’t read any time where there was a discussion, much less a disagreement of what color paint to put on the walls, or carpet to put on the floor, or whether they should sing hymns or praise music.  The heart of God became instilled into the heart of man.

 

They were bestowed with Authority.  God imparted unto them “great power” and “great grace.”  Ladies and gentlemen, when those 2 things come together, “great power and great grace,” you better watch out, because THERE’S ABOUT TO BE A SHAKING!

 

One of the most moving places I have ever been was the George Mueller Museum in Bristol, England. It was not until I saw the pictures of his orphanages and the children for which he cared (up to 2,000 at one time) and saw the actual buildings he built (now part of the City of Bristol College) that I really appreciated all that he accomplished by prayer and by prayer alone. It was his policy to never let his needs be known to man, but only to God in prayer. Early in his ministry, George Mueller had joyfully dedicated his "whole life to the object of exemplifying how much may be accomplished by prayer and faith."

 

I think of how on one occasion it was time for breakfast and there was no food and no money to buy food. A small girl whose father was a friend of Mueller’s was visiting in the home. Mueller took her by the hand and said, “Come and see what our Father will do.” In the dining room, long tables were set with empty plates and empty mugs. Mueller prayed, “Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat.” Immediately, they heard a knock at the door. When they opened it, there stood the local baker. “Mr. Mueller,” he said, “I couldn’t sleep last night. Somehow I felt you had no bread for breakfast, so I got up at 2:00 o’clock and baked fresh bread. Here it is.”

 

Mueller thanked him and then gave praise to God. Soon after the baker had left, there was another knock at the door. When Mueller opened it, it was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. He told Mueller that he feared the milk would spoil and asked if he would like to have it for the children. Such is but one example of answered prayer in his life.

 

During his 68 years of ministry, he touched the lives of nearly 150,000 pupils. On top of caring for his homes in Bristol, he distributed to missions nearly $1,300,000, circulated nearly 2 million Bibles and over 1 million religious books, tracts, and pamphlets. During that time he would pray in and distribute over $7,500,000 in Christian enterprises. At today’s prices that would be approximately $129 million dollars.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, we have been made and given the “righteousness of God in Christ.”  That simply means that we have been MADE right, and we have been GIVEN rights.

 

Therefore, we have a RIGHT to “come boldly before the throne of grace and obtain grace and find mercy to help in time of need.”

 

We have a RIGHT to “call unto” Him and allow Him to “answer” us, and “shew us great and mighty things we know not.”

 

We have a RIGHT to “ask.”  We have a RIGHT to “seek.”  We have a RIGHT to “knock.”  We have a RIGHT to “receive.”  We have a RIGHT to “find.”  And we have a RIGHT to have the door “opened” unto us.

 

We have a RIGHT to expect that the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  How much?  It is as much as we need God to do.

 

Let me give you an example.  When I was a boy, there were times when we were privileged to sit down, as a family, and enjoy a meal together.  It did not happen a lot because dad would often be gone somewhere preaching, and mom would be at work.  But, when it did happen, it was a family feast.

 

The table was spread with everything your heart would ever desire, fried chicken, ham, mashed potatoes, squirrel gravy, fried okra, homemade “Cat-head” biscuits, and homemade bread pudding, or blueberry cobbler.

 

I love potatoes.  It matters not if they are fried, died or laid to the side, I love any and all kinds of potatoes.  So, after we prayed over the meal, the buckets of food would be passed. 

 

Once I had filled my plate, I would often ask, “Would you please pass the potatoes?”  I didn’t have to beg or plead, because the provision had already been made.  My mother had cooked them, prepared them, and placed them on the table.

 

They were already there, so I simply requested that it be passed down to my end of the table.  Furthermore, I didn’t have any reservation or hesitation to ask.  Why?  Because I wasn’t a stranger, a hireling, or someone off the street.  I was a family member sitting down at my family’s table.

 

Do you know what prayer is?  Prayer is simply ASKING GOD TO PASS THE POTATOES!!  It’s already there.  The provision has already been made.  God doesn’t have to turn on Food Network to get a quick recipe, or scurry to the kitchen to throw something together.

 

No sir.  The provision has already been bought and paid for by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Thus, as a family member, I have a right to ask God to pass the provision down to my end of the table.

 

Someone has wonderfully written:

 

Thou art coming to a King,

Large petitions with thee bring,

For His grace and pow’r are such,

None can ever ask too much!

 

If you are saved, you are an “heir of God” and a “joint heir with Jesus Christ.”  You have been born into the family, and “adopted” as child and given adult status in the family. 

 

Therefore, because you are a family member, you have a right to seek His face, find His favor, and experience His fire.  You have a right to eat at the King’s table!  Don’t be afraid to ask, because He has plenty of potatoes!

 

But, this is not for the faint of heart.  If you mean business, I can assure you that God means business.  If are willing to pay the price and seek His face, you can find His favor, experience His fire and eat at His table!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Thanksgiving Living

 

 

 

 

Job 1-42

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

Gardenview Baptist Church

Jacksonville, FL

 

November 18. 2007

THANKSGIVING SERMON

“Thanksgiving Living”

Job 1-42

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

November 18. 2007

Sermon Outline

1.  Job’s Impeccable Reputation!

A) His Priceless Integrity

           1) A Clean Life

           2) A Confident Lord

B) His Matchless Adversity

           1) Occupational through His Fortune

           2) Emotional through His Family     

           3) Physical through His Fidelity

           4) Spiritual through His Faith

2.  Job’s Irrefutable Revelation!

A) Sovereign Authority is Reestablished

B) Supernatural Ability is Reinforced

3.  Job’s Incredible Restoration!

A) The Rebuke of His Friends

B) The Recovery of His Fortune

C) The Rebirth of His Family

 

In 1621, in spite of their many hardships, difficulties, and thoughts of returning to their homeland, the Pilgrims appointed a day of Thanksgiving. 

 

Our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln acknowledged the day nationally in 1863; and, in 1941, Congress passed into law that the 4th Thursday of each November be officially recognized as Thanksgiving Day.

 

This coming Thursday we will enjoy a time of food, family and fellowship; but I’m not sure that we should observe Thanksgiving day so much as we should employ Thanksgiving living.  In other words, our thanks to God should not be stored up until the 4th Thursday of every November.

 

Rather, we should express our thanks to God everyday by how we give, and how we live.  I love the admonition of 1 Thessalonians 5: 18, “In everything give thanks:  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 

 

Paul was saying that thanksgiving is not only something which God deserves; but, it is something which God demands.  God not only desires that we thank Him with our lips, but that we thank Him by our lives.

 

C. H. Spurgeon said, "Gratitude is the only fountain of acceptable service; without it, the streams are far too defiled to flow in the paradise of God."

 

I think of a man in Phoenix who called his son in New York the day before Thanksgiving and said, “Son, I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are getting a divorce.  Forty-five years of misery is enough for 1 person.”

 

The son screamed, “Pop, what are you talking about?”  His dad continued, “We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer.  We’re sick of each other and I’m sick of talking about it.  Call your sister in Chicago and tell her.”

 

Frantically, the son calls his sister in Chicago and gives her the news.  She cries out, “No way!  They’re getting divorced?  Don’t worry.  I’ll take care of this.”  She calls her dad in Phoenix immediately and says, “Now, you listen to me dad, you’re not getting divorced.  Don’t do a blessed thing until I get there.  I’m calling my brother, in New York, and we’ll both be there tomorrow.”

 

The old man hangs up the phone, turns to his wife and says, “Okay.  They’ll both be here tomorrow for Thanksgiving, and they’re paying their own way.”

 

I want to examine the oldest book in the Bible to look at the life Job as our great example of Thanksgiving Living.  First of all, I want you to notice:

 

1.  Job’s IMPECCABLE REPUTATION!

 

The character and conduct of Job are held in a class all their own.  He was a man that could look up to Heaven and sing with Charles Albert Tindley:

 

Nothing between my soul and the Savior.

Naught of this worlds’ elusive dreams.

I have renounced all sinful pleasure,

Jesus is mine, there is nothing between.

 

His reputation gave him the title, in verse 3 of being the “greatest of all the men in the east.”  When you consider Job’s impeccable reputation you must consider:

 

A) His PRICELESS INTEGRITY

 

UPI correspondent Wesley Pippert comments, “An important fruit of discipline is integrity.  Few things are more important than whether one has a good reputation, a good name.  Not all people are gregarious or outgoing.  Not all people are sought after or loveable.  But everyone can have integrity.  Integrity flows more out of a disciplined character than a daring personality."

 

Job’s integrity was the result of a clean life.  We read in Job 1: 1 that he was a man who was, "man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.”

 

The word “perfect” is better rendered “blameless.”  The word “eschewed” is the Hebrew word that means, “To turn away.”  In other words, when it came to any form of sin, Job turned away and got as far away from it as he possibly could.

 

When the Emperor arrested Chrysostom and tried to make him recant his faith, he emphatically shook his head. The Emperor said to his guards, "Throw him into prison." "No," said one of them, "he will be glad to go, for he delights in the presence of his God in quiet!" "Well, execute him," said the Emperor. "He will be glad to die," said the soldier, "for he wants to go to heaven, I heard him say so the other day.”There is only one thing that can give Chrysostom pain, and that is, to make him sin; he said he was afraid of nothing but sin. If you can make him sin, you will make him unhappy."

 

We get the idea that sin was something that made Job extremely unhappy.  Thus, because of a clean life he had a confident Lord. 

 

Get the picture.  God, who is presiding over a meeting of heavenly beings, is about to assign his angelic messengers specific tasks to perform.  All of the sudden, Lucifer, the former angel of light appears.

 

God asks him in 1: 7, "Whence comest thou?”  Satan answers, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.”  In other words, Satan, along with his diabolical angelic hosts has been looking for someone to tempt.

 

Then, God gives him a suggestion in 1: 8, "Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?”

 

Satan, “the accuser of the brethren” brings an accusation against both Job and God.  He says in 1: 10, "Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.”

 

Satan’s accusation is that nobody is good without a cause.  Nobody loves God just for the sake of loving God.  Satan said in effect, “Everyone is selfish.  Men only love God because God is blessing them.  Job loves you only because of what You have given him, not because of who You are.”

God says, “Well, we’ll just see about that.” 

 

Thus, He hands Satan a permission slip in 1:11-12, “But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.  [12] And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.”

 

God had complete confidence in the integrity of Job.  There existed not one ounce of a doubt in the mind of God as to the impeccable integrity of Job. 

 

I used to say that I wanted God to brag on me; but, that was until I realized that Job’s trouble came all because God bragged on him.

 

An applicant was filling out a job application. When he came to the question, "Have you ever been arrested?" he wrote, "No."  The next question, intended for people who had answered in the affirmative to the previous question, was "Why?" 

The applicant answered it anyway: "Never got caught."

 

Job never got caught because there was nothing to catch him in.  Thus, scene one closes with his priceless integrity.  Scene two opens with:

 

B) His MATCHLESS ADVERSITY

 

Whenever troubles and trials come into a person’s life our cynical nature rises up and says, “They are having trouble because there is sin in their life, and God is punishing them.”  However, such was certainly not the case with Job. 

 

In fact, the complete opposite was true.  Sin did not bring Job’s adversity, but sincerity brought Job’s adversity.  Job wasn’t tried because of his perversion, but because of his purity.

 

In just 1 day; 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86,400 seconds Job encountered a lifetime worth of adversity.  His adversity was occupational through his fortune.  In verses 14-15 he loses 500 yoke of oxen.  In verse 16, he loses 7000 sheep.  In verse 17, he loses 3000 camels.  His flocks and fortune are gone.

 

Then, adversity came emotional through his family.  In verses 18-19, he visits 10 different funeral homes as all 10 of his children are dead. 

He goes on to face adversity which was physical through his fidelity.  In 2: 7-8, we learn that Satan "smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. [8] And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.”

 

As if this wasn’t enough, he not only faced occupational adversity through his fortune, emotional adversity through his family, physical adversity through his fidelity, but his greatest adversity was spiritual through his faith.

 

Job’s wife offers a suggestion that he just “curse God and die.”  Job replies in 2: 10, "shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”  However, over the next 36 chapters Job questions his faith in God.

 

In 3: 1-4 we read that Job, "cursed his day.” [2]And Job spake, and said,  [3] Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. [4]Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.”  Then, he asks in verse 11, "Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?”

 

In 12: 4 we hear him say, "I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon God, and he answereth him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn.”  In 13: 24, he asks God, "hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?”

 

In 14: 1-2, Job concludes that, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.  2 He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.”  In verse 10 we read, "But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?”

 

In 16:11-12, he believes that “God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked.  [12] I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark.”

 

In 19: 8-13, Job draws it to a conclusion, "He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths. [9] He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head. [10] He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: and mine hope hath he removed like a tree. [11] He hath also kindled his wrath against me, and he counteth me unto him as one of his enemies. [12] His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle. [13] He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me.”

 

I have often heard people say, “We shouldn’t question God.”  But, Job did.  In fact, he questioned God repeatedly. He questioned his faith.  He questioned his future.  He questioned his Father.

 

There is a vast difference between questioning God and challenging God.  Questioning God is human nature, because we aren’t God.  We don’t understand His ways, His workings, and His will.

 

But, when a person charges God they are bringing an accusation to God.  They are challenging God’s authority and ability.  They are shaking their fist in the face of God in defiance and rebellion.

 

This was something of which Job wasn’t guilty.  In 1: 22 we read that Job did not “charge God foolishly.”  He questioned, but he never challenged.

 

One day, we’ll be on the other side of the veil and we’ll see things from God’s viewpoint.  But, until that day, we look at things from this side of the veil and we have more questions than answers, because we don’t understand what God is doing.

 

There are many things that I do not know or understand.  There are many things that are far too wonderful for my finite mind to conceive.  But, of everything I do not know, there are 2 things of which I am absolutely certain:  1) There is a God; and, 2) I’M NOT HIM!!

 

He doesn’t answer to me.  He doesn’t report to me.  He owes me no explanation or justification.  He has never leaned over the sapphire sill of Heaven’s splendor to ask my permission. 

 

He is God of Himself.  He is God in Himself.  He is God all by Himself.  Secondly, I want to move you to not only see Job’s impeccable reputation, but:

 

2.  Job’s IRREFUTABLE REVELATION!

 

Job was a man with an impeccable reputation.  He possessed priceless integrity which resulted in matchless adversity.  He remained true to God, but there were also many times when he questioned God’s plan, purpose, and program.

 

Throughout all of Job’s questions, as well as his friend’s statements, God has remained silent.  But, when you come to Job 38 the court of Heaven is called to order.  The audience is called to rise as he gavel goes down on the bench, and God shows up and speaks up.

 

In His speech, God revealed 2 irrefutable truths.  First:

 

A) SOVEREIGN AUTHORITY is

                                             REESTABLISHED

 

For 37 chapters, God has been completely, totally and utterly silent.  God was well aware of what was taking place in Job’s life; in fact, He was the One who signed the permission slip.  But, while He was aware of it, He has yet to say anything about it.

 

Job questions his faith, his future, his friends, his family, and even His Father.  Finally, when you come to Job 38 God shows up and speaks up.  In fact, we read in 38:1 that, "the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind.”

 

What a picture!  God has been silent for a long time, when suddenly, out of nowhere God bursts onto the scene in a “whirlwind.”  I’m sure that it’s safe to say that God has Job’s attention.

 

When God finally speaks, He reestablishes His sovereign authority in the eyes of Job.  Listen to it in 38:2-6, "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? [3] Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. [4] Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.  [5] Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? [6] Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof?”

God sets the record straight once and for all.  Job is reminded of how little he is, and how big God is. 

School is in session and the lesson continues in 40:7-14, "Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. 8 Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? 9 Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? 10 Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty. 11 Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him. 12 Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place. 13 Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret. 14 Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.”

God reminds Job, as well as us that when you can’t see His hand you must trust His heart.  If He’s silent, it’s not because He is asleep.  He is still at the wheel.  He is still in control.  He is still in charge.  He is still on the throne, and nothing is out of His sight.

 

Just because you don’t see Him, you can’t hear Him, or you’re not able to understand Him doesn’t mean that He has forsaken or forgotten you.  He is still God of Him, in Himself and all by Himself.

 

Once sovereign authority is reestablished:

 

B) SUPERNATURAL ABILITY is REINFORCED

 

Job gets a glimpse of God.  Job gets a glimpse of glory.  When he does, he responds to it the only way a person could respond to it.  Job responds in 40:2, "Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.” 

 

Then, we read in 42:2-3, "I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.  [3] Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.”

 

I love verses 5-6, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. [6] Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

 

Job comes to the full realization of the fact that God knows what he does not know; God sees what he cannot see; God understands what is impossible for him to understand.

 

He realizes that in spite of his occupational adversity through his fortune, his emotional adversity through his family, his physical adversity through his fidelity; and, his spiritual adversity through his faith that his God is still big enough to turn to, trust in, look to and lean on.

 

In the first 37 chapters all Job could see was adversity.  But, from Job 38-42 all he can see is Deity.  And the bigger God became, the smaller his troubles became.

 

I care not what your problem may be today, if you will get a clear picture of God, through the eyes of faith, your problem will hail in comparison to Him.  I remind you that whatever God touches always becomes better; but, even if He doesn’t touch your situation, let Him touch you.

 

As Helen Lemmel expressed it:

 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim.

In the light of His glory and grace.

 

He is so big that when we see Him, His deity, sovereignty and glory block our view of anything else.  He becomes all we see, because He is all we need to see.

 

Finally, I call your attention not only to Job’s impeccable reputation, Job’s irrefutable revelation; but to:

 

3.  Job’s INCREDIBLE RESTORATION!

 

Now, we come to Job 42.  Much has transpired in the first 41 chapters.  Job has endured the trial of the century, occupationally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.  He has questioned his faith, his future, his family, his friends, and even his Father.

 

Suddenly, God appears in a “whirlwind” to reveal Himself to Job, and all Job can do is humble himself in “dust and ashes.”  Theology 101 is over, Job’s term paper is complete, and he is ready to graduate from God’s university of faith.

 

Thus, in Job 42 we witness an incredible restoration of a man who had lost it all.  This restoration is three-fold, beginning with:

A) The REBUKE of His FRIENDS

 

I have said that with friends like Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite who needs enemies.  These 3 men have berated Job, belittled Job, and betrayed Job.

 

Thus, God decided to have a little fun with them.  These men come to present an offering to the Lord, but the Lord informs them, in 42:7-8, "My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. [8] Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept.”

 

Get the picture.  These 3 men have played the part of spiritual know-it-alls in their critique of Job’s life.  Job has been down, and they have kicked him while he was down.

 

They come to give an offering, but God tells them that he will not accept their offering. Rather, they are to go and have Job pray for them, and God will accept Job’s offering of thanksgiving.

 

I can just see these 3 boys, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar as they try to digest crow for lunch.  They walk up to Job, clear their throat and say, “Brother Job, uh, would you mind praying for us?”  What a turn of events!

 

As a result, in verse 9, “The Lord also accepted Job.”  And, in verse 10, "the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends.” 

 

I wonder if, while Jesus was preaching the greatest sermon ever preached titled, “The Sermon on the Mount,” He was thinking of Job’s story when He said, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; [45] That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5: 44-45)

 

Proverbs 16: 7 says that, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be a peace with him.”  The very people, who may talk about you, mistreat you, betray you and belittle you, may be the very people who come looking for you one day for spiritual help.

 

If people are talking about you, you need not jump on the telephone and talk to Mr. Forked-Tongue, Mrs. Dirty-Laundry Lips, Brother Jabber jaw, or Sister Snaggletooth about them.  You should pick up Heaven’s hotline and talk to Doctor Jesus about them.

 

With the rebuke of his friends comes:

 

B) The RECOVERY of His FORTUNE

 

Job did supernaturally what he could not do naturally in praying for his so-called friends.  As a result, we read in verse 10, "the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.”

 

We read in verse 12, "So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.”

 

Job began in chapter 1 with 7,000 sheep; and, he ends up in chapter 42 with 14,000 sheep.  He started out in chapter 1 with 3,000 camels; and, he winds up in chapter 42 with 6,000 camels.  He began with 500 she asses, and he finishes with 1000 she asses.

 

He was rich before, but now He is extremely and enormously wealthy.  Why?  Notice carefully the end of verse 9, “the Lord accepted.”  Look at verse 10, “the Lord gave.”  Look at verse 12, “the Lord blessed.”

Job was accepted.  Job was given.  Job was blessed.  Who did it?  God did it!  Job may not have demanded it, desired it, or deserved it; but, God delivered it.  Why?  It’s called GRACE, GRACE, GRACE, GRACE, GRACE!

 

Finally, after the rebuke of his friends and the recovery of his fortune, we see:

 

C) The REBIRTH of His FAMILY

 

Job is the recipient of double with his fortune, but not with his family.  He began with “seven sons and three daughters.”  He ends in 42:13 with, “seven sons and three daughters.” 

 

Can I suggest that the reason Job didn’t receive double children is because he didn’t lose the first children.  They were dead, but not lost.  Job knew exactly where they were.

 

I want you to pay close attention to the names Job assigns to his 3 daughters in verse 14, "he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch.” 

 

I believe you would agree that those are not names that are used today, but those names are a tribute that Job paid to the goodness of God.  Those names are Job’s way of giving thanks for all that God had done.

 

The name Jemima means, “Beautiful.”  The name Kezia means, “Fragrant.”  The name Kerenhappuch means, “Plenteous.”  There were not 3 ordinary girls, but we read in verse 15 that, "in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.”

 

I can just imagine Job sitting on his porch.  He smells like hell, because he has been through hell.  He looks down at his arms and can still see the scab of his boils.  He vividly remembers the day, which seems like an eternity, where he lost it all.

 

But, then, he remembers that God brought him to it, and God brought him through it.  He remembers that God guided, but God also provided.  He remembers that God did not forget him, forsake him, fool him, flee him, or fail him.

 

Then, he looks and sees Jemima playing in the yard and says to himself, “That’s the most BEAUTIFUL sight I have ever seen.”  Kezia jumps up in his lap and Job thinks, “That’s the most FRAGRANT, and best smelling kid I’ve ever been around.  He looks at Kerenhappuch and considers how PLENTOUS and bountifully God has blessed him.

Job’s faith has ended in sight with the rebirth of his family, and the names attributed to his children.  These names are his testimony of thanksgiving unto God. 

 

He is reminded that what the devil tried to use to defeat him, God used to deliver him.  He sees that what the devil meant to crush him, God meant to crown him.  He understands that what the enemy tried to use to humiliate him, God used to elevate him. 

 

He knows that what the devil tried to make ugly, God had made beautiful through Jemima.  He knows that what the devil tried to make a foul odor, God had made fragrant through Kezia.  He knows that what the devil tried to use to deplete him, God used to make him plenteous through Kerenhappuch.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, that is thanksgiving living.  Regardless of what you are going through right now, the Bible says, “In everything give thanks:  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 

 

In other words, what the devil wants to use to destroy you, God will use to distinguish you.  What the devil wants to use to demote you, God will use to promote you. What the devil wants to use to crush you, God will use to crown you. 

What the devil wants to use to make you silent, God will use to make you shout.  What the devil wants to use to burden you, God will use to bless you.  What the devil wants to use to ruin your testimony, God will use to reveal your testimony.

 

The London plague of 1665 was terrible.  Most shops closed, orphans roamed the streets, parents wailed and the dead were borne out daily.  On July 16, 1665 businessman Walter Petherick, a widower with four children, took his family to the parish church.  The sun was brilliant, the Thames River smooth.  But, the heart of London was sad, and the somber church was packed.  The minister read from Habbakuk 3, "Fig trees may no longer bloom, or vineyards produce grapes; olive trees may be fruitless, and harvest time a failure; sheep pens may be empty, and cattle stalls vacant, but I will still rejoice in the Lord."

 

That evening a horror fell over Petherick.  He feared that his children would die.  He called them together, read Habbakuk 3, sent them to bed, then knelt and prayed earnestly for the first time in years.  He cried over each child saying, "If my children were snatched from me, how could I rejoice in the Lord?"  He continued praying in anguish, "Spare him, oh, spare him.  Spare her, oh, spare her.  Oh Lord, have pity."

 

As he prayed he realized he had long neglected prayer and the Lord.  He had been more concerned for "figs" and "olives," "cattle" and "harvest" than for the things of Christ.  He wept, confessed and prayed all night until he found peace.

 

The next year as the Great Fire consumed London, it threatened Petherick's warehouse containing practically all of his earthly substance.  This time, however, there was no anguish, just simple trust in God's will.  He later wrote, "Lord, thou hast been pleased by pestilence and fire to redeem my soul from destruction.  Thou didst threaten me with the loss of thy choicest gifts that I might set my heart's affections once more upon the Giver.  But the fig tree did not wither, the vines did not perish, the olive did not fail.  The pestilence did not touch my children; the flames did not destroy my goods.  Accept the thanks of thy servant this day and help him, all his days, to rejoice in the Lord."

 

I don’t believe that we should just give thanks, but we should live thanks.  I don’t believe that we should confine it to the 4th Thursday of each November as Thanksgiving, but every day of our existence should be filled with Thanksgiving Living.

 

Why?  Because as Job’s great theological statement reminds us, in 1:21, "the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A New Year Revolution”

 

 

James 4: 13-17

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

Gardenview Baptist Church

Jacksonville, FL

 

 

 

 

 

December 30. 2007

 

“A New Year Revolution”

James 4: 13-17

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

December 30. 2007

Sermon Outline

1.  Personally Appreciate our Time!

A.  Time is a Precious Matter!

B.  Time is a Passing Matter!

2.  Properly Administrate our Time!

A.  Treat Each Day as a Gift from God!

B.  Trust Each Day as a Gift to God!

3.  Perfectly Allocate our Time!

A.  Live According to the Will of God!

B.  Live Acceptant of the Will of God!

 

Someone has said, "People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas."

 

Henry Ward Beecher said, "Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down

one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past."

 

As we come to the end of 2007 and stand on the threshold of 2008, I think of the words of the saintly Francis Ridley Havergal:

Another year is dawning;
Dear Father let it be,
In working or in waiting,
Another year with thee.

Another year of progress,
Another year of praise,
Another year of proving
Thy presence all the days.

Another year of mercies,
Of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness,
The glory of thy face.

Another year of leaning
Upon thy loving breast,
Another year of trusting,
Of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of service,
Of witness for thy love,
Another year of training
For holier work above.

Another year is dawning,
Dear Father, let it be,
On earth, or else in heaven
,
Another year for thee.

I’m sure that many of you have already made some New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, spend more time with your family, further your education, travel to new destinations, or to become more financially stable.

 

The truth of the matter is that many of these resolutions will be broken in a couple of months, or never pursued to begin with.  Thus, many will find themselves no better off at the end of the year than they were at the start of the year.

 

For example, we begin a New Year by saying, "I'm going loose weight," yet March rolls around and the diet books are sitting on the shelf unread and we are ten pounds heavier.

 

We say, "I'm going to start exercising" and by May, the stair stepper and NordicTrack is in the closet gathering dust." We say we are going to reduce debt, but by June we are worried about how we are going to pay for the diet books and exercise machines we bought on our credit cards.

 

As I read the concluding remarks of James 4, I believe we do not find a New Year resolution, but a New Year Revolution.  We find principles that are guaranteed to revolutionize our lives.    

There are 3 New Year’s revolutions in our text.  First, James says that we should:

 

1.  PERSONALLY APPRECIATE our Time!

 

Someone has written:

 

“Just a tiny little minute

Only sixty seconds in it

Forced upon, can’t refuse it;

Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it,

I must suffer if I lose it,

Give account if I abuse it.

Just a tiny little minute

But eternity is in it.”

 

We express our appreciation for many things in many ways.  Yet, James says that one thing which deserves our greatest appreciation is the matter of time.  We should appreciate our time, because time is:

 

A)  A PRECIOUS Matter!

 

James asks one of the greatest questions in the Bible.  In verse 14, he asks, “What is your life?”  That is one of the great questions of the Bible.  At first, it appears to be a hypothetical, and a rhetorical question that no one can answer. 

 

But, interestingly enough, it is a question that answers itself.  The word “life” is the Greek word zoe.  It is the derivative of our English word “zoology.”

 

The word encompasses life as a whole.  It describes the whole gamut of life.  It refers to life in its absolute sense.  It speaks of life as God gives it. 

 

The word reminds us that “life” is the most precious gift that God has entrusted to us.  It has been given to us by a gracious, generous and loving God who is the source, secret and sustainer of all life.

 

I recently read a wonderful little piece called, “How Do We Value Life?”  It asks the questions:

 

How do we value ONE YEAR?  Ask a student who failed a grade.

 

How do we value ONE MONTH?  Ask a mother whose baby arrived prematurely.

 

How do we value ONE WEEK?  Ask an editor of a newspaper.

 

How do we value ONE HOUR?  Ask someone who lies terminally ill waiting for a loved one who is late.

 

How do we value ONE MINUTE?  Ask someone who missed a plane, or a very important appointment that can never be rescheduled.

 

How do we value ONE SECOND?  Ask an Olympic medalist; someone who missed having an accident; or, someone saying goodbye to a loved one they will never see again.

 

Life is significant, but it is far from simple.  Life is profitable, but it is far from predictable.  It is a complex matrix of forces, events, people, contingencies and circumstances over which we have little, or on control. 

 

Thus, it is impossible for us to ascertain, assume or assure ourselves of any specific future, because James reminds us in verse 14 that “ye know not what shall be on the morrow.” 

 

But, we learn that time is a precious matter because time is:

 

B)  A PASSING Matter!

While, in verse 14, James asks one of the great questions of the Bible, he goes on to answer his own, great question.  [For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.]

 

James describes our precious time as passing time.  In other words, time never comes to stay, it always comes to go.  He says that our life is but “a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”  The word “vapour” only appears twice in the New Testament. 

 

In Acts 2: 19, the word is translated “smoke.”  In our text, the word “vapour” is better translated “mist.”  Thus, James says that the days of our life are nothing more than smoke, a mist, or vapour that is here for a while, and then disappears.

 

Scientific researches recently estimated that a:

Lightening bolt last 45-55 microseconds.

Average running shoe lasts 350-500 miles.

Hard pencil can write up to 30,000 words

A ball point pen can draw a line 7,500 ft. long

100 watt incandescent bulb lasts 750 hours.

25 watt bulb lasts 25,000 hours.

One dollar bill lasts 18 months in circulation.

 

Yet, James says that our life is but a puff of smoke from a fire; steam that rises from a cup of coffee; or, one’s breath briefly visible on a cold morning.  The days of our life, while precious, are also passing like a vapour.

 

I recently read a most interesting article entitled, “If You are 35, You Have 500 Days to Live.”  The article went on to contend that when you subtract the time you spend sleeping, working, tending to personal matters, eating, traveling, doing chores, attending to personal hygiene, and you add in the miscellaneous time stealers, in the next 36 years you will have only 500 days to spend as you wish.  It then poses the question, “when all of the necessary things are done, how much time will you have left?”

 

John Blanchard said, “The moment a man is born, he begins to die.  Death could come at any moment by design, disease, disaster or decay.  Man is not here to stay, he is here to go.”

 

I look at my own life and stand amazed that I have lived 41 years.  I look back and think, ‘where did the time go?’  I used to be of the mindset that the age of 40 was the time you prepared for life in a convalescent center, but you can rest assured that my thinking has dramatically changed.

 

I can easily remember things in my childhood, teenage, high school and college years that only seem like yesterday.  Yet, like a puff of smoke, a cloud of mist, and the shadow of a vapour those years are gone forever.

 

As I look back over the past year, it is almost inconceivable that the year is over.  It seems like yesterday that I was preaching a sermon in preparation for 2007; and, now, I am preaching a sermon in preparation for 2008.

 

There were people with us last year that are no longer with us this year.  And, there are people with us now that will not be with us this time next year.

 

Where did the time go?  James says that 2007 was but a “vapour that appeared for a little while and then vanished away.”    

 

Time is a precious matter.  Time is a passing matter.  That is why we should personally appreciate our time every day that we live.

 

Secondly, we learn that we should not only personally appreciate our time, but we should:

 

2.  PROPERLY ADMINISTRATE our Time!

 

I’m sure that every person in this room has made certain plans for the next year.  I can only speak for myself, but there are certain things that I plan to do in 2008, as well as certain goals I plan to achieve.

 

In our text, James is not telling us that it is wrong to plan, but it is wrong to plan without including God in our plans.  We should not seek to fit God in our plans, but we should seek to fit our lives into God’s plan.

 

We should not only personally appreciate our time, but we should properly administrate our time in a way that would bring glory and honour to the Lord.

 

How do we do that?  First of all, we should:

 

A)  TREAT Each Day as a Gift from God

 

In 1966, David Mahoney was the head of Canada Dry.  Stock was selling at a low price of $11 a share.  With about 2 ½ million shares outstanding, he had an opportunity to buy the entire company for $30 million.  Financing was available, but Mahoney never made up his mind and let the opportunity pass.  Twenty years later, his investment would have increased to more than $700 million, a 200 percent profit.

 

Every day of our lives is filled with 3 things:  activity, responsibility and opportunity.  That is why we are admonished, in Ephesians 5: 16, to “redeem the time.” 

 

The word “redeem” literally means, “To buy up.”  In other words, we are to seize, buy up and make the most of every second of every day, because we will never have the same opportunity to exercise our responsibility over our God-given activity.

 

I love the prayer of Moses in Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” 

 

In the past year, you were presented with a golden opportunity to serve God; did you take advantage of it?  You were presented with an opportunity to share your faith, did you seize it?  You were presented with an opportunity to help someone in need; did you make the most of it?

 

If not, those opportunities have been lost forever.  That is why we are to treat each day as a gift that God has graciously given us.  Someone has well said, “Only one life will soon be past; only what’s done for Jesus will last.” 

 

Since God is the giver of life, time, health and strength, we should treat each day as a gift form a good, generous and gracious God and live accordingly.

 

However, the proper administration of our time also means that we should:

 

B)  TRUST Each Day as a Gift to God

 

In verse 13, James uses an interesting illustration to speak of the proper administration of the time God gives us.  He speaks of the attitudes, aspirations and ambitions of certain merchants in his day. 

 

To introduce the illustration, he uses a phrase that is found but one other place in the Bible, he says, “Go to now.”  We might say, “Come on now,” or “Now look here.”  It is a phrase that usually implied disapproval, and calls for one’s complete attention. 

 

He describes the attitude of certain businessmen by saying, [Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain.] 

 

We get the idea that these merchants were cautious, careful and calculating business planners.  In fact, from this verse we discover that these merchants had it all mapped out for themselves. 

 

They had constructed the plan [today or tomorrow].  They had chosen the place [we will go into such a city].  They had calculated the period [and continue there a year]. They had considered the purpose [and buy and sell].  And they had computed the profit [and get gain].

 

No one could ever accuse them of being lazy, or slothful in their planning.  They were meticulous planners, who planned their work, and worked their plan.

However, the tragedy is that they planned their future without God.  Furthermore, the indication is that they knew to include God in their plans, but they failed to do it.

 

That’s why James says in verse 17, [Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.]

 

These men were not only guilty of the sin of commission, but the sin of omission.  In other words, it was not necessarily what they had done, but it was what they had not done.  They had made the tragic mistake of devising a plan that did not include God.

 

James reminds us that God is never to be divorced from who we are, or what we do.  If God, and His plans, cannot be a part of who we are, then we must change who we are.  If God, and His plans, cannot be a part of what we do, then we must change what we do. 

 

If God cannot be a part of our plans, then our plans must be revised, reversed or rearranged.  To exclude God from our plans is a seriously sinful matter.

 

James 4: 17 is the greatest definition of sin ever given.  It reminds us that if we know, from the Word of God, to do something, and we fail to do it, it is sin. 

 

There are those who know they should be more faithful to church, but you allow your plans to take precedent over God’s plans, and you become unfaithful.  James says it is sin.  There are those who know they should be singing in the choir, but you will not do it.  James says it is sin.

 

There are those who know that you ought to be teaching a class, but you will not do it.  James says it is sin.  There are those who know that you ought to read your Bible more, pray more, and serve God with all of your heart, but you will not do it.  James says it is sin.   

 

It is not wrong to make plans for 2008, but it is tragically wrong to exclude God from our plans.  It is like James is saying, “I don’t know why you are making plans that do not include God, because you have no idea what tomorrow may bring, or if tomorrow will even come.” 

 

These men were saying, “We will;” God said, “You have no way of knowing.”  They were planning for an entire year, yet, they weren’t even sure of the next minute.  They thought they were being independent, God thought they were being ignorant.

 

You see each day is a gift.  Because we cannot produce tomorrow, we cannot predict tomorrow.  It is out of our control, but under God’s control.  Thus, because God is the producer and predictor of time, He is to have Preeminence in our time.  He is not to be left out of our fame, fortune, finances, or our future.  Whatever and whenever, God is to be the major factor in everything we are, or everything we do.

 

We have no way of knowing what tomorrow holds, but we do know WHO holds tomorrow.  Thus, James is telling us that what tomorrow hold is all up to God.  Furthermore, if there is a tomorrow, it’s all up to God.

 

If Jesus doesn’t come, we do not die, and we live to see 2008, we should make dead-level sure that our plans are God’s plans and God’s plans are our plans. 

 

We should treat each day as a gift from God and then trust each day as a gift to God.  That is the only way to properly administrate our time.

 

Finally, he shows us how to:

3.  PERFECTLY ALLOCATE our Time!

 

Someone has penned the words to a wonderful New Year’s prayer:

 

To leave the old with a burst of song;

To recall the right and forgive the wrong;

To forget the things that bind you fast

To the vain regrets of the year that's past.

 

To have the strength to let go your hold

Of the not worth while of the days grown old;

To dare go forth with a purpose true,

To the unknown task of the year that's new.

 

To help your brother along the road,

To do his work and lift his load;

To add your gift to the world's good cheer,

Is to have and to give a Happy New Year.

 

We should personally appreciate our time because it is a precious matter, and a passing matter.  WE should properly administrate our time because each day is a gift from God.  Finally, we should perfectly allocate our time, in 2008, by doing 2 things.  First, we should:

 

A)  LIVE ACCORDING to the Will of God

 

Remember that James is responding to the attitudes of these masterful businessmen of his day.  These men were bragging and boasting of their great plans that were made without any consideration of God. 

 

Thus, James responds in verse 15, by saying that rather than saying, ‘I am going to do this, this, and this,’ [For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.] 

 

James is saying, “If you’re going to make plans, don’t brag and boast about what YOU are going to do.  Rather, say, ‘if the Lord will, I will do it.’”  In other words, we are to live our life according to the will of God.

 

The point James is making is clear.  There is nothing wrong with making plans for a future; however, we should never make those plans aware of the fact that God is in charge of our future.  Thus, it is up to Him to see that our plans are carried out. 

 

The fact of the matter is that God has a master blueprint for every one of our lives as believers.  If that be true, then it would stand to reason that if God has a plan for my life, then finding His plan should be priority of my life; and, following His plan should be the pursuit of my life.

 

Our life is not to be lived according to our wants, but according to what God wills.  The desire of our hearts should not be to get our will done in Heaven; but, to get God’s will done on earth.  We are not to live from a temporal standpoint; we are to live from an eternal standpoint.

 

The old adage says, “Live like today was the first day of the rest of your life.”  However, in reality, we should live like today is the LAST day of the rest of our life. 

 

The truth of the matter is that today may very well be the last day of the rest of our life.  Yet, this life is not a drop in the bucket compared to eternity. 

 

We are going to live longer on the other side than we will live on this side.  But, our standard of living on this side has much to do with determining our standard of living on the other side.  Thus, the best preparation for eternity is to live this life, today and every day, according to the will of God.

 

Finally, we should:

 

B)  LIVE ACCEPTANT of the Will of God

 

James says that we should live each day according to the premise, “If the Lord will we shall live, and do this, or that.”  But, when we begin to brag and boast of our plans, made without God, James says in verse 16 that “all such rejoicing is evil.” 

 

In other words, if we are to perfectly allocate the days of our life, then we must learn to live according to God’s will, and live acceptant of God’s will.

 

God is the One who is in charge of our family, our finances, and our future.  It’s all up to Him, not us.  Thus, to live life according to our will, rather than God’s will, is an insult to the God who gives us breath, time and life.

 

The Baltimore Sun conducted a contest, and the following poem received a prize for the best answer to the question, "What would you do if you had one more year to live?"

 

"If I had but one year to live;

One year to help; one year to give;

One year to love; one year to bless;

One year of better things to stress;

One year to sing; one year to smile;

To brighten earth a little while;

One year to sing my Maker's praise;

One year to fill with work my days;

One year to strive for a reward

When I should stand before my Lord,

 

I think that I would spend each day,

In just the very self-same way

That I do now. For from afar

The call may come across the bar

At any time, and I must be

Prepared to meet eternity.

 

So if I have a year to live,

Or just one day in which to give

A pleasant smile, a helping hand,

A mind that tries to understand

A fellow-creature when in need;

'Tis one with me-I take no heed.

But try to live each day He sends

To serve my gracious Master's ends."

 

As we look back on 2007, all of us are faced with regrets and remorse.  There are things that all of us would love the opportunity to do, undo or re-do; but, those opportunities are gone forever.

 

But, while we can nothing about the past year, we can do something about the New Year.  We can please God if we will pursue God.  We can live for God if we will love God.  We can do much more than survive, we can thrive if we will allow our passion for God to revive and come alive.

 

Do you want to please God in 2008?  Then, find and follow His will for your life.  I challenge each one of you to embrace God’s plan for your life, enjoy God’s purpose for your life, and experience God’s provision for your life.  That is not a resolution that is a revolution that will change your life forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Series:  “Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“#1:  Jesus:  The Promise Foretold

 

 

 

 

Isaiah 7: 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

Gardenview Baptist Church

Jacksonville, FL

 

December 9. 2007

 

Series:  “Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child”

“#1-Jesus:  The Promise Foretold”

Isaiah 7: 14

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

December 9. 2007

Sermon Outline

1.  ETERNALLY DETERMINED!

A) Originated with God

B) Orchestrated by God

2.  PROPHETICALLY DECLARED!

A) A Supernatural Birth

           1) The Person

           2) The Process

           3) The Personality

B) A Sinless Life

3.  INDIVIDUALLY DEMANDED!

A) The Sin that Ruined Us

B) The Savior that Redeemed Us

 

Jessica was four years old and she had had a perfect Christmas. She got all the presents she wanted. Her cousins were with her to share the holidays. She had eaten her favorite food all day long and as her mother tucked her in for bed she looked up at her at smiled and said, "Mom, I sure hope Mary and Joseph have another baby next year."

 

After Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph did go on to have other babies; but, there was no baby like their first baby.  Their 1st baby is the star of the show.  He is the main attraction.  He is the grand finale.

 

Jesus, Jesus

Oh what a wonderful child.

Jesus, Jesus

So lowly, meek and mild.

 

New life, new hope, new joy He brings

Won’t you listen to the angels sing.

Glory, glory, glory

To the new born King.

 

In this politically correct, anti-Christian culture the word “Christmas” has become a word of great debate and division.  Last year, Wal-Mart made national headlines by instructing their employees not to say “Merry Christmas” to its customers.

 

According to a National Religious Broadcaster's analysis of 48,000 hours of programming, during December 2005:


90% of the Christmas programming did not have any spiritual theme
7% had a religious or spiritual theme, but never referred to Jesus
Jesus was the focus of only 3% of Christmas programming

 

Take many of traditional and familiar Christmas songs. Since the word Christmas is exclusive to Christians, in our politically culture, it must be removed. And, since it cannot be replaced with the word holiday, which is a version of Holy Day, it must be replaced with the innocuous phrase “day off.”

 

Therefore the song “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” should be, “We Wish You a Merry Non-Religious-Specific Day-Off in Winter.”

 

Since we cannot let any covert references to race be interjected, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” should be, “I’m Dreaming of a Race Immaterial Non-Religious Specific Day-Off in Winter.”

 

We definitely can’t exclude the physically impaired, therefore “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” should be, “I Sensed the Bells on the Non-Religious Specific Day-Off in Winter.”

 

We don’t want to forget the secularist, therefore, “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” should be, “Oh Come All Ye of Extreme Loyalty to Non-Material Evidence.”

 

A person should not feel excluded based on where they live, therefore, “Go Tell it on the Mountain” should be, “Go Tell it on the Preferred Geographical Location.”

 

Physical descriptions should be eliminated, therefore “Little Drummer Boy” should be, “Vertically Challenged Drummer Child of Undetermined Gender.”

 

We cannot stereotype overweight people as happy, nor make references to a person’s age, or apply religious terms. Therefore, “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” should be, “Happy, Plus-sized, Chronologically Gifted, Highly Virtuous Nicholas.”

 

It may not be politically correct to put Christ into Christmas, but it is scripturally correct, spiritually correct, theologically correct, and eternally correct, because there is no Christmas apart from Christ.

 

For the next 3 weeks I want to focus on “Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child.”  He was not just a precious child, and a perfect child, but He was the Promised Child.  In Jesus we see the promise foretold, the promise fulfilled and the promise finalized.

 

Today, from the pen of Isaiah, we look at Jesus, the promise foretold.  There are 3 indelible truths about Isaiah’s foretelling of the promise of Jesus.  First, we learn that this promise was:

 

1.  ETERNALLY DETERMINED!

 

The date of Isaiah 7 is 735 B. C. The nation is Judah, and the king is Ahaz.  This was a time of uncertainty and unrest in the kingdom.  This was a time of indecency, iniquity, immorality and idolatry.

 

Ahaz rejects the word of God in every area of his life and reign.  He sells God and his country into the hands of the enemy; and, then passes his own baby son through the fire to false, pagan gods.

 

Right in the midst of this time Isaiah comes with a message from God, of God, and about God.  It begins in verse 14, "The Lord himself shall give you a sign.” 

 

The Hebrew word for “sign” speaks of a miraculous sign.  In verse 11, the sign is described as being without limits; and, as high as the “height” of Heaven “above,” and as deep as the “depth” of Sheol, the place of the dead.

 

This sign signified that Ahaz and his kingdom were finished; and, a new kingdom was on its way.  This miraculous sign, of which Isaiah spoke, did not begin at the birth of Jesus.  Rather, it was eternally determined in the mind of God “before the foundation of the world.”

 

In fact, we learn that the eternal determination of this sign:

 

A) ORIGINATED with God

 

This “sign” did not originate with Isaiah, but rather with God Himself.  Back within the ions of eternity past God originated the promise of Christ’s coming into the world.

 

Yet, in Genesis 3 we see the 1st mention of this promise.  Genesis 1-2 is life before sin.  Genesis 3 is life after sin.  It is as Martin Luther referred to it, “The blackest page of human history.” 

 

Man has disobeyed God.  Man has dishonored God.  Man has displeased God.  Sin has entered into the picture, thus separating man from God and God from man.

 

But, in Genesis 3: 15, God gives a promise.  "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

 

There is a reference to two seeds, “thy seed and her seed.”  “Thy seed” refers to Satan’s seed.  “Her seed” refers to the woman’s seed.  There is the seed of the anti-Christ, and there is the seed of Jesus Christ.

God makes the first announcement of the Bible regarding the supernatural birth of Jesus Christ.  A. W. Pink refers to it as “The beginning and germ of all Bible prophecy.” [1]  

 

He announces Satan will “bruise” the “heel” of the woman’s seed.  That promise was fulfilled with Christ’s death on the cross when He was “wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.”

 

However, He also announces that the seed of the woman, Christ, would “bruise” the “head” of Satan.  That promise was initially fulfilled at the birth of Christ.  We read in Galatians 4: 4, "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.”

 

That promise will be ultimately fulfilled when Christ returns personally, triumphantly, and victoriously.  It will be a time when Christ will lay “hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.”  (Revelation 20: 2)

 

Sin and Satan will have their day in God’s courtroom, because judgment is coming, justice will prevail; and, Jesus will once and for all “bruise” the “head” of the devil.

Before the guilty ones were banished from Eden, God gave a promise of hope.  By woman had come sin, but by woman would come the Savior.  By woman had come the curse, but by woman would come the Christ.  By woman paradise was lost; but, by woman paradise would be regained.

 

And it all originated with God.  But it was also:

 

B) ORCHESTRATED by God

 

We read in our text, "The Lord himself shall give you a sign.”  In other words, the promise of Christ’s birth is that which God originated and orchestrated.  This promise would not be of man’s doing, but of God’s doing.  God would be the One who would fashion the promise, fulfill the promise and finalize the promise.

 

I love Luke’s account of the birth of Christ.  Mary has just been informed of God’s sovereign, supernatural plan that would use her to bring Jesus into the world.  Her heart was filled with chaos and confusion.

 

Suddenly, the angel of the Lord appears to comfort her and says, in Luke 1: 35, " The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”  He continues in verse 37, "For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

 

In other words, that which was impossible from the human side would be incredible from the Heavenly side.  This would not be an ordinary birth, but an extraordinary birth.  This would not be the birth just a man, but the God-Man.  This would not be the birth of just a son, but a Savior.

 

Furthermore, this was the plan, program, purpose and promise of God from before the “foundation of the world.”  Jesus had to die, but in order to die he had to live; and, in order to live, He had to be born.

 

It originated with God and was orchestrated by God.  This was not the result of coincidence, but of providence.  This was a promise eternally determined in the mind of God.

 

Secondly, this promise was not only eternally determined, but:

 

 2.  PROPHETICALLY DECLARED!

 

After the eternally determined promise of God in Genesis 3, we find traces of the promise of Christ’s birth throughout the pages of the Old Testament.  However, when we come to Isaiah’s prophecy, in Isaiah 7, the horn of this promise sounds emphatically, triumphantly and prophetically. 

 

What makes it even more amazing is that the year was 735 B. C., which means that Isaiah prophetically declared this promise 735 years before it actually took place.  Yet, his prophecy was fulfilled to the very letter.

 

Notice that he prophetically declared:

 

A) A SUPERNATURAL BIRTH 

 

We read in verse 14, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

 

There are 3 exact and precise things that Isaiah declares about the supernatural birth of Jesus.  First, he declares the person.  He makes clear that the person God will use to bring Christ into the world would be a “virgin.”

 

This is an issue that has sparked much debate down through the years.  Many Bible commentators and translators have become frustrated with the Hebrew word for “virgin,” which is almah.

Many of them suggest that the word almah speaks of a “young maiden,” whereas the proper Hebrew word for virgin is bethulah.  Thus, they conclude that Isaiah’s prophecy neither condemns nor condones the virgin birth of Christ.

 

But, ladies and gentlemen, be not deceived into believing that Jesus wasn’t born of a virgin womb.  The truth of the matter is that He was born of a virgin, because He had to be born of a virgin.


Had He not been born of a virgin, then His birth would have been no different from yours or mine.  It would have been just another ordinary birth.  But, it was necessitated that He be born of a virgin in order to die as a
“lamb without blemish and without spot.” 

 

Larry King, the CNN talk show host, was once asked who he would most want to interview if he could choose anyone from all of history. He said, "Jesus Christ." The questioner said, "And what would you like to ask Him?" King replied, "I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me."

 

I would say to Larry King that the question of the virgin birth has already been answered.  The virgin birth of Christ is the foundation upon which our faith is laid.  It is not an incidental truth.  It is not an accidental truth.  It is not a coincidental truth.  It is a FUNDAMENTAL truth!

 

If Jesus was not born of a virgin, then God is a liar, the Bible is a joke, Jesus is a bastard, the Cross is a fable, the resurrection is a myth, and we are as lost as a goose, with no hope in this world.

 

Regarding this supernatural birth Isaiah also describes the process.  He states that “virgin shall conceive, and bear a son.”  The word “bear” is the Hebrew word yalad.  It literally means, “To bring forth, or to deliver.”

 

This isn’t necessarily a reference to a normal 9-month pregnancy, because, remember, this was not an ordinary birth, but an extraordinary birth.  This was not a natural means of child-bearing, but a supernatural means of child-bearing. 

 

The seed would be “conceived” by the Holy Ghost, and would be delivered through the vehicle of a virgin womb.  In 9: 6, Isaiah clarifies it by saying, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.”

 

“A child is born” refers to the human side of His birth.  “A son is given” refers to the Heavenly side of His birth.  He would be “born” as a “child” to an earthly mother; but, He would be “given” as a “Son” from a Heavenly Father. 

 

To be “born” means that He would grow up.  To be “given” means that He would come down.  He would be delivered through the natural, but He would descend through the supernatural. 

 

Thirdly, Isaiah makes reference to the personality.  He states that they will "shall call his name Immanuel.”  In 9: 6 he declares that, “his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

 

I read about a pregnant woman from Virginia was involved in a car accident and, while in the hospital, she fell into a coma. When she awoke days later, the woman noticed that she was no longer carrying a child, and asked, "Doc, what happened to my baby!" The doctor replied, "Ma'am, you've had twins! You're the proud mother of a handsome baby boy and a beautiful baby girl. Also, you should know that while you were in a coma, your brother named the children for you."

 

"Oh, no!" shrieked the woman. "Not my brother! He's not really all together, if you know what I mean!" The doctor replied, "Well, ma'am, your brother named your daughter Denise." "Oh, that's no so bad," smiled the woman. Then, hesitantly, she asked, "What's the boy's name?" The doctor grinned and said, "Denephew."

 

The names given to Christ not only describe who He will be, but also what He will do.  He will be a “Wonderful, Counsellor” which means that He will able to do with the decisions of life.  He will be “The Mighty God,” which means that He will be able to do with the demands of life.

 

He will be “The everlasting Father,” which means that He will be able to do with the difficulties of life.  He will be “The Prince of Peace,” which means that He will be able to do with the disturbances of life.

 

That is Who He Is, as well as What He Does.  Furthermore, He is able to do what He does because He is who He is.  It is all made possible because of His supernatural birth.

 

But, there is also:

 

B) A SINLESS LIFE

 

Many fail to travel past verse 14 to verse 15.  But, after Isaiah describes the supernatural birth of Christ, He describes the sinless life of Christ.  "Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.”

 

This brings into view the deity, as well as the humanity of the Christ child.  He will not be just a man.  He will not be just God.  He will not be half God and half man.  He will be the God-man.  He will have the power to “refuse the evil, and choose the good.”

 

In other words, this foretells that Jesus would be as much man as if He had never been God; and, as much God as if He had never been man.  He would be so much man that He would be able to not to sin and “refuse the evil.”  But, He would be so much God that He would not be able to sin and “choose the good.”

 

Many people have asked the question, “Did Jesus sin?”  And they have been able to prove that He lived without committing any sin.  Then, however, many ask, “Could Jesus have sinned?”

 

The answer to that is it is not that Jesus did not sin, has not sinned, or will not sin; it that’s HE COULD NOT SIN!  He was God!  He was the sinless One.

 

In 1 Peter 1: 19, He is indelibly described as, "a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  In 1 Peter 1: 22, we read that He “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.”  In Hebrews 4: 15, we read that He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,”

 

His supernatural birth made possible His sinless life, and it was all prophetically declared, by the prophet Isaiah, 735 years before it happened.

 

Finally, the foretold promise of Christ’s birth was not only eternally determined, and prophetically declared; but, it was:

 

3.  INDIVIDUALLY DEMANDED!

 

The truth of Christmas is much more than just an eternal truth, it is an individual truth.  It is not just something that we admire theologically; but, it is something we must accept individually. 

 

The foretold promise of Jesus was eternally determined and prophetically declared, because it was individually demanded by you and me.  For one thing, it was demanded because of:

 

A) The SIN that RUINED Us

 

Mark Twain was right when he said, "Man is like the moon.  We all have a dark side we don't want anyone to see." 

 

The sociologists call it a "cultural lag."  The psychiatrist terms it "emotional behavior."  The philosopher refers to it as "irrational thinking."  The humanist excuses it as "human weakness."  The Marxist defines it as a "class struggle."  The psychologist explains it terms of "psycho genes and gastric juices."

 

The Freudian speaks of it as a "slip."  The politician refers to it as "inappropriate conduct."  The criminologist writes it off as "antisocial behavior."  The liberal theologians say that it is a "lack of social action."

 

However, God says that man’s problem is SIN!  Man is not a sinner because He sins, but He sins because HE IS A SINNER!  We are born into this world dirty, defiled, destitute and depraved.  Because of the original sin problem we all have a personal sin problem.

 

Thus, the economic system of Heaven demands that sin is a debt that must be paid.  That is why we read in Ezekiel 18: 4, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” 

 

That is why we read in Romans 3: 10-12, "There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

 

That is why we read in Romans 3: 23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  That is why we read in Romans 6: 23 that, “The wages of sin is death.” 

 

The problem of sin is exclusive, as well as inclusive.  No one is excluded, and everyone is included in the problem of sin. 

 

The seriousness of this sin problem is that sin separates us from God. The holiness of God cannot allow sinful man in His presence. Furthermore, the holiness of God demands that sin be punished. That punishment is eternal separation from God. In short, sins penalty is an eternity spent in hell.

 

But, thank God that is only half of the story, because in spite of the sin that ruined us came:

 

B) The SAVIOR that REDEEMED Us

 

You see the Christmas story, of the birth of Christ, doesn’t begin with good news, but with bad news.  If there weren’t any bad news, there would be no good news.  Furthermore, the bad news is what makes the good news good news.

 

The bad news is that sin ruined us.  Because of sin we are isolated from God, separated from God, and alienated from God.  Sin created an eternal divide between God and man.

 

But, the good news is that God made a way where there was no way.  The good news is that, in spite of the sin that ruined us, God provided a Savior to redeem us.

 

The good news is recorded in verse 14, "A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”  The name “Immanuel” means, “God with us.”

 

Under the terms of the law, it was God over us.  When Jesus was born, it because God with us.  At His death on the cross, it because God for us.  And through His resurrection, it because God IN us, “the hope of glory.”

 

Man had sinned, but God provided a Savior.  Man had fallen, but God provided forgiveness.  Man had become ruined, but God provided redemption.  Man’s need was not to turn over a new leaf, but to get a new life.

 

The story is told of a man that traveled a long way to interview a distinguished scholar. Upon his arrival, he was ushered into the study of the great scholar. When the great scholar came into the room, the visitor asked, "Doctor, I have come a long way to ask you just one question. I observe that the walls of your room are filled with books. This room is literally lined with them from ceiling to the floor. I suppose you have read them all. I know you have written many books.

 

You have traveled the world over; you have held intimate converse with the world's wisest men, its leaders of thought, and its creator of opinion. Tell me, if you will, after the years you have spent in study, out of all the things you have learned, what is the one thing best worth knowing?"

 

The great scholar's face flushed with emotion. He placed, with gentleness, both hands over the hands of his visitor and then said, "My dear sir, out of all the things I have learned, there are only two lessons best worth knowing. The first is, I am a great sinner. The second is, Jesus is a greater Savior.

 

Someone has said, “Had our greatest need been information, God would have sent us an educator.  Had our greatest need been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.  Had our greatest need been money, God would have sent us an economist.  Had our greatest need been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.  But, our greatest need was salvation, so God sent us a Savior.”

 

Christmas is all about the day that Jesus left the glory place to come to the gory place.  Christmas is all about the day Jesus left the wonders of Heaven to come to the woes of Earth.  Christmas is all about Jesus leaving the place of splendor to come to the place of sin. 

 

Christmas is about He, who was veiled in deity, came to earth clothed in humanity.  Christmas is about Jesus coming to earth to be like me, so that I could go to Heaven and be like Him.

 

Christmas is all about the day when the greatest gift ever given was “wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.”  At that moment, Jesus reached toward God, with His hand of deity; He reached toward man, with His hand of humanity, and reconciled both man to God, and God to man.

 

Is it any wonder then we can sing:

 

Jesus, Jesus

Oh what a wonderful child.

Jesus, Jesus

So lowly, meek and mild.

 

New life, new hope, new joy He brings

Won’t you listen to the angels sing.

Glory, glory, glory

To the new born King.

 

Jesus is the promise foretold!

Endnotes

1) Gleanings in Genesis, A. W. Pink, ppg. 42-43.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Series:  “Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“#2:  Jesus:  The Promise Fulfilled

 

 

 

 

Matthew 1: 18-25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

Gardenview Baptist Church

Jacksonville, FL

 

December 16. 2007

 

Series:  “Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child”

“#2-Jesus:  The Promise Fulfilled”

Matthew 1: 18-25

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

December 16. 2007

Sermon Outline

1.  The Mystery of His Birth!

A) An Ordinary Place

B) An Ordinary Person

2.  The Miracle of His Birth!

A) A Natural Arrangement

B) A Supernatural Accomplishment

3.  The Message of His Birth!

A) The Promised Savior

B) The Provided Savior

 

A little boy came home from Sunday school and was so excited about the story he heard of the Wise Men, that he shared it with his parents.  He said, “I learned all about the first Christmas.  There wasn’t any Santa Claus back then, so these three fellows on camels had to deliver all the toys.  And Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, with his nose so bright, wasn’t there; so, they had to have this big spotlight in the sky to find their way around.”

 

Sadly enough, Christmas has become a toss-up between Santa and Jesus.  Everyone seems to be more interested in the initials S. C. (Santa Claus) than J. C. (Jesus Christ).

 

Someone has written a piece showing why Jesus is far better than Santa.

 

Santa Claus lives at the North Pole...

JESUS is everywhere.

 

Santa Claus rides in a sleigh...

JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

 

Santa Claus comes but once a year...

JESUS is an ever present help.

 

Santa Claus fills your stockings with goodies...

JESUS supplies all your needs.

 

You have to wait in line to see Santa Claus...

JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

 

Santa Claus lets you sit on his lap...

JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

 

Santa Claus doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy/girl.”

JESUS knows our names, our addresses, our history, our future, and the very hairs on our head.

 

Santa Claus has a belly like a bowl full of jelly...

JESUS has a heart full of love.

 

 

All Santa Claus can offer is HO! HO! HO!

JESUS offers health, help and hope.

 

Santa Claus says "You better not cry"...

JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you."

 

Santa's little helpers make toys...

JESUS makes new life.  He also mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

 

Santa Claus is a "jolly old elf"...

JESUS is the King of Kings.

 

Santa Claus may make you chuckle but...

JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

 

While Santa Claus puts gifts under your tree...

JESUS became our gift and died on a tree.

 

Is it any wonder we can sing?

 

Jesus, Jesus

Oh, what a wonderful child.

Jesus, Jesus

So lowly, meek and mild.

 

New life, new hope, new joy He brings,

Won’t you listen to the angels’ sing?

Glory! Glory! Glory!

To the newborn King!

 

In this series, we are focusing on “Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child.”  Jesus is more than a precious child, or a perfect child; He is the PROMISED child. 

 

Last week, we looked at Jesus, the Promise Foretold from the pen of Isaiah.  All the way back in the Garden of Eden, God announced the promise of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Today, we are looking at Jesus-The Promise Fulfilled.  I begin with the words of Dr. Ian Paisley, “I believe in the supernatural Christianity which presents a supernatural Christ, who had a supernatural birth, who lived a supernatural life, who died a supernatural death, who rose in a supernatural resurrection; and, who is coming again in a supernatural manner.” [1]

 

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the Christ of Christmas.  He is Jesus, and He is the promise of God that was fulfilled.  Notice our text and see 3 marvelous truths about His birth.  First of all, we see:

 

1.  The MYSTERY of His Birth!

 

We read in verse 18, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise, When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”

 

We read of 2 people, Mary and Joseph.  Mary was the woman, chosen of God, to be the vehicle which would bring Jesus into the world.  As you consider the unusual means of Christ’s birth, there are a couple of things which make it a great mystery.

 

For one thing, God chose to use:

 

A) An Ordinary PLACE

 

In Luke 2: 4, we read that, "Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:”

 

By leaving Nazareth and going to Bethlehem, Joseph was fulfilling the prophecy of Micah 5: 2, "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

The name “Bethlehem” literally means, “House of Bread.”  It was a city of great renown, respect or reputation.  It was a common town filled with common people.  But, this was the city which God had ordained for Christ to be born.

 

Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth, but the prophecy given was for Christ to be born in Bethlehem.  Thus, God ordained for a decree to be issued, by the Roman emperor, and for a census to be taken, which included the province of Judea.

 

This demanded that Joseph, being of the lineage of David, should go to Bethlehem to be enrolled.  Thus, God slipped His hand into the glove of history, and arrange for Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem.

 

Why?  The answer is given in Luke 2: 6, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.”

 

God chose an ordinary place to be the birthing ground of an extraordinary Savior.  God chose the most unusual, undesirable, and unlikely of places to show up, show out and show off the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

That encourages my heart, because it tells me that we do not have to be listed among the Who’s Who of Churches to experience the power of God.  We do not have to have the biggest buildings, the boldest budgets or the best business to experience the blessings of God.

 

God is not, cannot and will not be limited to ordinary places.  We can be just ordinary people, in an ordinary place and experience a glorious visit from God. 

 

It’s not about the place, it’s all about the person, presence and power of the Lord Jesus.  You let Jesus get in a place, and suddenly an ordinary place becomes an extraordinary place.  It is God that will make the difference in any place.

 

What a mystery that God chose an ordinary place, as well as:

 

B) An Ordinary PERSON

 

We read in our text of the earthly mother of the Lord Jesus.  Her name is Mary.  In some religious circles, Mary has been exalted to a place of prominence that the Bible never assigns, or ascribes her.

 

Because of the role she played in the birth of Christ, she deserves to be admired; but, she doesn’t deserve to be worshipped.  The truth of the matter is that Mary was nothing more than an ordinary person, chosen of God, to accomplish an extraordinary event.

 

James Hastings writes of Mary, “Mary first meets us at a time when she has scarcely crossed the threshold of womanhood.”

 

Little is known, or recorded of Mary’s personal history.  Luke 3 records her genealogy, and we read that she was of the tribe of Judah, and the lineage of David. 

 

But, outside of that, when we meet Mary she was but a village maiden, a little peasant girl.  She did not hold some great position in life.  She did not appear to have a person of great wealth and means.  She was just a simple, common, ordinary person.

 

But, the mystery is that God chosen an ordinary place and an ordinary person to accomplish extraordinary things.  Why?  Because God is not, will not, and cannot be limited to ordinary places or ordinary people.

 

He is the God who is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think.”  I believe the reason God chose to work with an ordinary place, and an ordinary person is so that man could not take any credit for what God would do.

I love how the apostle Paul describes it in 1 Corinthians 1: 26-29, "not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: [27]But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; [28]And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: [29]That no flesh should glory in his presence.”

 

God can, and will use any place, any person, or any procedure to accomplish His will.  He doesn’t need the most educated, He just needs the most dedicated.  He doesn’t need the most informed, He just needs the most transformed.  He doesn’t need the most able; He just needs the most available.

 

I can just hear someone say, “But, pastor, I’m not a prolific person.  I’m not a powerful person.  I’m not a prestigious person.”  My response is, “Excellent!  You are a perfect candidate to be used of God.” 

 

You can have all the degrees in the world, and still not be used of God in a great way.  In fact, I’m afraid that all of our DD’s, PhD’s, MD’s and LTD’s often times hinder God from using us.

 

Still don’t think God can use you?  Than, remember that:

 

Noah was a drunk;

Abraham was too old;

Isaac was a daydreamer;

Jacob was a liar;

Leah was ugly;

Joseph was abused;

Moses stuttered;

Gideon was afraid;

Samson had long hair and was a womanizer;

Rahab was a prostitute;

Jeremiah was too young;

David was a murderous adulterer;

Elijah was suicidal;

Isaiah preached naked;

Jonah was a runaway;

Naomi was a widow;

Job filed bankruptcy;

Peter denied Christ;

The disciples fell asleep praying;

Martha was a worry-wart;

The Samaritan woman made Elizabeth Taylor look like a Girl Scout

Zacchaeus was too small;

Paul was too religious;

Timothy had an ulcer;

Lazarus was dead.

 

And look what God did with their lives.  The Bible is filled with ordinary places and ordinary people who used of God to accomplish extraordinary things. 

 

Such is the case with the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.  What a mystery to behold.  Secondly, I want you to notice:

 

2.  The MIRACLE of His Birth!

 

In 1804, Thomas Jefferson sat down in the White House with two identical copies of the New Testament, a straight-edge razor, and a sheaf of octavo sized paper. Over the course of a few nights, he made quick work of cutting pasting his own Bible, a slim volume he called “The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth.”

 

After slicing away every passage that suggested Jesus’ divine nature, Jefferson had a Jesus who was no more and no less than a good, ethical guide. Commenting on the virgin birth, Jefferson said, “The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”

 

Thomas Jefferson may have been a great man, but if that is what he believed about the Bible, he wasn’t a wise man.  The Virgin Birth of Christ is the miracle of all miracles. 

 

I am in full agreement with Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary, “Those who would deny the virgin birth reject the authority of the Scripture, deny the supernatural birth of the Savior, undermine the very foundations of the Gospel, and have no way of explaining the deity of Christ.  With it, the Gospel stands, or falls.” [2]

 

Let me show you why the birth of Christ was so miraculous.  First of all, it was because of:

 

A) A NATURAL ARRANGEMENT

 

We read in verse 18 that, "his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”

 

The word “espoused” is the Greek word mnesteuo.  It literally means, “To woo,” and it was used to speak of ‘wooing a woman, or asking for her hand in marriage.” 

This is an area of great debate and division.  Liberal theologians seek to use this term to prove that Jesus was conceived in pre-marital relations between Mary and Joseph.  Simply put, they use this to seek to prove that Jesus was conceived in an adulterous affair.

 

Harry Emerson Fosdick, thought by many to be one of the great preachers of the 20th century said, “I want to assure you that there is no evidence whatsoever to prove the Virgin Birth of Christ.”

 

Bishop John Sprong in his book, “Born of a Woman,” writes, “Jesus was not born of a virgin since Mary had probably been raped.”  Bishop Robison said, “The Virgin Birth is a story on the level of an Andy Capp comic.”

 

Nels F. S. Ferre, a well-respected American theologian writes, “Mary, we remember was found pregnant before her engagement to mild Joseph.  Nazareth was guarded by a Roman garrison where the soldiers were German mercenaries.  Jesus is also reported, throughout a continuous part of the history of art, to have been blonde.  This is supposedly unnatural for the Mediterranean countries where this same tradition started and was continued.  Hence, Jesus must have been the child of a German soldier.  After all, the claim develops that such was the experience of many young girls near military camps.” [3]

 

That is not liberal theology that is ABSOLUTE HERESY!  The Virgin Birth is not incidental, accidental, or coincidental; it is FUNDAMENTAL!  And God so orchestrated the events that it unfolded through a natural arrangement.

 

Again, we read that “Mary was espoused to Joseph.”  According to Jewish customs, there were 3 stages in a normal Jewish marriage.  The first step was the engagement.  This was usually made through the parents, many times while the couple was only children.

 

The next stage was the betrothal or espousal.  This was known as the “ratification of the engagement.”  Once the period of espousal began, it was legally binding on both parties.

 

The espousal lasted for one year, during which time the groom would go away to make provisions for his bride.  At the end of the year, he would come back for her.

 

When this happens, the third and final stage known as the wedding proper took place.  It was here where the vows were exchanged and the marriage was consummated.  It took place at the end of the year of espousal, or betrothal.

But, notice what God did.  In spite of a natural arrangement, God stepped in and brought about:

 

B) A SUPERNATURAL ACCOMPLISHMENT

 

Mary was “espoused to Joseph.”  In other words, Mary and Joseph were involved in the 2nd stage of the wedding procedure.  They were betrothed and legally engaged to one another.

 

But, here is where it gets interesting.  We read in verse 18, “before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”  Then, we read in verse 25 that Joseph, “knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son.”

 

The word “knew” speaks of intimate knowledge.  The reference carries a sexual connotation.  If I could put it mildly, “Joseph did not know Mary sexually until she brought forth her firstborn son.”

 

But, again, “before they came together,” as husband and wife,” she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”  Needless to say, such news of Mary’s pregnancy would have come as a total shock to the heart of Joseph. 

 

Questions filled his mind like, “Has Mary been unfaithful?  Has she been with another man?  Has she broken the covenant of betrothal?” 

 

That is why the angel of the Lord fills Joseph in on the news in verse 20, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”

 

In other words, Joseph did not have to worry about Mary’s virginity, because this was not a human conception, but a Heavenly conception.  This pregnancy was not natural, but supernatural.  The seed of Christ had been conceived in the virgin womb of Mary by the Holy Ghost.

 

Someone might say that it is absolutely impossible for a virgin to conceive and give birth to a child.  And they would be absolutely correct.  It is impossible from a human standpoint.

 

But, I remind you that the first man got here without a man or a woman; therefore, it would be no problem for God to get a man here with JUST A WOMAN! 

 

If God wants to, He can use a widow woman to supply our needs; but, if He chose to, He can also use a raven.  He can use a lad with 5 loaves and 2 fishes; but, if He chose to, He could also use a fish with a coin in its mouth.

 

God cannot, and will not be squeezed into the ordinary.  He is not limited to ordinary places.  He is not limited to ordinary people.  And He is not limited to ordinary procedures.

 

He worked through a natural arrangement to produce a supernatural accomplishment.  He chose to use a little, virgin girl, who had never been with a man, as the vehicle to bring Christ into the world.

 

You say, “Pastor, that’s impossible!”  I say, “You’re right.  It is impossible from a human standpoint, but it’s not impossible from a Heavenly standpoint.”  It may be impossible with man, but not with God, for “with God all things all possible.”

 

Finally, we not only see the mystery of His birth and the miracle of His birth; but:

 

3.  The MESSAGE of His Birth! 

 

R. L. Moyer wrote: “The God, who brought forth a motherless woman (Eve) from the body of a man (Adam), brought forth a fatherless man (Jesus Christ) from the body of a woman (Mary). There are those who say that it makes no difference whether or not Jesus Christ was virgin born, but it makes a profound difference whose Son He is. Only a divine birth could provide divine Sonship, and only divine Sonship could provide a divine Savior, and only a divine Savior could achieve and provide a divine salvation for sinful man."

 

The mystery and miracle of Christ’s birth are wonderful, but the most amazing aspect is the message of His birth.  For one thing we learn that Jesus was:

 

A) The PROMISED Savior

 

The angel of the Lord has just informed Joseph of the Sovereign plan, program and purpose of God.  Then, we read in verses 22-23, "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,[23]Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

 

In his book, Science Speaks, Peter Stoner applies the modern science of probability to just 8 prophecies regarding Christ. Stoner says that the chance that any man might have fulfilled all eight prophecies is one in 10 to the 17th. That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000 (One hundred quadrillion).

 

Stoner suggested that we take 10 to the 17th silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas; they will cover all of the state 2 feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly. Blindfold a man and tell him he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up that one marked silver dollar. What chance would he have of getting the right one?

 

Stoner concludes, “Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing those eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom.” [4]

 

Yet, we read that God chose an ordinary place, and an ordinary person “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet.”

 

In other words, Jesus was the promise of God fulfilled.  Before the guilty party was banished from the garden, God gave a promise of hope that the “seed” of the woman would “bruise” the “head” of Satan.  Jesus was the fulfillment of that promise.  Abraham foretold that “God will provide Himself a Lamb.” Jesus was the fulfillment of that promise. 

 

Isaiah foretold that “a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”  Jesus was the fulfillment of that promise.  Jeremiah foretold of a “Righteous Branch” from the seed of David.  Jesus was the fulfillment of that promise. 

 

Micah foretold of a “ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting.”  Jesus was the fulfillment of that promise.  Back within the ions of eternity past God originated the promise of that “a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel.”  Jesus was the fulfillment of that promise.

 

But, finally notice how the promised Savior became:

 

B) The PROVIDED Savior

 

We read in verse 25 that Joseph " knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”  Of all the names Mary and Joseph could have given their newborn baby, they chose the name Jesus.

 

Why?  The answer is found in verse 21, “thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”  The word “save” is the Greek word sozo, and it is translated by the verb “to heal.”  The idea is that of saving from disease and all its effects.

 

What was the disease?  The disease is called SIN.  What are the effects?  The effects of sin are helplessness, hopelessness, defilement, depravity, grief and guilt; and, ultimately, an eternity spent apart from God in a place called hell.

 

But, He was given the name Jesus because He would be the only One who could “save” us from the disease of sin and all its effects.  He, who was the promised Savior, stepped out of the pages of eternity into history into prophecy, to become the provided Savior.

 

One night, a man and his small son were slowly walking down the streets of New York City.  The child was captivated by all of the lights of the city, particularly the many service stars hanging in the windows of many homes.  Each star proudly proclaimed that a son, in the home, had given his life for his country.  Every time the little boy saw a star he clapped his hands.

 

Finally, they came to a wide gap between houses, through which they could see the black velvet of the sky.  They looked and saw the evening star shining so brightly.  The little boy shouted, “Look daddy!  God must have given His Son too, because there is a star in His window.”

 

Ladies and gentlemen, the star which guided the wise men to the manger still shines ever so brightly today.  It reminds us that God did give His Son “to save his people from their sins.”  Thus, the only name which befits such love is the name JESUS!

 

C.J. Rolls said, “The precious personality of Jesus the Saviour stands out in history as more distinguished than any other dignitary, more prominent than any other potentate, more conspicuous than any other celebrity. As a name, Jesus is more grandly honored and more grievously hated, more acclaimed and more accused than any other. The most outstanding record that is graven on the scroll of time is the date of His birth, and no issued document is legal, no signed check is valid, and no business receipt is of value unless it bears reference to this great historical event. The fame of His name lives on with ever-increasing renown. Of all His names and titles, Jesus is the most charming, consoling, comforting name by which our beloved Saviour is known. Jesus is a joyous name which has awakened more gladness and promoted more rejoicing throughout the whole world than any other. He is greater than all He bestows, better than all His blessings, and lovelier than all the gifts He lavishes on His own. His riches are unsearchable, His virtues are inestimable, and His glories are indescribable.”

 

The name of Jesus is unprecedented.  The name of Jesus is unparalleled.  The name of Jesus is unsurpassed.  The name of Jesus is invincible.  The name of Jesus is incomprehensible.  The name of Jesus is irresistible.

 

The name of Jesus brings power.  The name of Jesus brings protection.  The name of Jesus brings peace.  The name of Jesus will help you.  The name of Jesus will hear you.  The name of Jesus will heal you.

 

The name of Jesus gives hope to the hopeless.  The name of Jesus gives help to the helpless.  The name of Jesus gives haven to the homeless. 

 

The name of Jesus gives forgiveness to the out and out.  The name of Jesus gives fellowship to the in and out.  The name of Jesus gives freedom to the down and out. 

 

The name of Jesus cleansed the leper.  The name of Jesus healed the sick.  The name of Jesus gave sight to the blind.  The name of Jesus gave hearing to the deaf.  The name of Jesus gave life to the dead.

 

The name of Jesus causes devils to fear.  The name of Jesus causes diseases to flee.  The name of Jesus causes dynasties to fall.  The name of Jesus will lead you when you forget.  The name of Jesus will lift you when you fall.  The name of Jesus will love you when you fail.

 

You can’t get His name out of your head.  You can’t get His name off of your hands.  You can’t outlive His name.  And you can’t live without His name.

 

Is it any wonder then that “God also hath highly exalted Him and given him a name which is above every name:  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”

 

Jesus, Jesus,

Oh what a wonderful child.

Jesus, Jesus,

So lowly, meek and mild.

 

New life, new hope, new joy He brings,

Wont’ you listen to the angels sing.

Glory! Glory! Glory!

To the newborn King.

 

Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!  He is the promise fulfilled!

Endnotes

1) “Christian Foundations,” Dr. Ian Paisley, pg. 36.

2) “Can a Christian Deny the Virgin Birth,” Dr. R. Albert Mohler.

3) IBID, Paisley, ppg. 37-38.

4) “Science Speaks,” Peter Stoner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Series:  “Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“#3:  Jesus:  The Promise Finalized

 

 

 

 

John 1: 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

Gardenview Baptist Church

Jacksonville, FL

 

December 23. 2007

 

Series:  “Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child”

“#3-Jesus:  The Promise Finalized”

John 1: 14

Pastor Steve N. Wagers

December 23. 2007

Sermon Outline

1.  The First Communication of God!

A) His Eternal Existence

B) His Supernal Dominance

2.  The Full Manifestation of God!

A) He Came to be Like Us

B) He Came to be With Us

3.  The Final Revelation of God!

A) Grace is Showered Upon Us

B) Glory is Shown to Us

 

Several years ago, a 9 inch model of Jesus, as a baby, appeared in department stores all across the country.  The doll was packaged in a straw and satin crib with a picture of the Bethlehem manger and appropriate Biblical texts.  This doll, which was charted to be one of the hottest selling items of that Christmas season, was not a success at all.  As a matter of fact, retailers, in an attempt to boost the sales, went and slashed the prices on this doll to make it more appealing to buyers.

 

In fact, one store, in Oklahoma City, cut the price of the doll 50% of the suggested retail price.  So, one woman, who was doing her last minute Christmas shopping and who was comparing prices in various stores, after seeing the mark down of the price, looked to her neighbor and said, "Look, they've marked Jesus down 50%."

 

Sadly enough, in our politically correct culture, the truth of Christmas has diminished because the truth about Jesus has dissipated.  I think of the old hymn No Room in the Inn:

 

No beautiful chamber, no soft bed,

No place but a manger, nowhere for His head;

No praises of gladness, no thought of their sin,

No glory but sadness, no room in the inn.

 

No one to receive Him, no welcome while here,

No balm to relieve Him, no staff but a spear;

No seeking His treasure, no weeping for sin,

No doing His pleasure, no room in the inn.

 

There was no room for Jesus at His birth, and in much the same way, there is no room for Jesus still today.  There is no room for Jesus politically.  There is no room for Jesus socially.  There is no room for Jesus culturally.  There is no room for Jesus economically.  And the saddest tragedy is that there are many who have no room for Jesus personally.

 

Through this brief series, we have focused on the subject, “Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child.”  We have seen how that Jesus was much more than just a precious child, and a perfect child; but, He was the Promised Child. 

 

He was the promise of God foretold.  He was the promise of God fulfilled.  And today we conclude by looking at Jesus, the promise of God finalized.

 

In John 1: 14 we read those immortal words, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”  John MacArthur said, “The Incarnation is the central miracle of Christianity, the most grand and wonderful of all things that God has ever done.”

 

Roy Laurin comments, “Genesis records the beginning of time.  Revelation records the beginning of eternity.  John records the beginning of redemption.  In Genesis, God gives life to man.  In John, God gives new life to man.  In Revelation, God shares life with man.” [1]

 

John 1: 14 records the promise of God finalized in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The miracle, message and meaning of Christmas is all about the Incarnation of Christ.  The promise was foretold, the promise was fulfilled, and the promise was finalized in the words, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”

 

Let’s consider these words by notice 3 glorious truths.  These words describe:

 

1.  The FIRST COMMUNICATION of God!

 

We read in verse 1, “In the beginning was the Word.”  Jesus is described as the “Word.”  This is a title that is exclusive to the writings of the Apostle John. The title comes from the Greek word logos, which means “to say something.”

 

The Word speaks of communicating something. The idea is that Jesus communicates or reveals the Father to us.  In other words, Jesus Christ is the communication of God to the world. 

 

We read in verse 18, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” Jesus is the great communication of the Father. No one has ever seen God directly, but in Jesus the Father is communicated to us.

 

Roy Laurin writes, “In the Incarnation of Christ, God is articulating Himself in a language of life.  Men cannot know God except by that language of which Jesus Christ is every letter.  Jesus is God’s thoughts expressed in words.” [2]

 

When God sent Jesus to earth, that was His way of communicating to the earth.  It was as if God had summed up life in one word:  J-E-S-U-S.  When God said “Jesus,” there was nothing more to say, because when He said “Jesus,” there was nothing left to say.

 

He is the first communication of God, which is seen by:

 

A) His ETERNAL EXISTENCE   

 

Look back at verses 1-2, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2]The same was in the beginning with God.”

 

This is one of the greatest statements in the Bible concerning the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The deity of Christ is the hinge upon which the door of faith must swing.  It is a doctrine that contains no gray area. 

 

For someone to claim to be a fundamentalist, or a Bible-believing Christian, they must hold to the premise of the deity of Christ.  Simply put, they must not waver from the truth that JESUS CHRIST is GOD!

 

The words “In the beginning,” are confusing to some people.  They take those words to mean that Jesus had a beginning.  But, the “beginning” in view is the beginning of creation.  It is the beginning of things as we know them today.

 

But, before the “beginning,” Jesus was.  They do not declare that Jesus was one of the created beings, or that the beginning included the beginning of His existence.  Rather, they declare that when all things had a beginning, Jesus already was. He existed before all things came into being.

 

I love A. W. Pink’s commentary, “There was never a time when He was not, and there will never come a time when He shall cease to be.  He was neither evolved, grown, nor improved.  He cannot change for the better, for He is already perfect.  Being perfect, He cannot change for the worse.  Altogether unaffected by anything outside of Himself, improvement or deterioration is impossible.”

 

If you could walk back to the first moment of time and there stand on the edge of eternity, you would find Jesus. If it were possible to step off that edge and travel eons of time back into eternity you would still find Jesus. In fact, no matter how far back into eternity you travel you will always find Him existing.

In fact, John makes 2 statements about Christ.  First, he states that He “was with God.”  The word “with” is the Greek preposition pros literally means, “Towards, or facing.”

 

A. T. Robertson suggests that, “The Word was face to face with God.” [3] The idea is that Jesus and God acted together in all things. Their relationship was in all things in perfect harmony, acting as one.

 

Not only does he say that Jesus “was with God;” but, second, he states that He “was God.”  The word “was” is a word that is often used for deity. It means, “To be or I am.”  It speaks of that which is of continuous existence, without beginning or origin.  Simply put, in the beginning we see the One who had no beginning.

 

When we talk about the trinity, we are not talking about three Gods; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. No, we are talking about one God manifested in three persons.

 

Jesus is essentially God.  Jesus is equally God.  Jesus is eternally God.  Jesus is God!  If you want to know what God is like, just look into the Word, which is the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Not only do we discover His eternally existence, but:

 

B) His SUPERNAL DOMINANCE

 

Because He was before the beginning of all things, and since He was not a product of creation, Jesus is qualified to be the Creator.  John says in verse 3, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” 

 

Jesus is not only the One who has the power to convert a life, but He is the One who has the power to create a life.  He is not only the Architect, but He is the Author of all things.

 

It is like John was saying, “If you have any questions about His power, there would not have been anything made if He had not made it.” It is not just a matter of all things existing because He made them, but if He had not made all things there would not be anything.

 

In his book, "The Nature of Space and Time," Steven Hawking asserts that "almost everything now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the 'big bang.' 

 

The "big bang" theory holds that there was a massive cosmic explosion at a point in time, allegedly 13 to 15 billion years ago, that marked the beginning of the universe.  We are told that the universe exploded into existence from a tiny volume smaller than the period at the end of a sentence."  [4]

 

I never ceased to be amazed at the intellectual aptitude of those considered to be modern geniuses.  But, ladies and gentlemen, I must admit that I believe in the “big bang theory.”  Jesus is the “big bang.”  He said, “Let there be,” and “bang,” there was.

 

Paul said in Colossians 1: 16-17, For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”

 

I love the black preacher S.M. Lockridge’s description of creation. He said, “God stepped from behind the curtain nowhere, onto the platform of nothing, and spoke a world into existence. The reason God came from nowhere was because there wasn’t anywhere for Him to come from. And coming from nowhere, He stood on nothing, and the reason He stood on nothing was there was nowhere for Him to stand. And standing on nothing, He reached out where there was nowhere to reach and caught something where there nothing to catch, and hung something on nothing, and told it to stay there. Then standing on nothing He took the hammer of His own will and He struck the anvil of His omnipotence and sparks flew everywhere. He caught these sparks from the tips of His fingers and flung them into space and bedecked the heavens with stars. And nobody said a word. The reason nobody said anything was because there wasn’t anybody there to say anything. So God Himself said by Himself, to Himself, ‘That’s good!’”

 

He is the God who created this world, He is the God who controls this world, and He is the God who has the absolute right to do anything with this world, for this world, in this world, or to this world that He chooses to do.

 

Secondly, I want you to not only consider that Jesus is the first communication of God, but Jesus is:

 

2.  The FULL MANIFESTATION of God!

 

A kindergarten teacher asked everyone in her class to draw a picture of something important to them.  Everyone else had finished their drawings, but little Johnny, in the back of class, was still drawing away. 

 

The teacher walked back to Johnny, put her arm around his shoulder and asked, "Johnny, what are you drawing?"  He said, "I'm drawing God."  She said, "Johnny, no one knows what God looks like."  He said, "They will when I get through!"

 

We know what God looks like because of Jesus.  We know what God is like because of the Word, which is Jesus.  Jesus is not only the first communication of God to the world; but, He is the full manifestation of God to the world.

 

In these immortal words, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” we see that:

 

A) He Came to be LIKE Us

 

Let these words sink into your soul, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”  That statement is one of the most significant and memorable ever penned.  The importance of it is matchless.  The implications of it are limitless.  It represents the heart and soul of Christmas.  It reveals the heart and soul of the gospel. 

 

Jesus “was made flesh.”  That phrase describes what we know as the Incarnation.  It simply means that Jesus became one of us, and became like us.

 

A mother once said to her child, “There’s nothing to fear in the dark.  Besides, the angels are near you.”  The little voice said, “Mother, I don’t want angels, I want a skin face.”

 

John describes Jesus coming to man as a skin face.  The One, who had no beginning as God, has a beginning as man.  He stepped down the staircase of eternity into the stairwell of time to become a man.

 

The word “was made” is the Greek verb ginomai.  It literally means, “To become.”  It expresses the idea of becoming something that it was not before.  In other words, the Word had always been the Word; but, at the Incarnation, He became something He had never been before.

 

What did He become?  He became, and “was made flesh.”  The word “flesh” encompasses the whole person, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  In other words, Jesus Christ assumed both a physical body and a human personality.  He was clothed in an earthly, human tabernacle.

The longer that I am saved, the more this thought amazes me that God became a man.  God the Son, the Lord of Glory, the Lord Jesus Christ, without ceasing for a moment to be divine, united Himself to a full human nature, and became an authentic human being.

 

C. S. Lewis was right when he referred to this as “The Grand Miracle.”  Donald Sayers said, “We may call this doctrine exhilarating, or we may call it devastating.  We may call it revelation, or we may call it rubbish…but if we call it dull, what in heaven’s name is worthy to be called exiting?” [5]

 

Think about it!

Jesus, “whom God hath appointed heir of all things” (Heb. 1:2) became man.

Jesus “by whom He created all things, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers” (Col. 1:16) became man.

Jesus “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15) became man.

Jesus “the brightness of God’s glory” (Heb. 1:3) became man.

Jesus who is “so much better than the angels” (Heb. 1:4) became man.

Jesus in whom “dwells all the fullness of the God-head bodily” (Col. 2:9) became man.

Jesus, “head of all principalities and power” (Col. 2:10) became man.

Jesus into whose hands God “hath committed all judgment” (John 5:22) became man.

Jesus, who eternity rested on the bosom of the Father without a mother, and in time rested on the bosom of a mother without a father, became man.

Jesus, co-equal, co-essential, co-existent, co-eternal with God, having glory with God before the world was became man. [5]

He came to be like us.  He became one of us.  In His earthly body, He associated with everything we would ever fight, we would ever face, and we would ever fear.

 

The amazing part is that He came to be like us, and take upon Himself the total existence of humanity and He did it all “yet without sin.”

 

But, John not only tells us that He came to be like us, but:

B) He Came to be WITH Us

 

He not only “was made flesh,” but we’re told that “He dwelt among us.”  The word “dwelt” is the Greek word skenoo.  It literally means, “To pitch a tent.” 

 

We could read the verse this way, “The Word was made flesh, and pitched His tent, or tabernacled among us.”  The imagery takes us back to the Old Testament days of the tabernacle.  And, the connection between the tabernacle and the Incarnation are simply astounding.

 

The Tabernacle was a temporary provision to accommodate the unsettled years of Israel’s national existence.  Likewise, Jesus’ life, in the flesh was a temporary period, somewhere in the range of 33 years.

 

The Tabernacle was covered with unattractive skins.  In like manner, the glory of Christ was covered with a veil of humanity.  Isaiah prophesied that He would have “no form nor comeliness” that “when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2)

 

The Tabernacle was the place of God’s presence among His people.  Yet, at the Incarnation, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.”

 

The Tabernacle was the place where God met with man in fellowship and communion.  It is likewise true that men meet God in Jesus Christ.

 

The Tabernacle was the place where the high priest made atonement for the sins of the people.  Yet, in His person, Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest who offered the full and final provision for sin forever. [6]

 

When Jesus became “flesh,” God pitched His tent in the earth.  Christ made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2: 7)

 

The 1st Christmas had nothing to do with Christ’s beginning as God, but with Christ’s beginning as a man.  It was not the beginning of His eternal existence, but of His earthly existence. 

 

The reason we celebrate Christmas is because Jesus came to be like us, and He came to be with us.  “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”

 

Finally, Jesus is not only the first communication of God and the full manifestation of God; but, Jesus is:

 

3.  The FINAL REVELATION of God!

 

When Philip inquired to Jesus, and said, “Shew us the Father.”  Jesus said, "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”  In other words, Jesus Christ is the full, finished, and final revelation of God to man.

 

When a person sees Jesus, they see God.  When a person meets Jesus, they meet God.  When a person loves Jesus, they love God.  When a person serves Jesus, they serve God.

 

I love Hebrews 1: 1-3, God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets. 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.”

 

God revealed Himself through Creation.  God revealed Himself through the Law.  God revealed Himself through the Tabernacle.  God revealed Himself through the sacrifices.  God revealed Himself through the prophets. 

 

But, God revealed Himself for the final time through the Lord Jesus Christ.  For one final time, God revealed 2 things.  First of all:

 

A) GRACE is SHOWERED Upon Us

 

We read in verse 14, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

 

Grace and truth represent the 2 dominant qualities of the life of Christ.  Grace is what Jesus did; truth is what Jesus said.  Grace is what Jesus demonstrated; truth is what Jesus declared.

 

That poses the question, “Why did Jesus come as ‘grace and truth?’”  He came to reveal the grace of God, and to reveal the truth about God.

 

Because of the fall of man, we were sinners, lost without God, having no hope in the world.  From Genesis 3 on, man had been separated from God, alienated from God, and isolated from God.  Sin rendered us defiled, depraved, destitute and dead.

 

Furthermore, there was no way for man to get back to God.  The bridge had been broken, and the chasm was far too wide.  But, Jesus came and pitched His tent among us to bring man to God and God to man, in order to reconcile the two back together.

 

We did not demand it.  We did not desire it.  We did not deserve it; but God did it for us anyway.  It is called grace.  As a result, we read in verses 12-13, “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.

If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.

If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.

If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.

But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.

Standing on the shore of the Jordan River John saw grace coming toward him, and declared in verse 29, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”  Because of sin we required grace, but through the Savior, we received grace.

 

However, grace was not only showered upon us, but:

 

B) GLORY is SHOWN to Us 

 

John, the evangelist, has established the glorious truths that the “Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”  He has described His life as being “full of grace and truth.”

 

But, he brings it to the highest crescendo by saying, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father).”  The word “beheld” is the Greek word theaomai.  It speaks of a careful gaze, or a studied look.

 

The 1st chapter of John offers several different titles to the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is called The Word (v. 1), the Light (v. 7), the Lamb of God (v. 29), the Christ (v. 41), the Son of God (v. 49), the King of Israel (v. 49), and the Son of Man (v. 51).

 

But, the greatest description given to Him is found in verse 14.  He is referred to as the “glory of the only begotten of the Father.”  Hebrews 1: 3 describes Jesus as being “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.”

 

The word “glory” is one of the greatest words in the Bible.  It is a word that occurs almost 400 times, and the word carries the idea of weight or worth. 

 

When the Bible speaks of God’s glory, it means the essential presence of God, in all of His splendor, as He reveals Himself to men.  Thus, wherever God is, there is glory.  Whatever God does, it is glorious.  Without God, there could be no glory; and, without glory, there would be no God.  God is glory and glory is God.

 

The glory of God is beheld in Creation.  The glory of God is beheld in the Incarnation.  At the birth of Christ, God wrapped up His glory in a human body for the world to behold.

 

The glory of God is beheld at the Crucifixion.  He that was God became a man.  He that became a man died as a man for man.  He came to die that man might live.  That is why we can sing:

 

Down at the cross,

Where my Savior died;

Down where for cleansing,

For sin I cried.

There to my heart

Was the blood applied,

Glory to His name.

 

The glory of God is beheld in the Resurrection.  His beaten, battered, bruised, broken and bloody body is taken down off of the cross and laid in a tomb.  But, since you can’t keep glory in a tomb, 3 days later He arose with the “keys of hell and death.”

 

The glory of God is beheld at the Ascension.  In Acts 1: 9, 40 days after His resurrection, He ascended back to Heaven as a “cloud” of glory “received him out of their sight.”

 

When John says, “and we beheld his glory,” he is speaking of personal, past, and present revelations of the glory of God.  But, there is yet to be one more final revelation of the glory of God.

 

It is described in Titus 2: 13, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”  The phrase “glorious appearing” is literally rendered “THE APPEARANCE OF THE GLORY!”

 

In other words, Jesus Christ is the glory; and, when He appears in the clouds of glory, it will be a time of glory, because HE IS THE GLORY!

 

It refers to the day when, “The Lord himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.”

 

At that moment, the Lord of Glory will step out on the clouds of glory; give a shout of glory, tell the angel to blow the trumpet of glory to be heard by those who are being changed from “glory to glory,” so that He might take them to their eternal home of glory. 

 

All of the sudden, everyone who has been glory-born will become glory-bound.  And He will shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.”

 

As J. C. Ryle described it, “We shall rise from the dead.  We shall see the Son of God, the Sun of Glory and we shall shine as the sun.  No man ever saw God and lived; and, yet, we shall not live UNTIL WE SEE GOD. And when we see Him, we shall never die.”

 

The first time He came in humility.  The next time He will come in majesty.  The first time He came in grief.  The next time He will come in glory.  The first time He came He was "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows acquainted with grief."  The next time He comes, "every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, things in earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."

 

The first time He came He was laid on a Roman tree.  The next time He comes He will occupy a Heavenly throne.  The first time He came they spat upon Him.  The next time He comes He will smite the nations. 

 

The first time He came to be crucified.  The next time He will come to be crowned.   The first time He stood up, He welcomed Stephen home.  The next time He stands up, He will welcome us home!   

 

One day, after the final Battle has been fought, He will come again.  At that moment every king, every queen, every dictator, every prime minister, every czar, every president, every skeptic, every scoffer, every atheist, every agnostic, every infidel, every God-hater, and every Christ rejecter will have to admit that He is the "King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to the glory of God the Father." 

 

And, once and for all, we will be there to behold Him in all of His glory! 

 

What is Christmas all about?  It is all about Jesus the promise foretold, Jesus the promise fulfilled, and Jesus the promise finalized.  God finalized His eternal plan by sending Jesus to come down and be like us, so that we could go up and be like Him, forever and ever.

 

Jesus, Jesus,

Oh what a wonderful child.

Jesus, Jesus,

So lowly, meek and mild.

 

New life, new hope, new joy He brings,

Won’t you listen to the angels’ sing?

Glory! Glory! Glory!

To the newborn King.

 

I believe you would have to agree with me and say, “Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child!”

Endnotes

1) John:  Life Eternal, Roy Laurin, pg. 11.

2) IBID.

3) Word Pictures in the N. T., A. T. Robertson, pg. 187.

4) "The Nature of Space and Time," Steven Hawking.

5) Creed or Chaos? Donald Sayers, pg. 5-7.

6) “The Word Before He Became Flesh,” Sermon by Ken D. Trivette.

7) IBID, Laurin, pg. 18.