Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
- What was the angel Gabriel’s comforting response to Mary, when she was startled and troubled by his unexpected greeting? Luke 1:30. How does this compare to other angels bearing good news to humans about Christ? Luke 1:13; 2:10; Matt. 28:5
- What did it mean that she had “found favor” with God? How was God’s favor shown to her? Cf. Acts 7:45-46; Heb. 4:16; Gen. 6:8. Favor is found in God’s eyes/sight. The favor of God is extended to us as well through the birth and the life of Jesus, our Savior. It is through Jesus that we are found innocent in God’s eyes. Luke 2:14
- Mary’s virgin conception by the power of the Holy Spirit was in fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, a prophecy made 7 centuries earlier, to the Jews. How would the fulfilling of this prophecy mean that “God is with us” (Emmanuel)? How was it also a fulfillment of the prophecy to David, made about 1,000 B.C. (before Christ) that God would make his house and kingdom sure forever before God? 2 Samuel 7:12-13, 16
- What would be the characteristics of Jesus’ rule as the King on the throne of David? Isaiah 9:6-7; Psalm 9:7-8; 89:14. What peace and hope does this give us, in contrast to the rule of earthly kings and authorities? What disappointment are we spared from because of the fact that Jesus is our “Forever-King?”
- How did Mary submit to Jesus’ reign in her life? How do we likewise submit to God, and find His reign and favor extended over all of our life?
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
1. Prophecy from Isaiah: about what happens/will happen when the Anointed One, the Messiah enters on the scene of history/our lives. The Anointed One/Messiah/Christ—God’s chosen Savior for us. Jesus. Interesting, Trinity in OT. LORD God-Father; the Anointed One—Jesus; Spirit of the Lord. A scene of hopelessness, despair, of brokenhearted-ness and bondage is transformed into a scene of hope, life, gladness, praise and confidence.
2. The Jews who were the original recipients of this message, as said in previous sermons, where on such a scene of wreckage/hopelessness. Is your life the scene of hopelessness or despair? Surrounded by the wreckage of sin and a broken world? We have suffered under the heavy hand of the Law, which convicts our consciences of sin. Trampled down under life’s heavy burdens or griefs. Imprisoned in cages of sin of our own making. Only one can free us. One alone is strong enough to break our chains, proclaim God’s favor to us instead of condemnation, liberty to captives.
3. Jesus’ is that Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ. What a beautiful job description!! “to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified” (Is 61:1-3). When Jesus arrives on the scenes of devastation and hopelessness, darkness is driven away by the light of His coming.
4. Isaiah 61—context of a “Year of Jubilee”—explain. OT Israel, 50th year, “During that year, all debts were canceled, all land was returned to the original owners, the slaves were freed, and everybody was given a fresh new beginning. This was the Lord’s way of balancing the economy and keeping the rich from exploiting the poor.” Do you sometimes wish there was a Year of Jubilee; balance our economy, stop exploitation? The “year of the Lord’s favor” is a spiritual year of Jubilee that arrived when Jesus came on the scene of human history. Preached this in His first sermon—Nazareth. Announced this time was now here.
5. God was balancing “the economy” when He sent Jesus as the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ. Paying off our debts, releasing the captives. “If you trust in Christ as your Savior, you are living in the Spiritual Year of Jubilee, the Year of the Lord’s favor. You have been set free from bondage; your spiritual debt to the Lord has been paid; you are living in “the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Wiersbe)
6. When God’s Anointed, Jesus delivers these promises to us in His Word, mourning is turned into dancing. Sadness into joy. Study Psalm 30. God’s anger is but for a moment, but His favor for a lifetime. Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” Sackcloth, ashes, signs of mourning. Replaced with gladness and a beautiful headdress/garland. Jesus can turn our lament of sorrow into a song of joy, can carry us through mourning till the day of gladness.
7. “Faint of spirit” -- drooping, exhausted, flickering spirit. A sign of extreme grief or despair. But Jesus, God’s Anointed, His Messiah, Christ, gives peace, not as the world gives. Not an external peace that comes and goes with circumstances. But a deep inner peace than cannot be wrested away. Source of deep inner joy of the Christian. The peace of knowing Jesus, and that He is the One who speaks comfort and calm in our sadness, brokenheartedness, and imprisonment.
8. This peace, joy and strength, given to the Christian by Jesus—God on the scene of our lives. This gives the strength and vitality of spirit, that we can be called “oaks of righteousness.” Strong, deeply rooted, fresh and green and happy in the knowledge that the grace of God is ours, because of Jesus, God’s Anointed.
9. Call on the name of the Lord and be saved. Call on the name of Jesus, God’s Anointed, the Messiah, the Christ. The one who is on the scene to turn a life of despair back into a life of gladness and strength, by the forgiveness of our sins, the reconciling of all accounts in our favor, the balancing of God’s economy to set right all injustice. His peace is yours in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Sermon Talking Points
Read past sermons at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.blogspot.com
Listen to audio at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.podbean.com
1. Who directly fulfills this prophecy from Isaiah 61? See Luke 4:16-30; How did Jesus’ ministry carry out these promises? How does He continue to perform this work today?
2. “Anointed” (v. 1) is the translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah” (“Christ” in Greek). “Anointing” typically took place when a prophet, priest, or king took office (see 1 Samuel 10:1; 16:13; 2 Sam. 2:4; Exodus 29:7-9; 1 Chron. 16:22). Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One. He is Prophet, Priest and King par excellence.
3. What was Jesus anointed to do? How are the poor and the downtrodden comforted? Matthew 5:3-4. How are the brokenhearted given hope? 2 Cor. 1:3-7. In what way are all of us prisoners? Who sets us free?
4. How does salvation strengthen and establish Christians to be “oaks of righteousness”? How is the peace that Jesus gives different from the peace that the world gives? John 14:27
5. Read Psalm 30. How does the promised and the blessing of Jesus as our Messiah, God’s Anointed Savior of His people, turn our mourning and sadness into joy? What is the Christian’s hope and confidence in the face of all despair, evil, and even death? 1 Corinthians 15
Thursday, December 08, 2011
1. What’s in a highway? Part of our everyday landscape—don’t think about it much. But roads are the quintessential sign of rule and dominion. By roads a kingdom is made. Joined together, united for trade, travel, military, communication. Isaiah 40 speaks of preparing the “The Way of the Lord” (not the people of Israel), make straight in the desert a “highway for our God.” It’s the way of God back to Jerusalem, to visit His people restored from exile. The way of God to our hearts. “Make straight the way for God within, and let us all our hearts prepare for Christ to come and enter there” (On Jordan’s Bank the Baptists’ Cry)
2. Part of God’s plan is to level the “mountains” of human pride, in His way to their heart. Repentance is to clear, straighten, level the highway to our heart.
3. Resistance to repentance. Obstacles we raise: “mountains of pride,” crooked hearts, stubborn hearts and stiff-necks. Sin tries to blockade God out of our heart. This is why a “highway” to the heart cleared by repentance is a sign of God’s rule and reign in our lives. Sometimes we’ve locked ourselves into self-made cages of sin. We are crying: “Let me out!!” and don’t know how to break free from our own chains. “Some of you are in the cage of addictive behavior like high anxiety, unpredictable anger, or biting sarcasm. Some know the dark world of Internet pornography. Others are chained to a grudge that won't leave until there is revenge. Still others are fighting an inner battle with a skeleton in your closet that is rattling louder and louder. Whatever your particular sin, it has left you in a cage of despair, darkness, even death. Your heart cry has become: “Let me out!”
4. And only God can answer that cry. The Holy Spirit lays the groundwork. Does the preparation. Breaking up the stony soil, cultivating hearts for repentance, giving a new heart of flesh instead of a heart of stone. Repentance can be painful. It can be difficult break from past behavior that was so enticing, pleasing, self-satisfying. Or it can be a joyous release from guilt and slavery, from sins that held you captive for so long. Realizing that you really could “give up” the sin that you thought was inseparably intertwined with your life.
5. The Holy Spirit’s groundwork, convicting of sin, prepares the Lord’s highway for our heart. Jesus Christ will come and enter there. “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Jesus’ coming in human flesh among us, was God preparing His salvation in the “sight of all peoples”. Setting captives free, proclaiming good news to the poor and imprisoned.
6. For the Jews who first heard Isaiah’s message, God’s glory had departed from Israel when the Temple was destroyed. To have the hope and promise of God’s glory returning among them—great joy. Promise of restoration, rebuilding, new Temple, glory of the Lord visiting that Temple. “Fear not. 6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’” (Haggai 2:6-9).
7. Glory of the Lord would visit the Temple in the person of Jesus Christ. Then the glory left to die on the cross alone. But His glory was seen again in His resurrection on Easter, and His departure to heaven. From thence He promises to come again, to appear in glory where truly “all flesh will see it together.” Jesus’ glory will be seen by all, and all who worship Him and wait for His coming, will be caught up together with Him.
8. How do we prepare for this coming? God is on His way toward us. Are we ready to receive Him in our hearts? Prepare by repentance. Lay all your sins before God and ask Him to remove them from your life. Turn to Him, and He will clear that highway to your heart and establish His rule and reign there.
Monday, December 05, 2011
1. “The hardest part is the waiting.” Young children—5 minutes or 1 hour can both seem an eternity. Waiting for the birth of a child. Waiting while a loved one is undergoing surgery. Waiting with someone who is dying. Time stretches and lags. Or it can fly by if we are enjoying ourselves. Contrast the “eternity” of waiting to the “joy” of arrival. Of a healthy birth, of a return from successful operation, or arriving at the gates of heaven after your death—the joy makes all the waiting worth it. Can even fill the waiting itself with joy.
2. The Lord Jesus clearly promises He will return, but at an unknown time. Unexpectedly like a thief in the night. Waiting. Time seems to drag. When will the promise be fulfilled? Is God slow to keep His promise? God does not perceive time as us. Time does not pass more slowly or quickly for Him. He is just as close to the first man Adam, as to the last person to be born in time. Outside of time. We experience it in sequence. Like looking lengthwise at a tall tree lying on the ground. Can only see one end. Time is an order of events from the bottom of the log, step by step, all the way to the other end. But God can view time as from the side, seeing the whole “log” of time, with all events before Him. All things are together (Luther). Day like a thousand years and vice versa.
3. Learn patience from this—God is not slow, but reason He appears to delay (our perspective, not His), is to give opportunities for all to repent. For us waiting is an eternity. For God it is gracious patience. God’s nature—not to destroy—which He could do to all if He judged immediately—but to make the way for salvation open to all. This remarkable patience and mercy of God is so contrary to the way people often come to think of Him, as a harsh and demanding judge, who is eager to destroy the wicked. In reality, God delays and is patient to all so that they can have opportunity to repent. to be saved, to come to a knowledge of the truth. God does not delight in the death of the wicked, but rather that they would turn from their way and live. Ezekiel 18:23
4. What about the suddenness of His coming, and the completeness of destruction? Seems drastic. Kind of attached to this world. Seems incredible that the whole universe could just dissolve in fire and cease to exist. But even scientists now admit this fact, that the universe and the matter that makes it up, is not eternal, won’t last forever. Difference—the end will come much sooner and more suddenly than they think. Break our attachment to worldly things. “Diamonds are forever.” Not really. All that seems so durable and long-lasting will disintegrate. But why? New heavens and new earth. This groaning old creation is bound under the decay and effects of sin. Replaced with a new, better heavens and earth, according to God’s perfect plan. Free of sin, decay, death, suffering. Get attached to God, His Word, to things eternal. To God’s Word which will survive this great and total destruction of the universe, and preserve His people. Waiting will be rewarded with glorious heaven.
5. How to prepare for a disaster? Food, water, emergency light? Different for this final disaster. But we need light—Jesus is the Light of the World—a light never to be extinguished, unlike the failing lights of this universe, that will one day grow dim and flicker out. “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.”
6. Live lives of holiness and godliness. Always repenting, turning away from sin, back to God. What is holiness? Set apart for God. Characteristic first and foremost of God. Only by God sharing His holiness with us, do we also become holy. By our baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are made holy. Joined to His forgiveness, set apart (holy) for His purposes. Breaking our attachment with the world, means also breaking our attachment with its values and ways. Holiness is not simply a matter of the mind—thinking the right thoughts, having faith in God. But also especially a matter of the body. How we use our body. Can glorify God with it, or dishonor it by impurity.
7. Body is holy because it’s a temple of the Holy Spirit. Body is to be used for honoring God. Things we do with our body affect our holiness. Can make us unclean or impure. Call to holiness is to use your body well, in self-control, in purity. 1 Thess. 4:3 says: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” In several places holiness is directly connected with avoiding sexual sin. Keeping sexuality in the bounds of our own marriage, as God intended it. Not before it; not outside of it, but with our spouse. Holiness also has to do with frequent prayer, with avoiding unnecessary arguing and quarrelling, being in control of our bodies and tempers. Holiness has to do with modesty of how we dress and adorn our bodies—particularly women. Not to flaunt sexuality, but to show feminine grace and beauty through modesty, and through good works and love—which give a deep inner beauty that is more than skin. Study verses in talking points.
8. This kind of holiness and godliness is contrasted to the troubles faced in the last days, as ungodliness increases: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5). Godliness seeks to avoid the pleasure-seeking, the arrogance and pride, the dissatisfaction, disobedience, and other characteristics of unholy living. These things are all rooted in our sinful nature, and it takes very little for them to be inflamed into full-grown ugly sins that are destructive of ourselves and toward others.
9. So what if your description is found in the above? What if you used your body for impurity and not holiness? What if you succumbed to the base desires of your sinful nature, and those descriptions fit you? Repent, turn back to the Lord. The time of His coming is unknown, so don’t delay. This is what you once were—but God has and is redeeming you—buying you back from those sins, so that you may be set apart (holy) for Him. Jesus Christ presents you spotless and blameless, because He gave His live to forgive and erase those sins, and to bring you to something new and better.
10. All the waiting will be fulfilled. New heavens and new earth is the fulfillment and reward of all that we’ve been waiting for by faith in Jesus Christ. “where righteousness dwells.” Injustice, evil, sin, suffering, decay will be gone. Creation fully restored and made right. Home of everlasting righteousness and peace. God secured it. He makes it ours by faith in Christ. Preserve us Oh Lord—preserve us in patient waiting, preserve us in clinging to heavenly things, not worldly things; preserve us in holiness and godliness of life, to use our minds and bodies for your glory. Preserve us for the day of that great reward, so that we receive your coming without fear, but with joyful, eager expectation—with shouts of thanksgiving and praise as we witness your whole plan unfold to perfection in the new heavens and new earth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
11. Sermon Talking Points
Read past sermons at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.blogspot.com
Listen to audio at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.podbean.com
- Since God is outside time, what does that mean for the charge of scoffers, who mock that God is slow, or delaying, or just doesn’t exist? What is God’s reason for “delaying” (from our perspective) in His return? 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4; cf. Ps. 90:4
- What does the suddenness of Jesus’ return mean for those who would try to predict a date for His return or the end of the world? Matt. 24:36; 1 Thess. 5:2; What will happen to the universe (heavens and earth) on the day of the Lord? 2 Pet. 3:12; Rev. 6:14; Matt. 24:35; Heb. 1:10-12
- How are we to be prepared and ready for this day of Jesus’ coming? Matt. 24:44; 25:1-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
- Holiness means to be “set apart for God.” Holiness is not only a matter of our mind, but also of our body, and how we use it to glorify God. In what way is our body a “holy temple?” 1 Cor. 6:19 What does this mean for how we use our bodies in holiness? 1 Cor. 6:15-20; Eph. 4:17-32; 1 Thess. 4:3-12; 1 Tim. 2:8-10
- What will the “new heavens and new earth” be like? Isaiah 65:17-25; Rev. 21-22. What does Peter mean in v. 13 by saying that it is where “righteousness dwells?” How does the hope of heaven lift you up in times of darkness or discouragement? How does it encourage you to strive to follow after Christ in holiness and godliness?
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Illustration from Alfred Hitchcock show about a woman trying to escape from prison in a casket, to be buried and then dug up...finds that she's buried with the caretaker who was supposed to be her rescue…ever been buried?
Ever been buried like that before? Sure you have, and so have I.
We’ve been buried in questions: “If God is so good, why do I hurt so bad?” “If Jesus is the light, why am I in the dark?”
We’ve been buried in disappointment: “You’re just not like your older brother!” “You’re just not like our last boss!”
We’ve been buried in responsibilities: “Here’s a 30 page case study—be ready to discuss it tomorrow.” “Honey, the kids have softball and baseball games tomorrow.”
We’ve been buried in the past—the minute we lost our temper, the hour we lost our purity, the day we lost control, the years we lost our priorities.
And on top of it all—literally—we’re buried in our daily self-assertion, self-righteousness, self-satisfaction, self-sufficiency and self-will.
Buried, boxed in, six feet under, again, right here, just now—it’s dark, tight, claustrophobic and the enemy has nailed the lid shut. And if there isn’t screaming, there are heavy sighs and lifeless looks and empty hearts.
Buried, boxed in, six feet under—so also Israelites in Babylon. Buried under the weight of their sins, their idolatry and waywardness from God, that had resulted in their being carried off as exiles into a foreign land. Watching in despair as their capital city Jerusalem was pillaged, burned, leveled, and destroyed. Their homes, the walls of the city, their strength, and most importantly of all, the holy and beautiful Temple of Solomon that was the crown jewel of Jerusalem. Desecrated, looted, demolished. We can hardly imagine the scale of their sadness and loss. Buried with questions: “Is God unable to save? Does He exist? Are the Babylonian gods greater? Or had God utterly abandoned us?” To people in this despair—to us in our despair and empty hearts, God called for comfort. Comfort, Comfort, Ye My People—speak of peace so says our God.
From where would such peace and comfort come? An epic conflict once took place. Not between the God of Israel and the gods of the Babylonians. Not between Israel’s soldiers and theirs. But a greater and more deadly battle between our Savior God, and all the forces of evil that were matched against Him. Jesus disarmed Himself and said “Ok, take your best shot.” And all evil was launched against Him. Judas, Pilate, Herod … thorns, nails, spear darkness, sweat and screaming, screaming, screaming, until there was total silence.
It all ended “crucified, dead and buried.” Nothing is as bottomless as a pit, as lifeless as a grave, as hopeless as a tomb. Smell the mildew, the odor of blood, the stench of death. See the confines, the darkness, and the sealed stone. Witness the charred marks of a divine explosion to life!
Cramped by the chaos, suffocating in the stillness, trapped in transgressions and sins, screaming in the silence, let’s light a match and see who we’re buried with. Well get this—Romans 6:4: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life!” Again Colossians 2:12: “Having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”
Through water and the Word you and I have been buried and raised with Jesus our Lord. Our certain defeat is turned into a stunning, bottom of the ninth inning, come-from-behind victory. And so our buried, boxed-in scream is forever changed into a baptized, blood-bought, forgiven, Spirit-filled endless Hallelujah! God in Christ has pardoned all our sins that “well deserved His anger” and He has changed our deep sadness into ever-springing gladness. Truly God speaks tenderly to us when God writes, “Comfort, comfort my people.” Comfort is here. Comfort is yours. Comfort is now!