Friday, December 16, 2011

A Birth Announcement

Long before magi followed a star toward Bethlehem, before angels presented themselves to shepherds, before the dreams of Joseph, and before Mary's magnificant, an announcement was made of the birth of Jesus. 700 years prior to the coming of the Savior, the prophet Isaiah proclaimed his birth.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 
(Isaiah 9:6)

#1 The Incarnation

That Jesus would be a child born unto us, is a significant and succinct expression of the incarnation. The Christ was brought forth human. While humanity had been created in the image of God, rarely since the garden has one caught a glimpse of the Creator through the stains of sin and scars of mankind's disobedience. Even so, or rather because of that fact God came to man as one of us, born unto us.

While some today question his Deity, few question his humanness. Jesus was indeed like us. Think about that. Consider the human experience. It includes laughter, tears, growing, walking, tripping, and running. There are deep breaths, sneezes, stumped toes. Jesus experienced humanity as humanity among humanity. Childhood, adolecense, puberty, being a teenager and young adulthood; Jesus went through it. His novelty was not in his experiences - they were much like and man in his day, but that he navigated those experiences without leaving the path God had set, even for a step. He faced the same troubles and temptations as anyone but was yet without sin.

It is that kinship that allows Jesus to stand in for us, to be our representative before God, to accept our debt as his own, to cover it with his blood. Because in that he was born unto us, he was like us.

#2 The Grace of God

When God chose to save man, he didn't phone it in. He didn't send a letter. He didn't shoot us a text message. He didn't write it on Facebook. He sent His Son. He gave His Son. John 3:16 says God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.

As it glorified God for Him to give His Son, it further glorified God for the son to give himself. And he gave himself a sacrifice for us for many.

  • [Jesus] ...gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: (Galatians 1:4)
  • [Jesus] ...gave himself a ransom for all... (1 Timothy 2:6)
  • [Jesus] gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:14)

Of all the gifts ever given, the jewelry and and hunting rifles and ipods, iphones, ipads, the "i-dont-cares" - nothing compares to the gift of God usward. He gave us Jesus. The gift of God... the grace of God gives us power to be children of God.

  • But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (John 1:12)

Suppose you got your wife a pair of diamond earrings. You wrapped them up in a little box, put a bow on it,  put her name on the tag with the note, "I love you." and you placed it on the table in front of her. And she picked up the box.... looked at it... shook it... and sat it back down and wandered off. How would you feel? Disappointed? Don't you think God is disappointed, when look into the gift He's given us, and walk away from it?

#3 The Government

Do you have opinions on government? Most people do. Its the most popular soap opera in the country. Personally, I find too much government in Washington. I am a liberal - not liberal in the sense that I thing the state should liberally confiscate your income and then liberally spend that money in such a way as to coerce and force the people into what the most gifted among us thing is right.

I mean liberal in the classical sense - that people should be at liberty - free to make their own choices - to take their own risks  - to enjoy their rewards - to stand before God as their conscience dictates. They are free so long as they don't infringe on the liberty of others. And where two liberties collide the government steps in to restore order.

What is wrong with such a setup? It leaves people free to make bad choices. Free to do the wrong thing. Children are born out of wedlock, minds are clouded by drugs and alcohol, people tell lies, people hate one another. The solution - more government and less liberty, right?

The solution is a different government. A better government. One that does not force people to conform outwardly to a rigid set of rules, but one that inwardly rules the heart. The government of Christ. The Kingdom of God. As part of his kingdom, we are finally free to do the right thing.

#4 Wonderful

Jesus is wonderful! He did amazing things.

  • ...the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did...(Matthew 21:15)
  • ...the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel. (Matthew 15:31)
  • [After Jesus had walked on water]...they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. (Mark 6:51)

But the most wonderful thing Jesus ever did was what he did for you and me.

Tony had been walking home the same route for months. And he noticed that every day as he passed the fish market, there was a man watching him. Staring at him. So one day he stopped by and made a point to talk to the fish-man.

As the conversation progressed, the man explained how he had always noticed Tony, and the spring in his step and his cheery demeanor. And he always wondered what Tony was so happy about. Tony saw this as an opportunity to tell the fish-man about Jesus. - "Its Jesus," he said. "Jesus is wonderful. Tell me, what do you know about Jesus?"

"Not much, I guess," replied the fish-man.

Tony proceeded to tell the man about Christ - and as he was explaining the Gospel he started speaking, "And Jesus died...."

The fish-man cut him off, "died? that doesn't sound too wonderful."

"Let me continue, Jesus died on the cross," he could see in the fish-man's eyes that he was unsure, so he explained to him the cruelty of the crucifixion.

"Still doesn't sound too wonderful to me...," fish-man said.

"He died for me, because of my sins...He was paying my sin debt, making me right with God," said Tony.

"So then, it was your fault? Again, how is that wonderful?" said fishman.

Tony quickened his pace, "...thats right, it was my fault, and your fault too." Fishman's eyes opened wide, "but the good news, what makes it wonderful is this - that God raised him from dead and is in the presence of God. And because I trust him, I know I will be raised up just as he was. I will spend eternity with God. And you can too."

Fishman's eyes twinkled as he thought, looking into space. "That is wonderful."

Friend - have you experience the wonder of Christ. The personal confidence that you will be reconciled to God for eternity?

#5 Counselor

That Jesus is our counselor, is that he is our advisor. Counsellors are important, the Bible says:

  • Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.  (Proverbs 15:22)

I personally have people I go to when I have to make decisions that are hard for me. People I trust. People I consider wise. I talk it over. I get their opinions. Then ultimately I choose to either follow their counsel or go against it.

Jesus comes to his children to guide and direct them. To comfort them.
  • I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:18)
He comes to us as the indwelling Holy Spirit. He comforts us. His advice gives us the ability to make the right decisions. 
  • ...when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (John 16:13)
Jesus dwells with and deals with right-teaching churches in a special way. But how is a sin-tarnished man to know how to find a right-teaching church? He must hear his counselor!

Have you ever known someone who refuses to hear wise counsel? A lot of Christians are just that way. Many simply don't hear it at all. They don't look into God's Word. They don't hear it proclaimed at church. They spend little to no time in prayer. 

And then there are others - who hear, they read, they pray - then they go their own way. Let us yield to the counsel of Jesus Christ!

#6 Mighty God
Too often Jesus' meekness is confused for weakness. The scripture is clear that he made himself low so that he might be exalted. Friends, we will find his power in that same sort of lowliness.

  • Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (Ephesians 6:10)
Jesus is the power behind the resurrection.
  • And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40)
  • No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44)
Trust in the power of his might!

#7 Everlasting Father

There is a distinction to be made between the Father and the Son. They are distinct and different persons of the Trinity. But they are God. And in that the Father and the Son are the same in essense. What the Father is, the Son is. What the Son is, the Father is. Or as Jesus said,

  • I and my Father are one. (John 10:30)

Jesus gives eternal life. Something temporary can not produced something eternal.

  • And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:28)

#8 Prince of Peace

No one is neutral with God. You are either with him or against him. You are a child of God or a child of the devil. You are his enemy or you are his friend. The natural state of man is the enemy of God.

  • For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10)

But we have peace - by faith in Jesus Christ.

  • Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1)

I want to announce this morning - the coming of Christ!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 
(Isaiah 9:6)

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