Celebrate the Child Who Is the Light

Recently I received this letter. Greetings Disciple Makers! The message of Christmas needs to be shouted aloud:

Joy to the World! The Lord is come! Let earth receive her King!

Unfortunately this message that seems so plain and clear to you and me is hidden under the many masks of modern day Christmas traditions such as:

Flashy decorations

Expensive gifts

A fat bearded guy in a red suit

Office parties

Grand Christmas programs

While there is nothing wrong in and of themselves, these are the trappings of Christmas to many Americans. When it comes to flashy decorations, I like them. For the first year since we’ve been married, we have decorations on the outside of our house. Some of you have heard about our Christmas tree lights. It’s a story that involves failure and frustration as I tried to get a tree with blue, green, and purple lights. After several failed attempts, we finally had our tree. One of our Christmas traditions while we lived in Indiana was to go to Matter Park in Marion and view and annual Christmas display. This was great fun as we would put Christmas carols on in the tape player and wind through the 3/4-mile display. There’s nothing wrong with flashy decorations, except when they take our focus off of Jesus.

There’s nothing wrong with Santa Claus (the man in red suit) Matter of fact, if we look at the historical Santa Claus it had everything to do with giving gifts. St. Nicholas gave gifts to those in need. We get in trouble however when Santa Claus takes our focus off Jesus and his Father. Jesus is our ultimate gift.

There is nothing wrong with expensive gifts. Working in retail, gives one a unique perspective on the “holidays.” I was amazed this week, to see the amount of money, and by the way most of it was of the buy now and pay later variety. I was amazed to the amount of money spent on Christmas gifts. People didn’t think anything of plopping down 100,200, or 300 dollars on a gift. There’s nothing wrong with expensive gifts. Matter of fact, God gave us the most expensive gift when he gave us his son. God didn’t stop at anything to save his people. The thing wrong with expensive gifts is that they take our focus off Jesus. What is wrong with expensive gifts? When they mask the true reason for the season.

There’s nothing wrong with grand Christmas programs. I’ve had the privilege to be part of several excellent Christmas programs. This week our family flashed back to several of those program via videos. But the one thing I know is that sometimes you get so focused on the technical points (the music, the notes, the lights, the pageantry, the sound and so on.) that your focus comes off the very story you are trying to present. I remember the first time I sang in a program entitled “From Heaven’s Throne.” It was a spectacle worthy of Broadway. Bill and Gloria Gaither‘s former soundman was the sound engineer and Ray‘s Boltz’s lighting director set up and ran the lights. I remember the awesome feeling as we sang the songs and how we told the story of Jesus from the point of the angels. I remember the emotions that ran through me over the seven days of the program. We ministered to a great number of people — to standing room only crowds. I remember helping the television production crew and watching it all take place on the screen. But I remember how I felt after presenting the program that final year we lived in Marion. Some of the newness wore off. It didn’t feel the same. The trouble is, is that I had taken my eyes of Jesus. I became so familiar with the story, it didn’t mean the same thing to me. There’s nothing wrong with grand programs, as long as they don’t mask the true meaning of Christmas.

What is the true meaning of Christmas? It is to celebrate the Child who is the light. Jesus Christ came to bring light to the world. John 8: 12 says, “Jesus said to the people, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling in the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” Over the past few weeks, we have been preparing the way of the Lord. We have been preparing our hearts for what we celebrated yesterday. Christ is come! Joy to the world the Lord IS come. Not has come, but IS come. We come this morning to celebrate a glorious birthday. Matter of fact I received an invitation that I would like to share with you.

A Birthday Celebration

Guest of Honor: Jesus Christ

Date: Traditionally, December 25 but He’s always around, so the date is flexible.

Time: Whenever you’re ready

(Please don’t be late, though, or you’ll miss out on all the fun)

Place: In your heart

(You’ll hear him knock)

Attire: Come as you are…grubbies are okay (He’ll be washing our clothes anyway. He said something about new white robes and crowns for everyone who stays till the last.)

Tickets: Admission is free. He’s already paid for everyone…

(He says you wouldn’t have been able to afford it anyway it cost Him everything He had..– But you do need to receive the ticket!)

Refreshments: New wine, bread and a far-out drink He calls “Living Water” followed by a supper that promises to be out of this world.

Gift Suggestions: Your life. He’s one of those people who already has everything else. (He’s very generous in return though. Just wait until you see what He has for you.)

Entertainment: Joy, Peace, Truth, Light, Life, Love, Real Happiness, Communion with God, Forgiveness, Miracles, Healing, Power, Eternity in Paradise, Contentment, and much more. (All. “G” rated, so bring your family and friends)

R.S.V.P — Very important!

He must know ahead so He can reserve a spot for you at the table. Also, He’s keeping a list of His friends for future reference. He calls it the “Lamb’s Book of Life.”

Who Is This King of Glory?

This morning we complete our Advent journey. We have been preparing the way of the Lord. We started on the first Sunday with Prepare the Way of the Lord. The second Sunday we said that Surely He Has Born Our Griefs, and because of that we can Comfort Ye Me People on the third Sunday. Today we have to answer the question, “Who is the King of Glory?” We are going to take a look at the text that was read during the lighting of our final Advent candle.

Psalm 24 (Contemporary English Version)

(A psalm by David.)

1The earth and everything on it belong to the LORD. The world and its people belong to him. 2The LORD placed it all on the oceans and rivers. 3Who may climb the LORD’s hill [a] or stand in his holy temple? 4Only those who do right for the right reasons, and don’t worship idols or tell lies under oath. 5The LORD God, who saves them, will bless and reward them, 6because they worship and serve the God of Jacob. [b] 7Open the ancient gates, so that the glorious king may come in. 8Who is this glorious king? He is our LORD, a strong and mighty warrior. 9Open the ancient gates, so that the glorious king may come in. 10Who is this glorious king? He is our LORD, the All-Powerful!

We have a blessed hope in this King of Glory? Who is he? What do we do with him? Last year we went Christmas caroling with another church in our community in Upstate New York. We began at our church and sang at houses throughout the community and ended up at the Fort Miller Reformed Church. We had a great time of fellowship around cookies and hot chocolate. After a little while, Pastor Bailey asked us if we would like to join them in caroling to one of their shut-ins. Our church had caroled to our shut-ins the week before. We said yes. We drove to a house about five minutes away and entered the house and sang to her. This lady was a immigrant from the Russian section of Poland who will turn 98 on Christmas day. We sang two or three carols and then in the tradition of her homeland she gave gifts to the carolers. She handed each one of us a small plastic bag of candy. As she was handing them out she told us this in broken English/Russian accent. Remember that Jesus Christ came as a baby for you; He suffered for you; He died for you; He rose again and He’s coming again for you. It was the best sermon I had heard all day, including my own. Right there I was ministered to. I came to minister, yet me and my family received an unexpected blessing.

As we said last week, we need to be ready to share this simple message with anyone we run into. We try to complicate it but it is really very simple. The lady we caroled to reminded us of that.

Let me ask you a question. Are you telling the story of Jesus? Do you love telling the story of Jesus? This reminds me of an e-mail I received several years ago. It’s entitled, “Hymns, The Way We’d Sing Them If We Were Honest.” Here is just a sample of some of the hymn titles.

I Surrender Some

There Shall Be Sprinkles of Blessing

Fill My Spoon, Lord

Oh, How I Like Jesus

Take My Life and Let Me Be

When the Saints go Sneaking In

Sit Up, Sit Up for Jesus

Self-esteem to the World, the Lord Is Come

Go Tell It On the Speed Bump.

And my personal favorite\

I Love to Talk About Telling the Story

We need to do more than just talk about telling the story. We need to tell it. That’s my first challenge to you this morning. Tell the story to everyone you meet this week. The second question comes as this. What do we tell? Tell them about this King of Glory. The psalmist asks, “Who is this King of Glory?”

This morning before service I asked our Middle School class to help me come up with a description of Jesus. To help us get started I listed the letters from A to Z. I said to give me one word that described Jesus for each letter. For some letters we came up with more than one. But I think they did a great job. What follows is mostly of their own thinking with a few thrown in by Pam and I. You need to be proud of our kids at Preston Wesleyan. Here goes the list.

He (Jesus) is:

A. Awesome, Alpha (and Omega)

B. Bread of Life, Bright, Beautiful One

C. Creator, Christ, Careful

D. Delightful, Divine

E. Everlasting, Eternal, Everliving, Enlightening, Everything (just as this morning scripture tells us. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.)

F. Faithful, Fair, Forgiving, Famous one

G. Generous, Glorious, Giving, God, Gentle, Gracious, Great, Good

H. Holy, Human, Honest, Hopeful, Honorable, Helpful, Hero (I like the fact that our students think of God as their hero)

I. Important (Think about this, our entire world acknowledges the fact that Jesus exists, whether you are believer or an atheist. Our calendar is based on the birth of Jesus. Therefore, he must be important in some way.) I Am, Innocent, Intelligent, Inspiring, Immortal, Invisible (To borrow from one of the great hymns)

J. Jesus, Joyful, Just, Judge and Jury

K. Kind, King of kings, Keeper

L. Lord of lords, Loving, Loyal, Lamb of God, Love, Life

M. Mighty, Masterful, Majestic, Master, Marvelous, Merciful

N. Navigator (This is the one that really impressed me. One of our kids in Fort Miller came up with this one last year. He is the one who gives direction to our lives. God is not my co-pilot, but he is my pilot. He is flying the plane of my life.) Noble

O. Omnipresent (He is present everywhere), (Alpha and) Omega, Omnipotent (He is all powerful. These are the some that we helped the kids with. Omniscient (He is all knowing, except when he chooses to limit his power as he did when Jesus came to earth), Overseerer, Outstanding

P. Prince of Peace, Protector, Provider, Powerful, Perfect, Pure, Patient

Q. Quanna (Jealous)

R. Rewarder, Redeemer, Restorer, Resurrected, Reliever, Righteous, Rebuilder Refuge, Rock, Ransom, Rapturer

S. Shelter, Shield, Savior, Strength, Sword, Spirited, Shepherd, Stronghold, Supporter, Salvation

T. Timeless, Tremendous, Truthful, Teacher, Truth, Trustful, (and Pam came up with this one, Terminator. Jesus said, “I’ll be back!” Those who are not ready for His coming will meet the real terminator.

U. Unlimited, Unresting, Unhasting, Unfailing, Unchangeable, Unique, Understanding, Unweilding

V. Victorious, Valuable

W. Winner, Wonderful, Word, Wise, Worthy

X. This was one of those tricky ones. Did you know the Greek letter for Christ is chi? Even when we say X-mas we are acknowledging Christ) Excellent, Exciting, Extraordinary

Y. Yahweh (He is I AM), Yielding (Jesus was a servant who yielded His life for us.)

Z. Zenith, Zion

I think our kids did an awesome job and coming up with names for Jesus. Jesus’ name is woven throughout the Word of God. As we close this morning, let me read to you a piece that I’ve entitled “Jesus Through the Bible.” You may have heard it before, but it’s a great reminder of the Jesus of the Bible.

In Genesis Jesus is the Ram at Abraham‘s altar

In Exodus He’s the Passover Lamb

In Leviticus He’s the High priest

In Numbers He’s the Cloud by day and Pillar of Fire by night

In Deuteronomy He’s the City of our refuge

In Joshua He’s the Scarlet Thread out Rahab’s window

In Judges He is our Judge

In Ruth He is our Kinsman Redeemer

In 1st and 2nd Samuel He‘s our Trusted Prophet

And in Kings and Chronicles He’s our Reigning King

In Ezra He’s our Faithful Scribe

In Nehemiah, He’s the Rebuilder of the of everything that is broken

And in Esther He is the Mordecai sitting faithful at the gate

In Job He’s our Redeemer that ever lives

In Psalms He is my Shepherd and I shall not want

In Proverbs and Ecclesiastes He’s our Wisdom

And in the Song of Solomon He is the Beautiful Bridegroom

In Isaiah He’s the Suffering Servant

In Jeremiah and Lamentations it is Jesus that is the Weeping Prophet

In Ezekiel He’s the Wonderful Four-Faced Man

And in Daniel He is the Fourth Man in the midst of a fiery furnace

In Hosea, He is my Love that is forever faithful.

In the Joel He baptizes us with the Holy Spirit

In Amos He’s our Burden Bearer

In Obadiah our Savior

And in Jonah He is the Great Foreign Missionary that takes the Word of God into all the world.

In Micah He is the Messenger with beautiful feet

In Nahum He is the Avenger

In Habbakkuk He is the Watchman that is ever praying for revival

In Zephaniah He is the Lord mighty to save

In Haggai He is the Restorer of our lost heritage

In Zechariah He is our Fountain

And in Malachi He is the Son of Righteousness with healing in His wings

In Matthew Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God

In Mark He is the Miracle Worker

In Luke He’s the Son of Man

And in John He is the Door by which every one of us must enter

In Acts He is the Shining Light that appears to Saul on the road to Damascus

In Romans He is our Justifier

In 1st Corinthians our Resurrection

In 2nd Corinthians our Sin Bearer

In Galatians He redeems us from the law

In Ephesians He is our Unsearchable Riches

In Philippians He supplies our every need

And in Colossians He’s the Fullness of the Godhead Bodily

In 1st and 2nd Thessalonians He is our Soon Coming King

In 1st and 2nd Timothy He is the Mediator between God and man

In Titus He is our Blessed Hope

In Philemon He is the Friend that sticks closer than a brother

And in Hebrews He’s the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant

In James it is the Lord that heals the sick

In 1st and 2nd Peter He is the Chief Shepherd

In 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John it is Jesus who has the tenderness of love

In Jude He is the Lord coming with 10,000 saints

And in Revelation, lift up your eyes, Church, for your redemption draweth nigh; He is our King of kings and Lord of Lords.

Who Is this King of Glory? He is Jesus. Let me leave you with that this morning. This is the hope that we have, that Jesus is coming back again for His church and that one day knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Who is the King of Glory? He is Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and God of Gods.

Comfort Ye My People

Scripture – Isaiah 40; 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.

The title of this series is entitled, “Prepare the Way of the Lord.” For the last two weeks we have concentrated on the “darker” side of the preparation. In the traditional Advent preparation the four candles stand for hope, comfort, joy, and peace. This morning we will look at this idea of comfort. Last week we look at the idea of how Jesus came to bear our sorrows and burdens. It is in this act of Christ going to the cross that we can have hope and that should bring us comfort. We have a wonderful hope in the coming Christ-child; this doesn’t mean that we won’t experience grief during the season and if we do experience grief, Christ is more than able to help us through it. We have a great comfort this morning. It is this comfort that we need to give to others who need comfort. More on that later.
One of the “new” words that I have discovered in the last two years is missional. You may recognize the root word, “mission.” What is the purpose of the Church? What is our purpose as Christians? Let’s take a look at Matthew 28:18-20.
18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The mission of the church is to go and make disciples to everyone. You’ll notice that I didn’t stay that we are to convert people. There is much more than conversion or salvation. We are called to make disciples. We were saved to live righteous lives and to take care of the needy. Part of that involves going and making disciples; teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Our Wesleyan denomination states it this way: “To fulfill the great commission in the spirit of the great commandment.” What is the great commandment? It is to love the Lord, your God with all your heart, all your mind, and with all your soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself. As the letter writer James puts it, “Pure and lasting religion that the Father accepts is the take care of the widows and orphans in their distress and to keep yourselves from being polluted by the world. We live in a world that is in need of comfort. We have a world that needs to know that he has born our griefs. This is cause for great hope. Let me take you to a “comforting” scripture in the New Testament. Let’s take a look at 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

8We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our[a] behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

So what does this scripture say to us? Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. We have a reason to be comforted. God is a Father of compassion and a God of comfort. What is compassion? Remember, Jonah? Jonah had no compassion toward the people of Nineveh, either before he told them to repent or afterward. The Lord even caused a tree to grow up and shade Jonah as Jonah awaited the destruction of Nineveh. When the Lord caused the tree to wilt, Jonah was angry. God asked Jonah why. God loved the people of Nineveh and in his compassion and his mercy saved Nineveh from destruction. Jonah didn’t understand that God loves all people, not just a chosen few. How does this apply to us? God loves all his people, not just a chosen few. We need to be missional in our mindset. We need to make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them ENTIRELY, teaching them EVERYTHING God has commanded until the VERY END of the WORLD. This is an all encompassing commandment. The gospel message may make people uncomfortable, but brings ultimate comfort when we receive Jesus Christ. Look at verse 4. Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. Now you see why I call this part 2. We can comfort those in trouble with God’s comfort.

Why? Verse 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Last week I spoke on the grief and pain that Jesus Christ bore on the cross. We spoke on Christ’s sufferings. We remembered it through communion. Like verse 5 says, just as Christ’s sufferings flow into our lives, so does his comfort. This is the comfort that we can give to others. We sing it in one of our worship songs. He came from heaven to earth to show the way. From the earth to the cross my debt to pay. From the cross to the grave from the grave to the sky. Lord I lift your name on high. It’s really so simple and we like to complicate it. This is the comfort that we can give; that Christ came, shed his blood for our sins, died, was buried and rose again triumphantly to break the power of sin over our lives.

Did you also notice that whether we go through difficulty or whether we are comfortable, our message should be comfort and salvation? This is something that we do not only for those on the outside, but also for those on the inside. The scriptures tell us to bear one another’s burdens. Verse 7 “because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, you share in our comfort.

When we read the rest of Paul’s introduction, we realize that this is encouragement to the believers at Corinth. This morning’s message is two-fold. There are two people to comfort. First, there are those (and some may be here this morning) that don’t know Christ. To them the whole Christian story doesn’t make much sense. They are confused. As it says in Isaiah chapter 6; “The people who walk in darkness…” As we learned this past week when the power went out, it doesn’t take much light to help someone who is stumbling in the darkness. My first challenge is to be Jesus Christ to those who so desperately need it during this season. This should be a season of hope. Jesus Christ is coming as a baby to save his people from their sins. This is the hope that we have. We also have the hope that one day; he will be coming again to take those who have received him home to heaven with him. Share the light of Jesus Christ through your actions, through your words to those who need him; those who need to be comforted. Invite them to church over the next few weeks. My second challenge has to do with the rest of Paul’s introduction. We as Christian brothers and sisters share in the lives of each other. We need to lift each other up. We need to bear one another’s burdens. One of my goals in the next month is to start a weekday prayer meeting. Now, I know for some of you this eliminates the possibility of you coming. But anyone who is available at that time is welcome, especially you prayer warriors (and you know who you are.) It will be during this time that we can lift each other and our church up in prayer for an extended period of time. I don’t know about you, but prayer meetings lift me up, not drag me down. Through prayer meeting we will share with each other and share one another’s burdens and this is what being a missional church does.

Let me say once again that it’s all about building the kingdom. What are you doing to build the kingdom? What are you doing to prepare the way of the Lord for those who don’t know him? What are you doing to prepare the way of the Lord for those who do know him and are just in need of some encouragement?

What do I want you to do today as you leave? God says, “Comfort my people.” Go and do it today!

Surely He Has Borne Our Griefs

  • What emotions do you connect with the season of Advent?
  • What emotions do you connect with Christmas?
  • What are your own emotions between the days of Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day?
  • Some of you are probably wondering how communion fits in with Advent.

I asked you what emotions that you experience during this season of the year? Some would say that it the season of Advent should be a happy and joyful time and I would agree with you to a point. I was recently discussing this with several other pastors. Many counselors see a marked increase in their caseload between Thanksgiving and New Years. It is a stressful time of the year. One of the difficulties comes in that our losses become magnified when everyone else is having a great time. The holidays can be a difficult time for those who have lost loved ones during that time. I know even in my own family, we have lost two grandmothers and a great grandmother. In addition Pam almost lost her own mother during this very season. On top of all that we have experienced a deep personal loss that even now brings a flood of emotion. For the last several years, things have gone very well, but when you’ve experienced grief during this season, you wonder when the next shoe will drop.

By now some of you are going to think I have an obsession with the dark this Advent. But again I want to set up a contrast. I don’t want to leave you without a sense of hope this morning. After all, advent is a season of hope because we are preparing the way for a king. Let’s look at Isaiah 53:2a-5.

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

Look what Christ has done for us. The prophet Isaiah predicted many years before it happened. What’s amazing is that he did it knowing that we like to turn away from God. Look at verse 6.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

As I read this passage this morning, my mind goes back to those images of the movie The Passion of the Christ. There were many charges laid upon this movie. That it was anti-Semitic; that it was too gory; that it was too violent, and yet my one though was He did this for me. He could have stopped it at any time along the whole procession and said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” Matter-of-fact, I never thought about it in this way. There was a movie entitle the last temptation of Christ. It was blasphemous. However, Christ did have a last temptation. I’m sure Satan used every trick in the book to try to defeat Jesus. You don’t have to do it. Call your angels. Even the thieves on the cross got into the act.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression [5] and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken. [6]

Can you imagine being the son of God and God turning his back on you? One aria from the Messiah says, “But thou didst not leave his soul in hell.”

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,

I still wonder how some can justify that Christians shouldn’t suffer. If we are to be like Christ, we are going to suffer. Sometimes it will feel like God is trying to crush us. Sometimes the Lord has to break us.

and though the LORD makes [7] his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

But there is hope

11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life [8] and be satisfied [9] ;
by his knowledge [10] my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, [11]
and he will divide the spoils with the strong, [12]
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

We observe communion this morning because of the blood that was shed on the cross. We cannot divorce the coming baby in a manger from the man who died on the cross and from the coming king who is coming to take his children back to heaven with Him. Talk about somebody being there for you. That’s the mark of a good friend, somebody that will stick with you through thick and thin. This is Jesus Christ. He shed His blood for you.

Here is the hope that we have this morning. This coming king that we are preparing the way suffered for us. In Hebrews 4 it says, “14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens,[5] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

What is the cause for our hope? It is that he has gone through what we have gone through. Here’s where I want us to be careful. We need to make sure that we are sensitive to others feelings and emotions during this season. Christ is able to sympathize with us. He was tempted just like us. We are to be like Christ in everyway. Maybe we are not going through a tough time, but perhaps someone else you know is going through a rough time. To be like Christ, we need to sympathize with them. We need to be careful that we don’t patronize them. Christ never does that in our moment of need. He is our high priest who knows what it is like to be human. Through Him we can hold on to our faith. The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” This is cause for great hope. Are you in desperate straights this morning? Reach out to Jesus. Are you just going through a little rough time? Reach out to Jesus. He will help you. He knows what you are going through. This is a reason for hope.