Lord, this is the time for You to once more comfort Your people. The world is a mess. Our lives have been turned topsy-turvy. Our people need hope, help, and solid ground to stand upon. We need Your truth which always sets us free. So, today we ask for it in the amazing truth of a Baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE COMING CHRISTMAS KING!
TEXT: Isaiah 40: 1-8
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
Why does a baby cry? It’s one of three things: either they are hungry, need their diaper changed, or they are scared. Human beings really aren’t that complicated no matter their age. Everyone longs for and expects some kind of security in life. Without food security, people get grumpy and out-of-sorts. Without a roof over our heads, we try to hunker down and brave the elements—without a smile or laughter. Without people we trust watching our back, we worry over our safety. Feeling secure is probably our #1 desire.
How do you comfort a baby to make them feel secure? You provide for them. You hold them, pat them, and give them healing touches. You speak softly to them to calm their fears. You don’t leave them feeling alone and on-their-own.
Our lesson was written by Isaiah about 700 years before Christ. God’s people were under attack by the Assyrian Empire. It was akin to Rhode Island standing up on its own against the entire military. Everywhere they looked all they saw was insecurity and doom.
Right now, Americans, you and me, can relate. Here’s current reality, and as you hear the partial list ask yourself: “Does this sound secure, hopeful, something to rely upon?” 1. Covid ravages the land. The vaccine is coming, but it’s not perfect and has side effects. And as Covid mutates, they’ll have to develop new vaccines. 2. The economy is starting to shut-down again. 3. The election fiasco drones on and on. 4. Economic wars with China and others are ongoing. 5. Since Spring our government has created trillions out of thin air. Since April the treasury has created 40% more dollars on the account books than we had last spring! 6. The mood is pensive and everyone’s lives are on hold. The future seems hazy and scary.
This is why people need God in their lives. We need an anchor to hold us, secure us, and keep us from being emotionally overwhelmed. We’re exactly like Israel during the Assyrian advances. So, God’s prophet provides eternal security for us in His tender words about the coming Messiah. He reminds them that knows our address and loves us dearly. He reminds us that He’s in complete control and He will give strength to His people and bless them with eternal peace. Listen anew to His words:
“Comfort, comfort, my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her (the Church) 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.”
We always seem to think that the physical world is all there is. We also think that the spiritual world has no real importance when it comes to dealing with earthly reality. They are disjointed and you can’t solve life’s troubles with just prayer. But Israel did! Prayer can move mountains! Moreover, being strong internally and having powerful values and morals can equip us into a strong nation. We need a belief system which gives backbone to our struggles. God provides that backbone, too. Just think back to Valley Forge and how faith in the Almighty powered those old Yankees to victory!
All this is possible because on the spiritual warfare front, the promised Messiah has already won the final victory. He did it on a cross. He did it by dying to and for sin and resurrecting to eternal life. He paid our debts of ingratitude to God. And then He doled out and doles out a double portion of grace and love to us because of it. Each of you is strong. Each of you is vital and special. Each of you is a heavenly VIP. Christ has made it so. The hard service of fighting evil and never winning has come to an end. Christ won the victory over Satan in our place. Emotionally we can bask in that victory no matter what life hurls your way. All this because we are children of God!
Isaiah continues: “A voice says, ‘Cry out.’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely people are like grass…but the word of our God stands forever.” There is God’s description of human life and the pride of the world’s sinfulness. Think of how it has weighed you down for this past year. 100 years from now all that heartache will be gone. Vanished as a puff of smoke. Yet, even in 1000 years from now, “the word of our God stands forever.” We possess hope and confidence that most can only dream of—not born of hubris but born of humbleness, the humility of faith in our Coming Christmas King.
To our God, this reality is compressed. A thousand years to us are like a brief dream to Him. But during that short time, right here, He prophesies a universe-changing new reality. He prophesies the coming of John the Baptist who even now still prepares our hearts and souls for daily doses of God’s eternal truth. Christ came to reign over our hearts. He came to save our souls. John bulldozed down the games we play via temptations. He leveled the human playing field that is stacked against us. This is the story of Advent and daily repentance. Of confessing our sins, turning away from them toward God, and receiving double, yea, triple amounts of forgiving grace in their place. Christ makes all this so! Or, put differently: “And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Right now we’re all crying internally (and maybe externally) over our insecurities. I’ll let you in on a secret: change the names, situations, and clothing, but physical human life has always been plagued by insecurities. What makes our lives unique is: grace. God’s grace is lasting comfort emotionally and spiritually. It provides strength to His people because through it we know He put His life, His all, on the line to save us. That’s the impetus for us to forge ahead. For His comfort always gives birth to confidence and inner peace. Amen
THE peace of God which….
Pastor Thomas H. Fox