Summary: A call to trust God in times of trials
Hope in Troubled Times
Today is the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center's Twin Towers. A lot has changed in the past 10 years yet some things have stayed the same.
I. Seeds of Fear
We now have heightened security at our airports, terminals and other major gathering places. We have a new government department called Homeland Security. We have wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We keep a closer eye than we did before on Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and others. In the past 10 years, our economy has dropped and the bickering between politicians is worse than I've ever seen it. Mistrust, accusations, finger pointing and blaming seems the standard for both Washington DC and Olympia.
II. Moving From Fear to Faith
I have vivid memories of September 11, 2001, Colleen and I were packing to go to our daughter's who was getting married on the 15th. I flipped on the TV in the bedroom to have some noise while I packed and I couldn't believe my eyes. I switched to another channel and there it was again. I saw the second plane hit the second tower. I would have been sickened by the sight, but I simply couldn't believe my eyes. Were we under attack? What was next? Would Seattle be hit? Was my family safe? Hundreds of questions poured through my mind and the only answers were when I asked if our souls were safe and I knew God's love was unwavering.
The words of Horatio Spafford often comfort me in dark and difficult times.
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
Spafford wrote six stanza's to this hymn, four of them are quite familiar, two are seldom heard. Here is one that is usually omitted,
But Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
When we remember that it is well with our soul, fear is repealed and faith is ignited.
III. Path to Glory
Today we recall a dark day in our history. Despite the horrors of 9/11, something beautiful sprang up from those ashes. A mournful prayer went up from our nation and though tragedy is never worth it, God does replace ashes with beauty.
NLT Isaiah 61:1-3
1The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
2He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord's favor has come,
and with it, the day of God's anger against their enemies.
3To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
In Luke 4, this passage resurfaces when Jesus entered the synagogue at His hometown Nazareth,
17 The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
19 and that the time of the Lordâ€™s favor has come."
20 He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. 21Then he began to speak to them. "The Scripture you've just heard has been fulfilled this very day!"
IV. Accepting our Path
Often when we read a passage like this we say, â€œOh Isaiah 61 is fulfilled and thatâ€™s the end of it.â€ Today I want to challenge you that Luke 4 is the fulfillment of this prophecy, but it is not the end of this prophecy.
Every time we speak of the hope that is found in Jesus Christ, we pass this prophecy onto another generation.