Summary: Advance season preparation of our hearts for the coming of Christ. How to handle stress. This sermon is crafted using Rick Warren’s expository and purpose-driven preaching method called CRAFT.
Jehovah Tsidkenu: The Lord is our Righteousness
Samuel M. Stone
Trinity, Dec. 3, 2006
14 “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring forth for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent means "coming" or "arrival." It’s a time for preparation for the arrival of Jesus Christ. What do you do in preparation for someone important coming to your home? Let’s say, the President or some VIP is coming to your house. What would you do? You will definitely clean your house and decorate it for the arrival of the VIP.
Advent is a time for house cleaning. Most importantly our inner house—our hearts. It is easy to see our physical house getting cluttered or dirty, but it takes some attention to be aware of the clutter inside our heart. When our heart is cluttered, we feel heavy. Sometime we say, "My heart is heavy." Technically we call it stress. So in these three weeks I want to help you do the inner-house cleaning, to sweep away your stress, in preparation for the coming of the Prince of Peace into your heart.
Let’s see what we can learn from today’s passage, Jeremiah 33:14-16, on handling stress. If you read the context you will see that Jeremiah was going through a very stressful time. In fact, he was in prison. King Zedekiah put him in prison because he criticized him. He delivered a message from the Lord telling the King that the Lord is giving his kingdom to the enemies because he has been an unjust ruler. There was also a war going on and Jerusalem was surrounded by the Babylonians and it was the year before Jerusalem fell into the hands of the Babylonians. Just imagine his tress, as a prophet who cares about the nation to see the chaos in front of his eyes.
That’s the context of this passage. Let’s see if we can learn something that we can apply in our lives to sweep our stress. When you clean your house, you use different tools and equipments, such as blooms, vacuums cleaners, mops, dusters, and so on.
From this passage we learn three tools that Jeremiah used to help himself and the people of Israel to sweep their stress.
The first tool you need to sweep your stress is
1. Look at the End Result
Jeremiah says, "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord..." He says, "Look! Behold!" When we are stressed out we are looking at the wrong place. He says, look at the right place. Look at the end results. Look at the days that are coming!
When you are stressed out, your focused is mostly on the present mess. When you turn your focus to the end result, your heart becomes lighter.
We have two little very talkative spring birds at home—our two daughters. You just can’t have a quiet moment when they are around, and Sophie was complaining, and sometimes I also feel my ears are bursting by the noise of the kids. Maybe that’s why their grandparents moved out! Last night my cousin Christina from California called me and we chatted for a long time. One of the topics was that she almost went into depression lately because for the first time in her life, she realize that has become an empty-nester. Two of her kids just got married and moved out and the other two are away in college. I told Sophie about it and we said to each other, let’s enjoy our kids when they are with us. It won’t be long that we will feel our home too quiet and we will miss these days. By that time we will be looking forward to the reunions.
Jeremiah was surrounded by some serious mess. The king and the government was a mess. Sounds familiar? His life was a mess; he was being imprisoned. His country was a mess; there was a war going on. The people were discouraged. Jeremiah says, "Look, look at the end." His message was the message of hope. And he said this while he from the prison. Hope is the best stress sweeping tool. You need hope to cope. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
I remember I went to a trade expo in San Francisco, years ago. I got to a place where they sold bumper stickers and posters. One of the posters said, "In order to conserve electricity, we have turned off the light at the end of the tunnel." But for Christians, the light at the end of the tunnel is not controlled by human beings. It can’t be turned off because it is the light of Jesus Christ. It has been shining for thousands of years and guided the paths of billions of people.