Summary: Epiphany 3(C) - Now is the time of God’s favor and the day of salvation since the Lord provides his divine freedom so that our lives can proclaim God’s forgiveness.
ISAIAH 61:1-6 - Epiphany 3 - January 22, 2006 (Outline)
INTRO: Today the Lord is going to try to teach us how to live in the present, the here and now. In our society the present is often overlooked. In our lives we may be too busy living to pay attention to the present, as we ought. At times we tend to think of the past and hold tightly to that. The past can infect the present joys we are to have whenever we look back and feel cheated or hold a grudge. The world around us focuses so much on the future that we also look ahead so much that we are not con-centrating on the present. Sadly, the world around us likes to frighten people about what might or might not come. We begin to see how important the present is in God’s eyes and for God’s people. The apostle Paul wrote in Corinthians: "‘in the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salva-tion I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation"(2 CORINTHIANS 6:2). Lord help us to learn and love to live in the present since:
NOW IS THE TIME OF GOD’S FAVOR
I. Our Lord provides his divine freedom.
II. Our lives proclaim God’s forgiveness.
I. OUR LORD PROVIDES HIS DIVINE FREEDOM
A. One can hear the excitement of the prophet Isaiah as chapter 61 begins.
1. Isaiah begins with the promise of the Messiah in verse 1a.
2. God’s Spirit comes upon Jesus very visibly at his baptism.
B. Isaiah continues with the mission of Jesus’ anointing in verse 1b, 2a.
1. Jesus would preach good news; proclaim freedom to all who needed to hear.
2. Jesus offered a divine freedom through the good news of forgiveness of sins.
C. Verse 2b, 3a describe those who hear, believe and repent. They grieve over their sins.
1. This repentance would provide the believers with changed lives!
2. Verse 3b declares the beauty of God’s freedom through forgiveness.
a. Crown of beauty not ashes. b. Gladness not mourning. c. Praise not despair.
D. As we live in the present we are able to rejoice in the freedom that God’s forgiveness freely pro-vides. Isaiah describes the believer who repents. Repentance indicates a change, a turning. Anyone who turns one direction cannot be going in another. Recognizing our sins we turn from and turn to God who is able to forgive and forget. This is God’s inmost desire that mankind would repent and come to a knowledge of the truth. "Say to them, ’as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’"(EZEKIEL 33:11).
E. Indeed, our Lord God almighty is a very loving and forgiving God. But our loving and forgiving Lord is also the righteous God. Many would like to believe that God is so loving and so forgiving that there is no such place as hell. Mankind tries to explain away any and every kind of divine judgment. That is just not the case. God also eventually rejects those who reject God. "The LORD is slow to an-ger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation" (NUMBERS 14:18). Those who pass their rejection and unbelief down to their children cause the next generations to suffer.
F. Today, every day there is freedom. The Lord God himself provided the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. Christ died on our behalf. Christ rose on our behalf. Christ pleads our case in heaven on our behalf. Christ lived here on earth to show his love and provide the freedom of forgive-ness. "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil--and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death"(HEBREWS 2:14,15). The future holds no fear for the be-liever but freedom from sin, death, and the devil. Our loving and gracious God is in control.
Transition: Not holding too tightly to the past and not fearing the future we begin to see the impor-tance of living in the present. NOW IS THE TIME OF GOD’S FAVOR, the day of salvation. Joyfully
II. OUR LIVES PROCLAIM GOD’S FORGIVENESS
A. Remember the change of repentance: gladness not mourning, praise not despair.
1. These children of Israel desperately needed to hear that message.