Summary: Asks the questions Are We Preparing for Christmas?, and How?
Prepare For Peace
December 8, 2002
"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 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.
A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
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 [fade], because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers [fade], but the word of our God stands forever."
You who bring good tiding to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the town of Judah, "Here is our God!" See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (NIV)
Life As Usual
Christmas as usual
-Christ may come at any moment
Israel-accustomed to usual
Amos 2:4-5 "For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have rejected the law of the LORD, and have not kept his statutes, but their lies have led them astray, after which their fathers walked. So I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the strongholds of Jerusalem." (RSV)
Jeremiah informed them of length of exile
-in exile accustomed to usual
Isaiah 64:7 "No one calls on your name or pleads with you for mercy. You have turned away from us and turned us over to our sins.." (NLT)
From the ordinary God breaks forth "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God."
Restoration, hope, promise-get ready
1) people of sin
2) abandoned by God
3) you’re forgiven
4) I’m coming home
5) everything you put your trust in will fail, and has failed, but not me-what I say is as sure as can be
6) heralds, let everybody know this is the real deal, God’s really here
7) witness his power, restoration, and forgiveness
8) he truly loves and cares for his people
Same Song, Second Verse
Like Israel-we too have waited long. Christ lingers. We too have become accustomed to the usual, but from out of the stillness, when no one expects, the Angels cry "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. . . Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" Luke 2:11,14, NKJV
We are creatures given to the ordinary. We don’t like surprises, and like Israel we too have written God off " Isaiah 64:7 "No one calls on your name or pleads with you for mercy."
Our need is to order our lives in the expectation that Jesus will come again.
How To Prepare
1. Gain The Proper Perspective
"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 [fade], because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers [fade], but the word of our God stands forever." (vss 6-8)
Begin with the end in mind
The purpose driven life
Philippians 3:13-14 "Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ." (RSV)
Our purpose is stated through the promise to Abraham:
Genesis 12:3 "By you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves." (RSV)
Restated by Paul-
2 Corinthians 5:17-18 "Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." (RSV)