Summary: ADVENT 3 - The desert disappears. The wilderness of our sin blooms with joy whenever we are watered with God's living and active word.
THE DESERT DISAPPEARS (Outline)
December 12, 2010 -
Advent 3 -
INTRO: The Christmas season is considered to be a time of joy and rejoicing. But mental health pro-fessionals tell us that the month of December is the busiest time of the year in their offices. Depression and suicide rates rise as the end of December approaches. Why no joy in our world? All of the crass commercialism cannot fill the hole in the soul of mankind. Only Christ can satisfy the searching souls of sinners. It is only by and in the living and active word of God that Christ the Savior is revealed. "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand" (PSALM 16:11). It is God’s word that fills our souls with joy. It is God’s word that gives us eternal pleasures in heaven. It is God’s word that the world overlooks. We fine tune our own focus today as we closely what the word of God has to say to our hearts and souls.
THE DESERT DISAPPEARS.
I. The wilderness blooms with joy-- II. When watered with God’s word.
I. THE WILDERNESS BLOOMS WITH JOY.
A. In Isaiah 34 God’s word tells the unbelieving nations that they are and will be a wasteland.
1. In Isaiah 35 the Lord turns his attention to his people. They will be a luxurious oasis.
2. Verse 1 describes the miraculous change that God will bring about for his people and nation.
3. A desert is harsh, dry, and foreboding. Here the Lord describes it with joy and rejoicing.
B. Verse 1c, 2a. The crocus is a fragile flower not found in the desert. Now the crocus will bloom there.
1. Verse 2b. Lebanon’s glory was cedar. Carmel produced oaks and Sharon flowers, vegetation.
2. All of this glory and splendor would be in the place which was once desert or wilderness.
C. Verse 2c. To see means that people would see God’s glory. This people and future nations will see.
D. Believers the world in which we live today is the same wilderness that Isaiah spoke of long ago with these words of God. This world is truly a desert of despair and disappointment. This wilderness of wickedness gets worse with every generation. Even the experts in today’s modern society have recognized the sickness that is spreading. Experts call this “new disease” – narcissism (self-love). It is not new. "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy…" (2 TIMOTHY 3:1, 2). Verses 3 and 4 continue this sin list. Being faithful Christians does not exempt us from this list.
E. What are we to do when the world wants us caught up in all of its shallow celebrations? The sales are on. There are fewer and fewer shopping days remaining. The pressure from our society can become almost unbearable. We give up and give in to what the world wants. No wonder the joy and rejoicing of a simple birth in Bethlehem is overshadowed. We want to focus on more than the here and now. We want our attention on that which is truly our treasure and heart’s delight. "For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life" (2 CORINTHIANS 5:4). Yes, our earthly lives are temporary compared to heaven. No one wants to live too long in a tent. It is the house that is permanent. Our bodies are tents compared to our souls which house our faith and very eternity.
F. How can we get past the glitz, glamour, and gaudiness that have become part and parcel of December? How can we overcome all the attractions that distract from the living message of our Savior who came to live on earth for us? Once again, as always, we need to fine tune our focus on that which truly, only matters. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God" (MATT. 5:6-8). Those who long for God’s righteousness are satisfied. God shows us mercy that we may show mercy to others. As we look into God’s word we will see God – Immanuel, God with us.
THE DESERT DISAPPEARS. God and his word swallow up sin. We bloom with joy.
II. WE ARE WATERED WITH GOD’S WORD.
A. Verse 6b. Water flowing in the desert and wilderness is only done by God’s miraculous power.