Summary: A sermon exploring what God has done in making the desert bloom - an Advent sermon about God’s promises and how he keeps them.

Hillsborough Reformed Church at Millstone

Advent III December 12, 2004 Isaiah 35:1-10, James 5:7-10

¡§The Power of the Promise¡¨

I have some good news for Rutgers fans. Well, some good news and some bad news for Rutgers fans. I mean MALE Rutgers fans. I have only GOOD news for females, Rutgers fans and otherwise. I understand Rutgers has lost the last three games. I know how to get them back on a wining streak, but you men aren¡¦t going to like it. According to a study done by Sears, a HUGE majority of men ¡V 87 percent! ¡V would rather watch their favorite team lose than go Christmas gift shopping at the mall. So, you see, by the rules of logic, if all you men would do the holiday shopping, Rutgers would win!

That¡¦s good news for the women. The survey also found some VERY good news for women. The VERY good news for women is that some 37 % of the men surveyed would rather BAKE COOKIES than go to a crowded shopping center. So women, when you harried with all you need to do this season, simply say to your man, ¡§Which will it be honey? Shopping or will you bake the Christmas cookies this year?¡¨

There is always hope!

1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,

the desert shall rejoice and blossom;

like the crocus 2it shall blossom abundantly,

and rejoice with joy and singing.

God created the world to be a certain way. In God¡¦s creation there is harmony and peace. In God¡¦s creation there is plenty for every person and for every animal. In God¡¦s creation there is no violence or chaos. In God¡¦s creation there is no despair or hopelessness or loneliness.

But the world has turned away from God. And when we turn away from God there is discord and conflict, there is hunger and want and a shortness of the things needed for life. When the world turns away from the God who created it there is warfare and prejudice and desperation and loneliness and bitterness.

The gospel is that God will not leave the world where it in sin has turned to from him. God will redeem it.

And for that he sent Jesus. Jesus has come to make things right. To bring everything back to God and then it shall be as God wants it to be ¡V the ideal life. It is not here yet, but it is coming. And that promise goes all the way back to the prophet Isaiah.

When a person is in Christ, there is a glimpse and a foretaste of what God will make come to pass.

It will be like the wilderness and dry land rejoicing, Isaiah says. You know what it is to be thirsty ¡V to desperately need water. Spiritual thirst is a deep and powerful longing inside of you for something better. We know such powerful longings for our loved ones. We want them to be safe. We want them to have fulfilled lives. We know the terrible dangers that beset all of us and we worry for our loved ones. The world is not what it should be. All people know that. All people have a yearning for better world. The world is broken and it is a fearsome place.

We have discovered the answer to these fears. It is Jesus Christ. IN him all things are made knew. Though Jesus does not remove all of the hazards of life, he takes us beyond them. Jesus shows us that there is another side, that nothing in this world, the prejudice of others against us, the dislike of others, the attacks of others, disease, failure, none of these things is final for us. Beyond them is victory. Beyond them is God, and God is for us! (Rmns. 8:31)

Sometimes Jesus takes us through the hazards of life. That is the way he went. When the opposition to him and his ministry hit a fever pitch, he went right into the hornets¡¦ nest, into Jerusalem to face his enemies who hunted him down and killed him. But God would not allow his son¡¦s defeat and raised Jesus from the dead. When we go through the valley of the shadow of death, Jesus goes with us. And we go in the power of God, the power of resurrection. Even if we stumble, God will raise us up. Jesus told us not to be afraid.

Notice the end result of God¡¦s promise in Isaiah. The crocus will bloom.

The crocus referred to may have been the narcissus, which is popular in Israel today. They bloom there in late February. After a long winter, when all seems dead and the ground has been frozen hard and unyielding, the days short and mornings very cold, we begin yearning for the bursting forth of spring time. That¡¦s when the crocus blooms. That¡¦s what God has in store for us ¡V the giddy happiness of seeing spring¡¦s flowers burst out of the ground and bring color and life to things once again.

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