Summary: Traffic jams and jangled nerves are a part of our lives but especially at the Christmas Season. How can the joy of the Lord enter our day when we experience these stressful times?

Iliff and Saltillo UM Church

December 12, 2004

3rd Sunday of Advent

“Traffic Jams and Jangled Nerves”

Isaiah 35:1-10

James 5:7-11

INTRODUCTION: Today is the third Sunday of Advent, and the rose Advent Candle symbolizes “Joy.” The title for today’s message is “Traffic Jams and Jangled Nerves” which sounds like the exact opposite of joy. However, that is where we are living a lot of the time. Did anyone experience traffic jams this week or jangled nerves? I imagine more than we want to admit. I think the people down through history experienced the same frustrations with their lives as we sometimes do. Isaiah chapters 1-34 gave a message of judgment on all nations including Israel and Judah for rejecting God. There was a general climate of the wrath of God and the consequences. People were agitated inwardly by fear. Their nerves were on edge because they didn’t know what was going to happen in their country or in their personal lives. But something began to change. In just 10 short verses in chapter 35, there is a breakthrough. These verses applied not only to the people of Isaiah’s day, 600 years before Jesus came to earth, but it speaks of the New Testament times and to the church age in which we live. The chapter looks ahead to the end of the age when all things will be made right in the final kingdom.

Isaiah begins by speaking of a desert land that will begin to burst into bloom with plants like the crocus in early spring. There would be a new sense of excitement and joy. People who had felt their lives were a tangled mess would be able to shout for joy once again. The depression and heaviness would begin to lift from their lives. It didn’t mean that the present world would be perfect for them, but there would be a new sense of God’s presence among them. In spite of imperfect conditions, they would see a new joy spring up. They would make progress in returning to their homeland from exile. They would begin to see various improvements in the land. The term the “Glory of Lebanon” will be given to it and the “Splendor of Carmel and Sharon” which spoke of regions that were productive and fertile ground. These areas were symbols of productivity and plenty. Isaiah is giving them a glimmer of hope and a REASON TO REJOICE even in an imperfect world.

1. Traffic Jams and Jangled Nerves: As we live out our lives in an imperfect world, we, too, will have our share of traffic jams. There will always be something that tries to rob us of our joy. It doesn’t have to be actual traffic jams although at this time of the year we get in plenty of them too. It is anything that causes us to become agitated and upset causing us to lose the peace and joy that Jesus came to bring us in the first place.

STORY: Sandy and her mother went shopping. As they were driving to the store the horn blew. The little girl asked, “Was that an accident or did you do it on purpose?”

“Oh, it was an accident,” assured the mother.

The little girl said, “I thought it was because you didn’t say “JERK!”

When our lives become drained of joy, it is easy to become impatient and aggravated by situations and by others around us. How can our live become joyful again?

2. Refocus: Having joy is pretty important to us. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “...the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Many scriptures point to how we can recover the joy of the Lord in our lives. One of the best known is Psalm 51 where David PRAYED. We must turn aside from the traffic jams of our life and REFOCUS on God. A good way is to pray as David did in this chapter. He asks for forgiveness and mercy and that God would create in him a clean heart and renew a right spirit within him. Verse 12 goes on to say, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.”

Not only at this advent season but as a regular part of our weeks throughout the year, let us pray about the things that steal the joy right out of our lives--it’s an ongoing process--not just once in awhile.

STORY: A businessman walked into the New York airport, carrying his

briefcase and two suitcases. He went up to the checkin window

to - naturally - check in. The cashier asked, "And where will

you and your luggage be flying today, sir?"

He replied, "Well, I’m flying to Denver, but," pointing at each

item of luggage in sequence, "I want this sent to Seattle, this

sent to Los Angeles, and this sent to Miami."

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