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Summary: This four-part Christmas series was designed to give comfort and encouragement during the dark Christmas season following 911.

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[This sermon is contributed by Hal Seed of New Song Church in Oceanside, California and of www.PastorMentor.com. Hal is the author of numerous books including The God Questions and The Bible Questions. If you are interested in The Bible Questions Church-wide Campaign, please visit and watch Hal’s video at www.PastorMentor.com.]

Wonderful Counselor

Prince of Peace, pt. 1

www.halseed.com

Scripture:

Turn to Isaiah 9, p. 683.

In my humble opinion, one of the greatest pieces of music ever written was Handel’s Messiah. It has become so famous and well-loved as a work on its own that many people don’t even realize that almost its entire text is taken right from the words of Scripture.

In every performance, the pinnacle of the oratorio comes towards the end as the choir sings the Hallelujah chorus. It’s such a compelling piece that from its very first performance, the audience feels compelled to stand as the basses sing, “And He shall reign for ever and ever.”

This morning, we’re starting a brand new series based on this very famous text. A series that I’m hoping will be a landmark series for our church. During these next four weekends, we are going to look at four descriptions of the babe born in Bethlehem that may be the most-needed elements in our society at this time.

So as an introduction to this series I want to read you the full text from which Handel wrote his hallelujah chorus. And to just sort of solidify this moment together, I want to invite you to stand while we read it.

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan – Isaiah 9:1

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;

On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;

They rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. – Isaiah 9:2-3

For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them,

The bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.

Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. – Isaiah 9:4-5

In other words, all the garments used for war can be thrown away because there will be no more war.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,

And the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.

He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,

Establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness

From that time on and forever. – Isaiah 9:7

Let’s pray.

Father, during this series, and during this Christmas season, we need these words. And we need this hope. That one day, the work begun in Bethlehem will take root all over the world, and there will be no more need for warrior’s boots or sailor’s uniforms because there will be no more war. And not just an absence of war, but the presence of peace inside all people.

O God, make this so.

And in the meantime, as we wait and as we work towards it, fill us with this hope. And fill us with the reality of your son’s wonderful counsel, and His might, and His fatherliness, ministering to our souls, and His peace that surpasses all comprehension.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Welcome to the 2001 Christmas season, friends. You may be seated.

Message begins:

Well, I don’t really understand it friends. But every year about this time, I start getting the urge to experience certain things again.

- I want to change the pace and pattern of my life.

- I want to be with family and friends.

- I want to watch the flames of a fire crackling in the fireplace, and smell the fragrance of a pine or fir tree in the living room.

- I want to drink hot chocolate or hot apple cider and eat good food and think about good memories and dream about happy times to come.

- And I want to feel close to God.

And I don’t think it’s just me who feels these things this time of year. I think we all do, don’t we?

I think that somewhere just inside our skin is this thing that wants hope and warmth and security. I think it’s part of the human condition and triggered by the changing of the seasons.

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