Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Christmas Miracle: A Changed World

Intro: It is hard to wait.
  1. I mean, if I have to wait even ten minutes at the doctors office, I begin to wonder if they have forgotten me.
  2. Or have you ever had to wait for train. My son takes the train from Michigan during his school breaks. The train is scheduled to come in at 8:08 – in the two dozen or so times that he has taken that train, it has been on time only once. The worst case was when he was four hours late – and the Rochester train depot is not a fun place to wait.
  3. I used to make bread. It is kind of fun – kneading the dough is somewhat entertaining as you prepare it for the long wait. I have heard that a watched pot never boils. But you know something, bread is similar – if you sit and watch the bread, it will never rise. Waiting is tough ...
  4. And yet that is what the Israelites were doing. The best research suggests that the earliest prophesy about the promised Messiah was written down about 1500 years before Christ. Isaiah was written about 700 years before Christ.
  5. Oh, there were some who had lost their faith – there would be no Messiah. And there were some who just did not care. They were Jews and they would do what Jews do, Messiah or not. But there were some who, for all those years, continued to believer the promises God gave about a coming Messiah. And there were those who believed that they had found Him, in the person of Jesus Christ.
Read Isaiah 11:1-10
Tran. From the earliest times God’s people anticipated the coming of One who would be Savior, Prophet, Priest and King. Isaiah stressed four points concerning this Coming One. First, Messiah would be of humble origins. At the time of his appearing the royal family of Judah—the house of David son of Jesse—would be reduced to stump-like stature in the world. Out of that stump, however, would come forth a fragile shoot which ultimately would bear much fruit (11:1).
T.S. Who was this promised Messiah? Let's look at three characteristics suggested by Isaiah.
I. The Messiah's Person
      1. The Messiah would have the characteristics associated with God
      2. This is important – because one of the ways in which we support the claim that Jesus is God is to look at His life – does His life demonstrate the attributes of God?
      3. Look at the attributes associated with the Messiah -
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. (2-3a)
      1. Isaiah is describing not some future, unknown person. He is describing the Messiah –which the 10th edition of the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines as “the king and deliverer of the Jews”. Come forward about 700 years as the NT is being written. The word Messiah is not found in Greek – the Greek, indeed the whole NT, used the word Christ to refer to the Messiah. In fact, The same dictionary that gave us our definition of Messiah has as its first definition of “Christ” - “Messiah”.
(Ill.) I generally don't like red letter editions of the Bible. These are the editions of the Bible that put the words of Christ in red. The problem is that it tends to make the readers of scripture think that the words of Christ are more important that other parts of scripture. Since all of scripture is God's word, we ought not to over emphasize one part over another. Yet the red letter bible do serve one purpose, they help us to better understand the person of Jesus. It helps us to answer the question – was Jesus Christ who he and others claimed He is or was he a lunatic or a liar. Was Jesus Christ the long awaited Messiah or was he just another of the host of men who wander the world claiming to have the answer to the world's problems.
  1. The Messiah's Task
    1. I don't like to think of God as a Judge. I mean a judge has to make hard decisions. He has to decide whether someone is guilty or not. He has to look at the evidence and to the best of his ability make a decision. And as you always know, judges are perfect – they never make a mistake. They always get it right.
    2. Yeah, right.
    3. There is just one catch – the Messiah will not judge like those judges we know. It will not be what He sees or what He hears that will guide His decisions.
(Ill.) On too many occasions I have heard about parents that have eyes in the back of their heads. On more than one occasion I felt like maybe I did. But I want to let you in on a secret – I don't, never did, but don't tell my kids. It's worth them thinking I do for a few more years.
    1. God does not rely on eyes on the back of his head either – There are three words that describe the Messiah's judgment:
        1. righteousness– no errors
        2. justice– he will insure that when the time comes, those who have no voice have a voice.
        3. faithfulness– God is unchanging – and he will apply the same principles to every one of us
(Ill.) J I Packer has said that “There are few things stressed more strongly in the Bible than the reality of God’s work as Judge.”
    1. Listen to Isaiah's description of the Messiah as judge -
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. Isaiah 11:3b-5 (NIV)
    1. This is the God we serve. This is the God that loves us.
  1. The Messiah's Purpose
    1. We live in a crazy world. I pick up the newspaper and I see crisis after crisis. In the middle east there is Israel, Iraq and Iran. A little further east is Pakistan and Afghanistan. But the craziness is not just around the world – it is also here in our own back yard – murders, drugs, fires. I don't get it.
    2. But I do know this - God has sent someone, God has sent the Messiah, God has sent His Son to transform this world.
    3. We have become so use to the craziness of our world, that we have learned to accept it as normal. It is truly a sad state of affairs when we accept that which God never intended to be – as normal.
    4. And God sent His son, His Messiah, to transform that world. It will transform nature, cultures, societies, and individuals.
    5. And that is where it begins. With transformed individuals.
(Ill.) The story of Corrie Ten Boom was well known 20 years ago, but I am afraid that many have forgotten the remarkable transformation that had occurred in this woman's life....This woman had learned to live with the “lions” and “bears” that could have left her an emotional cripple. God had transformed her -
(Appl.) And God can transform you. Many of you have “lions” and “bears” in your lives. Areas where you have so much stress that there seems to be no relief. And that is where God wants to meet you. He will begin with those areas seem so disjointed and stressed that there is no relief – that is where he will begin to meet you. But that is only the beginning. But as Christians we believe that every area of our lives is need of transformation – and once we let him into one area, he will begin to change other areas as well.
Conclusion: Are you willing to let God transform you?
This morning as you come forward communion, let the transformation begin. Let God begin to take you and transform you on the inside so you can face the “lions” and “bears” that may come your way this week.

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