St. Luke's Church Faribault
  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel
  • Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
      • Isaiah 40:1–11NIV2011

      • Mark 1:1–8NIV2011

  • from Preparation to Anticipation!

    Have you ever been awake very early especially in the spring or summer? Sometimes when I go camping I have gotten up early to watch the sunrise. Have you ever had the opportunity to experience the period right before dawn? There is a time when the darkness begins to change from dark night to early morning. Do you know what I'm talking about?
    The sun is not up yet, but the sky has slowly almost imperceptibly changed from dark black to dark purple, and it is slowly changing to a royal blue. You cannot pinpoint the change, but you can tell it has happened. Then, as it gets closer to dawn the birds start chirping. If you are trying to get back to sleep, you might as well forget about it, because they won't stop till the sun comes up.
    The sky keeps getting brighter and brighter, and even though the sun is not yet visible, the sky starts to get brighter and brighter. If you can see the horizon. you can tell the sun is about to burst over the edge and you wait with anticipation for the bright, blinding orange ball of fire to appear. As you wait for the sun in the early morning, you can tell that all of creation anticipates the coming of the dawn.
    if I am getting up early to watch a sunrise, it takes a certain amount of preparation. I need to set my alarm, I need to get out of bed, put on my shoes, and I need to go outside to watch. I need to look to the sky, and watch. If I do these things- I am prepared to see the sunrise. Then, as I wait I experience a feeling of anxious joy as I wait till the sun appears. I am anticipating the arrival of the dawn.
    If last week was about preparing for the coming of our Lord--- This week is about anticipating--- Anticipating the coming of Jesus.
    All around us the world calls us to prepare for Christmas. The marketing tells us to buy presents, to decorate, to cook, because the big day is coming and we want to be prepared. The world around us would have us believe that what we are preparing for is the big day when we walk outside and see a new Lexus in our driveway, or the day we get a little red box from the jewelry store. Or perhaps the big day that we are anticipating is a house full of family, friends and grandkids, as we sit around a huge table full of food.
    For many or truthfully--- for most people... Christmas does not look really like that. Very few will actually have a new Lexus in their driveway, only a handful will get a diamond necklace. Many wont have presents at all. For a lot people- even without the pandemic, their house will not be filled with friends and relatives but will be mostly empty. The truth is many people will spend Christmas struggling for the basic necessities, or fighting health problems, or wrestling with addictions, or the pain of loss,. Christmas for a lot of people is less about anticipation of joy but more about anxiety, depression fear and dread.
    If Christmas brings that kind of feeling, what does the future hold? Is it anxious joy? Or just anxiety? And Is joyful anticipation only for a few, a few of the lucky ones or can we all have joyful anticipation about what is next, in the middle of our circumstances? I think the Bible tells us we can, but we have to look for the right things.
    This quest for joyful expectation goes way back to the book of Isaiah. That was our first reading this morning. Isaiah chapter 40.
    Now before we can see that there is something we have to understand about the book of Isaiah. This book was written by the prophet Isaiah about 740 BC.
    The people that lived during that time, really had an awful life. See God’s people were at home in the land he had given them when He led them out of exile. They should be enjoying good times. They should be feasting and living in peace in the land of milk and honey. After all God rescued them from Egypt, God led them to this land.
    Yet now, many years later- the kingdom had split, there are multiple invaders, and famine. It does not look like God is taking care of them, at all, simply surviving was the standard of living, let alone a joyous anticipation.
    So for the first 39 chapters of the book, Isaiah writes in the context of Jerusalem experiencing the horrors of war in their own land. During that, Isaiah tells the people that the reason all this is happening is that it is punishment for the sins of the nation. This is happening because they did not put their trust in God, it is happening because the religious leadership oppressed the poor and the downtrodden, and they failed to be faithful to God’s word.
    They had the very words of God, as written down and they clearly knew what God expected of them, and they did not do it anyway. They knew all that God had done for them in the past- yet they did not trust Him for their future and relied instead on their own strength.
    For the average person living in that time, they had very little control over what was happening as a nation---yet here they were living under the mighty hand of God’s judgement. Perhaps, there many people had no part in the sins of the leaders, yet there they were living in a war, staving, and seeing there lively hood torn from them, and here this prophet is telling them it from God.
    What are they to do? How are they supposed to react, how would we react?
    The message God was sending to that people is sin is serious. It is a violation of God’s sacred word, treason against the king of the universe, A blatant disregard for the authority and power of one who created all. Now, wether or not a person was in charge or responsible for the violations Isiah tells them that it really does not matter. Maybe they were not the ones who led the nation down this path, none the less. Each and every person had still sinned in some way.
    That is the point of the first part of Isaiah 53:6-
    Isaiah 53:6 NIV
    6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
    Each and every person living then, and in fact living now, We all like sheep have gone astray. So while the temptation might be to point fingers and say look at that person they are the ones doing wrong, we each of us has our won sin we deal with. We all like sheep have one astray...
    So, as the people lived under this dark night of the Lord’s judgement. There was not any joyous expectation. There was no reason for it. Instead it was a fearful anxiety, and dread. As God’s judgement became apparent to the nation, what was looming on the horizon for these people was captivity for 400 years. How can they process that?
    But as the weight of their sin comes to bear on their souls and as darkness of God’s judgement descends upon them ---just at that moment they get this message from Isaiah in chapter 40---and In the middle of hopelessness and anxiety at the darkest moment of their lives-the dark of night begins to give way to purple glow.
    Isaiah 40 verse 1 says this.
    Isaiah 40:1 NIV
    1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
    The Hebrew word here is to encourage or to speak tenderly--- Comfort Comfort my people says your God. In the middle of this judgement, that is brought by God, the same God says take comfort-tenderly He encourages His people
    Isaiah 40:2 NIV
    2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
    God is saying that after the exile, there sin would be paid for in full. The judgement they have recieved from God is complete-They will not be crushed by their sins. God will not abandon them And then like the birds that start to chirp for the dawn we hear a voice ....
    Isaiah 40:3 NIV
    3 A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
    Prepare a way for the Lord- Make Straight in the desert, a highway for our God. God is coming, He is coming to deliver His people Make a straight way for HIM
    Isaiah 40:4 NIV
    4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
    Valleys are being raised, mountains and hills being made low- The ground shall become level- God is doing these things it is happening[ -What obstacles can stop the coming of the Lord, What can stand in the way of the coming of our God. Only God himself can raise valleys Only God can flatten mountains. . A\nd tell me who can stop the dawn from coming, wether you see it or not- Wether you are still in your slumber or wether the clouds cover up-The dawn still comes- The suns still comes up.
    Isaiah 40:5 NIV
    5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
    And the GLORY of the Lord will be revealed- The glory- that is The evidence of His work The evidence of His deliverance will be revealed. And all will see it together. The glory of the Lord-WILL BE REVELAED wether we slumber through it or not-It will appear- as sure as the sun rises God’s glory will be revealed.
    That good news of the gospel as mentioned in Isaiah 40 doesn’t just stay there. It isn’t a message only to those people living in 580 during the exile—this message carried over 740 years later.
    In the first century the people once again found themselves in captivity. This time Rome had possession of their land. They were oppressed once again, the people were burdened and in were weighted down by their sin. And once again the darkness begins to give way to light and we read this in Mark chapter 1.
    Mark 1:1–4 NIV
    1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”— 3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” 4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
    As the people heard John preach, the burden of their sin weighed on their heart, they wanted out, they could not stand being apart from God any longer so they turned toward the light.
    Mark 1:5 NIV
    5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
    In an effort to be free of the burden in an effort to be made clean from their sins in order to change their anxious and fearful dread to joyous anticipation the desperately went to the Jordan, confessed their sins and were baptized. The sky gets brighter and in the next verses we read this..
    Mark 1:7–8 NIV
    7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
    ANd the fearful dread changes to joyius expectation as people could now look forward to the one who was coming after John. The people walking in darkness could begin to see the light as the glory of Jesus was about to revealed. Jesus came bear that burden of sin, and to suffer under the judgement of God. But yet he was not crushed.
    Even all the darkest sin of mankind even bearing the full weight of God’s judgement could not stop the glory of the Lord from appearing- A highway was being made straight in the desert a highway for our God.
    Three days later Jesus being fully God and fully man rose in victory- The glory of the Lord was seen by all.
    This message does not stop there This message comes to us today, right now here in the year 2020.
    What holds you captive today? Is it your sin? Are you living in joyous expectation for what is come are you anticipating the Highway made straight and valleys being raised up are you looking with joyous expectation for the day when the glory of the Lord will be revealed. Or are you living in fearful anxiety and dread,
    We must look at our lives, for we all like sheep have gone astray- How have you gone astray? Do you yet feel the weight of your sin. Have you turned from what God has called good and right and turned to your own ways. Are you living in purity and love that God has shown you, or do you find that you are not good enough, not holy enough falling short and cast out . Can you stand before a good and Holy and mighty God in joyous expectation, or in fearful anxiety as the day approaches.
    As the dark dark night of the Lord’s judgement draws near. Do you feel the weight of your sin?
    Now, I want to be clear, your current situation in your life, may or may not be a direct cause of your personal individual sin. It may be 100% your fault, or you may have had nothing to do it... It may simply be circumstance that happened to you, but in either case 2 things are absolutely certain.
    1. The difficulties and struggles in this life are all caused because the sin has entered the world. Sickness, loneliness, pain, mental anguish, pain death--these things and other things like these are all caused because sin has entered this fallen world- But the Glory of the Lord will be reveled- A highway will be made straight There will one day be a light dawning as Christ returns
    2. We all like sheep have gone astray We all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God we all have turned to our ways and even our good works are like fiklthy rags in the sight of the Lord. For all of us this paints a very dark picture indeed. We stand as grass and flowers in the hot sum as nothing waiting to be crushed by the weight of sin, both in this life, and in the life to come.
    But God says Comfort- Comfort for my people take heart,The light has come into the world. The Lord Jesus went to the cross, and bore that burden of sin, he bore the judgement of God in our place, so that those who trust in Him, and repent of their sins will be saved.One day Every valley in you life will be raised up and you will see the glory of the Lord, One day Every mountain in your life will be brought low and you will see the glory of the Lord.
    The glory of the Lord will be revealed, WHen you trust in Jesus alone to save you wait in JOYOUS EXPECTAtion That He will come as sure as the sun rises in the morning.
      • Isaiah 53:6NIV2011

      • Isaiah 40:1NIV2011

      • Isaiah 40:2NIV2011

      • Isaiah 40:3NIV2011

      • Isaiah 40:4NIV2011

      • Isaiah 40:5NIV2011

      • Mark 1:1–4NIV2011

      • Mark 1:5NIV2011

      • Mark 1:7–8NIV2011

  • Joyful, joyful, We Adore You
  • Joy to the World

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