Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, December 4, 2016
God Blesses - December. 4, 2016 - Second Sunday in Advent - Text: Isaiah 11:1-10
Last week we began our new Church Year with the first Sunday in Advent. Advent, the season we prepare ourselves for our celebration of the coming of the One Promised, the Messiah in Hebrew, the Christ in Greek. Last week we began preparing ourselves by talking about what God has done for us and what He continues to do for us, that is, gives us gifts and blessings, indeed He lavishly pours out on us all the good gifts and blessings He has to give; faith, forgiveness, life and salvation and He does this pouring out through His means of Grace; His Word and Sacraments. Even so this morning, this Second Sunday in Advent we continue to talk about what God has done and what He continues to do for us, that is, God freely and abundantly gives us all His good gifts and blessings.
The greatest blessing our Lord has given to us is the blessing of His Son, Jesus, born in human flesh. Our text describes Him as the shoot from the stump, we read, “1There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.” (v. 1-2). The stump of Jesse that our text is talking about is the fallen kingdom of Israel. Israel had once been a great kingdom. It was once mighty David’s kingdom and all its glory was known throughout the known world. It was once wise Solomon’s kingdom, where people came to marvel at the wisdom the Lord had given to Solomon. But because of Israel’s unfaithfulness, the Lord allowed for this great kingdom to be overthrown and the people sent into exile. By the time of Jesus there was no kingdom of Israel, merely scattered Israelites.
Isaiah prophecies that Jesus will be the little shoot which will come from this chopped down tree stump. He will come in the sevenfold spirit; the spirit of the Lord, because He is true God; the spirit of wisdom, because as God He is all knowing; the spirit of understanding in all things; the spirit of counsel and of power; the spirit of knowledge, because He is familiar with all the mysteries of God; and with the spirit of the fear of the Lord.
Jesus will also come as ruler to judge the world as we read picking up at verse three, “3And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, 4but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.” (v. 3-5).” It is interesting that Jesus will not judge by what He sees or by what He hears. Jesus will not judge by what is shown on the outside of a person, nor by what He has heard about a person, rather He will judge by what He knows is in our hearts.
Jesus will judge in righteousness, because He alone knows what is true righteousness. Having Himself come as a poor man, He will judge with equity. He will judge the righteous to heaven and the wicked to eternal life in hell.
At His second coming, following the judgement, the believer will have life in heaven as described as “6The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. 9They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (v. 6-9).
Isaiah’s words describe heaven as a place of peaceful coexistence. Heaven will be similar to how it was in the Garden of Eden before the fall into sin. Heaven will be a place where there are no enemies between animals, nor between humans and animals. Heaven will be a place where there will be no sin. Heaven will be complete and perfect peace. Heaven will be a place filled with the knowledge and fear of the Lord. There will be no unanswered questions in heaven. Heaven will be a place where we will live in constant communion and awe of our Heavenly Father.
Heaven is the place to which Jesus will come to take all who believe in Him as we read, “10In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious” (v. 10). Heaven will be a place for all believers from all nations. Jesus did not die just for some people. He died for all people, of all nations, of all tribes, of all cultures. He died for all people of all places of all times. By grace, through faith in Jesus’ work on the cross, all believers of all nations will be saved.
Heaven is a glorious place. Heaven is a place that is filled with the love and grace of God. It is a place, beyond all human imagining and understanding.
What does this mean? During the season of Advent we prepare ourselves for an event that took place over two thousand years ago, the birth of our Savior, God in flesh, the Messiah, even Jesus. We prepare ourselves to celebrate this most precious and wonderful gift from God. Indeed, God is so gracious and loves us so much and we see His love for us in how He lavishes us with all His good gifts and blessings. As we remember, we were born with nothing and we will leave this world with nothing and so nothing is truly ours, although someone did once suggest that we do have sin which is ours and ours alone. Thanks be to God for His abundant forgiveness. As we prepare to celebrate God’s greatest gift of His Son who paid for our forgiveness, and the faith He gives to believe in His Son, perhaps we would do well to remind ourselves of all the other good gifts and blessings He so free and graciously gives to us. When it comes to the blessings God has given most certainly we include those that we confess in the explanation to the first article of the Apostles’ Creek, “I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.”
As we approach what has been dubbed by some as the Gift Giving Season, it is easy to lament all that we do not have, as some are want to do. We could spend the day looking at the lives of the rich and famous and think, boy, what I would not do to live like that, or we could spend the day counting all the blessings that we do have. You can always find someone who has it better than you so you can say, if only I had it that good. But you can always find someone one who has it worse than you. Take some time this week to sit down and count your blessings. We just named a few, clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home and so on. Once you get started I am sure you can come up with quite an extensive list.
When it comes to the blessings God gives we also confess that, “He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil.” Yes, defense from danger and protection from evil is a great blessing. How often do we not see the angel that is watching over and guarding us when we have an accident of one kind or another. All those near misses are indeed the hand of God watching over and protecting us.
God does this, supplies us will all that we need, not because He has to, but because He wants to that is why we also confess that, “All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me.” We really do not deserve all that God gives to us. We really are entitled to nothing. If we are entitled to anything, it would be to eternal life in hell, because we are sinful human beings. Praise the Lord that He gives to us what He gives to us because of His fatherly, divine goodness and mercy.
And finally we confess that all we can do is to respond to all that He has done for us as we confess, “For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.” Here again, as I said last week, I do not like the word duty, because that word implies something that we have to do. I prefer the word privilege. For all this it is my privilege to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. It is a privilege that is given to Christians alone. Unbelievers do not know God. They do not know that God gives them all that they have and need. They do not acknowledge God’s good gifts and blessings. They cannot respond because they do not know Him.
Last week we began preparing ourselves to celebrate the birth of the Savior. We were reminded that just as God kept His first promise to send a Savior so He will keep His promise to come again. We were reminded that Jesus’ birth ushered in the Kingdom of God, so that we are living in the Kingdom of God, that is we are living in the last days. We were reminded that each day we live brings us one day closer to His return or our going to Him. Last week we were remind of all good gifts and blessings given to us by God; gifts of faith, strengthening of faith, and of keeping us in faith.
Today we come to understand that our Lord loves us so much that He gives us all things even and especially those things we need for our body and life, which also includes our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Today we are reminded of God’s promise that from the fallen family of the great Kings of Israel God raised up the promised Messiah, so indeed as we are His fallen children He raises us up in forgiveness of sins. As we see, God blesses us so much because He loves us so much. Finally we might add, that our blessings do include all that we need. Notice, I did not say all that we want. God knows what we need and He gives us what we need when we need it according to His good and gracious will. Our response is simply to praise the Lord for His good gifts and blessings. Thanks be to God and to Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.