2017-12-03 Advent: The Fulfillment (Week 1)

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“A Child is Born: Hope is Alive!”

(Isaiah 9:6-7 & Luke 4:16-21)
[The First Sunday of Advent: Lighting the Candle of HOPE on December 3, 2017]

by Pastor Jerry Ingalls


Have you experienced a season of life without hope? When it felt like neither the morning or the promise of God’s fresh mercies would ever come?

Over 700 years before Jesus Christ was born, in a time of great darkness for God’s people, the Prince of Prophets declared these words of hope. From Isaiah 9:6–7 we hear God proclaim to all nations, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”

 I am captivated by that last line: “The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” God, the Sovereign One will make it happen! This will be fulfilled! And if God said it, consider it done! If God promised new mercies would come with the sunrise then it is true as sure as the sun sets in the west and rises in the east.

The Old Testament contains over 300 prophecies to the coming of the Messiah, called the Christ, which are each uniquely fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth’s first coming—the humble King, emptied of glory, bringing mercy and grace through His birth, life, death, and resurrection.

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Promises of God for a Savior who makes a way for a sinful humanity to know and approach God. Because God is holy and set apart from all, you can only approach God on His terms. In the Old Testament, God had to be approached through the priests, who administrated the Law of God and the sacrificial system for atonement of sin. There are biblical accounts where people approached God in a way that was not authorized by God and they are struck dead (this was not figurative; literally dead). Some of those accounts are confusing and don’t seem to line up with the character of God as we know Him. But these accounts show the importance of the teaching that you can only approach God by His set terms. Today, we are uniquely blessed to be able to approach God through Jesus Christ. Have we have lost sight of the rare privilege this is and at what cost this privilege was given to us?

Christmas reminds us! We are celebrating the long-awaited coming of Jesus Christ on that Christmas morning over 2,000 years ago. The promise of a child who would be born to give hope to all who believe. Let me sum up Christmas for you: A Child is born; therefore, Hope is Alive!

In the Gospel of Jesus, we read these words found in Luke 1:79 of why Jesus was to be born, “To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Jesus Christ was born so that hope would come alive in each and every heart of those who believe. The birth of Jesus Christ declares that a day of hope has arrived. Listen to these words from John 1:9, 12-13, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world…to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

We lose hope when circumstances in our life seem out of control. Apart from faith and love, there is no greater virtue in a human being than hope. The Apostle Paul declared faith, hope, and love as the greatest of virtues that can be experienced in the Christian life (1 Corinthians 13:13).

What happens when we lose hope? Why is hope so important?

When we lose hope, we have no sense of God’s sovereignty. We forget that there is a good and loving God at the helm of life who is working all things together for His glory and our good. There are dark times for each of us when life seems pointless and out of control; as if it is all a chasing after the wind. Hope is the bridge between our Faith and our Love. Without hope, it would be nearly impossible to put our faith into action through meaningful and practical acts of Christian love. What would be the point after all if we had no hope?

We have a pandemic in our culture. It is marked by hopelessness and manifests itself in suicide, drug abuse, violence, isms, and an inability to communicate and converse with one another. It is possible to live without hope?

We need hope to live. Tweet this: “Hope is for our souls, what air is to our lungs.” Our lives are empty without hope and we cannot flourish in life without it.

And God knows this! So, God fulfilled His promise; enter Christmas! A child is born; Hope is alive!

Listen to Jesus as He announces His ministry in His hometown of Nazareth. From Luke 4:16-21, “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”

 Jesus’ birth on that Christmas morning over 2,000 years ago was to bring hope into the world. To fulfill a promise of love and compassion for His people. To meet us in our places of greatest need.

Light has pierced the darkness. Christmas brings with it good news! Christmas brought with it the One who can forgive us of our sins, set us free from the slavery of our own hurts, habits, and hang-ups, and untangle us from the consequences these sins have brought into our lives!

There is opportunity to see God at work in the world and to have access to Him now! A son has been given and with Him has come the mercy God promises for every day’s sunrise.

Today, the very reason for Jesus Christ coming can be fulfilled in you. You too can find true and lasting fulfillment in Him. Will you accept the Christmas Gift of Jesus Christ and the hope that only He offers for yourself?



 

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