Dec 22 2019 Good News! Great Joy!
1st January 2020
Advent – Arrival or coming of Christ
Luke 2: 8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
We know the story – when the glory of the Lord appeared – it was the visible presence of God on earth. In the Old Testament – we see all these ways – theophanies – appearances of God – Angel of the Lord with a sword – Pillar or cloud – Tabernacle – in the Garden, He actually walked with Adam and Eve – but now that Advent has come – God arrives on this planet as a baby, a human born in Bethlehem. The Incarnation – as close as God can get.
When the tabernacle lit up and voices booming – that would be amazing, but coming as a baby is the closest God could get to us
1 John 1:1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life
Think of the disciples – when Jesus was here, they didn’t really understand. They never really got it until after the death and resurrection – it all comes flooding in to who He really was! Think of James and John – probably beat on him when they were little! Handled Him – 1 John 1 says the ‘handled him’!
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…
Logos – The Word – this divine presence – they couldn’t get their hands around it – then in vs. 14
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth…
Fully God – becoming fully human.
Dwelt among us – the word, Tabernacle.
This is where we see His glory fully. We saw His glory – full of grace and truth.
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
What we are seeing is what God is really like. The best way to know what God is like – is to read the gospels and to see Jesus – every way He acted, every way He treated people – is the way that God would act and treat people.
10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Good news! Great joy!
Good news! Euangelion – Gospel! Good announcement –
The gospel of great joy – and here is where I want to go with this – is our gospel, the one we live and proclaim one of great joy? Or is it a gospel of something else. I grew up with a gospel of great GUILT!
There are all kinds of gospels – and I don’t mean false religion – some see it as a gospel of a ticket out of hell! No one wants to go to hell – so that is good, but if our gospel is limited to that – where is great joy? There is relief, but there is so much more than that – than just being freed from judgment.
It has sadly become a tool politically.
Some make it a gospel of a tool to make a decision – yes, people need Christ – but
Recipe for a better life. I am glad – but Paul said this – if all we had to hope for is what we get on this earth – we are the most pitied people in the world! Wow! Stunning!
The gospel is so much bigger than that – and God wants us to have this enormous gospel
It begins in Genesis 1:1 – the entire Bible is the gospel. When he creates humanity – it is in His image – we are His image bearers – not that we look a little like Him – or that we have free will – it is so much more than that! We were created to work and partner alongside of Him in His creation! We are to rule over the earth and all that is in it! We were created to partner with him. We have our own domain – our own little kingdom – but we corrupted all of that! We ruined all of that – and all of creation is suffering because of how we failed as His image bearers.
The relationship was broken in the garden – and then we see this unfolding of a slow plan of God over thousands of years to restore everything – first to restore the image of God in us – and as we get to advent – that is when the focus turns on – everything leads to this: God becoming one of us!
In the garden, the relationship was different than what it was when Jesus came.
Let me give you some of the greatness of this gospel –
First – forgiveness – the removal of guilt. The removal of sin! There is great joy in that! Our sins have been removed, forgiven. That is ultimate.
There is complete restoration of the relationship.
We all know the joy of the restoration of a relationship – a tension and then restoration. There is joy in that! That is a great joy! That is what we have because of the gospel.
We have been raised to a new life – transformed in the inner part of our being! It has happened inside of us! We all do this – we know those things about us that have been here since I was 12. That is as early as I remember. My wife remembers her kindergarten teacher. I don’t remember much before 12. I know I went to kindergarten because that is what we do.
This gospel of Great Joy allows us to experience the Presence of God moment by moment. We can know that He is there at every moment. All of the promises and blessings are ours now! Because of Christ. We will have this eternal relationship with Him. Our expectations for what it will be like are WAY TOO LOW! Really really way too low! It will be so much more than we can dream or imagine.
Think of the garden of Eden – this complete paradise – and I was thinking this morning – a song popped into my mind – Woodstock by Joanie Mitchell – but made famous by Crosby stills
We are stardust – we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden!
Revelation talks about this new city. In the Garden, there was one tree of life. In the Garden city, there will be TWELVE – and it is a picture of how much more we are going to have than that.
We think when Creation was completed – it was all done – but it wasn’t!
Yes, Adam was placed in a place where he would have to till the earth – you finish! You begin creating within my creation –
The new creation is going to be everything ramped up! And we are going to reign in that creation and work with God in that creation – and we will go beyond the garden.
12 "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." 15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."
Right there in the center – PEACE – the gospel of JOY and the gospel of PEACE. Your version might say something else – goodwill – it could go either way.
But peace with God – is an indication that there is a problem. Peace among men, because there is animosity, strife, and contention. There is a conflict – of dark and light – and that began in the Garden. Why in the world was there a serpent in the Garden? We see from the beginning – Conflict! Something not right! And that begins this great battle that takes place on earth – and this is revealed as Israel against the nations – but we get these hints that that is not what it is about – we see it in Daniel – we see it as the Angel of the Lord stands before Joshua – This is not about you…
When Jesus is born – this thing that is spiritual becomes so real. Herod the King has all the babies killed. It is afoot! The enemies of darkness come against Him.
As Jesus grows up and casts out demons – this battle is played out before their eyes! The final battle – the last battle is on the cross – then the grave – where it looks like the enemy has won – but we know that God has won!
He disarmed the rulers of darkness on the cross! He took away all their weapons! They are weak!
Fleming Ruttledge – This is advent – the reign of God coming in to the world and consummated at His second coming.
Advent is about the toppling of sinful structures – systems and hierarchies that deny and degrade
16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
The shepherds are the first human proclaimers of the gospel – just repeating what the angels had told them – but that is all they needed to know and they proclaimed it!
We were talking – some of the guys – about – this is a great time to share and live the gospel. There are so many needs in the lives of people – lonely and hurting – and it provides so many opportunities – we need to work on awareness. Cindy and I got some coffee – and the barista looked miserable. Half-asleep – I said – are you okay? I had to close last night – broke up with my boyfriend because he cheated on me – and I had to open this morning – tried to give some comfort. She was so distraught she made my decaf caffeinated…
Larry and I went out for coffee – same place – same girl –
I said – you look much better – and I recounted, “We’re back together again” – she said – He’s done worse! And Larry said – RUN!
There are so many people in need. We need to allow ourselves to be aware – a few practical things
Learn to present the personality and character trait of openness and acceptance. People can sense that. My best example is my wife. People just open up to her! Someone else was saying this about their life – there is probably some giftedness there. But an attitude of openness and acceptance is critical. Also, share your own struggles.
Seek out the lonely. Each of us has those in our lives who are lonely. We are sometimes unaware – but you do have people in your life who are lonely. Seek out opportunities to be with them.
Look for opportunities to serve – volunteering – but also, serving specific people
Generosity – look for little ways to be generous. There are so many opportunities to do that – ways to help others out. You could hunt it down – but naturally, it will come up.
When appropriate, offer prayer. It might not be appropriate when someone is working behind the counter – but there are times when you can actually pray.