A 54 Sermon Unpublished Book of Wonderful and Very Thought Provoking Lessons in Faith
First 20 Sermons
- UNIQUE WARFARE – Gen 3:15 (1st Sunday Advent)
- OUR INDESTRUCTIBLE TREE – Isaiah 11:1 (Advent)
- PRE-CHRISTMAS LIGHT FOR MARY – Luke 1:35 (Advent)
- PRE-CHRISTMAS LIGHT FOR JOSEPH – Matt 1:20-21 (Advent)
- COME TO THE CHRISTMAS SERVICE UNDER THE STARS – Luke 2:8-15
- THE NAME WHICH IS ABOVE EVERY NAME – Acts4:12 (1st S. after Christmas)
- OUR EBENEZER – 1 Sam 7:12 (New Years)
- WE WILL NOT FORSAKE THE HOUSE OF OUR GOD – Neh 10:39 (1/Epiphany)
- STRIVE FOR A HAPPY HOME – Psalm 128 (2nd Sunday after Epiphany)
- THE BLIND BEGGAR, AN OBJECT LESSON FOR OUR AFFLICTIONS – Jn 9:1-7
- DEGREES OF GLORY – Luke 9:29-35 (Last Sunday after Epiphany)
- RECEIVING AN EVERLASTING MEMORIAL – Mark 14:9 ( SEPTOAGESIMA)
- WATER WORKS WONDERS – Isaiah 55:10-11 (SEXAGESIMA)
- LISTENING AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS, 1000 B.C. Psalm 22 (4th Lent)
- WATCHING AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS, 750 B.C. – Isaiah 53 (5th Lent)
UNIQUE WARFARE – Gen 3:15
FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT
Gen 3:15 “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
We read in Rev 6:4 “And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given unto him that sat there-on to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.” How these words strike terror in our hearts! Each war has brought with it new and more devastating weapons until we have graduated from the “great sword” of Revelation to the appalling atomic bombs.
“Wars and rumors of wars” we shall have with us until the lord Himself puts a stop to it by His appearance at the last day. Battles and conflicts are the result of man falling into sin.
Retaliation is common place in wars and weapons of revenge are constantly sought* Brutality, cruelty, hatred, wholesale slaughter: no war is without them.
But there is another battle going on in the world which is so different and unique that it is almost incredible. We shall learn about this strange conflict when we consider —
- BETWEEN GOD AND THE SERPENT
The serpent, or the devil in the serpent’s body, originally was a good angel and dwelt with God and the other angels in bliss and glory. Some unexplained catastrophe took place in heaven whereby a multitude of angels sinned against God and were cast out of heaven. The Bible calls the leader of the wicked angels “that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan”.
Rev 12:9. He Is the source of all evil and wickedness in this world and is the sworn enemy of God. Satan will do anything to destroy God’s works and that is the real reason why he came into the garden and tempted Eve into sinning by eating the forbidden fruit. Jesus tells us in John 8:44 “The devil was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth.” This mad, crazed spirit dared to challenge God in a fight to the finish.
The Triune God created man and the angels because He wished to share His goodness and glory with them. When man sinned in the garden by hearkening unto the voice of the serpent, God’s love for man came to the fore and the Lord stood on man’s side over against Satan. The Lord took up the challenge and declared war on the devil by saying, “I will put enmity,” that is, hostility, antagonism, or animosity, “between thee and the woman,” etc. That was the beginning of this unique warfare long, long ago.
God promised Adam and Eve and the whole world that He would send a Savior from sin, the Seed of the woman, who would make right what the devil ruined, by crushing the serpent’s head. This is the strangest battle ever fought—God fighting and overcoming the devil, not by annihilating him, but by punishing His own Son in our stead. How wonderfully unique!!
Jesus overcame the devil’s temptations in the wilderness. This was a preview of His final victory. The serpent did bruise the heel of the Seed in the sufferings and death on the cross. But thereby the Seed crushed the serpent’s head by destroying sin and the power of Satan. The Seed delivered the final crushing blow by His triumphal descent into hell.
Thus our text is the first promise of the Savior to come and has an excellent Advent message which has brought comfort and hope to God’s children for thousands of years.
The battle between these two invisible opponents spread throughout the world to include the followers of each.
2.BETWEEN GOD’S CHILDREN AND THE SERPENT’S CHILDREN
The children of the devil are all those who are ruled by him. Or, to put it in other words, the serpent’s seed are the unbelievers who hate God. In fact, anyone who does not believe the promise of our text is not of God.
All who call God their Father in Jesus are His children. All who believe that the woman’s Seed overcame Satan, sin, and death, belong to their heavenly Father and will live and reign with Him in glory.
THIS WARFARE ALSO UNIQUE
What Jesus said of His disciples in John 15:18-19 applies to all of God’s children, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” The serpent’s children hate God’s children with all their hearts, and they are not satisfied with merely hating, they persecute also. We see Cain slaying righteous Abel, and we hear the mob crying out to Pilate, “Crucify him, crucify him.” Unbelief and persecution seem to go hand in hand.
What “revenge weapons” do God’s children use in their unique warfare? Their weapons, given them by their Captain, are as strange and unique as the warfare itself. “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,” Matt 5:44. It is a battle of love versus hate and our Captain gave us a wonderful example by praying on the cross for His enemies, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do, “Luke 23:34. One army tries to destroy, and the other army, in love, tries to save. When Satan himself attacks God’s soldiers, they ward off the blows by finding refuge In God’s holy Word as Jesus did in His great temptation.
WHO IS THE FINAL VICTORY?
Before this unique battle finally ends, both sides will have lost and gained. Many children of Satan will be converted by the Holy Ghost and brought to faith in the Seed who crushed the serpent’s head. On the other hand, the ranks of God’s soldiers will also suffer great loss when many desert and go over to the camp of the enemy.
It is a deadly and earnest battle with the eternal destiny and welfare of man at stake. But it is certain that the Lord and His army will win the final victory. The believers will revive eternal life by faith in the Seed of the woman. The serpent and his army will be lost forever in hell.
Our little text is actually an outline of church history and the history of the world; the ceaseless, and nearly always invisible struggle between God and His army and Satan and his legions. This first Gospel message is an amazing text.
The Advent message is “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee,” the fulfillment of a promise made long ago in Eden. We can look forward to Christmas with new joy as we see the Seed of the Virgin come into the world to crush the old evil foe. We gaze in amazement as we see the manner of His warfare! He laid down His life to conquer. May we all give our hearts to our King and under Him fight our battle to save all men by preaching His holy cross. AMEN.
PRAYER Dear Lord, Thou hast not forgotten us nor Thy promises made so long ago. We thank Thee far sending Thy Son into the world by whom we are saved and redeemed from the devil and death. Give us Thy Holy Spirit that we may fight the good fight of faith and receive the glorious crown. We ask this, knowing that the holy Seed of the Virgin has gained eternal life for us all. Grant our petition for His sake. AMEN
OUR INDESTRUCTIBLE TREE – Isaiah 11:1
Isaiah 11:1 “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”
The California redwoods and the Sequoias are remarkable trees for age and size. Some of them measure up to 350 feet in height and are 15 to 18 feet in diameter. You can drive your car through the base of several of these trees, and in one a room has been carved out. The General Sherman tree is one of the largest, and it is estimated to be about as old as the pyramids of Egypt. If these trees could talk, what history they could tell us!
These gigantic trees appear to be indestructible but they are not. Many a tree among them lies flat on the ground, a victim of fire or lightening, or some other cause. Eventually they will all topple over and die.
However, our text speaks of a tree that would not die, an indestructible tree, one that appeared to be dead yet today is growing stronger and larger than ever before.
OUR INDESTRUCTIBLE TREE
- IT GREW
Jesse is mentioned in our text as the seed from which the indestructible tree grew. He was of the tribe of Judah and lived in Bethlehem with his eight sons. He was known and respected as an upright man of God.
The seed of Jesse became a sapling in this manner. When king Saul rejected God and His Word, God rejected him and chose another king. David the youngest son of Jesse was a faithful shepherd of his father’s sheep and under the Lord’s directions; he was privately anointed to be the next king of Israel by the prophet Samuel. Thus the sapling of Jesse began to grow into a tree.
At first Saul was pleased with David but his attitude toward him soon changed. Because his life was in danger David became a fugitive until the death of jealous Saul. After Saul’s death, David became king of all the tribes and strengthened the kingdom inwardly and drove out the invaders from the land. He was truly a man of God and as such he was the author of many beautiful Psalms. Jesse became a strong and spreading tree through his son David.
However this mighty tree did not remain upright very long.
- IT WAS FELLED
Men, as instruments of God’s judgment upon Israel, began hacking away at this great tree. The tree suffered a serious blow when ten of the twelve tribes renounced their allegiance to Rehoboam and so were forever lost to the house of David. The ax cut still deeper into the tree when the Jews and David’s descendants were carried away into captivity.
If you hack and chop at a tree long enough it will fall. This is what happened to the house of David. Foreign powers began to overrun the Holy Land and at the time of Christ the Romans held sway and set up their own rulers over all the land. All that was left of the great tree of the house of David was a stump. The Hebrew word translated “stem” actually means a “stump.”
For years the stump of this fallen tree appeared to be dead. Mary and Joseph were of the house and lineage of David and, like the stump, were poor and lowly people with all the pomp and power of a former age gone. Now we shall see the great miracle which took place in the apparently lifeless tree or stump.
- IT REVIVED
Out of this dormant stump there came forth a sprout as God foretold it would in our text, ”A Branch shall grow out of his roots.” From the virgin Mary who was of the house and lineage of David there came forth a sprout, a tender little branch, when Jesus our Lord was born of her on Christmas. Many other passages of the Bible verify that statement. In Romans 15:12 Paul quotes Isaiah, “There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.” In Rev 5: 5 we read of Jesus that He is “the Root of David,” and again in Rev 22:16 the Savior Himself says, “I am the root and offspring of David.” Even at the annunciation the angel said, “The Lord shall give unto him the throne of his father David,” Luke 1:32.
Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of man, came into this world to suffer and die and thereby pay for the sins of the whole world. By faith in His cross we all can have eternal life. This Gospel message gives the revived tree its power and glory far surpassing anything of the past ages. Preaching Christ crucified, the New Testament Church suddenly began to grow rabidly until its branches are now spread out over all the earth. How vast this tree has become is even hard to imagine. Sitting upon the throne of His father David, Christ the Lord rules this vast Church with His gracious Word. What a powerful tree this has become growing out of a stump of a tree.
Today the kingdom of Christ, or His Church, has become the mightiest of trees, spreading out to every nation and kindred and tongue. Truly we have witnessed a tremendous miracle! David’s kingdom was but a very small part of the earth, in a little nation, over a few people. But the “rod of Jesse” spreads over all the earth, among all nations, over countless numbers of people.
This revived tree will last until the end of time because it is God’s indestructible tree. How often in the past have not men, by persecutions and bloodshed, tried to chop down this tree and have failed because it is the tree that would not die. The redwoods and Sequoias and all other trees may and will fall and die, but not this Miracle Tree of God.
God has brought us to faith In Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit and thereby has made us branches on this wonderful tree of life. Let us not allow the storms of life to tear us from our Savior for the dead and fallen branches and the broken off leaves will be raked up and burned forever. May we also, by our good works show that we are living twigs and leaves which are connected to the living tree by faith.
Even our Christmas trees should remind us of this amazing tree; the greenness representing its durability and life and freshness; the tree lights should remind us that Jesus is the Light of the world; and the ornaments and decorations should suggest to us that we, by our good works, are to beautify and adorn the marvelous tree of our text.
This is more than just a surviving tree or a tree that would not die. It is the Tree of life, eternal life, for every human being who will have it. It is the only possible way for us to be those who are before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their hands” Rev. 7:9. AMEN.
PRAYER. Dear Lord, in this Advent season, as we are preparing to meet Thee, help us to cling to Thee as true twigs and leaves. The wonderful promises found in Thy Holy Word strengthen our faith and trust in Thee. The nearness of Thy approach sets our hearts aglow with joy and anticipation. We, too, hail Thee as the Root of David and are trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, for full salvation. Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. AMEN.
PRE-CHRISTMAS LIGHT FOR MARY
Luke 1:35 “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
The “Christmas rush” seems to come earlier from year to year. Even worldlings fuss and fret as they become possessed by what they call “the Christmas spirit.” Amid the tinkle and tinsel the cash register accompanies the singing of Christmas carols. The increased activity in the Church during the pre-Christmas season is (or ought to be!) of an entirely different nature. Advent is a time of preparation. The four weeks are a holy season reminding us of the four millenniums during which the Savior-God set the stage for the most important event in the history of man.
The Lord Himself made special preparations for that first Christmas by prophesying in the Old Testament of the Messiah who was to come into the world to save sinners.
When the “fullness of the time” was drawing nearer God sent the angel Gabriel to Zacharias with the wonderful message that the forerunner of the Messiah was to be born from him and his wife Elizabeth.
Six months later the same angel was sent to the Virgin Mary to prepare her also for the coming of the Redeemer. Gabriel came to tell Mary about the nearness of His birth and to enlighten her as to her part in God’s plan to provide a Savior for all men.
PRE-CHRISTMAS LIGHT FOR MARY
- LIGHT FROM THE WORD
When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden the Lord came to them in love with the first revelation of His plan of salvation. The “Seed of the woman” was to crush the serpent’s head and in so doing the “Seed” would be severely bruised. Through woman sin was brought into the world, and through another woman the Lord was going to bring His Savior into this world.
The Lord further clarified His plan of salvation in Isaiah 7:14. “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” The Messiah was to be born of a woman only, a virgin woman. This is amazing, but the most amazing part is this, He is to be “Immanuel,” [עמּנוּאל ; ‛immânû’êl] which means “God with us,” The virgin mentioned by Isaiah was to have a unique son, the coming Messiah, true God, would be born of a woman only. Add the first prophecy of God’s plan of salvation to the one in Isaiah and we have these promises; God is going to come into the world by being born of a virgin and He will crush the serpent’s head thereby destroying the works of the devil.
Mary was not in the dark as to God’s plan of salvation for she knew these prophecies of the Old Testament and they gave her some light. She was an Israelite who was thoroughly instructed in the Word of God, and the Jews of old; memorized many important passages of the Bible as we do. The hope of salvation and the advent of the Savior was the chief concern in life of every true Israelite, and certainly that can also be said of the Virgin Mary. However, to her compete surprise, she was chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah, she was to be the “virgin” spoken of by Isaiah. This was the reason why Gabriel came to enlighten her with some of the details of God’s plan.
- LIGHT FROM THE ANGEL
Gabriel gave added light to Mary with these words, “Blessed art thou among women.” As the Lord called Moses and David from the flocks of sheep to perform wonderful feats in His name; as God chose John the Baptist before he was born to be the great forerunner of the Messiah; as Paul was called from the ranks of the enemies to be the most famous missionary of all times; so Mary, meek and humble Mary, was given one of the highest honors, the Savior of the world was to be born from her. Eve brought sin into the world and Mary will bring the Savior from sin into the world.
Mary was troubled about the meaning of the angel’s words, especially as to how she was to have a child without being married. Gabriel enlightened her and explained that the Holy Ghost would perform the miracle of conception by overshadowing her. Further light was given her that because of the unique manner of His birth the Messiah would be a “holy thing” without original sin. All other humans are “flesh born of flesh” but the Savior is to be the only exception. Gabriel also clarified the meaning of “Immanuel.” God would dwell among us, be with us be one of us, because the child is to be the “Son of God.” Since He is the son of Mary and the Son of God, He is the God-man. Luther beautifully expresses these thoughts in his explanation to the second article of the Apostle’s Creed, “Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord.”
This was the pre-Christmas light for Mary, given by an angel of light sent by the God of light. Little wonder that she said later on, “For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” Truly she was a blessed virgin, chosen by the Lord to be the mother of the Redeemer. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, felt this same amazement and was overwhelmed by the visit of Mary, and she cried out, “Whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Of course, the real blessing of Mary was not only that she had the most blessed of all sons, but that she also accepted Him as her own Savior and Lord.
Although Mary was highly elated at the marvelous grace of God, she at the same time must have known that, for a time at least, she would have to bear the scornful looks of people who would consider her an unfaithful woman, and not a virgin.
These thoughts did not trouble her very much for she was willing to leave everything in the hands of the Lord. Even facing Joseph she would not falter, but would wait with patience for the Lord to clarify all matters. Mary’s simple child-like faith and trust excites our utmost admiration.
We all need this pre-Christmas light which Mary received. If we would realize the full extent of our sins and the urgent need of a Savior from sins, we would be much more concerned at Christmas time with the thoughts of God’s love and grace in permitting His Son to come down on this earth to be our substitute and redeemer. We often get so involved in Christmas preparations that we are in danger of forgetting the real purpose and meaning of the great holiday, the birthday of the Son of God in the flesh for us and our sins.
Now that we have received more enlightenment from God’s Word, may this Christmas season find us all with the spirit of Mary who could hardly find words to express her wonder and amazement at “the grace of God which bringeth salvation” to all men. Like Mary, let us keep our eyes upon that little “Immanuel” resting in her arms. We can all very well repeat after her, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.” AMEN
PRAYER. O God of love, by the same Holy Spirit which caused the conception of our Savior in the blessed Virgin, grant us enlightenment to receive Thy dear Son with a pure and untainted joy in our salvation. O heavenly Father, we stand in awe and wonder at Thy marvelous Christmas gift to man. May we, like Mary, believe these things with all our hearts. Glory be to Thee, O Father, Son, and Spirit.
PRE-CHRISTMAS LIGHT FOR JOSEPH
Matt 1:20-21 “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.”
About 1700 years before the time of our text, another Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Jacob, lived a life of sunshine and shadows. At first he basked in the sunlight as Jacob1 s favorite son, and received many special favors and gifts from his father. Dark shadows gathered about his head when his brothers out of envy wanted to kill him, but changed their minds and sold him as a slave into Egypt. Almost immediately the sun began to shine again, for his new master Potiphar elevated him to be overseer of all his house. Dark clouds gathered again when he was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and was thrown into prison. Finally the sun burst forth in all its splendor when Joseph was made the second highest ruler in the land. Joseph showed that he understood his life of sunshine and shadows and the ways of the Lord for he told his brothers, “Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good,” Gen. 50.
Joseph, the husband of Mary, went through similar periods of sunshine and shadows. This was true especially before the birth of our Savior in Bethlehem.
PRE-CHRISTMAS LIGHT FOR JOSEPH
- THE SHADOWS OF SADNESS
Darkness reigned in Joseph’s heart before the angel of light came to him, but it was not because of his religion that he was sad. He was a man of God who feared the Lord and was a true Israelite indeed, a believer in the grace of God and one who put his trust in the coming Savior. He loved the house of God and his faith could only generate happiness and hope in his heart. Joseph, no doubt, reechoed the words of his forefather David who spoke of “the joy of thy salvation.”
Joseph was a carpenter, one of the oldest and most useful of trades. He was a faithful and respected craftsman, who found satisfaction and joy in the labors of his hands, so his work did not cause him to be disappointed and disturbed.
Surely his heart was not darkened because he found a maiden of his own faith who promised to marry him. Mary was a pure and chaste virgin who made his heart glad and whenever he thought of her it was with gratitude to the Lord who gave him such a wonderful maiden and future wife.
Joseph’s plans for the future did not cause the shadows in his heart. Like all young couples, Joseph and Mary planned and dreamed of their future home and family. The future looked very bright indeed for these two children of God.
In the midst of all his sunshine Joseph received a terrible shock — Mary was “found with child.” What else could he think except that Mary had been unfaithful? All his dreams and plans for the future were suddenly wiped out. Thoughts like these must have raced through his bewildered mind, “How could Mary do such a thing? I always looked upon her as a faithful child of God, what caused her to sin?” The past seemed like a dream and his whole future was shrouded in darkness at this time.
Only one problem remained unsolved, and he asked himself, “How can I best deal in this delicate matter? I do not want to marry her, nor do I wish to shame her publicly. What is pleasing to God, what should I do?” There was no light of Christmas in the poor man’s heart at this sad time.
- THE SUNSHINE OF GLADNESS
An angel of light was sent from the God of light to dispel the shadows from Joseph’s heart and bring him some Christmas light and joy. It was very fitting that an angel should do this , since the light to be shed into Joseph’s heart was a message concerning a great miracle and the coming birth of the Savior.
How relieved Joseph must have been to learn that Mary had not been unfaithful, but that the child was “of the Holy Ghost.” The sunshine of gladness was beaming again in his heart and around his world. All his plans were before him once more with a more glorious future than ever before. He looked at Mary with a new admiration and respect because she bore all that shame without a murmur or complaint.
Joseph was overjoyed that he could have Mary again, but there was even greater joy in his heart that she was to be the mother of the long awaited Messiah and Savior of the world. And the Lord had honored him and chosen him to be the guardian of the little child! The shadows were all gone now and life was like a glorious new sunrise for this humble man of God.
Joseph did not care what the rest of the world thought of him or his wife. He knew who the future child was and he was filled with gladness and gratitude to know that the Savior of the world was about to be born.
The shadows deepened somewhat when he journeyed to Bethlehem and was refused a place of shelter for Mary, who was “great with child.” How frantically he must have begged for a place for his wife and finally was forced to accept the only offer he could get — a stable!
Again the sunshine of gladness chased away all shadows when he was able to gaze upon the new-born King of the for the child gave him new light and hope.
Later on, a few more shadows gathered around him when he had to flee into Egypt with the young child and his mother, but under the Lord’s guiding hand those dark clouds were soon blown away.
Like Joseph we all must go through times and periods of shadows and sunshine. There are, and will be, dark days and deep shadows when it seems that all is hopeless and lost. When we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” we should never forget the courage and trust which Joseph had, that the Lord would somehow dispel all gloom in His own good time and make glad the heart with His beautiful sunshine.
Now is the time to get some pre-Christmas light to dispel all darkness from our hearts. Should we let the world and the children of this world dictate to us the kind of Christmas we are going to have? Are we going to permit this commercialism to becloud our hearts and minds so that we see not the true light and sunshine of Christmas? Rather, should we not have the same holy joy which Joseph had, joy in the birth of the Savior from sin? If we will accept Jesus now by faith as our true and only light we shall dwell with Him in eternal light and glory where there will be no more shadows of sadness. AMEN
PRAYER. O holy Lord, send Thy angel of Christmas night to drive out all darkness and shadows from our sinful hearts. Give us the sunshine of gladness that we may be enabled to look with new joy and hope upon the Babe lying in the manger. Fill our hearts with a new faith and trust in our Redeemer as Thou didst enlighten Joseph. Grant that the observance of our Savior’s birth ever remind us of the everlasting light promised us who put our trust in Him. Hear us, O blessed Trinity, for thy holy name’s sake. AMEN
COME TO THE CHRISTMAS SERVICE UNDER THE STARS
Luke 2:8-15 “…Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
The churches have had many Christmas services since the night when Christ was born, but none can compare with this first service for simplicity and beauty. In fact, this was a unique church service, never to be repeated. Instead of a beautiful cathedral dome, the worshipers had something more beautiful, the dome of heaven studded with sparkling and twinkling stars. Suddenly and unexpectedly church began, and the whole world is now invited to attend this wonderful service.
COME TO THE CHRISTMAS SERVICE UNDER THE STARS
- LISTEN TO THE PREACHER FROM HEAVEN
The message to be delivered was so important and precious that God chose an unusual preacher. In order to make the sermon more impressive and noteworthy the Lord sent a holy preacher, an angel of light and truth, to deliver this special message. As this angel-preacher appeared, a glory flooded the fields of Bethlehem with heavenly light. They needed no candles or other light in this evening service.
The sermon was even more important than the preacher. The introduction to the sermon was, “Feat not.” When the “glory of the Lord shone round about them” the shepherds were afraid, as all sinners are in the presence of the holy God. “Fear not, hear my message and let it dispel all your fears,” were the reassuring words introducing this marvelous sermon.
The theme of the angelic preacher’s sermon was, “I bring you good tidings of great joy.” From heaven, the source of all happiness, the angel brought a special message full of joy for all the people on earth.
“For unto you is born a Savior,” was the first point in the sermon of joy. When man fell into sin God promised a Savior as He spoke to them in the garden of Eden. The people of God waited thousands of years for that Savior and now, at last, the Lord has sent Him into the world to fulfill His promise. Was there ever a more important message than that?
The second part of the celestial message was, “For all people.” The Savior is for all people, of all nations, of all languages without any exceptions. Truly this is “good tidings of great joy.”
The practical application of the angel’s sermon was simple and effective, “Ye shall find the babe in a manger.” “Go, see for yourselves, find the babe, and worship the new-born Savior,” intimated the angel to the shepherds.
Such a wonderful preacher and his important sermon should be accompanied with special music and singing, and it was.
- SING WITH THE CHOIR IN HEAVEN
There now appeared in the sky a sight which is beyond any description. Suddenly, countless angels were seen in their robes of glory and they began to sing their song. What notes and what music! Can we imagine perfect music, sung by perfect creatures with perfect voices? We shall have to wait until we get to heaven to hear such singing again. The heavenly choir sang three beautiful stanzas in their holy hymn.
“Glory to God in the highest” was the first stanza of this sublime song. Praise and glory and honor be to the Lord our God is the eternal theme of the holy angels and the redeemed.
The second stanza was “and on earth peace.” The choir of angels was not singing of peace from wars; otherwise they would have been wrong for Jesus said, “Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars.” They were singing of the peace of God in the heart, which the Savior brings us by washing us pure in His blood. God in Christ is at peace with the whole world.
The third stanza of their brief song was “Good will toward men.” God has good will toward us and has shown His good will in this gift of His own dear Son for us on Christmas. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.”
What a marvelous church service under the stars of heaven! What a preacher and what a choir! The song and sermon are worthy of each other and fit perfectly together. Such a sermon and song should not go unheard. Who was out there that night in the fields to listen? A surprise awaits us.
- JOIN THE WORSHIPERS BENEATH HEAVEN
According to our viewpoint we would, perhaps, expect to find the mighty and the great, clothed in robes bedecked with jewels, listening and watching in this glorious church service. Such was not the case. We are amazed to find lowly and humble shepherds being the audience in this unique service. We might assume that God here revealed the future course of the Gospel, which, in general, shall be as Jesus said in Luke 10:21,”Hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes.” These lowly people were highly honored by the Lord this night.
The humble hearers heard the message of God and accepted His Word without question. They were certain that their Savior was born in Bethlehem, and they immediately went to seek Him. It was not hard to find Him in this little town. Perhaps they were surprised at the place of His birth, but they did not let the lowly surroundings and the manger disturb them at all, but worshiped Him in child-like faith. God’s Word was the most important thing with the shepherds and, disregarding everything else, they knelt in devotion before the Christ-child. On the way back to their fields they became the first missionaries to spread the good tidings of great joy. Following the example of the angels, the humble worshipers returned, “Glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen.” The sermon of joy transformed these people into men of joy.
Year after year we repeat this first Christmas service under the stars, with a human preacher and choir, but with the same joyful message. With true faith, as those first hearers, we accept the message of salvation which the angels brings us, we give our hearts to the new born Redeemer, we join the heavenly choir in praising God who sent His Son to be our Savior, and finally, we obey God’s Word and help to spread abroad this glorious Gospel into the whole world. O how happy we are that we came to the Christmas service under the stars! AMEN
PRAYER. Dear Savior, on this night of Thy birth we listen with renewed amazement to the wonderful sermon of Thy heavenly messenger. We raise our voices and join the holy choir in praising Thee for coming to redeem us. We also with humble and believing hearts accept Thee as our only Lord and Savior. Help us to spread abroad into all the world the glorious truth that unto everyone is born this day in the city of David, the only Light of the world. Hear us and help us for Thy holy name’s sake, dear Lord. AMEN
A NAME WHICH IS ABOVE EVERY NAME
Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Words and names are of utmost importance to us and our thought processes-for God created us to think in and with words and names. One of the first concerns of Adam was to give names to all the birds and animals, and man is continuing to coin names for newly discovered creatures. When we think of all the words and names in the dead and living languages since creation, the number must be staggering and run into the millions and millions.
“What’s in a name?” has often been said, and it is true that names often mean little or nothing. But of all the names in this world can we imagine one name so outstanding that it towers over all others? There is such a name in a class by itself and set apart from all others by God Himself. Surely we are interested.
A NAME WHICH IS ABOVE EVERY NAME
- THERE ARE MANY FAMOUS NAMES
We have space for only a few examples of famous names in history. Almost everyone has heard of Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon. Many buildings, colleges, and hospitals are named after distinguished people such as the Yerkes and the Lowell observatories, the Chrysler and the Woolworth buildings, just to mention a few. Many streets and cities are named for Washington and Lincoln and many other famous people.
In every branch of learning and labor there are outstanding names. At some time or other we have heard of the great doctors, scientists, educators, and manufacturers of our day.
In religious circles we find many revered names in history. The Apostles are certainly well-known names and church history is filled with names who have contributed so much to our faith and life. History, past and present, is rich with names of people who are above the average person in thoughts and deeds.
We repeat, of all these renowned and important names there is one name which stands high above them all. We could add all the great names of the world together and the name referred to in our text would be higher than the heavens above them all, because it alone can open the door of eternal bliss and happiness. Yes, we call it the name of names.
- THERE IS ONLY ONE SAVING NAME
In the name JESUS alone is there salvation for all mankind. He received His name from God through the angel before He was born. The angel said, “Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Gabriel first revealed the name to Mary, “Thou shalt bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS”(Luke 1:31). The Lord’s directive was carried out and He was given that name on the day of His circumcision.
JESUS has been given other names in the Bible. Isaiah 9:6 gives a list of names which refer to JESUS, “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” The following is a partial list of some more names for JESUS found in the Scriptures—
Alpha and Omega, Anointed, Bread, Bridegroom, Christ, Star, Son of God, Son of man, Immanuel, Lord, Judge, King, Priest, Lamb, Light, Master, Prince, Redeemer, Shepherd, Vine, Word, etc. All of these names for JESUS are not a contradiction of our text which says “name”, not names. The many names describe some phase or work of His life, but He has only one real name given Him by the Father. A man, for example, could be called doctor, director, chairman, health inspector, husband, and father; but that would not change his real name.
JESUS, God’s Son, came down from heaven to be our substitute and in our stead suffer all the torments of the damned. He paid for our sins fully and completely. Who else could have done that for us? What other religion has a solution for our sins and offers us salvation free and without cost? There is none other, for JESUS is the only one who has taken away the sins of the whole world and reconciled us to God.
Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” There is salvation by faith in the name JESUS, and JESUS means Savior, “for he shall save his people from their sins.”
What’s in a name? Often very little. Some of the worst people and greatest criminals have names which originally had the noblest of meanings. But look at the name of JESUS once more, not a single soul can get to heaven without it. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Believe in that name, trust in it, call upon it, for only by it can we hope for eternal life. All other names fade into insignificance along side of this powerful and mighty name of names.
JESUS is the heart and center of the Bible and without Him there would be little value for us in the Scriptures. “Search the Scriptures: for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me,” says JESUS in John 5:39. Every sermon must testify of the salvation in JESUS, otherwise it is no true sermon. What good does all preaching do if the people do not hear the way to heaven in JESUS?
Some people spend their lives trying to make their names famous.
Many industries thrive on famous names or brands. When a man becomes famous, crowds of people gather to see him or be near him. But how many people in this world are attracted to the most famous name of all?
Names on certain products are guarantees of good merchandise, and they create confidence in us that the quality offered is excellent.
Our signatures on a check can buy many things; our name on a contract can move us into a new home; or by signing our name we can drive home a new car. In fact, most serious business transactions are done over signatures. Under certain conditions and circumstances even our names are of value and can do many important things.
But look at the Name of Names. God put this name far above everything in heaven and earth, Phil.2:9-11 “God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The moment the name of Jesus is signed in our hearts we have eternal life. If we want our names to be found in the Book of Life, the name JESUS must be written on our souls and in our hearts. Little wonder that we sing—
“How sweet the name of JESUS sounds in a believer’s ear; It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fears.”
PRAYER. Dear JESUS, Thy name means more to us than anything in this world. It means for us forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and the hope of glory. We pray Thee to keep Thy name in our hearts at all times so that our names may remain in the Book of Life. We thank Thee for Thy salvation, Thou who livest and reignest with the Father and Spirit, ever one God, world without end. AMEN
1 Samuel 7:12 “Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”
In eternity there will be no clocks, or calendars, or new years, because there will be no time to measure. How important then are the few years allotted us on this earth! Now is the seedtime for eternity, now is the time to prepare for our everlasting destiny. Think of the solemnity of death, the gateway and door to timeless and endless duration.
Since we are not yet in eternity we continue to count every second, minute, hour, day, month, and year. Today as we put up a new calendar, we have an opportune time to pause and examine ourselves as did Samuel in our text. The Lord had helped him and his people out of great trouble and he set up a memorial stone and called the name of it “Ebenezer11 which means “stone of help.” We are going to follow the example of Samuel and make his stone our stone or rock.
- OUR EBENEZER IN THE PAST
When we examine the history of God’s people in the Old Testament we often wonder how they survived. Abraham was almost alone in the world, a pilgrim, as were his children Isaac and Jacob. Look at the precarious life of Joseph with its sunshine and shadows. All the Jews were slaves in Egypt for many years, yet by the grace of God they managed to survive.
After that they existed for 40 years of wanderings in the wilderness, with no crops to support them. Entering the Holy Land they found it well fortified and seemingly impregnable.
Even after conquering the land they were still surrounded by enemies and at the same time were plagued with many internal problems and troubles throughout the years. Truly the past often looked very dark and hopeless.
No matter how black the past was for His people, God always came to them with His comfort and help. He promised them a Savior from sin and in Him they could always find comfort and forgiveness. Yes, the Jews of old could say with Samuel, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”
All of us have experienced good days and bad days. We have had family sicknesses, church troubles, world turmoil, and many other sorrows and crosses too numerous to mention. This world is full of evil. And no one can go through life without some tribulations and afflictions. Job, who ought to know, said (Job 5:7), “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” St. Paul from experience could say (Acts 14:22), “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
When did the Lord really forsake us in the past? When did He ever turn His face away from us? When did He ever deny us the forgiveness of our sins in Christ? Looking backwards, our whole life is a record of the faithfulness of our Father who is in heaven. “Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver thee,” is a promise which the Lord has never broken.
- OUR EBENEZER NOW
Twenty years before the events in our text the Philistines had won a victory over the Jews and it looked, for a time at least, as though the Lord were on the side of the enemies and had forsaken His people. But such was not the case ‘for at the time of our text the Israelites had just defeated the old enemy and were able to keep the land. This present victory over the Philistines aroused Samuel to such gratitude to the Lord that he took a large stone and called it “stone of help,” The stone was for all people to see and was to remain for a long, long time as a memorial to the faithfulness of the Lord. There were no human names inscribed on the stone, no list of heroes who died defending their country. With mute eloquence the stone declared “all glory to God.”
Did we gather here today in this church to tell the Lord how we guarded and protected ourselves until this present moment? Are we coming before the Lord as did the Pharisee, proud of our own achievements and deeds, and boasting with him, “I fast, I give tithes, I am not as other people”? Surely that cannot be our attitude on this New Years Day.
Today, as Samuel, we set up a stone, an invisible monument to commemorate the everlasting mercy and faithfulness of the Holy Trinity, who never did leave us nor forsake us. He has always forgiven our sins through faith in Jesus and has taken us into His arms for protection and help. Even now God is with us and near us, strengthening our weak faith to believe in His faithfulness. We cannot live without Him and our prayer will always be, “Abide with me” and “I need Thy presence every passing hour.”
- OUR EBENEZER FOREVER
Samuel set up this “stone of help” in the midst of his people as a memorial to the past faithfulness of the “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” But he certainly had also this thought in mind that the stone should be a reminder that the Lord would always be their help in the future. If “hitherto” is correct, then “always” is also correct. No matter what dark future lay before them as individuals or as a nation, they should never forget “Ebenezer.” The stone should remind future generations that our Rock of Ages never changes.
How can we know what the future has in store for us? Would we really want to know? Who knows how many more years we have to live on this earth? It matters very little, for He will be “with us always even unto the end of the world.” Our new year and future we place into the hands of our Savior, and we are safe and secure.
Our final future is and must be eternity. What about it? Where will we spend eternity? We are assured again and again by the sacred Scriptures that if we put our trust and confidence in the “Rock of ages, cleft for me” we shall be washed pure and white in His blood and shall live and reign with Him forever and ever in heaven. The theme of our eternal song will still be—EBENEZER: “hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” When we are “before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in our hands” we shall more fully understand how OUR ROCK OF AGES NEVER CHANGES. AMEN.
PRAYER. O faithful God, when we look back upon our past life and the past years, we hang our heads in shame and remorse over our many and grievous sins. Look upon them no more for Jesus’ sake, O gracious Father in heaven. But towering above all our frailties we see Thy faithfulness and goodness like a mighty rock and fortress. With Thee by our side we fear no evil. Forsake us never, that we might see Thee face to face and praise Thee forever and ever, Thou great and changeless Rock of our help.
WE WILL NOT FORSAKE THE HOUSE OF OUR GOD – Neh 10:39
Neh 10:39 “We will not forsake the house of our God”
After the return from captivity the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt about 445 B.C. under the guidance and encouragement of Nehemiah. Because of the enemies around them, the walls were erected by the Jews under great difficulties and hardships. Every man who worked on the rebuilding of the walls carried his sword or weapon by his side to meet any surprise attack from his foe. When the walls were finally completed the people were instructed from the Word of God, and a religious revival followed. The people repented of their sins and made a solemn promise to the Lord that they would never forsake the house of God. We read in verse 29 of this chapter, “They entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law which was given by Moses the servant of God.” Our text is a part of their sincere vow.
We should also repent and have a renewed life among us, therefore let us follow their example and repeat this solemn oath.
“WE WILL NOT FORSAKE THE HOUSE OF OUR GOD”
- THIS IS AN OATH MADE TO OURSELVES
NEED OF SOUL
We cannot be happy in this world without God. We long for some communion and contact with God, as David expressed it in Ps. 42, “My soul thirsteth for God.” As the body has definite needs which must be satisfied if we are to be healthy and content, so the soul has its needs which must be supplied if we are to be happy on this earth. To neglect the soul’s needs is to court eternal disaster.
FOOD FOR THIS SOUL
Only God’s word can satisfy the hunger and thirst of the soul. When the soul is given a steady diet of the Word, the conscience is at peace, the soul id uplifted, the mind is enlarged, life takes on a new and wonderful meaning.
FOOD FOUND IN CHURCH
The church is like a grocery store for the soul. In it there is an infinite variety of food to satisfy all conditions of the soul. We mold our families and unborn generations by bringing them up in the church. Here we learn how to become more Christ-like day by day. In church our souls are satisfied because there “Thou preparest a table before me, Ps 23. Are we ready to repeat this oath? Before we do, let us consider another reason for taking this solemn vow.
- THIS IS AND OATH MADE TO THE CHURCH.
People often say they can be Christians without belonging to a church. But they overlook the fact that by not joining a church they are telling the world they are not of Christ. A person need not climb to the roof of a house and shout, “I am a Christian.” Just come to church and belong to it and everyone will know what you believe and what you stand for. “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven, “says our Lord in Matt. 10:32. Then too, by refusing to join a church we miss joint prayer, joint offerings, joint strengthening, joint worship.
CHURCH AT LARGE
How can we stretch out our arms and voices all over the world? How can the church become catholic, or universal? How can we carry out the wishes of Jesus to preach the Gospel to every creature? It ought to be self evident that an individual Christian, or even a single congregation cannot evangelize the world. Many congregations must band together to support schools and colleges in order that a large number of ministries may be sent out into foreign fields. And a synod is only as strong as the support of the local congregation.
We owe it to all our brothers and sisters in our synod “not to forsake the house of God.” They sorely need our help and prayers to carry on a wide scale program of the church. So we owe it to the synod and local church to take this solemn vow. And there is another compelling reason to do so.
- THIS IS AN OATH MADE TO GOD
We dedicated our church to the Holy Trinity, so it is His house, He owns it, He has the title to it. A church is different than any other building in the world. In God’s house, God’s Word alone rules. The 3rd commandment says that when the Word of God is preached in the house of God we should gladly hear and learn it. We honor God when we honor His Word.
HERE HE DWELLS
Is not God omnipresent? Can the great creator be confined within the four walls? Of course God is omnipresent, but He chooses to dwell among us with His gracious presence. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them, Matt. 18:20. It pleases the Lord to make the church the place of grace where He displays His heart of love to us in Christ. In that sense the Lord dwells in the church.
SALVATION FOUND HERE
In our Gospel lesson for today we find the boy Jesus in the temple. He is always present in His church. In the house of God we also learn of the “Father’s business.” Jesus did the “Father’s business” by suffering and dying for us on the cross. Salvation is now ours as a free gift, by faith in Jesus who paid for all our sins. These words of Jesus also apply to the church, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come to him, and will sup with him and he with me,” Rev. 3:20.
As the workman goes to the factory, as the farmer turns to his fields, as the merchant looks to his business, as the pupil hurries to school, as a baby turns to his mother, as the hungry think of the table, so a child of God longs for the house of God. Every true believer says with David, “I was glad when they said unto me, lets us go into the house of the Lord, “ (Ps 122) and again, “Lord I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the places where thy honor dwelleth.” Ps. 26.
Surely we are now ready to repeat this solemn vow and joyfully make it our own, “we will not forsake the house of our God.” We come to the house of the Lord because we want to “dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” AMEN.
PRAYER O Lord Jesus, who as a child was found in the house of God hearing and learning His Holy Word, help us also to love the place where thy honor dwelleth. Thou has set us an example for all ages to come. Help us always to find thee in the house of God that we also may be about our Father’s business. O Thou who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, keep us in the saving faith that we may dwell in Thy house for ever. AMEN
STRIVE FOR A HAPPY HOME – Psalm 128
Psalm 128: “Blessed is everyone that feareth the Lord; that walketh in His ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands; happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house; thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that fear the Lord. The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion; and thou shall see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.”
There is so much unhappiness in marriage, and so many families are broken up in a divorce court, that it seems the promise ”till death do you part” is taken very lightly by more and more people every day. We pick up the daily newspaper and read of many divorces granted, often for trivial reasons. Still worse, we read of spouses killing one another.
Most families break up because they lack religion, or because they are unwilling to bow to God’s word. Even in the best Christian homes there is often dissatisfaction and unhappiness, at least temporarily.
The family is the foundation of all Law and Order in the world and without it we would have only chaos. 3 Commandments speak of marriage, so it must be highly regarded by the Lord. God created marriage for man’s happiness, and the only thing that good in the Garden of Eden was that man was alone.
Marriage is pleasing to God and it is significant that Jesus performed his first miracle at the wedding in Canaan and manifested for his glory. This was indeed a happy wedding with Jesus present; in fact, his presence alone can make a home really happy. Our text, A psalm for the family, describes the blessings of such a home and it is the will of the Lord that all of us should strive to attain a truly happy Dwelling Place.
STRIVE FOR A HAPPY HOME
- HUSBANDS, BE PIOUS.
Our text is addressed first to the husband because he is the responsible head of the home and must answer to God for the ones entrusted in his care. The text assumes that he is a pious father and husband, fears the Lord. A pious man is one who has given his heart to his Savior and believes that He has redeemed him from all sin, from death, and from the power of the devil. This pious man lives in upright life, showing the fruits of a true faith by trying his best to please the Father in heaven. He loves God and His fellow man. These are the things which make him a happy head of the home.
Everyone has a task or a job in life. Even Jesus was a carpenter. Life has no real meaning without some work. Thou shall eat the labor of thy hands; is the will of Him who put us on the earth. A pious husband works hard for his family and is happy in his task. He will never be in great need, for it shall be well with thee. He will often have enough left over to help others in need.
“The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion.” The lord of the church will bless these pious men with Grace, Mercy, and joy in His salvation. And they will gladly respond to the Lord’s goodness; whenever the church needs anything, they will contribute to its welfare and expansion. What a powerful congregation composed of such pious men!!
“Thou shall see that children’s children.” Because these pious men are not given over to dissipation, they live a long and healthy life. They use all of the Lord’s gifts with moderation and temperance. Fathers and husbands, this text is a good guide for us through life. Where we have failed in the past, may God forgive us for Jesus’ sake. Our prayers must always be, “Oh Lord, make us better heads of our homes.”
- WIVES, BE MODEST
Are text assumes that the wife is of the same faith as her husband, for it was directed to Jews who rarely contracted mixed marriages. Are text presupposes that the wife also “walk in his ways” and “fear the lord.” We are very grateful to the Lord for the Christian wives and mothers he has given us. Without them are churches could hardly exist, for they exhort a powerful influence in keeping the family within the church.
“Thy wife shall be as a fruitful Vine by the sides of thy house.” Her happiness is in her home. Here she is busy with her manifold duties as a housewife. The love of her mother heart fills the home and the husband and the children bask in it, and are happy.
A wife stands with gentleness and modesty by the side of her husband. She is a tender Vine, and as such is to be handled with love and kindness. Someone has said that Eve was taken from the rib of man; not from his feet that she should be crushed, nor from his head to rule over him. She was taken from man’s side to be always next to his heart.
Wives and mothers, are you like the vine in our texts? Do you love your savior above all else in this world? Do you move about in your family circle with meekness and modesty? Do you use your influence to keep the family with the church? Do you pray, “Lord help us overcome our weakness that we may better serve thee?”
- CHILDREN, BE OBEDIENT
GIFTS OF THE LORD
“Thy children like Olive plants about thy table.” God blesses a pious husband and wife with the most precious of gifts, children. They fill up the places around the table and their chatter and laughter permeates the home, gladdening the hearts of the parents. What is a home without children?
TRAINED FOR LORD
Children are to be molded and guided by the parents to go a certain way in life. God gave us children that we should teach them to believe in the Savior as we do. It is Unthinkable that a husband and wife should love the Lord, but not want their children to walk in the way of life eternal. Children learn best by example. If the parent tries to please the Lord, the children will imitate them and, on the other hand, it does little good to send the children to church and instructions, if the parents do not go with them to church.
Children, we want you to play and enjoy your childhood. But the fourth Commandment must never be forgotten which says, “honor thy father and thy mother.” This commandment will not spoil your childhood but really make you happy. Disobedient children can very easily spoil themselves and a good home. If you love Jesus, you will love and obey your parents, for He set us an example by being subject unto his parents.
May this family song encourage us all to better our home life and make them happier places for all of us. Let us really invite Jesus into our families as he was invited to the marriage in Cana. Then, when trouble arises in our homes, Jesus will reveal His glory to us with His help, as He did when he turned the water into wine. What a great and wonderful day that will be when we and our loved ones will be gathered around the Heavenly Throne, washed pure and white in the blood of the Lamb. Yes, heaven, our eternally happy home, is the final goal of our striving for a happy home on this earth. AMEN.
PRAYER Oh Lord, we ask thee to bless the families in our churches with thy gracious presence. May our parents feel their responsibilities toward their children that they may be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Help our children grow up in thy fear and love so that the future church on earth will have the same love and zeal as in the past. Forgive all sins, dear Savior, and keep us until that great day when we shall see thee face to face. AMEN
THE BLIND BEGGAR, AN OBJECT LESSON FOR OUR AFFLICTIONS – John 9:1-7
John 9:1-7: “…And his disciples asked him saying, Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents but that the works of God should be made manifest in him… as long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world…”
9 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 Jesus answered, “Neither did this man sin, nor his parents; but, that the works of God might be revealed in him. 4 I must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day. The night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground, made mud with the saliva, anointed the blind man’s eyes with the mud, 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means “Sent”). So he went away, washed, and came back seeing. 8 The neighbors therefore, and those who saw that he was blind before, said, “Isn’t this he who sat and begged?” 9 Others were saying, “It is he.” Still others were saying, “He looks like him.”
He said, “I am he.” 10 They therefore were asking him, “How were your eyes opened?”
11 He answered, “A man called Jesus made mud, anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash.’ So I went away and washed, and I received sight.”
12 Then they asked him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I don’t know.”
13 They brought him who had been blind to the Pharisees. 14 It was a Sabbath when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Again therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, I washed, and I see.”
16 Some therefore of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” There was division among them. 17 Therefore they asked the blind man again, “What do you say about him, because he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
18 The Jews therefore did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and had received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight, 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, whom you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”
20 His parents answered them, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but how he now sees, we don’t know; or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. He is of age. Ask him. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said these things because they feared the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if any man would confess him as Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age. Ask him.”
24 So they called the man who was blind a second time, and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.”
25 He therefore answered, “I don’t know if he is a sinner. One thing I do know: that though I was blind, now I see.”
26 They said to him again, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
27 He answered them, “I told you already, and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again? You don’t also want to become his disciples, do you?”
28 They insulted him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses. But as for this man, we don’t know where he comes from.”
30 The man answered them, “How amazing! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God, and does his will, he listens to him.[a] 32 Since the world began it has never been heard of that anyone opened the eyes of someone born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
34 They answered him, “You were altogether born in sins, and do you teach us?” They threw him out.
35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and finding him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”
36 He answered, “Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him?”
37 Jesus said to him, “You have both seen him, and it is he who speaks with you.”
38 He said, “Lord, I believe!” and he worshiped him.
39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, that those who don’t see may see; and that those who see may become blind.”
40 Those of the Pharisees who were with him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?”
41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.
If we had to make the horrible choice of being born blind or deaf, what would be our decision? Most people would perhaps rather have sight, but it is not a simple choice. If we were to choose deafness, we would have immediately give up speech, for the ear and the tongue go together.
We once read of a 12 year old girl who was born blind, but by a skillful operation she received her sight. It took her a long time to interpret correctly what her eyes saw. At times she would get lost in her town and could only find her way home again by the old way, she would close her eyes.
The man in our text was born blind. He knew that he lacked the wonderful sense of sight, but he did not know exactly what it was like, and no one could describe it to him. Because of his helplessness he was thrown upon the mercy of his fellow men. Daily had to raise is pitiful voice and beg for alms to keep his body and soul together. There he sat as Jesus and his disciples came by. Suddenly he became the center of their interest with his useless eyes.
THE BLIND BEGGAR, AN OBJECT LESSON FOR OUR AFFLICTIONS
- AS VIEWED BY THE DISCIPLES
The disciples were taught by the church leaders of their day that any special sickness or cross was an extra punishment of God for some sins of the past. Such was the view concerning leprosy, and such was the view concerning the blindness of the beggar. In verse 34 the leaders said to the blind man, “thou wast altogether born in sins.” The disciples had the same erroneous view of sin and its punishment.
The apostles were certain in their own minds why the man was born blind, so they did not ask, “is this blindness a punishment for sins?” The only thing which puzzled them was, “master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” A little thought on their part would show them how they were distorting the justice of God. If the parents sinned, why punish the child? If the child sinned, why punish it ahead of time for something it was going to do?
Since the disciples had a wrong view of the blind man, perhaps they were secretly thankful that neither they nor their parents had committed any gross sins deserving such punishments. They may have given the beggar a cold and pitiless look because they reasoned he deserved what he got.
We are very thankful that the disciples’ view of the blind beggar was wrong, otherwise we would never find comfort in all of our ills and troubles. If God really wanted to punish us for our sins he would have to condemn us forever in hell. God does not punish us for our sins because Jesus was punished in our stead. Of course, after Pentecost, the disciples had the correct understanding of all things and they became the errorless teachers of the church for all ages to come.
- AS VIEWED BY JESUS
TO REVEAL GOD’S POWER
Jesus knew that the man was born blind to show forth the power and glory of God. It ought to be obvious to us that Jesus not only restored his sight, but also recreated the man’s mind to receive and interpret the sight, actually a double miracle. Our Lord viewed the beggar in a different Light from that of his disciples. They thought he was a living warning against sin. Jesus states that he is to be a living testimony of the grace and power of God.
TO REVEAL GOD’S LIGHT
Why did Jesus come into the world? Did not his Father send him to suffer and die for the sins of the world? All who believe that fact are saved and Jesus has become for them “The Light of the world.” This is the meaning of Epiphany, in order to strengthen our faith in Him as the Light, Jesus healed the blind man of physical and spiritual blindness. In every way Jesus is “Light of Light.”
TO REVEAL GOD’S HEART
The heart of God was also revealed in this miracle. It is indeed true that all weaknesses and frailties of our bodies are the result of sin. But God does not take special delight in torturing us poor sinners with all kinds of afflictions. The parents of this man were not so evil that God caused them to have a blind child, nor did he foresee how the child would be wicked and he punished it for uncommitted sins. Such is not the heart of our Father. God loves us with an almost unbelievable love, a love that sent His own son into the world in our behalf. The blind man is not a memorial to sin and punishment, but to the love and mercy of our gracious God.
Jesus’ solution to the puzzle of the blind man is the only correct one, “neither has this man sinned, nor his parents.” We are very grateful to him for the lesson; otherwise we would never be sure of the Lord’s attitude towards us. When sick, we could never know whether we were being punished, or whether the father has laid a cross upon us in love.
- AS VIEWED BY THE BLIND MAN
REALIZED HIS SINS
The beggar, do doubt, believe that he was receiving a special punishment from God for certain sins because the Jews and others never let him forget it. “Thou wast altogether born in sins,” they reminded him in verse 34. He must have heard the question of the disciples, “did this man sin?” Surely he led a comfortless life and perhaps felt somewhat as Saint Paul, that he was the chief of sinners. Truly here was a darkened mind and a saddened soul.
REALIZED JESUS AS A PROPHET
In verse 17 the blind man reached the conclusion that a prophet had healed him. It was an inescapable conclusion. Had the beggar continued in this line of thought he might have drawn another inference, namely, God is no longer angry with me and the punishment for sin has been lifted. In any case he was in a happy frame of mind.
RECOGNIZED FULL LIGHT
In verses 35 to 38 of this chapter Jesus open the man’s eyes spiritually. The beggar finally realized the love of God in sending the Messiah, the Son of God, who cured him. He accepted Jesus as we do, by calling Him “Lord”, and by worshipping Him in faith. The happy man received full light, physical and spiritual. Now he certainly viewed himself In a different light, as one who has become the special object of God’s love and mercy. The blind man had a very blessed Epiphany season.
Is it not strange, when things go well with us, our faith is seemingly strong; but the moment we have trouble we begin to waiver and wonder? At such times the Devil comes to us and says, “see, now you are getting punished for your sins, God is angry with you,” etc. When these times come upon us, remember the lesson of the blind man. We are all objects of God’s love in Christ. In times of trouble we may read also Hebrews 12:6 where we are told, “for whom the Lord loveth he chastens.”
We thank thee, Lord Jesus, that in this Epiphany season you did reveal thyself to us and all men as “light of the world.” AMEN.
PRAYER How grateful we are, O Lord, that you did look upon us and our afflictions with pity and mercy. Help us in all our trials and crosses to remember that they come from the Fatherly hand in love and not from your anger which we so justly deserve. Above all, we are truly thankful to thee for sending our Savior into this world who has redeemed us from all our sins and open our eyes to see our light and life. AMEN
DEGREES OF GLORY
Luke 9:29-35 “And as Jesus prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: who appeared in glory, and spoke of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem….. there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son: hear him.”
Is it not surprising that at the occasion of the two great extremes in the life of our Savior, the time of His great glory and the time of His deep humiliation, His three favorite disciples were asleep?
When Jesus was in Gethsemane we read (Matt.26:40-41), “And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” Had they stayed awake in the garden, how they might have refreshed Jesus in His deep humiliation. The three disciples kneeling with Him in prayer could have been like a cool drink of refreshing water to a parched throat.
On the Mount of Transfiguration, at the time of Jesus’ great glory, when His face did shine with heavenly light and Moses and Elijah also appeared in glory with Him, at that marvelous moment we are astonished to read, “But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep.” However they did wake up in time to see the glory of Jesus and the two men that stood with Him, and so they received a foretaste of that glory which awaits all of God’s children in Christ.
DEGREES OF GLORY
When Moses came down from the mountain after speaking with God, his face shone with rays of glory because he had been close to the face of God. The prophet had to put on a veil when he spoke to the people since the reflected glory lingered for some time on his face.
It was somewhat different with the glory of Jesus in our text. He is “God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God.” “In Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” Col.2:9. Jesus always was God, but from His birth until His death He did not fully use His divine attributes. The Bible tells us that Jesus humbled Himself in order to be our Savior by suffering and dying on the cross. He was indeed a lowly and humble man. But our text is an exception, for here He permitted His glory and light to penetrate His body and clothes as an amazing change took place. Matthew says, “And his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” Mark tries to describe the change in this way, “And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; as no fuller on earth can white them.” And Luke says, “His raiment was white and glistering.” One can sense that all the writers were at a loss j^for words to describe the Savior!s transfiguration. Yet this glory was only partial. Jesus in mercy withheld His full glory for no sinner could look upon the full glory of God and live.
The Apostles were having a foretaste of heaven as they were beholding Jesus in partial glory, Heaven is that place where we shall see God face to face in all His glory. Little wonder Peter said, “It is good for us to be here,” because they were almost in heaven and it was very, very good. Do we need any further proof that Jesus is “Light of Light”? When John says (John 1:14) “We beheld his glory,” he no doubt had also this holy moment in mind. Peter never forgot this short period of glory either for he states (2 Peter 1:16), “We were eyewitnesses of his majesty… when we were with him in the holy mount.” How could anyone forget a foretaste of eternal glory?
- FULL GLORY
Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus in glory. They were great men of the Old Testament and were immediately recognized by Peter and the others. They appeared in heavenly glory, the same kind of glory we all hope to receive. They were in full glory, as glorious as is possible for creatures to be.
“They spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.” Moses and Elijah were intensely interested in what Jesus would accomplish by His sufferings and death at Jerusalem. They had believed in Him, the coming Messiah, while they were on earth, and that is the only reason why they are now glorified Without Christ it is impossible to see God in glory. There is a beautiful harmony between the Old and the New Testament, the only difference is in point of time, the Old states that He was going to come, the New teaches that He has come. Moses, Elijah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the other saints of God in the Old Testament received salvation by faith in the coming Lamb of God.
May we all be found among the great throng around the throne of God in glory. We can be saved by accepting His “decease” as having taken place in our stead. When we get to that place of eternal glory we shall better understand what Peter meant when he said, “It is good for us to be here.” This foretaste of glory stimulates our appetite and yearning for the better world to come.
- UNAPPROACHABLE GLORY
God is a spirit and therefore cannot be seen with our present eyes, no more than we can see radio waves or gravity. Whenever the Bible speaks of God appearing and talking, He always assumes some form or covering. Moses wanted to see God’s glory but he was told (Exodus 33), “Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me, and live.” Even the light from an atomic blast could blind us if we did not take proper precautions. Think what the light of the glory of the Creator of things would do to us if we looked upon Him in our sinful state.
The Apostles could see Jesus because His glory was only partial and they could see Moses and Elijah in glory too, but that was about all they could stand. In mercy God covered Himself and His glory with a cloud to protect the Apostles, otherwise none of them would have survived to tell us of this event.
“This is my beloved Son; hear him.” The Father sent His Son into the world to redeem us all, and He did. The Father says to all of us, ”Hear him,” especially when the Son tells us (John 6:40) “This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth on him, may have everlasting life.” By hearing the Son we shall all inherit the same glorious condition which we saw in Moses and Elijah.
In this Epiphany season, we learn that Jesus revealed His glory to us for our contemplation and joy. Such a revelation of His majesty strengthens our faith and trust in Him and enables us to walk closer and closer with Him. Would it not be fascinating to brush aside the clouds and see the glory and marvels of the Lord? It is impossible now. But if we will accept Jesus as our Savior in true faith, He has promised us eternal life where we shall not just received a foretaste of glory as on the holy Mount, but shall see Him forever in full glory and “hunger no more, neither thirst anymore,” There we will be better able to sing, “For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. AMEN.
PRAYER. Lord Jesus Christ, having now had a foretaste of Thy glory which Thou hadst with the Father and the Holy Ghost before the world began, we long to be with Thee in that land of glorious light and happiness. O Lord, our thoughts are ever turning heavenward where our eternal home is. Keep us steadfast in the true faith unto our end, so that with all the holy angels and the redeemed we may join in singing of Thy kingdom, and power, and glory, forever and ever. AMEN
RECEIVING AN EVERLASTING MEMORIAL
Mark 14:9 “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.”
When the officers, who were sent to arrest Jesus, came back without Him, they gave this as their reason for not apprehending Him, “Never man spake like this man,” John 7:4-6. Truer words were never spoken.
Listen to some of the astounding claims Jesus made. He said, “I am the light of the world.” Could any mere man, in his right mind, make such a claim? Even more startling are the words, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Anyone who is just a human being would not even think of making such a claim. One of the most amazing statements Jesus ever made we hear of in John 8:58,”Verily, verily I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” Dwell on that claim for just a moment, Abraham lived about 1900 years before Jesus, yet our Lord says that He was in existence long before Abraham. What an utterly impossible and fantastic statement for a mere human being to make! Truly, “Never man spake like this man.” Of course, we know the answer to these astounding claims, Jesus is not only a human being, but He is also “God of God, Very God of Very God.”
Now look at our remarkable text. Before the New Testament was written, and before any command was given to preach the Gospel to every creature, Jesus states in a simple, and one might add, in an off-handed manner, that the Gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world—AND IT IS! He also predicted in the same breath that Mary’s deed of love would never be forgotten—AND IT IS NOT! In fact, we are at this moment fulfilling this promise of Jesus made to her. Truly Jesus is the omniscient God. Mary’s name and her deed will live forever because Jesus placed upon her head a lasting memorial wreath with a few blessed words from His lips.
RECEIVING A LASTING MEMORIAL
- VAINLY SOUGHT AFTER BY THE WORLD
No one wants to pass out of existence and remembrance forever. There is a longing in every breast to be remembered by the coming generations. All know that there is a hereafter, but few want to let go entirely of the only world they know. Ah, how delightful is the thought to man to be reasonably certain that when life is over, his name will still be on the lips of many people. How satisfying to so many that their names will be recorded in history books where they can be held up as examples to others. It is a selfish desire and cannot help us after death, yet this longing seems to be harbored in the breast of most people.
The tower of Babel was intended as a lasting memorial for future generations, and the pyramids of Egypt were erected as a permanent remembrance to certain Pharaohs. Men have built tombstones, vaults, buildings, bridges, hospitals, colleges, observatories, cities, and empires to perpetuate their names and memories.
Who built the pyramids? What blood and toil were sacrificed to erect them? Who remembers? Buildings become old and unsafe and they must give way to new ones. Empires rise and fall, graves are turned into farms. In a few centuries most of the past is obliterated. Who was the richest man a hundred years ago? Hundred years from now, brand new earth, brand new memories. All is vanity and nothing is permanent, memory is very short indeed. We are reminded of the words in Exodus 1:8, “There arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.” These thoughts humble a person.
But there is something better than a little flash of memory, there is a truly lasting memorial wreath offered to everyone by the Lord. Are you interested in acquiring it?
- TRULY GIVEN BY THE LORD
Whatever God wants to be remembered will be remembered, and what He chooses to forget will be forgotten. Our memorials are entirely in His hands. Jesus placed a memorial wreath upon the head of this woman and her deed and the passing of the ages will never remove it.
Everyone who accepts Jesus by faith as the only Savior is washed pure in His blood. Such people immediately dedicate their lives to the glory of God and place themselves in His service as did the woman in our text. Jesus was eating in the house of Simon when Mary of Bethany came in with a box of very precious and costly ointment, representing, perhaps, a goodly share of her life’s savings. Suddenly she was overwhelmed by her love for Jesus and she broke the box and poured the ointment over the head of the Master.
She was criticized for her actions by” the disciples of Jesus. Even our own reason rebels somewhat and we begin to think within ourselves, “Why waste all of the ointment to be wafted away in the air, why not just a little to show her love? Why suddenly throw away all her savings? Why perpetuate such an impulsive act?” We would, no doubt, choose different acts to remember, for this deed seems so trivial.
But Jesus was well pleased with her unselfish act, and that is all that really counts. Now He made another remarkable statement, “She is come beforehand to anoint my body to the burying.” Mary seemingly did not know that in a few days Jesus was going to die, otherwise her heart might have been broken like the alabaster box. Yet Jesus honored and regarded her deed as though she came to anoint Him for His burial. The Lord was so pleased with her that He immediately placed upon her a memorial wreath which time cannot erase.
We should love and trust the Savior as Mary did and we also will not count the cost of serving Jesus. God works always follow a true faith. Help the needy, love the brethren, support the church, these are some of the things which please the Lord. On the last day He will also regard our deeds in a special light and say to all of His true sheep, “lnasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” These are the deeds and fruits of faith which shall never be forgotten because Jesus regards them as having done to Himself. We, too, can have an everlasting memorial wreath in Jesus our Lord.
Who will ever remember us with our trials and troubles of life? Our little struggle will soon be over and another generation will take our place, who will care or remember us?
Can we have a memorial wreath that never fades away? It is in Jesus’ hands entirely. Let us turn to Him in faith as the thief on the cross and plead, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” You know the answer Jesus will give us, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” There we shall never be forgotten in all eternity.
PRAYER. Lord Jesus Christ, we thank Thee for remembering us poor sinners and for leaving Thy heavenly throne to suffer and die for our sins. May we never forget Thy divine love and compassion. Thy holy cross is our everlasting memorial of Thy mercy to us sinners. Remember us in Thy mercy, 0 Lord, on the great day. The crown of life which Thou wilt be pleased to give us on that day will be our everlasting memorial. Hear us, Thou who livest and reignest with the Father and Spirit, ever one God, world without end. AMEN.
WATER WORKS WONDERS
Isaiah 55:10-11 “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
Water is the most abundant matter on the face of our globe and comprises about three-fourths of the earth’s surface. If all of the earth’s surface were leveled to a smooth plain there would be enough water to cover the whole earth about one mile deep.
Water has its own beauty and has stirred the soul of many a poet by its magnetic attraction. The oceans, lakes, and streams have always delighted the hearts of men by their ceaseless actions and changing colors.
Water is essential to life and because of its vital importance to us the Lord in our text compares His Word with water to give us a better understanding of the aim and purpose of His Holy Word. Like rain, His Word accomplishes much in this world.
WATER WORKS WONDERS
- IN THE KINGDOM OF NATURE
“For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven.” Water, as all good gifts, comes down from above, from the glorious Creator of heaven and earth. Water was one of the very first things which God made, for on the first day of creation we read, “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
“Watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud.” Water has been rightly called the universal lubricant. There can be no life as we know it without this fluid, even the human body is about nine-tenths water. God in His marvelous wisdom set up a giant sprinkling system on this earth. The water is drawn up into clouds by the action of the sun, blown across the face of the earth, and gently sprayed over the land in the form of rain, snow, and mist. The plants draw up nourishment with the water and so life goes on. Most living things get their food from the action of water.
Rain is also our great supplier and renewer of fresh water. Snow is used by God as a vast storehouse of water which can be released in the springtime when needed most. The underground reservoirs are replenished by the rains and melting snows, and the trees and plants drink freely of the life-giving moisture. The rain and snow from heaven wash the dust from the air, fill the wells, and revive the earth. Water does accomplish wonderful things in this world.
The great Sahara desert is only one of many examples of the lack of water and its effects. The prosperity of a country is usually determined by the amount of rainfall it receives.
In the tropics and other areas where there is an abundant rainfall we find veritable paradises. The South Sea islands have plenty of rain and they are covered with a great variety of growths with palm trees nodding gently in the breezes. Indeed water performs a mighty miracle before our very eyes.
- IN THE KINGDOM OF GRACE
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth.” As the rain comes down from God so does the Word, else it would not be called the Word of God. “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” 2 Peter 1:21. The Holy Ghost is the Creator and Author of the Bible. He moved and inspired the writers to reproduce His thoughts and words, and although the individual books of the Bible bear the names of men as their authors, yet the Book is not man’s word, but truly the Lord of God Himself.
Paul wrote in 2 Tim 3:15, “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” God’s Word, like the rain and snow, is sent into the world to give spiritual life and blessings to mankind. Through His Word He wants to save the world by faith in the Gospel of Christ crucified. The Lord would be well pleased with His church if we would set up a giant sprinkling system of the Word, as He has done with the water of the world: for there can be no spiritual life in this world, nor eternal life in the next world, without this Water of Life.
In the parable of the sower Jesus shows us that the seed (God’s Word) does not always have results. The seed which falls by the wayside is a picture of hardened hearts, in which the Word finds no root and is soon taken away by the devil. Other seed falls on rocky ground where there is little soil and in times of temptation and trouble these people fall from faith. Still other seed takes root among the thorns but soon are choked to death by the cares and riches of this life.
Although there is an apparent waste in the spreading of the Word, it still accomplishes much good, for the Lord solemnly promises us, “lt shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing wherto I sent it.” In the parable of the sower, some seed fell on good ground and brought forth abundant fruit. We do not always see the results of the spreading of the seed, but in due time we shall see the little buds pushing upwards. Eternity will reveal the final results of this watering of our hearts and souls with the water of the Word.
What a dreary desert this world would be without God’s water of life. Wherever this Word is lacking, there is a spiritual Sahara. Without the refreshing rain of the Word we would have a perpetual thirst in this life and an eternal thirst in the next life, as did the rich man in hell, who begged for a drop of water to cool his tongue.
God’s Word and Jesus are practically synonymous because Jesus is the heart and center of the Bible. The Scriptures would not be the life-giving water without Jesus, who is the “Water of Life” Our Savior tells us in John 7:37, “lf any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Again He says in Rev 21:6, “l will give unto him that is a thirst of the fountain of water of life freely.”
Jesus is the only thirst-quenching water for all sinners. Drink of Him and we shall never thirst again. Accept Him now, every sinner, as the only Savior and Redeemer, and we shall then come to that place where “The Lamb shall lead them unto living fountains of waters.”
Most of us have been living in a well-watered Garden of Eden all of our lives, for the Lord has showered His Word upon us in an abundant measure. We have been born in the church and have known God’s love and grace from childhood on. But there are still many desert places left in this world where man has not been showered with this wonderful message of Christ crucified. Should we not be mission-minded as Jesus wants us to be and help cause a rainfall of the Word in all the world? Spread the truth to the ends of the earth, and the Lord will see to it that His Word will accomplish that which He wants it to do. All who trust in the “Water of Life” will come to that wonderful place where we shall “neither thirst any more.” AMEN.
PRAYER. O dear Savior, Thou hast taught us to pray “Thy kingdom come.” Thereby Thou hast taught us to pray for the spreading of Thy Word and the growth of Thy kingdom. Give us renewed zeal to plant Thy cross from shore to shore that many more might believe in Thee and Thy holy cross. Above all, do not withdraw Thy wonder-working water from our parched souls, but let us be refreshed now and always with Thy precious Truth. O blessed Trinity, hear us for Thy holy Name’s sake. AMEN.
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?
THE SPIRIT DRIVETH JESUS INTO THE WILDERNESS
CAN MOTHER LOVE BE SURPASSED?
WHY THE BLOOD, SWEAT, AND TEARS IN GETHSEMANE?
LISTENING AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS, 1000 B.C.
Psalm 22 — Portions will appear in the sermon.
22 My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Why art Thou so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?
2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but Thou hearest not; and in the night season I am not silent.
3 But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
4 Our fathers trusted in Thee; they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them.
5 They cried unto Thee and were delivered; they trusted in Thee and were not confounded.
6 But I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men and despised by the people.
7 All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn; they shoot out their lip, they shake their head, saying,
8 “He trusted in the Lord that He would deliver him; let Him deliver him, seeing He delighted in him!”
9 But Thou art He that took Me out of the womb; Thou didst make Me hope when I was upon My mother’s breasts.
10 I was cast upon Thee from the womb; Thou art My God from My mother’s belly.
11 Be not far from Me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
12 Many bulls have compassed Me about; strong bulls of Bashan have beset Me round.
13 They gaped at Me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of My body.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue cleaveth to My jaws; and Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death.
16 For dogs have surrounded Me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me; they pierced My hands and My feet.
17 I can count all My bones; they look and stare upon Me.
18 They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.
19 But be Thou not far from Me, O Lord; O My Strength, hasten Thee to help Me!
20 Deliver My soul from the sword, My only one from the power of the dog.
21 Save Me from the lion’s mouth; for Thou hast heard Me from the horns of the unicorns.
22 I will declare Thy name unto My brethren; in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee.
23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him! All ye the seed of Jacob, glorify Him; and fear Him, all ye the seed of Israel.
24 For He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath He hid His face from Him, but when He cried unto Him, He heard.
25 My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation; I will pay My vows before them that fear Him.
26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied; they shall praise the Lord that seek Him. Your heart shall live for ever.
27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee.
28 For the kingdom is the Lord’S, and He is the governor among the nations.
29 All they that are fat upon the earth shall eat and worship; all they that go down to the dust shall bow before Him, for none can keep alive his own soul.
30 A seed shall serve Him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
31 They shall come and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that He hath done this.
Our text is a Messianic Psalm which foretells of the Lord’s sufferings and death. There are many such passages in the Old –Testament.
But this Psalm is remarkable in that the coming Messiah speaks directly to us through David. Jesus is talking of His sufferings and death about a thousand years before it happened. In this Lenten season we shall learn from Jesus’ own lips how He felt on the cross. From this Psalm we have chosen seven of His utterances.
LISTENING AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS, 1000 B.C.
- “I am despised of the people.” Psalm 22:6.
Thus spake the Lord to Himself as He observed how they all ”laughed him to scorn.” They shot out their lips and said, ”He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.” Psalm 22:8 Yes, Jesus was so humiliated that He said v.6, “I am a worm and no man.”
It is hard to understand why the people should despise Jesus so much. He did only good things among them, healing their sick and speaking words of comfort. He came to seek and save that which was lost, and He paid for the sins of the world so that all can be saved by faith alone and by grace alone. Should such a man be so despised that He cried out, “I am a worm?” How can these things be? How perverse our human nature is we shall never fully understand. Even the murderer Barabas was held in higher regard among the people than the holy Son of God.
- “They pierced my hands and my feet.” Psalm 22:6.
It is evident from these words that this Psalm is truly Messianic, for David never had his hands and feet pierced, but that was done to Jesus when they drove the spikes into His hands and feet. What a cruel and inhuman way to kill a person.
Jesus chose this disgraceful way to save the world from all sins. Even the Apostle Paul was amazed when he thought of Jesus on the cross and how He died “even the death of the cross.” The cross, ordinarily a mark of disgrace, has become a sing of glory for us because Christ chose this way to redeem us. With the words of the hymn we say, “In the cross of Christ I glory , Towering over the wrecks of time.”
- “They part my garments among them.” Psalm 22:18
Jesus could see the Roman soldiers, like vultures, pounce upon His only earthly possessions. He could see and hear them haggle over His garments and finally decide to cast lets to determine who would get full possession of them. The soldiers regarded Jesus as already dead, He would have no further need of clothes. Perhaps it was at this point that the above words ran through the mind of Jesus on the cross. Humble, lowly Jesus, born in a manger, having no place to lay His head, having no earthly belongings except His clothes, and now these were considered a prize by the soldiers and they cast lets for them. Truly He became poor that we might be made rich.
- “Why hast thou forsaken me?” Psalm 22:1.
These are the words which Jesus spoke out loud when He was on the cross and many people heard him. From the lips of anyone else these words would be fairly simple and understandable, namely, that God was not with the speaker anymore and had turned from him, or was not favorably disposed toward him.
But think what these words mean coming from Jesus. He is “God of God, Lights of Light.” He is the second person in the holy Trinity and is born of the Father from eternity. Now Jesus meant what He said and was speaking the truth: the Father DID forsake Him on the cross. How could the Father forsake His Son? What happened in the Trinity? We are faced with one of the deepest mysteries of Holy Scripture. Since only the damned in hell know the real meaning of ”forsaken of God”, then Jesus must have “been suffering the tortures and torments of the damned in our stead. It is just by this “forsaken” that we were redeemed from all sins.
- “All my bones are out of joint,” Psalm 22:14.
This is how a person must feel after hanging for a short while upon the cross. Practically the whole weight of the body would be pulling on the arms and shoulder joints. What awful torture! Such a crucified person would feel as though he were, as our Psalm says, “poured out like water.”
Our Psalm mentions all these sufferings of the crucified One, not “because God takes special delight in these tortures, but because He wants to show us how much He loved us to give His Son into such a death.
- 6. “My tongue cleaveth to my Jaws.” Psalm 22:15.
Jesus refused to drink vinegar mingled with gall because He did not want to avoid pain, He came into this world to suffer and die for a purpose, to redeem the world. Without drink for many hours, and suffering a great loss of blood, Jesus felt exactly as these words say, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd.” He tried to swallow, but His tongue would not come off His jaws. It is remarkable that He was even able to cry out loud, “I thirst.”
- “0 my God, I cry in the day time.” Psalm 22:2.
Jesus cried to God at night in the awful garden of blood, sweat, and tears. He cried to God all through His ordeal and crucifixion, in fact the whole life of our Lord was a life of prayer. He did not doubt that God would hear Him and He comforted Himself with the thought that the fathers trusted In God and He heard and helped them. Finally, when the Savior said, “It is finished,” He received the answer to all His prayers. Then with childlike confidence He fell asleep with these words on His parched lips, ”Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
Seven words from the cross about 1000 B.C. Lent in the Old testament was no different than ours. They were saved by faith in the future sufferings of the Messiah, we are saved by faith in the finished sufferings of our Redeemer.
The Lenten season, above all, makes the love of Jesus to us stand out clearer and clearer. Surely He loves us poor sinners with a love beyond comparison. May we show our thanks to Him by leading a life that is pleasing in His sight. We thank Thee, Father, Son, and Spirit for Thy wonderful salvation. AMEN
PRAYER: Dearest Savior, as we again meditate upon Thy holy Passion in this sacred season, we are once more amazed at Thine infinite love for us worthless creatures. Thou didst become poor and lowly that we might all be rich forever. Accept our humble and heartfelt thanks for all that Thou hast done for us, dear Lord, for the sake of Thy bitter sufferings and death. AMEN
WATCHING AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS, 750 B.C.
Isaiah 53— Portions will appear in the sermon.
53 Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground. He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. And we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.
4 Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth; He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare His generation? For He was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of My people was He stricken.
9 And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death, because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief. When thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied. By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He hath poured out His soul unto death. And He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Moses lived about 1500 B.C. and Isaiah lived around 750 B.C. about half way “between the time of Moses and the time of Christ.
In chapter seven Isaiah foretold, “Beheld a virgin shall conceive,” and in chapter nine we read, “Unto us a Son is given.” These are some of the Christmas promises which we love so well and they could be called the Christmas story of the Old Testament.
We also have a Lenten story of the Old Testament. In our text Isaiah uses such simple language and yet describes the details of the crucifixion and death of Jesus so accurately that you begin to think that he was an eyewitness at the very foot of the cross. Isaiah 53 is indeed a very sad and heart-breaking account of the sufferings and death of the Messiah. Yet it is a masterpiece in describing the Lenten story, almost 750 years before it happened. Little wonder that Isaiah has often been called the Evangelist of the Old Testament!
Any Old Testament child of God could also have a Lenten season every time he studied this chapter. Last Sunday we were listening at the foot of the cross, today we are going to watch at the foot of the cross and learn how He was “brought as a lamb to the slaughter.”
WATCHING AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS
- THE SUFFERING OF THE SAVIOR
Let us just pick out a list of words from this 53rd chapter which describe the sufferings of the coming Messiah. “Despised—rejected —man of sorrows—acquainted with grief—borne our grief—carried our sorrows—stricken—–smitten—-afflicted—wounded—-—slaughter——cut off from the land of the living—put him to grief-—poured out his soul unto death.”
What impression would a child of God get, from out text about the coming Savior, or Messiah? Surely not the idea which was prevalent at the time of our Lord, that the Messiah was going to regain political freedom for the Jews and set up an earthly kingdom which would surpass that of David or Solomon. Either some Jews did not believe that this chapter spoke of the Messiah, or else they perverted it.
Isaiah 53 talks only of suffering for this Servant of the Lord. The people are not going to rally around Him, on the contrary, He will be despised and rejected of them. There is no thought of an earthly kingdom found in our text, but only “grief” and “sorrow.”
It is easy for us to put the New Testament story of Lent alongside this prophecy and in that way fill out all the details. We know how the Messiah was crucified and forsaken by His Father on the cross for the sins of the
- THE SUBSTITUTION OF THE SAVIOR
Again, let us chose words and phrases in this chapter which show that the Messiah was suffering as a substitute for someone else, a vicarious suffering. “He hath borne our griefs—carried our sorrows—wounded for our transgressions—bruised for our iniquities—chastisement of our peace was upon him—-with his stripes we are healed-— Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all-—for the transgression of my people was he stricken—soul an offering for sin—shall bear their iniquities—bare the sins of many~~~made intercession for the transgressors.”
Even the phrases which show the personal holiness of the Messiah emphasize the fact that he was not suffering for some evil which He committed, but was suffering for someone else. Some of these phrases are: “opened not his mouth—lamb to slaughter-— he had done no violence— neither was any deceit in his mouth— -righteous servant.”
Again, what impression of the coming Savior would the people of God in the Old Testament receive from these words? Just this, the Messiah will be perfectly holy in Himself, yet He will offer to take the place of sinners and bear all their iniquities. In doing this He is the Servant of the Lord, in other words, the Lord is entirely pleased with Him for doing this act of substitution. Surely every child of God before the time of Christ must have learned to love the coming Savior since He was going to do this great act of love for them. Another point, since one man was going to do this, He must be much more than a mere human being.
The Pharisees crucified Jesus because He preached that He came to seek and save that which was lost. They overlooked all these statements about sin, and taught that it was possible to keep the commandments of God perfectly. They were self-righteous, and talk of a Savior from sin was foolishness in their opinion. Jesus told them in John 5:39, “Search the Scriptures (Old Testament}; for in them ye think ye have eternal life (by your self-righteousness); and they are they which testify of me [especially Isaiah 53].
Every person before Christ who believed these promises of the coming Savior was saved and went to heaven. All who rejected these promises were lost.
- THE SATISFACTION OF THE SAVIOR
Once more we shall pick out some phrases from this chapter which show us a double satisfaction; the Messiah will make satisfaction for us; and He will satisfied with the fruits of His sufferings, “we are healed—iniquity of us all–—bare sins of many.” He paid for us completely and made satisfaction for us before the scales of God’s justice.
The Messiah foresaw the many people He would save from their sins and He is satisfied and feels well repaid for all His sufferings. This is brought out by the following, “He shall see his seed—prolong his days-pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand-—shall be satisfied—portion with the great.”
It is altogether fitting and proper that the church chose Isaiah 53 as the Epistle lesson to be read in the churches on Good Friday, because it is the Lenten story in the Old Testament. We have been watching at the foot of the cross, 750 B.C.
We should all feel about the Messiah as St. Paul did in 1 Tim 1:15 “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
How can we be absolutely certain this text is a prophecy of the Savior to come? Read Acts 8:27-35 where Philip showed the eunuch that Isaiah was speaking of Jesus Christ in our text. There is only one way to heaven, by faith in the Savior; either that He will come or that He has come.
The hymn writer expresses our faith and thanks to Jesus for His love to us, “Glory be to Jesus, who in bitter pains Poured for me the life-blood from His sacred veins.” AMEN.
PRAYER Dear Lamb of God, Thy love to us poor sinners. shown to us especially in thy passion, is beyond our understanding and grasp. We can only accept it and Thy offering for us with hearts filled with gratitude. Give us Thy Holy Spirit that we may show our thanks by a newness of life in our daily living. Help us, dear Lord, for the sake of Thy bitter sufferings and death.
YOUR NAME ON THE LIPS OF JESUS IN PRAYER