Sunday, December 8, 2013

Today´s Sermon

2013.12.08                                         Second Advent
                  A Light will shine!

In this wonderful Advent season we find ourselves celebrating the most important event in all of Human history! The Incarnation…. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem……. God with men….. God demonstrating his unfailing love for us by becoming flesh….. As we look back to the birth of Jesus we see that the shadow of the cross was over that manger bed….. Jesus was truly born to die…. He came that we might have life!

Good morning everyone……. We´re glad you´re here!

I love the Advent season…. I love all of the old Christmas hymns and songs …. One of my favorites is Joy to the World….. We have been spending a lot of time talking about persecution and suffering….. I want to spend some time today talking about the Joy that we find in the Lord Jesus….. We will spend some time back in the Gospel of Luke….
Luke’s gospel is the one with the most emphasis on the Holy Spirit and on joy...... He demonstrates that the Good News is for all people……… Luke was a gentile….. an outsider……. According to the Jews……. Gentiles were outside of the grace of God…… 

Luke’s gospel is the one with the most emphasis on preaching the good news (the gospel)....... The Good News is our source of great joy…. This term is used ten times in this Gospel (and only once in any other Gospel) as well as fifteen additional times in Acts.......

Luke understood how very important our mission is…….
Because Luke is the only Gentile (Heathen) author in the entire Bible…..  someone told Him the Good News…. Today We know what the Good News is …..because of His writing…….. It is a wonderful…. Joyful account of hopefulness…. He himself was rescued from the darkness and bondage of sin….. because he heard the good news!
Luke made sure we understand the Good News…. And our responcibility to proclaim it to a lost and dying world….
We are now the light of the world! We have been sent!
I love to study the OT prophet Isaiah…… Many scholars call it the 5th Gospel because it is filled with the Good news of our great God and redeemer the Lord Jesus Christ….
Isaiah prophesied at a ve4ry difficult time in Israel´s history…. It was a time of darkness and despair…. Israel was deep in sin and rebellion and judgment was coming….. They were in very dark times….In Isaiah ch 8….. Isaiah told of the certain judgment to come at the hands of the Assyrians….. The also gave them a word of comfort…… He reminded them that  God´s promise to dwell with men was to be accomplished….. The Long promised Messiah would come to redeem them…. A light will shine again into their dark despair…. Let´s turn to Isaiah 9…v1…
Isaiah 9:1-2              NLT

1 Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. 2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.

Isaiah 8: 23 und 9:1          Neues Leben

8:23 Doch diese Zeit der Dunkelheit und Verzweiflung wird nicht für immer andauern. Wurden früher auch das Land Sebulon und das Land Naftali gedemütigt, so wird später das Gebiet der Völker, die Gott nicht kennen, die Straße am Meer jenseits des Jordan, zu Ehren kommen.

1 Denn das Volk, das in der Dunkelheit lebt, sieht ein helles Licht. Und über den Menschen in einem vom Tode überschatteten Land strahlt ein heller Schein.

A great light!   Redemption will come at the darkest of times…. We are not retelling stories here….. We can trust this book..... Ignore the so called scholars who from unbelief have tried to discredit the Word of God... It is all true…. Every word of it…. The doubters will be proved wrong..... everyone of them....

In 1947 the dead sea scrolls were discovered at Qumran....  Today we have a perfect copy of Isaiah that was written more than 150 years before Jesus was born….. The Isaiah scroll.....It can be viewed in Jerusalem in the Shrine of the Book…… Isaiah wrote more about the coming of the Messiah that any other prophet…..

Advent is a great time to look at the Prophesies of Jesus´ birth and Ministry…..

In Isaiah we just read that Galilee of the Gentiles…will be filled with the Glory of God…..

Isaiah 9:1        NLT    Neues Leben
  2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.
1 Denn das Volk, das in der Dunkelheit lebt, sieht ein helles Licht. Und über den Menschen in einem vom Tode überschatteten Land strahlt ein heller Schein.

A light will shine…… This text was written written 700 years before Jesus´birth……
Turn with me to Luke 1……. Let´s look at the time of Jesus birth….

 Luke 1: 5-7     NLT

5 When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. 6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.

Luke 1: 5-7     Neues Leben

5 Zu der Zeit, als Herodes König von Judäa war, lebte ein jüdischer Priester namens Zacharias. Er war Priester von der Ordnung des Abija, und auch seine Frau Elisabeth stammte aus dem Priestergeschlecht Aarons.
6 Zacharias und seine Frau führten ein gottesfürchtiges Leben und befolgten alle Gebote und Vorschriften des Herrn.
7 Sie hatten keine Kinder, weil Elisabeth unfruchtbar war, und jetzt waren sie beide schon sehr alt.

v5…… When Herod was king…..
The years before Jesus birth were Dark times in Israel..... For at least 500 years there were no prophets....

For many years they had been ruled by foreigners… Greeks and Romans for centuries..... Nehemiah was the last great Jewish leader....

Then there was Herod.....

This is the man known as Herod the Great, who was at the end of a long and terrible reign....... He was a very wicked man.....
He was not a descendant of Israel........ but of Jacob’s brother Esau….. an Edomite, or an Idumean........ He was politically connected.....  He knew Caesar..... He knew Cleopatra... He was elected the King of the Jews by the Roman senate....

He was known for his spectacular building programs….. but even more so for his paranoid cruelty…… which drove him to execute many, including members of his own family..... and religious rulers....even some that he had appointed.... But there were God fearers in Israel….. God always has a remnant….. We find some of them in our text this morning…

v5..... Zacharia and Elisabeth….  It was believed to be a double blessing to be married to a daughter of Aaron...

v 6.... God Fearers.....

Zechariah and Elizabeth  were righteous and obedient....... They were Pharisees in the best sense.... not at all hypocrites.... they were sincere...( without wax....) nothing to hide...
They desired and prayed sincerely for the consolation of Israel...... Which means that they prayed earnestly for the coming of the Messiah..... v8….

Luke 1: 8-10   NLT

8 One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. 9 As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

Luke 1: 8-10       Neues Leben

8 Eines Tages, als Zacharias seinen Dienst im Tempel verrichtete, weil in dieser Woche seine Ordnung an der Reihe war,
9 wurde er nach priesterlichem Brauch durch das Los dazu ausgewählt, das Heiligtum zu betreten, um das Rauchopfer darzubringen.
10 Währenddessen stand draußen eine große Menschenmenge und betete.

Only certain priests could serve in the Holy place in the temple...... Over the years the number of priests multiplied....... (there were said to be as many as 20,000 priests in the time of Jesus) casting the lot determined which priests would serve when...... he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense....... Each priest allowed this privilege only once in his life........

To a godly man like Zacharias, this would be the biggest event of his life...... a tremendous privilege, a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.......  Zacharias must have wondered what it would be like to enter the holy place.......

It is also easy to imagine Zacharias asking the other priests who had already burned incense before the Lord what it was like...... asking them if they had any unique spiritual experience when they were ministering before the Lord...... This whole event was filled with enormous anticipation......

Zachariah.... his type of priests were called rustic priests.... they were not educated in the best schools...... they were not born into the best and wealthiest of the priestly families..... they were plain simple folk...... God has always chosen the least ....the poor....the weak to shower with mercy and favor... God chose Zacharias to receive the Good News that at long last….. God would again visit his people to deliver them……. This time….. The Messiah….. God Incarnate would come…..….

The Angel Gabriel could have appeared to the High Priest...... part of the wealthy and powerful religious leaders..... that would seem a better choice in a worldly sense........ but Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth were part of the remnant that still truly Loved the Lord..... they prayed earnestly for the Messiah..... the Comfort of Israel...

At long last the Lord sent them the answer to their prayers..... both private and personal ( at last a son!)..... now many years did they cry out to God for help and for deliverance..... then at long last in an instant........ a miracle of grace and a demonstration of his unfailing love... a son..... and their son John the Baptizer to be...... the forerunner of the Messiah!......Filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother´s womb.... God is pouring grace out on this couple…… He is pouring grace out on a lost and dying world….

Beloved....the LORD will send you the answer to your prayers.....

He will answer the cries of your hearts.........hang on to Jesus........ trust in His unfailing love and mercy..... Receive the Grace that He offers today….. Zacharias and his dear wife received grace this day….. I want to tell you a little about the Things that happened in the Temple this special morning….

It was the time of the Morning Sacrifice.......
The Priest on the highest pinnacle of the Temple had watched for the first rays of light at sunrise….......  Within the Courts below all had long been busy......
Each day about fifty priests were on duty....... They washed and put on clean robes…. They inspected the Temple courts by torchlight........ Lots were drawn for the Priests who would have the special privilege of going into the Holy Place this morning….
While the sacrifice was prepared for the altar….. the priests……. had made ready all within the Holy Place…. where the most solemn part of the day's service was to take place - that of offering the incense…. The incense clouds that rise before the Ark of the covenant represent  Israel's  prayers..... Zacharias was chosen to be honoured with this highest  act of intercession for the people....... Only once in a lifetime might any one enjoy that privilege......

From now on…… he was called rich...... As they all prepared to service the Lord and His people….
The priests began with prayer and confession of their sins and trust in Almighty God……

Zacharias must have been well known in the Temple......   each course was on duty twice a year….. and, unlike the Levites, the priests were not disqualified by age, but only by infirmity....... In many respects he seemed different from those around..... His home was not in either of the great priest- centers - the Ophel- quarter in Jerusalem, nor in Jericho - but in a small town in the highlands south of Jerusalem: the hill-country of Judea……. He was a priest, and married to the daughter of a priest…… It was supposed to give him a double blessing.....  
Now his time had come....... He was going to stand before the Lord.... Enter the Holy of Holies and offer up the prayers of the Saints....

There had never been a vision given to an ordinary Priest in the act of offering up incense....... But God had a special plan for this man and his wife…. Let´s look at Luke 1:11…..
Luke 1: 11- 23          NLT

11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him.

13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.

16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”

 18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”

 19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

 21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. 22 When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.

 23 When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. 24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. 25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”

Luke 1: 11- 25        Neues Leben

11 Als Zacharias im Heiligtum war, erschien ihm ein Engel des Herrn. Dieser stand rechts neben dem Altar für das Rauchopfer.
12 Zacharias erschrak bis ins Herz,
13 doch der Engel sagte: »Hab keine Angst, Zacharias! Gott hat dein Gebet erhört. Deine Frau Elisabeth wird dir einen Sohn schenken, und du sollst ihn Johannes nennen.
14 Du wirst überglücklich sein bei seiner Geburt, und viele Menschen werden sich mit dir freuen,
15 denn er wird in den Augen des Herrn groß sein. Er wird keinen Wein oder andere berauschenden Getränke anrühren und schon vor seiner Geburt2 mit dem Heiligen Geist erfüllt werden.
16 Und er wird viele Israeliten dazu bringen, sich wieder dem Herrn, ihrem Gott, zuzuwenden.
17 Er wird ein Mann mit dem Geist und der inneren Kraft des Propheten Elia sein, der dem Herrn vorausgeht und das Volk auf seine Ankunft vorbereitet. Er wird die Herzen der Väter ihren Kindern zuwenden und die Ungehorsamen dazu bewegen, sich der göttlichen Weisheit zu öffnen.3«
18 Zacharias fragte den Engel: »Wie kann ich sicher sein, dass das wirklich geschehen wird? Ich bin jetzt ein alter Mann, und auch meine Frau ist schon in fortgeschrittenem Alter.«
19 Da sagte der Engel: »Ich bin Gabriel. Ich habe meinen Platz in der Gegenwart Gottes. Er hat mich mit dieser frohen Botschaft zu dir gesandt!
20 Weil du meinen Worten nicht geglaubt hast, wirst du nicht mehr sprechen können, bis das Kind geboren ist. Denn meine Worte werden sich erfüllen, wenn die Zeit gekommen ist.«
21 Mittlerweile warteten die Menschen draußen auf Zacharias und wunderten sich, wo er so lang blieb.
22 Als er endlich heraustrat, konnte er nicht zu ihnen sprechen. An seinen Gesten erkannten sie jedoch, dass er im Heiligtum des Tempels eine Vision gehabt hatte.
23 Er blieb im Tempel, bis die Zeit seines Dienstes vorüber war, und ging dann nach Hause.
24 Kurze Zeit später wurde seine Frau Elisabeth schwanger. Sie zog sich fünf Monate lang zurück.
25 »Wie gütig doch der Herr ist!«, rief sie. »Er hat mich von der Schande der Kinderlosigkeit befreit!«

v11…. an angel of the Lord appeared to him,
v12…… Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him……
This had never happened before……..not to a normal priest….
v13……. the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer……. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son……. and you are to name him John……
A child!.... Unbelieveable! and a son…… This miracle was something that they had prayed for…… for many years…….. For them to be childless was a great tragedy…… now at long last…..God had answered them with a miraculous promise……

While the priest was in the temple with the incense……. The people were outside praying to the LORD…… Trusting the Almighty God to hear and answer their prayers…….. they were standing with Zacharias’……… lifting their needs up to the LORD…..
v14…… You will have great joy and gladness…… and many will rejoice at his birth……
v15…… for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord……. John is the forerunner of the Messiah……….. Good News…… the darkness of despair was soon to end……..

The Messiah is coming…..there is hope………
You shall soon see Immanuel…… God with us!
v16….. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God.
v17….. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah….. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”
The glorious light of the Gospel……. Shining out from Galilee to the whole world…….
v20…… But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”
Zachariah…….. was struck dumb…..unable to speak……… He had Just heard the GOOD NEWS….. The Messiah was coming to redeem and rescue man from deepest darkness…… But he was silent and unable to speak until He saw the birth of his son and named Him John……. We have heard and believed the GOOD NEWS….. but we are also often silent? Why? Are we afraid of something?…….
Well Zacharias went home and Elisabeth became pregnant….. A miracle…. V25…

v25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed…… “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”
These wonderful saints of God……. Waited for God to answer their prayers…… They had perhaps prayed for children thousands of times……. I suppose they had stopped praying by now……… They were old……but they never lost their trust in the LORD……. They did not allow themselves to be overcome with bitterness….. they continued to serve and trust in God….. Maybe they had lost hope by now……I think they had accepted…..The answer as no……. But God had a plan……God´s plan was far greater than they could have possibly imagined………. As Elisabeth exclaims….. How kind the Lord is…..! How great is our God!!!
The forerunner of the Messiah ? Their son? Yes! Zacharias got his voice back and he rejoiced and he worshipped his redeemer….. let´s look at 67….

Luke 1: 67- 75       NLT 

67 Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:
68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69 He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David,
70 just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.

71 Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us.
72 He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant—
73 the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham.

74 We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.

Luke 1: 67- 75       Neues Leben
67 Sein Vater Zacharias wurde mit dem Heiligen Geist erfüllt und weissagte:
68 »Gelobt sei der Herr, der Gott Israels, denn er ist zu seinem Volk gekommen und hat es erlöst.
69 Einen mächtigen Retter aus dem königlichen Geschlecht seines Knechtes David hat er uns gesandt,
70 wie er es vor langer Zeit durch seine heiligen Propheten versprochen hat.
71 Nun werden wir vor unseren Feinden und vor allen, die uns hassen, gerettet werden.
72 Er hat unseren Vorfahren Barmherzigkeit erwiesen, indem er seinen heiligen Bund mit ihnen nicht vergisst,
73 den Bund, den er mit unserem Stammvater Abraham schloss.

74 Wir wurden vor unseren Feinden gerettet,
75 damit wir Gott an jedem einzelnen Tag unseres Lebens ohne Furcht dienen können in Heiligkeit und Gerechtigkeit.

Redemption…. Compassion….. Grace…. Mercy in action….. look at verses 74 and 75…….

74 We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.

God´s plans are always far better than anything that we can hope for…… Let´s trust Him with our future……Let´s trust him with our lives……… He is faithful….. He is worthy of our praise….., He always keeps His promises….

He is the one who said… I will never leave you! I will never forsake you! Deut 31:6……. We have been offered grace….. so that we can demonstrate God´s grace in our lives by the way we treat others….. even our enemies….
We receive God´s grace and we become light´s in this dark and lost world….
We have been saved…. rescued to serve our great redeemer…  to proclaim the GOOD NEWS……


God has chosen to reveal himself to us…. In and through the Lord Jesus Christ…. He is the perfect image of the Father!.... John said in John 1:14… The Word became flesh… we have seen His Glory!  …. He has decided to tabernacle with us…. To redeem us… What a revelation…… The Glorious presence of the Lord Jesus in our lives shines a glorious light on all of our hard times in this dark and dying world…

What is the connection between all this revelation and us? John 1 V 16 gives the answer….. Turn to John 1: 16….

John 1: 16-18               NLT
16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

John 1: 16-18               Neues Leben
16 Immer und immer wieder haben wir den Reichtum seines Segens empfangen.
17 Denn das Gesetz wurde durch Mose gegeben; Gottes Gnade und Wahrheit aber kamen durch Jesus Christus.
18 Niemand hat Gott je gesehen. Doch sein einziger Sohn, der selbst Gott ist, ist dem Herzen des Vaters ganz nahe; er hat uns von ihm erzählt.

God came not just to show us grace but to give us grace; and we must receive it……. And we have the privilege and responsibility to pass it on…

God doesn't just want us to know about his truth and grace, he wants you to receive it and experience it…….

This Christmas he wants to give us all abundant  grace…. to forgive all our sins….. all of them!  

This Christmas he wants to give us a strong foundation of truth and reality to stand on….. so we won't cave in under the stress of disasters and hard times…… Here´s the truth! The Good News….
The baby born in a manger….. Jesus…. Is God in the flesh….. He promises to take away all your guilt…. to make your conscience clean….. He will wash you white as snow…  He will help us make it through all of our problems….. He will  give us strength for each day…. Jesus has come to give us grace and mercy poured out on our lives….  to fill us with hope and joy and peace……. In the middle of our trials….  Isn't that the meaning of grace? And isn't that why he pitched his tent among us?

God has revealed Himself to us in the face of Jesus Christ….. Full of grace and truth…. John 1: 14….
Don't spurn it this morning…… Receive it……. Welcome it for what it really is….. Abundant grace and mercy…. Far greater than all of our sins….. Far greater than our faults….. far greater than the disasters that come to every living creature in this fallen world…. We who have repented of our sins and been born again have received grace upon grace for our great God and Redeemer the Lord Jesus Christ…. It´s good news…. We need to only look around us and see how very dark and lost this world still is…. We need to remember how very dark our own personal world was…. before we repented and came to the Lord Jesus…. Paul reminds us very well in Ephesians… 2.. v1

Ephesians 2: 1-5                  NLT   
2 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

Ephesians 2: 1-5                  Neues Leben

1 Auch ihr wart früher tot aufgrund eurer Sünden.
2 Ihr habt genauso in der Sünde gelebt wie der Rest der Welt, beherrscht von Satan, der im Machtbereich der Luft regiert. Er ist der Geist, der in den Herzen derer wirkt, die Gott nicht gehorchen wollen.
3 Wir alle haben früher so gelebt und uns von den Leidenschaften und Begierden unserer alten Natur beherrschen lassen. Wir wurden mit dieser Natur geboren und waren Gottes Zorn ausgeliefert wie alle anderen Menschen auch.
4 Doch Gott ist so barmherzig und liebte uns so sehr,
5 dass er uns, die wir durch unsere Sünden tot waren, mit Christus neues Leben schenkte, als er ihn von den Toten auferweckte. Nur durch die Gnade Gottes seid ihr gerettet worden!

We were dead…. We were following our desires and sinful natures….. But God…. Who is rich in mercy…. What grace and mercy and unfailing love….  Let this Good News  fill your heart with everlasting joy this season…. Joy to the world!

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