It's Good News.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight O,Lord, our King, our Strength, and our Redeemer! AMEN.
Today's sermon is entitled:
“IT'S GOOD NEWS!”
I love Christmas! It's my favourite time of year!
I look forward to it all year long,almost the moment it ends...I look at the gathering here today,on this Holy innocents day, and I sense you had a wonderful Christmas and this time is special for you as well.
But why is Christmas special?
A PROCLAMATION HAD BEEN MADE OF GOOD NEWS-
“Great joy to all people – a Saviour,Christ the Lord. The sign- a babe lying in a manger in swadlling cloths,angels singing...glory to God in the highest... peace, goodwill towards men!
The most incredible proclamation of all time... and the fulfilment of the most incredible prophecy of all time –
It's recorded for us in Isaiah 9: 6-7
“For unto us a child is born.
To us a son is given
and the government will be on his shoulders
his name will be called Wonderful,Counsellor, mighty God,
Everlasting Father,Prince of Peace
of the increase of his government & of peace there shall be no end.
On the throne of David & on his Kingdom to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from that time on even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of armies,will perform this.”
Brothers and sisters we have come to church today filled with the afterglow of Christmas- maybe we should be sitting upright, astounded,thunderstruck as we realize God, yes, the Almighty God has come down from the highest heaven,taken on human form,and we have just celebrated the most wonderful day in human history.
EMANUEL – GOD IS WITH US!
Yesterday,Today,Tomorrow & Forever more !
What was set in motion,on the first Christmas over 2,000 years ago, can never be stopped,by any power in creation- that's good news that we want to hold in our hearts today...this'
however is only the beginning -what begins with Jesus birth would be fully accomplished on a hill outside Jerusalem. This,too,we must keep in our hearts for is is good news!
This Sunday,though, in our Church's calendar is known as Holy Innocents Day, and our Gospel reading moves on in Luke from verse 20 to verse 40 of Luke's second lesson. We heard that Jesus' birth is followed by three ceremonies;
Jesus is circumcised,and given his Name when he is eight years old..(the meaning is the Lord saves.)and then there is the ceremony of Purification. the end of the period for Mary's purification after childbirth and a sacrifice being made for Jesus; the prophesy of Simeon and the prophesy of Anna. There then follows info on the favour on His life.
When we consider the gospel reading for today we probably think in terms of the impact it must have had on Joseph and Mary; and especially Mary. What I'd like us to think of now though is the meaning that it should have for us today.
The sacrifice for a first-born son, designated him (in this case Jesus) as holy to the Lord; in other words – dedicated to God. Since Egypt when Israel's first-born sons were spared, they were all Holy to the Lord. But also as the son of God, Jesus was again Holy to the Lord – twice Holy!
What does this mean for us? 21st century Christians? When we truly give ourselves to God, making Him Lord and Master of our lives, He forgives us, puts us in the kingdom of God and makes us holy, Holy to the Lord!How does this come about ?
When we acknowledged Jesus as our Saviour we received the Holy Spirit and He started to renew our minds to be like the mind of Christ.
But we have to submit to Holy Spirit doing this work in our lives. Faith comes by hearing and hearing, by the word of God. We have two hours in the service each Sunday. Are we listening to what God has for us or are we doing our own thing? Is this God's time for us to draw close to Him, or is it our time to catch up on news?
If Jesus is Lord to us, then in whatever we plan to do we should say to ourselves, “What would Jesus do if He were me?”, and when we do that; then we are, “Holy to the Lord!” That is how we are “Holy, as He is Holy”. We are separated from the world's way of doing things, and looking to do God's will.
What's the parallel. As a living sacrifice, acceptable to God, we live lives pleasing to God and He imputes Jesus' righteousness to us and sees us as a holy people.
The next thing in the gospel reading is that Simeon comes on the scene in the temple and he makes a very interesting prophesy about Jesus. He says that Jesus is the Lord's salvation.
This gives us the confirmation that Jesus was born to be the Saviour of the world. Jesus would be a light to the gentiles AND be for the glory of Israel.
But Simeon does not stop there! He continues to outline that Jesus would not be welcomed everywhere and that because of Him, Mary would be pierced through the heart.
The message for us is that on accepting Jesus we are saved. For the true believer your salvation is secure. On the other hand in your life after your salvation is given to you, there will be trials, but remember Jesus is with you always. He will never leave you or forsake you!
Jesus told us that in this world we would have tribulation, but we were not to worry – He has overcome the world! This is indeed good news for all people – Jew or gentile.
Next Anna, a prophetess who was married for 7 years and then a widow until her 84th year gives her prophesy. She forth-tells that through Jesus all Israel will be redeemed.
Jesus has indeed paid for all our sins, paying the penalty we were due thus redeeming us from spiritual death. Knowing this we should live our lives wholly dependent on Jesus our redeemer.
Not only is Jesus our redeemer but he is our refuge, like the cities of refuge in ancient Israel. Those cities were only of refuge to someone while the current High Priest was alive. When he died they had to leave. But our High Priest, Jesus, has everlasting life, so He is our refuge forever and so lives to guarantee our ongoing life in the kingdom of God. This is good news!
But what about our lives now? What can we expect as we follow Jesus.
Verses 39 and 40 tell us what the result will be when we do this. Jesus is our example and when we live like Him and let Him live through us, we will find favour with God and men.
Of course it's the favour of God that really matters but the people of God will also find favour with those with whom God is working. good news.
Now we know that Jesus did not find favour with all people in His home town. In His ministry Jesus wanted to serve and heal people in the town but He could not because of their attitude.
It will be the same for Christians also. Those who oppose them will bring trials on them because as we said earlier,in this life we will have tribulation, but those opposers will also lose out on the blessing from God that they could have, until they give their hearts truly to the Lord.
So what's the overall message? It's good news!
When we accept Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf we benefit from all the blessings that Jesus came to give us at His expense.
Holiness. Salvation. Redemption. Refuge and Favour. These are all ours as we truly give our lives to God. Good news indeed!
By truly accepting Jesus as Lord and saviour and letting Him live His life through us, as we are guided by the motto - “What would Jesus do here?
He not only comes to us in Christmas ,but in minor everyday happenings- our body is the stable and our hearts the manger!
Then we will have all these things – holiness, redemption, refuge, and favour, not by our efforts but by faith, through God's grace. We realize....What a wonderful God we serve!
EVERY DAY IS CHRISTMAS!
May the love of God,which passes all understanding,keep our hearts and minds,in the knowledge of Jesus Christ,(God incarnate,) and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ –( our saviour and redeemer,)and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and forever.