Sunday, December 27, 2015

Prayer for the Disciples! - John 17:14-26

Prayer for the Disciples! - John 17:14-26
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 27, 2015

If you knew your life was going to be cut short, how would you pray for those you care about? Perhaps you do not know what you would pray, but it is a good question to consider. I believe it is because so many of us say we will pray for others but few of us truly know what to pray or how to pray for others. Often we fall back into the trite and simplistic prayers we have often voiced. I have learned over the years that prayer is so much more than we realize. We should stand in awe of the fact that our prayer is our conversation with God himself. It is not some psychological or mystical crutch we use to sooth our guilty conscience.

Here in John's gospel we find Jesus intimately praying for his disciples and for us! Why would Jesus pray if he was God? We have learned that although Jesus is God he willingly placed himself in human form, developed and taught by his example what it meant to walk closely with God. Prayer for Jesus was more than a means to ask for rescue or answers, it was a conversation. We discover some very interesting things concerning prayer as we listen anew as we study Jesus' prayer for the disciples…

READ: John 17:14-26

Prayer is not the least thing we can do, it is the best thing we can do when we ourselves cannot actively help. Prayer is not for those who do not know God because it is like whistling in the wind, one cannot expect answers from someone they do not know. We discover that…

I. Jesus' prayer was for the other worldly! (Vv. 14-17)

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

  1. This prayer of Jesus is interesting because it shares with us his deep concern he had for those he had chosen to follow him. Jesus knew he was headed home and now he relates in his prayer, "I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world." Jesus had taught the disciples the word of God, the good news concerning the Messiah and the kingdom of God and because of this the world hated them. When one hears the words of God, believes them, and follows Jesus you are no longer part of this world, you belong to God. Jesus chose each one to follow him, they decided to go with him and learn God's words and therefore they were no longer part of this world anymore than Jesus was. Now Jesus did not mean his followers were to be otherworldly, but rather his disciples were no longer part of that which is dying, fading, and lost! John would later write, "For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." (1 John 2:16-17 NIV) When one trusts Jesus they are not taken out of the world but rather they no longer belong to the world and what it longs for. Jesus continued, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." Jesus was asking that his followers would be protected from the schemes of Satan like what Judas fell for. Jesus understood what it meant to follow him and asks that his disciples be sanctified; that is made holy by the truth, the word of God! Jesus was not praying for their success, to be kept from sickness, or even to be kept from death; none of these things actually matter in God's kingdom. What matters is that we remain in Jesus! This is what Jesus prayed for! He was praying for those who knew the truth concerning the kingdom of God. Jesus' prayer was for the other worldly!

  EXAMPLE: Believers are to pray in the will of God! We waste a lot of words, time, and effort pleading with God concerning things that are of this world and not for the kingdom of God. We often already know the answer before we pray. I have heard the circular argument over and over where some are quick to ask, "Don't you believe God can answer prayers?" My reply is always, "Yes, but he will never answer prayers we already know not to pray." When Jesus remarked, "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." (Matthew 21:22 NIV) he did not mean that God is some kind of special genie who grants our every wish. We forget that Jesus qualified that when we pray, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." (John 15:7 NIV) We are to ask as we remain in Jesus; Jesus' prayer was for the other worldly!

We were warned that "when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." (Matthew 6:7 NIV) In fact, we are to pray " your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10 NIV) Why is this so important? Jesus knew that prayer is more than a list of things to recite; we learn that…

II. Jesus prayed for our sanctification! (Vv. 18-21)

As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

  1. We are not part of this world just as the one we follow is not part of this world. We now belong to God; therefore we are to live and pray like it! However, we still live in the world and we have a job to do. Jesus prays, "As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world." As his followers we are his ambassadors just as the disciples were. We are to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything [Jesus] commanded". (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV) Jesus was leaving them physically but asked God to watch over them spiritually. Jesus was already set apart for his mission but now he was dedicated to complete it on the cross. The purpose of the death of Christ was to bring believers to God's kingdom! Jesus' prayer was "not for them alone" but he also prayed "for those who will believe in me through their message"! That's us, "that all of them may be one, father, just as you are in me and I am in you!" While some erroneously think this means all Christians are to agree with one another in ecumenical unity; when heresy creeps in we are to reject it, period. Jesus was praying for the spiritual unity we enjoy and the unifying nature of adhering to God's truth! Paul would admonish we are to put on the love of God "which binds [all virtues] together in perfect unity." (Colossians 3:14 NIV) "Your attitude," Paul writes, "should be the same as that of Christ Jesus"! (Philippians 2:5 NIV) Jesus continued by praying, "May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" because he knew his mission would not be completed until he returned again. He was leaving his disciples and their disciples, us, to complete the task. Jesus was praying we would remain holy in him; Jesus prayed for our sanctification!

  EXAMPLE: It should be gratifying to realize that the Messiah, the Savior of the world prayed for our sanctification! He prayed we would remain holy in him! How sad is it then when there are those who erroneously think they have to continually do good deeds in order to garner God's grace. They forget that by the will of God "we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews 10:10 NIV) Paul told Titus that Jesus "gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." (Titus 2:14 NIV) We do good things because we love God. Jesus prayed for our sanctification!

There is a false notion that persists in our day that Jesus exists for our enjoyment and happiness. Therefore when we pray we should focus on ourselves instead of what God truly desires for us instead. In his prayer here in John's gospel we discover that…

III. Jesus prays to glorify God! (Vv. 22-26)

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.

  1. Jesus continues by praying something that we may find difficult to believe, "I have given them the glory that you gave me". What does Jesus mean? Well, he is speaking about the honor God incurred by sending Jesus as the Messiah. God did this that "they", meaning anyone who follows Jesus, "may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me." When we believe in Jesus the Holy Spirit comes to reside in each of us and when he does, we are one, united, in God. Jesus relates, "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." He desired everyone would know he had come from God and that the love of God was completely expressed through Jesus' coming! In fact, Jesus' strongest desire was that those the father had given him would be with him where he was and that they would "see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." The fellowship we will enjoy with Jesus will increase in its wonder, joy, and awesomeness! Jesus is also praying about his eternal nature and ability to do what he is praying for! He wanted the world to know exactly who God was and why he came, "though the world does not know you, I know you, and they [his followers] know that you have sent me." Jesus had in fact "made [God] known to them, and [he would] continue to make [God] known in order that the love [God had] for [Jesus] may be in them and that I myself may be in them!"  Jesus wanted the world to know the love of God and that he displayed it completely by his death and resurrection. Now, he also does it through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit which resides in those who trust him, the presence of God's love abides in those who place their faith in Jesus, God's Son. All of this was to bring glory to God. Jesus prays to glorify God!

  EXAMPLE: We can forget that Jesus "being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:8-11 NIV) If Jesus did everything in life to bring glory to God, shouldn't we also? This is why Peter would admonish us to "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." (1 Peter 2:12 NIV) We forget that even our prayer is to glorify God!

Conclusion:

Jesus' prayer was for the other worldly! Jesus Prayed for our sanctification! Jesus prays to glorify God!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

4th Sunday of Advent - Love! - Psalm 118:1-4, 22-29

4th Sunday of Advent - Love! - Psalm 118:1-4, 22-29
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 20, 2015

There is a lot of confusion concerning love in our day and age where far too many think it is sexual act or an emotion instead of what it truly is meant to be. Love is more than a feeling or a Hallmark® card moment. Love is the most revealing and intimate attitude and action a person can choose to do. It comes from the inner core of who someone is and lays bare who we are and lets down any personal guard we might possess. The Apostle Paul defined love by relating, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV) Of course he meant this as defined by Jesus who is the very definition of love in action and truth.

Here in the Psalms the writer paused to share with his readers what God meant to the Jewish nation and its people. Jeremiah the Prophet had reminded them that, "The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'" (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV) Psalms 113-118 form the Hallel, a collection of songs sung at the great festivals of Israel — Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles — as well as on other holy days. At Passover Psalms 113-114 were sung before the meal and 115-118 after it. Today, on this 4th Sunday of Advent we look again at what love truly is…

READ: Psalm 118:1-4, 22-29


In our day and age many have become cynical concerning love and it is because too many misunderstand what true love is all about. It is not the emotional rollercoaster ride of the Victorian novel, nor is it the shallow media version as seen on TV or in movies. I find it refreshing to discover that instead of these hollow versions that…

I. God's love endures forever! (Vv. 1-4)

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let Israel say: "His love endures forever." Let the house of Aaron say: "His love endures forever." Let those who fear the LORD say: "His love endures forever."

  1. Immediately the Psalmist declares, "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!" In what way is God so good that we could possibly give thanks to him? He knew something that some have forgotten, that God's "love endures forever"! This is a bold statement by the writer but one he knew about personally. David, the writer of these verses had experienced the love of God even though he had not been very trustworthy, loyal, or righteous before the Lord himself. However, David steps it up a notch by relating God's love is not momentary, it continues on and on. It is long lasting and endures. It is not like the fickle nature of human emotion so many of us have experienced; temporary, brief, fleeting and contingent upon how we feel or how others treat us. This is a reoccurring theme for David and Scripture. We find this notion in Psalms 103:17; Psalms 106:1; Psalms 107:1; and Psalms 136:1 as well as 1 Chronicles 16:34! God told Jeremiah the same thing (33:11) and that in fact Jeremiah reminds the Israelites that "The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'" (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV) This is why he writes, "Let Israel say" and "Let the house of Aaron say". And now in Jesus we find this love of God displayed for all to see and know! Paul would marvel, "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." (Ephesians 1:4-8 NIV) Now "Let those who fear the LORD say" because of Jesus, God's love endures forever!

  EXAMPLE: The term love in our day and age is often used as the answer for every ill known to mankind. However, this is a false notion because it is based on the idea that if we simply express our love by doing good things for one another then we will have world peace, enough food for everyone, and climate change. The problem is that the love the world displays is dependent upon how one feels instead of the intrinsic eternal attribute of God. The Apostle John understood this and wrote, "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:8-10 NIV) God's love endures forever!

The love of God as shown through the sacrifice of his Son displayed for the world what real love was all about. Yet it did more than that because God's love finished his work; this is why we discover from these verses that…

II. God's love completes all things! (Vv. 22-24)

The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

  1. Jesus told the parable of a landowner who planted a vineyard. He rented it to some farmers and went on a journey and when it came time to collect the harvest, he sent his servants. "The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third." He sent another group of servants and the same thing occurred and finally the landowner sends his son, thinking "They will respect my son." However they plot to kill him and take his inheritance for themselves and that is what they did. The whole sordid tale is about Israel and how it treated God's prophets and finally his only Son. Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed." (Matthew 21:42-44 NIV) Jesus quoted this verse from Psalms. Jesus was the capstone that Israel rejected. The capstone was the final stone laid in place to hold together the entire structure of the roof or archway. John would write that "we know and rely on the love God has for us." Why, because "God is love." John knew that "Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete (or is finished) among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment". (1 John 4:16-17 NIV) Jesus' love completed and finished the plan of God! This is why Jesus proclaimed as he died on the cross, "It is finished!" Complete is the final capstone of God's grand design! And just as it was "marvelous" in the eyes of David, it is truly wonderful for our eyes to behold! "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!" What David could only long for we now know for certainty; God's love completes all things!

  EXAMPLE: Over the years I have heard couples say that they were incomplete without the other person and often they did not realize it until after they had met and then had to be apart. God designed our most intimate relationship this way on purpose; it reflects, in a way, the relationship we are to experience with God. After we come to know Jesus as Savior we begin to understand that we were incomplete without Jesus in our lives. Interestingly as we look into Scripture we discover that God's plan was deliberately designed this way. In fact, we discover that God's love completes all things!

How wonderful to know that the love of God is not transitory and that it completes all things that exist. It is able to do this because of the sacrifice involved. It was willingly done and it had to be. The reason is that the plan of God was to rescue us from sin; not just the affects but the consequences. It restores our relationship with God. We learn that…

III. God's love saves us! (Vv. 25-29)


O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

  1. David immediately cries out, "O Lord, save us!" and then follows this cry with O Lord, grant us success!" He desired the salvation of his people from their enemies and success in battle against them, however, God had already planned something far more than a rescue or triumph, he intended to save those who trusted him eternally and have them triumph over death itself! David turns to asking God to praising him for the answer he already had in store for his people. So he declares, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD." It is the same cry that was proclaimed at Jesus' entry into Jerusalem by "The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, 'Hosanna to the Son of David!' 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!' 'Hosanna in the highest!'" (Matthew 21:9 NIV) "Hosanna" is from the Hebrew hôšı̂âh nā;, "Save (us), we pray!" It comes from verse 25 here in this Psalm and the crowds may have put down branches because of the prophecy of this Psalm concerning the Messiah. "From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar." Later, the Jews would wave their hands in the air as they recited this Psalm to signify their waving boughs as they praised God. When the Messiah came God's light would shine on his people. It is therefore significant that when Jesus rode into Jerusalem they did not just wave their hands but took up palm branches and laid their cloaks in his path. David's final two verses signify how much he loved and honored God for the promise of the coming Messiah, "You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." (Psalms 118:28-29 NIV) God's love saves us!

  EXAMPLE: God's love and compassion would no longer be fleeting; it would last forever. It would no longer depend upon how mankind followed his commands but rather would squarely rest on the promise of salvation through Jesus' atonement. What rules and regulations could never do, the love of God displayed through Jesus' willing sacrifice has done for us! Paul would write, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him." (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 NIV) God's love saves us!

Conclusion:

God's love endures forever! God's love completes all things! God's love saves us!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

3rd Sunday of Advent - Joy! - Jeremiah 31:11-13

3rd Sunday of Advent - Joy! - Jeremiah 31:11-13
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 13, 2015

Joy for a lot of people depends upon their physical state instead of their state of mind; they want to be happy all of the time through material things and this is impossible. We can never achieve the convoluted ideal of a perpetual happy nirvana in life. Trying to say to one's self over and over that every day in every way I am getting better and better does not make one joyful, especially when others remind you just how incompetent you might be. Joy comes from inner peace and contentment which can only truly be found in Jesus Christ. The reason is obvious; his joy is not just internal it is eternal and cannot be taken away by outside circumstances.

When the Messiah was promised by the prophets of God people began to realize that his coming would mark a new era not just in the way things were done here on earth, but his coming would affect all of creation. There would be the joy of the Lord in the midst of his people and it would not depend upon government, finances, personal relationships, or world peace; it would come from and be given by God. Let's discover this day of Advent what that joy means for us today…

READ: Jeremiah 31:11-13

Jesus is not some trinket or talisman we can place on our dashboard or hearth for personal security. He is not some entity we mutter incoherent meandering prayers to either; he is the coming of God to the world that brings us eternal life and in doing so we also discover that…

I. The joy of Advent brings God's protection! (v. 11)

For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.

  1. In our day and age and because of where we live we may not fully understand what it means to be delivered. Jeremiah is not referring to a UPS package at Christmas here. The Israelites had experienced hundreds of years of bondage to other nations and now were experiencing that same bondage from their own leaders! And added to this was the threat of war with a very aggressive and violent nation, Babylon. The Bible Knowledge Commentary states that "Jeremiah was the premier prophet of Judah during the dark days leading to her destruction. Though the light of other prophets, such as Habakkuk and Zephaniah, flickered in Judah at that time Jeremiah was the blazing torch who, along with Ezekiel in Babylon, exposed the darkness of Judah’s sin with the piercing brightness of God’s Word. He was a weeping prophet to a wayward people." Not everyone in Israel was willing to hear Jeremiah's words and in fact he was oppressed by his own people and leaders for telling them the truth! However, as negative as Jeremiah's words were to their ears he was also giving them the promise of God's joy. He tells them, "For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they." Even though God's people had fallen into sin they had hope and they would find ultimate joy in him again. In fact, God would deliver them and redeem them from their enemies. Not just the Babylonians, who would be used by God to punish his people but eternally from those who would seek to do them eternal harm. Their joy would be more than a momentary morning sunrise; it would last forever and God's powerful hand would protect them! The joy of Advent brings God's protection!

  EXAMPLE: After Jesus had sent out 72 of his disciples to heal the sick and proclaim the good news of his coming, they returned full of pride at their actions, he warned them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:18-20 NIV) Far too often we treat our relationship with Jesus as a magic pendant to ward off the evil of the world or as a means to try and garner God's guardianship as some mystical warrior to do battle with Satan for us. This is spiritual hogwash. When we have Jesus we have the full armor of God. His coming to earth, dying on the cross and rising again insures our spiritual security. We do not need to be frightened or insecure in this world. The joy of Advent brings God's protection!

We are safe and secure in Jesus, but there are those who experience the distress and sadness of the world around them. Jesus reminded his followers that in this world we would always have trouble, but we were to rejoice because he had overcome the world! (John 16:33) In fact we learn that…

II. The joy of Advent does away with sorrow! (v. 12)

They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord — the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more.

  1. In an arid climate the one thing that matters most is water. With the amounts of rainfall we have been receiving lately here in the Northwest it can be hard to understand this concept but in Israel, where the ocean clouds sweep easily across the mostly flatland and low mountains ranges, mere foothills compared to the Cascades or Rockies, rain meant a lot. It brought bigger and better harvests; grass for herds which meant more lambs being born. And all of this was important to a society where food was a daily concern. There was no refrigeration and few ways to keep food stocks fresh for more than a day. Daily shopping for food was the normal way of life. Therefore anything that brought about abundance in harvest or flocks was seen as a time of rejoicing. People could eat well, be healthier, and have more children. This is why Jeremiah proclaimed earlier, "He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd." (v.10) The rains would come in abundance when the Messiah came. "They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord — the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more." However, the promise of living water was for the coming of the Holy Spirit to the children of God. Joel would say, "In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the LORD's house and will water the valley of acacias."(Joel 3:18 NIV) And John writes in Revelations, "Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:16-17 NIV) This is why the coming of the Messiah was seen as a time of abundance and thereby rejoicing!  The joy of Advent does away with sorrow!

  EXAMPLE: In life we can often feel like those who held the fortress of Helm's Deep in Tolkien's novel Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. They had fought the evil forces for days and were at their lowest ebb physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But then dawn occurred as it always does in the east and they remembered that Gandalf had told them that on the fourth day they were to look to the east for their rescue. The light was dawning, it was a new day, and help had arrived! In the midst of their deepest sorrow and suffering, help had arrived. In the midst of our deepest suffering help has already come and is already waiting for us in Jesus. In this we know that the joy of Advent does away with sorrow!

I did not understand it when I was younger but now I truly do. What I mean is that old adage that life is what you make of it. Our life is not dependent upon what others do for us; it is fulfilled in how we live it. And the life we live in Jesus is the happiest, easy, relaxed, and contented calm there is. In fact…

III. The joy of Advent brings lasting comfort! (v. 13)


Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.

  1. When the Messiah comes things would change not only for Israel but for all people everywhere. The Messiah would be a priestly king, godly and regal, wise and wonderful. Jesus would later quote Isaiah when he stood up in the synagogue and related, "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn." (Isaiah 61:1-2 and Luke 4:18 NIV) Jesus was letting the Jews know that the words of Jeremiah, Isaiah, and all the Prophets had come true; the Messiah had come! The advent of God had arrived! John would declare, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14 NIV) The Apostle Paul would also state concerning Jesus and the eternal security he gives those who trust in him, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV) Wolford would write that "One of the many paradoxes of the Christian life is that the grace of God is most keenly experienced not in the best but in what seem to be the worst of times." And it is in these times whether the worst or the best we find the comfort of God through Jesus. Jeremiah could only dream and envision such a thing. To him and his people it would be a time of joy and everlasting comfort when the Messiah came. He was correct; the joy of Advent brings lasting comfort!

  EXAMPLE: I have an old easy chair that is very comfortable. In fat at the day's end you can often find me there reading a book, watching TV, or simply sleeping. It is filled with the memories of cuddling little boys, unwrapping the gifts of Christmas or birthdays, special and ordinary occasions, and the sorrows and joys of life. It fits me. It is comfortable. Yet it does not compare to the knowledge of knowing Jesus and security and utter comfort he brings in life. How can Jesus do this? Paul would marvel, "Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory." (1 Timothy 3:16 NIV) Jesus brings the comfort of God because he gives us the eternal promise of God that because he lives we too will live always. The joy of Advent brings lasting comfort!

Conclusion:

The joy of Advent brings God's protection! The joy of Advent does away with sorrow! The joy of Advent brings lasting comfort!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.