Just As I Told You
We live in a time of technological advancement. I had the discussion just the other day about computers. The smart phone, something that most of us have did not appear on the market until the early 90’s, and the iphone which has become ubiquitous as a cell phone did not appear until 2007. These phones have a starting memory capacity of 64GB. Now I know some of you do not consider yourself technology fluent, but let’s consider the memory for moment. A gigabyte is 1000 megabytes, a megabyte is 1000 kilobytes. To put it in perspective, the first space shuttle computer had only 128kilobytes of memory.
And it’s a good thing our phones are able to remember so much for us, because we’re trying to remember so much we can’t remember our own birthdays, much less those of our children or friends!
“Remember” is such a significant word in Christian theology. It is central to our celebration of Holy Communion as we “Remember”’ the Last Supper, “Remember” Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection, and “Remember” what Jesus and his disciples were remembering at that meal as they were remembering the passover.
Remember - Remembering what had already been known. Known, but not experienced…yet.
Remember is central to the Advent Season. We read the prophecies of the expected Messiah in our Old Testament readings, and the fulfillment of the prophecies in our New Testament readings. We’ve been talking about the simultaneous three advents that we celebrate during this season:
Advent looking BACK to Birth of Jesus
Advent looking FORWARD to Jesus Return
Advent of Jesus HERE AND NOW living in each of His followers.
Christmas is only one week away!
Have you ever had the feeling of Deja Vu? I’m sure we could sit around and tell stories about one time or another when we had that sense, that feeling that we’d been there before.
Perhaps you have that feeling every year as we come back to the story of retelling the circumstances of Jesus birth. We hear these passages year after year, perhaps you read the Bible through year after year and no doubt the stories and explanations of them are well known to you.
In biblical times, for those that were paying attention to the teaching in the synagogue, perhaps they knew what to expect. Yet clearly, when Jesus came he had some challenges to his ministry.
John 3:16 clearly tells us, of God’s love. John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
This is why Jesus came. The reason is simple - God’s love.
John 3:16 (ESV)
“God so loved the world...”
Now I’ve preached specifically on this verse here in the past, so I’m not going to spend all the time on this verse, yet it is central to the Christmas message - God loves you.
It doesn’t matter if you think you’re good or bad.
It doesn’t matter if you think you’re worthy of being loved or not.
It doesn’t matter if you think you’re better than others or less than others.
It doesn’t matter whether others have said you measure up or don’t measure up.
It doesn’t matter if people see you as a good Christian or not.
It is simple.
You are created by God,
you are fearfully and wonderfully made,
before you were knit together in your mother’s womb God knew you fully,
and your Creator God loves you. There is nothing that is going to change that.
And throughout the Old Testament we keep seeing God’s love for his people, and I would contend for all of humanity.
Throughout the Old Testament God issues warnings through his prophets and those warnings continue through the New Testament. Some people see these warnings as coming from a vengeful God - That is simply not so! A vengeful god would not warn anyone, but instead just let the wrath boil over and consume everyone in its wake. That’s not what our God does, he sends his son.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
The Creator God of the Bible from the beginning issues warnings to try and help us see the purpose for which we were created.
We were created for love, we were created to love - but we lost sight of that very early on.
Early on we were commanded to love God first (See Deuteronomy 6:5) and Love others (See Lev 19:18). So from the Torah itself we see the two greatest commandments that Jesus points us to (Matthew 22:37-40), and yet the people Jesus came to at his birth and even us today, continue to struggle to understand the simplicity of these commands.
The everlasting compassion of God continues to speak. In the Old Testament we read of so many prophecies predicting not only Jesus arrival, but the way in which he would arrive. We read this morning:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
And when we read our New Testament reading this morning we see these things happending and our reading was helpful in reminding us in Matthew 1:22-23
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
It happened just as we’d been told. Jesus has come as “with you God”. With actually implies “accompaniment, companionship, and fellowship.”
Think about that for a moment, the God who created all things comes to earth as a human being; he does not come as an emperor or conqueror, or with strong military might, but as a baby. It’s the antithesis of what you or I would imagine could be done. Jesus does not take the world by force but by humility.
When I read the prophecies of the Old Testament that are clearly fulfilled in the New Testament and some in later history, I am in awe.
When I see the prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament fulfilled in the New Testament it also gives credibility to what the Bible says will happen in the future.
As we live through this season of Advent looking forward to celebrating Jesus’ birth, looking forward to Jesus return, and celebrating Jesus presence with us in the here and now - it has to take us to a place of honest examination.
I asked you at the beginning of our message today we spoke of remembering. Remembering the Exodus and the Passover; Remembering the Last Supper; and we remember his death and resurrection.
As we move through Advent, we Remember the prophecies of Jesus’ birth; we remember what Jesus said about himself; we remember how he said he’d return, AND we remember what Jesus said about us.
We remember Jesus call for us to love one another. And we are called to examination. Am I loving my neighbor in the way I talk about others? Am I loving my neighbor in the way I talk about those I don’t like? My enemies?
As we light the candle of Love this morning, perhaps the most famous love passage of Scripture is I cor 13, and I’ll close with that passage.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Just As I Told You
Just As I Told You
I saw on a news segment that on average this takes 3 hours and 54 minutes, what is it. All sorts of guesses poured in, and since it was around the Thanksgiving holiday most of them with how long to cook a turkey.
The answer was, “The time one can spend with family before needing a break.”
The holiday season comes with all kinds of stresses. Take care of yourself so that you may love others deeply. As we look forward to a holiday about love, as followers of Christ, let us all strive to live it. AS we go into this holiday, let’s try and extend grace to one another in that love as such grace has been extended to us.
To God be the glory, AMEN!
Let me pray for you.