The Year of the Lord's Favor

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Send so we're going to be looking at Isaiah chapter 61 here this morning. I want you to as you're turning their ticket in spare a brief glance up through the screen and notice of the Temple of this message, which is the year of the Lord's favor. How many of you would say that 20/20 must certainly be the year of the Lord's favor? Well write in a week, I will freely admit here that I suffer like many of my generation from the kind of historical myopia. That is that is increasingly common in our day and age and so I think that if we looked historically there are certainly other candidates for worst year ever. However, this one is in the running. It feels like we were talking about wildfires were talking about coronavirus politics earthquakes murder Hornets, right? Whatever it is. It seems like 20 20. I have had it in store for us and good news. It's only July. We still got a lot more 20/20 that we could experience. Who knows what he did. So again, I recognize that historically there have been other bad years, but I do want to challenge us for just a second and say that perhaps we've got the narrative wrong. Perhaps we have let the lens of our personal experience Drive our understanding of 20 20 more than we have what it is that God might be doing in these things. And in this time, I want to propose that it is possible that 20/20 far from being the worst year ever. I could instead be the year of the Lord's favor. Now this phrase comes directly from Isaiah chapter 61, and so what I want to do this morning is I want to read this passage together and then reflect on it together and reflect on the whole passage were just going to reflect on the 1st part of it. I want to set it in context year. Isaiah is riding in Isaiah 53 at the passes that I've quoted and shared with you before right. This is a proclamation of the Gospel the identity of the one who would come to redeem Humanity the one who would fulfill God's promise and he's this suffering servant who comes and then in in the chapters in suing from that we get the the implications of this for God's people the kind of reality that this suffering servant King is going to usher in and Isaiah 61 is a declaration of that reality. It is meant to be seen by us as an exposition. If you will of the messiah's role of his agenda of his people of his kingdom of his character and it's meant to elicit to call forth from Us Praise as the people of God. And so that's what we're going to look at this morning and Isaiah 61 read with me if you will. Isaiah 61 starting a verse When the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the Brokenhearted to clean Liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of Vengeance of Our Lord to comfort all who mourn to Grant to those who mourn in Zion to give them a beautiful headdress instead of Ashes the oil of gladness instead of mourning the garments of phrase instead of a faint spirit that they may be called Oaks of righteousness the planting of the Lord that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins. They shall raise up the former devastations. They shall prepare the ruined cities and the devastations of many generations strangers Shelton's band intends your flocks. Foreigner shall be your Plowman and vinedressers, but you shall be called the priest of the Lord they shall speak of you as the Ministers of our God you shall eat the wealth of the nation than in their Glory. You shall boast instead of your shame there shall be a double portion instead of Dishonor. They shall rejoice in their lot there for in their lands. They shall possess a double portion. They shall have everlasting. Joy for I the Lord love Justice. I hate robbery and wrong. I will Faithfully give them the recompense and I will make an Everlasting Covenant with them their offspring shall be known among the Nations and their descendants in the midst of the people's all who see them shall acknowledge them that they are an offspring the Lord has blessed. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord my soul shall exalt in my God for he have clothes me with the garments of Salvation. He is covered me with the Robes of righteousness as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress. The bride adorns herself with her Jewels for as the Earth brings forth its sprouts and as a garden causes what is Stone in it to sprout up? So the Lord God will cause righteousness and phrase to sprout up before all the nations. Would you guys pray with me?

Father this passage describes the reality.

And God when we are in troubled times when we Face turbulent Waters, it can be an incredibly refreshing sites to see your peace declared in such a way to have your agenda for Redemption and healing revealed. Got to hear your promises to your people. God made weed long for your promises to be fulfilled God may we desire nothing more than to see the Messiah in his kingdom advance? Against all Challengers and father. Would you give us Grace to understand your word this morning. Would you help us to receive it with glad hearts and to Worship in the lives. We lead out of this place. I ask in Jesus name. Amen. Do Isaiah 61 just briefly to break it down. VS1 and vs2, which is where we're going to focus. Our attention. This morning is really a description of the messiah's agenda. Right is the description of the messiah's agenda. This is what he's going to do and then in three through six, we have this description of his people right in light of what the Messiah does. Here's the reality for his people and then in seven and eight we have this declaration of his character. This is who he is and this is why he's doing what he does. And then finally it ends with praise from his people and I would encourage you as I as I would encourage you every week to spend time in the word of God. After Sunday worship to spend some time in the word of God this week, maybe looking deeper into Isaiah 61 before this morning. We just we're going to focus our attention on versus 1 and 2 and I've called at the messiah's agenda. Why do why do I do that? Why do I say that? Say that because that's what Jesus says As the agenda for his ministry. That's what Jesus does in Luke chapter 4 and you can turn their if you want to check me on this. I'm not going to read the whole passage but in Luke chapter 4 Jesus is in the synagogue as was his custom on the Sabbath and he is there and as he's there are they hand him a scroll now the the synagogue worship service if you will was was shaped by various readings from the word of God the Old Testament and Jesus was selected to read a portion and then to explain it. He was selected basically to be the visiting preacher for the synagogue and he's handed The Scroll of the prophets and he opens it and what passage does he open to but Isaiah 61 and he says the spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the Brokenhearted to Brooke. Liberty to the captives the opening of the prison to those who are bound to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor in the day of Vengeance of our God to comfort all those who mourn any reads it and sits down and he says today this scripture is fulfilled. And the people Marvel, right? They they Marvel at the fact that Jesus who they know. Would say that that have been fulfilled and then Jesus explains the passage and he talks about several events from the Old Testament in which the work of God. Was to not just the Israelites not just for the Jews, but it included Gentiles as well even in the Old Testament and the people want to kill him.

Now you can't read in my mind verses 1 and 2 and come away thinking man. We got to kill this guy. Right time from cleaning good news to the poor. What's what's worthy of death in that. I'm proclaiming Liberty to the captives, right? Those unjustly imprisoned. I'm going to set them free. I'm going to declare the reality of God's love and God's justice. I'm going to comfort those who mourn let's kill him.

How does this follow why in the world is this passage the messiah's agenda? Why in the world is this enough to cause the people of God who were waiting for the Messiah who had read Isaiah for them who longed for the Fulfillment of this very passage. Why would they hear Jesus read it explain it and say we've got to kill this guy.

Right now at this point if you are a church person, I don't want to assume that we're all church people here. Right? This may be your first time in church. And if so, you can ignore me for the next couple seconds. If you're at church person know, you know this like, you know, the story of the Gospel that the Jewish Messiah was rejected by the Jewish people. So when you hear yep, Jesus said something to the Jews wanted to kill him, you're like a that's just par for the course right when you hear that. You're just yep. Yep moving on. Jesus is the Messiah he fulfills the Old Testament Promises of the Messiah and the Jews want to kill him because of it. Okay moving on. That's not the point. The Jews don't want to kill Jesus because he says he's going to fulfill this. The problem is who he says, he's fulfilling it for the problem is that Jesus says the Fulfillment of this passage for the Messiah is going to bring a blessing like it did in a way like it did in the form of days of Israel. It's going to bring a blessing. To those outside of the circle to those outside of the synagogue walls II Jesus Messiah of Jews want to come and we think about this if Jesus was here this morning. And he read this and he said the Fulfillment of this is not about you. It's about your community. The Fulfillment of this is not about these people inside these four walls. It's about the community in which you find yourself the places where God might send you it's about those outside the walls. What do you think would we respond? With a what? Yeah, we know that Jesus was or doing that weird. That's how we're living that were following you or would we respond with maybe not wanting to kill Jesus but certainly not wanting him to preach again. Certainly not wanting to have him bring the message next week. Jesus were comfortable. We like what you're doing in our midst. We don't want to hear about the fact that you might cause us to be uncomfortable or to go outside of these walls, but I'm afraid that for many of us. We've adopted a perspective on the gospel. Bit like the Jews would point to our Circle and say this is where God works. And would point to this gathering on Sunday morning and say this is where God works and if those heathens out there want to find God they're welcome to come in. Nothing stopping them. We don't have guards posted at the door keeping people out if people really wanted Jesus they could come find him in here with us. That seems to be this perspective that many of us have this is where God works. This is where we're comfortable. Come on in if you want Jesus if you don't well, that's kind of what we expected anyways. This is borne out by the statistics. This is born out this perspective saying come on in if you want to see God work. 70% according to one researcher 70% of the church's Evangelistic effort is focused on historically Christian countries. 70% of our attempts to take the gospel. And this is not just Red Hills. This is not just the American judge. This is the church globally 70% of our efforts are focused on places where Jesus has already proclaimed every Sunday in churches.

The church separate statistics in the church in the west keeps over 90% of God's resources for itself. This is not just Financial Resources. This is the time commitment of its members. This is the buildings that we occupy. These are the resources that we produce Bibles theological writings 90% of the resources of the church in the West. Are caps for itself? Seminary people Seminary graduates 9 out of 10 will stay in this country. Less than one will go to the nation's and we can even make it personal right? I've been kind of saying okay. Here's the global Church 70% of our efforts are focused on those who already have access to the gospel. The Western World 90% of our resources are kept for ourselves the American shirts one out of every ten Seminary students goes to the mission field. Archer Our current operating budget is split 8416. 16% goes outside our walls 84% stays inside them. I think that Nik Ripken an author whose book I'm reading right now call the insanity of obedience. I think his statement on this fact is accurate. The majority of a Church's funds are spent on the 99 sheep that are already found while much less is spent in an effort to reach that one lost sheep. But the Bible doesn't say there was much rejoicing in heaven over 99 Gathering Sunday by Sunday. The Bible says there is much rejoicing over the one who was lost being found. If we assume that this is where God works and if anyone wants to meet God, they're welcome to come in here church. We have fallen shorts. Of the ideal we fall in shorts of the agenda of Jesus for his own Ministry. And then for the ministry of his body the church Jesus changed everything. Everything Jesus changed everything he challenged the culture of his day the Jews in his day could not wrap their heads around a messiah who would die. They could not wrap their heads around Messiah who is focused on those outside the church, but neither could his followers. This followers can wrap their heads around a messiah who would die. They know Isaiah 61 and they say is yes Jesus. You're the Messiah. We recognize this is your agenda. This is what you're going to do and then Jesus died and look at his followers following that death. Where do you find Jesus's people following Good Friday before we get to Resurrection Sunday? Huddled up in a room locked hiding themselves away from their neighbors from the authorities hiding themselves away. From the lights of the world outside completely shut off cut off.

Where do you find the church after Jesus resurrection?

Proclaiming the gospel when the spirit Comes proclaiming The Gospel so that 3000 people were saved in one day. Big went from being people who were hiding in their little holy huddle in a closed room. The work of God being surrounded by four walls to be in people who are out in the streets proclaiming the truth of the Messiah they go and there is spreading the gospel in their homes and they're inviting Neighbors in and they're going into their city and they're going beyond their City to take the gospel to places. It's never been before that's where you find the church after the resurrection. Church Jesus died But we are Resurrection people. We don't need the Huddle inside of our walls and cut ourselves off from our community and the people around the world does not need a church. Did is identified with a place a building where we sit there and we say if they want it here it is. What the world desperately needs is resurrection people who adopt the messiah's agenda as their own. Who take this words here and Isaiah chapter 61 verses 1 and 2 seriously and save it because the spirit of the Lord is upon us. We will bring good news to the poor. We will Proclaim released for the captives. We will proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and his Vengeance and we will comfort those who mourn Jesus's people were always intended to continue Jesus's work. And to spread his message until he returns. I think too often we distort that.

And we still are calendars up with busy religious work and complain about our churches until Jesus returns. We are Resurrection people. We don't hide inside our walls we go out. Jesus adopt this as his agenda church. This is our agenda. Our agenda is not to memorize this passage so that we might spout these words off when prompted. Our agenda is to enact these words. To take the messiah's agenda as our own. All right. So let's look at that agenda. Let's dive into this and it's interesting to me. This is this these two verses break down into really three components three components Each of which has a proclamation and an action attached to it. The first one there in verse one is that the agenda of the Messiah and therefore the agenda of us, his people is to bring good news to those in need to Proclaim good news to them and to heal those who are hurting Proclamation action tied together bring good news to those in need and heal those who are hurting. Let me ask you a question. How many of you have broken an arm or leg a bone? broken something feels good, right?

Generally speaking. You break something you go to the doctor, right? What would you think of your doctor? If you broke your arm, this is happened in my family recently my niece fell off the trampoline at her house and broke her arm and she went to the doctor. And what would my what would my sister-in-law have thought if the doctor would come back with the x-rays and said broken arm? That'll be $1,000. If the doctor had diagnosed the problem, but not done anything to solve it what she thought of that what kind of doctor would that be will not one that I'm going back to anytime soon. I know what do you think the world does when the church proclaims to them? You've got a problem?

awkward, right You got a problem and we don't give them a solution. We don't take action on that Proclamation. This is why in Isaiah that the agenda for the Messiah here is to not just Proclaim. Write good news, not just tropical Proclaim. Hey, there's a way that this can be fixed. But to actually begin fixing it to bring good news and to heal the church often settles for simply the proclamation aspects. We go to those in need and we say let me tell you about Jesus and search there is nothing better that we can talk about. Sports the weather 20/20 doesn't matter. There's nothing better than Jesus that we can talk about. But if all we ever do is talk about it. We fallen short of this agenda of reconciliation and Redemption we fall in short if we never take the step to heal. What is broken? We never provide a solution to the problem of sin for too long. I think we've been really good about frantically rushing around and telling the world what's wrong with it, right? We diagnosed the same problem. We say Jesus can fix that but we never get into how we never provide a mechanism by which that could happen in yet Jesus's this is the agenda that you would not just Proclaim this but you would be the mechanism by which that happens. I believe that abortion is a Scourge in this nation. I believe that killing babies is wrong in the womb or outside of the womb. Many of you would share that belief most of the churches that I know would say, this is reality.

And yet very few of us are opening our homes up to adoption. Very few of us are okay with providing funds. for assistance to the unwed mother in our community.

You see the problem? To tell somebody this is wrong and to have the means of solving it but not doing it falls short of this agenda are churches our church ought to be a place where we don't just say here's a problem and Jesus solves it but here's a problem. Jesus solves us solve it and we're with you. And we're here to help and we'll walk alongside you and it's messy and it's it's difficult work, but it's worthwhile. I don't believe I don't believe that a man should be able to marry a man. or a woman marry a woman many of you probably feel the same way. We based that on the word of God. I hope not just on prejudice. We take the revelation of God and we put it into practice and we say this should not be. And yet in saying that do we ever think about creating a culture in our church? It opens up with love with creating healthy relationships offering fulfillments to those who are seeking fulfillment where Christ says None is to be found. Do we create a culture that says this is okay for you to be broken? I'm broken, too. Let's go find Jesus together.

It's not enough to declare good news to those in need. If we don't follow it up and seek to bind the broken hearted to heal. Those were hurting the second part of the messiah's agenda. Bring good news to those in need heal. Those have been hurt. That's the first part II part is to declare freedom to those who aren't free. And to release those who are unjustly imprisoned. We can read about it in verse 1. Right to Proclaim. He sent me the Lord has anointed me to Proclaim Liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who our who are bound at. This is Jesus. This is what I'm here to do and and you and I know right as as New Testament people, we know that that Proclamation is freedom from sin. We understand that there's a spiritual reality that the Lord is pointing us to hear. This is Liberty to the captives is for those of us who are held captive to our own sinful desires and that this Freedom brings us out of that.

But I don't think it's just a spiritual reality that's being addressed here. How many of you Summit some of you in here are too young to remember this? I caught just the tail end of it the year of the motivational cassette? Right, you had the cassette that you pop in and it held is just life-affirming messages in it, right? You're smart. You're talented You're Beautiful by all of these things and you just play this and it's supposed to somehow. Mystically magically transform your Reality by just hearing these affirmations read to you. This is a trend that went away for a reason. One of the reasons it went away is because he just didn't work. It doesn't matter how much you tell me. I'm a Math Genius. I'm not You're not going to be able to convince me of the fact, right? The other reason that it went away is because we social media and we can just tell ourselves that whenever we want to hear it, right we create our reality all the time on social media, but he's motivational tapes for so many people they were just noise right at somebody got rich off the deal I guess but for most people it didn't work, they weren't Rich they weren't successful. They just had some extra cassette tape flying around now for those of you who have a certain generation a cassette tape kind of like an MP3 in physical form, okay. Right and so they didn't work they were just noise. They didn't change reality. They were just words Church. How much of our gospel is just noise just words. How much reality has been affected by the good news? That there is Liberation in Christ. Are we working? To bring this release into being or are we just talking? We live in America, right you're here in this country and it's become an issue recently talking about our past and our current reality in in regards to slavery by in the implications of that system for our world today are huge the incredible irony to me and this is not standing in judgment. This is not denying that there's any sort of problem in my heart or in the in our church today or in the world today, but the incredible irony of this whole thing is that the very people who were keeping slaves were those who held so clearly to the Declaration of Independence right words that said what on them Are created equal? All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights life liberty and the pursuit of happiness and they were going home to men in Chains. even as they said these words Church, we Proclaim to the world.

There's freedom in Christ. You cannot earn it. It's not given to you on the basis of your race your religion your gender or any other Factor. It is purely based on Jesus taking your place dying just it's you deserve that he did not its base in the power of God resurrecting Jesus. That's what we're bringing based on no consideration of your reality, but are those just words when the people that we want to reach are the people who look like us? smell like guys are in the same socioeconomic class have the same Earthly citizenship as us are the same color as

it's foolish for us to spout words that say there's freedom in Christ.

to the alcoholic enslaved to a substance. If we are not at the same time willing to walk alongside them in the process of recovery. It is foolishness for us to declare that there is freedom in Christ to the person who's homeless suffering from mental illness. If we're not willing to walk with them. In finding healing employment and a place to live. It is not enough for us to declare to the person of color in our current reality. There's freedom in Christ. If we're not also willing to acknowledge the prayer to acknowledge the prejudices that we have. And to actively be working for a Galatians 3:28 kind of unity in our churches for there is now no longer slave nor free Jew nor Greek male nor female for all are one in Christ Jesus. We can't just spout words. There have to be actions that come alongside of our Proclamation that freedom is available to those who are enslaved and we will actively work to bring about that freedom in their lives part 3 is found in verse to to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of Vengeance of our God to comfort all to mourn to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and I made the statement earlier the comparison to 20/20 right, but it's any year. In which the good news that God loves his creation. Can be proclaimed but also carrying with it this Proclamation that God will bring Justice the day of Vengeance of our God and we read Vengeance and we think negative we think about humans been about the book that I read recently the revenants you may have seen the movie or read the book yourself right that the idea of seeking Vengeance for ourselves. We import that into this passage and we get it wrong. The day of God's vengeance is not like human Vengeance tinged by sinful desire for self-gratification. The Vengeance of the Lord is the establishment of his Justice. To establish the righteous reign of Christ is King and judge. That's the day of Vengeance. And so people are Longing To Know in the midst of the Brokenness of 20/20 that God loves them people long to know that he still is showing favor in the midst of hardship, but there are others who are under the weight of Injustice saying where is Justice Center not finding it in their country. They're not finding it in anything else or not finding it in their fellow citizens in this is not America. This is global right? There are people in need of God's love there are people who long for justice Christian. We have the words of comfort to bring to them that in Christ in Christ God's love and God's justice are satisfied. You want to know how you can know that God loves you. Look at the cross look at Christ. Want to know how you can know that there is Justice look at the cross. As Jesus Takes the punishment for sin love and Justice are the desire the core desires. I would argue if Humanity we wants to be loved and we want to know that there is somebody Who will hold things? And put them back together after we see them broken and both of those are contained in the gospel. We have the Comfort offer of love and Justice now, we get it twisted. Sometimes you see this in the where some people really want to emphasize God's love and their church is all about love and it's all about Grace. It's all about acceptance. I love those churches frankly. Like if you got to choose people to hang out with hang out with the love people not the Justice people. It's just more pleasant. Okay write Rose. Colored Glasses are always the best kind of glasses. But it can't be the whole picture because if God is willing to forgive sin. And God is loving enough to give Grace to those who don't deserve it.

That's good news, right?

Only if there is still satisfaction of this deep-seated need and desire for us to see justice, but then you have those groups of people who are all about God's justice, right who are all about will this is right and and and you're wrong if you think anything different than I do, right? Look they may not be the people you want to hang out with. But they might be to you too. Right people who are saying this, right? This is wrong. Forget that love bit. We got to focus on the Justice right now.

You get an equally skewed view of reality camping over here is you do over here, right you get an equally skewed vision of Reality by having red tinted glasses as you do having rose-tinted glasses. What we need are both Gulliver's Travels. Anybody ever read Gulliver's Travels? Master of satire, right you read that and you view I love the the lilliputians write the story of Gulliver coming to this land of Lilliput. You remember that story is this tiny tiny little people right go over to this great giant there. And there's this Civil War that's going on in the country What's it over there by remember? It's over which end of the egg do you break at breakfast? And you have this whole group of people who are little in people and then the pig in people and fighting over it end and Swift describes this and he says he says in describing as he says there are there have been six rebellions one Emperor lost his life and another lost his crown over this issue and we lit read that and it's a tire were made to think less stupid. And yet when you've got people who have the cross one cross standing there pointing us to love and to justice for us to say we'll only love matters or only Justice matters, it's foolish to the matter which end you break the egg on its an egg

People need to know that God loves them people need to know that Justice will be brought so that they can be freed from seeking love in the wrong places so that they can be freed from Seeking Justice by their own methods by their own mean people need the comfort that is provided when we recognize God perfectly you nice love and Justice in Christ. So we need to share with the world. We need to Proclaim To The World God loves you. And God will judge sin. Because God loves he will judge send we know that God is love because he judges send. We need to Proclaim this reality, but how do we live it? Says we give Comfort to those who mourn and by implication mourn its lack. We give comfort. To those who see a lack of love in this world who have experienced nothing but hardship. Who desperately need someone to come up to them and say you have worth and you matter and I am here. the point you to the God who made you And who didn't just make you and walk away, but who is with you now and who loves you we need to be Church the people who will bring that love into reality in our actions. Don't just see a brother or sister in need and say go in peace be warm and be filled but who give a glass of water? Who provide? Hearty meal we also must be those who say to the world. There is Judgment for sent who say to the world. There is an eternal standard by which we can know what is right and what is wrong and it's Jesus. And I can show you what he says and you're free to decide what you do with the justice that he reveals but you have to know that it exists and that we the people of God are going to be working to bring about Justice in this world. This is the messiah's agenda, but it's also the agenda of his people. That we would bring good news to those in need and heal those who have been hurt that we would declare freedom to those who are free and that we would break the locks off of the jail cells with our hands that we would Proclaim God's love and God's justice and that we would comfort those who long for both. in word and In Deed Church It's only July. 20/20 is not lost. We can still be these kind of people we can still declare that. This is the year of the Lord's favor. If we replace our commitment to religious ritual with a genuine desire to go to our neighbors to go to our nation to go to the nation's with this message that God.

Sent your son to die. The rise again since his spirits to bring peace to us with God and with one another. We go and we Proclaim this reality of good for all. And we work for it. With all that we have committing ourselves to furthering Christ's Kingdom and not our own agenda. What would it look like? What would it look like Red Hills? If we adopted this Kingdom mandate for ourselves. what would it look like if we said I'm not in control of my life anymore Jesus it's yours do with it what you will If instead of filling our schedule with religious busy work

We put the devotionals down for a little bit. And walked across the street and had a conversation with our neighbor. We invited a coworker over for dinner.

We served people that we really don't want to. In places that we really don't want to go. But we're willing to anyways, because the agenda of the Messiah is our agenda. The agenda of our King is the agenda for us as citizens of his kingdom to Proclaim good news to the poor to bind up the Brokenhearted to Proclaim Liberty to the captives the opening of the prison to those who are bound to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of Vengeance of our God and to comfort all who mourn our faith cannot stop with words.

if this is to be the year of the Lord's favor It must proceed into action was praying.

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