Uh...Now What?

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I am probably not going to tell you anything you didn’t know already today, but I am going to remind you and talk about the most hope producing reality of your life. (Intrigued???) But before we do that…we need to get to know each other better.
We are still getting to know each other even after a year…so I want to share some important moments of my life with you all.
Growing Up
Day I got saved…uh now what...
Day we got married…(remodeled)
Day we had Elijah
Day we had Asher
Day I took the job as senior pastor of Fcc - no gif!!!
All those still frame images are just a snapshot of time. It was a brief moment in time. The camera clicked and it was over and now it was time to move on with the rest of life.
Did you get everything you wanted yesterday? (Any moment of the day disappoint you?)
This can be one of the most disappointing days for the year so much build up to Christmas and then it’s done now what. Now I am surrounded by people that bother me and toys that will probably wear out or that I will be tired of by the new year. Now what
Christmas can kind of be like that. There is so much build up. You have been assaulted by the Christmas decorations that have been up in target since July 5th, (Just kidding, since Halloween…Thanksgiving doesn’t exist anymore), it seems and you had thought that you had finally found that perfect gift for you spouse, but when they opened it up yesterday, the look on their face confused you. Is that blank stare the result of being amazed or horrified! You quickly realize it is the look of horror and so you agree to go back to Target to exchange it, but you walk in and you start sweating it out because you realize that Valentines day is around the corner because that cardboard cupid is taunting you right when you walk in. You can’t get a break man. But anyway, there can be so much build up, but that leaves you really vulnerable for great disappointment. Some of you want to say Amen. Your thinking your telling me!
The holiday’s can be hard. And i think the reason they can be so hard sometimes is because all the build up and anticipation and expectations. So much build up and then the moment passes or the day moves on and we are left disappointed.
What are we to do? Now on with the rest of life.
You are not alone. This is a not only a common experience, but I think that it is a universal experience. So let’s think about this a bit today and see if there is any remedy for us.

Longing for “the Moment.”

Advent - longing for an appearing of a moment.
Ever since humans were exiled from the garden of eden, the place where God and man walked together… there have been longings for that which is wrong to be made right, longings for that which is out of place to be put back into place.
This the story we get in the OT. The whole OT is the unfolding of the eager expectation of a Coming One that was to come to bring about His blessings as far as the curse is found. and the curse is found everywhere and even in our own hearts. The OT chronicles the storyline of the nation of Israel as they struggled through many ups and downs due to there sin and rebellion and striving with and complaining about God.
Israel longed for a Messiah to come. Have you ever noticed how often you see this concept in Christmas carols? Why do we like Christmas songs so much. Why do they hold a special place in our hearts? A bell resounds when it rings true.” - If we had a bell choir and one of those babies isn’t tuned up you can tell. - there is no resounding. (GUITAR STRING). (Muted). These songs are tapping into our hearts and into our day to day experiences. We all have longings to be fulfilled.
“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
“Come Thou long expected Jesus Born to set Thy people free From our fears and sins release us Let us find our rest in Thee”
Probably the best display of longing is found in the text of O Come,O Come Emmanuel.
“O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear. O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan's tyranny; From depths of hell Thy people save, And give them victory o'er the grave. O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high, And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh; Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death's dark shadows put to flight. O come, Thou Key of David, come And open wide our heav'nly home; Make safe the way that leads on high, And close the path to misery.”
Israel wanted their Messiah to come.

What is a Messiah?

When we see the word Messiah we need to understand that what Israel was hoping for was a future deliverer who would rescue his people and usher in a time of prosperity and blessing. This man would be a “Savior.” There are many different real word applications of this concept throughout the OT. The Hebrew word is māšîaḥ. (Ma - shee - ah)
This word was used to designate any person that was “anointed” for a particular task.
They would anoint priests with the unique task of bringing the blood of bulls into the tent of meeting to represent the people.
They would anoint kings to be over Israel. They were charged with leading a nation.
They would anoint prophets to be ordained mouthpieces to speak the oracles of God.
These were all “anointed” ones, charged with a unique work to help lead God’s people.
None of the tasks that I just mentioned were “run of the mill,” they were all pretty extrodinary, but over time all of those lower case “m” “messiah’s” were pointing to an ultimate David Messiah that were read about in Psalm 2:2.
Psalm 2:2 (ESV)
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed...
There was indication that there was going to be a time when there would be a capital “M” Messiah that would be born of David’s line. He would would be not just a prophet, He would be THE PROPHET. He would not just be a priest, but He would be THE HIGH PRIEST. He would not just be a king, but He would be the KING of ALL KINGS!
This was the hope of all of Israel and even those outside of Israel. A Masiah would come one day. People understood the What…but now they needed to figure out the who, when, where, why and how. Fast forward until the fulness of time had come and Jesus is born. He grows in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man and begin doing ministry all throughout the Galilean countryside and all sorts of people start to wonder, “Could this be the Christos?” (which is the Greek word for the Hebrew word Messiah.)
So you get the Samaritan woman at the well informing Jesus of the hope that her and her people were holding onto when she says...
John 4:25 ESV
25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.”
Little did she know when she said these things, she was saying them to the One who would look her straight in the eye and say, “I am he!” She runs back to her town and says, “I have met the Messiah! Everyone come meet the Messiah!”
Then Jesus miraculously feeds 5000 people as John records it in his gospel account and those gathered are quite amazed and it says,
John 6:14 ESV
14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
not just a prophet…THE PROPHET. The One who was promised was in there midst.
And after losing her brother Lazarus, a brokenhearted Martha interacts with a brokenhearted Jesus who feels her pain and has sorrows of his own. Jesus consoles her by referring to Himself as the Resurrection and the life and she responds to Him...
John 11:27 ESV
27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Jesus you are the fulfilment of all those Messianic prophecies that I’ve had in my head my whole life.
Even John the Baptists disciples were sent to Jesus to find out if Jesus might be THE ONE who was coming. Matthew records for us this,
Matthew 11:1–3 ESV
1 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. 2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
Jesus respond by informing them of all the things that He was currently doing that only THE MESSIAH could such things and they get it!
So a whole bunch of people knew about the COMING ONE and loved the concept of it and they ended up embracing the ONE who fulfilled the role. They loved Jesus. But sadly a whole bunch knew of the concept of the COMING ONE and mocked that idea that a half dead Jesus on a cross could be the embodiment of these promises. Instead of embracing and loving Jesus, they struck his face, plucked his beard and pierced his side while saying,
Mark 15:31–32 (ESV)
31“He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.”
Messianic longings were experienced by those in bible times and it is our experience as well.
Due to sin and disobedience Israel found themselves in exile longing for restoration of their land and more importantly, restoration in their standing and relationship with their God. We too find ourselves in this same predicament quite often. We are the true, holy beloved children of God, but sometimes God feels far off and distant from us…and it could be because of any number of things, but certainly it is because of sin that separates. Each of us at different times in our lives or even right now know what it is like to have a longing for things to change…and we know what it is like to feel distant and exiled.
We all experience these longings for things to be made right.

The Arrival of “the Moment.”

We can’t help but notice that even in the midst of exile, God was working and stirring and waiting to unleash His plan of redemption. Even as Israel was longing for release from their tormentors, God was speaking through the prophets about a coming one who would bring hope…hope would literally be born. God was telling them that there was a way out of their mess.
We too can hear the voice of God speaking even in the midst of our exile as He points out to us today as Paul begins his correspondence with young Timothy with these words,
1 Timothy 1:1 ESV
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
The birth Jesus provides us with hope that is necessary for our lives to actually change because in so doing God demonstrated at a great cost that He was and is still willing to be personally involved with His creation. God, incarnate, in the flesh is the source of our ability to change. The birth of Jesus was the birth of our hope.
So now we get the arrival of Jesus. And Jesus comes and it is quite the arrival. There are elements that are frightening, jubilant, and exhilarating and then there are elements that are unexpectedly humble, quite and serene. Shepherd were freaking out, sheep darting here and there and the Maker of all life quietly slips into His creation almost unannounced to those present in Bethlehem…when He is born in a stable out back.
But never-the-less, the moment came. It happened. The hope and fears of all the years were finally met in a cold, dark night when Jesus started breathing the air that He created. The moment was holy…in fact each moment is holy.
The present is what is promised. (I started writing a song about that a few years ago---never finished it), but what I was noticing in my life or in the lives of those around me is that we so often look forward to something that we live in the future and ignore what is right in front of us. Or we live in the shadow of our past mistakes and shame or guilt becomes attached to us and we end up living in the past. When we “live in the future” or “live in the past” what we are not doing is “living in the present” and the present is what is promised to us.
So here is a brief take away that sounds like something Oprah would say, but it is based off of real biblical truth. Every moment moment is holy…so enjoy it. This is absolutely amazing. This is the teaching of the great teacher in Ecclesiastes. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the doing of the deed not the outcome of the deed. Be tethered to obeying God and keeping His commandments and enjoy what is right in front of you. Everything is indeed crazy and under the sun and will eventually pass away, so enjoy the moment for what it is while setting your ultimate affections for they things that are over the sun.

The Moment, after “the Moment” Passes.

The moment of arrival is amazing…but then it passes and reality sits in. Sometimes it leads to disappointment.
Christmas day, birthday parties, kids being born…oh now I have to take this baby home and keep him or her alive. O now that I said, “I Do,” now I get to go home and find out what that really means…and that is actually costs something, like your whole life to make good on that promise.
Think about this Jesus is born, but now Mary and Joseph have to deal with the reality of having raising a very “special needs” child.
It gets pretty intense right away. First of all the rumor mills has to have been working efficiently for months now in Nazareth. Then they have just completed a difficult journey to Bethlehem while Mary was with child for 9 months so that they could be counted in a census so that they could be taxed to keep the Roman Machine running properly. And shortly after all this they are warned about a lunatic King named Herod who wants to murder their baby, so they are exiled from their country and flee to Egypt. Are you kidding me? They have already been treated like strangers in there own community and then they became actual strangers in a foreign land. Why? All of this to fulfill God’s purposes for their lives.
So what are we to do with this? Why is my life turning out this way? I am following God. Why does it feel like I have to run for my life down to Egypt? Is this really all part of His plans? All Mary and Joseph were doing was being obedient…where is the comfort? Where’s the joy? Where’s the ease and safety? It feels like they are walking a tight rope with no harness and no safety net. What if I fall when I walk this path? That might hurt a little. yup.
Think about this for a moment. Jesus was the most fulfilled man ever. He always did His Father’s plans and He was lead into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tested. One time He was lead to the brow of a hill and people tried to push Him off. Ultimately He was lead to the top of hill and hoisted up on a cross for all to see Him die a slow, painful, agonizing, lonely, forsaken death.
This was the same man that said to His disciples and to you and me today.
John 14:27 ESV
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
This is the same man that spoke to His disciples and Who speaks to us today these words...
John 15:11 ESV
11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
All of this to say, that even after the moment you have so eagerly awaited for happens and then then it leaves you empty or under more obligation or even disappointed in the outcome, hope can still abound because as the Christmas carol says,
Lo! the days are hastening on, by prophet seen of old, when with the ever-circling years shall come the time foretold when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling, and the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.
You see our hope isn’t just in His first appearing…our ultimate biblical hope is in His Second appearing.

“The Moment” that Won’t Disappoint

Hebrews 9:27–28 ESV
27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
The sum of the very last words in Holy Scripture are, “Come Lord Jesus.” We long for the 2nd Advent of our Lord.
If you have been around the church for any period of time you have probably heard the phrase spoken, “already but not yet” or something like it. The phase means there are elements of our faith that are 100% true and real but not yet fully actualized. This concept is probably best pictured in a book by C.S. Lewis entitled, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
In C.S. Lewis’s classic, Lucy and her three older siblings are sent to live with a Professor in the English countryside. Now this professor lives in an incredibly large house. And, of course, when you are a child, there is one perfect thing to do in an incredibly large house – play hide and seek.
So that’s exactly what they do. Lucy hides in a wardrobe and realizes she is rather cold. She wraps herself in a coat and tries to press herself to the very back wall so that she is as hidden as possible. And she discovers something interesting – there is no back wall. Instead she finds that she is in a forest – in the winter.
She is in another world, there in the midst of her own. She meets a faun and shares tea, conversation and music. When Lucy finally steps back into the wardrobe, she is convinced that her siblings are going to be sick with worry but soon realizes that no time has passed by at all. And not a single one of her siblings believes her story of the world in the wardrobe.
The New Testament writers believed that Jesus ushered in the beginning of that new age, but we won’t be fully there until Christ’s return. The Pevensie children were – and we are – living in the “already, but not yet:” two worlds at once – the present age and the age to come are coexisting, but not yet fully realized.
We long for the 2nd coming where Jesus will administer true justice and fully redeem and restore all things to the glorification of His Father’s Name and kingdom.
So in the midst of our chaos and when we feel abandoned, exiled and alone we can realize that hope was born 2000 years ago…that the Majesty of God arrived in the package of a little human baby and because of that babies life and work we have been made right with God and will one day see Him face to face.
And so here is the final hope filled, encouraging message I as you pastor can give you on this last Sunday of 2021. There is coming a day, maybe soon, maybe before this service is over, when the sky will crack with a thunderous sound and heavens will open and the whole world will look upon the one they had pierced and they will behold the appearing of The Coming One named faithful and true sitting on a white horse. He is coming to judge and to make war. His eyes will be like flames of fire and His robe will be dipped in blood. He is the resurrected Messiah who had been slain for men and for quite some time now He has been seated at the right hand of His Father, awaiting for His Father to say, it is time. And we will behold Him. And He will come...
2 Thessalonians 1:6–10 (ESV)
6 to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and grant relief to you who are afflicted…this will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed...
1 Peter 1:13–15 (ESV)
13 ...prepare your minds for action, and be sober-minded. Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
There will be a time, maybe soon that will not disappoint when...
the bells will peal more loud and, deep that God is not dead, nor does He sleep. The Wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men.
What if this was the very last Christmas you experience on this side of eternity?
Transition to Communion
Hebrews 3:15 ESV
15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
Romans 10:9–10 ESV
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Did you get all the Christmas presents you wanted yesterday?
What were some of the most meaningful Christmas celebrations you have ever been a part of?
What have been some of the biggest disappointments in your life this last year?
If you had, “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13), how would that have influenced your moments of disappointment?
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