This word literally means, God-breathed. The doctrine or teaching of the inspiration of scripture simply tells us that the scripture is an accurate transference of truth from God to man in language which we can understand. We hold to an understanding of inspiration known as the verbal plenary theory. Simply put this means that as a musician blows air through his musical instrument to create a specific sound, God's Spirit blew through the instrumentation of humanity to produce a certain and perfect word. Every word of the Bible is fully inspired and is exactly what God intended it to be.
Can you imagine how much God had to dumb it down for us to be able to get it? And the thing is, even though there is much we can understand, we will never understand it all. God's word is like its author: We can know Him truly but we can never know Him fully. Even when we get to heaven, when we are able to see more clearly and to understand more fully, we will ever be the creations and He will ever be the Creator.
We will never fully understand all there is to know about God. But there is a wonderful verse in Deuteronomy which says, "The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law.
The divine inspiration of scripture assures us that it is the word of God not merely the words of man. It is exactly what God wanted us to know, nothing more and nothing less. It is inspired, or breathed by His Spirit. This gives us a confidence and a certainty that we can rely upon. You may have heard people speak to the Canon of scripture. What they are talking about is the completed record of God's word.
A canon is a list or a catalogue of books. One scholar describes the canon as, "the collection or list of Bible books that are recognized as genuine, inspired Holy Scripture. The collection is complete with thirty-nine Old testament books and twenty-seven New Testament books in the canon. Jude 3 says, "I found it necessary to write you about our common salvation, and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints, once for all. So scripture is God's completed and inspired revelation of Himself to humanity and through the providence and sovereign direction of God through the ages, God has preserved for us His inerrant and infallible word.
The Bible we have is the complete canon or catalogue of books He wants us to have. Understanding something of its nature, what witnesses do we have to the veracity of scripture? If we were in a court of law and were required to call witness to the stand to testify that the scripture is what we claim it to be, who would we call upon? The first witness I would call to the stand would be the historical witness to scripture.
History itself has proven that God's word is true and can be trusted. According to one scholar G. Frederick Owen, the Thompson Chain Reference Study Bible , Archaeological Supplement Archaeological investigations have been used to refute radical skepticism concerning the historical accuracy of the Bible. For example, it used to be alleged that the Hittites, mentioned over fifty times in the Old Testament, were an invention of biblical editors during a supposed lengthy evolution of various books of the Old Testament. Excavations of several Hittite cities and recovery of many of their written records demolished every one of the critic's arguments.
It used to be assumed that Sodom and Gomorrah were inventions of the biblical writers. But then archaeologists found the ruins of the ancient cities southeast of the Dead Sea in modern day Jordon. We haven't time to list all the discoveries but they are numerous and all of them speak to the accuracy and veracity of scripture.
It is important for us to note that archaeology cannot prove that the Bible is true; it merely serves as a witness to the truth already set forth by scripture. It is also worth mentioning that no archaeological discovery which was properly understood has ever refuted the words of scripture but has only served to support scriptural claims. History speaks loudly to the trustworthy nature of Scripture. Scripture clearly claims to be the timeless word of God and to be true without any mixture of fault or error.
Psalm says, "The instruction of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise. The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad; the commandment of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the lord are reliable and altogether righteous…".
Psalm , "The entirety of Your word is truth, and all Your righteous judgments endure forever. And the prophet Isaiah says in Isaiah , "The grass withers; the flower fades, but the word of our God remains forever. And Jesus Himself said in Matthew , "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. Friends, the Bible is not ambiguous, it does not leave us wondering about what it claims to be. It clearly claims to be God's inerrant and infallible word. It clearly claims to have God as its Author.
But there is a third witness I would call to the stand, and that would be the witness of human experience. While all human experience must be measured by biblical truth, we have but to look behind us, around us and within us to see that God's word is true and can be trusted. What have some of the great men of our country said of the Bible? George Washington, the first president of the United States said, "It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible.
Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are indispensable supporters. Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that our national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States said, "So great is my veneration of the Bible, that the earlier my children begin to read it the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society.
Abraham Lincoln said of the Bible, "In regard to this great book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man's welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it. Clearly, our great Republic was chartered and founded by men who understood the bible to be the Word of God and to be true.
But your own experience should tell you that the scripture is trustworthy. It contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Were it not for scripture you would not know of Jesus and if you did not know of Jesus you would be hopelessly lost in your sin. If I were to call upon each of you this morning, to stand and give witness to the scripture, to its fidelity, to its impact on your life and to the way God has used it to bring you to Himself and make you who you are, we would be here all day, for each of you who have been born again would surly give witness to the power of the word.
So we have studied the nature of scripture, that it is God's inspired revelation of Himself to humanity. We have heard from witnesses to scripture, who have spoken to its power and its impact, but the final thing I would have you consider this morning is the purpose of scripture. What is the purpose of scripture? It is true that the Bible is the bestselling book in America and yet remains one of the least read books. Some polls estimate that only ten percent of Americans read their bible every day.
It would not do for us to have a show of hands to see which of you are among that ten percent. Remember that God did not give us His word to fill our heads; He gave us His word to change our hearts. That having been said we must understand that God gave us the Bible so that we can apply it, so that we can practice what it instructs us to do.
Consider three things then which will help as we seek to apply the Scripture to our everyday lives. God expects for us, as His children, to know His word. The man who will not read his bible is no better off than the man who has no bible to read. How can a person claim to be born again, to be filled with the Spirit of God who inspired the very words of scripture and have no appetite for the word of God?
How can a person claim to have Jesus on the throne of their heart and have no desire to receive instruction from the One they claim is their Master? It doesn't add up. This book is a gem, filled with spiritual light. Ken Blanchard. An outstanding book that will benefit anyone who wants to be happy, positive and productive. Coach Lou Holtz. Out of Print. More Sower's Seeds: Second Planting. One hundred new tales of inspiration filled with humor, warmth, and insight. Ideal as a gift book or as a source of bedtime meditations.
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Malachi's good news is that God takes the initiative and does the needed purifying, so we need not live constantly in terror. It doesn't hurt, however, to be reminded that God's grace is not cheap, and that redemption is a strong cure, worth going through because of the outcome, but not something to be thought of lightly or assumed as our prerogative.
It showed Jesus standing at a doorway in a garden, patiently knocking on the door? But for many of us, our surrender to Christ came not because he gently asked permission to come into our lives. It was more like he kicked the door in and entered like an intruder, commandeering space and making it clear that he was taking over, at least for a while.
Eventually we made a choice about whether to let him remain, but, initially, our defenses were overwhelmed. I had forgotten about that picture in my childhood until I went back for the th anniversary of the construction of the current church building I arrived early and wandered down the hall to the parlor where that picture had been and sure enough it was still there. I sat down to study it again and it was then that I noticed that there was no doorknob on the outside of the door where Jesus was. It had to be opened from the inside.
Malachi's words about redemption are a little rough. While a few of us may have found discipleship an easy path to walk, others of us had to be catapulted onto it from our self-centeredness, sin-blindness and self-righteousness. Being thrown onto the path of discipleship this way is not comfortable. It's clear in the New Testament that the gospel writers understood John the Baptist as the messenger about whom Malachi spoke see Matthew ; Mark ; Luke And we note that John's call for repentance from sin was not a soft and tender moment either.
But that was the first Advent. Today we get a second notice. Helpful Sources. Cook, Stephen L. Retrieved November 10, Craigie, Peter C. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, , Commentary on the Malachi Text - bgb. Among the books of the Bible, Malachi is one of the lesser known. The book is one of the shortest in the canon only four relatively brief chapters , and it is found at the end of the 12 Minor Prophets in the Hebrew canon and at the very end of the OT in Christian Bibles which approximately follows the order of the Septuagint and Vulgate.
In both traditions, the canonical placement seems to have been influenced by the emphasis the book places on "the great and terrible day of the LORD" ; cf. The latter concern is the subject of today's reading. The word "malachi" in Hebrew means "my messenger" and may not be a proper name at all. Nothing is known about a prophet with that name, and the date and place of his ministry have been deduced from the book's literary style and the topics that occupy the author. Most of those oracles announce judgment against the priests in Jerusalem who have compromised the standards of their office as established in the Lord's "covenant with Levi" The tribe of Levi, according to biblical tradition e.
The covenant with Levi, therefore, is of paramount importance to the author of the book of Malachi, who seems to be assigning to priests the revelatory role of God's spokesperson, a charismatic office formerly occupied by prophets. Early in the book, the author says of priests, "For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts" Given this exalted view of the Jerusalemite priesthood, Malachi's concern for their integrity is understandable.
Today's passage opens with the assurance that the Lord is sending "my messenger" malachi to prepare the way v. There is an abrupt switch from third-person narrative to first-person narrative v. The messenger is never explicitly named, although, in , God promises to send the prophet Elijah before the day of the Lord. Given the explicit identification of priests and not prophets as Yahweh's messengers in , it's impossible to say that the unnamed messenger of is Elijah rather than an unknown priest of the future.
Ordinarily, messengers in the ancient world did not prepare the way for a more important figure; their job was to deliver messages sent by and in the absence of important figures. Even the explicit mention of preparing "the way of the LORD" in the wilderness Isaiah does not assign that task to a messenger, but rather, as we would expect, to the people themselves the verbs in Isaiah are plural. Heralds, of course, announced the arrival or directive of a genuine personage Isaiah ; ; Daniel , and there is no obvious reason why that function could not also be assumed by messengers, as appears to be the case here.
This blurring of what had once been distinct roles is one of the indicators of the book's late date; the prophet is working in a situation where the old rules do not apply as they once did, and a process of rebuilding society as well as the Jerusalem cult is underway. Careful readers of English translations will note that "the Lord" in the first half of verse 1 is not the same form, graphically, as "the LORD of hosts " in the second half of verse 1; they refer to different entities. The phrase "the Lord whom you seek" is peculiar, since it refers not to the deity, but to the deity's messenger, an odd and unique appellation of a title of considerable standing to a figure ordinarily ranked not far above servants.
Malachi's use of the word here -- describing the lord-messenger as coming to "his temple" -- is even more bizarre, since the temple was never understood in ancient Israel as belonging to anyone except the deity. The language of this passage describing the messenger would, in classical biblical religion, more naturally fit descriptions of the deity, so the prophet appears to be making such a close identification between the deity and the messenger that they are virtually indistinguishable in function.
This trend of exalting the messenger will find expression in the NT's description of John the Baptist see, for example, Matthew , "Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist," and the confusion over the identities of John and Jesus, Matthew This trend may also be the source or a stage of the line of theological thought that will lead to the apotheosis of Jesus. Classically in the OT, it is the deity who purifies the people e. The image of the messenger as refiner is found only in this passage and in Jeremiah where the word translated "refiner" may be "fortress" ; typically it is Yahweh who is described as a refiner, testing human beings for their religious soundness e.
The passage combines metaphors, using imagery from both metallurgy and domestic life, comparing the purifying work of the messenger to "fullers' soap" v. The image advances the idea of separating the pure from the impure. In today's passage, "the descendants of Levi" v.
Elsewhere in the OT the role of the Levites is far less clear, and in some passages e. The priesthood in ancient Israel was a highly complex and contentious matter, with Levites Deuteronomy , Aaronids Exodus , and Zadokites Ezekiel all vying for control of and the resources from the Yahwistic cult in both its decentralized and centralized form. Malachi sides with the Levites, presumably on the basis of a reconstructed golden age he refers to as "days of old" and "former years" v. Like so many prophets before and after him, Malachi compares his historical moment to both the past and the future and finds his own era lacking.
IX, No. Signs and Dissipation. December 2, , by Rev. Jeremiah Jesus tells us how to make it through with flying colors. You start the whole process by wedging yourself and your bags, along with a lot of other weary travelers, into a parking shuttle, which takes you to the terminal. Inside, you no longer can talk directly to a person at check-in but have to use an infernal computer kiosk.
Frequently it does not recognize you or your flight, causing you to have to flag down an agent anyway. That is, it looks for sharp changes in body temperature, pulse and breathing. The difference is that in a polygraph, the subject answers questions, while this machine simply tests people as they walk through. In practice, people whom the machine identifies as suspiciously stressed would then be taken to another area and interviewed in front of a camera that measures minute facial movements to determine if the subject is lying.
All of that makes the rest of the shoe-shucking, belt-removing process sound hassle-free by comparison. Even though the machine is still years from possibly being fielded, it already has critics. Others doubt the reliability of the technology itself. Reasons such as being late for a flight, for example. We get daily email reminding us to get our flu shots and what to do if a stranger is knocking at your door or tries to steal your credit card. The chances are pretty high that most of us would set off the bells and whistles on that little machine. Jesus told us to expect this.
Jesus is talking about the kind of anxiety that would cause people to miss the signs of his own in-flight arrival. At the beginning of his career, Jeff was a back-up quarterback. By the end of his seventh season, he had thrown fewer than two hundred passes, and none of them had any bearing on the outcome of a game. But if you are a Bills fan, you might recall that one of those two games was an NFC championship against the San Francisco 49ers. Hostetler was injured in the fourth quarter when Jim Burt tackled him below the knees.
Although his knee was injured on the play, Hostetler was able to walk off the field on his own and after some work with a trainer came back and led the team to two late scoring drives culminating with a Matt Bahr field goal, and a victory. I watched that game in Ohio. One day I encountered Jeff at a Monday luncheon for football fans. It was my job to offer the blessing. I learned that during those seven years when Jeff was in waiting, he threw thousands of passes through a swinging tire.
He worked with his wide receivers and running backs in countless practice sessions, sharpening and honing his skills. He lifted tons of weights, did hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups, jogged many miles, and did numerous wind sprints. I learned from another observer that Jeff literally spent hundreds of hours poring over the playbook, studying not only his own offense and defense but the defenses of the opposing teams. We are beginning that season of the year we call Advent. Advent is a time of preparation. It is a time of getting ready. We consider the words of the prophets and their expectations for the coming Messiah.
We live in a time when we are surrounded by signs. Some of you grew up in an era before Interstate highways. Most travel back then was done on two lane roads. Along those roads would often be posted a series of five small red signs with white letters on them containing a humorous poem on four of those signs, with a 5th sign reserved for their sponsor. For those too young to remember, here are some examples of those signs:. A missed sign can create challenge. One Christmas, Patricia had planned to attend a family reunion in Florida. It had been years since the members of her family had all seen each other.
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Many of them were living in different parts of the world and had started families of their own. Some had never met each other. This formerly close knit family decided on a reunion to help the younger ones get to know their relatives better through a weekend of fellowship. Patricia had been looking forward to this event. She had even helped to plan the reunion. Long distance telephone conversations had brought all the plans to a satisfactory place. It was now time for the event. Instead of flying to Florida, Patricia decided to drive. It would save her on the airfare but also give her a time to explore and discover new things and places along the way.
Patricia liked talking on her cell phone while she drove and she listened to music on her iPod. Fortunately, Patricia reached Florida safely, but the distractions of her high tech toys caused her to miss a sign for an important turn. Before long, she was lost--unaware of what to do next.
She began to worry.
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This was an event she did not want to miss. She had been looking forward to this reunion for quite some time. But because she missed that sign, she missed her turn and therefore she missed most of the reunion, getting there after some of her relatives had already left. While she was happy that she got to see the remaining relatives, she was heartbroken that she missed others and the joy of the reunion itself. But she missed a sign. Signs are important. Imagine trying to navigate your way in an area unknown to you without signs or a GPS.
Signs keep us aware of our surroundings; they help with directions; and they even help us to keep safe by offering warnings to us. To ignore signs is risky. It can sometimes be quite costly. So has it ever been. Go back with me to the year Two American soldiers observe something unusual on their radar.
They report it to their supervisor, a rather young, inexperienced Lieutenant. What these two soldiers had seen were the first signs of planes on their way to Pearl Harbor. They reached there approximately two hours later on Dec. A very critical sign was missed. And a tragic, devastating air attack took place. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. And yet, he said, there will be signs. These signs will cause people to be terrified. The signs include the sun, moon, and stars being shaken and the sea roaring and being tossed. The world will experience an unprecedented state of chaos.
Things will be out of control. It is a disturbing passage. Yet notice what he says about these events. Run for cover! Go crazy with fear! That wonderful preacher Tony Campolo says that when he was growing up preachers used to scare kids by warning them that Jesus could appear at any time, and woe betide them if Jesus turned up and found them at a movie theater! There are still those kind of preachers around who use fear as a motivator, but, fortunately not as many as there used to be.
Especially during Advent. If you love Jesus, the thought of him coming any time, whether at Christmas or at the end of time ought to be an occasion for rejoicing, not being afraid. David was an incredible person to know and I got to know him best after graduating and not before. David was a fan of Princeton University Football and Basketball. He never missed a game and got to know the players personally, often hosting them in his home for supper. One year, he tried to convince Bill Bradley to come to the seminary. Bill, you may know has been an executive with Starbucks.
But before that he was a U. After graduation from college Bill was trying to decide what to do. Would it be theological seminary or some other graduate school? But when he was back in the area, he came and played pickup basketball in the rickety old Whitely Gymnasium at the Seminary. Well, there were three All American basketball players attending the seminary and although the seminary team never practiced really, they loved to play ball. In their minds the seminary was a bunch of old men.
Little did they know that All Americans in college can be very big and strong? Now, Whitely Gymnasium needed a bit of help. And there was an old custodian who took care of the place, occasionally spraying Pinesol on the floor of the locker room to help it smell better. No one normally had a key and so playing in the place meant having to know when the custodian was going to be around.
When this pick-up team, Bradley included, came into the place for their one practice before playing the University, they saw this custodian reading the Bible. Do you understand it? Well then, what does it mean? It means that Jesus is going to win. Jesus is going to win. More Signs. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near.
Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the Kingdom of God is near. In order that we might recognize it, let me suggest for us some image for what the kingdom of God is. It is a world of economic justice and peace, where the nations beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, every family has its own vine and fig tree that is, its own land , and no one is made to live in fear.
To me, that sounds like a pretty great place to live. No more foreclosures on homes? Nobody unemployed? No more terrorism? No more sickness? No more pain? Sign me up! Our Dissipation. We are such a fearful people. Last year one man died in this country from Ebola, and you would have thought the whole world was collapsing. We live in a time when there is more hope for people who are sick than there has ever been before, but we are more fearful of disease than any generation before us.
We worry about the economy. We are worried about events in the Middle East. Compare the threat from Isis, as terrible as Isis is, with that from Hitler and you will see that we have no idea how well we have it. But as we watch the cable news networks, we begin to surmise that the whole world is about to fly apart. The call for this first Sunday in Advent is not a call for fear, but a call to faith. Of course, there will always be bad things happening in this world, but do not despair.
And God has no intention of forsaking his creation. Although our language has over two million words, the average person has a hard-core vocabulary of 1, words. The nine words are: and, be, have, it, of, the, to, will, and you. Words have a greater effect on human life. Words that heal and warm the psyche are just as lasting and echoing as the hurtful ones. Words can endure for our good as well as our betterment.
Enduring words like: Mother, thanks, forgive, hope, and the lasting words we string together like: I love you, you did a good job, and you mean more to me than words can express. These words never pass away when we sense they are sincerely expressed. You know, at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln was an afterthought. Edward Everett was the main event. He had drawing power, for his day, of a modern rock star. Anyone here know anything that Edward Everett said that day?
He was the former President of Harvard and the event was put off a month so he could be there. Lincoln was asked to make a few remarks. Then he sold Plymouths and DeSotos. And yes those brands are all gone now. As a young boy I could imagine words passing away, but not those cars, not that gold and white DeSoto Adventurer!
But, most all cars rust. Does that mean we can trust every promise that Christ ever made to us? Of course it does--including the promise that, no matter what happens, he will give us a peace that passes understanding. We can trust his every promise. Then he does add a word of caution. Of course not. I say that in good humor. What Christ is saying to us is that we live in a world of freedom. Some of us will bring heartache on ourselves or those we love by unhealthy behavior. Some of us will clog up our veins with unhealthy foods, or put stress on our hearts by unhealthy anxiety during this holiday season.
Biblical Faith and Assurance. Biblical faith acknowledges the reality of evil and pain. The Bible is candid. There is no place on this earth that suffering and heartbreak cannot access. Hurricanes, train wrecks, someone shooting outside a restaurant or a medical clinic, and even the unexplained breaking that could cause an NFL player to snap off the field give evidence of the daily challenges we face.
The wolves of terror stalk many an embassy. We're never totally prepared, are we? And so our hearts are weighed down with dissipation. A diagnosis of cancer or Alzheimer's lurks. An automobile accident or a fire can happen most any time. A company can fail. We turn to scripture for help and reassurance.
Daily Devotional with Pastor Jon
And we come to these words from Luke 21 :. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. Biblical faith acknowledges the reality of evil. Most scholars classify this text with Jesus' apocalyptic teachings about the last days of earth's existence. That is why we find this imagery at the beginning of Advent.
Advent is the celebration of Jesus' coming into the world. The Second Advent is when he will return in power and glory. When will that be? No one knows.
But one thing is clear: Before it happens there will be many trials and tribulations: "nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world. As difficult as something catastrophic can be, it is often the small, nagging irritations that loom large.
A Message from Jon
There is a wonderful story told by James Michener in his book, Chesapeake. He says that the Choptank Indians on Maryland's Eastern Shore believed that God gave them the bay for transportation and for fish. They believed that God gave them reeds for houses and mats and crabs for delicious food. They also believed that God gave them those mosquitoes to show that God could do whatever God wanted. That may be as good an explanation as any of the presence of pain. But still, some of us feel that God has overdone it.
This can be a very cruel world. Sometimes we are left sobbing, "No wolf! No wolf! This is when we are tempted to be weighed down with dissipation. The destruction is enormous, the pain overwhelming.
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In this passage, Luke uses words like "anguish," "faint from terror," "apprehensive," and he describes a world shaken to its foundations. But then we read these words: "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. This is the ultimate Advent message: our redemption is near. No matter how heavy the burden, how stark the situation, how discouraging the dilemma, we can make it. We can endure. We can conquer. Because Jesus Christ has come into our world!
Restoration and Hope despite pain.
Baptist Faith and Message Sermon 1: The Bible is God's Word
Sometime back there was a TV drama. It was about a nurse, a single mom. Her husband had left her with three children, twin girls about twelve years old, and a boy sixteen. Her Dad was in a nursing home in another city. He had broken his hip and wanted her to come visit him. She didn't have the money, or the time. Still, she felt the guilt. She had contracted the flu at Thanksgiving, but had not really stopped to get over it. Now she feels lousy, tired and worn out. Then one evening, she discovers drugs in her son's bedroom and there's a terrible fight. She cries miserably through the night.
The next day at work is a total disaster. She has a confrontation with another nurse and loses her composure with an irritable patient. Then one of her favorite patients dies. While she was still processing that sad event, she bumped into an orderly, spilling a meal tray. She walks home with a feeling of despair. On the way, she passes an old, brownstone church. Inside she can hear carols being sung. Something pulls her inside. She sits in the back. There she sees a typical children's re-enactment of the nativity scene, complete with makeshift robes, a manger, Mary and Joseph, and the baby.
But there's something different about the baby in this manger. It's not a doll. It's a real baby. And it's doing what real babies do--trying to create havoc. She sees the baby Jesus raise its hand and try to pull Mary's nose. Then it starts getting fussy. Finally, it begins to cry. Not a gentle cry, but a full-throated scream. Nobody can hear the boy reading at the lectern. A woman leaves her pew and takes the baby in her arms.
It has little effect. The congregation sings "Silent Night" as the baby with the strongest set of lungs in the county is taken noisily from the sanctuary. The service is over and somehow the weary nurse now feels energized. It was not just a story. He cried and fussed and messed. He caused his mother anguish. He was one of us, just like us. God really cares about real life. She buttons her coat and steps from the church into the cold streets. She smiles at strangers. Something in her has changed.
All that, because suddenly she realized God had come to earth in human form. Our redemption is at hand. I don't know what you are going through right now. But, whatever it is, Christ can help you through. The Bible is quite realistic: in this world there are trials and tribulations, but be of good cheer. There is one who has overcome the world. Head lifting is our being on watch. Like a child waiting for Santa Claus, we are to lift our heads and wait with an expectant faith. Our waiting and watching is not so much rooted in fear as it is to be like a couple awaiting the birth of their first child.
It is more like a family waiting for the return of their soldier after receiving word that he is safe and headed home. Robby Robins was an Air Force pilot during the first Iraq war. After his th mission, he was surprised to be given permission to immediately pull his crew together and fly his plane home.
These young military men flew across the ocean to Massachusetts and then had a long drive to western Pennsylvania. They drove all night. How did they know? That is to be our attitude toward Advent. This is a season for waiting on tiptoe. Our redemption is drawing near. The kingdom is drawing near. You can trust his promises forever. Jesus reminds us that he is ultimately in charge.
The journey, though tough, will end well, and everything will be as good in the end as it was in the beginning of creation. Preparation is almost always helpful, so we should be prepared. Commentary on Luke. That that day would be particularly shocking is emphasized by the fact that the prophetic imagery is inverted.
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- Simply Speaking Inspirations: A Compilation of Short Sermons.
- The Magic of Bewitched Trivia.
For, rather than the Lord coming to rescue Jerusalem from her enemies, the city and the temple would be destroyed cf. Isaiah ; ; Joel , ; To those who encounter these dreadful experiences, it will feel as though the world is coming to an end. Daniel In sum, rather than being a day of despair, it will be a day of hope for them and will point to the redemption anticipated by the prophetess Anna Luke ; ; In the next portion of this pericope vv.