Observations from our text ---
- Goodness always seems weaker than evil.
Humankind is not self-sufficient.
- Through 20 centuries the Church has been David against the Goliath of the world.
- One of life’s greatest mysteries is the persistence of goodness and the inability of evil finally to overcome it.
Our meaning is beyond ourselves.
- The strength of Goliath was only in himself, and his pride betrayed him. David proclaimed that he came in the power of his faith in a mighty God.
- We seem to need a goal beyond ourselves in order to live with any satisfaction.
- Goliath represents those who glory in their own strength and their own success but discover finally that it doesn’t save them.
Power is found through faith.
- Humans listen to voices which seem to speak from….
- Until a person says “yes” to these voices he/she does not find life.
- For every person there comes a time when they must ask themselves in whose name they are living.
- No one does very much until they believe, and nothing becomes strong until it is under-girded by faith.
Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs— heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
2 Corinthians 2:14-16
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?
There are some things which are not to be manipulated or interfered with by human beings. There are some things in life which are for us to adjust to and not for us to arrange to suit our fancy. There are eternal realities which cannot be amended. In two crucial areas we need to come to grips with this main thought—
- I believe in the moral law of God. I believe that the only choice we have is to discover what the law is and live by it or to ignore it and to suffer the consequences.
- God is not someone to use….it is our responsibility to discover His will and yield ourselves to it….without compromise.
- God is to be found and God is to be obeyed.
- Let us not forget that God made us in His image but that we didn’t make Him in our image.
Moses made his appeal on the basis of…..
- I Will Do Something for You.
You Can Do Something for Us.
- People, we are told, will do only what seems to them to be to their own advantage.
Let’s Do Something Together.
- Moses assumes that people have a desire to be used for the service of others and that people need to be needed.
This Is the Way God Deals with Us.
- There seems to be an unwritten law of human nature that people become their best only when they are working together for something that is bigger than individual ambition.
- God doesn’t seek to win our love by promising to do something for our advantage. He goes deeper than that and calls us by making us aware of the world’s need and pain. But best of all, we become a part of His process of bringing salvation and healing.
- Christ will go with us wherever He wants us to go.
The mood of true religious faith is one of wonder and awe.
The Church should be “the dwelling place of wonder”.
We should observe……
- The Wonder of The Church’s History.
The Church Deals With The Wonder of Life.
- The Church’s history seems to bear testimony to something eternal within it and a power to lift it out of the ashes.
The Church’s Teaching about The Wonder of Humankind.
- The Church is always on the side of life, and it breaks through the shallow and sometimes evil talk to make us aware when life is at stake, especially when human life is being desecrated.
The Church is The Dwelling Place of The Wonder of God.
- The greatness of the Church is that it is neither sentimental nor is it hopelessly pessimistic. Its doctrine of humanity springs from the Bible, and it is the pro-claimer of the wonderful news that out of the worst (us) there comes the best.
- There has been a tendency in our time to minimize the transcendence (other-worldliness) of God.
- If we believe in His transcendence, we also believe in His immanence (nearness, presence or indwelling) of God.
There are some things we cannot save up for the future, and there are some values which can’t be preserved or protected. They have to be gathered fresh every day.
- People seek protection against the future.
- Physical security doesn’t settle the main problems of life.
- The important things can’t be gathered in advance.
- God provides for us daily.
- “I believe God will give us all the power we need to resist in all the times of distress. But He never gives it in advance lest we should rely upon ourselves and not Him alone.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- This life we live in Christ is one of the most wonderful experiences a person can know. We can’t be safe but we can be saved. We can’t be secure but we can be unafraid. We can’t live cautiously but we can live adventurously.
- The discovery of God’s love for us is the greatest experience we will ever have. It means we can trust Him to care for us and give us what we need every day.
“This is the whole Gospel, the birth of the holy Jesus within us; His conquering life overcoming our inward death.”
“A Christ not in us is. . . .a Christ not ours.”
- Not all who profess and call themselves Christians are in this mystery/secret.
The heart of this mystery ---
- Near is not enough.
Then is not enough.
- The important thing isn’t what happens to us but what happens in us.
- God in Christ was able and willing to come right into the heart of His consenting servants and live there, teaching them to love like God, to think with God, and to will one will with God.
Now is not enough.
- Some Christian preaching and teaching has concerned itself exclusively with the future.
- To have “Christ in you” is to have it abundantly now, and eternally too.
- The Christian’s “hope of glory” is a sure and certain hope. It is a hope which has no shadow of doubt.
- Now is not enough. We must have “then” also. Both!
- God made us in such a way that we need Him.
- Sharing gives meaning to your life. Without God to be near us, with us, actually caring and involved in our lives, our lives become pointless.
- When our first parents, Adam and Eve fell into sin and broke the perfect relationship they had with God, God suddenly disappeared.
- People, like us, try to fill the void and loneliness for God with god-like substitutes that can keep us from feeling the ache to not be alone.
- The shepherds from the Christmas story felt that loneliness more acutely than we realize.
- If a holy God or even His holy angels show up to be with us in the brokenness of our sin, we feel a bit like bugs or rats that want to scurry out of view when you turn on the light.
- God realizes this. His solution to our plea, “Where are you, God?” is the good news the angels wanted to share with those lonely shepherds. “You aren’t alone!”
- God is with us. Not in an abstract way or empty way. He has become one of us.
- God with us is a big deal. He comes to walk in our shoes and take on our brokenness and sin. Jesus came to suffer for the whole world’s sin, to suffer total isolation from God the Father and through His death on the cross restore us to God, so that we can ultimately be with Him in heaven.
- “People are not meant to be alone.” God loved us enough to invite us with the shepherds to look in the manger and see, He is with us!
“The Lord works in strange ways His wonders to perform.”
- God’s actions in history are often strange.
- When God acts, the acts are wonderful.
- No event in Scripture better illustrates the truth of that phrase than the Incarnation.
The wonders of the Christmas story -- -
- Little did Caesar Augustus realize that his census should be the means whereby prophecy was fulfilled.
Little did the shepherds realize that they would form the reception committee for the Christ Child.
- The wonder of the Christmas story is that God actually came into recorded history, born of the Virgin Mary, in a stable outside the city of Bethlehem.
- God works His purposes among people that are willing and those that are unwilling.
Little did the world realize that the star that shone so brightly over Bethlehem was the star announcing the birth of the Christ Child.
- Here we see the inclusiveness of the Gospel. It is good news not to a few but for all.
- The angel’s words remind us that it is God that comes to men and women and not the opposite.
- When He comes, those who receive Him find themselves the beneficiaries of privilege and wonder.
- Our response to God, when He comes to us, must be one of obedience.
- So much of what goes on around us, much of which is very important, goes unnoticed by the majority of people.
Lessons about the blessings of Christ and the way in which He acts in our lives:
- Mary was blessed with the possibility to believe.
Mary was blessed with the power to be of service to God.
- The faith that Mary exercised was the result of believing that what God has said was so.
- There is a close relationship between the degree of our faith and our concept of God.
Mary was the recipient of the paradox of blessedness.
- When believers sense personally that the God of creation is working in and through them to do His will, there is joy!
- When we are in the service of the King there is an immortality that accompanies our work.
- To be chosen of God, to be elected as His instrument, there is no higher calling. There is no greater blessing!
- Joy would soon go unappreciated if there were no suffering with which to contrast it.