On Miscellaneous Subjects
By Pastor Ron Thomas
Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040
Text: Isaiah 9:6.
Introduction: Today is December 21st, which means winter has officially arrived! It certainly feels like it. At least today! In the Northern Hemisphere, winter begins on the shortest day of the year, and lasts until March 20th or 22nd, the beginning of spring, marked by the vernal equinox, when day and night are equal in length. It is also known as “winter solstice,” which is the moment when the sun’s path is farthest south from the Equator.
A shorter day of course, means less daylight. So, how does that make you feel? For some people, the winter season is kind of depressing. They don’t call it the “dead of winter” or “bleak of winter” for nothing! Some may find themselves feeling depressed, gaining weight, experiencing exhaustion, and lacking their usual ability to concentrate. You will not be surprised to discover that they have a name for it. It is called SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Most just call it the “winter blues.” Researchers believe that lack of light during the winter months could alter the levels of hormones and brain chemicals, hence resulting in depression. Evidently Elvis had a terrible case of it, when he sang, Blue Christmas!
Our text was written you might say in the “dead of winter” spiritually. Through Isaiah, God had announced an inevitable judgment to come upon the people of the northern kingdom of Israel. The Assyrian empire, at the zenith of it’s power, was poised to invade and conquer a morally bankrupt and militarily weakened Israel. Darkness would soon fall on the nation of Israel, a darkness that would last about 700 years! (That’s one long winter!) However, as Isaiah prophesied, he offered hope in the form of a promised child! Light would spring out of the darkness, all because of a baby who would be given to the world! 700 years before the angels made their announcement to a young virgin girl, the prophet Isaiah writes, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Today, we might call it Christmas hope! Hope!
This child would grow to be a man, who will one day bring in a reign of righteousness and peace to the whole world! The people under His rule, will call Him by some impressive names such as: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
All of Israel placed their hopes in the coming of Messiah, the One who would redeem Israel, and change the world for the better. We see evidence of this as Simeon, that senior citizen prophet of God, held baby Jesus in his arms and said, “For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, 31 Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.”
Hope seems like a strange word today, as the economy tanks and pink slips pile up. This year, it is measuring up to be a Blue Christmas for sure! Things aren’t going so well for many people across the nation. Families all around us are hurting financially. Investors have taken a big hit on the stock market. Some have lost millions to a fraudulent securities advisor! The big three automakers, Ford, G.M, and Chrysler, who were standing in line for a government bail out, have received a temporary fix. Thousands upon thousands of jobs from the assembly line, to the local auto sales floor, are at stake. Others have lost their homes. The entire world is feeling the economic crunch! This last week in Dongguan, China, hundreds of factory workers were held back by Police, as they protested and demonstrated over poor working conditions, and slashed wages. Recently thousands of companies have gone bust in China. Bad news is everywhere. Even our President is getting shoes thrown at him!
In the midst of it all, the words of Isaiah come to us today and remind us that there is hope. Hope! The hope prophesied by Isaiah arrived some 2,000 years ago in the little town of Bethlehem! Luke 1:30-31 reads, “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name JESUS.” Hope has arrived, and hope has a name! His name is Jesus! Someone wrote: “The story of Christmas is that God has not given up on us. In the garden of Eden, God talked with us, walked with us. In the ark, God protected us. In the Temple, God sanctified us. In the lion’s den, God intervened for us. In the fiery furnace, God stood with us. In the Incarnation, the Christmas story, God gave the message that He still believes in us. He has not given up on us! Indeed, God has such hope, that He came to earth as one of us. This is our hope!” Hope has an eternal name! It’s Jesus!
No matter how this Christmas season finds you, with Jesus Christ in your heart, there is always reason to hope!
Our hope has a name! Call Jesus “Wonderful.” Jesus can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary! The word “wonderful” speaks of something marvelous, something miraculous. Jesus is wonderful! His entrance into this world was wonderful! Jesus was a miracle baby by virtue of His virgin birth and incarnation. God wrapped Himself in human form, and became a dependent, helpless baby that will ultimately save the world! That’s miraculous!
Jesus’ whole manifestation was nothing short of miraculous! Paul, writing to Timothy, capsuled the entire journey of Jesus in what he calls, “the mystery of godliness.” He writes in I Timothy 3:16, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
There is hope in the transforming presence and purpose of Jesus! Jesus can take the common, ordinary things in your life, and accomplish extraordinary things! When Jesus walked the earth, He chose the ordinary, often overlooked people and things, to accomplish His purpose!
Think about the twelve disciples He chose at the beginning of His earthly ministry. They were common, uneducated men, yet Jesus chose them, ordained them, and used them to reach the known world!
On one occasion, Jesus was confronted with a multitude of tired hungry people, and there wasn’t a McDavids in sight! The twelve disciples strongly suggested that Jesus send them away! Instead, Jesus fed them with just five loaves and two fishes, and a “doggy bag” for everyone to take back home!
God can use you right where you are with what you have! Jesus can take the little you possess, and make a difference in someone’s life. He can take your job, and transform it into ministry. He can transform present burdens into blessings! In a strange but marvelous way, Jesus can equip you and transform you through trials, refining your faith, so that you can encourage, strengthen, and bless others! Call Him, Wonderful!
Our hope has a name! Call Jesus “Counselor.” Jesus can give you clarity in the midst of chaos and confusion. At Christmas time, we speak of the wise men who came from the east. Then and now, wise men, women, girls and boys, still seek Jesus. Truth be told, the really wise one in the Christmas story, is the babe in the manger! While Jesus certainly grew to maturity and “...increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man,” make no mistake about it, Jesus was born in and with the wisdom of God!
The word “counselor” speaks of great wisdom, of qualities sufficient to guide and direct the human race. It had been prophesied in Isaiah 11:2, that the “...the spirit of wisdom, understanding and counsel,” would accompany the Messiah. God’s great eternal purpose is founded upon and centered in His Son, Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 1:30 tells us that Jesus has become to us as believers, “the wisdom from God.” All true wisdom will never fail to consider, trust, base it’s judgment and all decisions, on God’s purpose revealed in Jesus Christ! In Jesus, we have life, and have it more abundantly!
There is hope in the wisdom of Jesus! Jesus is the only One who knows the best way to get you through life! Jesus will give you the needed wisdom to solve problems, avoid or avert dangers, and to attain certain goals. Jesus will teach you how to keep the job you have; how to conduct yourself an a job interview; how to respond to those who offend or hurt you; how and what to teach your children; how to treat and love your spouse, friends and family members; as well as how to manage your finances! At one point in Jesus’ earthly ministry, many turned their backs on Him and walked away. It was then Jesus asked Peter if He was walking away, to which Peter responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” When you find yourself confused, not knowing which way to turn, be like Peter. Open the pages of God’s Word, and turn to Jesus in prayer. James 1:5 promises that if we ask God for wisdom, He will respond liberally! Call Him, Counselor!
Our hope has a name! Call Jesus the “Mighty God.” Jesus will protect you in the midst of your conflict. John tells us in John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” The inspired authors of the Holy Scriptures, make it clear that Jesus, this baby in the manger, was the Almighty God! This phrase speaks of omnipotence! Jesus has all the power of God, for He is God. In the gospels, Jesus healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, caused the lame to walk again, and even raised the dead!
Our hope isn’t based upon our power, but in His. He has all power! You may not believe that Jesus is God, but God believes it! One day, Jesus will return to this earth, conquer the nations and armies of the world with the words of His mouth, cast Satan along with his imps into the bottomless pit, to rule and reign on the earth from Jerusalem with a rod of iron! Hallelujah!
There is hope in the power of Jesus! Is there anything too hard for God? Jesus has power to perform great things in your heart and life. Jesus told His disciples and He tells us today in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” No matter what we face in life, Jesus has gone before us as the Almighty God! Jesus faced our greatest foe, our greatest fear, which is death and the grave! From the empty tomb we hear the shout, “Death, where is your sting? Grave, where is your victory?” Because Jesus is the Almighty God, the apostle Paul was inspired to say in, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Whatever it is you face this Christmas season, no matter how distasteful or difficult, Jesus can give you’re the strength to go on, to overcome, to endure, to change your heart! I John 5:4 reads, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” Call Him, Mighty God!
Our hope has a name. Call Jesus the “Everlasting Father.” Jesus will love you eternally, when everyone else walks away. Jesus has been called a babe, a child, and a son, but here we see Him as the Heavenly Father. The well known Baptist preacher and pastor R. G. Lee once observed, “Jesus is the only one born with no earthly father, but an earthly mother. He had no heavenly mother, but a Heavenly Father. He was born older than His mother, and yet as old as His Father!”
Jesus, the Son, is identified as being one with the Father, a truth which Jesus Himself proclaimed throughout His ministry on earth. In John 17:20-21 Jesus prayed, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art IN ME, and I IN THEE, that THEY also may be ONE IN US: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.” The word “father” is the term of relationship. The only way to have a father, is to be born or adopted into a family. When we believe in Jesus and are saved, we are adopted into God’s family, as the children of God and receive the spirit of adoption!
In connection with hope, this title reminds us that hope is everlasting! It’s a forever hope that we have in Jesus. We are never outside the love of God! Paul assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There is hope in the fatherly love and compassion of Jesus. Though Peter denied Jesus three times and went fishing, Jesus was faithful to show up on the shores of his life, offering Peter another chance, another opportunity to serve Him! Others may give up on you and walk away from you when your fail them or disappoint them, but Jesus is that friend that sticks closes than a brother!
If you are a rebel, a prodigal, who has walked away, be encouraged. You can come back home! Jesus has left the light on, and will run to meet you with arms open wide! Call Him, Everlasting Father!
Our hope has a name! Call Jesus the “Prince of Peace.” Jesus will comfort you when your heart is overwhelmed with turmoil, trouble and strife. I heard some political commentary this last week concerning the President elect’s victory this last November. They observed, (and I believe it to be true,) that one of the secrets of Barack Obama’s success over McCain, was the way he carried himself. Obama always came across as Mr. Calm, Cool and Collected. They said, “Americans elected a man repeatedly recognized for his uncommon calmness. More than ever, we crave stability, a steady hand, the reassuring face on television.” It is always a good rule to, “never let them see your sweat!”
As you read the gospels, you never see Jesus “lose it.” You never see Jesus, in a hurry! At times Jesus was upset and frustrated with His disciple’s seemingly incompetence (at times they just didn’t get it), or with the unbelief of hometown folks; He was angered at the money changers in the Temple; He even wept at the tomb of His friend Lazarus; but Jesus never let anyone or anything get to Him and disturb His peace. In John 14:27, Jesus was able to turn to His disciples and say, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
There is hope in the peace offered by Jesus. It is not a peace that comes when the storm is over, but a peace that arrives and stays, in the midst of the storm! It is not a peace that comes only with good, happy endings. It is a peace that abides when everything comes out all wrong, when you get the short end of the stick. Jesus will give you peace that dispels fear as you face all sorts of adversity! Call Him, Prince of Peace!
Our hope has a name! Call Jesus “Savior.” Jesus will forgive you and save you from your sins! The angel told Mary, “Call His name Jesus!” Why Jesus? The name Jesus was a very common name at that time! It is the Greek form of Joshua! God chose a human, common name for His Son. Why? Jesus came to be accessible, touchable, approachable. He was ordinary in the sense that he looked like us, and lived among us. If Jesus was living among us today, and you came across Him in the local mall, on the outside at least, He would not appear to be any different than anyone else!
The name Jesus was also chosen by God because it means, “the Lord is salvation,” and it speaks of His life purpose. “Call Him Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins!” Someone had to die to pay the price for everyone else’s sins. No one could meet God’s criteria, His standard of righteousness, except His only begotten Son, Jesus! Speaking of Jesus, Paul says in Colossians 1:14, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”
There is hope in the soul cleansing blood of Jesus Christ! You may not have given it much thought, but everyone, every sinner comes to Jesus in a crisis. The jailer in Philippi was about to take his own life, when he heard the cry from a prison cell, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all present and accounted for!” Later that same man asked, “What must I do to be saved?” The response came back simple, sure and certain, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” That’s it! Recognize that you are an unworthy, guilty sinner before God, repent of your sin, and believe in the lovely name of Jesus, the one and only name “...under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” The great crisis we must come to, is to see ourselves as sinners before God, helpless to save ourselves, and worthy of eternal death and destruction in Hell! Call Him, Savior!
Today, Jesus wants to be all of these to you. Are you living your life with hope? What does your hope look like? Does it have a name? Is it money, or fame, or power, or position? Real hope is found only in one name. Jesus! Christmas is a good time to embrace the hope found in Jesus Christ. Come embrace Jesus and all that His name means.