Who is Looking for Jesus?

 

the Sermon for the Sunday following Christmas this year was a reflection on Isaiah 9:6

star  I want us to do a little work together today.  I have laid out in this Advent Season the significance of the names of Jesus given in Isaiah 9:6.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

In Matthew 2 we find the story of how the Magi, also known as the Wise Men or the Three Kings came to worship Jesus.  (Mt 2:1-2)

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 

I want to put these two short passages together and ask a question. Who is looking for Jesus?

  1. Isaiah’s Description of Jesus

There are five parts to this description of Jesus that we have talked about.

            Government:  On him will rest the leadership for Government.  The promise is that we will one day live under the leadership of the Lord, here on the earth.

That is a future promise as far as world governments go. At various times people in this age have tried to combine their faith with civil government that has led to disaster.  The Roman Empire declared everyone a Christian at one point.  Believers at the time thought this was a great improvement over being persecuted. But really it just created a half-baked loaf.  People were Christian in name and maybe in how they treated their holidays, but they were not born again. Even today we have Christmas and Easter Christians, who live how they wish the rest of the time.  Medieval Europe, the State Churches of Europe and even the Puritans of New England had this idea.

Yet the spiritual government of Jesus has begun, though he Gospel.  He becomes our LORD, does he not?  We are made CITIZENS of the kingdom of God. 

Wonderful Counselor:  We saw that this meant that Jesus possesses wisdom to know what we need to do to move from Darkness to Light.  He is not just a source of come good advice. He is not just quotable, like a Yogi Berra of the Bible.  He is the source of supernatural wisdom. Wisdom from God.

Mighty God.  We saw that this meant that Jesus was able to defeat our enemies.  I am not talking about political enemies but spiritual enemies of darkness. He has defeated Sin by becoming the sacrifice for sin. He defeated death by going from the cross to the grave and back to life. He defeated the Devil by resisting all temptation and by striking a blow to the evil empire.

Everlasting Father reminds us of the committed love of the Lord. He not only can do what is needed, but he wants to do it.  He is willing and able.

Prince of Peace reminds us that the result of Jesus’ leadership in our lives is that we have peace. We have peace with God through the gospel we have inner peace as the shame and guilt of our lives is washed clean in the blood of the Lamb of God.  We have peace with others as we receive and give forgiveness.

In the time of Jesus, how many people were looking for him?  When he did miracles such as healing and feeding the crowds with bread and fish, they followed in a great crowd. Yet when they wanted to make him King he slipped away from them and returned to teaching the 12.

When he was crucified there were only 3 or 4 of his followers there. The rest were mockers or executioners, but all the crowds and most of the 12 were gone.

There was no real number until the Day of Pentecost when the church began with thousands of new believers.

In our day, how many people are looking for Jesus?

Well, we just had Christmas didn’t we. Didn’t the whole country look for Jesus?  Or maybe Santa Claus, or maybe for boxes under the tree?

Here is what I think.  There are people looking for what jesus has to offer.  There have been and there will always be those who are looking for good leaders, for wise counsel, for power to overcome, for love and for peace.  But most people do not look for the One who gives those.  We look in the wrong places.

  1. Evidence

Leaders:  think about all the places people look for leaders.

In politics we look for someone who can be a president.  What does that take? Experience, vision, skills to communicate, money, and it often helps to be good looking.  We look for someone who can inspire, unite, make wise choices, and remain popular while making difficult decisions.  We want peace – not just no wars, but a just and fair society with good jobs and healthy places to live for young and old alike.

We also look to celebrities and sports figures.  There are debates all the time over who the best Quarterback in football is, or who was the best hitter in baseball.

But who among these people can achieve peace on earth?  The problem that every leader faces is that all people are flawed.  The leaders are flawed and the people they lead are flawed.  How can all these flaws achieve peace?

They can’t but we still hope. Sometimes we get good leaders – say the presidents who made it onto Mt. Rushmore. But by leader worship we have also gotten dictators and villains.

Wisdom – we look a lot of places to decide what is wise.  There is a constant growing body of knowledge on all things.   We know more about outer space and about subatomic particles that we did 10 or 40 years ago.  The same can be said for all fields of knowledge.  It is so vast that any one person can only know a small amount well.  We can not a little about a lot and a lot about a little.

We have the internet. I remember reading about how the internet will bring social equality and peace.  It was social media that contributed to the “Arab Spring” a few years ago, when dictators were removed.  However, they have been replaced by civil wars.

Where do we find the answer to human happiness?  In my lifetime the answer to the need for happiness was supposed to be solved by these: Progress, Affluence, Drugs, Medicine, Cars, Trains, Music, a return to Nature, a return to the City, drop out, drop acid, get involved, shop local, be a world citizen.  As these trends come and go, it does not matter much that they contradict, we have become very interested in the next thing that will fix all things.

Power – We are the most powerful nation on the earth, if you measure based on the economy or on military power.  Yet the position that is Second in Line to the President, the Speaker of the House, was almost no filled.  No one wanted the Job. No one could keep the job.  Now Paul Ryan has the job, and he admitted that it will most likely be his last job in politics.

Power is hard to gain in a democracy.  Power is oppressive in a dictatorship.  We want a strong leader but we don’t want him or her to have too much power.

Belonging – we are a very mobile and segmented country.  Years ago when we traveled by horse and spoke by word of mouth, and the printed word was advanced technology, people belonged to small towns or neighborhoods.  People belonged to churches where they knew other people for years at a time.

Today we belong to Facebook groups and we connect with people like ourselves who think and listen to and read what we do.  We belong less.

Families continue to fracture.  Business, education and even the church have gotten to be bigger and more impersonal.

One of the things that still binds us is sports – the Packers and the Badgers.  Go Pack Go!  But mostly we watch the game with only a few others.  Few of us go to any of the games.

Peace – clearly we do not have peace.  We are wealthy and we are powerful.  Yet we are troubled by ISIS – did you know about ISIS last year?  We are troubled by mass violence in our own cities – The Boston Marathon Bombing, School shootings, Santa Barbara, Fort Hood, etc.

What I want to show by this is that people are looking all the time for the things that Christ has to give.  The five things found in Isaiah 9:6 are desired by everyone.  You do not have to be religious or idealistic or young to want things like peace and belonging.

If you have a need you have to find where to meet that need.

Here is where the miss happens.  In the world people are searching for the things that Jesus has to offer, but they are not looking for Jesus.

This is human nature.  This is why Psalm 53 and Romans 3 says that No One Looks for God.

But God looks for us.  The question is not: Who is looking for Jesus? It is:

III. Jesus is looking for us.

Son: The most famous verse in the bible is John 3:16.  It does not say, “For the world was so eager to know god that they looked everywhere to find him.”

It says that God so loved the world that he sent his only son to us.

If there is to be any finding of what is lost, it is not us who find God. It is God the father who finds us by sending his son.

Jesus went from city to city and town to town to preach, teach and heal.  He was out in the open. He gave reasons to believe – both by being the fulfillment of God’s promises, and by performing signs and wonders. Finally, referring to the Cross, Jesus said:

“… when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (Jn 12:32)

            Father: Paul speaking to philosophers in Athens spoke of how all humanity came from one source.  And that God arranges things so that people move here and there and nations rise and fall. All this is done, “so that we might seek him.”   Acts 17:26-27

26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him

IF there is to be finding of what is lost, it is not us who think about finding God, but God the Father who arranges the world so that we get the idea to look for him.

You see immigrants and refugees in the news. Have you thought about how many immigrants and refugees of past ages also came to know God because of their wanderings?

The Day of Pentecost happened when a crowd from all over the Roman Empire was in Jerusalem.  For all sorts of reasons, Jewish people had been scattered all over the world. Then they met Jesus in the preaching of Peter. Then, they returned to where they had been.  There the seed of the Gospel grew.

Spirit:  In the upper room, on the night before he was betrayed, Jesus began to teach intensively about the Holy Spirit.  He said that the Spirit will get the attention of the world.

“And when he comes, he will convict the world about sin and righteousness and judgment….He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you…”

I heard a church planting couple speak a number of years ago. They were going to start a church outside of Chicago in a new community.  They began by meeting people in a variety of ways, including knocking on doors.  Their idea was not to persuade people to believe in Jesus. Their idea was to see who God had already prepared, who were ready for a message about Jesus or were looking for a church.

This is our job.  We cannot persuade. We can get people interested in a spectacle. We could have Santa Claus or a Living Nativity, or a Christmas Lottery or a great concert.  But those things at their best can only gather a crowd.

What we need to do is Pray and Look.  We need to pray for our seeking neighbors. That they will learn that what they seek can only really be found in the Gift of God.  We need to look. Who is really looking? In whom has God placed a fire of curiosity?  This is our mission field.

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Christmas Eve at Kipp Street

star It is Christmas Eve, but that does not really matter for the shift on duty at Kipp Street*.  The trash keeps on coming and the line keeps on moving.  As they say, “Our business is picking up.”

The first shift is moving smoothly.  The line has not stopped and so the workers keep at the work of sorting.  They are like a line of Santa Clauses in Hi-Vis and stocking caps sorting ought the naughty trash from the nice recyclables.  Below them the bobcats turn here and there with their loads and the fork lifts pick up and drop off large bales bundled in steel wire.  There is a tall maze made up of stacked bales and the runways in between.  The loader lifts its jaws up toward the in-bin and drops in the unsorted items from the pile rising at the doorway.  There a succession of trucks back in to unload. The drivers seem to be glad to finish their shifts for the short holiday break.

All in all it is a good day.  Then something unusual happened. There have been some unique visitors here.  A raccoon found its way in, and a few other creatures.  Occasionally an unusual item arrives, money, golf balls, a basketball, an old auto transmission.  It is all in a day’s work but these items stand out as something a little different.

John saw them first.  A young couple was looking in the entry door.  He went up to them and asked if he could help.  “My name is Joe,” the man said, “I heard that you might be hiring.”

“That’s true, “replied John, and pointed to the trailer outside.  “There is someone in there you can talk to.  We are always hiring around here. “

As Joe headed for the trailer, the woman looked at John and said, “is there a place I can sit down for a minute?  I am expecting the baby to come soon and it is getting hard to stand.”

“Sure, just in there is a break room.  It is at least warm and there is a place you can sit.”   And he led her past some odd items in bins, opened the door and let her in.

That seemed to be about it, and all was calm again – if you can call the sound of the line, the bailer the bob cats and the fork lifts quiet.  A littler later Joe walked back and looked around.  John shouted and pointed to the break room; “She’s in there.”

“OK, Thanks.”  Joe walked in, and then walked out about 10 seconds later.  “I could use some help!  My wife is having a baby, right now! Her water broke”

What a place to have a baby.  Clara was driving by with a bale of plastic bottles when she saw the commotion.  She came over and got the news.  “A baby?  What a place to have a baby!”  Looking over at John she said, “Do you have a cell phone? Call 911!”   Then she looked at the soon to be parents and said, “Help will be here soon.”

Joe said, a bit nervously, “Mara is not due for another week. Do you think there is a problem”

Clara replied, “They come when they are ready, don’t worry.”

The whole floor crew now came over and asked what is going on.  When they heard, they said, “We can all help until 911 gets here.”

So a couple of guys went to direct the ambulance when it arrived.  Another went upstairs to get an office chair, thinking it could be more comfortable.  Someone bought Joe a cola from the vending machine, this one read “give to a Dad” on the side.

The men started to look for something to boil water in, because one remembered that is what the men did in all the old cowboy movies.  Clara took off her work jacket and gave it to Mara to help her stay warm.

The contractions had started, the first one about when the water broke, and the second came about 10 minutes later.  Joe and Mara were looking very anxious about this turn of events.

“Don’t worry, I’m a mom too, you’ll get through this.”

It took another 15 minutes before the paramedics arrived.  They guys outside waved them to the front door and brought them into the break room.  And they said, “          We’ll take it from here.  Thanks for your help.”

By this time the line had stopped, so in all there was a baker’s dozen  or line and floor workers standing outside the break room.  Mara and Joe had insisted that Clara stay.   Every once in a while she would peek his head out to say, “It’s getting close!”

Someone said, “Well this is new, a baby at Kipp Street. This sure beats that old raccoon story!”

Another said, “It sure does, but what a place to be born. This ain’t no hospital.”

“Well,” said a third,” I am glad we invited her in, at least she is out of the cold.”

After what seemed to be forever Clara popped her head out and said, “It’s a girl!  Everyone is OK, though Joe is a little green around the gills.”

The paramedics got ready to transport Mara, Joe and the baby to the hospital.  The one in charge looked over to the group and said, “Thanks for all your help, it made a difference.”

So that is how a baby was born at Kipp Street.  A few days later there was a note that came from Joe and Mara.

“To all the people at Kipp Street, thanks a ton.  Our little bundle arrived and we decided give her Jessie as her first name and Kipp for her middle name.  By the way, Joe got the job and will start next week.”

Just then two or three of the guys had to blow their noses or clean their glasses.

David E. Carlson (aka FRESHREAD)

*Note: Kipp Street is a real place, where FRESHREAD serves as a workplace chaplain. Everything else is fictional, but it does in a way resemble a true story from another place and time.

“Mighty God”

advent_wreath

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Is. 9:6)

This phrase in the Hebrew has the idea of a warrior.  The “Mighty Men of David” were those who rallied to his cause and were battle tested.  And so the babe of Bethlehem grew up to do battle.  How are his enemies?

  • Sin
  • Death
  • The Devil

Here are the results of a discussion on our Adult Class:

Mighty God – Adult Class 12/6/15

The three enemies of humanity are Sin, Death and the Devil. IN class we assigned scriptures to enemies. Note that some verses speak to all three enemies.

  1. Against Sin
  • Romans 3:23-24
  • Romans 8:38-39
  • Galatians 1:4
  • Colossians 1:13
  • Colossians 2:15
  • Colossians 3:5-6
  • Hebrews 2:14-15
  • I John 1:7-9
  • I John 2:2
  • I John 3:1
  1. Against Death
  • Isaiah 25:8
  • Romans 8:38-39
  • I Corinthians 15:25-26
  • I Corinthians 15:57
  • 2 Timothy 1:10
  • Hebrews 2:14-15
  • I Thessalonians 3:13
  • Revelation 1:18
  • Revelation 20:14
  • Revelation 21:14

3. Against the Devil

  • Matthew 12:28
  • John 12:31
  • Acts 10:38
  • Romans 8:38-39
  • Colossians 1:13
  • Colossians 2:15
  • Hebrews 2:14-15
  • I John 2:13-14
  • I John 3:13
  • Revelation 20:1-3
  • Revelation 20:4

 

Isaiah 25:8; Matthew 12:28; John 12:31; Acts 10:38; Romans 1:1, Romans 3:23; Romans 8:38-39; I Corinthians 15:25-26; I Corinthians 15:57; Galatians 1:4; Colossians 1:13, Colossians 2:15; Colossians 3:5-6;  2 Timothy 1:10, Hebrews 2:1`4-15; I John 1:7-9,I John 2:13-14; I John 3:13; Revelation 1:18; Revelation 20:1-3; Revelation 20:14; Revelation 21:4

Languages

We are studying the names in Isaiah 9:6

  • Wonderful Counselor
  • Mighty God
  • Everlasting Father
  • Prince of Peace

This Sunday, “Mighty God” is the English translation of the Hebrew

אֵ֣ל גִּבּ֔וֹר

And we are in a Lao and English service. The Lao is

ພຣະ​ເຈົ້າ​ຜູ້​ຊົງ​ລິດ

The task of the preacher in general is to being the world of the Bible accurately to the people of the present. the extra challenge is to do that with more than one language.

mightygod