Next sermon series will be on the Study of God

I wanted to intro my next sermon series which will begin on Sunday, January 7, 2018. I recorded a 5 minute preview. You can find it on the Bethelfriends podcast or on the website at:

https://bethelfriendschurch.wordpress.com/sermons/

 

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God provides the sacrifice

Jesus’ birth fulfills the Old Testament Prophesies, God Provides the Sacrifice (Gen. 3:15; Gen. 22; Isa. 7:14; Isa 53:7; 60:19-20; Matt. 1:23)

I do not believe in coincidences. Many of you may remember the former NFL player Tim Tebow. He was an outspoken Christian and came away with many surprising wins. One of them was versus the Steelers in the 2012 playoffs. This is what I read about it:

Tim Tebow appeared on Harry Connick Jr’s show “Harry” this week to discuss his new book, baseball career, and more. One part of the conversation that stood out was when Connick Jr. asked Tebow to explain the incredible thing that happened immediately after he led the Broncos to an upset playoff victory over the Steelers back in 2012.

For the game, Tebow decided to paint the Bible verse John 3:16 under his eyes, exactly the same way he did three years prior for the National Championship game. On that day, January 8th, 2009, an insane amount of people – 94 million to be precise –  Googled the verse and Tebow’s Gators won the game.

Fast forward to the upset win over the Steelers in 2012, which ended on this Tebow touchdown pass:

An ecstatic Tebow was celebrating with teammates in the locker room and preparing to speak with the press, when the Broncos PR guy approached him almost too giddy to speak.

“Timmy, do you realize what happened?”

“Yeah, we just beat the Steelers and we’re going to play the Patriots!”

“No, I don’t think you realize what just happened. It’s exactly three years later from when you wore John 3:16 under your eyes. During the game you threw for 316 yards, your yards per rush were 3.16, your yards per catch were 31.6, the ratings for the game was 31.6 and the time of possession was 31.6.”

During the game 90 million people googled John 3:16 and once again it was the #1 trending item on Facebook and Twitter.

Tebow summed up the incredible imagery with the numbers like this: “A lot of people said it was a coincidence. I say big God.”

No coincidence.

In the birth of Christ we also see a Big God, no coincidences.

The date is now December 10, so I wonder how things are coming along with your Christmas plans. Do you have all your shopping done yet? Do you have your house decorated?

Show of hands: How many of you have your Christmas tree up?

How many have two Christmas trees up?

How many have lights up outside of the house?

Have you gone out looking at Christmas lights whether driving around or a specific display?

Do you ever look up at the stars at night? Do you notice that you cannot see as many stars in the city as you can in the country? I once saw a program that said we have to go to the middle of the Atlantic in order to truly get away from the light pollution, wow! Yet, electric lighting revolutionized the world. We were already in the industrial revolution, but when electric lighting came, wow! But we know that Thomas Edison did not invent light, just the electric light bulb. Now, we have lights everywhere. Think about night baseball games, night football games, night soccer games, indoor night basketball games at night, we have services here after dark, headlights on our cars, lights outside our houses, parking lot lights and lighthouses. Is that all because of the light bulb? I don’t think so, I think it is all because we need light. Think about it, if we did not need light, the light bulb would have been another unimportant invention. We need light.

We need light and God provided light from the beginning. God said, “Let there be light,” and there was. Later God created the sun, moon and stars. But that is not the only light which we need and needed. We needed salvation. We needed a sacrifice. God sent us the Light of the World. God sent His own sacrifice. He was prophesied about in the Old Testament.

Singer Michael Card wrote a song called The Promise, and he wrote a little Christmas devotional on this theme:
He noted:
Christianity is founded on a promise. Faith involves waiting on a promise. Our hope is based on a promise.
Promises are made with words. … .that part of myself that goes with every promise is given to you through my words….
Our God is the great maker of promises… His word, our Bible, is a collection of the promises… most of these concern Jesus, who came to be known as “the Promised One”
Through all these promises, God was trying to give something of Himself to Adam, and to Israel, and finally to us. The Bible tells us that when the Promised One came, the Lord poured all of Himself into Him.
What a costly thing it can be to make a promise – it cost Jesus His life.

Today, we look at a very familiar Old Testament story. Yet, as familiar as this is, this is prophetic in looking towards the Christ Child. God provides the sacrifice needed for Abraham and for us.

Read with me Genesis 22:1-14:

The great idea in this passage is that the Lord provides. So, I want to talk about how the Lord provides the sacrifice. The Lord sends the Light. Three times in verses 1-14 we see the idea that the Lord provides.

  1. Let’s overview this narrative.
    1. In verse 1 God talks to Abraham and notice that Abraham has no hesitation. Abraham immediately said, “Here I am.”
    2. Verse 2 has God giving Abraham instructions as to what to do. Notice how specific this is:
      1. Take your son…
      2. Your only son…
  • whom you love…
  1. sacrifice him as a burnt offering.
  1. Realize that Abraham had another son, Ishmael, whom he sent away. He was not the son of the promise. He was not the son by Abraham and Sarah. Isaac was.
  2. This was Abraham’s only son and he loves him.
  3. Yet, God tells him to sacrifice him. What was this like for Abraham? What were his emotions?
  4. Whatever it was like for Abraham, God did this with His Son.
  5. John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten
  6. Notice that Jesus, God’s only begotten Son is the Son of promise. Isaac was the son of promise to Abraham. By Isaac all the world will be blessed. The lineage goes on to Jesus and in Him, through His death and resurrection all the world will be blessed.
  7. Verse 3, the next verse says that Abraham got up early in the morning and he began his trip to obey God.
    1. I heard someone say, “I wonder if he told Sarah.” That is a thought. I wonder if he just said they were going out for a bit. Do you think he could have actually told Sarah that he was going to kill her only son? No way!
    2. I bet if he told her that she would have stopped it. That is not saying that she had less faith, but this was her only son.
  8. Verse 5 shows that this is about worship. There were two servants with them. Abraham has the servants wait. Abraham says that they will worship and then they will return.
  9. Isn’t that interesting? Abraham was told to sacrifice his son, yet he tells the servants they will return. Maybe Abraham did not wish for the servants to come with him and try to restrain him from following the Lord’s command? Or, maybe Abraham thought that Isaac was the child of promise and so God would raise him up again. Maybe he thought his son, Isaac, was the Messiah. They were waiting on someone to make things right.
  10. They have the wood, the fire and the knife and they are going up to make the sacrifice. Isaac is carrying the wood for his own sacrifice. Hmm. You know that in John 19:17 it says that Jesus carried His own cross?
  11. By the way, Isaac is not a young child. He is an adult. The Jewish historian Josephus says that he is probably twenty-five years old. We never think of him that old.
  12. In verse 8: Abraham says that God will provide the lamb. Isaac knew what he would need for a sacrifice. Abraham had strong faith. God will provide.
  13. We look at this today and we are looking back and we see that God provided Jesus, our eternal lamb.
  14. Abraham places his son on the alter and pulls the knife. He is about to kill him when an angel interrupts him. The angel may have been a normal angel or he might have been Jesus in the Old Testament. Sometimes when the Bible says the Angel of the Lord it is referring to Jesus.
  15. Abraham is stopped and then they see a ram caught in the bushes by its horns.
  16. God provided the sacrifice.
  17. God provided a sacrifice for Abraham.
  1. God provided a sacrifice for us and the sacrifice was His own Son.
    1. John 1:36 John the baptizer says look at the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. 1 John 4:9; John 3:16 both talk about God sending His only begotten Son.
    2. Isa 53:7: Jesus is like a lamb to the slaughter.
    3. Verse 14: Abraham calls that place the Lord provides.
    4. Abraham needed a sacrifice. God gave him the sacrifice.
    5. But the sacrifice for Abraham was foreshadowing the sacrifice for the rest of the world. Truly through Abraham all the world would be blessed.
    6. Close to two thousand years later a descendant of Abraham would be born and raised. He would be just over twenty-five years old at the age of thirty-three. He would be God’s Son and He would carry His own cross and this time the angel would not stop the death. This time He would die. He would die as our sacrifice. God provided the Light. But praise God He did not stay in the grave. He became the first fruits of the resurrection. (1 Cor. 15)
    7. Our Lord provides! Amen! Jehovah Jireh is how that name is translated.

Close:

Jesus came:

That through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.(Hebrews 2:14–15)

But not just to die. Jesus was born to be raised from the dead (Revelation 1:18). He is the Resurrection and the Life and whoever believes in him “though he die yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem it was the dawn of death’s destruction. It made possible the fast-approaching time when,

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8)

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

We Still Prepare the Way (Mark 1)

Title: We Still Prepare the Way for Jesus’ Coming.

Opening:

We are now in the Advent season. Advent means the coming or arrival. All throughout Old Testament history they were waiting on the Messiah and every year during this season we celebrate His coming.

When I was in college I worked as a McDonald’s manager. I worked full time and I went to school full time. I did 5 years of tribulation period there and Jesus has not come back yet so He is coming back post tribulation. The McDonalds that I was a manager at was a franchise. With the McDonalds system, as a franchise, a couple times a year we would have a corporate audit. There was a specific person who worked for corporate who would come in and spend 2 days auditing our store. They would check the paper work, but mostly they would check us for cleanliness and service times. They would time us in the drive thru, they would time us in the grill, they would time us on the front counter, and they would time us everywhere else. Looking bad on this audit would mean more audits and other consequences for the franchise. These audits had scheduled dates. Because these audits were so important we worked extra hard getting ready. The days and weeks prior to the audit were filled with extra hours and extra staff to clean the store and be ready. Many times I came in extra early the day of the audit and the closing crew from the previous night was still at the store cleaning. We cleaned under the counter, under the grill, and under everywhere else. We had to prepare the store for the coming of the corporate people. We had to be ready.

You know, there are Biblical parallels to this story. In the passage we are going to look at we see the text talk about John preparing the way for Jesus. I would like to take a few moments and talk about how John prepared the way for Jesus and also show how even though Jesus has already come, We Still Prepare the Way for Jesus’ Coming. How do we prepare the way for Jesus’ coming? Listen and you will hear.

Let’s start by reading Mark 1:1-8:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way;
The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.’”

John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

  • Mark opens his gospel with three Old Testament quotations. The first of these quotations is from Mal 3:1 and the second is from Isaiah 40:3. The third is Exodus 23:20. Isaiah is the strongest quotation.
    • I know as you read this you may notice that Mark says, “Isaiah the prophet” and then quotes Malachi. Well, this was common. The N.T. writers knew the O.T. so well that many times they would mention several O.T. quotations at once.
    • I find the quotation in Isa 40:3 particularly interesting. In the context it says: “make straight in the desert a Highway for our God.” It makes it sound like this messenger will symbolically be clearing a highway. This messenger will be getting rid of the trees and stumps and making a type of King’s Highway.
    • I think that is what John the Baptist did in a symbolic way. He prepared the way of the Lord in people’s hearts. He did this by what follows.
      • Before the U.S. president comes to a town there are traffic detours, etc
      • If the U.S. President were to come to our area there would be road closures and detours to prepare the way for the President. Actually, they would work with the local authorities ahead of time to prepare the way. I am an expert on this because I watch the show Blue Bloods. The show is about the Police Department in New York City and Tom Selleck stars at the Police Commissioner. Anytime a dignitary is coming they make plans. A few years ago Meagan and I were driving back from Cincinnati and there were many road closures. The whole highway on Interstate 71 was shut down. We got off and navigated home. Later we found out the President was coming to town.
      • We prepared the way for corporate to come to McDonalds.
        • John the Baptist did this symbolically in the people’s hearts.
      • In verse 4, following these quotations, Mark starts talking about John the Baptist.
        • We, the reader, don’t yet know anything about John the Baptist. But now Mark introduces him. I think it is very interesting that Mark introduces him in this way.
        • John follows the Old Testament quotations about this messenger who will prepare the way of the Lord. I think that Mark is trying to tell the reader that John was that messenger. John was sent to prepare the way of the Lord.
        • Mark gave those three O.T. quotations to give a little more credit to who John was. Isaiah was known as the greatest O.T. prophet. Inserting his name probably helped build the case that John the Baptist was this messenger.
      • Verse 4 gives some more ideas of how John prepared the way of the Lord. John prepared the way of the Lord by baptizing. But John was not baptizing in a special temple or other religious place. Mark tells us he was baptizing in the wilderness.
        • But John did not only baptize. John was proclaiming repentance for forgiveness. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.
      • Verse 5 talks more about this baptism. Verse 5 adds that all the country of Judea and Jerusalem were being baptized. I think this is a little hyperbole. I really don’t believe that all the country was being baptized. But I do think that a lot of the people were. Even those not getting baptized were probable coming out to see what was going on. Matt 3:7 tells us the Pharisees were coming out. John was making quite an impact and rightfully so, because John was preparing the way for the Lord.
        • Verse 5 continues to clue us in to how John prepared the way of the Lord. He prepared the way by baptizing them in the Jordan River. They were also confessing their sins.
          • We also must do this. We cannot take sin out of the message of the Gospel. In Acts 2:38 Peter had just gotten finished with his Pentecost sermon and they asked how they could be saved and he said “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus.”
        • Then we come to verse 6. I think it might be easy to come to verse 6 and think, “Why does it matter?” well it does matter. It matters because I think that Mark was trying to establish John as a prophet. Jesus calls him among the greatest of the prophets (Luke 7:28) For Mark’s Jewish readers they may recognize this type of dress comparable to Elijah in 2Kings 1:8.
        • But verse 7continues to tell us how John prepared the way of the Lord. John was preaching and what he said pointed to Jesus.
          • He said that someone is coming after him
          • John said that the one who comes after Him is Mightier than him.
            • Isn’t that humble? Here John has all these people coming out to him yet he acknowledges that Jesus will be mightier than him.
          • John is not worthy to unstrap this person’s sandals.
            • Only slaves washed feet and untied sandals. John is saying that he is not worthy to be Jesus’ slave. Very humble.
          • As John prepared the way of the Lord, John pointed to Jesus and did this in humility.
            • This reminds me of John 3:30 where he said that Christ must increase and he must decrease.
            • John is the person preparing the way. He is not the important person and while preparing the way John recognized his place in God’s plan.
          • Finally, in verse 8 John gives the contrast between the way he is baptizing and the way Jesus will baptize. Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit.
            • This is significant because in the Old Testament only God could give the Holy Spirit.
            • John calls the one to come equal with God.
            • Also, Mark strategically places this as the 8th verse in His Gospel. In the very beginning of Mark’s Gospel He is saying that Jesus is Lord!

John prepared the way for Jesus’ first coming. We must prepare the way for Jesus’ second coming. Look at 2 Peter 3:8-10: But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

  • Now there are different view on when and how Jesus will come again. But none can dispute that Jesus will come again. But we must prepare the way.
    • We must preach the Gospel as John did.
      • We must do this in humility.
        • There is no other way to introduce Jesus. Only in humility. He is the King of Kings.
        • That means that we preach the Gospel of Jesus not the Gospel of Steve. We must recognize that Jesus is greater than us as John did.
          • We must lead people to Jesus. That means that we recognize our place in God’s plan.
        • Remember how the secret service prepares the way for the President. The person(s) preparing the way are not the important person but they do have a purpose
        • We prepared the way for the corporate representative at McDonald’s but none of us were that important person.
          • I once heard Chuck Swindoll talk about serving as an associate pastor. While he was an associate pastor the job was to take care of the desires of the senior pastor. Our job is to serve at the pleasure of King Jesus.
        • As John did we must preach that people confess their sins and be baptized into Jesus.
      • L. Moody shared: The monument I want after I am dead is a monument with two legs going around the world—a saved sinner telling about the salvation of Jesus Christ.
        • We must also do this with boldness and sometimes that may lead to death as it later did for John that Baptist.

Close:

I told you about those corporate audits. In 5 years as a manager I worked many of those audits. But after a few years corporate changed the rules of the audits. Corporate made it that they would come for a 2 day announced visit. The first 2 days they came we knew that they were coming. Then after that corporate visit they would come within a month and do an audit that would be unannounced. We had very little idea when they were coming. This was more difficult we had to be ready all the time.

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ first coming. We now celebrate Jesus’ first coming, but in doing so we must prepare the way for His second coming. Like the unannounced visit of corporate to McDonalds, Jesus will be unannounced. He will come like a thief in the night. So, we must prepare the way. We do this by preaching the Gospel. We preach the Gospel as John the Baptist did: preaching confession of sin with repentance and doing this in humility. We still prepare the way for Jesus’ coming!

Pray

Let’s pray.

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)