News! News! December 10, 2014

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 Psalm 126 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 John 1:6-8, 19-28

Part of me is not looking forward to Christmas Day. This last portion of this year has not been one of great excitement for me. There have been times this year that I did not feel like giving thanks in all circumstances. It took a visit with our family therapist for me to understand why I was not giving much thanks. He said that I was going through a funk.

How right he was! We all have times that seem like they are going to break us. If we don’t break during those times, then we still might be feel that we have been rode hard and put up wet. Surely, that is how I would describe this past summer. The therapist called it a funk. I call it one heck of a storm!

Yet, I did not break. I realized something about God and my faith in God. I realized that God does indeed provide comfort to his people. I realized that without faith in God, then I would have been trapped in a funk that may have consumed me.

Folks, we need God. With all that could happen to us, we need God. With all that has happened to us, we need God. So, God provides comfort for his people. And God sends messengers to let this world know about this comfort. Until the Lord Jesus returns, what are we to do?

A. We can have what God has for us (Isaiah 61:1-4)
+++1. God sent his servant to bring good news to the people
+++2. This news was and is for the oppressed, the brokenhearted, the captives, and the prisoners
+++3. This news is also for those who mourn
+++4. God changes our situation, and he has his servants to aid in this work
+++5. There was a wonderful story last year from Cleveland, Ohio about the 3 women who were released from their kidnappers after being held captive for over a decade. I remember watching a man describe what he did for the women. He said, “The white woman was calling for me, a black man, to help her. Who would’ve thought that a black man could help a white woman?” And yet that is the sort of good news that God has for people. What does God have for us?

B. God has righeousness for us (Isaiah 61:8-11)
+++1. We will turn from wrongdoing
+++2. Others will see what God has done for us
+++3. God will give us salvation
+++4. How can we know what God has for us, unless someone brings us that message? How can the Twin Counties know what good that God has, unless someone brings them this message? God wants people to know him. So God sends messengers with good news.

C. John the baptizer pointed to the light (John 1:6-8, 19-28)
+++1. He was not the light (neither am I, nor are you)
+++2. John spoke so that people would see the light of all people
+++3. He denied being the Messiah, Elijah, or the prophet
+++4. Even though he baptized people, John was not worthy of untying the thong of the sandals of the one who was to come
+++5. John was more than ready to say that he was not the Lord. I wonder if we can say the same thing. If we place our name in verse 7 where the writer of the gospel talks about John the baptizer. Let’s try it: “(My name) came as a witness to the light, so that all might believe through me.” That is right. We do not need to stress about saving the world. That is not our responsibility. We can be witnesses to the light of the world. This gives us ample opportunity to be about other tasks until the Lord returns.

D. What do we do until the Lord returns? (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24)
+++1. Rejoice always
+++2. Pray without ceasing
+++3. Hold fast to what is good – don’t quench the Spirit
+++4. We see and know God’s goodness in our lives
+++5. God is faithful, let us remain faithful to him
+++6. As I was pondering this week’s sermon, I realized that John the Baptizer’s message is good, even for church people. When we go through depressing times, we still need to repent. It is not that our sin directly caused the depressing times. However, when we are are suffering, we need not sin. So, I had to apologize to Maria over the past several months, especially when I got snippy with her. It is through God’s grace that we have lived through these past several months, even years. So I must seek God, no matter how bad things get. For he will be the one to keep me blameless until Christ returns.

I am not ashamed to admit that my family has seen and will continue to see a family therapist. It is good for us to seek assistance, when it is needed. The times that we cannot get out of a funk on our own, God sends a messenger to remind us of his comfort and his future plans for us.

So what can we do? When we are depressed, bullied, or a prisoner to a situation, then we can call for help. There is the National Suicide Hotline if you are not wanting to live anymore. There are therapists and counselors that are available in our community to listen to your situation. You could call me as well. And if what you are going through is more than I am trained for, then I will refer you to someone who may be able to help you.

If you have successfully overcome a bad situation, then you are in a position to be a messenger of God. You are going to be sent by God to someone who needs the light of all people. God will send each of us to someone who needs to meet Jesus Christ. May you found to be rejoicing when God sends you to be his messenger.

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