Covenant Christian Reformed Church Welcome to the weekly podcast of Covenant Christian Reformed Church in Cutlerville, Michigan. For more information, check out our website at http://www.covenant-crc.org

December 24, 2019  

Love Came Down
(Advent Series: Because of Bethlehem; Message Four)

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
3Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.
4He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth” (Micah 5:2-4)

“O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie; above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by...”

A. We picture Bethlehem as a Hallmark Hamlet; it’s actually dirty and smelly

B. Bethlehem (lit, “house of meat” in Arabic or “house of bread” in Hebrew) was

where shepherds raised sheep for temple sacrifices

1. Shepherding was top on the rabbi’s list of most despised occupations

2. Shepherds were stereotyped as dishonest, thieving, disreputable people

3. Bethlehem was a village no one would visit unless it was home or the

law required it...

C. A visit to Bethlehem reminds us how far God will go to meet our deepest need

D. Bethlehem becomes a testimony of God’s love for sinners

WE CAN REJECT HIM

A. We could initiate the list with the innkeeper...

B. There was the overbooked and pre-occupied town

1. This is a default “no” rejection. This may be the most dangerous kind

2. How many say “no” to Jesus simply because they don’t have time or

space for him in their lives?

C. Herod’s rejection was overtly violent and blatantly brutal

“Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they were no more.” (Matthew 2:18)

D. Every rejection it is a tragic response and results in a catastrophic ending

WE CAN RECEIVE HIM

A. The angels, Mary, the shepherds and magi recognized the one who lay in

the manger was the hope of the world
1. Recognizing is not a one-time event, but a continual awareness of

what God has done and continues to do in us and in his world

2. We need to recognize God’s love came down at Christmas in the birth of

Jesus. God was willing to sacrifice his Son to provide for a fallen world

B. The angels, Mary, the shepherds and magi “received” him with reverence

1. The angels sang a song of praise (Luke 2:14); Mary “pondered these

things in her heart” (2:19); the shepherds “hurried off to see the child”

(2:15); the magi “bowed and worshipped him” (Matthew 2:11)

2. Today, will you receive him with reverence and worship? And tomorrow?

C. Luke points out everything is suddenly different for the shepherds...

1. Before they were “just” shepherds; now they are shepherds with a mission;

now they have a message; now they are life changers

2. They were eager to reveal to others what they had seen

3. If shepherds can be witnesses for Jesus, anyone can be a witness to Jesus

CONCLUSION

A. Despite the probability of rejection, God himself came

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son...” (John 3:16)

1. The only reason anyone would leave heaven is because of love

2. In his incarnation, God says “I love you” “You don’t have to clean up

first, you don’t have to bring a gift, you don’t even have love me like

I love you...but you do need to come...”

“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about and when we have seen him to go and spread the word...”
(Luke 2:15b, 17b)

B. Love came down at Christmas. “The Lord is come! Let earth receive her king”

December 16, 2019  

The Jubilee of God
(Advent Series: Because of Bethlehem; Message Three)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
3and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:1-3)

A. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem something incredible happened

“The one enthroned in heaven laughed...” (Psalm 2:4)

1. We’d expect God to be angry because he had to send his Son to pay for our sin

2. No one expects God to laugh, but that’s what the incarnation is all about - a

sign of God’s grace

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made that was made. In him was life and the life was the light of men...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-5, 14)

B. God’s laughter is contagious: a sign he’s present, in control, and things are well

JUBILEE

A. Jubilee is picture of what God’s Kingdom is designed to be (cf. Leviticus 25)

1. Sadly, we never read in Scripture that Israel celebrated a “Year of Jubilee”

2. Jubilee became a “dream” associated with the coming of the Messiah

3. Isaiah says: “You will know who Messiah is because he will bring Jubilee”

B. Isaiah identifies seven signs of Jubilee; i.e., of Messiah’s coming

1. The dead will come alive (i.e., be raised) (Isaiah 11:1-2)

2. The blind will see (Isaiah 29:18; 35:5)

3. The deaf will hear (Isaiah 29:18; 35:5)

4. The lame will walk (Isaiah 35:6, 61:1)

5. The lepers will be cleansed and healed (Isaiah 61:1)

6. The captives will be freed (Isaiah 61:1)
7. The poor will receive Good News (Isaiah 61:1-2)

“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; I needed clothes and you clothed me; I was sick and you looked after me; I was in prison and you came to visit me...come take your inheritance, the kingdom [has been] prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 25:35-36, 34)

C. This is the work of Messiah; these are the days of Jubilee

JOHN

A. John the Baptizer was born to announce Messiah (Isaiah 40)

“I am not the Christ (Messiah), but am sent ahead of him. The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. The joy is mine and is now complete.” (John 3:27-30a)

B. In Matthew 11:1-6, John is in prison and loosing hope that Jesus is Messiah

1. The question is “Are you really the Messiah? Has Jubilee really come?

If it has, why doesn't it look like it or feel like it in my life?!”

2. Jesus responds by mentioning six of the seven signs of Messiah/Jubilee

a. He leaves one out. Which one? (“To provide freedom to the captives”)

b. John will pay the ultimate price...as will Jesus...as will all Jesus’ disciples

c. Following Jesus may start in Bethlehem, but it ultimately ends at Calvary

JESUS

A. In Luke 4, Jesus returns to his hometown to read Scripture: Isaiah 61

1. When Jesus finishes, he says, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”

2. Jesus just declared “the Year of Jubilee.” Only Messiah can do that!

B. We get to bring in the Kingdom; it’s already here but not yet complete

1. We are called to live like Jubilee is already here - it is because Jesus is here

2. Jesus invites us to partner with him to bring life, demand justice,

offer forgiveness and healing, and proclaim Good News

JOY

A. John 14:1 - “Jesus said, ‘Let not your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.’”

B. Luke 2:10-11 - “I bring you Good News of great Joy for all people: a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

December 9, 2019  

It is Not a Silent Night
(Advent Series: Because of Bethlehem; Message Two)

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
3A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
5And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
6A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
9You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”
10See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.
11He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
(Isaiah 40:1-11)

A. Israel was longing for a word of peace-centered encouragement

1. They had been through a major battle and lost

“Assyrians came down like the wolf on the fold, and his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold; and the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, when the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee” (Lord Byron)

2. There had been no comfort among the Israelites; no peace in their lives

3. A new king promised the Israelites they could “go home” to Jerusalem

B. They had been waiting for the “consolation” of Israel

1. The hope was that God would come and set everything right in the world

2. As word spread, hope was renewed - even though the reality was yet to come

THE MESSAGE

A. This text is God’s instruction to the prophet Isaiah

1. It affirms that God’s ultimate purpose is not destruction but redemption

2. Those who speak God’s word to God’s people are to say, “Comfort!”

“Your rod and your staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4)

“As one whom his mother comforts, so I,” said God, “will comfort you.”
(Isaiah 66:13)

a. “Comfort” isn’t about “peace and quiet”; it’s not about being comfortable

“He will come to build and destroy; he will destroy the heavens and the earth - subverting everything and everyone to judgment...” (Peter 3:10,13)

“He will come to separate and to gather. As a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff, Christ will winnow his harvest - burning the chaff with fire and gathering his wheat into barns” (Matthew 3:12)

b. “Comfort” (lit. “with strength”) is a word of strength and encouragement;

an intimate word; a reminder that whatever grievous punishments

they’ve endured, they’re in the past

B. No matter how severely the Lord has dealt with you, be comforted:

his grace, forgiveness, and restoration will bring you home

THE MEANING

A. Few people realized the event that took place in Bethlehem

B. Now we can clearly see Jesus’ completed work

1. Our world is out of joint

2. The warfare the prophet talks about, is it ever really finished?

C. That’s precisely the kind of world Jesus entered, to set everything right

1. He came to be one of us so that he could take up residence in us

2. He represents a peace - comfort - that reminds us, God has not forgotten us!

a. Now he stands with us in this messy world as our crucified and risen Lord

b. Nothing has changed. Everything has changed. All because of this child.

c. There are no silent nights; but if we acknowledge Jesus, we can

have a peaceful one

3. “Comfort to you!” because in Jesus your forgiveness is assured,

your victory guaranteed, and your peace eternal

D. Don't wait: open your heart and receive what God promised. Make

sure this is for you!

Series: "The Angels of Christmas"

Sermon: "Good News for Everyone!"

Scripture: Luke 2:1-12

Notes
1. There were what? Shepards? (Luke 2:8)

2. A glorious angel appeared. (Luke 2:9)

3. He brought them good news of great joy. (Luke 2:10; John 4:9; Isaiah 61:1-3)

4. It was for everyone. (Luke 2:10; Matthew 5:1-12)

4. The sign? A manger. (Luke 2:7&12)

 

Next Steps

  • Cross racial, ethnic, or socio-economic lines and bless someone who's quite different than you either saying something encouraging or doing something kind.
  • Find a quiet time and place, and ask God this question: "What do you want me to know this Christmas?" Then listen to twhat thoughts, images, Bible verses, etc. He might give you.
  • Say something like: "Merry Christmas - God loves you!" or "Have a blessed Christmas - Jesus came for you!" to someone this Christmas.

Series: "The Angels of Christmas"
Sermon: "Guardian Angels"
Scripture: Matthew 1:18-2:23

Notes

1. An angel protected Jesus before he was born. (Matthew 1:18-25)

2. Did angels protect Mary while she was pregnant? (Luke 1:39-56; 2:5)

3. God sent angels to protect Jesus from King Herod. (Matthew 2)

4. Angels appeared elsewhere in Jesus' life. (Matthew 4:11; 26:53; Luke 4:22-30; 22:43)

5. God sent guardian angels throughout the Bible. (Genesis 19:1,15; Exodus 14:19; 23:20; 1 Kings 19:5,7; 2 Kings 6:17;     Daniel 3:28; 6:22; Acts 12:7-11; 27:23)

6. God still watches over and send angels to guard and protect His people. (Psalm 34:7; 91:9-16; Psalm 121; Matthew 18:10; Hebrews 1:14)

 

Next Steps...

  • Discuss the topic of guardian angels with your family members and/or friends, and invite them to share any experiences they've had, or stories they've heard.
  • Read and reflect on Psalm 34:1-10. How does this psalm frame the ministry of "guardian angels" in a larger context of the goodness of God?
  • Ask God to deepen your faith in His watchful care over you and those you love. Ask Him to do so when you're afraid, and thank and praise Him when He answers your prayers.

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