Gift of Expectation, 26 November 2017

The Gift of Expectancy
Series—The Gifts of Christmas
John 3:16-21

Big Idea: The gift of Jesus is worth waiting for…and worth sharing.

Skit Guys Video


Do you ever feel like that dad? Thanksgiving’s over and now it’s full throttle until Christmas? It’s quite a transition, dominated, of course, by Black Friday which apparently begins before Friday and continues past Friday. Tomorrow is Cyber Monday followed by Giving Tuesday and…

Do you have rules about Christmas music? When I met Heather, she wouldn’t listen to Christmas music until December 1. I thought that was a bit extreme, but so are those radio stations that begin November 1. For me, Christmas begins when I see Santa in the Thanksgiving Day Parade. What rules do you have in your home about Christmas music and decorations? Often they are passed down from generation to generation. Do you hide a baby Jesus?

Advent. We commonly associate it with Christmas. Years ago our family had Advent calendars and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see Advent calendar gaining popularity. The term “advent” comes from Latin and means “coming” or “arrival.” With any arrival, there is anticipation and expectancy which means waiting.

At this very moment, what are you waiting for? Complete this sentence:

“I can’t wait for _________________.”

Today we begin a five-week Advent series called
The Gifts of Christmas. Do you like gifts? Of course, we all love gifts! They are great to receive and even better to give.

Today we’re looking at the gift of expectancy. Sometimes expectancy doesn’t feel like a gift. In fact, it may feel like torture. As I child, I couldn’t wait for Christmas, to open those colorfully-wrapped boxes…and hopefully find more toys than clothes! But the more anticipation, the greater the reward when the waiting is over and the arrival is experienced.

It’s impossible for us to understand how great the expectancy of the Messiah, Jesus. People waited for hundreds of years for this baby. Announcements were made. Clues were given. Finding baby Jesus was different than looking for a hidden nativity set piece. Dr. Luke described the clues given about two thousand years ago.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-12)

How do you think these shepherds reacted to their angelic encounter? After calming down from the shock, I’m quite sure they said, “That was strange, now let’s get back to shepherding.” No! They probably wanted to run and see this gift from the Heavenly Father which was good news “for all the people.”

Can you imagine good news for all the people today? That would be so great, and yet that’s why we’re here. That’s why we exist…to proclaim the gospel, the good news. Jesus is the greatest news in human history, and we stand at a special time between the first coming and the second coming of Jesus. We look back at Bethlehem two thousand years ago, but we also anticipate His return.

I’ll tell you how the shepherds reacted to the news that the Messiah was coming. A few verses later it says,

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. (Luke 2:16)

Jesus’ half-brother wrote,

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

The greatest gift of all is Jesus. Have you received the gift? Do you know Jesus? Many know about Him, but you can know Him personally.

Jesus is the greatest gift, sent from the Father
of the heavenly lights. God created the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars…and they reflect His beauty, genius, and creativity. He is a loving Father who loves to give good gifts to His children. Many tragically think of God as a mean creature with the personality of The Grinch. Instead, He is the most loving Dad. His generosity makes Santa Claus look downright stingy! Jesus said

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11)

We’ve been given good gifts since the creation of our magnificent world. When we messed it up, God realized we needed help—serious help! Our sins—those things which offend God and His perfection—created a wall between us and God. But since God is all about relationships, He offered a gift to us to knock down the wall, to allow us to know our Creator, have our sins forgiven, experience real joy and purpose, and engage in real life. The most famous verse in the Bible says

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

But there’s more!

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (John 3:17-21)

The Father of Lights gives good gifts…great gifts…the most excellent gifts! He loves the world. He loves you and me. He demonstrated His love by sending Jesus to be the Savior of the world, saving us from sin and death, mediocre living, evil, and hopelessness. People waited for generations for Jesus’ first arrival even as we await for his second arrival…which could be any day! Even though Jesus is not physically present, make no mistake…he is here! He is transforming people through faith, hope and love. Do you know him?

Which Jesus?

There was a woman named Charlotte who ran a Christian pre- school. She bought a plush Jesus toy. He was happy and smiling and all squishy; the way a cuddly toy should be. Some of the parents objected. They thought it was “inappropriate.”

Charlotte didn’t hesitate. She knew the question she needed to ask. She asked “Which Jesus do you want your kids to know? The breakable Jesus on the high shelf who’s always looking down on them OR the Jesus who’s huggable and sits with them on the
comfy couch, the one they can talk to, the one that comforts them when they’re hurt, the one they tell all their secrets.

Which Jesus are we actually expecting at Advent. The one who plays games with us and brings us life or the one who sits on the shelf until it’s time to go back in the box?

Wise Men Still Seek Him

My prayer for you, regardless of where you find yourself today on your spiritual journey, is that you would look for Jesus. I don’t mean the plastic figure from the nativity set—though you might want to hide him until December 25—but the real Jesus, the one the shepherds pursued, the one who lived a perfect life, died, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and promised to return. He came to show us what it means to truly be human. He demonstrated true love, the kind of love that gives until there’s nothing left to give. He said,

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

Wise men—and women—still seek him. Ask. Seek. Knock. You are invited this advent to know your Creator. This is not about religion. It’s not even about the Bible. It’s about knowing a Person, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Savior, the greatest gift.

Will you seek him this season? Will you pursue him? We are awaiting his return, but he has been waiting for some of you to surrender your life to him, to embrace him as the greatest gift.

If you’ve already received the gift, know Jesus is not slow in keeping his promise to return. He hasn’t forgotten you. Rather, he has a mission for you, a mission to proclaim the gospel, the good news, the gift.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

We often think of eternal life as referring to a length of time, but some scholars understand the original Greek to be qualitative, not quantitative. Following Jesus means we can have an amazing, fulfilling, satisfying life now. Don’t just sit around and impatiently wait for his return. Be ready, but use these precious moments to help people discover the missing piece in their Nativity set, the missing Person in their life.

So What?

How can you bring Jesus to Toledo? Maybe you can do it through Christmas caroling, delivering cookies, inviting a neighbor out for coffee, or even inviting a friend to join us next Sunday or any Sunday in December. For the next four weeks we’ll be talking about the gifts of Christmas. This is a season of expectation. If you’ve received the gift, it’s time to share it until He returns.

Credits: title and some ideas from The Skit Guys.

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • Habakkuk, 2 November 2014

    Big Idea: We don’t always understand God and His timing, but He can be trusted.


    Today we examine our bonus eleventh book in our series The Most Unread Books of the Bible, based upon the ten least-read books on BibleGateway.com.


    Timing in life is vitally important. Photographers long for the perfect timing of an event to capture it forever. Runners and other speed racers can win or lose a race by 1/1000 of a second. I used to think I was a patient person, but I find myself frustrated at the brief delays in my life caused by red lights, slow microwaves (!), and seasons of life, both literal and figurative (unless it’s spring or summer!). God’s timing is perfect because He is perfect, He is sovereign and in control. Daddy knows best.

    Sometimes we feel like God is sleeping or even a myth because He usually doesn’t respond to our prayers on demand. We want it now! Have you ever prayed, “LORD, heal them tomorrow” or “Please give me a new job next year”? We assume we know best and God should obey our every command. Fortunately He doesn’t! He has bigger plans and ideas…if we only trust Him.


    This is the only book in which the name Habakkuk appears. His name means to embrace or wrestle with God. He likely lived around 600 BC. He lived during Judah’s final days and Babylon’s domination.

    Chapter 1: Wrestling. Why?

    The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received. (Habakkuk 1:1)

    This word oracle in the original Hebrew language,
    mas-saw’, meant an utterance, a doom, or a burden. Habakkuk is definitely burdened!

    How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. (Habakkuk 1:2-4)

    Most prophets deliver God’s message to the people. Habakkuk brings the questions of the people to God. He begins with four questions.

    Can you feel the anxiety? The frustration? Where are You, LORD? Do You see what’s going on? Are You really sovereign, in control? If so, surely You don’t want

    • Ebola spreading
    • the Islamic State to continue
    • innocent children dying from dirty water and starvation
    • Your chosen people, the Jews, in constant battle in Israel
    • natural disasters destroying communities

    Whoever said following Jesus was easy?! This world is messed up! God knows. He sees. He does choose to intervene sometimes, but when? Why? It’s okay to ask God. It’s okay to have questions and doubts. God can handle them. It’s okay to ask why. Jesus even did it on the cross: “Why have You forsaken Me?”

    Obviously our perspective is limited. Daddy knows best. The cross comes before the crown.

    What is your favorite book of the Bible? Mine is the Psalms. As a musician, I especially love the poetic song lyrics contained within the Bible’s song book. However, they are not all happy songs of praise. One third are psalms of lament. They are songs of grief. There is an entire book of the Bible devoted to lament—Lamentations. Why? Because life is hard. There are many battles in which evil wins. As long as satan and his demons are allowed to roam we will experience death, destruction, and pain.

    Today is not the end of the story, however. There is more to come. Much more. 75 or 100 years seems like a lifetime. Wait! It
    is a lifetime, but compares to eternity, it’s instant. As Paul said to the church in Corinth

    …we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16b-18)

    Back to Habakkuk. Here’s God’s response to his lament.

    “Look at the nations and watch — and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own. They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor. Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like a vulture swooping to devour; they all come bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand. They deride kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; they build earthen ramps and capture them. Then they sweep past like the wind and go on — guilty men, whose own strength is their god.” (Habakkuk 1:5-11)

    God says the solution is the Babylonians. Huh? God would use Babylon to judge Judah. How could God use the wicked Babylonians to judge His chosen people?

    O LORD, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die. O LORD, you have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained them to punish. Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? You have made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler. (Habakkuk 1:12-14)

    Again, God can handle our questions. I have found sometimes when I express my questions, I feel better even if I don’t get the answers I’m seeking.

    Three young men refused to bow to an idol and were sentenced to burning in a fiery furnace. If you recall the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, they did not deny the reality of their situation, but understood God may or may not perform a miracle. Instead of denial, they were defiant.

    Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

    “Even if not.” They understood God knows best. He may choose to say yes, no, or wait. They knew God could be trusted, whatever His decision.

    In this instance, He entered the fire with them. King Nebuchadnezzar said

    “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25)

    It’s better to be in the furnace with Jesus that without Him outside of it. Where is God when it hurts? With us. Always.

    Chapter 2: Waiting on God. When?

    “Waiting” means to pass time. It also means to serve another person like a servant waiting on his master.

    Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright — but the righteous will live by his faith — indeed, wine betrays him; he is arrogant and never at rest. Because he is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied, he gathers to himself all the nations and takes captive all the peoples. (Habakkuk 2:2-5)

    Do you like to wait? I hate to wait! When we wrestle with God we often ask “why?” When we wait, the question becomes “when?”

    It’s time for a geology lesson! Geology is the study of pressure plus time. Pressure and time reveal our character. Do you know what pressure over time produces geologically? Diamonds. They are created from the carbon as coal but time and pressure create a jewel.

    Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

    This is your diamond, your reward. Can you wait? Can you trust God?

    God wants us happy, but He especially wants us holy. Pressure plus time equals beauty.

    What is the largest diamond in the world? The Hope Diamond!

    Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4)

    The judgment would occur very soon as God stated. They could remain proud like the Babylonians (we talked about the pride of the Edomites last week) or live by faith knowing God is in control.

    Verse four is one of the most important verses in the Bible. In fact, it is referenced three times in the New Testament (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38). It is through faith in Jesus that we can receive the righteousness of God.

    For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)

    Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11)

    But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” (Hebrews 10:38)

    We are saved by faith.
    We are to live by faith.

    Notice how Habakkuk is able to express his questions in the midst of faith.

    Next Habakkuk offers a series of woes against the Babylonians. God would bring them down in His perfect timing.

    “Will not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying, “‘Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy by extortion! How long must this go on?’ Will not your debtors suddenly arise? Will they not wake up and make you tremble? Then you will become their victim. Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed man’s blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them. “Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin! You have plotted the ruin of many peoples, shaming your own house and forfeiting your life. The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it. “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime! Has not the LORD Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies. You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed! The cup from the LORD’s right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory. The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and your destruction of animals will terrify you. For you have shed man’s blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them. “Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it? Or an image that teaches lies? For he who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak. Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’ Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’ Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it. But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” (Habakkuk 2:6-20)

    Chapter 3: Worship.

    Chapter three is Habakkuk’s final response, a song (v. 19). He asks for mercy (2) and describes the character of God (v. 3-15).

    A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On
    shigionoth. LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed. His ways are eternal. (Habakkuk 3:1-6)

    Habakkuk remembers what God has done. Sometimes the way forward is to first look back. The Old Testament is filled with spiritual amnesia, instances of people forgetting God’s goodness and faithfulness. We need to remember. Jesus told us to remember Him, His death, and His resurrection.

    I saw the tents of Cushan in distress, the dwellings of Midian in anguish. Were you angry with the rivers, O LORD? Was your wrath against the streams? Did you rage against the sea when you rode with your horses and your victorious chariots? You uncovered your bow, you called for many arrows. Selah You split the earth with rivers; the mountains saw you and writhed. Torrents of water swept by; the deep roared and lifted its waves on high. Sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear. In wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations. You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him from head to foot. Selah With his own spear you pierced his head when his warriors stormed out to scatter us, gloating as though about to devour the wretched who were in hiding. You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters. (Habakkuk 3:7-15)

    What is the result of Habakkuk’s laments, woes, and anguish?

    I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. (Habakkuk 3:16)

    He accepts what God is doing and then trusts Him. Here’s the conclusion…

    Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments. (Habakkuk 3:16b-19)

    He was willing to wait. No matter how hopeless the situation, there is hope in God. Tomorrow is coming. As Tony Campolo used to say concerning the crucifixion, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!”

    God can be trusted. The righteous will live by faith. The best is yet to come. In the meantime, we can worship by faith, offering up a sacrifice of praise.

    For Further Study

    Where is God When It Hurts? by Philip Yancey

    Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

    The Holy Spirit, John 14:15-31, 26 MAy 2013

    Big Idea: Jesus loved us enough to leave…in order to usher in the Holy Spirit


    What is the greatest thing you’ve ever waited for?

    - spouse
    • job

    Chicago Cubs fans have been waiting for them to win the World Series since 1908!

    Was it worth it?

    Last week in Jesus’ farewell to His disciples, He said it’s good that He leaves because He’s going to prepare a place for them. He’s getting the house ready but He’ll return.

    In today’s passage as we continue our series on the Gospel of John, Jesus continues His farewell address to His eleven disciples in the Upper Room.

    It’s always hard to say goodbye to a loved one, but it’s easier if we know they are returning for a purpose...and that they will return.

    Jesus is telling His friends that He is leaving, He is leaving for a noble purpose, He will die, AND He will return.

    “If you love me, you will obey what I command. (14:15)

    We don’t usually command people to obey, except, perhaps, a parent to a child. This word “command” could be translated, “to watch carefully or attend to; training the eyes.” We will be attentive to Jesus’ commands if we love Him.

    If you love Me, you’ll care about what I have to say and you’ll listen to my instructions. If you love Me, attend to my teachings.

    Actions speak louder than words.

    And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (16-17)

    The Greek word translated “Counselor” in the NIV,
    parakleton, might best be conveyed as “advocate,” someone like a defense attorney. “Para” means alongside and “kletos” is to call. The paraclete will come alongside and help in your defense.

    Notice the Father will give “another” Counselor or advocate. The Father sent Jesus, and He will send the Holy Spirit.

    Because of the Holy Spirit, we are better off today than the disciples. We have 24/7 access to God through the Holy Spirit. Last week we noted we will do greater things.

    The Greeks used the same word for truth and reality. Usually it conveyed reality. Jesus is offering us a Spirit of reality, access to things that are most real. We live in a world of illusions and delusions.

    For example, we believe we are entitled to at least seventy or eighty years of healthy living on this planet. Anything less and we are robbed. This is an illusion because every day is a gift we receive. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

    Jesus says, “I will introduce you to reality.”

    I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (18-21)

    I cannot imagine being an orphan. The pain of being alone in the world must be excruciating. Jesus says He will return.

    What does Jesus mean when He says, “I will come to you? It could refer to one of three things.

    - second coming
    - the Holy Spirit
    - most likely the resurrection on Easter

    We are containing the divine. This is a radical reality.

    Paul will write that we are “in Christ.”

    Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” (22)

    J. Vernon McGee notes Judas is the first missionary. His concern is for the world. Is yours?

    Back in John 1:10, we saw Jesus in the that He made, yet the world didn’t know Him.

    John 3:16 says God so loved the world.

    Much of the world does not love God today.

    Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (23-24)

    This is pretty straightforward.

    Now Jesus gives a sneak preview of Pentecost Sunday, which was actually last Sunday on the Christian calendar. The second chapter of the book of Acts will record the moment in which the Holy Spirit is activated on earth. Jesus says,

    “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (25-27)

    Verse 25 was long a source of Church history, some believing the Father sent the Spirit and others saying the Father and the Son sent the Spirit (Nicene Creed).

    Notice the Spirit will help John and the others remember what Jesus said and they will write it down!

    Jesus’ legacy to His followers was Peace; Shalom. This is not a temporary, earthly peace but a divine peace with God (Romans 5:1) that cannot be disrupted.

    The passage concludes with Jesus saying…

    “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

    Jesus knows satan is coming.


    “Come now; let us leave.

    Go...with the Word of the Father, the truth of the Holy Spirit, and the peace of God.

    It’s almost time for us to leave, too!

    As we await Your return, LORD Jesus, may the power of the Holy Spirit be alive in our lives. Fill us, Holy Spirit. In Jesus Name, amen.

    You can listen to the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

    O Holy Night, Carols, 2 December 2012

    O Holy Night (Cantique de Noël)
    Lamentations 3:18-26

    Big Idea: Knowing Jesus provides a thrill of hope in our weary world if we are willing to wait.

    Welcome to the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is about expectant waiting and preparation. For generations, the Israelites awaited the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. We are awaiting His return. We are in between His first and second visits to our planet. We look back and forward.

    In some traditions, December 25 is the beginning of the festivities, while for most in our culture it is the climax. This is the month of preparing for Christmas Day—shopping, wrapping, parties, baking, …and music!

    Just for the record, I believe Christmas music should begin when we see Santa in the Thanksgiving Day parade. That is the signal to me that the season has officially started.

    Anyone that knows me even casually knows that I love music. I’m a third-generation musician and I love everything about music. I suppose that’s why Christmas music is so meaningful to me. It is the soundtrack of the season, but more than that, its lyrics convey the true meaning of Christmas.

    I’m not talking about “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” or “I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas.” I’m thinking more about the Christmas carols.

    I have a confession to make. I love music, have over 20,000 songs in my iTunes library, and listen to music daily, but I rarely pay attention to the lyrics.

    Sometimes, that’s a good thing, for song lyrics are often misunderstood, something known as mondegreen. Consider these examples:

    Deck the Halls

    Deck the halls with Buddy Holly
    Deck the halls with boughs of holly

    The First Noel

    The first Noel, the angels did say, was to frighten poor shepherds..
    The first Noel, the angels did say, was to certain poor shepherds..

    God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

    dressed ye married gentlemen, let nothing through this May
    God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay

    We Three Kings

    We three kings of
    Oregon are, bearing gifts, we travel so far.
    We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar

    Silent Night

    Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright,
    round young virgin…
    Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright, ‘round yon virgin…

    Joy To The World

    Joy to the world! The Lord
    has gum.
    Joy to the world! The Lord is come.

    During the next four weeks during our preparation for Jesus’ birthday celebration, we’re going to look at four classic Christmas Carols, their lyrics, and their biblical message. It is my hope and prayer that as you hear these songs, you’ll not only hum the melody, you’ll think about the timeless message.

    O Holy Night

    This week’s carol is
    O Holy Night. It is one of my all-time favorite songs. I have more than 30 different recordings of it.


    Here’s a bit of background to the song. In 1847, a parish priest asked a French wine seller, Placide Cappeau, to write a poem for Christmas. His Jewish friend, Adolphe Charles Adams, added the music. What is fascinating is that neither Cappeau nor Adams were Christians, but God used them to tell the Christmas story like no other.

    On Christmas Eve in 1906, a Canadian inventor, Reginald Fessenden, did the first-ever AM radio broadcast which included a reading of Luke 2 and him playing this song on the violin.


    O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of the dear Savior's birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! O night divine, the night when Christ was born; O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

    Led by the light of faith serenely beaming, With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
    Now come the wise men from out of the Orient land. The King of kings lay thus lowly manger; In all our trials born to be our friends.
    He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger, Behold your King! Before him lowly bend! Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

    Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace.
    Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. And in his name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, With all our hearts we praise His holy name. Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we, His power and glory ever more proclaim! His power and glory ever more proclaim!


    The word “holy” means set apart, sacred. Although God is holy, the song title refers to how sacred and distinct the first Christmas was.


    We could spend all day dissecting the lyrics, but I want to focus on one sentence.

    A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
    For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

    We live in a weary world. Anxiety, fear, disease, uncertainty, and depression are everywhere. Such was the scene 2000 years ago.

    The Roman Empire ruled and oppressed the people, especially the Jews that were longing for the promised Messiah to come and deliver them.

    If that weren’t enough, imagine Mary and Joseph traveling between 80 and 120 miles to register for the census—on foot, or possibly with the aid of a donkey. Some of us complain when we’re in the car for 2 hours. Imagine their journey!

    Is your world weary? For many, this season is one of celebration, but for others it can be downright depressing. They say that the holiday amplify your emotions, be they positive or negative.

    Notice the words that surround “the weary world.”

    “A thrill of hope” and “rejoices.”

    There is a thrill of hope in the midst of the chaos of the holy night.

    What a paradox!

    The Bible records another scene of a weary world. The date is 586 BC. The Holy Temple has been destroyed. The city of Jerusalem was a wreck. The people were distraught. Jeremiah was lamenting. In fact, he wrote an entire book filled with his mourning, wailing, and weeping called…Lamentations.

    So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.” I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. (Lamentations 3:18-20)

    Can you picture his weary world?

    Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: (Lamentations 3:21)

    This sounds promising. Notice that it is not on the front of his mind, but he will call it to mind. He remembers there is hope. What is it?

    Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. (Lamentations 3:22)
    They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:23)

    Notice how he shifts from talking about God to praying to God. Great is
    Your faithfulness.

    I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:24-26)

    A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
    For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

    This season we are preparing for the arrival of Jesus, celebrating His first arrival and awaiting His return.

    When your world is weary, Jesus can bring a thrill of hope that causes you to rejoice.

    Jesus brings us what we need.

    This is not always what we want, but He provides for our needs. He is our portion as it says in verse 24. Scholars have debated what this word “portion” means exactly, but many believe is refers to the Israelites in the desert when God provided their portion of manna for that day. They needed God every day. Hoarding would result in rotten manna. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” God already has everything you need for tomorrow. He is already there. You can be here, today.

    Our family hymn is Great Is They Faithfulness, taken from this passage of Lamentations. One of my favorite lines is “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” That’s what He offers. He is our portion and will provide what we need today. We have hope for tomorrow, too, but we must wait for it.

    Jesus brings us the hope to keep going.

    It is the thrill of hope in a weary world. Notice the next line of the song says “for yonder breaks/a new and glorious morn.” A new morning is coming. God is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him (25).

    It has been said that we can live 40 days without food, 8 days without water, 4 minutes without oxygen, a few seconds without hope. People put their hope in risky places—bad relationships, a shaky stock market, politicians, sports teams, …

    Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

    Don’t ever let go…hold on to the hope, not the fear and anxiety we talked about last week (Phil. 4:6).

    Jesus brings the help we are seeking.

    Verse 26…sometimes you have to wait. The Jews waited for generations for the Messiah. We have been waiting 2000 years for His return.

    One encounter with Jesus makes all the difference.

    • - Lazarus, dead for four days, he stinketh (KJV)
    • - A woman was bleeding for 12 years
    • - 38 years the man could not walk, he met Jesus at the pool of Bethsaida
    Is your marriage a mess? Your body broken? Your finances frustrating? Your relationships wrecked?

    Because Jesus is here you can have hope in the middle of the night.

    And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:11-12)

    The night is nearly over and the day is almost here.

    I was working on this message sitting in a hospital waiting room, wondering when the night would be over.

    I still don’t know, but I have hope!

    The sun/Son always rises again.

    As Tony Campolo likes to say at Eastertime, It’s Friday…but Sunday’s coming!

    A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
    For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

    Credits: Series theme and various ideas from Craig Groeschel, LifeChurch.tv

    You can listen to the podcast here.
    You can view a music video of
    O Holy Night from LifeChurch.tv here.