This was my sermon today mostly from Nehemiah 8.
Too long – don’t want to listen? Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. For a Christian joy should be a normal disposition, but it’s not just an emotion. It’s a decided position of the heart.
Here’s some inspirational political art by me, Beth and a friend named Kat. These images are to help you better express yourself during this special season. I crowd sourced the quotes to make sure to cover a broad spectrum of feelings. Click on the images to get full size. Right click to “save image as”.
Then signaling to the children to stand as close around it as they possibly could, so that their faces were actually tickled by its whiskers, it added in a low whisper —
“They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps has already landed.”
And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was anymore than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning — either a terrifying one or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in his inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Ch. VII
Last week I was on my way to deliver this message to my church in Piermont, New Hampshire, when I hit a patch of slushy snow. I slid about 150 feet and into a ditch. Now, that probably sounds scary or exciting, but it wasn’t. If you’ve ever hit ice or super slush like this, then you probably know what I mean when I say it happens in slow motion. It’s not because it triggers a metaphysical, introspective anomaly in which time is perceived differently. It’s literally slow. You lose control, and you have plenty of time to process how lame it’s going to be once you end up in that ditch as you inch towards it. So anyway, instead of preaching I sat in a ditch at 45° and had an incredible time. As I waited for my friend, Mark, to show up with a big truck I talked to over twenty people who stopped to see if they could help me. Not one of them was able to help me in any tangible way, but they showed me Jesus and gave me hope.
Now Narnia had been cursed by the White Witch to always be winter and never Christmas. It was into this setting that Mr. Beaver spoke a chilling message of hope. “Aslan is on the move.” I was trying to figure out why God put this cool moment from Narnia into my head and realized that C.S. Lewis was once again borrowing from the Bible. Jesus coming “at the fullness of time” did not mean He came during a wonderful time. Jesus arrived into a world ruled by a pagan idol of a man named Caesar. Israel was not truly autonomous and were not in a time of closeness with the Father. Babies were being killed. Sin and empty religion reigned together. In short, Hope stepped down into hopelessness.
It was the same with the prophesies about Jesus. Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans[a] 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.” was given at the same time as Mic 1:2-7 “Hear, O peoples, all of you; Listen, O earth and all it contains, And let the Lord GOD be a witness against you, The Lord from His holy temple. (3) For behold, the LORD is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. (4) The mountains will melt under Him And the valleys will be split, Like wax before the fire, Like water poured down a steep place. (5) All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? (6) For I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open country, Planting places for a vineyard. I will pour her stones down into the valley And will lay bare her foundations. (7) All of her idols will be smashed, All of her earnings will be burned with fire And all of her images I will make desolate, For she collected them from a harlot’s earnings, And to the earnings of a harlot they will return.
Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” and Isaiah 9:7 “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” were given to the same situation as Isaiah 1:2-4 “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, “Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me. (3) “An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” (4) Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Offspring of evildoers, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the LORD, They have despised the Holy One of Israel, They have turned away from Him.”
The Messiah is coming. Yahweh is on the move! The message of hope was given during one of the darkest times in history – during the fall of Israel and Judah.
The original prophecy and message of the Gospel was Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” There was no worse time than this. In Genesis 3, 100% of the people on earth had just sided with Satan and sinned.
In these contexts of despair, wickedness, rebellion, God proclaimed the coming of the Messiah. From the Garden to Abraham to Moses to David to the Prophets to The Fullness of Time things were awful, but people had something to hope in. Jesus would come. One day, it’ll all be made right.
When there WAS no hope, God said, “Hope!”
“Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13
Do we pursue faith and love but forget hope? Yeah.
We trust God. We choose to love because He loves us. But hope? What is our outlook on life? How do we view the future?
When there IS no hope. God says, “HOPE!”
“Didn’t I tell you,” answered Mr Beaver, “that she’d made it always winter and never Christmas? Didn’t I tell you? Well, just come and see!”
And then they were all at the top and did see.
It was a sledge, and it was reindeer with bells on their harness. But they were far bigger than the Witch’s reindeer, and they were not white but brown. And on the sledge sat a person whom everyone knew the moment they set eyes on him. He was a huge man. in a bright red robe (bright as hollyberries) with a hood that had fur inside it and a great white beard, that fell like a foamy waterfall over his chest.
Everyone knew him because, though you see people of his sort only in Narnia, you see pictures of them and hear them talked about even in our world – the world on this side of the wardrobe door. But when you really see them in Narnia it is rather different. Some of the pictures of Father Christmas in our world make him look only funny and jolly. But now that the children actually stood looking at him they didn’t find it quite like that. He was so big, and so glad, and so real, that they all became quite still. They felt very glad, but also solemn.
“I’ve come at last,” said he. “She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move. The Witch’s magic is weakening.”
And Lucy felt running through her that deep shiver of gladness which you only get if you are being solemn and still.
“And now,” said Father Christmas, “for your presents…
Notice that in both of these Narnia passages how the characters respond. The setting is bleak, but when the truth of hope is simply spoken things change. A message of hope shakes off our blinders. It brings chills and laughs and tears. It’s sobering and relaxing and energizing, and I hope you feel it right now. We’ve spent the last two and a half years in New Hampshire, a cold place. Where it is literally always winter and never spring for six months. Where it is figuratively always winter and never Christmas spiritually. Except this is not true. Satan wants people to be weak and hopeless, to always struggle, to always sow and never reap, but this is changing. His grip is failing. Revival is beginning in our valley. It’s just glimpses right now. It’s just light breaking through the clouds. It’s ice melting and cracking in the river. It’s the smiles returning. It’s the friendships rekindling. People are waking up, and I’m encouraged. We have so much hope. Christmas is here. Let this Christmas be just like the return of Father Christmas in Narnia. A fullness of time. A return of hope.
God is on the move! Of the increase of His government or of peace there will be no end!
Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Merry Christmas from Micah, Beth, Bekah, Lil and our new little guy coming May 2017! We love you and pray you meet with the Living God today.
Why did God choose Peter? In this sermon I walk through some key moments in the life of Peter suggesting why I believe Peter was chosen to lead and to experience so many special moments.
Matthew 14:29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
A Sermon on Hope and Hopelessness.
Joshua 6:2 “The LORD said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors.'”
John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36“But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. 37“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39“This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
This was my sermon from today for Corinth Bible Church in Corinth, VT. It was a very specific word for them, but I think you would still be impacted.
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.
Mat_13:58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
(14) When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. (15) Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. (16) And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” (17) And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; (18) and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” (19) And He *answered them and *said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” (20) They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. (21) And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. (22) “It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” (23) And Jesus said to him, ” ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” (24) Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” (25) When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” (26) After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” (27) But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up. (28) When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” (29) And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”
This is my sermon from today. Mostly from Philippians 4 and Matthew 6.