I look forward to Sundays. It wasn’t always like this. I used to lay in bed looking at the clock so I could sleep until the last minute. Not any more, I’m the first one at church, unlock the door, turn on the lights and soundboard. I use that quiet time to prepare my mind for the worship that is to come.
This past Sunday our first song was, “For Unto Us A Child Is Born / Open The Eyes Of My Heart. It always gets me when the music put on my heart fits so well with the sermon. It shows me that God is paying attention even to our little church in Milan, IN. We all matter to him. This is not a song we’d been planning to do. Saturday afternoon as we went through music for the first time this week.
The scripture this week came from Isaiah. In verse 6:
6 For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.Isaiah 9:6
Pastor Jon Porter shared a story with us about a boy who took his friend to church. It was the first time his friend had ever been to church. But, when they passed the plate with the tithes and offerings, the friend’s eyes must have lit up when a plate full of money passed him. Not knowing any different, he helped himself. Later, he asked the young man who brought him, “how much did you get? I got a ten!”
I suppose our traditions might seem odd to an outsider, but in a way, we should be able to answer that question after every sermon. ”What did you get? What morsel of information did you learn about God today? We should always be able to come away with something we didn’t have when we came that morning.
1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.Isaiah 9: 1-7
When we really worship, whether it’s on Sunday morning or any time during any other day of the week, we are anticipating receiving what God has for us today. We can read in the Word what he has already done for us in the past and by reading Isaiah, or other books written by prophets, what he will do for us in the future.
Can you imagine that hundreds of years before his birth, Jesus Christ was already being anticipated.
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
They were living in a dark world when Isaiah preached this sermon. I dare say it was similar to today in many ways. Isaiah reminded the people of what God has already done for us and look at what he’s doing now! He preaches a sermon. It’s not a battle plan to keep the invaders out. He wants them to see what God is doing now and what he will continue to do!
God sent Jesus to earth as a baby. He started life on earth just like we do. He could relate to us better having lived as we live. But it doesn’t stop there. We don’t earn Salvation by what we have done, but what Jesus has already done.
Saving the earth with a baby might seem a little unorthodox, but it’s God. He can do whatever he wants.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end…Isaiah 9:6-7
What does a counselor do? He listens more than he talks, just like we should do around those new to the faith. By listening he’s telling us that we matter. By the end of this darkness He will make things right! He is the origin of our existence.
Our mighty God is always near. He is never lost and we won’t find him, he won’t leave us.
In order for the Prince of Peace to bring the peace, he must rule our lives. When we fall into line with his will, that’s when we’ll see it. If he’s not ruling, peace isn’t there.
There is plenty given in such a way that we can receive it, but we have to want it. What is given will do what need to be done in us. What he gives never runs out!
This part of Jon’s sermon really hit me:
- I know people who have never claimed the gift
- I know people who have received the gift but never opened it
- I know people who have opened the gift and gone no farther
- I know people who have taken the gift out and place it on display to gather affirmation and dust…
- I know people who take the gift and discover the fullness it possesses
- I know those people because I have been all of those people…
You have been given…but you have to choose to use it. When you do, your life will be changed! Things that once seemed important to you no longer matter.
The take away:
- Choose to discover and apply all the aspects of the gift of Jesus
- Quit play-acting and tell God all that you carry (Wonderful Counselor)
- Quit under-estimating what God can do in your story (Mighty God)
- Quit thinking that God can be caught off-guard (Everlasting Father)
- Quit trying to make your own peace and accept His (Prince of Peace)
“How much did you get”?
At the end of the sermon… Everyone gets something.
- The moment we ask the question that way, everything changes
- Changes the very reason you come or don’t come to church
- Changes the very reason you choose a church
- The reason we come together for worship changes
- We are not here to find what is lost…
- Or perform a duty. Or put on a mask. Or promote our image
- We are here to receive what is given.
- How much did you get?