The means of Jesus' magnificent incarnation are dazzling and purposeful. And they point forward to a life filled with eternal cosmic significance. The Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem would later lay his life down as a substitute for sinners, atoning for sin that was not his own.
This evening we celebrate the incarnation of Jesus. And we contemplate the good gifts He brings with him. Jesus is far better than we first realize him to be. He is everything we need and want. And He brings with him the gifts of Joy, His presence as Savior, Peace, Consolation, Light, Revelation and Redemption.
Isaiah 55 is a call from God to stop pursuing lesser, ultimately unsatisfying things of this world and turn to Him to be satisfied. God is not some cosmic killjoy. God wants us to be filled with joy. And He knows that He is what our souls long for. Therefore, in Isaiah 55, God reveals his people's folly in chasing after the world and offers us forgiveness of sin, compassion and lasting joy forevermore. You are invited to come to God and drink deeply of his presence and goodness and allow your souls to be overwhelmed by joy.
In Isaiah 11, God shares a magnificent vision of peace that is coming to the sin ravaged world through the Messiah. The peace that the Messiah will bring is far beyond our wildest notions of peace. His peace is not merely the absence of conflict but rather a restored perfect communion with Him, our Maker and the reversal of the curse of sin. Furthermore, this peace is total and comprehensive. It is not restricted to one place or to one people. But it will cover the entire earth and be for all peoples.
This morning we recognize Orphan Sunday. A Sunday in which we consider the sufferings of orphaned and vulnerable children and examine the commands of Christ to love our neighbor. Sadly, we seldom think about foster children or orphans. We fail to see them and their need for protection and love. And yet, the church is specifically called to love, care for and shelter these little ones. God is calling the church to be mobilized on their behalf in the Name of Christ and our motivation for caring for these children must not be humanitarianism but rather the glory of Christ. Supplemental Text: Psalm 68:1-10
As part of Missions Sunday, this morning we step out of our series in Malachi and examine who we are as Christians and why we exist. As the Apostle Peter so beautifully writes, we-the church- are a holy nation made to proclaim the excellencies of Christ. We participate in God's good plan to reach the nations through faithfully proclaiming the life giving news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God continues to confront his people's sins through the prophet Malachi. The people of Israel have been unfaithful to the covenant they have made with the Lord by refusing to offer acceptable tithes and offerings. They have robbed God by failing to be faithful in their worship of God through tithing. God calls the people to repent and return to him, demonstrating their faith through making appropriate tithes and sacrifices. If they do, the Lord promises to show himself faithful to them and provide for them.
To a wicked and grumbling people, God sends word that He is going to send two messengers. The first will prepare the way for the second, who is the Lord. And when the Lord comes, He will come suddenly and like a refiner's fire, purifying the people. But those who reject the Word of the Lord and his Messenger of the covenant will be judged.
After their return from exile and the rebuilding of the temple, the people of Israel are spiritually lukewarm and disinterested in God. As a result, they fail to honor God and worship Him with reverence. Even the priests lack devotion and respect for the Lord. And as a nation they are languishing in self-pity. The prophet Malachi was sent as a wake up call to Israel to call the people back to the proper worship of the LORD as Father, Master and King and be renewed in their understanding of God's love for them.