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Isa 40 - God's unstoppable purpose is faithful(05)

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Comfort, comfort my people



Isaiah 40:1-11,

Luke 1:5-17;57-66;

2 Peter 3:8-15

!!!! Comfort, comfort my people

God’s faithfulness is expressed in the Bible

       in many powerful passages.

I want to read a few of these texts,

       and I invite you to hear God’s Word

       for you today.

As you listen,

       pay attention to God’s purpose of salvation

       and judgement in these stories.

The first passage, Isaiah 40,

       is the word of God to the people of Israel

       during the final days of

       their captivity in Babylon.

Today these words speak to you and me,

       as we think about the chains

       that hold us captive in our lives.

This is the word of God to you and me…

Comfort for God's People

 1 Comfort, comfort my people,
       says your God.

 2 Speak 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.

 3 A voice of one calling:
       "In the desert prepare
       the way for the LORD;
       make straight in the wilderness
       a highway for our God.

 4 Every valley shall be raised up,
       every mountain and hill made low;
       the rough ground shall become level,
       the rugged places a plain.

 5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
       and all mankind together will see it.
       For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

 6 A voice says, "Cry out."
       And I said, "What shall I cry?"
       "All men are like grass,
       and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.

 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
       because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
       Surely the people are grass.


 8 The grass withers

       and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever."

 9 You who bring good tidings to Zion,
       go up on a high mountain.
       You who bring good tidings 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!"

 10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
       and his arm rules for him.
       See, his reward is with him,
       and his recompense accompanies him.


 11 He 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.

Our next passage tells of

       The Birth of John the Baptist.  
According to Norm Voth
       a Christmas Card from John the Baptist,
       would look something like this…
In the story of

The Announcement of the Birth of John the Baptist

       we see again God’s faithfulness

       toward His people.

When the situation seems impossible –

       God had been silent for 400 years –

       God provides a way

       through the birth of a prophet

       in an extraordinary way.

Listen to the story…


 5In the time of Herod king of Judea

       there was a priest named Zechariah,

       who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah;

       his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.

6Both of them were upright in the sight of God,

       observing all the Lord's commandments

       and regulations blamelessly.

 7But they had no children,

       because Elizabeth was barren;

       and they were both well along in years.

 8Once when Zechariah's division was on duty

       and he was serving as priest before God,

9he was chosen by lot,

       according to the custom of the priesthood,

       to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.

10And when the time for the burning of incense came,

       all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

 11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him,

       standing at the right side of the altar of incense.

12When Zechariah saw him,

       he was startled and was gripped with fear.

 13But the angel said to him:

       "Do not be afraid, Zechariah;

       your prayer has been heard.

       Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,

       and you are to give him the name John.

14He will be a joy and delight to you,

       and many will rejoice because of his birth,

15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.

       He is never to take wine or other fermented drink,

       and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16Many of the people of Israel

       will he bring back to the Lord their God.

17And he will go on before the Lord,

       in the spirit and power of Elijah,

       to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children

       and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—

       to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."


 57When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby,

       she gave birth to a son.

58Her neighbors and relatives heard

       that the Lord had shown her great mercy,

       and they shared her joy.

 59On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child,

       and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60but his mother spoke up and said,

       "No! He is to be called John."

 61They said to her,

       "There is no one among your relatives who has that name."

 62Then they made signs to his father,

       to find out what he would like to name the child.

63He asked for a writing tablet,

       and to everyone's astonishment he wrote,

       "His name is John."

64Immediately his mouth was opened

       and his tongue was loosed,

       and he began to speak, praising God.

65The neighbors were all filled with awe,

       and throughout the hill country of Judea

       people were talking about all these things.

66Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking,

       "What then is this child going to be?"

       For the Lord's hand was with him.



And one more text…

This passage from 2 Peter 3 is a text

       that speaks of God’s salvation

       in a different way.

This text reminds us that

       God is still sovereign,

       and judgment will come,

       and human choices have their consequences.

Listen to the words of the Apostle Peter,

8But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:

       With the Lord a day is like a thousand years,

       and a thousand years are like a day.

9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise,

       as some understand slowness.

He is patient with you,

       not wanting anyone to perish,

       but everyone to come to repentance.

 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.

       The heavens will disappear with a roar;

       the elements will be destroyed by fire,

       and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

 11Since everything will be destroyed in this way,

       what kind of people ought you to be?

       You ought to live holy and godly lives

12as you look forward to the day of God

       and speed its coming.

That day will bring about

       the destruction of the heavens by fire,

       and the elements will melt in the heat.

13But in keeping with his promise

       we are looking forward to

       a new heaven and a new earth,

       the home of righteousness.

 14So then, dear friends,

       since you are looking forward to this,

       make every effort to be found spotless,

       blameless and at peace with him.

15Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation.

God desires to restore a repentant people

       rather than to destroy a stubborn and rebellious people

       who have been lulled to sleep

       by the fact that life seems to go on

       seemingly without consequences for the wicked (3:9-10). God's patience testifies to his desire

       for salvation for all (3:15a).

As the Day of the Lord approaches

       we are urged to live holy and godly lives (3:11)

       and to be at peace,

       without spot or blemish (3:14).

This calls for due attention to a life style

       that reflects the design of God in our lives,

       and for participation in what God is doing in the world.

God invites us during this time of Advent

       to embrace his promise

       that he will comfort us in our time of need

       and hold us close to his heart.

God also calls us to turn back to him

       and to live holy and godly lives

       as we see the day approaching.

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