December Nights – Consolation

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“If we dwell on a sentence, we will miss the paragraph. If we are paralyzed by a paragraph, we will not get the chapter. And if we choke on a chapter, we will miss the entire story.”  Jeff Noble

This week’s sermon focused in on one sentence in the grand story of Christmas. But, Jeff encouraged us not to lose perspective. He reminded us that as we gaze at the manger we should remember that the manger lead to the cross.

In Luke 2:25, we are introduced to a man, Simeon.  Luke describes Simeon as devout and righteous man who had been waiting on the consolation of Israel. Jeff defined consolation as, comfort received by a person after a loss. Why did Israel need consolation? Jeff directed us to the Psalms 89:46 & 49.

How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?  How long will your wrath burn like fire? (Psalm 89:46 ESV)

Lord, where is your steadfast love of old,which by your faithfulness you swore to David?  (Psalm 89:49)

The Jews longed for consolation. Their circumstances and God’s promises did not align. Jeff pointed out that this is a familiar feeling among believers today. A feeling that Mary and Joseph may have experience themselves as they made the uncomfortable journey to Bethlehem. Luke 2:1-5

At first we may wonder or question what God was doing?  A pregnant Mary had to take a donkey into Bethlehem. Only to be turned away at the inn because there was no room for her and Joseph. God had not even made a room available for His own Son? Jesus had to be born in a cave among the animals. If this is how God treats His Son, what hope do you and I have?

Again, Jeff reminded that this can be a danger of zoning in on details of the Christmas story. It may cause us to pause and ask how God could care and provide for us? But, Jeff revealed what God did do. And as is so often the case, what God does to fulfill His promises is so much more than you and I could image.

God’s work is revealed to us in the first verse of Luke 2. “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered (Luke 2:1 ESV).” How does God move Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem? He evokes the heart of a king! God’s Word tells us, The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will (Proverbs 21:1 ESV).”

Jeff shared this from John Piper: “In order to fulfill his word and bring two unheard-of, insignificant, little people to Bethlehem that first Christmas, God put it in the heart of Caesar Augustus that all the Roman world should be enrolled each in his own town? A decree for the entire world in order to move two people seventy miles!”

Now, back to Simeon, one man waiting a lifetime for the coming of the Christ. Who knew Simeon was waiting? God did. Jeff shared what amazing thing God did for Simeon from Luke 2:22-35. It’s incredible! Simeon gets to take the baby Jesus, the savior he had been waiting a lifetime for, in his arms!  

You and I may feel unheard-of, insignificant, small. Jeff shared, “You and I are mere letters, words, and sentences in God’s story.” He reminded us what Paul says about us, “And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (2 Corinthians 3:3).” Jeff stated, “Christmas declares that God loves you!” The entire Christmas story reveals God’s love and consolation for us. It shows us that God is always at work in the lives of His people.

As Jeff brought his message to a close, he read from John 14. There we find the Greek for consolation, paraklésis, The Helper. But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you.  Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge] (John 14:26-27 AMP).”

Lastly, Jeff issued a challenge. He challenged us to bring consolation, into people lives this week. Comfort, comfort my people, says your God (Isaiah 40:1 ESV).” Jeff reminded us that Christmas abolishes silence. After hearing and seeing what God did from Mary and Joseph and Simeon. And knowing and experiencing what he has done for us in our own lives, how can we keep silent?

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