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01-03-21

Christmas 2, January 3, 2021

Asking the Right Questions 1 Kings 3:4–15

Have you ever noticed that much of life revolves around the choices that we make? What clothes will I wear today? Which car will I drive? Will I use the elevator or should I take the stairs? What will we eat for dinner? Who will I vote for? Which book will I read next? What channel should I watch? Many times these choices are either neutral or harmless when it comes to our spiritual lives, but there are other choices that aren’t so simple. Our choices often have consequences—some that directly impact our relationship with God. At times, we don’t even consider what those consequences might be until it’s too late. Consider the young man who is offered a job. He will probably base his choice, at least in part, on such things as salary, benefits, retirement plan, and the like. But what will he do if he is asked to fudge the books or cheat a client or begin an office romance or sabotage a fellow worker? How will he decide what to do? What will guide his choice?

Often the complaint, “God hasn’t answered my prayer,” only shows that we haven’t asked the right questions. Rather than seeking the will and blessing of the Father in heaven, our prayers have sought our own limited vision. Were God to grant such requests, harm—not good—would come to ourselves and others. But like Jesus Christ, the Son of David, David’s son Solomon asks the right questions and, by the grace of God, receives God’s good answer. Solomon seeks first the good of God’s kingdom—whose foundation is Christ himself—and all other blessings follow.

  • As Solomon was born relatively late in David’s life, at this time he may still have been a young man, perhaps around twenty years of age. Certainly, his youth is an issue at this point of his kingship. David’s charge to Solomon on his deathbed in ch 2 is especially important, encouraging him to be a wise and faithful king. The wisdom he requests and is granted is directly responsible for the splendor of the early (godly) portion of his rule.

V 5: 

  • Revelation through dreams was not a common occurrence, but was certainly not unheard of either. Several instances are recorded in both the Old and New Testaments. If there was any doubt that Solomon was the rightful king according to God, this encounter proved it. Solomon was now assured of God’s presence and blessing.

V 6: 

“Steadfast love khesed. . . given him a son.” 

  • This is a term that carries such enormous significance 
  • Yahweh is said to be abounding in khesed (Ex 34:6) and to keep it (1 Ki 8:23). 
  • Yahweh’s khesed is the source of salvation for all nations (Ps 98:2–3) and is what moves him to forgive (Num 14:19; Ps 51:1; Micah 7:18–20). 
  • Particularly germane to the present text are two passages (2 Chr 6:42; Is 55:3) that use khesed to refer to God’s covenant with David (2 Sam 7:1–17; 1 Chr 17:1–15). 
  • Yahweh’s promise to David that from his line of descendants would come one who would have an eternal rule is foundational for the Israelite expectation of the coming of a Messiah from David’s line. 
  • The New Testament makes so much of Christ’s descent from the line of David (for example, Lk 2:4, 11 from the recently read Christmas Midnight Gospel) as a way of indicating that Jesus was this promised one from David’s line.
  • “Faithfulness . . . righteousness . . . uprightness.” Collectively, these terms describe David as a man who, through faith, received God’s gift of forgiveness and righteousness and who demonstrated that faith through upright living.
  • As the immediate descendant of David in the line from which Jesus would be born, Solomon is a sort of “first installment” of the fulfillment of the promise to David. 
  • His peaceful rule (his name [Shelomoh] is a play on the Hebrew word for peace [shalom]) and especially his request for wisdom point us to the one who completed the promise to David and who himself displayed such godly wisdom in today’s Gospel.

V 7:

 “I do not know how to carry out my duties,”

  • Denotes the full range of life’s activities outside and inside the home. It is nicely rendered by NIV as “carry out my duties.”
  • Solomon acknowledges both the size and greatness of the people he is to govern and his inexperience and youth. He humbles himself before the Lord, claiming to be nothing but a servant and little child. Lo’ ’eda‘ tse’t wabo’, is literally “I don’t know how to go out or come in.” (humility)

V 8:

“your people whom you have chosen.” 

  • Solomon’s request has to do not only with wisdom for ruling a political entity but also with his obligation as Israelite king to promote right faith and worship. 

V 9: 

lev shome‘a, “a hearing or listening heart.” 

  • This is much more than a request for the proverbial wisdom “to listen twice as much as we speak because we have two ears and only one mouth.” 
  • This is a godly listening, to listen first to God and his Word and then to act. 
  • This request is for spiritual discernment. 
  • True wisdom and understanding come from God alone. 

V 11:

“Understanding,” “discern,” and “wise.”

  • God created all things by wisdom (Ps 104:24; Prov 3:19–20) and imparted wisdom to his creation so that all things operate according to the wisdom the Creator gave them (Job 28:20, 23–27; 38:36–37). 
  • Sin corrupted the goodness (the wisdom) of God’s creation so that the wisdom of God is now hidden to human wisdom—so that the Almighty must now reveal wisdom to us (Prov 2:6).
  • This wisdom is restored through faith, often described as “the fear of the Lord” (Prov 9:10). 
  • To possess wisdom in this way is to have the gift of eternal salvation (Is 33:5–6). Such wisdom becomes our own through Christ crucified (1 Cor 1:22–30).
  • When a person possesses this wisdom, he or she is equipped and empowered to live a life of wisdom, which means living in a manner in keeping with the will of God the Creator (Job 28:28; Ps 111:10; Prov 29:3). 
  • This life of wisdom includes “common sense” (note all the “common sense advice” contained in many of the aphorisms in the Book of Proverbs, such as in Prov 11:2; 13:10).
  • Wisdom is a very practical aptitude. Wisdom is needed for getting things done in the right way in the real world.
  • Solomon’s request, therefore, has to do both with “religious” and “earthly” matters. 
  • He wants to be able to deal with the real, practical, worldly matters that will come his way as the political ruler of a nation. Even more important, he wants the wisdom to carry out his calling as an Israelite king—namely, to lead Israel, the people of God, in right faith, right worship, and right living.

V 12: 

  • God’s reaction to the prayer of Solomon is a foreshadowing of the words of Jesus in Mt 6:33 “Seek first his [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.

V 15: 

  • Solomon is presented here as a man of devout faith and therefore as the sort of godly king that he ought to be.
  • The marriage of Solomon to the daughter of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, was certainly for the purpose of economic power and political stability. 
  • While the practice was common in ancient times, it was in direct opposition to God’s command that his people not intermarry with the pagan nations among whom they settled. 
  • This would eventually lead to Solomon’s spiritual downfall (ch 11). 
  • It seemed so harmless to marry the beautiful women of the pagan nations, but with them came their gods and idols. Soon the worship of the one true God would be diluted and distorted; Yahweh would be just one more deity among many.
  • Pagan worship at such high places was often associated with the fertility cults of the various Canaanite gods. The problem was often a mixture of true worship and pagan worship, that is, syncretism.

We can’t go back in time and choose all over again, but there is something we can do with the guilt, shame, and aftermath of our choices gone astray. Like Solomon we can humble ourselves before the Lord. Christ invites us to bring our sin and problems to him. “Cast your cares [and bad choices] on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Ps 55:22).

Now is the time for a spiritual heart checkup. What kind of choices and decisions have we been making, or more important, what has been our motivation for our decisions and actions? 

Galatians 5:22-26 

“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (ESV)

We all knew the sermon was going to come out this way, didn’t we. The things of God are what really matter in life. But it is true. Only what Christ has done for us will last until eternity—and that is what matters! Amen.

12-27-20

Christmas 1 December 27, 2020

Isaiah 61:10–62:3

 

Christmas Every Day  Isaiah 61:10–62:3

  • The Epistle clearly points to Christmas as the “target date” of all faithful expectation, but “when the fullness of time had come,” our anticipation could only build further, because now we had “adoption as sons,” meaning a future inheritance.
  • Simeon in the Gospel is perhaps the best example any­where of one for whom Christmas would mean no post-holiday letdown. 
  • Though Luke really gives no indication of Simeon’s age, we picture an elderly man who had waited many years for the birth of “the Lord’s Christ,” the promised Messiah. Now that the Messiah has arrived, Simeon sees every hope and expectation fulfilled. He himself is fulfilled. Rather than a letdown, he rejoices that the Lord now lets him depart in peace. 
  • Does the first part of our text sound familiar?
  • For Advent 3, just two weeks ago. It pictures joy in preparing for a wedding (Is 61:10). While that was obviously in place in the days looking forward to Christmas, it now appears again, but with this addition: “You shall be [future!] a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God” (Is 62:3). 
  • The wedding ceremony is not the end of the celebration; it only begins a joyous marriage!

61:10:

The delight is emphatic in the Hebrew: “Joyfully I rejoice.” The bridegroom twists his turban around his head, after the fashion of the priests. Meanwhile, for the bride, jewels were as fitting and stunning in Isaiah’s day as they are today. We wear the royal robes and jewels of salvation through faith in the Christ of Christmas.

“Rejoicing, I will rejoice.” The preposition which occurs twice in the opening clause locates the object and source of the rejoicing: “in the Lord . . . in my God.”

The conjunction ki explains the reason for the rejoicing, which lies completely in what God has done: “For he has clothed me” (v 10). “Garments of salvation” and “robe of righteousness” are practically synonymous. Salvation is the gift of righteousness for Christ’s sake, and righteousness in Christ carries the promise of salvation on Judgment Day (Rom 3:21–31; 5:9–10). In Holy Baptism we are clothed with Christ (Gal 3:27), adorned with his righteousness, and made heirs of salvation.

“robe” (worn over a tunic by men of rank)

61:11: 

Now he uses familiar gardening (Gen 1:11–12; 2:9; 8:22; Is 55:10; 45:8) language as his illustration to show the spread of the messianic Gospel.

The fruit of faith grows and sprouts like seeds in a garden. Isaiah speaks a word of promise.

Creation and redemption both are entirely God’s doing, both purely out of his goodness and mercy. 

The term nogah “radiance, a bright light, does not as a rule signify a glaring light, but rather a soft, mild light (50:10; 60:19). Here the word is paired with a burning torch, since it is the dawning light of salvation that is being depicted” (Pieper, p. 617) ba‘ar “burn” (NIV: “blazing”) often refers to wrath (Is 30:27), but here it involves salvation, which has wrath toward the enemies of God and Zion as its obverse side. 

“The whole history of salvation is the history of the taking of the kingdom by Jehovah; in other words, the history of the working out of this crown” (Delitzsch, p. 435). 

62:1: 

Many of the prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah got discouraged when their preaching and teaching didn’t seem to “produce the right results.” Does that ring a bell? 

“I will not keep silent.” Far from letdown, the one who has seen the Messiah is bursting with joy to share!

  • Held myself back - verb is like that of Joseph controlling his emotions in the face of his brothers.  remain silent = do not act in my behalf
  • God's merciful silence on judgement of the world are used by those against God for bad theology “What kind of God. . .?"
  • Ways known - may God's favor be so evident in his people that the world would take notice.

62:3:

“This is the greatest fact, that this kingdom is altogether in Christ’s hand. It is He who rules over us. Yet according to outward appearance it looks no different from filth and mud in the devil’s hand. According to faith, however, the crown is not in the hand of Caesar but in the hand of the Lord” (Luther’s Works 17:345).

 “crown . . . royal diadem.” We wore the headdress of the Lord’s salvation and righteousness. Now he wears us as his crown!

  • The Lord is a glorious crown for his people. Crown is not a royal crown but a wreath used on festive occasions or the prize in the Greek games.

 

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  • Troubles never take a holiday. Debt, particularly during January when the Christmas credit-card bills appear in the mailbox. Depression. For some, the celebrations are over. The relatives have gone home. It’s back to work, back to the routine. The kids are back in school and college. Letdown.
  • These may be times we’re weary and worn out, nerves frayed. We snap at loved ones; our tongues are so sharp they can cut through steel. And all the peace on earth, goodwill toward fellowman is packed up again in the attic. Gossip from malicious tongues, profanity soiling our lips, backbiting and bickering even within Christian churches.
  • The pains we could anesthetize with brightly colored packages and dreams that this year having the family together would solve everything are back. And they hurt as much as they did in October: old grudges, a spouse who cheated on you, a friend who sued you. Letdown.
  • On Christmas Day, we sang “Joy to the world.” But has anything about the world really changed? Or is it all back to being the sinful, depressing, disappointing way it was before—letdown?
  • Well, hear once more the inspired words of Isaiah: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Hear that? This isn’t just an Advent, Christmas-coming-up text. This is a Sunday-after-Christmas text too. Now that Christ has come, God has done something—clothed us with garments of salvation, covered us with the robe of Jesus’ righteousness. And because that has happened, now we will rejoice, exult. The party is just starting! No letdown. Christ’s arrival lets us celebrate! It’s Christmas today!—and every day!

Rather Than a Letdown after the Festivities,

Christ’s Arrival Lets Us

Celebrate Christmas Every Day.

12-27-20 Video

Worship materials for the weekend of December 27th

https://stjohnsmarysville.360unite.com/news

 

12-20-20

Advent 4, December 20, 2020

Praise David’s Son Text: 2 Samuel 7:(1–7) 8–11, 16

Relevant Context

2 Samuel 7 is an important link (BOWTIE)in the chain of messianic prophecies that stretches throughout the Old Testament. 

Genesis 3:15 foretold that he would be a descendant of Eve; 

  • Gen 9:26, of Shem; 
  • Gen 12:3, of Abram; 
  • Gen 49:10, of Judah. 

Our text is a further “narrowing down,” indicating that the Messiah would be a descendant of David. 

  • Is 9:7; 11:1, 10; Jer 23:5; Ezek 34:23–24; 37:24–25; Mt 21:9; Lk 1:32–33; 18:38–39; Jn 7:42; Acts 2:30; 13:23; Rom 1:3. 

The first line of our text summarizes what has preceded the scene: the bulk of David’s troubles as he became king and consolidated his power are now over. An enormous irony occurs, however, in what succeeds this scene: David still has troubles to come, but they will be primarily with . . . his own house! David’s sin with Bathsheba, their child’s death, incest among his children, and rebellion from a son (and others) are the main stories in the rest of 2 Samuel. 

Praise David’s Son.

Why?

  • We praise David’s Son because of who he is. 

V 11: 

  • The last sentence of v 11 surely is the most important line and most surprising truth and turn in the text. Without precedent is given the promise that Yahweh will build a “house” for David! ESV’s “moreover,” perhaps something even stronger, is a necessary rendering to show the radical change of the message’s direction. 

There is a nice “turn” on words in this verse. 

  • David had wanted to build a house, that is, a temple, for the Lord (7:2, 5). 
  • The Lord tells David (through the prophet Nathan) that he is not the one to build this sanctuary (cf. also 1 Chron 17:4; 28:2–3). 
  • However, God gives the king the good news that he, the Lord, will “build” or “make” (better translations than “establish”) a house for David. 
  • Here in v 11b, though, “house,” according to the following context, means “dynasty.”
  • In the history of the ancient Near East, where Israel was located, there were many ruling houses, or dynasties, in various countries. Each of these dynasties lasted for a period of time . . . and then came to an end. 
  • Yet in God’s promise to David, the concept of “forever” is strongly emphasized: “your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me” (v 16, emphasis added). 
  • Our text, from 2 Samuel 7, is the background for a number of well-known Scripture passages, all of which Christ is fulfilling with his Kingship.
  • Besides praising the Son of David for whom he is and what he has accomplished, we praise him for his present and future activity. 
  • When human beings try to do something for God, he says, “No, you have it wrong. You can do nothing for me. I do it all for you.”
  •  “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Ps 127:1). God does encourage your heart, as he did David’s (v 3), to look to do things for him. But what is most important is always to know what he has done for you in the past and what he does for you and through you in the future.
  • THE descendant of David is reigning, just as God foretold. 
  • Our lives are different and changed because we do believe, because faith has been placed into our hearts by the activity of God through his Holy Spirit. The Lord’s promise has endured, and will endure forever.

12-20-20 Video

 

Worship materials for the weekend of December 20

https://stjohnsmarysville.360unite.com/news

12-13-20

He’s Got the Joy, Joy, Joy

Text: Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11

  • Isaiah’s word of prophecy about the Servant, the Messiah, is like a greeting card designed to tell us about God’s perfect gift at Christmas. Why does the Savior hold our attention and elicit our praise year in and year out beginning at Christmas? The fullness of the Spirit of God was poured out on our Lord, endowing him with the gifts he needed for his ministry. I pray that same Spirit attracts you and me to him today and every Christmas season.
  • Isaiah has taken his readers/hearers through the guilt-admitting song of the Suffering Servant (52 and 53) to a glimpse of future glory and salvation reaching beyond Israel’s borders (54–56). Chapters 57–59 call for justice but stress that the only hope lies in what God shall yet do. Is 59:20 is pivotal: “The Redeemer will come to Zion.”
  • The verses omitted by the Lectionary (61:5–7) should be noted, The promise of joy ‘olam (“forever”) at the end of v 7 also is a needed transition to the second half of our text.
  • The people rejected the prophet’s preaching of the law and turned a deaf ear to his pleas for repentance and reform. 
  • Lk. 4:16-21 
  • 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 
  • Jesus probably read the passage in Hebrew and then it was paraphrased by another in Aramaic.

17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

  • Anointing with oil was a very common practice at times of joy.
  • Anointing with oil was also put upon the head of an honored guest at a banquet.
  • the olive oil used for good gave a very healthy glow to an individual’s face.
  • the oil used when Aaron was consecrated as priest for Israel actually ran down his face his beard and on his clothes to show the total consecration to the service of the Lord. The oil was also used to treat wounds for healing garment of praise verses garment of vengeance.
  • Jesus was not anointed with actual oil but this word is used to describe the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The dove at His baptism certainly points to "anointing" and the declaration of His Father.
  • Both the oil - forgiveness and consecration plus the garment of Christ's righteousness is necessary for salvation.  God's grace is for all but it is made personal in the person of Jesus Christ for all who believe that he is the one who was promised.
  • The 7-fold gift of the Spirit of the Lord = Isaiah 11:2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; (Isa. 11:4 ESV)
  • "Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" 2Cor. 3:17 
  • the presence of the Spirit is the true test to truth of God's presence.
  • Davidic Covenant + the Servant Messiah = Isaiah 61
  • But if we ready further in Luke, in response to this wonderful message of JOY – they wanted to throw Jesus off the side of a cliff and stone Him!!

V1

  • The liberty bell in the USA has this passage written on it!
  • These words are spoken in prophetic fashion as if Jesus was standing right there with Isaiah speaking it Himself – HE WAS!!

V 2 

  • Freedom is tied to (Lev 25:8–10) the celebration of the year of everyone has a clean slate. Year of Jubilee
  • the year of the Lord's favor is now in Christ.  The day of vengeance comes with Christ's second coming.
  • comfort - "to breathe easy"

V 3

  • He has sent me to provide for all those who grieve in Zion, to give them crowns instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of tears of grief, and clothes of praise instead of a spirit of weakness. They will be called Oaks of Righteousness, the Plantings of the LORD, so that he might display his glory. (GWN)
  • the crown is a turban, a headdress of great beauty.  Often used during a wedding liturgy or marriag3e feast of the Lamb who was slain!
  • The planting of a tree is often spoke in the old testament to describe the righteous in faith - this tree is not bothered by the blowing wind and it serves as a blessing to animals and man as food and shade!
  • The planting is a renewed vigor of youth and strength as well as a rejoicing in the just discrimination of God as he judges the wicked and Satan.
  • Luther wrote: “It follows therefore that a Christian does not just come into being, but he is planted and produced by the work of God. Christ is the gardener. Therefore a Christian is a divine work and a planting of God. For through the Word he is uprooted from the world and transplanted into this garden and watered. . . . What lovely trees they are, having ‘thanksgiving’ imprinted on them!” (American Edition 17:336). 
  • The Servant/Messiah will not simply throw words at the poor! Rather, his performative words impart what they announce 

V 3: 

  • Christians know there is a wide, undeniable gap between the way the world is and the way God intended it to be. This gap, caused by sin, is the ultimate source of all despair and grief. 
  • A dramatic transformation is described (beauty instead of ashes, gladness instead of mourning, praise instead of despair). This kind of transformation, which is nothing less than a reversal of the fall of man, can be made only by a merciful God. 

V 4: 

  • Ancient ruins; are not really “ancient” ruins (70 years) but to the exiles it FEELS like it has been suffering for a long long time! – COVID connection 

V10: 

  • Lots of “baptismal “language and theology here in the verse
  • The delight is emphatic in the Hebrew: “Joyfully I rejoice.” 
  • The preposition which occurs twice in the opening clause locates the object and source of the rejoicing: “in the Lord . . . in my God.”

V 11 

  • “The Almighty Lord, Israel’s God of grace, who creates and rules over all things [will] cause salvation and honor to spring up before all nations, so that they cannot fail to observe and acknowledge it” (Pieper, p. 614).
  • The fruit of faith grows and sprouts like seeds in a garden. Isaiah speaks a word of promise.
  • The mood is one of joy because the Lord has adorned his people in garments of salvation and righteousness. The garment of Christ’s righteousness is placed on us in baptism (Gal 3:27). 
  • The perfect gift God gives us at Christmas is Jesus Christ. Nothing we receive later Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day will be perfect, except that holy gift from heaven above, the Christ Child. It is the only truly perfect gift for you and me because HE brings Joy, Joy, Joy!! Amen.

 

12-13-20 Video

 

Worship materials for the weekend of December 13, 2020

https://stjohnsmarysville.360unite.com/news

 

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