To Know You More, December 4, 2016

Fertile Lutheran
December 4, 2016
Text: Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72:1-7;18-19
Romans 15:4-13
Matthew 3:1-12
To Know You More
This might be a little early to ask, but I am going to ask it anyway. Are you ready for Christmas?
I don’t mean, have you finished your Christmas shopping, or put up your tree or decorated your
house inside and out, but what I mean is- are you ready for Christmas, God with us?
The message of John the Baptist to us was to prepare the way of the Lord- to walk with him
everyday a little closer than the day before. Prepare the way of the Lord- to meet Jesus. That is a
life-long journey- So how do we do that? It implies rightfully so that we have a responsibility to
intentionally do something. Pray.

In the gospel reading this morning- we hear a man dressed in camel’s hair, eating locusts and
wild honey crying out in the wilderness: “prepare the way of the Lord! Jesus is coming! Repent!
Make straight His paths!” Get all the garbage of your life out of the way- Repent!

May I remind us all that the word “gospel” means “good news”. If John the Baptist would show
up at your Christmas party, how would that go over? Somehow, when someone invites us to a
party, we don’t expect to be met with a call to repentance. After all, isn’t Christmas supposed to
be a time of peace and joy and hope? Yes it is- and the way to true peace and joy and hope is
through Jesus, who is our peace, who is our joy, and who is our living hope.

I have been married to Janie for 38 years and if ever I assume I know her- she surprises me and I
am reminded that there is so much more to know about her. With God, there is always something
new to learn about Him – and even though we may think we know about the love of God- truth
is, we have only begun to know His love. And then there is God’s holiness and righteous anger
toward our sin- and much as we would prefer not to deal with it- John the Baptist gets in our face
and makes sure we do. And more times than not, we choose to rebel against coming to grips with
dealing with our rebellion- thinking- okay- I’ll admit I may not be perfect- but compared to so
and so- I’m not so bad. Just let me enjoy Christmas, okay?

Truth is, all sin separates us from God regardless of what we think. To a holy and righteous God,
sin is a sin- and standing before a holy God- we become aware of our sin. And it is standing there
before God who knows us better than we know ourselves- who sees everything we do and
knowing every thought and intention of the heart while knowing His hatred for our sin that we
realize His love. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly- God has done the work,
paid the price for our sin- but God cannot repent for us- it is up to each of us. And so He calls us
to repentance because -to remove the wall of hostility that has come between us because of our
rebellion- a repentance that comes from a contrite heart.

When we talk about God’s love, without talking about the anger of a holy and righteous God
anger toward our sin, His love becomes a cheap emotion that comes and goes depending on our
circumstance. But God’s love is a commitment that is offered through a great price-a love that
willingly went to the cross and prayed that His father would forgive us because we don’t know
what we are doing- and that is why we need to know God more.

Christmas is portrayed by society as a time of good cheer and happiness. But for many it is a
reminder of the pain of a loved one lost, of disappointments, and the reality of life that for some
is a daily struggle.

All of us here have lost a loved one at some time or another- some more recent than others, but
just as real- and when we come home after the Christmas party the “why” questions are still
there waiting for us. But we should not be afraid to ask those questions- because those questions
are really about reaching out to God to know Him better. And in those times, we have the choice
of drawing close to God or turning away from Him.

You are all aware that I am hard of hearing. I may not like to admit that I am, but I am- and even
when I admit it- I deny how bad it probably is- and yet even in my denial, when I want to hear
someone, I move closer so that I can hear better. Truth is, no matter how contrite our hearts may
be- we do not realize how deep the root of our sin is in our lives. May we choose to draw close to

On a cold winter’s night, a baby was born into a broken world. A night, where there were no
doubt countless other babies born that night as well. But this baby was different- He was God’s
own son born to make a way in a manger- to make away to the cross and the empty tomb. When
the shepherds and wise men came to worship him, it appeared that it was they who were coming
to Him, but in reality it was God who had come to be with us first.

The miracle of Christmas is God becoming one of us no so that He could know us better- but so
that we could know Him better. Writing to the Romans, the apostle Paul said: “whatever was
written in the former days was written for our instruction-so that by steadfastness and by the
encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. We all need hope. We seek it in things and
people and only if’s.

But Romans chapter five has this to say: “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering
produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope
does not disappoint us- because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy
Spirit which has been given to us.”

Our hope is not in possessions or even other people-but our hope is in the person of Jesus Christ.
Our peace is found in Jesus Christ- and our joy is in knowing Him. May we learn to see Advent
not as something to endure on our way to Christmas for four weeks a year and then forget about,
but a life-long journey of learning to know God in all of his glory, and in all of his power and all
of His mercy. May our prayer this advent season and our whole lives be to love Him and trust
Him with all that we are, and with all of our hearts. In Jesus name- Amen.

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