Sunday, December 16, 2012

“Mighty to Save” (Zephaniah 3:16-17)

S-1350-3SIA/C 12/16/2012 Hymns: #; #95; #47

Texts: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 7:18-28

Theme: “Mighty to Save” (Zephaniah 3:16-17)

Question: “What is it like to be next to someone stronger than you?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Third Sunday in Advent is from the O.T. Lesson: On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
‘Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord Your God is in Your midst, a mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing
’” (Zephaniah 3:16-17).


O precious Bride of Christ, I don’t need to remind you of the evil in this world. You have heard it, you have seen it and you have been sick by it. On Friday morning a little after 8 our time in Newtown, CT a madman shot and killed 27 precious souls for no apparent reason. As I heard the news I got sick to my stomach that I couldn’t eat. I kept thinking those children that died are a little older than my grandson Brody. I couldn’t fathom the idea that a young, beautiful and defenseless life would be wiped out in a matter of seconds for no clear reason.

As I have listened to the 24/7 news of this terrible tragedy, one commentator after another have asked these questions: “Why did God let this happen? Why didn’t God stop it? Where is God in all of this?” The truth is: “I DON’T KNOW.” However, we do know for the last 50 years we have been systematically taking Him out of the public square. He is no longer welcomed in our schools. No prayers can be offered at graduation. No longer can we put a cross as a memorial for those who died for the sake of this great country. No longer are we permitted to put a crèche in front of stores. He is not welcomed in our homes, towns and public squares. What do you expect from a godless society ! However, He has always been here, hidden and concealed in the flesh of the Babe of Bethlehem and the powerful pages of the Holy Bible.

The prophet Zephaniah speaks to the people of his day and ours with words of comfort and hope. He speaks of the Hero, the One who will save with might and strength. He speaks to the people living right here in Armour and in Newtown, CT. He speaks to our wounded, broken and bleeding hearts. He speaks words that help us see beyond the tragedy and terror, carnage and chaos to the life and love of the Babe of Bethlehem.

Listen to Zephaniah please, ‘Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord Your God is in Your midst, a mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.’ Yes, fear not. The Lord Your God is in your midst, Emmanuel has come to save. God’s answer to sin and evil in the world is His Son, the God who took upon Him flesh and blood and came to be with us in the manger of Bethlehem.

The prophet Zephaniah, whose name means “The Lord has Concealed” speaks of the depth of our sin and then turns to the greater depth of God’s Grace to restore and heal, to return the captive and give them freedom and liberty to live under Him in peace and protection.

Yes, Jesus is the answer to the evil and wickedness of this world whether it is in your back yard, across the state, in Newtown, CT or in the Middle East, Jesus is the One who comes to save. As per his name, Zephaniah “The Lord has Concealed” this mighty Savior is concealed in the Babe of Bethlehem.

Jesus the little tiny Baby who is dependant on His mother’s breast for sustenance holds her and all people in His loving arms. This is the One who is mighty to save; because He saves in an unusual way. He doesn’t come on the scene with machine guns or power, but He comes in humility to earth and permits others to do evil and wickedness to Him. PAUSE.

Zephaniah in the text states: He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.’ Throughout the centuries lovers have written letters and songs of love to each other. God has a song for us too. His song is the one that reminds us of His love and grace for us sinners. He wants us to see Him as the Hero who woos us to His presence so that our hearts might be filled with joy and peace.

No wonder we love Christmas so much. It is more than tinsel and trees, glitter and glamour, gifts and gadgets, no it is the Hero who walks into our broken and captive world to save it from the punishment of hell. One of the hymns of Christmas that affirms why it is such a blessed time for us is the hymn, “Savior of the Nations Come.”Savior of the nations, come, Virgin’s Son, make here Thy home! Marvel now, o heav’n and earth, that the Lord chose such a birth.” In this little tiny Baby we see “Gibor Yosheah” {Hebrew} the Hero who saves. PAUSE.

Rene Gerard, a Frenchman who studied mythology (study of how the world or humankind came to be in its present form), one day as he was reading some work stopped in his tracks as he considered the Heroes of the past. He considered the Babylonians, Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Persians, Goth and others; he was intrigued to find out that all of the Heroes were top down heroes—men of power, prestige and position. But when he studied Christianity, to his amazement he discovered the story of salvation is from the bottom up. Christianity is different from all others. Christ the mightiest power in the entire universe becomes the poorest and humblest person in the world to save the world.

With this new found knowledge, this Frenchman became a believer and follower of the One who is mighty to Save. Because he needed a Savior and in Jesus Christ—he found the Savior that loved him enough to die for him on the tree of the cross. What is ironic that this man, though born on December 25, 1923, the day we observe and celebrate the birth of the Savior, wasn’t a Christian until the Holy Spirit moved Him in the study of salvation. Through this study He discovered there is only One Savior, One Hero, One God—Jesus Christ. PAUSE.

O most precious people of God, perhaps you have watched a movie or read a book where a princess has been held captive by a wicked person. Throughout her jail time, she hopes against all odds that her prince charming comes to her aid and rescues her.

Our world and our lives are not a movie played on the screen but real life situations. We were held captive by the prince of darkness—wicked satan who desires to keep us bound and jailed in the fiery hell forever. But God sent forth His Son—the Babe of Bethlehem—the Prince of life, light and love to free us from the bondage of sin and evil, to sing the song of love over us and give us joy forever more.

That is why we can still have hope and Christian joy this Christmas even when bad things like this tragedy in Newtown, CT happened. We know why we have hope because so long ago, God in His mercy decided to send One who is Mighty to Save—Jesus. Jesus is your Hero and mine. He is the answer to all of the evil and wickedness in this world. And we can be certain, confident and convinced by the working of the Holy Spirit that God through Jesus has defeated sin and evil, God is stronger than evil and evil people—He is good, great and grand and He is God in the flesh with us and among us and FOR US!

May the words I close with by Pastor Peterson be of great comfort to your hearts no matter the troubles you are going through?

If we be desperate, let it not be for economic recovery and prosperity. Let it not be for our children to love us and our peers to respect us. Let us be desperate, eager, focused, and hopeful for salvation. If loneliness and disappointment crouch at the door, let us cover the doorposts of our hearts with the blood of Christ and know that whatever befalls us, the angel of death will pass over. Lift up your heads and rejoice. The King comes to you in perfect love. – DHP Rev. David Petersen.

And the Good News He has. He is Your Hero the One mighty to Save—Jesus, the Babe of Bethlehem. Amen.

Now the peace…


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