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January 4, 2022 3:00 am
There are times when it is hard to come by. Headlines are quick to update us on tragedy and heartache, but offer you stories that actually brighten our day today on Truth for Life. Alister big highlights a newsworthy message, one that delivers comfort and joy in all of our days.
We continue our study in the first five verses of Isaiah chapter 44 points in their these first of all proclamation proclamation speak to them prior to then proclaim to them and then the next part is that the task of preparation now. One of these resident messengers voices is now aired verse three a voice cry's one of the messengers in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord that it wasn't so much that these people where in the wilderness as it was that their life had actually become a barren landscape. You will notice I hope you do that their pathway is not a pathway for them to go out but it is a pathway for God to come in and is very very important I think to be very possible for us to misunderstand this entirely and we say only as I see what it is was a person trying get out of our problem trying get out of here take away to get out and cut through the jungle and the and the underbrush of all our rebellion in our stupidity. And if we can have her way out of it. Perhaps we can make a few New Year's resolutions and get on know nothing, nothing at all. No make a way for God to come in, make a way for God to come into the sadness to the dryness to the emptiness yes to the silence to the silence. When will we hear from God. That's how they live their life's waiting and hoping you see it is, then and only then, that in coming to the text of the New Testament we realize what a drama is contained in the in the story that Luke records for us and how Zachariah and remember his and his wife, he sold his wife's advanced in the Gabriel comes and says you know you're going to have a child and you know that story how Zachariah ends up having to write on a tablet for a while and he was completely overwhelmed by it all and the people.
When the news got out to them. They wondered about what was being said and they said what what will this child be what will he be. And the reason they said that is because clearly the hand of the Lord was with him.
This is, of course, John the Baptist prepare the way for God to come. That was a message. What is John the Baptist to exactly that. He prepares the way for God to come is is is quite wonderful when you read the prophecy of his father and Zachariah about his son and everybody that as our son is as I want all my child will be but but Zacharias is blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and he is raised up for is a horn of salvation in the house of his servant David. He did all this preparing is by the way of the prophets, and so long and then listen speaking to his own boy and you child you will be called the prophet of the most high, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins because of the tender mercy of our God and so long, that is what you're going to do you read on a couple of chapters and that is exactly what he drives people came to him from all around the region out into the place where he was preaching. Not a very nice place down in a miserable desert about 600 feet below sea level, very, very hot, very inclement, not the kind of place where you would want to go for a service and there he was, and what was he say prepare God is coming someone's aware easy. Similarly, if you look over here you will see he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. We say was I going to do with me.
I'll tell you what it's going to do with you and me to.
There is a certain respect in which we are all in the line of John the Baptist. If you are a Christian today you are a messenger, whoever you are and wherever you are. The significance of our task is not in the significance of our person but is in the wonder of our message. Prepare to meet God is Aviva look that said, there's an old sign.
You know from fundamentalist America where you're driving on the freeway associated in some of the southern states prepare to meet thy God is become a figure of fun.
He was alive. Strange is that what an unbelievable thing for people to say no know it's the right thing to say is the role that is given to the messengers proclamation comfort for those who don't deserve it and prepare to meet God well in verse four we moved from the part of the messengers can play to the part that only God can play.
I had a hard time with ours for am not sure I got a hold of it. Even now, what we do with this.
Every valley shall be lifted up every mountain and hill made law while in other words, when God comes he is going to deal with the obstacles, at least we can say that kindly one of the obstacles that stood in the way. Well, all the obstacles that were present, then, are present. Still today the obstacles of unbelief, the obstacle of just natural skepticism in our case of relativism of pluralism. There is no one way, there's no one truth and so long, and the people of God were just tempted to succumb to the alternative explanations of their existence.
Why would we be surprised by that. Why would we. Why would we wonder at the way in which they lived on the on the idols and and they said, you know, maybe we should try these idols because remember verse 27. Why is God stop listening to us. Why is our way being disregarded by God, you've got it upside down. God is not stop listening to you God loves you. God comes to comfort you know you're the ones that decided to carry these idols around despite the fact that you know that they are absolutely useless to you. They know nothing the understand nothing is over there so long ago and far away know it is absolutely not the times of Job or 20th this year I read an article about some lady is called an Internet starlight. I don't how you would become one of them is not something I think I need to worry about, particularly the lady's name. We can leave aside for now, but she's a self-help guy and she has millions and millions of followers on the Internet who are looking for. Guess what comfort and joy. While not everybody is a fan of the starlet. Another lady whose name can stay out because it is rather unpronounceable from Paris interacting with this. She said YouTube stars are false prophets offering false well-being and then she said we have got rid of religion but created idols that are worse than anything that went before know you shouldn't understand that she seen. We've got rid of religion, and she sorry about no, not she's happy about it.
She wanted to get rid of religion, but now she acknowledges will even worse off with this new collection then we where with what was an offer before because having rejected that which is God's manifestation of himself to us in Jesus. We don't then believe nothing, we start to believe everything and anything. So here's the problem. As a preacher. These challenges seem insurmountable. The people say to me all the time. Are you what are you against that how you going to build a convince that how you going to be able to break down all these barriers. The disinterest of people, the decline of religion in America to fight the people to want to listen to the sermons. The fact that this of the said this of this. How are you going to do this. The answers are not near as anyone else only go is able to break down the hindrances. Only God is the one who is able to make a street at a level V read history 19 century 18th-century England was a disaster zone who would ever be able to see a reformation of the revelation in that context, and then the baby is born and another baby is born and one is called Wesleyan one is called Whitfield and the rest as they say, is history.
Who were these people, but we know they're great now, but the one regarded is great that when Whitfield preached in North America in 18's in there in 18th-century awakenings. People laughed at them in the street when he rode his horse it on the East Coast or down into into Richmond.
They shouted out although the boy preacher deployed preacher. He wasn't regarded as anything at all we know how significant he was now what was God doing what he does raised up a messenger and the messenger told the truth and guarded the rest be personalized before I got my final point. What about the hindrances in our own life's what about the idea that we are unable personally to deal with the mountains with the heights with the heights of upright with the heights of our self assertion with the heights of our self-esteem. When I was waiting in the trunk here at the dated television was on and there was a lady there and she was explaining about yoga and I listened for a little time and did solve some of the exercises of projects look downright scary to me but they she was explaining that the thing about yoga is it is for absolutely everyone, this is yoga is about just the love of everyone measure of your gender number at your size might your intelligence to make you think, and so this this is it, come to your and then the camera focuses in on her and they said so what is it that makes this so special.
She said what makes it so special is that we are able to say to ourselves. I am wonderful I am awesome I am. I have only one is able to say I am grow and what shall I say to the people said Moses. When they asked me what will I say to Pharaoh. Pharaoh's mighty he's a mountain that cannot be brought, what shall I say to tell him that I sent you. You see when we understand the ion who provides to us the comfort for which we long, then our own little I have is not irrelevant. It's just diminished to the point of helpfulness yet, but summonses will I don't have a problem with self-esteem. I have a problem with discouragement is listening to some of these tests and in the other day and she said I tried my best to be a wife. I wanted so desperately to be a good wife. I thought it was a lousy wife. My husband went off to work now. Used to cry. How can I be better. I'm so hopeless and so on. She was in the Valley in the Valley of failure in the Valley of despondency.
How do you get out of that Valley.
You see, God guesses out of the Valley because then she suddenly realized somebody a friend told her I messenger told her you know you should read the Bible and as she read the Bible, she discovered that God's people look to God to accomplish his purposes. God, God never actually suffer setbacks, he overcomes all the hindrances he travels without difficulty. He always arrives without fail, and he's always on time and that brings us to our final point, there proclamation that is the task of the messenger.
The preparation that is ultimately there in this great messenger who goes before Jesus.
The transformation in the bringing down of the mountains, whatever they might be the raising up of the Valley's whatever they might be and then it all the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
Let me in the glory of the Lord will be real. What is God's glory to God's glory is essentially his self-disclosure.
It is, it is his making known all that he is all that makes him the only true and living God revelation of the fact of his creation. The fact that he is a Redeemer that he is merciful.
He is gracious that he is holy that is abounding in love and in steadfast mercy and in faithfulness. All of these things and the prophet says and this is what's going to happen. God's glory will be made known so that people will be able to seek all flesh does matter where they come from. So it was fascinating to me that for example the message of God's unbelievable love to all, irrespective of gender and so long, which is the message of the lady that that the yoga messenger itself itself falls to because there's nothing there.
It takes you into yourself and if you have been in yourself lately. You know that there is no reason to jump up and down and have a party about how significant or how good you are, even the children earlier this morning.
They know that sometimes they go in their bedrooms and set himself. I am a nosy boy I am not my father said in a naughty boy. I have not received God loves naughty boys. He loves naughty couple's if he didn't.
None of us could ever know him.
If he only loved good voice and good goals and good moms and good dance which ends with the unit with the task.
My task is ultimately the task of my colleagues is by the help of the Holy Spirit to convince the listener of God's founding life of God's abounding love Calvin and his institutes says this, no one will ever reverence God. But he or she who is confident that God is favorable toward them. In other words, you are never going to run to God unless you are convinced that he is favorable toward you.
How can he be favorable towards the rebellious, the exiles will press the ones you're saying it's God's fault. All because of his glory. Being finally revealed in Jesus is. It is in light of this, that after all this time passes. Once the exile is over. The silence descends.
The darkness prevails and then all of a sudden on a routine night in the fields the shepherds fields around Bethlehem.
The angel appeared in the glory of the Lord shone around and they went off and they said let's go into Bethlehem and see this thing that we've been told about and what are they discoverable. They discovered the lobes and the fears of all the years had been met.
In this Jesus. When John writes about it in this program was we had in one of our readings the other night. Friday night was a note Thursday and must meet yeah and we have beheld his glory, we've seen his glory. When the writer of Hebrews puts it, he says that he is the radiance of the glory of God.
The exact imprint of his nature, upholding the universe by the word of his power. In other words, Jesus is the formal and definitive representation of God. All that may be known of God in human form is found in Jesus's Charlotte stop I'm going to stop comfort, comfort, where is this comfort, in whom is this comfort the true answer to our deepest longings, joy, joy, joy. Joy is peace dancing. Therefore Romans 52 therefore be unjustified by faith we have peace with God record dealt with sin part goes clear relationship established well let's dance joy is peace dancing and peace is joy resting. Therefore, the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with joy into Zion and everlasting joy will be upon their heads. Everlasting joy the day after Christmas is a tough day is not unique are your little thing your socks and in on a book in there we go Christmas Merry Christmas Alister nice Christmas pressing on this as well just add to it and is said if this is this is where I'm getting joy from Boston.
If the source of comfort is simply in the relationships around me. No matter how meaningfully are they are a female all around us will go the way of all flesh. No, I don't want joy to last for five minutes. I don't want joy to get me through my teenage years and want to get joy. There simply gets me to the edge of eternity. I want everlasting joy. The everlasting joy that is found in the one who speaks to his rebellious people and says my message to you is comfort is comfort. Oh, did you hear that Scrooge oh Tydings of comfort and joy. The good news. Each one of us needs to hear Alister being today on Truth for Life. Please keep listening. Alister will be back to close today's program with prayer in just a minute. If you are a regular Truth for Life listener on radio. Did you realize you can access all of Alister's teaching online. When you visit our website, you can search through hundreds of messages from many books of the Bible also search by topic, all of its firstname.lastname@example.org or you can download the free truth for like mobile app which gives you access to Alister's complete teaching library you'll find it in your app store by searching Truth for Life. Isaiah chapter 40 is a passage we turn too often when we need encouragement or strength.
And there's a book or recommending today that can help you dig deeper into the many treasures that this chapter from the Bible holds the book is titled the all sufficient God. It contains nine sermons preached by 20th century preacher Martin Lloyd Jones all of the sermons focus on the greatness and glory of God. If you're not familiar with Lloyd Jones. It was often said that while others preached love or even preached Christ Lloyd Jones, preached God, you can request your copy of the all sufficient God. When you donate to Truth for Life. You can tap the image you see in the app or visit us online at truthforlife.org/donate now, here's Alister to close with prayer.
Father, we thank you for the wonder of your love to us in Christ, we thank you that down through all these centuries, right up until today.
The people have waited and wondered and hoped and longed as they opened is aware that Advent calendars through the years until finally, this boy, the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth would come dressed really strangely preaching out in the desert and doing that which is the task of the messenger to say prepare prepare yourself for the Lord is coming. That's why he had a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Get yourself cleaned up. Lisa God is coming in and the one who came was the only one who could run that cleansing and that forgiveness because he is Lord he is all we thank you in Christ, about 15.
How will 20/20 to be different than 2021. That's a hard question to answer. Life changes quickly, maybe a better question would be what can you count on the stay the same in the new year. Join us tomorrow as Alister brings a clear unchanging reminder Bible teaching of Alister bag is furnished by Truth for Life with learning is prolific