Monthly Archives: November 2013

“The All Surpassing Wonder of Jesus!”

Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given and the government will be upon His shoulder; and His name willl be called Wonderful…”

Names have always played a prominent role in society. It is how we identify each other today. It is vital for our communication. It does not suffice for us to simply say “Hey you!”  The ancient world used names not simply for identification but also for describing ones character. So there is a lot in a name. Especially if we are talking about “the name above every name.” To the ancient Hebrew people the names of God meant the revelation of His nature/character. So names in the Scripture are extremely important. That is why the names of God were treated with great respect and reverence. Note: I strongly recommend doing a study on the names of Jesus throughout the Scriptures…there are well over 256 names given to Jesus Christ.  All these Bible names have meaning, and when you study them …it will always help you to a better understanding of who Jesus is.  The psalmist knew the value of such a study Psalm 9:10 “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, O Lord have not forsaken those who seek You.”

One name of Jesus was given to Him almost 800 years before His birth. Found in Isaiah 9:6: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful…”

Isaiah was a prophet of God who lived in Israel some 800 years before the birth of Jesus. It was a time of great spiritual, political and economic turmoil.  Assyria was threatening to take every country into its growing empire including Israel. Isaiah actually had a mixed message. He foretold Assyria would indeed take over and govern at least a portion of God’s people. But he also foretold that God would deliver Israel from Assyria in the future. So it was a message of warning but also a message of hope. He promises that God is going to punish His own people very soon, but that one day He will deliver His people from the Assyrians.

But Isaiah also told of another deliverance entirely…a deliverance from sin and its terrible effects in our world. That also came true. How so? Isaiah knew that it would happen through a very special person who would be born in the future. He didn’t know when this Person would be born, but he’s certain that God will send Him at just the right time. The Bible makes it quite clear that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled by the birth of Jesus some 800 years after the prophet wrote these words.

The word “wonderful” means something that is transcendently beyond the common everyday…something that is way out of the ordinary…extraordinary…it means something that is unlike anything else. When you stand beside Niagara Falls you say it is wonderful because there is nothing else like it. It is extraordinary…it surpasses all other waterfalls. That’s what “wonderful” means…all surpassing wonder…maybe even too difficult to comprehend…think about and marvel about the immensity of the all surpassing wonder of Jesus Christ. What a fitting name for the One who was to prove it by His life.

WONDERFUL COUNSELOR (Isaiah 9:6-7) When David killed Goliath with his simple little sling he did a wonderful thing…because no one ever did anything like that before.  When the Red Sea opened up to allow the Children of Israel to cross on dry land escaping the hand of Pharaoh who was hotly pursuing them…when the sun stood still for Joshua…these were all wonderful things that happened…all surpassing wonder.

SO we need to ask: WHAT MAKES JESUS SO WONDERFUL?

1.  His ADVENT was Wonderful…

Centuries before His actual birth it was foretold …His birth had been prophesied again and again. Consider the odds of these prophecies given centuries before could be fulfilled in one man. Josh McDowell in his book “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” tells the statistic…there are over 300 prophecies pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of which have already been fulfilled. Peter Stoner in Science Speaks determines the probability of one man fulfilling eight of the prophecies of the Old Testament for the Messiah to be 1 in 10 to the 17th power. Imagine what this means. If we took that many silver dollars (100,000,000,000,000,000) and laid them over the State of Texas, covering the state two feet deep. Now mark one of the silver dollars, stir them up, then blindfold a person, and tell him/her that they can travel as far as they want but must pick up one silver dollar and say that it is the marked one. What chance would s/he have of picking up the right one? It would be the exact same odds of anyone fulfilling eight of the Messianic prophecies by chance alone.

He goes on to consider the possibility of any one person fulfilling 48 of the prophecies by chance. Here the odds jump to 1 in 10 to the 157th power. That means 1 with 157 zeroes beside it. Incredible and impossible odds…but this is the all surpassing wonder of Jesus!

2. His BIRTH was wonderful…

Everything about His birth was wonderful… every detail of the Biblical account of God becoming man assuming the form of a servant…is absolutely wonderful!  No other birth has ever occurred like it…it was wonderful because of the fact that there was only one human parent…He inherited the nature of man and the nature of God…becoming fully God and fully man. He came to be the Prince of princes…the Lord of lords…and the King of kings…and yet no one even knew He came.

On July 24, 2013 Prince William and Princess Kate’s celebrated the birth of baby Prince George Alexander There was no shortage of hype and excitement as media covered all the details. An event celebrated with great expressions of joy all over Great Britain and the rest of the Commonwealth. Yet for Jesus Christ…the King of kings and Lord of lords there was no room for Him at the inn. Born in a stable and then cradled in a feeding trough. And yet angels would proclaim Him on a lonely quiet Judean hill side to a sleepy group of shepherds. Isn’t that all surpassing wonderful. He gave up all the glory of the world to be born of a poor woman.

Think of why He came…He came to give rest to the weary, He came to bless, not to curse…He came to lift up and not to cast down…He came to seek and to save that which was lost…to give sight to the blind, to open prison doors and to set captives free…He came to reveal the Father’s love to the world. Wise men came seeking Him at His birth guided by a star from across the desert. Nothing like this ever announced the coming of anyone else into this world. As soon as His birth was known the Herod ordered the slaughter of the Innocents at Bethlehem… Joseph had been warned in a dream took the child to Egypt.

3. His CHARACTER was Wonderful…

No one has ever come close to Him in perfection of character. It is wonderful that the greatest character ever known should have come out of obscurity to become the most famous in all of history. Came at such a time and to such a people…the same kind of people are living today. And yet Hebrews 4:15 tells us: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are…yet without sin.” Be sure to understand that He was tempted just like you are tempted every day of your life…yet He was without sin. Not once did He slip into sin 2 Corinthians 5:21For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” He didn’t have an ounce of sin in Him…impeccable, stainless…get this Jesus was never converted, He never had to repent of anything…because there was nothing in His life that was sin. No one could point the finger at Him. He was holy, harmless and undefiled.

4. His LIFE Was Wonderful…

Think about His life for a moment…He combined deity with humanity in Himself…God was made manifest in the flesh. (1 Timothy 3:16) And yet He was unselfish, so sinless that His enemies could not bring a charge against Him. And not once did He do anything to help Himself. He had the power to turn stones into bread…yet He did not. He had compassion on the multitude…His first miracle performed not before a great tabernacle of people but in a quiet little village of Cana…He had continuous compassion whether it was to a blind man on the side of the road or the hungry multitude. He wept for the city of Jerusalem.

What power He demonstrated over the forces of nature…He turned water into wine…He raised Lazarus from the dead. He calmed the storm…walking on the water, He healed the Gerasene demoniac, He demonstrated His power over the devil and demons and disease and death. The apostle Peter preached a message in Caesarea of Philippi to Cornelius and his house…telling them about Jesus. Acts 10:38God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” There is absolutely no part of His life that is questionable as to His character…His entire life was wonderful!

5.      His MINISTRY was Wonderful…

When John the Baptist was in prison he heard about what Jesus was doing. So he sent two of his disciples to Jesus, asking: “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” Jesus sent this answer to John: “The blind receive their sight; the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:5)

Jesus is still at work today…but many refuse to see.  Franklyn Graham the son of Billy Graham has been preaching this past week in Thailand to over 70,000 people and literally thousands have been coming to faith in Jesus Christ! Today Jesus’ work has not changed and that test of His power is as apparent in nearly every part of the world today as it was in Galilee. If you have eyes to see the works of God, you will always find them going on.  The heavens declare the glory of God, but there are people so blind they an’t see His work in anything or anywhere.

6.      His TEACHING was Wonderful…

People sat spellbound when Jesus preached. Simple, clear and understood by all. He always made sure that those who were listening were understanding. He illustrated with stories, parables and object lessons…word pictures…No one ever had to take a dictionary out on the Sermon on the Mount…they understood Him. He didn’t give a rip what the religious establishment thought of Him or what He said. The stories Jesus told…are timeless…The Prodigal Son…the unforgiving servant…the foolish virgins. Jesus taught that He was equal to God. “He who hates Me hates My Father also.(John 15:23). Ever know of anybody else making such claims? He said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He was offering to bear the burden of the whole world. Think of it! He said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly…I am the Good Shepherd…the good shepherd gives His life for His sheep.” (John  10:10) And, “I am the resurrection and the life; and he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” Surely He was wonderful in what He taught!

7.      His SALVATION is Wonderful…

He is able to save to the uttermost. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the power/right to become children of God to those who believe in His name.John 1:12 Because of what He came to do…and what He did… your sins can be forgiven. Because of what He did, you can live a life of purpose and meaning… you receive the gift of eternal life.  He was wonderful in that He prophesied of Himself…He foretold how He would die…it is even wonderful that He knowing all things still was betrayed by one of His own trusted disciples…but He knew it all. It is truly wonderful that He was sold by such a low price…wonderful that He was condemned to death on such a cruel cross…tortured so cruelly before being sent to the cross…the timing of His death on the Passover…He being the real Passover lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Wonderful that so many people were in Jerusalem at that time…saw the sun darkened felt the shake of the earthquake when the veil of the Temple was torn in two. “O the wonderful cross”! His resurrection was wonderful…foretold to His disciples…that He would rise on the third day and yet everyone of the them seemed to forget all about it…they thought He was dead…all hope was lost… His resurrection was wonderful…no human mind could ever have imagined the possibility. An angel rolled away the stone the linen clothes were folded and put on the place where He had been laid. How wonderful in that He appeared to His close friends…to Mary in the Garden of Gethsemane. How wonderful it was that she recognized His voice when He said her name. How wonderful that He met with His disciples and made them breakfast and commissioned them. How wonderful that He showed Himself alive and well to over 500 of the brethren…if Jesus had never risen from the dead we probably wouldn’t be here this morning. Our faith would be in vain. It is through His death burial and resurrection that a wonderful price has been paid by a wonderful Saviour for a sinful race…you and for me. How wonderful that He ascended to heaven and He sent another Helper….one who would be with them.

8. His IMPACT is Wonderful…

The effect of His teaching upon the world has been wonderful. He left no great educational institutions to perpetuate His teachings. Instead He committed His Word to a few humble fishermen, whose names are now the most engraved in all history. If we merely looked at this from the human perspective…you would expect it all to be forgotten within a matter of years. Jesus never wrote a sermon. Jesus never published books, blogs or tweets. He never had radio spot, a FaceBook account ,or a weekly podcast or the internet…and yet His Word has endured for over two thousand years. His Words have gone to the ends of the earth, and they are still words of life bringing life and light to the darkness.

Jesus Christ is true to His name…He is WONDERFUL…He is a wonderful Saviour now. Look at Him today. Consider Him today. See His wonderful plan of salvation! Biblical Christianity is not a dying religion…in fact there has never been a time when the love of Jesus Christ has gripped the hearts of humanity as it does today.

And now one more way how Jesus is Wonderful;..and it is PERSONAL… He is true to His name, He is a wonderful Savior because He saved me. I know I am a child of God, He is a wonderful Savior because He is able to save to the uttermost now. I know this because He has given to me a second chance. He is wonderful to me…If you have trusted Him for forgiveness of your sins…He has saved you…He has pulled you up out of the pit of the muck and mire of this world and He has set your feet on solid ground…that solid ground is Jesus Himself.

Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin how shall my tongue describe it where shall its praise begin? Taking away my burden setting my spirit free for the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.”

Let me ask you this today…Has this wonderful Saviour saved you? Do you know Him as your Saviour? Have you ever given Him your case? The proof of His all surpassing wonder is so overwhelming that He does save, and that He has been saving people just like you for centuries. Be sure of this one fact no one has ever been saved from their sin except through Jesus Christ, the  Wonderful Saviour.

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A time for remembrance

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A TIME FOR REMEMBRANCE…

Delivered at the Burford-Cathcart-Princeton Legion Branch #543

Commemorative Service November 3rd, 2013

To our Honored Veterans, our Community, and to each of my peers…please know I consider this an honour to share with you this Memorial Address. I believe God does have something to say from His Word…about what is happening here this afternoon…in remembering our veterans…and the price paid for our freedom.

We are here at this Remembrance service today for three reasons…HONORHEALING and HOPE!

At the fore front of our minds are those who have fought…those who fight… and those who are even now in harm’s way protecting freedoms…gaining freedoms…engaged in conflict. We especially remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. They paid a debt that we can never repay. And so we promise that we will never forget…and nor should we ever forget. So first of all this afternoon…IT IS A TIME FOR HONOUR.

1.      A TIME FOR HONOURThe Bible says to “…honour those to whom honour is due.” And let me tell you when someone for any reason is willing to lay down their life…their most precious possession…for the sake of someone else…God says…that person is to be honored. God honors sacrifice. All the way through the Bible… something very close to the heart of God. Personally, I have always loved the account of King David who had a group of mighty valiant warriors who fought the battles of Israel…heroically. They are mentioned on the eternal pages of Scripture again because God honors those who are deserving of honour.

Our veterans are deserving of because of SELFLESSNESSsomething we don’t hear too much of in the news these days… What do I mean by SELFLESSNESS? The ability to think of others first. We are hard pressed to I think of any other occupation that is more selfless than putting on the Canadian military uniform and fighting on behalf of your country to protect freedom and democracy…on behalf of generations who will only read of their bravery and their commitment in the history books.

Selflessness as a human characteristic is increasingly becoming more difficult to find. Everyone is more concerned about their own safety and security, their own comforts and their own wants and needs. Very few put any kind of thought into what others may need. Yet in World War 2 there were 1.1 million Canadians who served in the Canadian Army, Navy and Air Force…and of those 45,000 lost their lives, and another 54,000 were injured. More recently over 158 Canadians were killed in Afghanistan and more than 2000 injured. Selflessness…putting others before themselves! We are here to honor those who demonstrated selflessness.

We also honour them today…because of their SACRIFICE. Selflessness and sacrifice actually go hand in hand you can’t really have one without the other. We honour our veterans because of their sacrifice… Sacrifice is the willingness to give up so that others may gain. The men and women of our armed forces put themselves in harm’s way in order to protect the freedoms of others. The Bible says that “There is no greater love than a man lay down his life for his friends.” This is sacrifice…the willingness to giveg up what is dearest so that others may benefit.

We are here this afternoon to HONOUR those who have heard the call to bear arms and protect our freedoms.

It is a debt that we cannot repay. We HONOUR THEM today…for their SELFLESSNESS and their SACRIFICE!

This is very dear to the heart of God who gave up His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ…who demonstrates these very attributes: Jesus gave up His place in heaven and selflessly lived on earth and then He gave His life on the cross of Calvary so that we can be forgiven of our sins…that we might have an eternal hope.

Not only is it a time for HONOUR but it is also….

2.      A TIME FOR HEALINGWhere there is conflict there is always a need for healing. Whether it is a conflict between nations…or a conflict within a nation but also conflict in the school yard or within the home. Where there is conflict…there is always a need for healing.  One of the wisest kings of all time said: “There is a time to kill and a time to heal…a time to break down and a time to build up…a time of war and a time of peace…” Ecclesiastes 3:3,8

So in this season of Remembrance we heal. We heal by remembering that someone went in our place. They took our place on the battle field…they died so that we would not have to. They paid the price for our freedom. And so by remembering what has been done and continues to be done on our behalf

We also heal by remembering that God has a way of constantly working to bring good out of evil.  In every conflict there are certain evils that our armed forces have bravely stood against. Evils that if left unchecked would have devoured and devastated…be it the Nazi regime…who wanted to destroy the Jewish people and so called inferior races, or communism that wanted to destroy all freedom of expression…to the modern day Taliban…whose desire is to restrict young girls from receiving an education.

In Joel 2:25, 27 after great national grief, after having being conquered, their beloved land was devastated and its people scattered…God promises His people…”I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…then you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, I am the Lord your God and there is no other.

The Old Testament is among other things the story of God at work in the midst of his people, working constantly to bring good out of the evil that afflicted the people within and from outside.  And even in the depths of war God is at work in the midst of things, inspiring people to acts of goodness and bravery.

Let me give you an example. What our forces have done and continue to do in other countries…has had a “ripple effect”.  And God is “restoring what the locusts have eaten.”  Over the past 12 years our troops among others have stood with courage against the Taliban in Afghanistan…who for many years had restricted the rights of women and children to attend school. But now because of the contribution of our Canadian forces…those children can now return to school and once more receive an education.

Not far away from Afghanistan is the country of Pakistan…again where the Taliban has restricted and tried to stop children from attending school. A young girl at the age of 11 was blogging about her love of learning and how she loved going to school…but she was targeted by the Taliban in Pakistan and at age 15…Malala Yousafzai…a young Pakistani school girl was shot by the Taliban…simply because she went to school and wrote about her love of learning. We can thank God for preserving her life. And now she speaks publically about allowing girls to go to school…and news reports indicate that children registering for school in Moulala’s home region is surging. Tell me our forces that stood up to the Taliban in Afghanistan didn’t play a part in all of this. Tell me that God isn’t restoring what the swarming locust has eaten. May God bless Moulala Yousaffzai for her bravery.  May God bless the troops who have worked hard over the past 10-11 years to make it possible for these young girls in these countries to receive an education. We heal when we remember that out of conflict God brings…restoration and even reconciliation

Not only is it a time for Honour and a time for Healing…but it is also…

3.      A TIME FOR HOPEFinally, this afternoon…it is a TIME FOR HOPE! A few moments ago we stood and listened to the trumpet play “The Last Post”. A relatively short piece of music that had great significance. When our troops stationed in their garrisons  in World War 1 heard the Last Post played they knew it was the signal of the end of the day…the inspections were done…the day was over. But if they heard The Last Post played out on the battlefield it served as a signal to those who were still out their fighting and possibly wounded or separated from their units…that the day was over and the fighting was done, and they were to follow the sound of the call to find safety and rest.

We also observed a moment of silence…and then we heard  the “Trumpet Reveille” a livelier tune that was usually played in the morning…for the soldier it signified a brand new day. {Note: The “Reveille” chief purpose was to wake the military at sunriseréveillé“, the French word for “wake up“.}

A new day is promised…please know today that God promises a new day…a day when there is no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying…and yes…even no more war.  Revelation 21:4And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes…there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. One day there will be no more war! This is not pie in the sky thinking…this is the solid Christian hope and assurance…that because Jesus Christ sacrificially paid the penalty for sin when He died on the cross…a new day is promised for those who place their trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sins.

Yes…this season of Remembrance is a time of HONOUR for those who have served and who currently serve this great country!  It is a time for HEALING…as we remember that their sacrifice was and is not in vain. God will use their contributions to accomplish He great purposes.  It is also a time for HOPE…remembering the promise of God that one day war will be no more. Knowing the pain of the past we look forward to the promise of the future. May God bless each of our Veterans for their contributions they have made and still continue to make. To you our veterans we say “Thank you!