Yet, Still

Sermon Notes
Rev. Mat Grover
Habakkuk 2:1-4
Advent Sermon Series: Prepare the Way

YET, STILL

 Today we end our Advent sermon series called Prepare the Way, where we have been looking at Jesus through the Old Testament Prophets. Today we are going to look at Habakkuk. Unlike other Prophets, Habakkuk is not prophesying to a people, but what we read is his conversation and wrestling with the will of God.

Habakkuk is known primarily for one phrase, “the just shall live by faith” (2:4)
which is quoted by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:17 and becomes foundational for his theology of Justification.

The book ends with Habakkuk’s prayer focusing on God’s faithfulness.

Despite everything that Habakkuk was witnessing, he realized that God was still present and ever faithful.

As the Author Phillip Yancey says in his book Disappointment with God, “Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse”

As we put away the Christmas decorations, our pause during Advent becomes a distant memory, life gets real again, and we ask “where are you God?” we have no need to fear. For yet still, there we have Jesus lying in the manger, the hope of the world, proof that God is faithful.

HOMEWORK FOR THE NEW YEAR!
Remember that God is faithful.
In the midst of life, sometimes we can forget that God is always there.
Take time and remember the faithfulness of God in your life.

 

God Can Do The Unthinkable In Our Lives

SERMON NOTES
Rev. Jim Toole
Ezekiel 37
Advent Sermon Series: Prepare the Way

GOD CAN DO THE UNTHINKABLE

Today we are in the middle of our Advent sermon series called Prepare the Way, where we are looking at Jesus through the O.T. Prophets. Today we are going to look at Ezekiel. I have to start out saying this is a complex book and a complex prophet, and I will only be able to scratch the surface in this sermon.

There are three primary themes in Ezekiel’s prophecy:

  • Ezekiel uses incredibly vivid imagery to describe the Holiness of God, the complete otherness of God.
  • Judah’s condemnation of turning their back on God.
  • God’s peace will indeed return.

In Hebrew thought, Yahweh was sovereign over death and life, and Yahweh had the power to give life to anything Yahweh pleases.

God’s vision for Ezekiel starts out with a question but turns into a miracle.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God is able to do the unthinkable in our lives and in the world.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word associated with the Spirit is RUACH. It translates as wind, breath of God or Spirit. It is used 10 times in Ezekiel 37. Ruach is used 237 times in the Old Testament to refer to the Spirit of God described as an irresistible power or force. 

So your homework next week during Christmas week is to ask the Holy Spirit to do the unthinkable in your life. 

Ask!
Ask for the Holy Spirit!
Ask for Ruach, the breath of God and see what happens

 

Warning and Hope

SERMON NOTES
Rev. Jim Toole
Micah
Advent Sermon Series: Prepare the Way

HABITUAL REPENTANCE

For the first two weeks we focused on the persistent and unconditional love of God as we see it in the story of Jonah and then Hosea. But to be faithful to the genre of the Prophet literature and to the prophets themselves we have to look at the juxtaposition and tension between the themes of warning and hope, or you could say the themes of condemnation and redemption.

Micah 1-3 Condemnation of North and Southern Kingdom

Micah 4 & 5 Hope of Redemption

Theme: We must try to live out our faith in the middle of the tension between warning and hope.

So our hope is in the love, mercy and grace of our Savior.
But what is the warning? The warning we see in the prophets is the same warning for us. We must heed the warning about taking God for granted, turning our backs on God and worshipping other gods in our lives.

The primary message of the prophets to Israel is also a very appropriate message to many of us who easily get distracted away from God.

Repentance
The word in Greek is μετάνοια: to change one’s way of life as the result of a complete change of thought by turning towards God.

But some of us make the mistake of thinking of repentance as this one time big act. I repented and now I can move on. The greater reality is what I call the practice of Habitual Repentance.

Repentance is turning. Our faith life is about habitually turning back to our first love.

 

Back Home Again

SERMON NOTES
Hosea/Luke 15
Rev. Jim Toole
Advent Sermon Series: Prepare the Way

BACK HOME AGAIN 

Today we are going to look at the P.G. 13 story of the Prophet Hosea. Hosea was a young preacher in the nation of Israel, the northern kingdom, and he was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah and Amos.

 

There are two parts to the book Hosea.

  •  Chapters 1-3 tell Hosea’s story as a metaphor of God’s redemptive and persistent love.
  • Chapters 4-14 you see a general list of indictments of Israel.

Theme: The Promise of the Christian Story is that Jesus is bringing us back home again to the place of love.

A New Testament version of the Hosea story is the parable of the Prodigal son. The famous parable of the “Prodigal Son” has three primary characters, the young son, who walked out on the Father. You also have the older son, who was faithful physically but not necessarily emotionally. Then you have the Father who patiently and stubbornly loved both.

The parable of Jesus, the Prodigal Son of Luke 15 describes the dynamic we often see:

  • Those who walk out on faith
  • Those who check out or disengage with faith

Walking out and checking out are two different responses but with the same outcome. In both cases we find ourselves in a distant land needing the Grace and love once again of our God.

Questions to wrestle with this week

  • How far are you from home?
  • What is the State of the Union of your faith?
  • Have you walked out, checked out or is your faith life starting to fade?

This week wrestle with these questions without running to any quick solution; just sit in the awareness of your answers. Just be where you are at with God and just let God meet you there.

 

Prepare the Way

SERMON NOTES
Jonah
Rev. Jim Toole
Advent Sermon Series: Prepare the Way

Prepare the Way 

Today we start our Advent sermon series called Prepare the Way. The Old Testament is pregnant with Jesus. So as we prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus on Christmas, we want to look at Jesus through the Old Testament Prophets.

Theme: The Advent and Christmas Season highlight the mercy and compassion of God coming to us in Jesus.

What does the story of Jonah have to do with Jesus?

As Jonah went down into the pit of the whale, so Jesus would descend into the pit of death. And just as the whale could not contain Jonah and coughed him up, so the grave would not contain Jesus. Jesus’ death, like sending Jonah to Nineveh, shows the great lengths of God’s mercy and compassion even for folks who utterly turn their back on Him.

I believe at the core of Advent is the concept of “longing”. Webster’s Dictionary describes “longing” as a prolonged unfulfilled desire or need. The prophets verbalized the longings of the Jewish people waiting for the Messiah. In Advent the concepts of waiting and longing can be interchanged.

I would like to propose three Advent Disciplines to help us in our longing… Slow down… Listen… Dream

  • Proactively and intentionally set time aside during Advent so you can slow down and get in touch with your longings.
  • Then listen to yourself but more than just that, listen to the faint or strong knocks at the door where Jesus is trying to break through and speak to you.
  • As you slow down and get in touch with your longings, as you listen to God speaking to you in your circumstances, start dreaming about what God can and is going to do.