Online Worship Midweek Advent Service #1 — Wednesday December 1, 2021
Sermon for Midweek Advent Service #1
Slowing Down for Christmas #1
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
Who came to save us from sin,
Who teaches and enables us to avoid sin,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Precious Blood –
When are we going to get there?
When we are young, we were often in a hurry, especially during the holidays. As a child, I couldn’t wait for Christmas Eve to come – not so much because it was the celebration of the Savior’s Birth – but because it meant opening presents. As a child I could have said my Christmas Piece and then sprinted straight out the door and into the car. I could never understand why we had to be the last ones to leave the church on Christmas Eve...there were presents to open! Upon getting home I wondered, “Why do I have to put on my pajamas before opening presents?” “Why do we have to sing Christmas carols before opening presents?”
When we grow older, we develop a different point of view. We find ourselves wanting to slow things down and savor them. We want to make the best of the time we have with loved ones because we know that they won’t go on forever. The children will grow up and start their own families. The time may come when they don’t come home for Christmas. So instead of being in a hurry, we try to take it slowly and enjoy the time.
It is good to slow things down...especially when the thing happening is this world’s attitudes making their way into our lives.
If we are distracted by the secular sights and sounds of the season, we may lose sight of the reason we celebrate! It’s not about our gifts to one another, but God’s gift of His Son. We rejoice because the Son of God humbled himself and entered the human race at Bethlehem in order to live a sinless life as our substitute and then He died bearing our sins.
Distracted, Pastor? Me? No, never!
Movies -- Does anyone know what network is running “How the Grinch Stole Christmas?” When is “A Christmas Story” on, you know, “You’ll shoot your eye out?” What about “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, you know, the one with Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius and the singing snowman! So many Christmas movies, so little time...but so few of them have anything to do with Christ.
Shopping – Then there is my shopping list....as long as my arm. I need something for everyone. We need to order and send out cards. I just don’t have time for anything else. I’m just too busy...with things having little to do with the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
I’m not suggesting that movies and shopping are sinful in and of themselves. They are just examples of how the secular celebration of Christmas can overtake and blind us to the reality of Christmas. There are so many distractions.
We need to slow down. We need to slow the intrusion of worldliness into our lives. We need to slow our wrath. We need to slow our anxiety. We therefore seek the blessing of God the Holy Spirit that we may refocus and rejoice in the Savior Jesus. Amen.
The Epistle to Titus was written by the Apostle Paul at the direction of the Holy Spirit. It was addressed to a young pastor named Titus, on the Island of Crete, south of Macedonia and Greece in the Mediterranean Sea. The Spirit of God had called him to help new Christian congregations to call their own pastors to serve and instruct them. He was also to help correct some of the sinful tendencies of the Cretans.
The Holy Spirit gave specific encouragements for the believers on Crete that have application to us still today:
Older Men: were to be clear-headed, worthy of honor, and thoughtful; they were called upon to be sound in the faith, having a love of understanding and purpose. They were to be patient.
Older Women: were to behave in a way worthy of respect, they were not to be gossips or inclined to drink too much wine. They were to stand up and teach by a Godly example, urging the
Young Women: to love their husbands and children, to be decent in their actions and holy in their words. They were to be busy at home, good and respectful of their husbands so that God’s Word (which they professed to follow) would not be disrespected.
Young Men: were to be serious in their thinking. Pastor Titus was to set himself an example of good things, pure teaching and dignity, so that people could say nothing evil of them.
Employees: were to be obedient to their employers, good workers, not speaking against their employers, not stealing but showing themselves worthy of trust, that Jesus be glorified in all their actions.
After encouraging believers of every age to live Godly lives, the Holy Spirit offers the reason why we live in a way that glorifies God. Why are we to live godly lives? It is because or ..
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,
We strive to live godly lives...because the Grace of God has made an appearance...bringing salvation for all people. We are to live godly lives...not to earn God’s favor or impress those who see us...but because God has showed His undeserved love.
When did this Grace of God make an appearance? Well, traditionally this is the Epistle Lesson for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, because these words turn our hearts and minds back to Bethlehem, to the birth of the Savior and His lowly entrance into the human race.
He wasn’t just born either, but lived a sinless life fulfilling God’s Law and then laid down His life as the one sacrifice to atone for every sin forever. He then rose again the third day. Jesus has delivered us from sin and death eternal and purchased a room for each of us in the Father’s House!
God has brought salvation for all people in the person of His Son. As those who have obtained faith that trusts in Christ Jesus and what He has done, our ticket for time and eternity is punched. We simply await Jesus’ return when He will shuttle us – soul and body – to the new heavens and earth.
It is a done deal...and Jesus did it all for male and female young and old. God loved the unlovable, had mercy on sinners and sent His Son to save...but that’s not all that the Grace of God does for sinners.
The Grace of God is also...
12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions,
and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
God didn’t only give us the ‘Golden Ticket’ the ‘get into heaven free through faith in Jesus’ ticket. God the Holy Spirit is also educating us, from youth to old age through His Word, enabling us to renounce what leads to hell – ungodliness and worldly lusts – and instead live clear headed, in accord with His Will and in a godly way at this present time.
Once again, the purpose for our living in this manner is NOT ---
to earn brownie points with God or
to get an upgrade in our room in the father’s house or
to impress other human beings, but in all things
to glorify our Savior God for His Amazing Grace.
This isn’t a change that we can simply make on our own. It is God who works in us both to desire and to do what pleases Him (cf. Philippians 2:13). This is something that God does in us through His Word...which is why we gather here. We want to grow up and become mature Christians whose focus is not on this world, but on the things of God. We want to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2), and not be distracted by the storm (Matthew 14:30) or the world around us.
God help us to carve out some quiet time during advent to slow down the world’s intrusion into our joy by returning to the Scriptures. After all, we are waiting for something far greater than 2,025th celebration of the birth of Jesus. We await His glorious return, His 2nd Advent or Coming.
13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
For so many in this world, Christmas has nothing to do with Christ, and everything to do with our giving of gifts to one another.
For many in this world, Christmas is an opportunity to give to the less fortunate and thereby convince ourselves that we are good people, at least good enough.
For many in this world, this is a time to ‘be good for goodness’ sake’ in hopes of earning a little something from an imaginary obese man in a red suit.
For some Christmas is just about tradition, family, movies, food and song.
Do you see how worldliness is seeping into the celebration of the Savior? We need to slow its intrusion and kneel before the manger and the cross and rejoice again in the grace of God that has brought us salvation.
While many today, if they even consider the Day of Judgment real, are rightfully afraid of the day, we await it, expect it joyfully. We look forward to the visible appearance of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. We would have reason to be afraid with the world except that the Grace of God has made an appearance and by faith we have come to know Him who died for us and rose again.
He has made us His own people...and would have us be eager to direct people to the manger and the cross. God gave his own Son for us all, to redeem us from every lawless deed, and purify us of sin to be His own people. He has given us a new song to sing...and it has nothing to do with reindeer or mistletoe.
“Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.
For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before Him; Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.
Give to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Give to the LORD glory and strength. Give to the LORD the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns; The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.”
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Let the sea roar, and all its fullness; Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord. For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth (Psalm 96).”