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Worship Theme: The Savior Is Coming: Believe and Be Saved
Sermon Theme: Wait! The Lord Is Coming!
“Come, Lord Jesus!” I’m guessing that for many of you, those words have crossed your lips before. They can be words of invitation, like we just sang in the hymn or as you pray in the well-known meal prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest.” Sometimes they are spoken as words of hope as you cling to God’s promise that Jesus Christ is coming again on the Last Day. Sometimes they might be cried out as words of desperation like before a big test or project is due. Other times they are words of frustration, words flowing from hearts seeking God’s mercy and justice.
Full disclosure, those words crossed my lips a week ago Friday. I was sitting in my living room with my wife. She shared news of extended family members infected with COVID. I shared news of unbelievable violence affecting people near to us. All the while the TV was on in the background as local news reported the mass shooting that took place hours before at Mayfair Mall, right in our city’s own backyard. This on top of all the rest that 2020 is so graciously offering to us all and the words rolled off my lips, “Come, Lord Jesus,” and I don’t know that I’ve meant them more before than at that moment.
But I know that I am not the first, nor was I the last to cry out those words. People of God have been crying out those very words for centuries. Yet, that prayer is still to be answered. It waits to be fulfilled. We wait.
Today our attention is turned to the words of God found in the Old Testament book of Isaiah where we hear that cry, “Come down, Lord.” Israel, God’s special people, chosen as his nation, rebelled against him. As a consequence of their sin, God permitted Israel’s enemies to overcome them. In this time of turmoil, Isaiah cried out to the Lord with the plea that is before us, “Come down.” With this plea, he shares an important truth – faith prays. Believing and trusting in the Lord, moves a person to cry out to the Lord for help and deliverance. Faith cries out to the Lord at times when God seems hidden, or uninterested, far away from us, or even silent. This was certainly the way that much of Israel felt about God and it’s not really all that far away from how you can feel about God too. You can look around at the fallen state of the world and realize that as hard as we try or hope that it can be fixed, that there can be peace, it cannot be redeemed by just human ingenuity or effort. There is only so much that you and I can do. There is only so much that people can do and it often isn’t long-lasting or a real solution to the problems of our life or the problems of this world. So, we cry out to God, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Faith pleads with the Lord for him to come, to step in and help, because it clings to the promises of God’s power and grace. Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you.
Isaiah pleads that the Lord would come down with the kind of power that would make mighty mountains melt. He asks God to display his power as he did in the past so that his name would be made known. Have you prayed like that to God before? The world just needs more Jesus! Show them Jesus! Come Lord as you’ve come before. Was Isaiah thinking about how God powerfully led Israel out of cruel slavery in Egypt with ten plagues and the powerful parting of the Red Sea that came crashing down upon the pursuing enemy? Did he recall how God powerfully drove out the enemy people so Israel could dwell in the Promised Land? In many ways, God in the past showed his power. Isaiah had the hope of future deliverance and help from the Lord, why? Because of the past grace of God.
For you and me there is no more powerful display of God’s grace and might than when the curtains of heaven were pulled apart and God himself came down to take on human flesh to be born of a virgin to be the Savior of the world by living and dying to free us from our sins. It’s that mighty Savior that we see entering into Jerusalem welcomed like a king to the cries of “Hosanna!” as he made his way to the cross for you.
Because God has come, because he keeps his promises and shows his power, and because he loves you so unconditionally, you can cry to him in faith, “Come, Lord Jesus!” Come and comfort and defend me in this life. Come again in your power as you have promised to do on the Last Day to put an end to this wicked world and bring us, your faithful people to heaven. Then we wait. “No eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” What are the gods or the things of this world that you put your hope in to deliver you from troubles and turmoil? Science, doctors, leaders, pastors, influential celebrities, friends, family? You can put your hope in these things, we do because they often offer a quick response that appeals to our desire for instant gratification but they aren’t a lasting answer. Yet there is one and only one who doesn’t disappoint or fail you, never has, never will. The Lord God. He acts on behalf of those who wait on him in trust and love.
However, one of the reasons that you and I often fail to wait on the Lord is because you look inward and become aware of your sins. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, but so often I fail to do what is right, and rarely is it done gladly! [You come to the help of those] who remember your ways, yet so often I forget your ways. But this is what I’m more like, when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? God should want nothing to do with me, a rebellious sinner. Is it worth waiting on him?
Isaiah paints one of the more descriptive pictures of this sin of yours and mine that you’ll find anywhere in the Bible. He nails the all-inclusiveness of the reality and problem of sin. “All of us…we all…no one...” If you think that you are without sin, you’re only lying to yourself. We all disobey God and hurt and harm the people in our life with our thoughts, words, and actions. Isaiah talks about how disgusting it is. We are unclean – polluted and defiled, think about the people of Israel who had leprosy, a horrendous skin disease, and how they were ostracized from the community. Our sins separate us from the community relationship with God. Even our most righteous acts and attempts of being right with God are like filthy rags, or more accurately, a bunch of dirty, bloody menstrual rags. Why? Because they are done without faith and self-righteously. There’s no place for that in a relationship with the perfect Lord God. Because of the vileness of our sins, God hides his face from us. How then can we be saved??
You may have heard me say this before, but one of my favorite words in the Bible is the simple, short, conjunction “but.” It often signals an opposition or a contrast. And after hearing about the grossness of my sin, I need something different. Verse eight gives us that much needed change. But (Yet) you, LORD, are our Father. You, sinner, can come to God, because he is your eternal Father, who loved you so dearly, that he sent Jesus to come and set you free from your sins, washing them away with his death and resurrection. The Lord loves you so that he comes today into your heart and life to bring you near to him today and always. He doesn’t remember your sins forever, because they were nailed to the cross and buried in the tomb. You are the work of his hand, like clay being formed by a potter. God takes you as a lump of clay and carefully and lovingly molds you smoothing out all of your failures, the heartaches, the surgeries, the depression, the divorce, the debt, forming you into a precious vessel filled with his love. God your Father restores you when you’re broken with his love and promises. So, we wait.
A father and his young son went Christmas shopping at a big-box store like Walmart or Target. At some point, the son got detached from his father. When the dad realized this, he panicked and his fatherly instincts went into overdrive. He paced up and down the aisles, peering down one and then another, looking to find his son amidst the crowd of Christmas shoppers. But he couldn’t find his son. The father found a security guard. “My son is missing. Do you have video surveillance?” The guard took him to the security room where they looked at the monitors. They scanned up and down the aisles and then they found him! There was the dad’s son sitting on the floor of a toy aisle surrounded by Lego and toy cars, yet crying. The boy was all by himself among people he didn’t know feeling lost and alone. Not wanting to have his son wander off before he could get to him, the father asked to use the intercom. The dad spoke into the microphone, “Christopher.” The boy’s head perked up and looked around because he recognized his father’s voice. “Stay where you are. It’s daddy. Don’t move. I know you can’t see me. But I’m coming, just wait.”
In those moments of life when you think that God cannot see you or you can’t see him, when life seems out of balance and you’re not sure that God is there, hear God call out to you through his Word to let you know that he is there and that he sees you. His hand is at work in your life delivering you from sin and death, forming you as his dear forgiven and loved child. Your God acts on behalf of those who wait for him. So, wait. For the Lord is coming!
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