The Wonder of it All This week in Columbus Ohio five individuals died in a tragic and senseless manner. I must tell you as I watched the daylong coverage on Fox News and even CNN I found it hard to take seriously the death of someone name after a bag of pot. Dimebag Darrel? His real name was Darrell Abbott; he first called himself "Diamond," but "Dimebag" stuck because it was the amount of weed he could afford when he first got serious with his guitar. It has truly been amazing to watch.

Names are significant:

I read this week about a young college student who signed up for an easy class taught by an old professor who always gave everyone good grades. He got to the class only to learn that ornithology meant the study of birds and that the old professor has retired and the new one had just gotten his Ph.D. The new professor was out to prove that he was worthy to be a professor and the class turned into quite a challenge. The final exam turned out to be the last straw. When he looked at the paper there were twenty-five pair of bird legs from the knees down. He stood up and announced to everyone, “That’s it. I quit. I can’t take it anymore” As he turned to leave the professor tried to stop him by asking, “Son, what is your name?” The young man looked at the class and at the professor, bent over and pulled his pant legs up over his knees and walked out.

Dale Carnigie said that the sweetest sound to a person is the sound of their own name.

All of us want our name to be important and to mean something. All of us want to be more than just a face or “legs” in the crowd.

Some seven hundred years before Christ was born, the prophet Isaiah attempted to tell us what Jesus would be like. He wanted to give us a picture.

In the Bible, names were so important.

Adam: means out of the dust. Abraham: means father of the generations. Millions of people have traced their heritage back to Abraham. When Abraham and Sarah were old they found out they were going to have a son and they laughed. That’s a pretty good response for finding out your going to have a baby in your nineties. They called that baby Isaac because it means laughter and it would remind them of this time in their lives.

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Isaiah is talking about his uniqueness when he describes Him as born but also given. What does he mean?

As a man, Jesus was born: Humanity He was born of a woman conceived by the Holy Spirit.

As God, Jesus was given: Divinity The Bible says that God loved us so much He gave His only begotten Son.

Christ was born but He was also a gift.

It is the great mystery of the incarnation. God came to earth in form of a baby, in the flesh.

Isaiah laid it all out for us. He will be born and He will be given. When he wrote that these different names he wrote about our lives.

His name is Wonderful – This takes care of the Dullness of life.
His name is Counselor– This takes care of the Decisions of life.
His name is Mighty God – This takes care of the Demands of life.
His name is Eternal Father– This takes care of the Dimensions of life.
His name is Prince of Peace – This takes care of the Disturbances of life.

1. True Wonder: Awe

In the Hebrew this word wonderful means to separate or distinguish. It could mean lifted up above the ordinary or average.

Jesus birth is lifted up or higher. It was to be unique and different. It will cause people to stop. Wise men and shepherds will stop what they are doing.

You can think and ponder it but it is almost impossible to grasp this birth. True wonder brings us:

A. Depth: It penetrates our thoughts. True wonder has depth. The birth of a baby or the Grand Canyon. When God creates He leaves us in awe.

B. Value: It enriches us. It leaves us a better person.

C. Brings Humility: True humility brings us to a state of incomprehension. Have you ever tried to comprehend eternity and God? What a wonder. David wrote of this when he penned the words.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

O LORD , our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

It is true that in our busy world we often don’t take time to reflect to ponder or remember.

We live in a mechanical world: One question, Does it work?
We live in a commercial world: One question, Does it pay off?
We live in a busy world: One question: Can I take the time?
We live in an artificial world: One question: Is there another substitute?

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10Which side of the comma do you live on?

Emerson said we are always getting ready to live but never living. We ought to go ahead and live now. We always are preparing for the future. I think it is time some of us started living now.

Little Johnny was pretty much a terror around the house. You never had to try to figure out where he was you could just listen and hear him. One day his mother heard nothing and she was just sure that Johnny was in trouble. She began a frantic search and discovered him in the living room just sitting. He wasn’t doing anything but sitting quietly and she said, “Johnny, What are you doing?” He responded as only a kid could do, “I’m just living.”

Are you just living or have you discovered the wonderful side of Jesus Christ?

Luke says the shepherd “wondered about the birth of Christ.”

Jesus was wonderful in birth and in life. He was wonderful in life.

Insignificant things become significant when touched by the wonder of Christ.

Wedding: the ordinary became wonderful. Ordinary water, in ordinary clay pots, became wonderful wine.

He even made them better fisherman. Ordinary fisherman became successful fishermen after fishing all night and catching nothing because of Jesus. They went on to become extraordinary fishers of men.

One night the sea was rough and even these strong fishermen who were used to rough seas were alarmed, but Jesus calmed the storm. Everything He touches turns to wonder.

The greatest miracle is not that Jesus would come to earth, or that He was born in a stable. The greatest miracle is that He would come to live in my heart and life. That He would bring focus and security and priority to my life. The fact that He would become our Savior is almost beyond belief.

Paul says that eyes has not seen nor has ear heard.

Everything He touches becomes extraordinary.

2. The Necessity of God’s Counsel:

A. Our heart is deceitful.

Jeremiah talks about this in the Old Testament. He said, “The heart is desperately wicked, who can know it?”

“If I know my heart.” The trouble is that sometimes we don’t know our hearts very well.

Peter in the upper room. Peter saw courage and confidence when he looked at it own heart. “I don’t know about these other guys but you can count on me.”

B. Our mind is limited.

Paul said in Romans we need to have our mind transformed.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

3. What Qualifies Christ as a Counselor?

A good counselor does not protect us from the problems of life; instead He prepares us for life’s problems.

A. He is eternal God. Jesus was from the beginning of creation.

My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Col. 2:2-3

God didn’t have a beginning or an end. Ever heard your parents say when you were young, I have more experience then you have? I didn’t like that when I was younger. I knew that they had been around longer but I was sure they didn’t have the wisdom that I had at 13 or 14 years old. Isn’t it interesting that your parents get smarter the older you get.

God is eternal. He knows what’s going on. He knows what’s best for you.

B. He is man. He’s been where we are.

Anybody that has done counseling has heard the words, “You just don’t understand.” Many times that is true because I have never walked through the same things.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

He’s been there. He’s been here on this earth!

C. He loves us. How?

In counseling you are not to become emotionally involved with the client. It is easy to get sucked in. Professional counselors will keep an arm’s length distance which is healthy. God never did that. Jesus Christ will get involved in your life. Jesus became God in the flesh.

The Christmas story is nothing more than God becoming like man so that man can become like God.

Love is my deciding to make your problem my problem. Does that sound like Jesus?

The Bible says that, “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

St Augustine was asked what love looked like:

Hands to help people Feet to hasten to people that are poor and needy.
It has eyes to see the misery of its children.
It has ears to hear the cries of those who need God.

C.S. Lewis said, “He loved us not because were lovable but because God is love.”

Sometimes we don’t understand that. Sometimes we think God died for us because we are good or special people. In fact He came to this earth because all of us needed the recovery that only He can bring.

D. He encourages us.

He told the disciples when He was going to leave to not let their hearts be troubled.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1: 9

Mark Twain said, “I can live two months on one good compliment.” The legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, understood the truth of Twain’s statement and had a special way of making sure his players applied it. Wooden instructed his players that whenever a basket was made, the scoring player was required to smile, wink, or nod at the player who passed him the ball. When Coach Wooden gave these instructions to the team, one new player asked, “But coach, what if he’s not looking?” Wooden replied, “I guarantee he’ll look.” He’s right, everyone is looking for encouragement and affirmation. Reader’s Digest, Nov. 1989, p. 142

God is always about giving us encouragement along the way. You may not feel it today but I need to ask you, Have you opened your heart to Him. Are you looking to Him daily for your strength and encouragement or have you figured it all out on your own?

E. He is patient with us.

I am always amazed at the patient of Christ with His disciples. It is the picture of how He is with us.

God is more patient with us than we are with ourselves.

In a recent Dennis the Menace cartoon there was a vivid picture of grace. Dennis was shown walking away from the Wilson’s house with his friend Joey. Both boys had their hands full of cookies. Joey then asked, “I wonder what we did to deserve this?” Dennis delivered an answer packed with truth. He said, “Look Joey, Mrs. Wilson gives us cookies not because we’re nice, but because she’s nice.” My name could easily be replaced for Dennis and God could be substituted for Mrs. Wilson. The good that comes my way is not because I’m good but because God is so good. “Every good and perfect gift is from God... (James 1:17) Houston Chronicle, July 13, 1995, p. 10A

F. He knows our heart.

He can be our counselor because He knows our hearts. He looks beyond the veneer.

Every tried to explain yourself to God. Ever been frustrated with trying to explain yourself to God. It is laughable. He knows us.

G. He prays for us.

“I pray also for those who will believe in me” John 17:20

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save everyone who comes to God through him. He lives forever to plead with God on their behalf.” Heb. 7:25

This morning I have come to this service with a profound sense of wonder about Jesus Christ. He is wonderful. He is a counselor. He wants to be your best friend.

George Beverly Shea: I've been listening to Bev Shea sing for more than 50 years, and I would still rather hear him sing than anyone else I know." -- Billy Graham

Since George Beverly Shea first sang for Billy Graham on the Chicago radio hymn program, "Songs in the Night," in 1943, he has carried the Gospel in song to every continent and every state in the Union. He is the recipient of ten Grammy nominations, one Grammy Award (1965) and is a member of the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame (1978).

While studying for this message this song came back to me like a fond past memory. Bev. Shea wrote it. It expresses the way I feel.

There's the wonder of sunset at evening,
The wonder as sunrise I see;
But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
Is the wonder the God loves me.

There's the wonder of springtime and harvest,
The sky, the stars, the sun;
But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
Is the wonder that's only begun.

O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all!
Just to think that God loves me.
O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all!
Just to think that God loves me.

(The Wonder of it All, by George Beverly Shea) Adapted From the Holiday Series, Injoy Publications.

2004/12/12