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Christ Is Born: The Story of Hope to Come

Every once in a while in the world of high school boys basketball, a player will emerge with incredible talent and skill. He and his team become the focus of a great deal of media attention. He will become one of the most talked about high school athletes in the country. Recruiters from big-time colleges from coast to coast will attend games just to watch him play. They dream of his potential as a collegiate player, and how he could lead their school to the national championship. Recruiters have a term for high school players with this kind of potential – “CAN’T MISS.” Anyone who lands this prospect “can’t miss” having a superstar on their team. 
 
But not every player who’s labeled as “can’t miss” seems to be able to steer clear from missing. Such is the case of a young man named Ronnie Fields. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Ronnie Fields played for Farragut Academy in Chicago.
 

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He and his “can’t miss” prospect teammate, Kevin Garnett, took Farragut to the High School state tournament in 1995. Garnett, a high school senior, turned pro and went to the NBA that year right out of high school. Fields had one more year left. And in his senior year, this 6’3” guard averaged 33 points and 12 rebounds per game. He was named Illinois’ Mr. Basketball for 1996.

 
Some predicted him to be the next Michael Jordan; because of the way he could seemingly defy gravity and float through the air effortlessly. He accepted a scholarship from DePaul University, and seemed to be heading for stardom. But then life fell apart.
 

In February of that same year, a serious car accident left him with a fractured vertebrae in his neck. In July, DePaul withdrew its scholarship offer when Fields failed to qualify academically, in September, Fields pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sexual abuse and was sentenced to 2 years probation and counseling. Then in December of ’96 Fields became a benchwarmer for the Rockford Lightning, a professional team that’s part of the CBA, a far cry from the National Basketball Association where the real stars play, and that is, where his high school teammate, Kevin Garnett in 1997 signed a $126 million contract, the richest in the history of sports at that time.

Was Ronnie Fields the “can’t miss” prospect that so many felt he was? No. In fact it’s fair to say that his post-high school career has been pretty disappointing. It’s difficult to live up to expectations of absolute greatness. So many things can go wrong along the way.

As we enter the season of Advent and Christmas we are going to try to understand what people involved in the Christmas story were feeling. What emotions did they have surrounding their part of the Christmas story? What were their expectation about this baby born in a stable?

There was an expectancy of hope. They were longing for peace and joy and love.  
 
The predictions about Jesus Christ placed incredibly high expectations upon Him, even before He was born. Let’s take a look at some of these expectations in Isaiah 9:6
 
 
 

6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. 
   The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: 
   Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 NLT

In all of Scripture there is no prophecy more thrilling than that found in Isaiah 9:6. In the midst of some awful prophecies about Judah and the fate of Jerusalem, we find this jewel of hope. God loves his people so much that He will not let them go.  

These unusual titles for Jesus show us that we can count on Him to live up to His expectations. He was truly a “can’t miss” God.  

Let’s look at each of these titles here to see how we can still count on Him today. 
 
1.  He is a Wonderful Counselor: We find hope in Christ’s Counsel
 
 
A. This is an expectation of wisdom. 
 
“Wonderful” refers to the acts of God as being incomprehensible, marvelous or miraculous. 
“Counselor” carries with it the ideas of one who determines upon a plan of action and carries it out.
 

    a. Jethro counseled Moses on how to delegate responsibility (Exodus 18:19) 
    b. In 2 Kings 18:20 Hezekiah claimed to have counsel (strategy) and strength for war.
     

Isaiah is saying that Judah’s only hope was this “Wonderful Counselor” whose plans, purposes, designs and decrees for his people would be marvelous. 
 
B. We can expect Jesus to be our “Top Advisor.” 
 
The president of the United States has all kinds of advisors. There are all kinds of people whose sole job is to counsel and advise the president on his plans of action. 
 
We all need a counselor at one time or another. We need the advice of friends or family. 

“I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own; we are not able to plan our own course”           Jeremiah 10:23 NLT 
 
Jesus has the credentials to be our advisor because He is completely trustworthy and wise. 
Jesus provides two things that we’d look for in a great counselor:

 
a. He understands – So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Heb. 4:16 NLT 

One time the popular actress Sophia Loren sobbed to her Italian movie director, Vittorio De Sica, over the theft of some of her jewelry. And he said to her, “Listen to me, Sophia. I am much older than you and, if there is one great truth I have learned about life, it is this: NEVER CRY OVER ANYTHING THAT CAN’T CRY OVER YOU” What a lesson Have you learned that lesson in life - People are more important than things People are more important than cars and computers. People are more important than houses and furniture. People are more important than all material things 

b. He really cares. – “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” 1 Pet 5:7 NLT 
 
· Self-Evaluation: I listen to and follow the counsel and advice of Jesus Christ as I make the daily decisions in the affairs of my life.  
 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  Not at all  Sometimes  All the Time 
 
2. He is a Mighty God: We find hope in God’s Power
 
 
A. This is an expectation of power. 
 
The word “mighty” was commonly associated with warfare and has to do with the strength and vitality of a successful warrior. 
 
Calling this child “God” is a prophecy regarding the divinity of Jesus Christ. He will be the all-powerful God himself! 
 
B. We can expect Jesus to be our “Mighty Warrior.” 
 
Many people with a limited exposure to Jesus Christ, view him simply as someone very meek and mild, someone kind and gentle. Someone who turned the other cheek, and when the soldiers beat him, and made him carry his own cross He did not resist. And all those things are true. But the larger picture of Christ in the Bible is one of “Mighty Warrior.”  

Our enemy is Satan and the unseen powers of evil that have permeated every level of existence in our world. Christ is the Mighty Warrior who has defeated and conquered these powers through his work on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. And even though these powers have been defeated, they still exist to cause us trouble, almost like sore losers in the battle for cosmic control. That’s why Paul can say: 

“We are human, but we don’t’ wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. ” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NLT  
 
Our weapons are different, because the battle is spiritual.
 

There is a God who stands waiting to offer His power into our lives on a daily basis if we only but ask Him and stay connected to Him.  

In a seminary missions class, Herbert Jackson told how, as a new missionary, he was assigned a car that would not start without a push. After pondering his problem, he devised a plan. He went to the school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class, and had them push his car off. As he made his rounds, he would either park on a hill or leave the engine running. He used this ingenious procedure for two years.  
 
Ill health forced the his family to leave, and a new missionary came to that station. When he proudly began to explain his arrangement for getting the car started, the new man began looking under the hood. Before the explanation was complete, the new missionary interrupted, "Why, Dr. Jackson, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable." He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, pushed the switch, and to Jackson’s astonishment, the engine roared to life. For two years needless trouble had become routine. The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting that power to work. 
 
Christ is our victorious king who has already triumphed over the evil powers of this world! Because of that, we can expect Him to continue give us victory over our struggles. As a “Mighty Warrior” he will deliver us safely from the wars we wage against the embarrassing temptations we have a difficult time getting under control.
 

He will deliver us from laziness, bad habits, addictions, and He will give us His power to fight His battle on this earth. He empowers us to stand up for His Word. He is the Mighty God! 
 
· Self-Evaluation: I let Jesus Christ fight my daily battles, trusting him to bring the victory, instead of waging the war myself.  
 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  Not at all  Sometimes  All the Time 
 
3. Everlasting Father: We hope in God’s Provision 
 
A. This is an expectation of care. 

“Everlasting” points to a promise of kingdom that will never end. (Is. 9:7) 
“Father” is not to be confused with God the Father, but instead refers to the enduring, compassionate, fatherly care of the Messiah to his people. 
 
B. We can expect Jesus to be our “Provider Forever.” 
 
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Matthew 9:36 NLT 
 
A verse that expresses his parental role: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers, how often I have wanted to gather your children together, as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” Mt. 23:37 NLT 
 
Jesus provides the care we need and promises to be the protector of our lives.
 

Norman Vincent Peale told the following story:

 
Once walking through the twisted little streets of Kowloon in Hong Kong, I came upon a tattoo studio.  In the window were displayed samples of the tattoos available.  On the chest or arms you could have tattooed an anchor or flag or mermaid or whatever.  But what struck me with force were three words that could be tattooed on one’s flesh, Born to lose.  
 
I entered the shop in astonishment and, pointing to those words, asked the Chinese tattoo artist, "Does anyone really have that terrible phrase, Born to lose, tattooed on his body?"  
 
He replied, "Yes, sometimes."  
 
"But," I said, "I just can’t believe that anyone in his right mind would do that."  
 
The Chinese man simply tapped his forehead and said in broken English, "Before tattoo on body, tattoo on mind." 
 
· Self-Evaluation: I trust in Jesus alone to both protect and provide for the needs of my family and me. 
 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  Not at all  Sometimes  All the Time 
 
4. Prince of Peace: We find hope in Christ’s peace 
 
A. This is an expectation of wholeness. 
 
“Prince” is a leader, military commander or noble. 
“Peace” is the word “shalom” which means the absence of strife, completion, fulfillment or wholeness resulting in unimpaired relationships. It is being at peace with God and His will for our lives.  
 
B. We can expect Jesus Christ to be our “Life Calmer.” 

He has brought peace to a once broken relationship with God. 
 
Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  
 
God and man are together in the beginning. Sin enters the world and creates a gap. Christ comes to bridge the gap. To bring us peace with God. 
 
This peace is life’s greatest gift. A completely unimpaired relationship with God. What once was broken by sin, and impossible to restore, has been completed by Jesus Christ – on the cross he cried, “It is finished!” Peace with God! 
 
He also provides “peace on earth,” at least that’s what the angels announced to the shepherds on the night Christ was born. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”  
 
Peace on earth! Including the space of it that you occupy!
 

There is a story about a man who lost his wife, leaving him to be both mother & father to a six year-old son. After her funeral father & son came home, both feeling so alone & grieved by their loss. That night as they prepared for bed, the boy asked, "Daddy, may I sleep in your room tonight, too?" 
 
But neither one could seem to go to sleep. They both tossed & turned until late in the night. Finally, the little boy asked, "Daddy, are you looking at me? Because if you are, I think I can go to sleep." And the father answered, "Yes son, I’m looking at you." 
 
The little boy started at last to rest & finally fell asleep. After he was asleep the father got out of bed, walked over to the window & pulled back the curtain. He looked up into the starry sky & said, "Father, are you looking at me? Because if you are, I think I can rest & be at peace." 
 
Self-Evaluation: I have allowed Jesus Christ to calm my life and to restore my broken relationship with God. 
 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  Not at all  Sometimes  All the Time  
 
B. Jesus Christ truly lives up to the expectations placed upon him. He is our Hope. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
 

Let me read you the beginning of Isaiah 9. You see before the first advent or coming of Christ, for hundreds of years, Israel lived under various forms of bondage and slavery. Most of the time it was a result of their disobedience 

Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.   

2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. 
   For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.

 
 
3 You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. 
   They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder.

 
 
4 For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. 
You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. 
 
5 The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.

Advent, which begins four Sundays before Christmas, is the season of the church year that emphasizes the anticipation of Christ's first coming to earth. His coming as the Messiah was first prophesied in the sixth century B.C. when the Jews were captives in Babylon. For centuries, faithful Hebrews looked for their Messiah with great longing and expectation, echoing the prayer that he would "ransom captive Israel."

Today I wonder if there are people in this room for whom this prayer becomes significant. I wonder if you are in bondage to something or someone and you are crying out to God for His help. That is the spirit of this season. That is the spirit of Christmas.

So today we sing our prayer to Him. You may want to insert your own prayer as we sing about Israel but the metaphor is not lost on us. It is powerful and something we can hope for today. He will come back. Jesus is coming again. Are you ready for His coming?  

 
 



2010/11/28