Looking for the Blessed Hope

Titus 2:11-15

Don’t know that this year significantly different from past but…. hard to find good news. Hard to find happy people. One country after another doing things contrary to world opinion. Elected officials doing nothing. Ballistic missiles, drone strikes, fiscal cliff, unemployment, prank phone calls that end in disaster, depressing discouraging negative news all over the place including peoples’ faces. Stores are quiet, subdued, even when are many shoppers.

Christians are different, though. Right?? There’s no lack of joy in Churchville. Bright smiles, happy faces, warm joyful spirits. Not so much. Listening to fellow other day – led evangelistic ministry for many years, not new to the faith, uninformed about the Gospel. Had most downcast expression you could imagine, shaking his head, listing off all present cultural and political issues: president, marijuana, marriage, etc. Said, “I don’t see how the Lord can hold off coming back much longer.”

Maybe he’s right, maybe not; that’s topic for another sermon. Wasn’t what he said, was how he said it that was disturbing. Not quite as bad but almost: those guys and basset hound on Hee-Haw: Gloom, despair, and agony on me; deep dark depression, excessive misery… That ought not to be. Did you hear words describing: Shepherd candle / Joy / first in a long line of people who joyfully shared the good news of the Savior’s birth? Jesus’ first coming cause for joy at the time, still is today. His second appearing also cause for great joy – “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”.

Christians of all people should be joyful – second in list of fruit of Spirit: “love, joy, peace”. Our joy should be obvious, contagious, overflowing, part of who we are regardless of circumstances. Especially if you believe Lord Jesus’ return is gonna happen any minute! That fellow should have been jumping up and down, not down in the mouth! Other things should be attentive to also – being good stewards of what God has entrusted, especially time when it gets short. Be sure what we do counts for God and his kingdom, not self. But with joy:

“pleasurable feelings or emotions caused by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire”. Begins with

A. grace has appeared v.11

God’s grace visible

many talk about grace, use word often in conversation, can maybe even define it: God’s undeserved favor

show me what it looks like; don’t define, describe in detail; draw a picture – what would be in picture?

Paul says it’s visible, has appeared, should be easy to come up with an image; no?

try this: John 1:14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

filled up, nothing lacking, no empty space – grace embodied

an image: Lord Jesus, “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15) “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Heb. 1:3, NIV)

the one who has made God and his grace visible to godless and graceless world

brings salvation

not just undeserved favor in general – easy road thru life, adequate / bountiful supply of stuff

a particular favor – salvation; saving grace; grace as embodied in an individual, the Savior

God under no external obligation to save anyone

made perfect universe, perfect couple, perfect setup; man wilfully rebelled, plunged world into sin

Adam owed impossible debt to God, God owed nothing more to Adam, but… graciously tracked him down, restored to fellowship

obvious to all men

not just the rich, or the religious, pretty or handsome or healthy

think of all the Savior touched during his ministry

women, even one of those women

children, little ones he could pick up in his arms

social and physical lepers

working class, ruling class, religious class, military class, all classes felt his touch

no one either too well-off or too needy and beyond reach of God’s grace

B. teaching us to live v.12

“The grand objective of the manifestation of Divine Grace in Christ Jesus is to deliver men from the dominion of evil.” CHS

think times are evil now? they are, but… Paul’s day: the Arena – gladiators, Christians vs. lions, etc.

it’s as people of God are salt and light that culture changes; transforming grace of God in salvation that civilizes barbaric people – study world history and you’ll see

as he lived

check out Jesus’ development: Luke 2:52

And Jesus grew in wisdom (intellectual) and stature (physical), and in favor with God (spiritual) and men (social/emotional)”

so that he could say “follow me”, echoed by Paul – “Brethren, join in following my example” (Phil. 3:17)

deny self

set the bar high when he said “if you want to be my disciple, deny self” (Matt. 16:24)

consider what privileges Lord Jesus could have exercised, what he did instead

pure and holy God taking on human flesh and existence, concealing his glory, submitting to earthly authority, experiencing hardship w/o grumbling

Father could have told world “no, you can’t have my Son”; instead, “did not spare his own son but delivered him up for us all”

follow Christ

didn’t look for a way to stop the world and get off – Satan gave opportunity during temptation

instead “steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51, 53), achieve goal set for him by Father

“I have finished the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4)

our goal: live soberly, righteously, godly – self-controlled, upright and godly lives now

finishing the work the Father has given us in present age, in preparation for next age

C. looking for a glorious appearing v.13-14

the job isn’t finished – just look around

may not be plagued with same evils as 1st century, but plenty enough evil left in world

Gospel message and transforming power spread throughout much of world – all 196 countries have some Gospel witness, access to more

Spurgeon said, April 4, 1886 – “We are bad enough, now, but the outward manners and customs of that period were simply horrible! The spread of the Gospel has worked a change for the better.”

both the evidence and God’s Word make it plain – one coming not enough, must be two

but there’s more to be accomplished, not just in world, but in us

see 1 John 3:2Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

Bible has hints of what all that means, not a full description – wouldn’t get it anyway

whatever the reality is, will be glorious for us too; should cause great joy since

we wait for the happy fulfillment of our hope” NET; see 1 Cor. 15:19

hope in Christ not only for this life, extends through eternity – it’s everlasting life, after all

neither Christmas nor Easter stand alone – Christmas capsulizes his first coming, Easter points to second

the hope that should motivate us: salvation of our souls

not merely “fire insurance”; not only what we’re saved from, what we’re saved to

eternal life: pure and unhindered experience of God

we know his presence in us, have yet to experience us in his immediate presence

remember John’s promise: not just be like him, will see him as he is

complete redemtion, purified, ready to work

we are redeemed from all lawlessness, being purified, are becoming zealous / eager to do good

even Paul hadn’t arrived: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on” (Phil. 3:12)

complete redemption – of both soul and body still future for us and all saints

complete purification – that still awaits us also, as does perfect zeal unmixed with any impurity to do good

D. above all, don’t compromise the message v.15

speak and exhort and rebuke – whatever form of communication is needed

communicate with authority – see Matt. 7:28-29 also, 2 Cor. 5:20

not beating people about head and shoulders with a Bible; Jesus didn’t do that, we’re his ambassadors

the only hope, not one among many

a life-giving message: there is life after death, hope, as in expectant waiting, for Lord Jesus to return

came first time as humble servant, will come next time as conquering hero

May our joyful confidence in his coming again motivate us to tell others good news of Gospel just as shepherds did on first Christmas night. May that joy also be evident in our expressions and words and lives – may we be known as joyful people who love God and one another.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s