Sunday, December 29, 2013

Today´s Sermon

2013.12.29                          Don´t be a Hypocrite
                            Acts 5: 1- 16
Good morning everyone….. We´re glad that you´re here!
This is the last meeting in 2013…. Has it been a good year? Filled with joy? I want your new year to be filled with deep joy….. The Word of God is  going to help us find a deeper joy in our lives this morning…. As most of you know we teach through the Bible verse by verse….
Our text for this morning is Acts chapter 5…. This is a difficult but an important text…..  
The early days   of the church were days of joy…… They were days full of genuine love and fellowship….. Genuine Koininia………  They were united in their love for the Lord Jesus…… They went everywhere telling those who were willing to listen….. The Good News…… The Lord Jesus is risen! He is truly the Messiah….
By the time we get to Acts 5 ….  There are about 20 thousand people who have confessed their faith in Jesus Christ….  The excitement was electric.... The church was filled with excited and serious believers…..
Satan began to persecute the church…..  As you remember, Peter and John and the man born lame were the first to be arrested…… Peter was filled with a Holy Boldness as he proclaimed the truth to the leaders of Israel….. They faced the persecution without fear….. 
The more they were persecuted the more they prayed and cried out to the Lord for boldness…. The Lord answered their prayers and were bold……  The bolder they became, the more people believed and many were added to the church…...  Jesus was alive and the Holy Spirit was working powerfully to convince the people of their sins….
Not since Adam and Eve had there been such perfect fellowship with God…..    These men and women were born again….. God had given them new hearts and a new Spirit living in them….. Just As Jesus had promised in John 14v18….. I will not leave you orphans… I will come to you….
And the church was Holy and pure and on fire…..
But I said that this is a difficult text….. It is difficult because here we see the first incident of sin in the church….
It's the beginning of sin and hypocrisy inside the church….  Sin in the church is Satan´s weapon of choice today….  Sin has continued to cause problems in the church all through the years….
This morning we will be taking communion together…. It is a perfect time to examine our own hearts and ask the Lord to Purge out the sin in our lives….. We want to live clean and innocent lives as children of God…. Phil 2: 14,15 NLT…..
As we look at this text we are all warned of the danger and destruction that Hypocrisy and sin can cause in our lives….  and we can clearly see the damage that sin does to the testimony of the Church….
The Bible is full of real ordinary people…. People like you and me can see ourselves in the pages of scripture…. It is so honest that it rings true even to unbelievers….. The scriptures shows The Saints warts and all…. 
The church is not perfect….. It is full of sinners who have been saved by grace…. Although the text for today is sad…. It reminds us of the seriousness of sin….. We all need to be very careful to Let the Holy Spirit to use the Word of God to continue to cleanse and transform us into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ…
As we look at this text I want to begin in chapter 4….. It will give us a reminder of the context for this morning… v32
Acts 4: 32        NKJV               Schlachter 2000
32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 
32 Und die Menge der Gläubigen war ein Herz und eine Seele; und auch nicht einer sagte, daß etwas von seinen Gütern sein eigen sei, sondern alle Dinge waren ihnen gemeinsam.
V32…  they were experiencing genuine spiritual unity…….  They were actually living out what Paul wanted the Philippians  and the Corinthians to experience…..
They had one heart and one soul in the early church……...  They truly loved the Lord and each other…….  They were humble and thankful…. They put each other first…. We see this here in v32…
Here we see this generous and humble attitude in action in the early church…. whatever   they owned they were willing to sell if someone else had a need…… 
Remember many people had come to Jerusalem and  been converted during Pentecost….. Many were pilgrims from other lands…… They didn't want to leave the fellowship of the early church so they stayed in Jerusalem….
The needs were real and these believers responded…. They opened up their wallets and shared with their brothers and sisters…. This is the proper perspective for us on all of our material possessions……  Everything we have….. we have received from the Lord…..   It all belongs to Him…. Even our lives belong to the Lord Jesus….. We need to be ready to give and to share with others out of the abundance that the Lord Has entrusted to us….  V33

Acts 4:33                       NKJV   Schlachter 2000
33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.
33 Und mit großer Kraft legten die Apostel Zeugnis ab von der Auferstehung des Herrn Jesus, und große Gnade war auf ihnen allen.
v 33a…  with great power….. They were bold and filled with the Holy Spirit….     They were proclaiming the resurrection of the Lord…..  They were very busy…. They were  loving and sharing with each other….. They went everywhere proclaiming the Good News…. There was no time for gossip or backbiting…… They did  not  waste their time criticizing each other or finding fault with their brothers and sisters….

V33b… and great grace….
God was pouring out His grace and mercy on this young church… The church was united and devoted and generous…… They were vessels of God´s grace….. Receiving and Sharing with others the Good News and when needed…. They shared from their own personal wealth… What a list!
The New Testament Church
1 one heart..
2 one soul..
3 great power..
4 great grace..
This is the way God wants a church to be…..  We look at the church today and we wonder what happened……  Sin is what happened….. Churches struggle with greed and pride and selfishness…. We know very little of the unity and grace and love and power that we see in the early church…. It´s a tragedy…. But when the church is truly serving it´s God given purpose…. We are gracious and generous and loving towards each other and the lost and dying world around us…… We can and should help each other…When we do good things happen… verse 34….
Acts 4:34, 35                    NKJV   Schlachter 2000
34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
34 Es litt auch niemand unter ihnen Mangel; denn die, welche Besitzer von Äckern oder Häusern waren, verkauften sie und brachten den Erlös des Verkauften
35 und legten ihn den Aposteln zu Füßen; und man teilte jedem aus, so wie jemand bedürftig war.
This Holy Spirit caused attitude of sharing was wonderful… There was not a needy person among them…..   They knew that they had more than they needed and they gave generously to the Lord´s work…. That was life in the church...... What generosity and kindness… verse 36…
Acts 4: 36,37    NKJV   Schlachter 2000
36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
36 Joses aber, der von den Aposteln den Beinamen Barnabas erhalten hatte (das heißt übersetzt: »Sohn des Trostes«), ein Levit, aus Zypern gebürtig,
37 besaß einen Acker und verkaufte ihn, brachte das Geld und legte es den Aposteln zu Füßen.

Here's a wonderful picture  of a Christian who knew that he held all things in trust from God…… Joses (Joseph) didn't believe that anything that he had was really his own…… And when he saw that others had needs…… he went out and sold his land and brought the money and laid it at the Apostles' feet…...  He was a perfect example of a cheerful giver…..
His name was Joses (Joseph) and he was a Levite…..  His name was Joseph but it became Barnabas (The Son of encouragement) because that is what he was… an encourager to all….
Unlike the other Children of Israel…. Levites didn´t have land as an inheritance…. The Lord was their portion….    
And so Barnabus shows himself to be a great encourager to his church family…. He was generous and selfless…
Barnabus went on to be a  faithful minister and companion of the Apostle Paul…... 
The Lord´s people are bold and loving and generous…. They are even sharing sacrificially and joyfully of the grace and mercy and possessions that the Lord has given them…….  That takes us to Chapter 5… BUT…..
Acts 5:1-  5                        NKJV
1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things.
Acts 5:1-  5                       Schalchter 2000
1 Ein Mann aber mit Namen Ananias verkaufte ein Grundstück zusammen mit seiner Frau Saphira,
2 und schaffte etwas von dem Erlös für sich beiseite mit Wissen seiner Frau; und er brachte einen Teil davon und legte ihn den Aposteln zu Füßen.
3 Petrus aber sprach: Ananias, warum hat der Satan dein Herz erfüllt, so daß du den Heiligen Geist belogen hast und von dem Erlös des Gutes etwas für dich auf die Seite geschafft hast?
4 Hättest du es nicht als dein Eigentum behalten können? Und als du es verkauft hattest, war es nicht in deiner Gewalt? Warum hast du denn in deinem Herzen diese Tat beschlossen? Du hast nicht Menschen belogen, sondern Gott!
5 Als aber Ananias diese Worte hörte, fiel er nieder und verschied. Und es kam große Furcht über alle, die dies hörten.
"But..." It is clear that the Holy Spirit wanted to tell us about  what   happened  against the backdrop of what we have just read about the early church…. There was so much that was going right…. Think about  the love, the unity, the sacrifice and  the generosity  that the church was experiencing as the Holy Spirit worked in their hearts and lives…. But…… Here we move from the generosity and unity of the Saints in love… to pride and hypocrisy and sin…..
Verse 1…. Their names mean Gracious and beautiful… Ironic oder? They sold a piece of property….. Just like Barnabus right? Not exactly….  Their hearts were not right… because in verse 2 we see that they held back part of the price…
This story of Ananias is to the New Testament what the story of Achan is to the Old testament…   In both cases an act of sin and deceit does great damage to the people of God……   
Ananias and His wife had seen the way that Barnabus was received by the church because of his generosity….. The church gave him his nickname…. Son of Encouragement…. They also wanted to be perceived as spiritual and godly and  sacrificial….. 
They publicly said that they   were going to sell a piece of land and they were going to give it all to the Lord…..  They were not giving out of a pure heart… They wanted the praise and recognition of the others…. They wanted to be held in esteem like Barnabus…. There were showing themselves to be hypocrites…. Giving for show…. Just like the Pharsees who gave alms publically so that others would see tem…. That´s why Jesus said when you give…. Don´t let you right hand know what your left hand is doing…. Many times Jesus warned against hypocrisy…. Well these 2 were hypocrites…….. They wanted everyone to see them as generous and Godly…..True Christians give out of love and it is joyful and  willing sacrifice….
So they pretended that they were going to sell a piece of land and give it all to the Lord….  The sin is not that they didn't give it all….. The greek word is powerful here it means to steal…. It´s the Septuagent word used of Achan in Joshua 7:21…. Achan stole those things and God judged him…. Ananias and Sapphira also stole from the Lord… They said Lord it´s all yours….. When they kept part of it back… They were stealing from God…. It reminds me of Malachi Chapter 3…… Will a man rob God?. God never asked for their land…..  They could have kept it…..  They didn't have to sell it……  They could have said that they were going to give some….   
The sin was that they lied and stole from God….. How could they think that they could get away with that?
They pretended to give everything but in fact they held some back…. Behind the lie was the secret sin of hypocrisy…..
We cannot see into each other’s hearts…. We can be fooled and say…. Wow he´s a Godly man….. But The Lord sees the thoughts and intents of the heart…. His is never fooled…. Our sins are not hidden from Him!.... They wanted glory for themselves…..  They were hypocrites…..       
God hates hypocrisy….. God hates sin….. Peter confronts them in Verse 3……
Peter by the power of the Holy Spirit was able to discern what was going on…..  It was revealed to him that Ananias was lying…..    They had all come together to worship the Lord……  Ananias walks up…. puts his gift down and  says Here is it! Praise the LORD!…..  And Peter confronts him right there in front of everybody, "Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?  You have lied to God… !!!!
Peter says… You could have kept it, it was yours….. After you sold it you didn't have to say you were going to give all the money……  Why would you do that?"   
He shows himself to be a hypocrite and a liar…. God's Judgment is swift and certain….   
Verse 5…

Acts 5: 5                   NKJV   Schlachter 2000
5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. 5 Als aber Ananias diese Worte hörte, fiel er nieder und verschied. Und es kam große Furcht über alle, die dies hörten.
He dropped dead, executed by God in front of the whole church….   Here God is moving quickly to cut out the cancer from the body……  His Judgment is swift and fatal…… 
Ananias was struck dead by God under the load of his own sinful conscience……  Instead Peter's words and the power of God stopped his heart…. Great fear came upon all who heard about it……
What was the Lord saying to His church?  He was saying I'm dead serious about sin…..  this is not a game….. God is not mocked…. …… And they got the message…..  Verse 6 says
Acts 5: 6- 11                       NKJV  
6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.
7 Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”She said, “Yes, for so much.”

9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.
Acts 5: 6- 11                      Schlachter 2000
6 Und die jungen Männer standen auf, hüllten ihn ein, trugen ihn hinaus und begruben ihn.
7 Und es geschah, daß nach ungefähr drei Stunden auch seine Frau hereinkam, ohne zu wissen, was sich ereignet hatte.
8 Da richtete Petrus das Wort an sie: Sage mir, habt ihr das Gut um so und so viel verkauft? Sie sprach: Ja, um so viel!
9 Petrus aber sprach zu ihr: Warum seid ihr übereingekommen, den Geist des Herrn zu versuchen? Siehe, die Füße derer, die deinen Mann begraben haben, sind vor der Tür, und sie werden auch dich hinaustragen!
10 Da fiel sie sogleich zu seinen Füßen nieder und verschied; und als die jungen Männer hereinkamen, fanden sie sie tot und trugen sie hinaus und begruben sie bei ihrem Mann.
11 Und es kam große Furcht über die ganze Gemeinde und über alle, die dies hörten.
They buried Ananias… and His wife came in three hours later…. And Peter immediately confronts her…..  Now remember the people are all there……  She lied too…. She drops dead….. God is acting to remove sin immediately in the early church….. The extreme seriousness of sin is plain for all to see…… The Christian life is not a game…. v11…
Acts 5: 11-16                                      NKJV    
11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.
12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. 13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. 14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. 16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
Acts 5: 11-16                         Schlachter 2000
11 Und es kam große Furcht über die ganze Gemeinde und über alle, die dies hörten.
12 Durch die Hände der Apostel aber geschahen viele Zeichen und Wunder unter dem Volk; und sie waren alle einmütig beisammen in der Halle Salomos.
13 Von den übrigen aber wagte keiner sich ihnen anzuschließen; doch das Volk schätzte sie hoch;
14 und immer mehr wurden hinzugetan, die an den Herrn glaubten, eine Menge von Männern und Frauen,
15 so daß man die Kranken auf die Gassen hinaustrug und sie auf Betten und Bahren legte, damit, wenn Petrus käme, auch nur sein Schatten auf einen von ihnen fiele.
16 Es kamen aber auch viele aus den umliegenden Städten in Jerusalem zusammen und brachten Kranke und von unreinen Geistern Geplagte, die alle geheilt wurden.
V11 Great fear came upon all who heard what had happened….
V12…. Hands of the Apostles…. Signs and wonders were done…. They were with all with one accord in the Temple courtyards….  But look  at verse 13,
V13 "None of the rest dared to associate with them, however, the people held them in high esteem."
The unrepentant unbelievers respected them but they didn't join… It was clear that God was in their midst…. Just like in the OT…. The presence of God is a dangerous place for unrepentant sinners to be…. people die in there….. you better be serious…… The problems continues to this very day…. James ch 4 contains a stern warning against sin and hypocrisy….. then in verse 8 He says…. Cleanse your hands you sinners and purify your hearts you double minded.…
V14… believers were added…. It is clear that this tragedy had a purifying effect on the church…. It also caused unrepentant hypocrites to think twice about joining because it was cool to be associated with the church…. They did not decide to be fans of Jesus…. It was just too dangerous to fake being a genuine Christian…. But those who cried out to God for mercy….. They were added to the list of genuine believers… Multitudes of men and women!  Praise the Lord…
Notice here that the signs and wonders were done at the hands of the Apostles…. And in verse 15 and 16…. It is again the Apostles who are being used in such a supernatural way…. Peter´s shadow was enough….V 16 say that multitudes came and all were healed….. All were healed….. This is the Apostolic gift of instant miraculous healing of all who came….. We know that God heals today…. But this instant total healing of all who came is only found in the life of Jesus and these NT Apostles who had been with Jesus…..
These so called Apostles of today are not true Apostles of the Lord Jesus…. They do not have the same gift to heal everyone who came to them….
Ananias and Saphira show themselves to be Hypocrites and liars….. God deals with them instantly and the church is cleaned of sin in a very powerful way….. So far the Church has been pure and clean the way it should be….. But the struggle with sin in the church was just beginning…
This is the last time we will be together in 2013…. As we look forward to 2014…. We have an opportunity to search our own hearts and rededicate ourselves to serving and loving the Lord with all of our hearts….. I cannot imagine a better way to move into the New Year…. We are going to celebrate communion together this morning…. Again what better way to end this year and prepare ourselves for the new….. 
Lord wants His church pure….. In Philippians 2:13 He promised that He would finish the work that He has begun in us….  In our text for today…..  the first time sin reared its ugly head….. God shows the seriousness of sin…..  in a very public way by executing the two people who sinned… They had lied to God…. And God is not mocked…
God is very patient… But God punishes sin eventually….. And as 1 Peter 4:17 says, "Judgment begins at the house of God."  God wants a pure and spotless church…... 
That's why we come to the Communion table… We have to deal with our own sin…...
The message of Ananias and Sapphira is a warning that rings down through the years to the Church today…  The Lord does not always deal as immediately and dramatically with the sins of the saints… But the message is crystal clear….. God wants His church pure and Holy.... As we celebrate…. Let´s be sure to let the Lord search our hearts….. Let´s confess our pride and selfishness…. He will wash us clean and restore the Joy of His Salvation to us ….. Just like he forgave and restored David 3 thousand years ago…  Most of us know Psalm 51 very well… It is a great place for your quiet times with the Lord…. This morning I want to read from Psalm 32…. We want to be happy and joyful believers don´t we? Our joy and God´s forgiveness are linked together…. David knew deep sin…. and he also knew God´s mercy and forgiveness… Look at what he wrote…..
Psalm 32 : 1- 6                NLT
1 Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!
2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
3 When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.
4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude
5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
6 Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. 
Psalm 32: 1- 6               Schlachter 2000
1 Ein Psalm Davids. Glücklich ist der, dessen Sünde vergeben ist und dessen Schuld zugedeckt ist.
2 Glücklich ist der, dem der Herr die Sünden nicht anrechnet und der ein vorbildliches Leben führt!
3 Als ich mich weigerte, meine Schuld zu bekennen, war ich schwach und elend, dass ich den ganzen Tag nur noch stöhnte und jammerte.
4 Tag und Nacht bedrückte mich dein Zorn, meine Kraft vertrocknete wie Wasser in der Sommerhitze.
5 Doch endlich gestand ich dir meine Sünde und gab es auf, sie zu verbergen. Ich sagte: »Ich will dem Herrn meine Auflehnung bekennen.« Und du hast mir vergeben und meine Schuld weggenommen!
6 Deshalb sollen die, die dich lieben, dir ihre Verfehlungen bekennen, solange noch Zeit ist, damit sie nicht in den Fluten des Gerichts ertrinken.
We come to this table this morning needing to look at our own lives and confess our sins. …..
As we prepare to share together in the time of communion, this is a very important few moments……  It's   time for us to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness and cleansing…
1 Corinthians 11:23-26                  NKJV
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
1 Corinthians 11: 23- 26                Schlachter 2000
23 Denn ich habe von dem Herrn empfangen, was ich auch euch überliefert habe, nämlich daß der Herr Jesus in der Nacht, als er verraten wurde, Brot nahm,
24 und dankte, es brach und sprach: Nehmt, eßt! Das ist mein Leib, der für euch gebrochen wird; dies tut zu meinem Gedächtnis!
25 Desgleichen auch den Kelch, nach dem Mahl, indem er sprach: Dieser Kelch ist der neue Bund in meinem Blut; dies tut, so oft ihr ihn trinkt, zu meinem Gedächtnis!
26 Denn so oft ihr dieses Brot eßt und diesen Kelch trinkt, verkündigt ihr den Tod des Herrn, bis er kommt.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Today´s Sermon

2013.12.22                                        4th Advent
                           God our Savior!
It´s wonderful to see you here this morning! We are here to celebrate the birth of Jesus!

Isaiah 9:6,7                                NKJV
6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9: 5,6                 Schlachter 2000
5 Denn ein Kind ist uns geboren, ein Sohn ist uns gegeben; und die Herrschaft ruht auf seiner Schulter; und man nennt seinen Namen: Wunderbarer, Ratgeber, starker Gott, Ewig-Vater, Friedefürst.
6 Die Mehrung der Herrschaft und der Friede werden kein Ende haben auf dem Thron Davids und über seinem Königreich, daß er es gründe und festige mit Recht und Gerechtigkeit von nun an bis in Ewigkeit. Der Eifer des Herrn der Heerscharen wird dies tun!
This prophesy is full of important theology as we seek to better understand our great God and our Savior…. The Child Jesus is born in Bethlehem……  But the Son eternally existed and is given to a lost and dying World…… John 3:16 is echoed here.....  God in that divine moment revealed Himself as He had never been revealed before, through His Son…...  We see in this text that Jesus has always existed and that He is in fact coequal with God….. Jesus is God…. He has been born a man…… Born to die for us… for our sins….That is what the Christmas message was about and is about…..  Very important news….. The Angel did not go to Ceasar with this Good News… Who did the Angel tell? Ordinary people…. Poor people…. God has always helped the helpless….. He puts His love on the least, the weakest….. He loves and redeems the worst of men…. People like me and you….. God places His love on mankind….. Because He is by nature a savior…. The desparate…. The fatherless and widows are always on His heart….
Alfred Edersheim writes about the promise of the Messiah as also being the promise of God to rescue and redeem the poor the fatherless and the widow…. The scriptures are full of God reaching out to the least…. Rescuing the weak and helpless…. It is to the least in Israel that the message comes…. Who did the Angel tell?
First Mary, then Joseph, then the shepherds…. Let´s read again about the shepherds…
Luke 2: 8- 14                    NKJV
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Luke 2: 8- 14                    Schlachter 2000
8 Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend auf dem Feld, die bewachten ihre Herde in der Nacht.
9 Und siehe, ein Engel des Herrn trat zu ihnen, und die Herrlichkeit des Herrn umleuchtete sie; und sie fürchteten sich sehr.
10 Und der Engel sprach zu ihnen: Fürchtet euch nicht! Denn siehe, ich verkündige euch große Freude,4 die dem ganzen Volk widerfahren soll.
11 Denn euch ist heute in der Stadt Davids der Retter geboren, welcher ist Christus5, der Herr6.
12 Und das sei für euch das Zeichen: Ihr werdet ein Kind finden, in Windeln gewickelt, in der Krippe liegend.
13 Und plötzlich war bei dem Engel die Menge der himmlischen Heerscharen, die lobten Gott und sprachen:
14 Herrlichkeit [ist] bei Gott in der Höhe und Friede auf Erden, [und] unter den Menschen [Gottes] Wohlgefallen!
I think that this passage is the most read passage in the Christmas Season…
This text talks about a Savior, Christ the Lord…… We  also read about the great host of Angels…. Saying Glory to God in the highest!
This little text is full of Theology….. That means it tells a lot about our great God and Savior…..  We could spend a life time studying the birth of Jesus….

Beginning with the creation itself….. We see the Messiah active in the creation…… The ancient Rabbi´s taught that when we read in Gen1:2 that the Spirit of God was moving on the face of the waters….. They say it was the Spirit of Messiah!
The Messiah who always was….. Was there in creation…. He is Eternal and coequal with the Father….. God was preparing for the day when He would truly become Immanuel…. God with us….. God promised long ago that he would come to dwell with us….. Thousands of years before the Messiah was born….. The Spirit of God moved men to prophesy of the messiah…… Through the prophet Nathan…. God revealed to David that the Long awaited Messiah would be born through his family line… David who was himself a prophet…. Wrote much about the Messiah´s coming…… According to the ancient Rabbi´s…. Many of His psalms are Messianic and point to the Messiah….. The Son of David…. As we are studying the Life of David on Tuesday nights we looked at the 51st Psalm…… It is a tremendous account of David´s repentance as he was confronted with his sin with Bathsheba….. It is also full of solid theology about God our Heavenly Father…..  David wrote over and over of the Messiah the coming King in his psalms and he worshipped God for His faithfulness…..
About 700 hundred years before this baby was born….. a Hebrew prophet named Micah was inspired by God to write that when the Messiah did come….. He would be born in of all places an obscure small town called Bethlehem, house of bread……. That's what the prophet said and it's recorded in Micah chapter 5 and verse 2….. let´s look at it…
Micah 5:2                          NKJV   Schlachter 2000
2“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
1 Und du, Bethlehem Efrata, die du klein bist unter den Städten in Juda, aus dir soll mir der kommen, der in Israel Herr sei, dessen Ausgang von Anfang und von Ewigkeit her gewesen ist.

1000 years ago in Worms a very famous OT scholar Rashi….. Wrote that this verse is about the Messiah….. He said the Messiah must be born in Bethlehem…..
God in His providence called Caesar Augustus…. Who knew nothing about the true and living God and nothing about the Old Testament did exactly what was necessary to assure the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem…….
He called for a census to be taken of everybody in the Roman Empire….. And so Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to register…..
Ceasar did exactly what had been predetermined by the counsel and foreknowledge of God…..
This was the most important event in the history of the world…...
Few realized that the eternal holy creator God of the universe had just entered the world in the form of a little baby…..  
Joseph knew because he had been told to name the baby Jesus….. Because  He would save His people from their sins…… And he had been told that His name would be Immanuel…. God with us…... So he knew this was the incarnate God who was to save His people from their sins…... And Mary knew…. because Gabriel had told her   that this child would be the Son of the Most High God…. This baby Jesus was the one who would sit on the throne of David and reign forever…..  
We all know the amazing story of Jesus´birth…. It was to poor shepherds that the angel comes and makes the announcement about this child……
The central message in this whole passage is summed up in verse 11…...
Luke 2:11                NKJV     Schlachter 2000
11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
11 denn euch ist heute der Heiland geboren, welcher ist Christus, der Herr, in der Stadt Davids.
  There has been born for you a Savior…...
That's the Good news….. isn't it? That's the gospel…. There has been born for you a Savior.....  That's what we're still telling people, isn't it? There has been born for you a Savior…... Even these poor shepherds would understand that…...
The idea of a Savior is not just a New Testament concept……   It's also an Old Testament concept…... Shepherds would know what that meant because all who were in Israel knew God as Savior…...  
The God of the Old Testament was known to His people as a Savior…... Israel knew God as a Savior….. Now that was not the way it was with other false gods, the gods of men's making….. There's only one God, the one true and living God, the eternal God, and He is by nature a Savior, He is a saving God…… To use another word….  He is a Deliverer…..   He is a rescuer….  And He is that by nature…..

And what set the one true and living God apart from all false gods….. Is that He is by nature compassionate, merciful, tender-hearted, filled with loving kindness and seeks to save people……
The Jews knew this……. .They knew God to be wise and powerful…… They  also knew that He is a Savior by His very Nature……… God has not yet struck sinners dead because he is loving and patient….   Turn to Rom 2…
Romans 2: 4                 NKJV   Schlachter 2000
4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
4 Oder verachtest du den Reichtum seiner Güte, Geduld und Langmut? Weißt du nicht, dass dich Gottes Güte zur Buße leitet?
it's God's nature to deliver men from the consequences of sin…… that's mercy and grace….  

The shepherds out on that field were at the bottom of the educational ladder….. They were part of  the very lowest class of people there were…… Even they would understand that God was by nature a saving God…...
And they would also understand that there never had been a sacrifice that really took away sin and guilt….. The sacrificial system only temporarily covered their sins….. They had to be repeated over and over again… They of all people knew that thousands and thousands of sacrifices were done every year….. You see these Shepherds were  shepherding the sheep that were headed for temple sacrifices….. On  Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement…… Once a year the High Priest laid his hands on the head of a goat and confessed the sins of the people….. He sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice this day on the Mercy seat in the Holy of Holies…. They knew God to be a saving God….
So when the announcement came there's been born today a Savior, they understood it….   In the Old Testament God is a Savior….. and over and over again His salvation is spoken of….. Deuteronomy 20 verse 4, "The Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to save save you."
God is called the God of His salvation…… Psalm 25:5
Psalm25: 5,6             NKJV  Schlachter 2000
5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.
6 Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, For they are from of old. 4 Herr, zeige mir deine Wege und lehre mich deine Pfade!
5 Leite mich in deiner Wahrheit und lehre mich, denn du bist der Gott meines Heils; auf dich harre ich allezeit
David in Psalm 51 as he repented of his sins… said "Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation."  
The Old Testament is just filled with God´s unfailing love and faithfulness…… David was one of the great prophets in the OT. The ancient rabbis said that half of the Psalms point to the Messiah….. David prophesied 1000 years before Jesus was born……. David came first …. Then 250 years later Isaiah also had much to tell us about Jesus…. Sometimes we hear Isaiah echoing David´s words as he tells us of God´s Salvation….
I had that backwards last week…… I repeat here…. Isaiah echos David in His writings and prophesies….. Like David…. Isaiah tells us about our great God and Savior…..
Isaiah 63 is one worth mentioning…… Verse 8 and 9, it says when God chose Israel, "So He became their Savior." What a great statement.
Isaiah 63: 7-9     NKJV
7 I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord And the praises of the Lord, According to all that the Lord has bestowed on us, And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, Which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, According to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.
8 For He said, “Surely they are My people, Children who will not lie.” So He became their Savior.
9 In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the Angel of His Presence saved them; In His love and in His pity He redeemed them; And He bore them and carried them All the days of old.
Isaiah 63: 7-9                         Schlachter 2000
7 Ich will der Gnade des HERRN gedenken und der Ruhmestaten des HERRN in allem, was uns der HERR getan hat, und der großen Güte an dem Hause Israel, die er ihnen erwiesen hat nach seiner Barmherzigkeit und großen Gnade.
8 Denn er sprach: Sie sind ja mein Volk, Söhne, die nicht falsch sind. Darum ward er ihr Heiland
9 in aller ihrer Not. Nicht ein Engel und nicht ein Bote, sondern sein Angesicht half ihnen. Er erlöste sie, weil er sie liebte und Erbarmen mit ihnen hatte. Er nahm sie auf und trug sie allezeit von alters her.
What did that mean?
verse 9..."In all their affliction... He was afflicted…… In His love and His mercy He rescued them….. He redeemed them….. He brought them back….. He lifted them…... He carried them all the days of old……  
Think about Jesus´ mother Mary……. Let´s Go back to Luke chapter 1 verse 46…. She said……
Luke 1: 46,47           NKJV    Schlachter 2000
46 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.."
46 Und Maria sprach: Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn,
47 und mein Geist freut sich Gottes, meines Heilandes;
She knew that Jehovah God was her Savior……
Remember Zacharias…... Zacharias  was a  godly priest and in his great praise at the birth of his son John, the forerunner of the Messiah…..   he says, "God has raised up a horn of salvation for us."
Here comes the Savior, the great power of salvation…... And down in verse 77 he tells you what kind of salvation he's talking about……. Zacharias under the anointing of the Holy Spirit reminds us that we are talking about much more than a temporary redemption or deliverance from earthy difficulties and evil rulers......
Luke 1: 77-79                     NKJV    Schlachter 2000
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins, 78 Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; 79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
77 und Erkenntnis des Heils gebest seinem Volk in der Vergebung ihrer Sünden,
78 durch die herzliche Barmherzigkeit unseres Gottes, durch die uns besuchen wird das aufgehende Licht aus der Höhe,
79 damit es erscheine denen, die sitzen in Finsternis und Schatten des Todes, und richte unsere Füße auf den Weg des Friedens.

Zacharias knew that the truest salvation comes when sins were forgiven…… Not just covered over but forgiven….  
The Old Testament says that God is a forgiving God who removes our sins as far as the east is from the west….. buries them in the depths of the deepest sea and remembers them no more…… They knew God was a saving God….. They knew God was a forgiving God……
There were many of them in that nation who had experienced personal, spiritual and eternal salvation from God…. You say, "Did they learn that from the Old Testament?" Yes they did….. They knew they did not obey God from the heart….   they couldn't keep the law of God……   They knew were under a curse that meant death and punishment……  They  would go to God in repentance and cry out to God for mercy….  Please be merciful, be gracious, forgive me and wash me clean…. That's the repentance we see in the Old Testament……. God then forgave their sins…… And they were justified by faith….. Just like Habakuk said…. The just shall live by faith….
Mary was one who understood…. so were Zachariah and Elizabeth and Simeon and Anna….. All God fearers….. True saints…… They knew very well that they needed a Savior….. They cried out for mercy and forgiveness…..   God´s mercy and unfailing love….. His desire to save and redeem is rooted in His Character……. Zacharias knew the salvation of God….. He knew that it is personal and  spiritual…... He knew his God….. The one who declared Himself to be a Savoir….. Who also said…. I will never leave you…. I will never forsake you….
And so God the Living Word was made flesh and dwelt among us…. John 1:14….    We all have the same Savior…. Christ bears the sins of all who believed in the Old Testament, as well as in the New Testament age.

They knew God as a Savior…... Mary knew that…... Zacharias and Elizabeth knew that……
We met Simeon in Luke chapter 2….. Here's another true believer….. He has been forgiven by God and God is his Savior…. In verse 30 He picks up the baby and worshipped and said….. My eyes have seen Thy salvation.
Finally the Savior has come……. He understood   that God was a Savior…..
They knew God was their Savior…..
God showed Himself a Savior to Israel   by saving them from Egypt….. by rescuing them, and delivering them time after time…… He rescued them from many enemies that hated them and tried to destroy them…...   He delivered them from hostile nations…..  He delivered them from danger….. He delivered them from death over and over again…… 
God is a Savior by nature…… and He has saved that nation through the years because it's His nature to rescue and deliver because of His mercy and for His great name´s sake….  
The world is full of people who are not believers….. He is patient with them….  They enjoy life…..  They see the sunrise and the sunset….. He sends rain and they drink the cool water….. They eat a good meal….. They fall in love….. They kiss a baby….. They enjoy His creation even though some say He does not exist…….. They enjoy the richness and the fullness of life…… They breathe the air….. Why? Because God by nature delivers them from the immediate consequences of their sin…. The whole world of people today exist because God is a saving God…… He has delivered them from what they deserve because He is by nature a Savior…. ……
Now especially those who believe…...1 Timothy 4:10 says..
1 Timothy 4: 10    NKJV   Schlachter 2000
10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
10 Denn dafür arbeiten und kämpfen wir, weil wir unsre Hoffnung auf den lebendigen Gott gesetzt haben, welcher ist der Heiland aller Menschen, besonders der Gläubigen.
What does that mean? He delivers all men from the just and immediate consequence of their sinfor now….. waiting patiently for them to repent….. but He delivers those who believe from their sins forever….  That´s what´s most important right?
God is by nature a Savior…… We see this not just in the OT….. We see this in the New testament also….

9 times in the NT we see the phrase….  God our Savior…. When we look at the big picture….. There's perfect unity between the New Testament and the Old Testament…... Every where we look…. God is by nature a Savior….. that is why Jesus is a Savior….. because Jesus is God…..  
When we read in 2 Peter 1:11, "Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," It is perfectly clear…. If He's God the Lord, then He's a Savior because God is a Savior…...
God shows His goodness and mercy to all…… He restrains evil….. He uses government to keep order…… He gives everyone opportunities to see  beauty  and to experience joy…... God shows compassion as He calls sinners to repent……  So when the angel said in Luke 2:11…..
Luke 2: 11                 NKJV   Schlachter 2000
11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
11 denn euch ist heute der Heiland geboren, welcher ist Christus, der Herr, in der Stadt Davids.
The Angel makes this personal to these poor shepherds….. For you! A Savoir is born for you! Rejoice! The Savior they had all been waiting for…..   The Angel spoke to Joseph in Matthew 1:21…
Matthew 1:21                NKJV   Schlachter 2000
21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
21 Und sie wird einen Sohn gebären, dem sollst du den Namen Jesus geben, denn er wird sein Volk retten von ihren Sünden.
Call Him Jesus… Jehovah is Salvation! Luke records the words of Jesus later in Luke 19:10 who said,
Luke 19: 10    NKJV   Schlachter 2000
10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
10 denn der Sohn des Menschen ist gekommen, um zu suchen und zu retten, was verloren ist.
Of all things, He's a Savior…… He's the Savior!  And as I said….. This Good News is given to these lowly shepherds…… The Good News is proclaimed to the least in all of Israel…..  And they tell everyone the Good News about the baby born in a manger…… They tell everyone of the Angel´s words of praise to God….
During this Advent season we have looked at several of the ordinary people who received the great blessing of meeting the Savoir of the World….. Most of them had very difficult times in their lives…. Zacharias and Elizabeth were barren into their old Age….. Then God their Savior stepped in at the perfect time and gave them a child….. A miracle….. Joesph and Mary did not have it easy….. She is with child by the Holy Spirit….. A scandal in those days….. They were not yet married….. What has Joseph done….. He did not want to shame her by a divorce….  But it must a very difficult trial…. until at exactly the right time….. God his Savoir stepped in and made sense of an impossible dilemma…. Mary in her humble heart…. Understood that it was the grace of God alone that had granted her to bear the Lord Jesus….. She worshipped the Lord who had done great things for her…. Then we looked at Simeon and Anna…. Simeon devoted his entire life to the Lord…. God promised that he would live to see the Messiah…. The consolation of Israel…… And God His Savoir… kept his word…… Of course He did…. He is the one who said…. I will never leave you…. I will never forsake you…. Then there´s Anna….  A widow 84 years old… She was totally devoted to the Lord…. She was day and night in the temple….

Anna´s devotion to the LORD... 3 W´s
1. waiting…. for the redemption of Israel..... waiting for God to redeem and restore her life
2. worshipping… Showing  her love for Jesus.............
3. witnessing…. She told everyone about him.........
These ordinary people understood that God Their Savior had shown them great grace….. They were thankful…… They worshipped Him…. They went everywhere telling the Good News…….. God has visited His people…. God our Savior is Here! His name is Jesus …. Because he shall save His people from their sins…. You see They knew that God´s Salvation was much more than just help to get through  their hard times….. They knew that the Shadow of the cross was over the (crippe) Cradle…. They knew what David had prophesied about the Messiah…… They knew the suffering servant passages of Isaiah….. Let´s close this morning with the Prophesy of Zacharia… Luke 1v74….
Luke 1:74- 79                       NKJV
74 To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited[e] us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Luke 1:74-79                  Schlachter 2000
74 daß wir, erlöst aus der Hand unserer Feinde, ihm dienten ohne Furcht
75 in Heiligkeit und Gerechtigkeit vor ihm alle Tage unseres Lebens.
76 Und du, Kindlein, wirst ein Prophet des Höchsten genannt werden, denn du wirst vor dem Angesicht des Herrn hergehen, um seine Wege zu bereiten,
77 um seinem Volk Erkenntnis des Heils zu geben, [das ihnen zuteil wird] durch die Vergebung ihrer Sünden,
78 um der herzlichen Barmherzigkeit unseres Gottes willen, durch die uns besucht hat der Aufgang aus der Höhe,
79 um denen zu scheinen, die in Finsternis und Todesschatten sitzen, um unsere Füße auf den Weg des Friedens zu richten!
After David repented of his sin and rebellion….. He wrote Ps. 51….. He promised to teach others of God´s mercy…. He knew that when he did they would be converted…
Psalm 51: 10-13                  NKJV
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.
Psalm 51: 12-15   Schlachter 2000
12 Erschaffe mir, o Gott, ein reines Herz, und gib mir von neuem einen festen Geist4 in meinem Innern!
13 Verwirf mich nicht von deinem Angesicht, und nimm deinen heiligen Geist nicht von mir.
14 Gib mir wieder die Freude an deinem Heil, und stärke mich mit einem willigen Geist!
15 Ich will die Abtrünnigen deine Wege lehren, daß sich die Sünder zu dir bekehren.
Let´s pray….