Risky Business

12/6/2020 at Liberty Baptist Church in Tipton, In

Message Title: Risky Business
Theme: Waiting on God
Season: Advent
Main Text: Isaiah 40:1-11;
Scripture Reading: Mark 1:1-8
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8
Focus: God speaks of a future peace for Judah.Function: To commit to a life of peace-bringing and search out ways to bring peace.
Other Notes: Traditional themes each week: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love

SCRIPTURE READING: Mark 1:1-8 The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, 2happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah: Look, I am sending my messenger before you. He will prepare your way, 3a voice shouting in the wilderness: “Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.” 4John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. 5Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. 6John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. 7He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. 8I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

WAITING:

  1. Engage audience
    1. Check in: How’s your Luke read through? (should be at ch 6 by now)
    2. Travel:
      1. Longest road a person can travel (also most dangerous road)
      2. What was your longest road trip?
        1. PHOTO: Drive to Kokomo, Dec 2017- was supposed to be 12 hours became 18 hours because of ice & a moving van that topped out at 55mph. Yup, 18 hours in 24 hours.
      3. How many states have you been to?
        1. MAPS: Family has driven through all but 5 of the states together
  2. My story: so frequently the first image that comes to our mind when we think of family trips is the repetitive questions from kids: “Are We There Yet? When can we eat? How much longer? I’m bored!”
    1. PHOTO: Well, one of my strongest road trip memories, apart from traveling to Indiana four Decembers ago, was when my parents left me in the Grand Tetons. I joke that they tried to get rid of me. My parents are still mortified.
      1. I can’t remember for certain but I *think* I was 9.
    2. My family, my aunt & uncle, cousins, and my grandparents were on a camping trip together. Before we arrived at the campground, our caravan stopped at a bathroom. I left my grandparents’ car, told them I was going to ride with my parents, and went to the bathroom. When I came out of the bathroom, all three cars were gone. Little did I know, they were just about a mile up the road checking into the campground and hadn’t realized that I was not in any of the vehicles.

TRANSITION: Waiting for my parents to come back to get me felt like forever. In our text for today, Judah hears words of comfort as they are waiting to return from exile.

SCRIPTURE & EXPLAINATION: Isaiah 40:1-11 –God speaks of a future peace for Judah.

Vs 1-2 Comfort, comfort my people! says your God. 2Speak compassionately to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her compulsory service has ended, that her penalty has been paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins!

  1. Exile is fresh in ch 40
    1. Hoping back in time from the text of last week
    2. Ch 39 was the end of a section of judgement and harshness, now we hear a word of hope.
      1. Time of hope (you’re in exile but not forever)

Vs 3-8 3A voice is crying out: “Clear the Lord’s way in the desert! Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God! 4Every valley will be raised up, and every mountain and hill will be flattened. Uneven ground will become level, and rough terrain a valley plain. 5The Lord’s glory will appear, and all humanity will see it together; the Lord’s mouth has commanded it.” 6A voice was saying: “Call out!” And another said, “What should I call out?” All flesh is grass; all its loyalty is like the flowers of the field. 7The grass dries up and the flower withers when the Lord’s breath blows on it. Surely the people are grass. 8The grass dries up; the flower withers, but our God’s word will exist forever.

  1. God doesn’t want to punish Judah. God wants to restore God’s people. Clear the way! It’s gonna happen.
    1. Think of the song I posted on our FB group: “Ain’t not mountain high enough / ain’t no valley low enough / ain’t no river wide enough/ to keep me from getting to you”
    2. Jesus said in the Gospels- “even the rocks will cry out” if God’s people don’t praise him. (Luke 19)
  2. Judah needs consequences for their actions. Judah needs to follow the covenant commitment.
    1. It has been GENERATIONS since the 10 commandments given at Sinai
    2. Each generation has struggled to maintain the covenant.

vs 9-11 9Go up on a high mountain, messenger Zion! Raise your voice and shout, messenger Jerusalem! Raise it; don’t be afraid; say  to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10Here is the Lord God, coming with strength, with a triumphant arm, bringing his reward with him and his payment before him. 11Like a shepherd, God will tend the flock; he will gather lambs in his arms and lift them onto his lap. He will gently guide the nursing ewes.

  1. Now if you were to continue reading in this chapter, the imagery of comforting Judah continues to the famous quote of “rising up on wings like eagles.” God will care for God’s people.
  2. Judah has received the consequences of their actions, and now God calls them to obedience and a future peace.

RELATABILITY/ INTERPRETATION:

  1. Judah appears much like a lost puppy during exile. A loss of identity, as they are separated from their people, their land, and their God. They are lost without their identity.
    1. Does this sound like 2020 or what? Digital church, no normal family holidays, quarantined from society.
  2. God wants our flourishing and gives us opportunities for peace. However, we frequently reject those opportunities.
  3. We are the ones needing to shift our focus from us to God.
    1. God’s life leads to flourishing.
  4. Back to the Intro: As soon as my parents realized I was gone they sent a car back to pick me up. While I was waiting a family sat with me and waited for someone to return.
    1. Road trips are frequently not

ACTION/APPLICATION: To commit to a life of peace-bringing and search out ways to bring peace.

  1. Real Peace vs. “being nice”- Not the same as being nice or avoiding problems or conflict.
    1. Real peace gets messy and risky: Loving people gets messy. Loving people is an act of vulnerability/exposure. You put yourself at risk. But God calls us to those risky places.
      1. As we talked about last week, loving people is hard.
      2. Bringing peace is unpopular. Media and entertainment thrive on disputes.
    2. Real peace leads to social faux pas and being counter cultural.
      1. Not a license to tell gay people they are going to hell
      2. Not a license for denominational wars or telling someone their denomination’s theology is bad
      3. Not a license to play the martyr when someone disagrees with you
  2. Practical reality of living 10 commandments is flourishing of relationships. Can we think of examples without getting legalistic?
    1. Whiteboard:
      1. Loving God
      2. Loving Others
  3. God says God will level the mountains & fill in the valleys to make this peace come. We are his peace-bringers. What if God hands us a shovel and a pickaxe rather than snapping a finger and making it happen? We are the ones called to fill in the valleys and level the mountains to make God’s highway wide.

CONCLUSION

COMMUNION: Fran Pratt- Litany for Eucharist

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