By Rev. Jeremy B. Stopford
Delivered at Smyrna (NY) Baptist Church
December 1st, 2019
“A New Bride Funny”
A young man and his new bride take their honeymoon to the old Soviet Union.
On the first day of their stay, they were to go on an excursion over the mountains with their tour guide, Rudy.
As they were heading out of their hotel room the young man grabbed an umbrella.
“Why on earth are you taking an umbrella?” the puzzled bride asked.
“Because our tour guide told me to. He says it is going to rain.”
“Well, that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard,” the bride exclaimed. “There is not a cloud in sight.”
The wise new groom explains, “of course, I will take our umbrella. Because we can be sure, Rudy the Red knows rain, dear”
One of my earthly treasures is an autographed copy of a book, given to me – according to the inscription – within a week after I was born. It was signed by Robert May, a classmate of my dad’s from the Dartmouth College Class of 1926. He wrote the book, a delightful children’s book which has become world famous. Yes, the book is “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer”.
Dad also had another classmate, named Ted Geisel. He later changed his name. Do you know to what? Yep – Dr. Seuss.
Both Dr. Seuss and Bob May have been greatly used to bring temporal joy to generations of children – and perhaps their parents as well. “Temporal” – that means “earthly, short lasting”. It doesn’t have a viewpoint of eternity, does it?
In our morning “scripture reading”, we read what are always challenging verses from Isaiah chapters 6 and 9. In chapter 6, Isaiah is presented with the holiness of God. And in chapter 9, Isaiah comes face to face with the truth about the coming of the Messiah and Who He is: Wonderful, Councilor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Why are these important for us as we enter a new Christmas season?
Well let me first ask you: How many of you are done with your Christmas planning? Presents bought and wrapped? Meals thought out? Cards written and sent? A full Christmas involves work! Work! Work!
And our loving Father has been planning, too! Our Great God is teaching us that everything He does throughout eternity has purpose, governed by His holiness and guided to glorify His Son. He has been planning for Christmas for a long time!
And the Bible does not hide from His children what plans the Father has been making! Let’s look at some of them this morning!
1 THE WORD (Matt. 13:35; Psalm 78)
We are introduced to “Parables” in Matt. 13:1-3
“Earthly story with an heavenly meaning”. Perhaps as He’s teaching, He sees a farmer…points to him, and then tells an heavenly story – an illustration – related to an earthly person or event with which His listeners would be familiar
CF. vs. 10-11 (the “why” of parables); vs. 18, 24, 31, 33
- Matt. 13:34,35 – the disciples were entering a time frame of the fulfillment of Scripture especially prepared for that moment!
- See Psalm 78:1-7 [ALWAYS check out the OT source of a NT quoted verse! We may learn its original purpose!) The purpose of this ff is that GENERATIONS may know the Lord!
Application: IF the Word of God has been prepared as a special love gift for God’s children since the foundation of the world, what priority does the Word have in your life?
But wait, there’s more!
2 THE COMMUNION (John 17:24)
In John 17, Jesus enters into prayer with His Father. Most scholars believe that John has put to print here the reasonably full text of Jesus’ prayer prayed at the Garden of Gethsemane. For at the start of John 18 is Judas’ betrayal and Jesus’ arrest.
So what did He pray? What would you pray if you knew your life was about to end – or better, as in Jesus’ case – the purpose for which you came to earth was about to be done?
“Communion” is a word we often relegate to the breaking of the bread and the serving of the wine. But it also refers to the fellowship enjoyed between two people. John 17 is an insight into the fellowship of the Son with the Father.
Let’s listen in…verses 1-5 Here we are introduced to an eternal fellowship, eternal communion. If you had all of eternity to do something, would you spend it all in prayer-talk with your father? Jesus did! Phil. 2:6 tells us that Jesus set aside the independent exercise of His glory so that He could become a man. But since before the world’s foundation, the Son enjoyed a mutual glory.
Vs. 8, 17 Part 1 of our message is a major part of Jesus’ interaction with His disciples: the sharing of the Father’s words through the Son to the disciples. SO do we read God’s Word that way?
Verse 20 It is safe to say that we are prayed for here! But note: He says that He is praying for those who will believe as a result of the disciples giving their word. APPLICATION So…Jesus in turn is praying for those to whom we give His word, and who believe as a result. So that should encourage us to be active sharers of His Word to those He has put in our path – because He has already prayed for…them!
Verse 24 This is where faith becomes sight! The Father has loved the Son before the foundation of the world. Jeremiah 31:3: “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jesus wants His children to enter into this everlasting love which He has enjoyed for beyond all eternity! Wow.
APPLICATION #2 So if soon our faith will be sight, and we as believers in Christ will be enjoying an everlasting communion that the Son has enjoyed with the Father since before the foundation of the world, what is tying us down to this world? To what earthly goals are we seeking? And am I daily enjoying sweet communion with my Father, sweet communion that He can’t wait to have us enjoy face to face?
3. THE CHOICE (Eph. 1:4)
We’re not going to turn here, but another classic verse in this subject of the “heavenly Christmas preparations” would have to be Ephesians 1:4, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love”. This is one of those loaded passages. I didn’t choose Him – He chose me first! Theologians attempt to wisely explain this by showing the pattern of our salvation. We hear the invitation, “whosoever will may come.” We go through that door of faith, trusting that the offer of salvation through the work of the cross is true. And as we go through that open door of faith, we look back and see written on the other side of the door the words, “chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.”
But don’t let those words stymie you. For the rest of the verse says that His choice brings an eternal purpose with it: that we should be holy and blameless – living a life of truth and trust, not only representing the Savior in our lifestyle, but also pointing the next generation to His invitation – the same one we received when we first came: “whosoever will may come.”
4 THE BIG PLAN (1 Peter 1:18-21)
1 Peter 1 in the Greek is a run-on sentence. If the Apostle Peter were in my 11th grade English teacher’s class, Mrs. DeTurk would have failed him royally. But the key is this: Peter is so excited, so overwhelmed with the truth that the Father is sharing with Him, that he can hardly get a breath in.
For it is in these verses that we begin to understand all that the Father was doing before the foundation of the world: the Word, the communion, the choice all lead to the big plan.
Listen to just verses 18-20, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you…”.
Take a breath Peter! The Father’s big plan from before the foundation of the world is the sending His Son to the cross – and Peter saw that plan in action. And in turn so do we!
Application: the entire text is a vivid one. It calls for a foundation of faith in that cross. And it calls for a faith in action by daily living for His glory through obeying the truth.
Isn’t it amazing that the Father wants us to apply His Big “Before the foundation of the world” Plan to our lives?
But wait…before we go we need to see…Christmas!
Christmas, the preparation put to action!
Galatians 4:4,5: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
As we close, picture your filling a glass of water. When the glass has so much water in it that you can’t put any more in, then we call it “full” – and perhaps spilling over, right?
And that’s what has happened here! Time filled up! God’s “heavenly Christmas preparations” were complete!
And a Baby was born in the manger.
- Have you trusted Him as your Savior?
- Are you walking with Him daily in His Word?
- Are you sharing His Word with those He has placed in your pathways?
- Are you part of His “heavenly Christmas preparations” in order that the next generation after us will know Him? Close in prayer