Sermon Title: “Joy- What Are You Looking At?”
Sermon Series: Jesus is Coming! (Advent 2017)
Date: December 17th, 2017
Speaker: Pastor Damian Mericka
Text: Deuteronomy 12; Psalm 16; Zechariah 5:5-11; Philippians 3:12-21
At the time of Jesus’ birth, the global population is estimated to be about 300 million people. Out of this 45 million populated the Roman Empire. More than 90% of this population were not citizens of Rome; they were slaves / conquered people who through taxation provided the means the Empire needed to sustain its glory. The larger lower class funding the smaller upper class- foreign concept, right?! It has been suggested that the Jews made up 10% of that enslaved margin.
Just how many people were waiting and watching for Jesus? While the history of the Jews was full of incredible miracles, inspiring prophecies and encouraging reflections- most of this became a volume of stagnant tradition. Rituals that brought a sense of identity, but provided no direction. Scripture was allegorical rather than literal and aside from some fanatical groups the idea of a coming Messiah was like a wonderful dream that no matter how much one may try to hold on to it, the awakening day crumbles what was and is hardly a thought thereafter. Most were not looking for His First Advent; will you be watching and ready for His Second Advent?
I. Casting Our Eyes Upon God’s House (Deuteronomy 12)
Moses is helping the people to understand that God is not to be worshiped as they saw the Egyptians worship their gods, nor are they to get lost in the idolatry in the land they are soon to enter.
Destroy the altars; do not replace them (Vv.1-4)
All interaction between God and His people would be at a place He chooses (Vv.5-7)
Learn from the past; do not repeat it (Vv.8-9; 29-32)
You Have Not Arrived!
Cast your eyes upon the Temple (Place of God’s Choosing) (Vv.10-19)
All offerings and atonement would be experienced & enjoyed here (Vv.10-17)
You will experience true joy in your lives in relationship with God (Vv.18-19)
Going Deeper: While they have overcome much, the children of Israel have not yet arrived to their inheritance. There was still much to be done and God wants them to be focused and equipped to grow into their calling. Why is it important for them to realize they have not arrived? Where did they worship before the Temple? Why is God particular about how and where He is to be Worshipped?
II. Casting Our Eyes Upon the Lord (Psalm 16)
In David’s day, while many followed his example in worship of God- some did not. In this Psalm David put’s to words the JOY he finds, not in the Temple itself but the God who comes to him in the Temple.
He delights in God and His people (Vv.1-3)
He describes those who choose the direction Moses warned about, away from God (v.4)
In God David has:
A place in His family (Vv. 5-6)
Instruction to grow in his faith (v. 7)
Direction for his life (v.8)
True Joy (Vv. 10-11)
Going Deeper: It can be hard to live for God when those around us are not. While we have our faith, we tend to keep it low key or hidden unless someone else paves the way to be bolder with it. How valuable are relationships with other believers in your life and why? What does David mean in verse 7, that “in the night also my heart instructs me”? Where did David find life giving joy?
III. We Cannot Have Joy Without God (Zechariah 5:5-11)
Zechariah has a vision of a woman in a basket being carried off to a place of worship. Aside from the strangeness of this, there is a message for a people who have turned their eyes from God and our building a life on that which will be destroyed by the Messiah.
A woman in a basket with a lead cover is seen to represent wickedness. In Hebrew, the word for wickedness is a feminine noun and as such visualized as female.
The basket symbolizes the way wickedness travels; being carried by the people. (Vv.5-8)
The lead cover symbolizes the woman’s activity
See & Note: 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8
The location prepared for the basket is a temple in Babylon (Vv.9-11)
If the people cast their eyes on wickedness it will lead them back to Babylon where their joy will be proven false and one day destroyed.
See & Note: Revelation 17 & 18
Going Deeper: What a crazy vision! Why do you think God chose to illustrate His message with a vision like this? Why do you think some visions in the Bible are so odd or require so much study & reflection to understand? Beyond what was explained in the sermon, how does this vision speak into your life today? Can we be drawing closer to God if our eyes are toward something else? What is it that you struggle with that keeps drawing your focus away from God? How long has this been a struggle? What are you going to do about it today?
IV. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (Philippians 3: 12-21)
In a City of great prosperity where one’s Roman citizenship was treasured above anything else in life, Paul reminds believers to remember Moses’ words, follow David’s example and heed Zechariah’s vision of pursuing anything other than God if true JOY is our goal.
We have not yet arrived (Vv.12-13)
Let us pursue Jesus (Vv.14-16)
Cast our eyes upon Jesus! (v.17)
A warning for those who do not (Vv.18-19)
Every day is a step closer toward that city we are already citizens of, being transformed through the mileage! (Vv.20-21)
Going Deeper: Paul reminds you and I that we have not yet arrived! Can we have a relationship with God that brings true joy to our lives without the intentional labor toward Him Paul describes? As Israel would be stepping towards their inheritance, so are we today! What does Paul mean in v.16? In Vv.18-19 we find people who do not “oppose” the Gospel, but rather people who do not live it out in their lives. They claim Jesus but live with their eyes on the things in this world. Paul calls them enemies of the Gospel. How is this a warning to you and I as we live in this world? Are your eyes upon Jesus? Only then will you know true JOY. Blessings!
Sermon Title: “Joy- What Are You Looking At?”