6 December 2020 (Advent Second Sunday Morning Prayer)
Dear Friends, Thank-you for the opportunity to share with you in this Morning Prayer Service for the Second Sunday in Advent. I hope that you have found the two Bible Readings helpful, as we heard from Romans 15:4-13 and Luke 1:5-20.
Advent Season is quite exciting for many, as we lead up to our celebrations of the coming of Jesus as the Babe of Bethlehem.
Last Sunday we were reminded by the minister, the Rev’d Jabson, of the importance of the two Advents, known as the First Coming and the Second Coming of Jesus. We soon shall again celebrate the First Coming, but we still await the Second Coming of Jesus.
We were also reminded that Jesus came to our world for a reason, in love to do and be what was needed to enable us to find repentance from sin and salvation, so we could become true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. As usual, there were helpful quotes from the Bible.]
This morning I just wanted to say, before reading today’s text, that because of Covid-19, and other issues, the celebration of Christmas, socially and family-wise, may be limited or subdued a bit.
This is tough. Really, very tough for some. Especially the lonely and poorly.
Will Maureen and I be able to see any of our children and grandchildren this Christmas? Certainly not like usual, with big family gatherings. Illness will prevent two or more from celebrating with us at some stage. This is tough. And many of you may have difficulty in doing what you would usually wish to do, in family and friend celebrations. We need patience and comfort from our God.
Please may I say that, although these aspects are tough, the glory of God in Jesus coming to this world is still wondrous. The First Advent or Coming of Jesus is as much worth celebrating as ever.
It is exciting, moving, amazing, inspirational, a marvellous yet humbling indicator of God’s love for us, as well as the truth of His Word, the Bible.
So let us ask God to help us to really rejoice in the First Advent this Christmas. In our innermost beings let the Spirit of God minister to our very hearts and souls.
For a few minutes, I would like to bring to us some truths from our text, Romans 15:4.
I hope we can be encouraged yet again in our appreciation of the Bible which God inspired so that we could have the record of truth and love, warning and deliverance, found in the Bible. Let me read our text, and then we can go through it briefly looking at some key words. But as we look at some key words let us remember they are part of the complete sentence meaning which forms the basis for our thoughts.
Romans 15:4 is this morning’s text.
“Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning; that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures
might have hope.”
Let us look at the first part of our text:
“Whatsoever things were written aforetime.”
So what was written? We can define this by the context. It is the Scriptures that were written aforetime. In this case it points to the Old Testament. When the writers of the New Testament refer to the Scriptures, they are referring to the Old Testament.
The Canon of the New Testament had not been fully written, drawn together. (But remember, it has now. We have an inspired New Testament to add to the inspired Old Testament Scriptures.)
One helpful thing to do at Advent and Christmas is to look at Matthew’s Gospel and to see how in recording events surrounding the coming of Jesus he quotes from the Old Testament. Events happened so that “it might be fulfilled which was spoken in the Scriptures.” Jesus and the apostles so well authenticated the value of the Old Testament Scriptures.
Recall the words of the traditional nine lessons and carols, too.
Our text from Romans 15:4 continues:- “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning;”
A splendid example of scriptural teaching and of people learning was given by Jesus himself, now the risen Christ, when he was conversing with two men who did not recognise Him. They were the discouraged Cleopas and his equally discouraged friend, walking on the road to Emmaus.
Their Lord had been crucified. We notice that Jesus explained from the OT scriptures the things concerning Himself. Cleopas and his friend were greatly moved, and blessed. The more so when Jesus blessed the bread at the meal, then disappeared from their sight.
“Did not our hearts burn within us?” they said.
[Lesson. How often verses from the Bible have given us truths to lift our spirits!]
Thus the Scriptures are given for our learning, that we might understand more about God, ourselves and the Christian calling and pathway.
The apostle Paul wrote, in 2 Timothy 3:16-17,
“16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
Our text from Romans 15:4 further reads: “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning; that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
A possibly solemn, but potentially, pause here, as we remind ourselves of the definition of the subject pronoun “we” in our text.
So “we” in this text refers to whom? In Romans 1:7 Paul said he was writing “To all that are in Rome who are loved by God, and called to be saints, Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” He was writing to believers, and his words were saved and recorded for the edification of Christians through the centuries and around the world. So “we” refers to believers.
If you have a chance to read in the Christ Church monthly magazine my simple writing, called “MY GRANDFATHER’S BIBLE”, you will find examples of how a 20th century saint so valued the Scriptures, so valued his Bible.
Friends, how well are we, living in the 21st century, continuing this Biblical appreciation that we read about in the saints of yesteryear?
God is good. Saints of today have the same access to the comfort of God’s Word and to the Holy Spirit.
We are yet further and finally reminded, from our text, Romans 15:4, that “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning; that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
Three lovely words we have here. Patience, comfort and hope.
All these qualities or helps can be gleaned from the Scriptures as the Holy Spirit applies these truths to our hearts
Patience. The Greek word ‘upomones’ is used here. It has the meaning of patience, endurance, perseverance. Depends a bit on the context.
Another example comes from the parable of the Sower. Luke 8:15. “… the seed sown on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the Word, retain it, and by persevering produce a good crop.”
In our Romans text the apostle writes of the patience or endurance of the Scriptures
The same word is used by the apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3:5. “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.”
(Paul is just touching here on the Second Advent!)
Much is said in the Bible about endurance, patience, perseverance! But that is for another study, as we must move on in our text for today.
Comfort. It reads, “the patience and comfort of the Scriptures. The Greek word used is ‘parakleseos’ The NIV uses the word “encouragement”
The word ‘parakleseos’ is related to the Greek word ‘parakleteis’ from which we get the word paraclete. This was a word used by Jesus to describe the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who comes alongside believers to help them.
The Bible also speaks of faith coming by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, so the Holy Spirit takes truths from the Old and New Testaments, and applies them in a nurturing and comforting way to our hearts, as well as indwelling us with His presence, too.
Just to repeat this part of our text. Romans 15:4. “That we, through the patience, and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope.”
Patience, comfort and hope. Three lovely words to end with.
How very much indeed we need patience, comfort and hope nowadays.
As we have noted, at the family and memories time, Christmas, many will be lonely, frustrated or discouraged. But challenges are or may be there all year long.
However, we must never, never, let these aspects rob us of blessing of the knowledge, and comfort, of the unchanging spiritual aspect of God’s love for us in sending His Son to earth.
Do you remember this great hymn verse?
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesu’s blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesu’s Name.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.”
Brothers and sisters, during this Advent Season, but also beyond it, what are we going to do with the Scriptures, written aforetime for our learning? Learn? Grow?
Will we still, by God’s grace, make melody in our hearts to the Lord? Will we sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs? Yes, and sing plenty of carols?
“Praise be to God that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and for ever!”
Out text read, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning; that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures
might have hope.”
May I please finish by reading the verse following our text? Good teaching and desire here.
Paul writes in Romans 15:5 these words.
“Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one towards another, according to Christ Jesus; that ye may glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen.