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You Don't Want to Miss This - By Pastor Thomas Engel

As crucial that current world events are to our present moments, our immediate days ahead of us, and to far future times, we need to find ways to step away from them.

These current events can overwhelm our minds and emotions to the point that we don’t know what to think and feel anymore.

So, I need remind myself to take a break from watching the horrific reports of world events on the news and take CC for a walk down by the lake.

I’m sure the world will be here when we get back from our walk. At least, I hope so.

Years ago, I read a quote from Billy Graham that really hits our time and places right about now.

“World events are moving very rapidly now. I pick up the Bible in one hand, and I pick up the newspaper in the other. And I read almost the same words in the newspaper as I read in the Bible. It’s being fulfilled every day round about us.”

With a ministry that expanded decades, Billy Graham’s sermons had a pattern of talking the news of the times and applying the Gospel message to those times.

I’m not sure you will agree with me about my description of those decades.

The 50’s was a golden age with modern appliances, televisions, and the birth of rock and roll.

If you got a clothes dryer and a television, you were the talk of the neighborhood.

We saw Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show changing the culture with his music and hips.

Then, came the turbulent 60’s that lead to the aimless decades of the 70’s, but we gotta say this about disco, “Love that boogie beat.”

If you still have your polyester suit in the back of your closet and your hoping the style will come back, I’m thinking, “Good luck with that.”

The 80’s had such financial messes, but we could escape to arcades to play Pac Man.

We seem to get more of a direction in the information age of the 90’s. The internet gave us the world at our finger tips.

We can’t go wrong with so much data and facts upon facts.

“Knowledge is power.”

Having knowledge is good, but it just didn’t make things much better, for the 2000’s gave us 9/11 and wars.

Now, here we are with more wars.

Definitely, I need a break from the news, but it’s the world in which we live.

Billy Graham is right, “The world is moving very rapidly round about us.”

During the events of 9/11, the news did not go to commercial breaks.

My morning routine is to have a cup of coffee and check the morning news. From those days after 9/11 when our eyes were glued to television screen screens, I have to say that when I turn on the news now, I breath a sigh of relief that a commercial is on. If the news channel is taking a commercial break, I know that no serious breaking news is happening.

Sticking with the quote from Billy Graham, “I pick up the Bible in one hand, and I pick up the newspaper in the other.”

The news can be difficult to see, but with the events that happen, we are not without support.

In one hand, we have a newspaper telling us the events of the world that are mostly horrific these days, but we look into our other hand that is carrying our Bible.

We open up our Bible and see how it can be used to apply to the events of our times and places.

This scenario is exactly what happened to me this week. On Monday morning, I did my routine of drinking a cup of coffee and watching the news. The news was sadly horrific.

Then, I started preparing for Sunday’s message. In studying the Old Testament reading for this Sunday, I saw immediately how what Isaiah was saying to God’s people in his time could be applied to the world’s present events.

In the chapters that precede and culminate in the reading, Isaiah brings an ebb and flow of weal and woe, judgment and justification, wrath and rescue.

Judah and Jerusalem is chastened for her rebellion and disobedience, face the threat of Syria and Ephraim, and await the coming ambition and arrogance of Assyria, yet God’s people are, at the same time, offered the hope of salvation in the coming of a king, who will bring with him God’s judgment, justice, and peace.

In all of this, Isaiah says, it will come to pass “in that day.” He is indicating a promised future yet to be realized. In that day, a song of gratitude for salvation won will be sung, but here in the reading, it’s given to God’s people even before “that day.”

I want to talk more about “that day” because it’s a most important day for us.

Everything hinges on “that day.”

“That day” is a day that we do not want to miss.

First, we need to see how the world has always been a place where events happen.

In Isaiah’s time and place, there was rebellion and disobedience. Or, in one word there was “sin.”

God’s people did not obey His good will for them.

So, God did what He had to do as a righteous God who could not let sin go by without judgment.

Isaiah’s job, as God’s prophet, was to tell the people of their sin, their need to repent, and to return to doing God’s will for their lives, or they would suffer from God’s judgment.

To make a long story short, the people continued to disobey God.

In their disobedience, God did judge them, and He let their enemies over take them.

They faced the threat of Syria and Ephraim, and the coming ambition and arrogance of Assyria.

The words “threat,” “coming ambition,” and “arrogance” can be said of many times and places throughout history, and even in today’s time and places.

Because sin has been in the world since the first humans fall into sin, God has had to judge sin.

This judgment means the world will have its woes as it sees and feels horrific events.

God letting sin have its consequences seen and felt is the showing of His wrath against sin.

To tell people of the consequences of sin was Isaiah’s purpose as God’s prophet.

But, it was also Isaiah’s purpose to tell of God’s plan to rescue the people.

Isaiah talked about “that day.” This day was a certain day that a new king will come to deliver people from their sin.

He wanted to be sure that people would know about “that day,” so they would not miss God’s saving work to bring people to joy and peace.

I think we need a little Christmas here.

This is what we read from Isaiah about this new king in earlier chapters:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

This is the Fourth Sunday of Lent and is traditionally known as a day to rejoice.

Although we do have our woes in our time and places, we have a lot to rejoice about.

Isaiah was telling of a new king that will rescue them. This promise was good news to them, for they could know that the hard times that they were in would change to better times when the new king came.

That promise was reason for them to rejoice. Although “that day” of a new king was coming, they benefited from that promise in their time and place.

For us,

We are living after the birth of the new king.

We are living after the life of that new king.

We are living after the death of that new king who died for the sins of the world.

We are living after that new king rose from the dead to win victory over all that wants to harm us.

We are living in a time when that new king reigns over heaven and earth by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the love, mercy, and grace of God the Father.

On this day, we have a lot to rejoice about, for we are living in “that day” where our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is here.

And, we look forward to “that day” when Jesus comes again to bring us to himself and give us perfect joy and peace forever.

I can’t help but think of our chapel services. I think I can say that the children’s favorite song is “This is the Day.”

If you are a block away during chapel, even with the widows closed, you would hear the children singing, “This is the Day.”

What a blessing to anyone walking by at that time.

Is this not that day the Lord has made to rejoice in?

You might answer, but I’ve just seen the news. World events are horrific now. How can I rejoice in this day or any day?

I agree with Billy Graham. It’s true that in one hand you are holding a newspaper that tells of many woes, but that news is not the whole story, that news as horrific as it is does not need to dominate the world, that news does not have the last word.

I encourage you today to look in your other hand that is holding a Bible.

The Bible also tells of woes, but it also tells of “that day.” A day that we don’t want to miss.

That day is here now. It’s a day of salvation. It’s a day that has our Lord and Savior in it.

We are living in “that day.” For sure, we don’t want to miss it.

By faith, we know that we are living in “that day” that brings us joy and peace.

God has made sure we have not missed it.

Even on Sunday mornings, my routine is to make coffee and turn on the news.

From the news, I saw that the world is still here, but horrifc things are still happening.

But, those things do not dominate or have the last word.

You and I came here on this Fourth Sunday of Lent that is a day of rejoicing.

In any day, of any month, of any year, of any decade, of any century, it’s a time of rejoicing in our places.

It’s a day of rejoicing because this day is also “that day” with our Lord and Savior in it.

Let’s end with some rejoicing because I think we need it:

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

In any time and in any place, whatever the events are, this message from Isaiah, God’s prophet, gives us reason to rejoice.

This day of rejoicing is a day we don’t want to miss.

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