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God Keeps His Promises December 24, 2013

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Luke 2:8-14

Christmas Eve

December 24th, 2013

 

Focus: God keeps His promises.

Function: That the hearers trust in God’s promise of everlasting life.

Structure: Story/reflection.

 

God Keeps His Promises

 

A few years ago, author Max Lucado shared a touching story with his readers:

 

In 1989, an 8.2 earthquake almost flattened Armenia, killing over 30,000 people in less than four minutes. Surprisingly, such tragedies often bring out the best in people. Let me show you the loving heart of a father. 

In the midst of chaos and destruction, he rushed to his son’s school. But instead of a school, he found a shapeless heap of rubble. Imagine what went through his mind. In the case of this father, the sight of rubble and ruin made him spring into action. He ran to the back corner of the building where his son’s class used to be and began to dig. Why? What real hope did he have? What were the chances that his son could have survived such destruction? All he knew was that he had made a promise to always be there for his boy. It was this promise that animated his hands and motivated his heart. 

As he began to dig, well-meaning parents tried to pull him out of the rubble saying: “It’s too late!” “They’re dead!” “You can’t help!” “Go home!” “There’s nothing you can do!” Then the fire chief tried to pull him off the rubble by saying, “Fires and explosions are happening everywhere. You’re in danger. Go home!” Finally, the police came and said, “It’s over. You’re endangering others. Go home. We’ll handle it!” 

But this father continued to dig for eight … 12 … 24 … 36 hours. Then, in the 38th hour, he pulled back a boulder and heard his son’s voice. Immediately, he screamed, “ARMAND!” Back came the words, “Dad!? I told them! I told the other kids that if you were still alive, you’d save me! You promised me, you’d always be here for me! You did it, Dad!” 

The earthquake actually leveled 70% of the buildings in Armenia and killed over 50,000 people.  Another 15,000 were saved from the wreckage and the rubble.  The story of Armand and his father is an inspiring one filled with emotion.  That little boy’s trust in his father gave him the strength to survive for 38 hours, despite being buried alive.  But more than that, that little boy’s trust in his father’s promise gave hope to his classmates.  One father’s promise saved lives.

As a new father, that story strikes me.  I hope and pray that I am such a man of my word, that my children can trust me.  That no matter what the situation may be, my kids will always be able to look up to me and know that my words are true.

That said, I know I’m a sinner.  I know I’m not perfect and that I fall short.  I know that I’ve broken promises to myself and those around me.  There are times when I’m not even sure I can trust myself.

If you’re honest with yourself, you can probably resonate with that.  Even if your memory isn’t the sharpest, you can probably recall a time when you said you’d do something, and you didn’t follow through.  From something as trivial as emptying the dishwasher to the much more serious idea of being faithful in your relationships, sin corrupts our ability to keep our word.  We fall short.

But much like Armand’s father, we also have a Father who made us a promise.  God made us a promise.  In fact, you could make a good-sized list of promises God made in the Bible.  One important one He made some 4000 years ago:

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:1-3 ESV)

 

This side of heaven, we may never know exactly why God chose Abram, Abraham.  But He did.  He decided to choose Abraham and his descendants to be His holy people.  And He was true to His word.  Fast-forward 700 years, to the Exodus account, when God brings His holy people out of Egypt.  The nation of Israel, God’s people, Abraham’s descendants, numbered 600,000 men, not counting women and children.  A rough estimate would put that around 2 million people.  God keeps His promises.

A few hundred years later, God makes a promise to Israel’s new king, David:

Thus says the LORD of hosts, “I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be ruler over My people Israel.  And I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth…

“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Samuel 7:8-10, 12-13)

 

God keeps His promises.  The direct answer to King David is that his son Solomon would be king and build God’s temple.  All of that happens.  But that last piece, about establishing the throne of his kingdom forever, that’s a little more complicated.

The promises God makes, like that promise to David, point to a King who would come, who would rescue His people and restore to them the glory of God.  These promises, like the promise of the Armenian father, created hope among the Israelites.  Prophet after prophet arose and spoke more of these promises on God’s behalf.  We learn from Micah that this King would be born in Bethlehem.  We learn from Jeremiah that He would bring about a new covenant for God’s people.

In our sermon series, Child of Promise, we spent the month of Advent, of waiting for this coming King, examining some of the prophet Isaiah’s words about these promises.  We see another in our Old Testament reading today: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel.”

Talk about an earth-shattering promise.  Not only is Isaiah saying that a virgin is going to give birth, but he’s also promising that God is going to dwell among us.  That’s Immanuel, God with us.  That’s what the name means.  This virgin’s son is going to be God Himself.

God keeps His promises.  We see all of these things and more fulfilled in our Christmas gospel.  The virgin Mary gives birth to a Son, a baby boy named Jesus.  He’s born in Bethlehem, the city of David, just as Micah said, and just as the angels announced to the shepherds in the field that night.

Now add to that list, God had made promises to Mary and those shepherds.  God had made a promise to an old man named Simeon, that he would see the Son of God before he died.  God keeps His promises.

It didn’t take long for the people to recognize that this babe in Bethlehem, this little boy named Jesus, was someone special.  Many quickly connected Him to the prophecies and promises of God spoken by the prophets.  Many made the very same connections that we’re making tonight.

Here is our King.  Here is our Immanuel.  Here is our Messiah, the Christ, the One would deliver us, the One who would restore Israel.  This little child’s kingdom will never end.  The Magi, or wise men, knew it, and they journeyed hundreds of miles to see this king.  The King of the Jews at the time, King Herod, scoffed at the prophecy, but yet was so afraid of it, that he killed any little boy that could be found in Bethlehem.

God keeps His promises.  And there’s one more promise that cannot go without mention.  Jesus tells us in John’s gospel:  “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40 ESV)

Talk about a promise that gives hope!  Stuck in the rubble heap that is our own sinful living, unable to be trusted, unable to keep our own promises, God keeps His promise to us.  He sends us a Savior.  That Messiah that people waited for for thousands of years, He came.  He came to rescue us, to deliver us from our own pile of rubble.

God keeps His promises.  Not one of them, not one, has ever failed.  If God says He’s going to do something, He does it.  That’s why we have hope, because we know without a doubt that we can trust His promises.  We know, without a doubt, that we can trust in His promise of salvation.

As you gather with your loved ones, your family and your friends, rejoice together in the glory of God’s promises, all of which point to our Savior.  Give thanks to our God for keeping His promises and sending His Son Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and King.  Trust and hope in that final promise of everlasting life with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Because God always keeps His promises.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, from my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

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