God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
4 There is
a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and
see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
is the second week of Advent and the theme of this week is prophecy.
- We just lit the candle of Prophecy on the Advent wreath.
- The universal church, during Advent, looks back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people.
- The primary text for the four weeks in
Advent this year is Isaiah 9:6 and 7 –
- For to
us a child is born to us a son is given, and the government
will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
- For to us a child is born to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
- Last week we worked with the first name of the Messiah – Wonderful Counselor – and we came the realize again the mighty power in the Holy Spirit – that comes to us as the Comforter— the Guide – the Counselor – with amazing power to help us in our time of need and to celebrate with us in the times of joy. Wonderful Counselor!
theme is Mighty God. It’s another promise that we read in Isaiah about the
coming of the Messiah. God is saying to us: I will fulfill the promise I
- Promises are hard to keep, and easier to make. Large promises with far-reaching consequences fill the pages of the Bible.
- The prophet Jeremiah knew about them, and he also knew that it would take the actions of “the Mighty God” to bring these promises to fulfillment.
- God would need to do something extraordinary to end the exile of His people and restore them to their former blessing.
- Life had fallen apart for little Judah, and it could no longer look to an earthly ruler to fight its battles or be strong in the face of danger.
- The king was gone and so was the city and the temple.
- What the prophecies were saying is that the Messiah is coming – as a Mighty God.
- Let’s look at Psalm 46 on page 780 of
our hymnal. Let’s read it slowly and ponder the words. Beth will play the first
response— from “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.
- Then – when we are finished with Psalm 46, we will continue to sing — A Mighty Fortress is Our God – page 110 in our hymnal.
- Perhaps the finest of Luther’s great
hymns is “A Mighty Fortress.”
- Its majestic and thunderous proclamation of our faith is a singing symbol of the Reformation.
- Inspired by Psalm 46, Luther caught up in the hymn the very essence of faith, and the fervor and flavor of patriotism which he found in Psalm 46.
- This Psalm had fortified Luther with courage to defy the whole system of ecclesiastical tyranny in his day, and his hymn has been the bugle call of our Protestant heritage.
- With the mighty God and his marching hosts nothing can stand. This hymn can be called one of the most glorious hymn of faith that ever was sung.
- Throughout the ages people have been stirred by the realization that the Mighty God is available to them and that nothing, literally nothing, can overwhelm or destroy people when they follow God’s call through Jesus Christ.
- No wonder this Psalm is so lifting. It
was born in an hour of gloom and danger and defeat.
- It contemplates the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrian invading armies. The people of God were bottled up behind the walls in Jerusalem. Fear and dread seized the people as they huddled helplessly behind the city walls. Soon the Assyrian battering rams would hammer at the walls until the Holy City would be no more.
- How could this people with their puny army stand up to the assault?
- When all the resources of the garrison
have been estimated and set down, greater than every other factor is the
knowledge that “God is in the midst of us.” And what a God he is!
- Not only is he the commander of the hosts in battle but God is the friend of the lonely and the comfort of the sorrowing. God has made a covenant between heaven and earth. No matter what happens, “God is in the midst of us.”.
- In that dramatic experience the Psalm
- Hope lives as told by the Psalm
- Despair and fear and gloom have been dispelled.
- God has demonstrated both his power and his love.
- Under the spell of this mighty deliverance, the psalmist wants to instill in the people an abiding trust. The psalmist knows that God is dependable, that God is available, that God is unfailing—even in dark hours. God is with us.
- Years ago, there was a guide on the
Canadian border who escorted American fishermen to the most promising fishing
areas. Although he signed his name only with an “X,” somewhere in his
background he had been exposed to the idea that God made all things and that
his happiness came in dedicating his life to God.
- Evidently this idea made an indelible image in his heart. Each morning he made a prayer something like this: “God help me have a good day fishing. Help me be a good man, for Jesus. Amen.”
- One day when the results were not good his employers said him about his prayer, “Well, Joe, your prayin’ didn’t pay off today. Look—only one measly little fish!”
- “You wrong, friend,” said Joe, “Maybe no fish. But me no mad like you.”
- Then came a toothless smile that wrinkled his red-brown parchment face, “The trees still tall, the water clear. The sun still in sky. No fish today, more for catch tomorrow. God is good. God give you, me, good day.”
- “God is our refuge and strength, and he is a very present help in time of trouble.” The Messiah is a Mighty God.
- The second royal title, “Mighty God.” – wonderful Counselor and now Mighty God
- It is easy for us to forget, sitting here
2000 years after Jesus’ life, that the early church struggled to articulate how
Jesus was related to God.
- We have had the benefits of time and history to contemplate the Trinity or to confirm that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine.
- For monotheistic Jews of the first century, however, these were not easy truths to come by.
- The church did eventually come to confess Jesus as God, just as Thomas had done when he said, “My Lord and my God!” but it was not simple or obvious for first century Christians.
- The Hebrew scriptures were written at
a time when kings were regarded as divine, meaning that they carried some of
the power that properly belonged to God and transcended normal human power and
- The king bore responsibility for the prosperity of his people, a prosperity that would be marked by shalom, a peace and well-being that would pervade the entire kingdom. Peace is a predominant theme at Christmas time.
- An effective king would assure that his realm would have victory in war, success in economics, productivity in agriculture and justice in social relationships.
- In addition, the biblical requirements of Israel included that the king must practice economic justice toward the poor and needy.
- The word “mighty” in Isaiah’s
title speaks to the bravery and boldness.
- These attributes enable him to remain steadfast in using his power to resist every threat and thus make his people safe. The king is expected to have uncommon courage and power in the execution of his office.
- So, we need to ask, “How did Jesus manifest and perform divine power? How did he exercise the energy and force to enact change, restoration and new life?” Why do we call Jesus the name of the Messiah – Mighty God!
- Let’s look at one example in the ministry of Jesus in his ministry allow us to glimpse the mighty power of God that is exhibited in the life of Jesus.
- In Mark 1 Jesus is confronted by a man with an unclean spirit. The way Mark narrates the confrontation, the man himself does not actively figure in the drama. The interaction is between Jesus and the spirit. The unclean spirit immediately recognizes Jesus and sees that he is a threat to his existence and to his function of debilitation: “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” (1:24)
- The unclean spirit identifies Jesus
with a title of honor that matches the coronation language of Isaiah,
acknowledging his divine power.
- Jesus responds to the challenge by issuing a double command that asserts his authority over the spirit: “Be silent and come out of him!” (vs. 25) to which the spirit responds by immediately obeying Jesus’ command. The spirit didn’t want to come out of the man, but it was helpless before the mighty authority of Jesus. The response of the crowd who observes this encounter is an acknowledgement of Jesus’ authority: “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! Even the unclean spirits obey him.”
- Jesus is the giver of life who performs the function of the creator God.
- In Jesus of Nazareth the world saw the
power of God for life on display.
- It is power for life that is grounded in God alone, for life can come from nowhere else.
- We need to remember that the chaotic and unclean forces of our time have no chance against the Mighty God and those who act in his name.
- It took the early church a while to catch on—and it usually takes us a while, as well—but the truth is that the mighty power of God that enabled Jesus to rebuke the wind and the demon is the same power that was given to the church at Pentecost and is the same power given to us.
- And it is given for the same reason—so that we can stand against the forces that seek to enslave us in fear, division and death—and act, instead, as kingdom agents of life, light and truth.
- Shortly we are going to sing the hymn “How Great Thou Art.”
- This absolutely powerful hymn about
the Mighty God had its beginning in 1886. It was written in the Swedish home of
author and editor, Carl Bo-berg, a
- The song was known in several European countries before it finally reached the United States.
- Bo-berg said of the writing of his
- “It was in 1885, and in the time of year when everything seemed to be in its richest coloring; the birds were singing in trees and wherever they could find a perch. On a particular afternoon, some friends and I had been to a local town where we had participated in an afternoon service. As we were returning a thunderstorm began to appear on the horizon. We hurried to shelter. There were loud claps of thunder, and the lighting flashed across the sky. Strong winds swept over the meadows and billowing fields of grain. However, the storm was soon over, and the clear sky appeared with a beautiful rainbow.”
- “After reaching my home, I opened my window toward the sea. The church bells were playing the tune of a hymn. That same evening, I wrote a poem which I titled, How Great Thou Art.”
- The poem was later set to a Swedish folk tune.
- “How Great Thou Art” subsequently became the best-loved hymn of the Billy Graham crusades. It was used over and over again. In New York in 1957 it was used more than 100 times by George Beverly Shea.
- Aside from the melody, the secret of the hymn’s popularity and effectiveness is its direct and simple manner of worship and praise to God. The attention is immediately focused upon the Lord. – Mighty God!
- If you are follower of Christ, then His Spirit, the Holy
Spirit, lives in you.
- And His Spirit is a spirit of power
and Christ’s Spirit gives you:
- Power to love.
- Power to forgive.
- Power to trust.
- Power over fear, and addiction, and anger, and worry, and lust, and depression, and guilt.
- Power to persevere in the midst of suffering and mistreatment.
- Power to overcome discouragement and disappointment.
- Power that can restore and strengthen relationships, even when it seems the hurt is too deep ever to heal.
- Power that can cleanse us from sin, even when it seems that the sin has such a grip on our hearts, we can never break free.
- Power to give us hope and joy even in the midst of difficult, heartbreaking circumstances.
- Power to change our attitude; to replace grumbling and complaining with gratitude and thanksgiving.
- And His Spirit is a spirit of power and Christ’s Spirit gives you:
- In short, power to accomplish real, lasting change in our lives, to make us more like Christ and give us the abundant life he promised.
- God is a Mighty God.
- How Great Thou Art!