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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

First Sunday In Advent
Series C

Option #1: "Jeremiah's Expectation: Something To Look Forward To"
Jeremiah 33:14-16
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

Introduction: Most of us have a "Christmas wish list" posted for family members to see. We list what we’d like for gifts. We hope that the kindness of family will provide some of these gifts. The Old Testament saints had promises from God whose fulfillment they were awaiting. As we see these promises fulfilled in Christ, we rejoice as we await their complete fulfillment at Christ’s return.

1) Promises fulfilled--v14; Gen 22:18; Isa 9:6; Lk 10:23-24

2) A just and righteous Savior-King--v15; Isa 11:1-2; Dan 2:44; Zech 9:9; Lk1:69

3) Salvation that satisfies justice and grace simultaneously--Rom 3:21-26; John 5:22-29; Rom 11:26-27; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:7-9; Heb 1:8-9; 2 Pet 1:1-2

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia re: "The Lord our Righteousness": The righteousness upon the ground of which God justifies the ungodly is, according to Paul, witnessed to in the Old Testament (Rom 3:21). In order to obtain the blessedness which comes from a right relation to God, the pardon or non-imputation of sin is necessary, and this takes place through the "covering" of sin (Ps 32:1, 2). The nature of this covering by the vicarious bearing of the penalty of sin is made clear in Isa 53. It is, moreover, the teaching of the Old Testament that the righteousness which God demands is not to be found among men (Ps 130:3; 143:2; Isa 64:6). Accordingly, the prophets speak of a righteousness which is not from man’s works, but which is said to be in Yahweh or to come from Him to His people (Isa 32:16f; 45:23ff; 54:17; 58:8; 61:3; Jer 51:10; Hos 10:12). This idea finds its clearest expression in connection with the work of the Messiah in Jer 33:16, where Jerusalem is called "Yahweh our righteousness" because of the coming of the Messianic king, and in Jer 23:6, where the same name is given to the Messiah to express His significance for Israel. Although the idea of the imputation of righteousness is not explicitly asserted in these passages, the idea is not merely that the righteousness spoken of is recognized by Yahweh (Cremer), but that it comes from Him, so that Yahweh, through the work of the Messiah, is the source of His people’s righteousness.

This idea is taken up by Paul, who makes explicit the way in which this righteousness comes to sinners, and who puts the idea of imputed righteousness at the basis of his doctrine of justification. By the righteousness of Christ Paul means Christ’s legal status, or the merit acquired by all that He did in satisfying the demands of God’s law, including what has been called His active and passive obedience.

That the imputation of the righteousness of Christ to the believer does lie at the basis of Paul’s doctrine of justification can be further seen from the fact that justification is absolutely free and unmerited so far as the sinner is concerned (Rom 3:24; 5:15; Gal 5:4; Tit 3:7); its object being one who is ungodly (Rom 4:5); so that it is not by works (Rom 3:20, 28; Gal 2:16; 3:11; 5:4; Phil 3:9); and yet that it is not a mere pardon of sin, but is a strictly "forensic" or judicial judgment, freeing the sinner from all the claims of the law, and granting him the right to eternal life. This last truth is plain because God’s retributive righteousness lies at the basis of Paul’s doctrine of justification (Rom 2); is manifested in it (Rom 3:25f); because Christ’s work is its ground (Rom 3:25); and because our redemption from the curse of the law rests upon Christ’s having borne it for us and our redemption from all the demands of the law depends upon their fulfillment by Christ (Gal 3:13; 4:4). ...The gracious character of justification consists for Paul in the fact that the righteousness on the ground of which God justifies the ungodly is a righteousness which is graciously provided by God and which Paul contrasts with his own righteousness which comes from law works (Phil 3:9). The sinner, therefore, is pardoned and accepted as a righteous person, not on account of anything in himself, but only on account of what Christ has done for him.

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Children's Message 

Object: wrapped package and one golf club in wrapping paper

It won’t be long and you’ll have your Christmas tree up and gifts under it. You’ll try to find the gifts with your name on it. You may even pick up the gift and shake it to see if you figure out if you’re getting what you asked for.

The part of the Bible for our study today was written long before Jesus came to our world. They didn’t know all the details, anymore than you know what all of your gifts will be, but they knew God’s promises.

The gift they were waiting for was Jesus, our Savior and King. Jeremiah called him "The Lord, our Righteousness." That’s a big word, so I’ll try to explain.

Christmas is about God’s gift of our Savior, so I don’t really like that song that tells children how good they must be to get their gifts. Jesus our Savior was God’s gift for sinful people. He is exactly the gift we need. He takes away our sins and carries them with him to the cross. He died for our sins on the cross.

In place of our sins, he gives us his righteousness. There’s that word again! It means that he sets things straight that were crooked. It means that what he did for us is given to us as a gift. It is as if we had never sinned because we have his perfect record transferred to us by faith.

Jeremiah and the other prophets and millions of people in the Old Testament looked forward to Jesus’ coming. You look forward to the gifts you will receive at Christmas.

There was a young man who was hoping to get a special gift from his parents at Christmas. This is what he saw under the tree. (A gift-wrapped golf club.) When no one was home, he said, he would go into the living room and take some swings with it. "I was already enjoying it," he said, "as if it were already mine."

That’s how we are to look at the Christmas promises that have not yet been kept. Jesus our Righteous King is coming back. He said: "I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

That’s the best part of Christmas--and it’s just beginning. Look forward to it. Enjoy it! It’s yours!

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"Radical Generosity"
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.
This Sunday is Stewardship Sunday at the parish where I serve
and, accordingly, the following is offered for your present or future use.
"The Church is Always Asking for Money!"
Sometimes you hear people say, "The church is always asking for money!"
That statement is untrue.
It is the world which is always asking for money, not the church.
When did you last go to the grocery store and the checker failed to ask you for money?
Your mortgage company asks for money with unfailing regularity.
If you are like most people, each month brings a new collection of bills.
Are any of them from the church?
Who withholds a percentage of every dollar you earn?
Your Uncle does that; your Father does not.
There is no free lunch--
    except at church.
    You can attend worship every week: there is no admission charge.
    If you are sick, the pastor or someone from the church will visit you in the hospital.
    Where else can you get free counseling when you need it?
    Where will your children be married?
    Several hundred people receive news and information from the church every week or month.
    None receives a subscription notice asking for money--as with other publications.
What do you do when your loved one dies?
What will it cost?
The funeral home will certainly charge for its services.
    Your church will not.
    The church building is always there when you need it--cleaned, heated, air-conditioned and with kitchen and nursery provided.
    You can make full use of it and never pay one dime.
    No one will ever ask you if you contribute or not.
You have to pay taxes to provide your children with "free" public education,
    but your church operates a Sunday School which will give quality Christian education--
    Christian education with absolutely no cost or obligation.
    The church requires no membership fee, no annual dues.
    It never sends its members a bill.
Is there any other organization in the world that functions that way?
    I don't know of any.
    The truth is, the church asks for money less than anything else you can think of.
Consider this paradox: compared to the government and bill collectors, the church almost never asks for money.
Yet of all the things your money can be used for,
    very few are more important than what the church provides.
    The church is here to share the love of Jesus Christ Himself.
    Our money goes to serve God and His people.
    We will continue to provide ministry in Jesus' name to everyone, whether they can afford to contribute or not.
    Isn't that something you would like to be part of?
Adapted from Saints Alive newsletter
Also available:
12 Suggestions for Creative Financial Stewardship
Financial Stewardship Dedication Worksheet
Financial Stewardship Pledge Card
Please advise if you wish a copy of any or all of the above.


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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:34 PM