“The Baby Jesus Is Going to Open His Eyes”

Mary and baby JesusNativities and New Years

As Michelle, the family, and I reflect on this past year…one thing we thank and praise God for is that…after more than a year and a lot of mokyearching, the Lord has brought us into a wonderful family here. I may not be able to remember all your names yet :-), but every one of you is a blessing from above to us.

Although it is not the building that makes a church, I’ve also appreciated how this one is decorated…and today’s sermon, in part, is inspired by the nativity you see right in front of me. Just after it was first put up…and before we moved it and the table over-and-over ūüôā Pastor Wayne…Augie came out of the sanctuary and said to me, “The baby Jesus is going to open His eyes.”

Along with a huge, proud fatherly smile a thought came to mind. When baby Jesus opens His eyes, what will He see? From the Bible we can get a picture of what He saw 2,000 years ago…but…and we know when He returns it will not be as a baby…but if Jesus were to return as a baby today and opened His eyes, what would He see?

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the “extras” that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

Headlines ‚ÄĒ A Child

In our media soaked-world, perhaps He would have first read of the fate of another baby…one who will never be even given a name on this planet. Reading from an article in the Brisbane Times earlier this month:

A NSW couple who fought to have their pregnancy terminated at 28 weeks after discovering the foetus had a physical abnormality has revealed the inconsistency and fear surrounding decisions over late-term abortion in NSW, where the procedure remains a criminal act, punishable by ten years jail.

Mother-to-be Cindy was 23 weeks pregnant when the first indication there might be a problem with the foetus emerged. What followed was a two-month long nightmare that started with the couple facing bureaucratic hospital delays that pushed back further scans for two weeks.

They say they are still haunted by the silence that filled the ultrasound room, when, more than six months pregnant, the scan confirmed their fears: their child was suffering from a deformity, one that would cripple its left hand.

After two weeks where Frank watched Cindy’s depression grow deeper, Westmead referred her to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where her pregnancy was terminated at 28 weeks.

By that stage, if the foetus had been born prematurely there is every chance doctors would have kept it alive.

After going through the termination and delivery of the foetus, Frank and Cindy said they feel sad but relieved.

“It felt very inhumane, to be honest,” Frank said. “We were being told that our only option was to give birth to a baby that we did not wish to give birth to at all.We felt we have been forgotten and abandoned through the political and judicial uncertainty of the abortion laws”.

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

A world where a baby was killed because it would have had a deformed left hand. A world where couples worry more about the “inhumanity” of not being able to organize the abortion more readily than the inhumanity of murdering an infant. A world where the emotional health of the mother weighs more than the actual existence of the child.

If I were baby Jesus and opened my eyes to that, I would want to immediately shut them tightly and hope that it was just a horrible, bad dream. In this world, reality is often worse than nightmares.

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

Nothing that will surprise Him…nor that should surprise us since God warned us how it would be within Scripture. Let’s turn together to 2 Timothy 3:1-5 together:

3 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Lovers of self. Unholy. Heartless. Brutal. Not loving good.

Does the modern culture of death actually surprise us?

Headlines ‚ÄĒ Dealing with Unbelievers

Instead of the land down under, let’s assume instead, when He first opens His eyes, baby Jesus fixes his gaze closer to His home…in the Middle East. To quote a post from Jim Hoft from Christmas day:

There were no Christmas celebrations in Mosul, Iraq this year.

ISIS forced the last Christians to flee Mosul this year.

And a little further Hoft notes…

Christians have called Mosul their home fore [sic] 1,700 years.

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

Before we try to answer that again…let’s stay a little longer in Iraq…from another article this month:

Barbaric Islamic State militants have beheaded four Christian children in Iraq for refusing to convert to Islam, according to a British vicar based in Baghdad.

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

Again, before we answer…let’s return to Mosul…yet again…from this month:

Can you take non-Muslim women and children captive? Yes, says ISIS.

Can you have sex with them, even prepubescent girls? Yes, according to the Islamist extremist group.

Can you sell them or give them as gifts to others? The answer is yes, once again.

People in Mosul — the Iraqi city now under control of the group calling itself the Islamic State — got these and other messages loud and clear after sunset prayers Friday, when armed men handed out a color-printed pamphlet “Question and Answers on Female Slaves and their Freedom,” three residents told CNN.

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

A world where Christians are being driven from their homelands. A world where even Christian children are killed for their faith. A world where evil men following a false prophet excuse the slavery and rape of women and children.

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

As horrible as that all is, again it will not surprise the infant Lord. Otherwise, we would not have these words in our Bible:

12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:12-13).

As Paul says to his son in Christ, Timothy, “…all who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted.” Of course, Paul wasn’t the first to say that.

Grown up Jesus, eyes wide open, and fully aware of everything around Him…gave His disciples a warning that applies to us too:

18¬†“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19¬†If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20¬†Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours (John 15:18-20).

The world still hates Jesus…and as His disciples, we know from the loving lips of our Savior that it will hate us too. If they persecuted Him, they will also persecute us.

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

Sadly, exactly what He expected. ūüôĀ

Headlines ‚ÄĒ Here at Home in the United States

Of course, the baby Jesus Augie was referring to isn’t thousands of miles away…He is right here. Instead of looking to another country…

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see here in the United States?

At this point I know I’ve spent too much time up here reading from articles…so I’ll just summarize a few things that baby Jesus will see.

A country where politicians and other “leaders” have gotten us at each others throats so much that the families of two NYPD officers will always remember the holiday season as a time when they lost their loved one execution style.

Of course, you may counter that it is unfair to use the actions of a mentally unstable criminal to judge the modern condition of the United States. Okay, fine. But then how do you explain anti-police protesters in New York City refusing to stop at least until after the two cops’ funerals?

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

Exactly what He expects to see. Again looking to Paul’s Holy Spirit-inspired words, let’s read Romans 1:28-31:

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

Of course, I could have just read the words from 2 Timothy again…but nothing seems to explain what led to those murders (and what followed) than the first chapter of Romans. God has given us Americans up to our debased mind…and if God sent Paul to us today I don’t think he’d have to change a single word in that horrid list. Worse. I think he’d probably have to add some.

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

I could go on. Everything I have been listing is just from this month. Another article I debated sharing with you…also from December…was titled “Americans aren’t getting married, and researchers think porn is part of the problem.”

It seems ironic to me that Scripture specifically talks about marriage when it discusses what it’ll be like when Jesus returns:

26¬†Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27¬†They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28¬†Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot‚ÄĒthey were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29¬†but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all‚ÄĒ (Luke 17:26-29).

Why is it ironic? (And please note I said “ironic,” not “prophetic.”) Because, when it comes to end-of-times persecution of Christians in America (and other places in the world), the hammer being used is same sex marriage.

But Satan has been attacking marriage for decades in the United States…starting with making it so simple to split them up…making a total joke out of “till death do us part.”

And as I composed this sermon, Jesus’ words as recorded by Luke became doubly-ironic in that not only does it talk about marriage, it then speaks of the destruction of Sodom…and although Sodom’s sins weren’t limited to a debased sexuality…what an odd correlation to today when, after our President recently “evolved” to believe in a right to same-sex marriage, any Christian who holds the traditional, biblical belief about that institution is now hideous bigot.

Think I exaggerate? It was also this year that the CEO of Mozilla was forced to resign because, years before, he donated $1,000 to a proposition in California that said marriage was only between a man and a woman.

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

“I Heard the Bells”

At this point, I apologize. This is my first sermon here…and it has been a complete downer, hasn’t it?

With all the recent news…December itself was enough…this verse from the classic Christmas hymn, “I Heard the Bells,” rang in my heart when I heard the Lance Stafford of the group Cloverton sing it:

3 And in despair I bowed my head:
‘There is no peace on earth,’
I said ‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.’

[Repeat]

That is how I felt. Is that how you feel right now?

The Rest of the Story

However…to channel my inner Paul Harvey…

“You know what the news is — in a minute, you’re going to hear the rest of the story.”

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

First, that even in the darkest night there is something that reminds us that light will overcome.

For instance, remember those four children who were killed because they wouldn’t embrace Islam? We would be wise to memorize their last words:

Speaking to the Orthodox Christian Network, [Archbishop Cannon Andrew White] said: “Islamic State turned up and said to the children, you say the words that you will follow Mohammed.

“The children, all under 15, four of them, said no, we love Yesua, we have always loved Yesua, we have always followed Yesua, Yesua has always been with us.

“They said, ‘Say the words.’ They said, ‘No, we can’t.’

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

Four children who would not…did not…deny their Savior and will be with Him for eternity.

“No, we love Yesua, we have always loved Yesua, we have always followed Yesua, Yesua has always been with us.”

And He always will be. Praise God.

Not enough to raise your hopes up from “there is no peace on earth” despair?

Let me tell you the rest of the story about one of those two slain police officers.

Rafael Ramos was an unusual cop.

He saw the streets of New York as his ministry.

In fact, he was just hours away from becoming a lay chaplain and graduating from a community-crisis chaplaincy program before he and fellow New York police Officer Wenjian Liu [lee-oh’] were gunned down in their patrol car Saturday in Brooklyn.

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

A man with a badge whose heart was so changed by our Lord that He worked to become a chaplain.

And I can just imagine Ramos sitting down with four Iraqi children in heaven…all five of them talking about how blessed they were…and how it all was worth it even if their lives were cut short.

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

Second, as I’ve mentioned a couple times.

When baby Jesus opens His eyes…none of this will surprise Him.

God is in control.

Can you repeat that after me?

God is in control.

No, that does not mean He is responsible for the murdered Australian infant, for the rapes done in the name of Allah, for the persecution of Christians here and abroad, for the executions of two NYPD policeman…

We are responsible for our own evil.

But we have a God who is not surprised by any of this and who, ultimately, is in control.

Christmas Bells

Henry Wadsworth LongfellowWhich brings us back to the hymn, “I Heard the Bells.”

When Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the poem that became that song “in 1864 for the Sunday school of the Unitarian Church of the Disciples in Boston, Massachusetts,” our nation was in the midst of the civil war. The hymn leaves out these stanzas from “Christmas Bells”:

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Over a half a million people were killed during the civil war. No wonder Longfellow then goes into the verse that so well summed up how I felt:

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

But, Longfellow also knew that God is in control. That when baby Jesus opened his eyes nothing would surprise Him.

And that is why…like the hymn…Longfellow’s poem does not stop with those depressing thoughts:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

[Repeat]

What wonderful words! And, unlike the hymn, Longfellow’s poem stops there.

And it should! Because, no matter how dreadful the headlines are…

God is not dead, nor doth He sleep…the wrong shall fail…and the right prevail!

Baby Jesus is about to open His eyes. What will He see?

Well, when Jesus returns it will not be as a baby. Instead…

15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).

And on that day…

3¬†And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4¬†He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).

Those words encourage me, do they encourage you? I cannot wait for that day, can you?

20¬†He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

Footnotes

1Corderoy, A. (2014, December 12). “I felt I had been abandoned”: inconsistency and fear surrounds late-term abortion. Retrieved December 26, 2014, from http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/nsw/i-felt-i-had-been-abandoned-inconsistency-and-fear-surrounds-lateterm-abortion-20141212-11r83k.html

2Ibid.

3Ibid.

4Hoft, J. (2014, December 25). No Christmas celebrations In Mosul, Iraq this year. Retrieved December 26, 2014, from http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2014/12/no-christmas-celebrations-in-mosul-iraq-this-year/

5Ibid.

6Myers, R. (2014, December 8). ISIS behead four children in Iraq after they refuse to convert to Islam. Retrieved December 26, 2014, from http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/isis-behead-four-children-iraq-4767241

7Botelho, G. (2014, December 13). ISIS tries to justify enslaving, sex with women, girls. Retrieved December 26, 2014, from http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/12/world/meast/isis-justification-female-slaves/

8NYC protesters say they won’t stop demonstrations despite de Blasio’s wishes. (2014, December 23). Retrieved December 27, 2014, from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/12/23/nyc-protesters-say-wont-stop-demonstrations-despite-de-blasio-wishes/

9Live Press Conference on the shooting of two NYPD officers; Official cop killer had “despair” anti-government feelings; NYC mayor: time to move forward and heal division. (2014, December 22). Retrieved December 26, 2014, from http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1412/22/cg.02.html

10Ferdman, R. (2014, December 21). Americans aren’t getting married, and researchers think porn is part of the problem. Retrieved December 26, 2014, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/12/21/americans-arent-getting-married-and-researchers-think-porn-is-part-of-the-problem/

11Mears, B. (2014, April 7). Justices reject review of religious liberty in the marketplace case. Retrieved December 26, 2014, from http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/07/politics/scotus-religious-liberty/

12McBride, S. (2014, April). Mozilla CEO resigns, opposition to gay marriage drew fire. Retrieved December 26, 2014, from http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/03/us-mozilla-ceo-resignation-idUSBREA321Y320140403

13Logos Hymnal. (1995). (1st edition.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

14Paul Harvey. (n.d.). Retrieved December 27, 2014, from http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Paul_Harvey

15Myers, R. (2014, December 8). ISIS behead four children in Iraq after they refuse to convert to Islam. Retrieved December 26, 2014, from http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/isis-behead-four-children-iraq-4767241

16Martinez, M., & Cava, C. (2014, December 26). NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos saw streets as his ministry. Retrieved December 26, 2014, from http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/25/us/nypd-officer-rafael-ramos-services/

17Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (pp. 382‚ÄĒ383). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications

18Longfellow, H. (n.d.). Christmas Bells. Retrieved December 27, 2014, from http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/christmas-bells

19Ibid.

20Ibid.


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