07-12-23 Imagine Wonder
Do You Wonder?
Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1:21, 63; 2:18; Matthew 1:18-25
- Do you hear, do you see, do you know?
- A few weeks ago we were talking with Zeke, our grandchild, about their trip to Chicago this Christmas. We told him our Christmas tree was set up. He asked, “Will you have the blue train?” He meant the Lionel train that we set up under the tree last Christmas. The wonder of it was still with him. Do you wonder? I am so excited about having our two grandchildren here for Christmas! Wonder is something so special that you remember it.
What I want to say: The story of the first Christmas is filled with one dominant emotion: wonder. If you have lost the sense of wonder, God can restore it by a holy use of imagination. This Christmas let the wonder of God in flesh renew your soul.
Rd. Luke 1:21; 63; 2:18-20
I. Wonder is not just for children
A. When do you experience wonder?
1. Wonder is defined by Webster’s dictionary as
- a cause of astonishment or admiration : marvel 〈it’s a wonder you weren’t killed)〈the pyramid is a wonder to behold〉
- rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience
2. Wonder is always felt when something is a new or heightened experience.
3. Wonder is the crowd watching fireworks crying “Ooo” and “Ahhh”. Wonder is bigger than normal life.
4. What would it be like to experience wonder repeatedly? What would it take?
a) Children experience wonder every day as they explore the wonder-filled world God designed
5. I think wonder is felt most at both ends of life. In between, it seems to get dulled by over-exposure or when the routines of life blind us to what is still around us but grandchildren (great-grandchildren) rekindle it because we then delight to experience wonder through them.
a) Some believe that the only way to feel wonder is to “push the envelope” – add some new twist to something known
6. I believe that Christians are most in touch with the wonders of this life because we are most in touch with the Creator of all wonders.
B. Christmas the celebration of wonders
1. Where in your day-to-day world do you find these kinds of things happening:
2. An angel appears to an aged priest; An old woman has a child
And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. Luke 1:63 ESV
3. A virgin conceives a child; An angel speaks to an engaged man whose fiancé is pregnant
4. A census is declared; Angels speak to shepherds
And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. Luke 2:18 ESV
5. A moving star followed by Magi
6. God is born in flesh
7. There are hundreds of wonders recorded in the Bible and the Christmas story contains a focused cluster of wonders.
C. Wonder involves mystery
ILLUS> An illusionist creates wonder by appearing to do what cannot be done because it defies natural laws: people floating in air; women sawed in two bur not harmed and so on. But God is no illusionist – He overrules all the rules because He is God Almighty!
1. How is it done? (e.g. book “How did they do that?”)
2. The mystery of godliness
Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory. 1 Timothy 3:16 ESV
3. The great mystery of Christmas is not only “How” but “Why”? Why did God send His Son?
4. Of course God told us the reason for the coming of Jesus: He loves you. (John 3:16)
II. Wonder is God’s business (Luke 1:37; Isaiah 9:6)
A. Wonders are normal for God! (Luke 1:37)
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 11:9 ESV
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old. Psalm 77:11 ESV
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
Psalm 77:14 ESV
1. The angel said to Mary: With God nothing is impossible
a) Mary asked “How?” and the angel said in essence: it is the very nature of God to do what is impossible for man”
B. His name is Wonderful! (Isaiah 9:6)
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. Isaiah 9:6 ESV
1. He is wonderful because He is the answer to all the needs of mankind:
a) Wonderful counselor
b) Mighty God
c) Everlasting Father
d) Prince of peace
2. He is wonderful because He embodies all this.
C. Immanuel is a wonder! (Matthew 1:23)
1. God with us
2. All human desire is to be with God
3. How do we know this?
4. Because there are certain universal traits of human beings that reveal the longing to be with God:
a) The desire for a home
b) The longing for a father’s strength and a mother’s love
c) The appreciation of beauty
5. But we could not get to God because of the wall between us
6. Jesus came not only to be among us but to be one of us.
ILLUS> Would a dog lover became a dog? No, you like things the way they are: you being human and dogs being dogs. Although you will spend money to care for them you do not want to be a dog.
“who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. “
But Jesus took it further: he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8 ESV
We consider it noble when You might in some far stretch be willing to become a dog but would you die for a dog?
Immanuel is a wonder!!!
III. Wonder is still found in the adventures of the life of faith
A. You have to go deeper
1. Wonder is diminished when it becomes common.
2. In a sense the very technology that enables us to fabricate endless fantastic visual experiences may be dulling our sense of wonder. Because wonder must be unique.
3. If you want to have a sense of wonder about the living God you must go beyond the surface of things.
ILLUS> Why pregnant women don’t topple
(excerpts from an article dated 12/13/07)
Women's spines have evolved differently from men's to better carry the weight and awkward proportions of pregnancy, according to research being published Thursday by the journal Nature. The study sheds new light on how humanity's ancestors adapted biologically to meet the rigors of walking upright.
"Several million years of adaptation went into making ((human)) females able to move more easily, comfortably, and safely during pregnancy," said Katherine K. Whitcome, a Harvard University anthropologist and one of the authors of the study, which also found that the female spines of our hominid forebears were markedly different from those of apes.
Human spines have an unusual forward curve in the lumbar region of the lower back. Starting more than 2 million years ago, in the early hominid ancestor called Australopithecus, spinal curvature in females spread across more vertebrae than in males. Moreover, the joints between the vertebrae became larger in females and assumed a different shape to offset "shear forces" - the sideways grinding generated by the weight of pregnancy.
This shifted the load of baby-to-be in a way that reduced stress on the spine while also giving pregnant women greater stability.
"Without the adaptation, pregnancy would have placed a heavier burden on back muscles, causing considerable pain and fatigue," said Liza J. Shapiro, a University of Texas anthropologist who conducted the study with Whitcome and Lieberman.
(Why pregnant women don’t topple, Chicago Tribune, 12/13/07)
(Does this mean that for a million or so years pregnant women fell over a lot?) Of course, it could also be that women were deliberately designed that way.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14 ESV
4. If you are going to know God in a deeper way this coming year, you will have to search out His wonders that are revealed all around us. But the greatest way of seeing wonder is by knowing the Word.
B. If God specializes in wonders, life in Him is wonder-filled.
1. Answered prayer
a) You will never know if God answers prayer if you do not pray. But those who pray will tell you it is so.
2. Wonder displaces worry.
Faith is the inborn capacity to see God behind everything, the wonder that keeps you an eternal child. Wonder is the very essence of life. Beware always of losing the wonder, and the first thing that stops wonder is religious conviction. Whenever you give a trite testimony, the wonder is gone. The evidence of salvation is that the sense of wonder is developing. Oswald Chambers, Leadership, Vol. 2, no. 3.
a) It is in the dryness of ritual that wonder is smothered
3. Can you look at a trial and say, “God is behind this?” (not in malice but in hope)
- Tonight’s performance is an effort to employ imagination to restore wonder to the wonder-filled story of God in flesh.
- Our focus for the new year is going back into God’s word as a whole church. Life Journals will not make you spiritual but will expose you to God’s word in a deliberate, intentional way.
- You will find renewed wonder as you explore God’s Word deliberately.