New Hope Notes
Pastor Jon Burgess
Aloha New Hope! We are continuing our series of Rediscovering Christmas. This Christmas season I want us to learn to Live Wonderstruck! I’d like to take you somewhere new each week during this series and view God’s masterpieces with fresh eyes.
What does it mean to be Wonderstruck? According to Webster’s Dictionary, “Struck with wonder, surprise, a marvel.” To stand in awe of God’s creation and everything He’s doing in our lives. If we treat our Christianity as business as usual (just going through the motions) instead of standing in awe of the God who splits oceans, we may end up as the people did in Isaiah’s time. Isaiah 29:13-14 NIV: “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.’”
They were just going through the motions of honoring God with lip service; their hearts were not in it. Does God turn His back on them? No! He says, “...once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder…”
I love the idea that our God wants to show Himself in brand new ways so that we will remember just how big He is. Isn’t that what we want this Christmas? Do you remember how you felt as a little kid on Christmas morning with all the presents under the tree? You were wonderstruck!
There isn’t a date night that goes by when I don’t look at my wife Cyndi and say, “God, I don’t deserve this. You must’ve struck her half blind or something to marry me.” I’m wonderstruck! Perhaps some of us need to remember the awe we felt on our wedding day—wonderstruck!
How about holding your first child in your arms and smelling that new baby smell? There’s just nothing like it in the world—Living Wonderstruck!
Perhaps we could see the miracle in life’s mundane things (the glory in the ordinary) and bring resurrection to the routine. It doesn’t mean we must quit our jobs because we still need to pay the bills, but we can look for God in the mundane because He wants us to be in awe again.
1. Wonderstruck: Taking Time To See The Creator in Creation!
When God said He would never flood the earth again, He didn’t just say it. He showed it through a rainbow. Here in Hawaii, we see rainbows all the time—so much that we hardly stop and take notice of them anymore.
When God wanted to convince Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, did He just say it? No! He showed it. In Genesis 15, God takes Abraham outside and tells him to look up at the stars and tells Abraham that his descendants will to be numbered as the stars. Begin to take the time to see the Creator’s fingerprint everywhere and throughout scriptures; He is trying to get our attention that He is in control!
In Matthew 2, the wise men (Magi/scientists) studied the stars and God revealed to them the arrival of the Messiah. They were told that a star would be a sign in the heavens that Messiah, the Savior, was coming and that’s what they looked for. Matthew 2:1-2 NIV: “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.’” They wouldn’t have seen the star if they didn’t take time to look for it. The same is true with us.
It was actually two years after the wise men saw the star that they found Jesus! We’ve become so caught up with urgency and wanting everything instantaneously that we don’t take the time to live wonderstruck. Although things won’t happen all at once, we need to keep seeking Him because we will find what we’re looking for. The truth is God is always speaking to us; the question is are we listening? Living wonderstruck also means to pay attention to what God is saying and…
2. Wonderstruck: Receiving The Word I Need.
Notice, the word is I “need,” and not, I “want.” Sometimes we say, “God, just speak to me” but then we don’t like what He says. When God speaks a word that we need, it’s not necessarily something that will make life more comfortable or easy.
Let’s take Mary for example. She’s pregnant, but not married. In those days, a woman could literally be stoned to death for being pregnant and unmarried. Joseph was a good man and before the angel visited him, he had planned to put Mary away quietly so nothing would happen to her.
Mary is now traveling to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who also had a miracle pregnancy. God had visited her husband Zechariah and told him that he and Elizabeth were going to have a son and his name will be John, and that he will prepare the way for Messiah. Remember, there were no phones or emails so Elizabeth doesn’t know that Mary is pregnant. Doubts were going through Mary’s head during her travel to Elizabeth’s and if anyone needed a word from God it was Mary—God always gives us the word we need!
Luke 1:41-45 NIV: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the Child you will bear! (She received a prophetic word right there.) But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. (John the Baptist was already doing his job before he was even born: preparing the way for the coming Messiah.) Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!’”
Mary needed that word from Holy Spirit; Holy Spirit also revealed to Elizabeth that the Savior was inside Mary’s womb. If you have received Holy Spirit, be encouraged because everything you need to receive from God is found in His Word and Holy Spirit will reveal it to you!
You may be hearing a lot of voices, but you will hear the One Voice above the noise that will give you the next direction. Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to be dedicated, and there was a man named Simeon, a prophet at that time. He had waited his entire life for the arrival of the Messiah, and when Jesus showed up, he began to prophesy about how this was the Messiah and that he would be used to bring many to the Lord. But he wasn't done prophesying.
Luke 2:34-35 NLT: “Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, ‘This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.’”
God is preparing Mary for what she was about to go through with her son. The fullness of this message would come the day she found herself at the foot of the cross seeing her son dying for the sins of the world and understood at that moment what Simeon saw so many years ago.
God will speak something to you that won’t make sense now, but He is preparing you for what will happen next. Most of us make decisions based on what we can see because we are finite humans; however, we serve a God who lives outside of time and sees the beginning and the end.
Are you awestruck by that? Have you ever stopped to thank God that the God of the universe would talk to us through creation and others? One caveat I want to give is that if you get a word from God through someone, make sure it’s actually from God. Consider the source.
Example: How many drink Aquafina water? If you look at the label, it has beautiful ice glaciers and mountains. It’s a beautiful image. But look at the back label and see where it’s bottled—Latham, New York, Municipal Water—basically, water you get out of your tap. We spend 2-3 dollars for water that we could be drinking for free. Consider the source. Just because someone says they’re giving you a word from God, it doesn’t always mean it’s from God.
If you allow someone to speak into your life, make sure it actually lines up with the word of God and ask yourself is this with conviction or with condemnation? It’s important to know the difference: Condemnation is when the enemy rules, reigns, and pushes you down and makes you feel that you will never change. Conviction is the Holy Spirit giving you what you need to change, lifts you up, and points out the change that God has already been confirming to you through other sources in your life.
I John 4:1 NLT: “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.” Make sure that your trust is in the right place. Will it be in the timeless truth of God’s word, or will it be in the opinions of men and women that tell us what we want to hear?
3. Wonderstruck: Embracing The Ministry of Mystery.
God keeps us wonderstruck by not telling us everything. He allows us to follow the Ministry of Mystery, drawing us closer to Himself. We may not understand what’s going on—it’s called “faith.” Decide to trust God even if we don’t understand. Mary shows us how.
Luke 2:17-19 NIV: "When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this Child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Fast forward, Jesus is 12 years old now. Mary and Joseph have lost Jesus and they finally find Him in the temple and He responds in Luke 2:49-52 NIV, ‘Why were you searching for Me?' He asked.' Didn't you know I had to be in My Father's house?' But they did not understand what He was saying to them. Then He went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
I’m glad to serve a God I cannot control—He tells me what to do! It's an invitation for us to bring the words that He's given us and begin to ponder and piece them together.
Sometimes when I head to work I stop at the stoplight and see the sun breaking through the clouds and God is saying, “Jon, I need to show you what happens next, but in order for that to happen, you must stop.” You might not see anything but clouds, but you are about to see the sun break through. Stop and focus on Him and Live Wonderstruck!