In the video, I want you to see a real-life Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. This is a pretty important tree to me as the only pine tree on my property. I love my property, and it would be great to have more pines, but this tree is kind of like the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.
This lone pine tree is just an illustration to set us up for the next few weeks.
i. This has been like a Charlie Brown year for us
If you know anything about Charlie Brown, it seems like everything is a bummer, but sometimes things work out in the end for him.
This particular year has been pretty rough, and we knew it would be, but there have been some special ways our Lord has ministered to us. I’m thankful that I didn’t get a bunch of promises at the beginning of the year that everything was going to be all right and that there would be some specific, big, major miracle that would happen. But I did get one thing . . .
ii. The Name
It was as if the Holy Spirit just ministered and said to call upon the name of the Lord. The Name. The name of the Lord. So I spent the year doing that.
As I was thinking about how to approach the end of the year on Patheos, I went back to a sermon I preached on the names of the Messiah.* So I’m going to share that with you over the course of the next five weeks.
However, I do want to say this in advance. I’m a Pentecostal preacher. So this reflects a time in my life, about four years ago, when I probably preached differently. My preaching methods have changed some, but I’m not going to apologize for it. There are still plenty of us Pentecostal preachers, and even those who are not Pentecostal. I think of E.V. Hill, a great Baptist preacher, who ministered in force and in might. In some ways, that type of preaching is what I will be sharing with you. Yet I believe the Word is still true no matter your particular background, and how you perceive the Word should be shared and what methods should be used.
It is going to be Advent in two days. So I would like to share, over the course of the next five weeks, some reflections on the name of God and how that has ministered to me. Of course there are many names for God in Scripture, but I just thought this would be a fitting end to this year.
So from my heart to yours, God bless you and thank you for watching.
The One Called Wonderful
iii. Isaiah 9.6 (NIV)
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. ()
How amazing is the Holy Child, this Son of God? How has He impacted our lives personally? Do we really stop and consider, especially at times like this, all that He’s done for us? How can our entire life be changed, and our family life be transformed, just by the mention of His name?
Isaiah foresees the Son of God. He’s exactly who Isaiah is looking at. I’m not sure in what way, if it is a vision, but he describes the beauty of the Son of God.
I think it would be wonderful just to consider these names for the Messiah, starting with Wonderful.What does the name Wonderful mean? Now we can chase a number of ideas, compare this commentator and that commentator, but I’m going to draw us back to some ancient ideas. These are a couple of ancient Theological terms to tuck away, mystery and wonder. These interesting terms are used in the ranks of those who are probably older Theologians.
iv. A mystery is a way that we try to describe the indescribable
Mystery is the glory of God being manifested among us in some way, or the activity of God. What is God doing in our midst? Mystery is a way for us to realize that this is beyond us. Sometimes we simply can’t explain what God is doing among us.
We have lists of Gifts in the New Testament, all the wonderful things that the Holy Spirit does in the church (i.e 1 Corinthians 12). I think all of those things are mysteries, and our words fall short, far short, of the actual experience.
We only use words to approach God’s activity, but we can never fully describe the activity of God. It’s interesting that God sends His Son and God longs to be known by us, but God is Someone Other than us. To recognize that God is Someone Other than us, to recognize the mysterious nature of God, is true humility. As we walk in that recognition, we remain humble, ever-learning, and pressing-in to know more and more.
Mystery is a term that is often couched with wonder.
v. Wonder is the reaction within us to the mystery of God
God presents Himself in a mystery: a sign, a miracle, something takes place in our midst, the Gifts of the Spirit begin to operate. Within us a sense of awe and wonder raises up as we realize this is not just mere man. This is God manifesting Himself among us . . . wonder!
We can’t explain God, but within us something raises up and we begin to glorify Him anyway. We’re overwhelmed by His mysteries, by His signs, by His miracles, and often on our lives by His higher ways that are above our ways (Isaiah 55.8-9).
We become as children when we’re captured with wonder. We’re awe-struck. We might say that we’re “blown away,” or we’re dumbfounded by the move of God . . . wonder . . . the reaction within us!
I believe these terms that we dig out of ancient texts, help us to really understand what Isaiah is saying.
vi. The joy of the Messiah: He will be Wonderful beyond words
Is it still okay as parents to enjoy the Holidays with a sense of awe?
As parents and family, is it okay to exchange gifts, not caught up in the materialism and the consumerism of this age, but to exchange gifts inspired by God’s gift to us?
Is it okay to recapture a sense of wonder at the mysteries of God?
Is it okay to sit at the feet of Jesus as a family sometime this Holiday Season, the feet of The One Called Wonderful?
Would it be okay as a family to read Luke 2, or to enjoy time to reflect on the Christmas Story?
* as previously published by Jared V. Ingle, “Isaiah Foresees the Son of God” (audio sermon, MT. ZION Family Worship Center, Traverse City, MI, December 21, 2014).