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Worship Message - The Rock

The Rock

For the first three Sundays of this year’s Advent season, we centered our thoughts on

various sounds of Christmas. Sounds of hope, spoken first to Mary, then to Joseph, then

to some shepherds in a field right outside Jesus’ birthplace of Bethlehem.

During those three messages, it was mentioned that all those who received the sounds -

the sounds of hope concerning Jesus - could have responded in either of two ways. They

could have listened to the sounds and responded to them, or they could have shut out

those sounds.

The same is true for each of us. When we hear from God, including in the Bible that

Jesus is the Savior, we, too, can either listen - listen to the extent of accepting Jesus as

Savior - or ignore the message.

Fortunately, Mary listened to and agreed with and obeyed God’s message. Fortunately,

Joseph also listened, agreed, and obeyed. So, too, did the shepherds.

The challenge continues that we will also stayed plugged into God’s plans, including His

plan that we do accept Jesus as the Savior He was born to be.

For the first three weeks of this year’s Advent season, the sounds of Christmas. Today,

the touch of Christmas - the touch of hope - as we celebrate that Jesus came to be the

Rock. The Rock of Strength and Protection and Salvation we need. The Rock, which is

one of the names given to Him in the Bible. It is because of that Jesus, the baby of Mary,

truly is the source of all hope and therefore truly is to be celebrated.

To help with getting a feel for this message, maybe you can get a small rock of some

kind. The invitation is for you to keep the rock in a pocket or put it on display

somewhere to remind you that Jesus is the Rock. But now, a number of Scripture

passages that have to do with rocks. interestingly, I had two that I was going to

highlight, but as I studied the qualities of rock and applied those qualities to Jesus, there

were some other Bible passages that were brought to my attention.

So today a few passages, beginning with one from the Old Testament that proclaims the

quality of a rock being able to be used for housing.

It seems that rocks were, in ancient times - both Old Testament and New Testament

times - used for housing. As we will get to soon, sometimes houses were built on rocks,

but sometimes the rocks themselves became dwelling places, either by carving a

dwelling into a rock or using rocks to build walls.

Those who believe in Jesus as Savior - those who have accepted Jesus as Savior - have

their spiritual dwelling in Christ. It is in His love that we live.

Listen to Psalm 91 for the benefits of that, which relate to Jesus being a Rock.

Those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High [in New Testament terms, the

Most High can refer to Jesus] will be able to claim Him, not only as a dwelling

place, but a very secure dwelling place. A place of refuge - a place to escape the

troubles of the world. A fortress against the evils of the world. Those who dwell

in Jesus will not have to fear because the promise is that no evil will befall those

who believe.

Now, do bad things happen to good people? Good as in being Christians? Yes. But bad

things will not overwhelm those who dwell in Jesus. That is the promise given to all

who take Jesus - Mary’s baby - the one we celebrate this and every other Christmas.

That is the promise given to all who take Jesus as the Rock - the Rock of Strength and

Protection and Salvation.

As often as you touch and feel the rock you have, be reminded of how wonderful it is to

know Jesus for who He is. May that enliven your Christmas observance.

Another quality of rock is kind of similar. It is that a rock is a firm and immovable

thing, good for a foundation because it will stand sure and strong in seasons of storms.

For that, and how it applies to Jesus, let’s think about a passage in Matthew 7.

The passage comes at the end of what is known as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The

sermon begins in chapter 5 of Matthew. In it, Jesus gave many, many instructions about

how people should live.

Jesus ended the sermon with a challenge. A challenge similar to that faced by Mary and

then by Joseph and then by the shepherds. Would they - then would those who heard

Jesus’ sermon - now will we shut out Jesus’ teachings, ignoring them? Or would they

and we not only listen, but agree to obey the teachings?

The challenge was explained this way. And by the way, I do not intend to take this

passage out of context. I realize the challenge is to follow the teachings of Jesus. But is

not acceptance of Jesus a necessary step to following His teachings? I doubt any of us

will obey Him unless we accept Him.

The challenge was explained this way. Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of

Mine [the words in the sermon He had just given] and does not do them will be like a

foolish man who built his house upon sand. When the rain fell and the floods came and

the winds blew and beat against the house, it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

The meaning is this. If Jesus is not accepted and then obeyed, we are in trouble - at

least spiritual trouble - when any of life’s storms come our way.

And there are, of course, many kinds of storms that come into each life. How about

financial storms or relationship storms? How about health storms and spiritual storms?

If Jesus is not accepted and then obeyed, we are in trouble when any of life’s storms

come our way.

However, Jesus also said, “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does them will

be like a wise man who built his house upon rock. The rain fell, the floods came, the

winds blew and beat upon the house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on

the rock.”

Today - this Christmas - just like every other day and every other season - Jesus is the

Rock. He proved it with His teachings. He proved in the challenge He gave that He

wants to be what you build your life upon and what I build my life upon.

Today - this Christmas - are you taking advantage of what He wants to do for you? If

not, will you? Please do so because that is the only way to truly understand and truly

celebrate the baby born to Mary - the baby visited by the shepherds - the one raised by

Joseph.

Speaking of storms of life, they can be troubling. But sometimes it seems we are under

attack, either by others or at times by ourselves - by our own natures. It is at times like

that we need a strong defense. Guess what. A rock, being strong, can provide defense.

Just one example of that is found in the Old Testament in I Samuel 13. The people of

God were being threatened by the Philistines. To protect themselves, at least until they

could be prepared to fight, the men of Israel hid themselves in caves and holes and

tombs and cisterns, all of which were in or built with rocks.

I should mention there is more to the report in I Samuel. It was shortly later that Saul,

the king of God’s people at that time, disobeyed God’s plan for leading up to the coming

battle. That disobedience had very dire consequences for Saul.

But the point for this message is that rock can be used for defense. Since Jesus is the

Rock, do we understand what a benefit He can be whenever we face any kind of enemy?

Our natures can attack us, but Jesus the Rock can be our defense. Those against our

faith can attack us, but Jesus the Rock can be our defense.

Of course, just as was said earlier when talking about dwelling in Christ, bad things do

happen to good people. Good as in being Christians. But enemies will not overwhelm

those who accept the protection of Jesus. That is the promise given to all who take

Jesus - Mary’s baby - the one we celebrate this and every other Christmas. That is the

promise given to all who take Jesus as the Rock.

So again, as often as you touch and feel the rock you have, be reminded how wonderful

it is to know Jesus as the Savior He is. May that enliven your Christmas observance.

A rock can be used for dwelling, as a foundation, and for defense. A rock can also hold

an object of great value and great beauty. I am thinking, for instance, of gold and silver

and diamonds, which are often contained in rocks.

Rocks, as valuable as they are for dwelling and foundations and protection, can also hold

great beauty. Things of great value. And yes, that, too, applies to Jesus.

In Him are hid the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He is the source of all spiritual

knowledge. He is the giver of the wisdom needed to put that knowledge into practice.

From Him - through the Holy Spirit - come all the gifts of the Spirit. Gifts such as

wisdom and knowledge, healing and the working of miracles, preaching and teaching,

service and administration, and evangelism and pastoring.

In fact, those things are more important than the most precious things of this earth.

Psalm 19:10.

More to be desired are the law, the precepts, the commandments of the LORD,

more to be desired are the testimony and the fear of the LORD, for the purpose of

this message, more to be desired is acceptance of Jesus as the Rock of Strength,

Protection, and Salvation than gold. Even much fine gold.

As beautiful and as valuable as gold is, it pales in comparison to Jesus. So, one more

time, as often as you touch and feel the rock you have, be reminded how wonderful it is

to know Jesus for what is in Him. And no, I am pretty sure the rock you have does not

have in it gold or silver. I am pretty sure there are no diamonds hidden in your rock.

But some rocks do. And definitely Jesus does. Accept Jesus. Thereby accept all the

beauty in Him. May that enliven your Christmas observance.

And then this. A rock is durable, permanent, lasting. It will not grow weak with age, but

will continue the same from one generation to another.

That, too, applies to Jesus. That is proclaimed in Hebrews 13:8. “Jesus Christ is the

same yesterday and today and forever.”

A rock can be used as a dwelling place. Spiritually, that applies to Jesus.

A rock can be used as a foundation. A foundation that can weather storms. Spiritually,

that applies to Jesus.

A rock can be used for defense against enemies. Spiritually, that applies to Jesus.

A rock can hold great beauty. Spiritually, that applies to Jesus.

A rock lasts. Spiritually, that, too, applies to Jesus.

And you know what? Like a rock in nature is just there, whether you want it to be or

not, so it is with Jesus. Whether He is accepted or not, He still is the Savior. He will

continue to exist.

However, there is a difference. In nature, a rock can, if you are not careful, trip you. It

will trip you if you ignore it rather than see it or use it.

But Jesus? He will stay out of your way if you choose to ignore Him.

And listen. Staying out of the way is actually not the best wording because even to those

who do not accept Him, He still provides the beauty of nature. He still does all He can

through blessings and through His people preaching and teaching about Him and living

as examples of His love to convince people to accept Him and all His rock-like qualities.

He will keep doing that for as long as each person is alive.

And listen. Him staying out of the way will not happen when life on earth is done. This

is not said to scare anyone. It is just a warning that those who ignore Jesus now will be

faced with the consequence of that on Judgment Day. The consequence will be having

admission into Heaven blocked.

But Jesus will not, here and now, force people to accept the benefits of Him being the

Rock. However, Jesus came to earth to be the Rock. When He is accepted, He becomes

the dwelling place, the foundation of life, the defense needed against spiritual enemies.

When He is accepted, He opens to us what is in Him. Things of spiritual beauty. Things

like knowledge and wisdom and other spiritual gifts. And yes, there is the promise that

what He offers, what He does, what He has available will not end, but go on and on and

on.

Mary accepted the message given to her by God. She agreed to be the mother of Jesus.

Joseph accepted the message given to him by God. He agreed to be the earthly father of

Jesus, keeping the Lord safe as He grew.

The shepherds in a nearby field the night Jesus was born accepted the message given to

them. They went to meet Jesus and then told others about Him.

What about you? Have you accepted the Rock? And I feel led to mention one more

Bible passage. Just one verse, actually. John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He

gave His only begotten Son Jesus that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish,

but have everlasting life.”

Whosoever. What a wonderful word that is. Especially for any who might think they are

not good enough or smart enough or rich enough or important enough that Jesus would

be interested in them. Or for those who might have a whole lot of nasty sins in their past

or their present. How easy it can be for someone to think he or she has been or is too

bad a person to be worthy of Jesus.

But John 3:16 proclaims that Jesus came to earth for everyone. Even you. Even me.

Have you accepted the Rock - the Rock of Salvation, Strength, and Protection? Have

you accepted all the benefits of Jesus being the spiritual rock that is needed? Have you?

Will you?

May we all make sure we have accepted Jesus so that the true meaning and the true joy

of Christmas will be celebrated through the coming week and beyond to forever.

The closing song for today is not a Christmas carol, but it will remind us of the need to

accept the Christmas baby. It will remind us of the joy of accepting the Christ child. It is

The Solid Rock.

And by the way, when we get to the chorus each time, consider, if you know Jesus as

your Rock - if He is the Rock of your life - consider raising the rock you have. Raise it as

a proclamation that you have accepted the one we are celebrating.

My hope is built on nothing lessthan Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand,

all other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;

In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, His blood, support me in the whelming flood;

When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in Him be found;

Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand.

All other ground is sinking sand.

What a wonderful gift it is for us to have Jesus. The one who offers to be the Rock we

need. The one who is the Rock for all who accept Him.

What a wonderful gift for us. May our gift in return be our acceptance of Him. With

that, this Christmas will be truly wonderful. Truly joyful. Amen.

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