Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Sunday, December 8th, 2013 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “Your Leader Who Takes Care of You” (Isaiah 11:2)

Dear Christians,

We need a leader we can count on and His Name is Jesus. In this world desperate for good leaders, it is ironic that during the very season in which we anticipate His coming that the world would be preoccupied in honoring other leaders who are in themselves only sinners who need The Leader just as much as the rest of us. The world is desperate for a great leader, but spends much time overlooking The Leader who is our only salvation. To know The Leader, however, is to know the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.
The text in Isaiah 11:2 elaborates on our Leader’s gifts from the Spirit: wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, and knowledge and the fear of the Lord. These are not random gifts, but describe Christ’s ability to save; to save you.
Come and receive our Leader’s ministry once again tomorrow morning. It is a leadership which renders the forgiveness of sins.
Come and receive our Leader Himself. He gives you Himself in, with, and under the bread and the wine in the Holy Sacrament.
It’s late and the weekend has been full of special gatherings, but who knows, this invitation to worship might make a difference for even one.
Here’s an excerpt from Sunday’s sermon:

“Your Leader Who Takes Care of You”

(Isaiah 11:2)

Second Sunday in Advent, December 8th, 2013

Pastor Espinosa


The text: “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. We go the way of our leaders. That’s why they are so important. Many want to be leaders, but they oftentimes don’t know what they are getting themselves into. To be a leader is to have a big bulls-eye on your chest, a big “X” on your back. Leaders are criticized and sometimes condemned. They are in the public eye. If you want to live a quiet life, being a leader will make that goal much more difficult. But if one is a leader they ought to be scrutinized and evaluated, because there is simply too much at stake not to care about how their leadership is going. Everyone associated with that leadership is — after all — affected and impacted by it.


This is readily apparent in the realm of sports. Several weeks ago the star quarterback of the Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rogers – was injured and has been forced to sit out. The team has been drastically affected by the loss of their leader. With Rogers the Packers had won four out of their first six games, without Rogers the Packers are 0-4-1, no wins, four losses and one tie.


But this is a simple example of the importance of leaders, the more complicated ones are represented in those who have served as presidents of the United States of America. I am personally in awe of Lincoln’s legacy. I can’t imagine what it was like to be president at a time when our nation was at civil war, brother fighting against brother. Furthermore, Lincoln stood for what was tremendously unpopular while facing resistance from every angle, but this did not hinder him from his executive order, the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1st, 1863. I basically feel sorry for every president that has followed Lincoln. How does one possibly begin to compare? And again it is easy to criticize even when we Christians are commanded by the Lord to pray for our leaders (1st Timothy 2:1-2). But the point is that people are directly impacted by their leaders.


The people of our nation had reason to question the integrity of the office after Nixon; U.S. citizens had reason to feel discouraged during the 1973 oil crisis as Carter seemed paralyzed, even Reagan seemed like he was in a no-win situation in the Iran-Contra affair, George Bush 41 probably wishes he could take back his “read my lips” on taxes, Bill Clinton was recently asked in an interview how important moral fortitude is for a president, if he could do it again, George Bush 43 would probably reconsider his timing for declaring “mission accomplished,” and Barack Obama had to recently apologize to the nation for some Americans who are losing their current health insurance plans in light of the Affordable Health Care Act (this after he had promised that no one would have to give up their plans). Don’t get me wrong, I can’t begin to imagine the weight of bearing the presidency. It is one of the easiest things in the world to criticize the leader of a country, esp. the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet. Be that as it may, it doesn’t change this axiomatic principle: people are directly impacted by their leaders.


Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls…” We need our leaders to provide proper guidance. Proverbs 14:34 states, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” A leader’s righteousness is only a boon for the people, but his sin is their shame. Proverbs 29:4 says, “By justice a king builds up the land, but he who exacts gifts tears it down.” And thus we ask about the integrity of leaders: do they lead to build up those they serve or do they lead in order to profit themselves?


But there is an inverse dynamic to what I’ve been describing: while it is true that leaders directly impact the people they lead, it is also true that leaders often simply reflect the state of the people themselves. From a Christian worldview, our current president has one of the most liberal platforms in the history of our nation, but we would be remiss to ignore that he is in fact a reflection of our country and our current moral compass. In other words, before we condemn our leaders, we might want to take some time to look in the mirror. Do we really want righteous leaders? Do we really want good leaders? Or do we want leaders who will serve our sinful ambitions and our rebellion towards God? What kinds of leaders do we really desire? That question is answered by answering first what we just really desire to begin with.


This was the case with the people of Israel. One of the most shameful and stunning scenes in the entire Old Testament was the day that the people of Israel decided that God’s leadership wasn’t good enough for them and said that they wanted another leader instead!


1st Samuel 8:1 & 4-7: “When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel….4Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5and said to him, ‘Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations. 6But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.

Yes, it is so easy to criticize a leader and in our sinful nature, we are the ones who are always criticizing God. Last Wednesday night we focused on Isaiah 11:1 and we learned that it is in righteous judgment that the Lord cuts down the proud and rebellious trees. Stumps and stump-language in the Bible symbolizes the desolation and humiliation that comes from forsaking the Lord. This is what we do in our sin: we forsake His Word, and part and parcel of this rebellion against God is that we are God’s supreme criticizers. Over the years, these are the top complaints I’ve heard from those who confess the Lord Jesus Christ. My friends, these ought not to be, but they are:


  1. Why does God command me to forgive that person when they have so openly sinned and done such evil to me?
  2. Why does God command me to honor a marriage that has lost its love?
  3. Why does God command me to trust in Him when all my life I have and yet He has allowed me to suffer?


And this of course is but a very short list, but inherent in

these questions are bold criticisms against the Lord. We complain against our leaders — this is true — but we really complain against our most important Leader. We are like the Israelites who asked Samuel to give them another king. There is a reminiscent scene in the New Testament. Jesus had just finished teaching His bread of life discourse and in response to the words of the Lord, the Word records:


John 6:60 & 66: “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’….66After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.”


And in our sin, we are like those disciples who forsook Christ and it is in relationship to many of the teachings in God’s Word. But to the modern church today it is as nothing to pick and choose which teachings we’ll go with and which ones just seem too hard…too unreasonable. Perhaps the most important example of this is in respect to The Lord’s Supper. You must choose Christian: is it or isn’t it the very body and very blood of Christ. If it is, then we should be knocking the doors down every Sunday to receive it; if it isn’t, then hey it doesn’t matter, take it or leave it. Like the rest of the world, it is easy to say, “This is hard saying; who can listen to it?” In this, we criticize our Leader Christ: “Come on! Is it really your body and blood?” And we wonder why we lack spiritual strength!


It was like this in the time of Isaiah. Isaiah 1:1 says, “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” Let’s take inventory of these leaders which the people chose over and above God: 2nd Chronicles 26:16 says, “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God….”; 2nd Chronicles 27 records that Jotham was a good king (v 2a), but then there is this commentary of the people themselves: “The people, however, continued their corrupt practices (v 2b).” So in response to the hearts of the people the Lord permitted Ahaz to be king and the word says at 2nd Chronicles 28:2: “He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and also made cast idols for worshiping the Baals.” And finally, Isaiah also served during the reign of Hezekiah. Now Hezekiah led a great renewal in the land, but with the exception of Josiah after him, the other kings who followed him were evil. Eventually Jerusalem was destroyed. They became a hopeless stump. It would be easy to end the story with, “they got what they deserved,” but this is not how God ends the story.

The Lord bless you on this Advent night.
In Jesus’ Love,
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