“I have even called thee by name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me,” by Louis A. Dole

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“I have even called thee by name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.
“I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.” – Isaiah 45:4-5

Readings

Isaiah 45:1-13 · John 18:28-37 · Psalm 30

Sermon

Cyrus the Persian is mentioned twice in Isaiah and three times in Daniel. He was not an Israelite, not one of the “chosen” people. He was of the heathen world, but he was one of the great and good men of the ages. Isaiah prophesied of him even before he was born that he was chosen to be a special son of God.

Every individual, whatever his origin, may be such a son of God. God has a definite life plan for each individual, girding him visibly or invisibly for some exact use which it will be the true significance and glory of his life to have accomplished. Man is born for heaven. But the Lord alone is God, and from him alone is salvation. He said of himself, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” All who are in good will look to the Lord for truth and will receive him.

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“For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt,” by Louis A. Dole

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“For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:
“But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven.” – Deuteronomy 11:10, 11

Readings

Deuteronomy 11:1-12 · Mark 4:21-41 · Psalm 135

Sermon

“We want a decent country to live in” would express the desires and ideals of a great many people; but perhaps we should not be very far wrong if we affirmed that most of these people have little idea of how they are going to get it or even of what they mean by it. They may have in mind economic security, a good job with good pay, or they may want a world in which they will be free from troubles and from interference with their own lives, and free from war.

In our text two countries are contrasted. They are strikingly different. Egypt is a flat country, fertile, with an even climate. It has no precious metals and little variety in fruits and animals. It receives no rain from heaven, its fruitfulness depending upon the inundations of its great river, the Nile. In Bible times its people worshiped the calf. Palestine, on the other hand, is a land of hills and valleys, with a complex climate ranging from intense heat at Jericho 1300 feet below sea level to the wintry snows of Mount Hermon 10,000 feet above the sea level. It produces a variety of summer and winter fruits and vegetables, of the precious metals and stones, and is made fertile by rain, by brooks and rivers and the melting snows: “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills… a land where thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it.”

The Egyptian ideal was that of external comfort and wealth. Israel prospered there under Joseph and did not wish to return to the Holy Land. But their long-continued life there resulted in bondage, and Moses was raised up to lead them out. The words “Out of Egypt have I called my son” express a great blessing. Abraham went down into Egypt and became rich in flocks. Our Lord was carried down into Egypt and there found protection from Herod. Egypt could both shelter and enslave. She could nourish, she could teach, and yet her wealth and knowledge could never wholly satisfy. And this is the reason given in the Word itself: “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit.” Therein is its limitation. Man has higher possibilities than the merely natural.

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“Glory to God in the highest,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Glory to God in the highest.” – Luke 2:14

Readings

Isaiah 40:1-11 · Luke 2:1-18 · Psalm 111

Sermon

In our celebration of the nativity there are always certain incidents and figures which stand out prominently in our minds: the shepherds abiding in the fields, the angel messenger and the multitude of the heavenly host, the wise men from the east, and the star.

The Incarnation was an historic fact, and these incidents connected with the birth of our Lord help us to become more certain of it as an historic fact. The picture stays in the mind and grows in meaning for us.

It is hard for the natural minded men of this day to believe in the coming of the Lord upon earth to save men from spiritual death. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” From a finite and merely natural point of view the coming of God into the world in our flesh is incredible. Today multitudes do not believe it, and those who do accept it in tradition evade the full force of it in thought and act. There are few who believe that it was Jehovah, the I AM, the only Divine Being, who came into the world, who stood side by side with men, and associated with publicans and sinners.

Yet this is the essential principle of the New Church and of all true religion. It is the vital doctrine of Christianity. The angel announced that God in person would visit men: “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” It was not some messenger who had come from God. The angel himself was such a messenger. It was not some secondary Divine person. It was the promised Messiah, whom Isaiah had called “The everlasting Father.”

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