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2012-01-01 God Our Comfort

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Presider's Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your sovereign plans for each of us. When we look back to the year we just passed, we see your fingerprint in our lives. When we look ahead to the year to come, we see your promises for your people. So in the New Year, we pray Emmanuel (God with us). When we are up on the mountain tops, let us not forget it is you who bring us there; when we are down in the deep valleys, please open our eyes to let us see it is you who carry us all the way. We pray that no matter what happens in our lives, everything would bring us into a deeper relationship with you. And in today's church service, we also pray that let us be in your presence. May your Holy Spirit lead today’s worship, and we also lift up today’s preacher Stephen in your Almighty hands. Please anoint him with your wisdom and truth, and let today’s message touch your people and bring back your sheep. We sincerely pray that in 2012; let your will be done in this church, in this city and in this nation. In Jesus’ holy name,  Amen.


Worship leader's Prayer:

Lord I just pray that you will be with us. Many of us are going to be traveling in the weeks to come and I just pray that your Spirit will be upon us, and you’ll empower us to preach the gospel to our families, to love our families and neighbors back in our hometowns. We know that we can’t do this without you. Lord, may you just soften their hearts to receive you Jesus, and may you just make them thirsty and hungry for you. Lord, may our presence just be a light into their lives, may you just be shining through us. Lord, will you empower us, will you embolden us, will you help us to speak with great confidence and authority that can only come from you. Lord may you be with all of us, as we spread out from Beijing all throughout China, that we just can be a bright light for you. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Worship song: By Faith

Verse 1 By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation's grand design
In the lives of those who prove His faithfulness
Who walk by faith and not by sight
Verse 2 By faith our fathers roamed the earth
With the power of His promise in their hearts
Of a holy city built by God's own hand
A place where peace and justice reign
Verse 3 By faith the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear
With the power to break the chains of sin & death
And rise triumphant from the grave
Verse 4 By faith the church was called to go
In the power of the Spirit to the lost
To deliver captives and to preach good news
In every corner of the earth
Verse 5 By faith this mountain shall be moved
And the power of the gospel shall prevail
For we know in Christ all things are possible
For all who call upon His name
Chorus We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We'll walk by faith and not by sight

Worship leader's Prayer:

Lord Jesus I just pray that you are increasing our faith, increase our faith to do things for you that we have never thought about doing before, to share the gospel in a bolder way, to love and serve others in greater humility. Just to live selfless lives not for ourselves but in service of others and in service of your kingdom. Lord thank you for meeting with us right here, and thank you for speaking to us right now. Continue to speak to us throughout this service and throughout this church in the entire year. Pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.





Scripture Reading: Isaiah 40:1-11
1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.
3 A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” .
6 A voice says, “Cry out.”  And I said, “What shall I cry?”  “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
9 You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be fraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.



A Happy New Year to you! Let us bow in a prayer:

Heavenly Father, it is so good to be with our brothers and sisters in this place of your holy presence. Indeed here is your God—the God of the universe, the Creator of all things visible and invisible. The One who heaven cannot contain, is here with us. We bow in your Majesty, in your Holy presence, we sing Holy Holy Holy! Lord God Almighty, you reign! You are sovereign, and you purchased us by the precious blood of your Son Jesus; we are yours and yours forever! Father, as we journey on this time together, please speak to us, we have come to hear your Word; speak to us O Father! For we are hungry, we are thirsty, we are dry we need forgiveness, and we need your salvation. Come, our saving God and speak to each and every heart here; fill this church with your glory; fill this city with your glory and fill this nation with your glory that this nation will glow with your glory to the farthest end of this earth! May your name be exalted; may your name be the sweetest name on every lip here, and in every heart. To you be all the glory because we pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen








At the beginning of a year, it’s always a good habit to ask God for a special word, a special verse, or a special promise that you are going to cling to for the rest of the year. Everyday every moment, this precious word that He has given to you, you are holding it close to you. And it will tie you through from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. It’s our prayer, as a church, that you will receive a word from God, that you will take home and take to heart so that it will be life-transforming forevermore.




What do you do when you are discouraged? What do you do when you prepare your thesis, you are about to present your work and your hard drive dies, all your files disappear and you have nothing to present? What do you do when your boss does not give you the raise or promotion that he promised? What do you do when you receive some bad news? A friend may be leaving; someone may have died; perhaps you yourself have received news from the doctor that your health is not good, or the university that you applied to will not accept you. You have worked so hard and there is discouragement.






In today’s story, we have a people who are very discouraged, we have a people who  were called by God as their very own; but they find themselves in captivity: far away from home, far away from their temple, far away from God, far away from any comfort. They wondered: Did God give up on us?! Did God forget us? Did I sin too much that He has said I will choose another people? Am I so abandoned? I am so lonely! They began to wonder and God’s Word to them is a Word of promise, and a Word of comfort, for them, for those who are going to exile and for us who are discouraged or anxious or worried or heavy laden.






Our passage is taken from the book of Isaiah and the author is the prophet Isaiah. The name Isaiah means Yahweh is Salvation. And this is a very appropriate name because it is the theme for the entire book. In fact, we see Judas’ Salvation from her enemies; we see Judas’ Salvation from  exile in



Babylon; we see the Jews’ Salvation when Jesus comes in His Kingdom to reign for a thousand years and then we see the sinners’ Salvation from evil to be saved to eternity.

Isaiah = Yahweh is Salvation 

Judah’s Salvation from her enemies
Judah’s Salvation from Babylon
The Jews’ Salvation in the Kingdom
The sinner’s Salvation from sin


The book has some key words but these key words are actually the names of God because the book is about God. Isaiah’s prophecy was about Yahweh, the covenant God who entered into a covenant relationship with sinful men by reconciling Himself to them. This is the most common name. It appears over six thousand times in the Old Testament and in this book, over four hundred times. The second name is Elohim, God says” I am Lord and supreme over every idol, every imaginable idol that you can come up with. I am supreme over them.”

Adonai appears 52 times and He says “I am Lord over creation.” Creation seems so powerful: the mountains, the oceans, the tsunamis, the earthquakes… But God says “I am sovereign over creation. And then He says “I am Yahweh Sabaoth Lord of wholes. I am Lord of the heavenly powers. Any imaginable power you can think of, in heaven or on earth, I am Lord over that. One of Isaiah’s favorite names for God is Holy One of Israel. God is perfect; God is greater than everything visible and invisible, and God is near, He is lofty, high and holy, but He is near, He is with the lonely and broken-hearted, He is God Emmanuel—God with us. Imagine, He is the Holy One of Israel; He is the Holy One of Haidian Church; He is the Holy One of Beijing and He is the Holy One of China; He is the Holy One of you. He desires to enter a relationship with you and me.

 Key Names: 


Yahweh 423 Covenant Relationship
Elohim 103 Supreme over idols
Adonai 52 Lord over creation
Yahweh Sabaoth 52 Sovereign over heavenly powers
Holy One of Israel 25 Perfection, Greatness, Nearness


Our story takes place primarily in Isaiah’s Ministry to Judia, the southern Kingdom. Isaiah’s Ministry spanned for about sixty years from 739 to 681 B.C. in the Southern Kingdom made up of Judah and Benjamin. The Northern Kingdom had separated at that time with ten tribes; they later fell to Assyria in 722 B.C. and then Judah, the Southern Kingdom fell to Babylon in 586 B.C.





If we are going to divide the book of Isaiah up in divisions, there are two: the first division is Chapters 1 to 39 and we call this Retribution or Judgment and the second division is Chapters 40 to 66 and we call this Restoration or Redemption. There’s judgment but there is Salvation! Judgment, because God is Holy and Salvation, because our God is a saving God. 

Our passage can be divided into three parts:

l       Isaiah 40: 1-11, we call that Compassion;

l       Verses 12-26, we call that Comparison, God cannot be compared to anyone, He is incomparable;

l       Verses 27-31, He is our Comforter, He is the One who gives strength to the weary, give strength to the young and to the old, He gives strength-- unbelievable and unparalleled invisible strength!


Our passage today Verses 1-11 will be divided into four small sections:

l       verses 1-2, A voice of Pardon;

l       verses 3-5, A voice of Preparation;

l       verses 6-8, A voice of Promise;

l       verses 9-11, A voice of Presence.




Let’s go into our first division: verse 1 says, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God”. The people had been in exile and  they had been feeling this abandonment. They were no longer feeling close to God. Away from home and away from the temple. And God tells the prophet: “Comfort my people. Yes, they have sinned, but they are still my people. Yes, they have committed a great crime against me, but they are still my people. And I, I’m still their God”. When they heard Isaiah say “your God”, what a joy must have filled them. To rely on God was still considering them His precious possession, His precious people. He says, not only do you tell them comfort once, but tell them comfort twice. Comfort, Comfort, Comfort, Comfort! Let the echo throughout the world that I’m the God of comfort for all who’re heavily laden, all who feel anxious, worried, discouraged, and distressed. Comfort, our God offers you comfort.






The second verse tells us “Speak tenderly to



Jerusalem”. Speak to them, not with the condemnation and judgment, but speak to them like a mother, with care and compassion of a mother. My people need to know that I love them tenderly regardless of what they have done.




What is He to tell them? There are three very beautiful things He is to tell them. The verse goes on saying: “proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received double from the hand of the Lord.” Her God and our God tells us that there is a limit; this too will pass! This dark period, this discipline, this time of trouble, it is limited. God says, it has been completed; your time of exile, your time of being far away from me will be completed. There is the end. There is a light at the end. You will see this light. And the light is Jesus. He says, not only do I limit your difficulties and challenges, but I give you limitless forgiveness. He says: “your sins have been paid for”. You did not work for it; you did not pay for it. You couldn’t have been slavery and exiled for 70 years, and it would not be enough. The only payment, sufficient and satisfactory is the blood of Jesus Christ. His blood and His sacrifice alone can satisfy the Holy and just mind of our God.






And God said: “you’re worth it. I will deliver my only begotten son for you. You are value to me. I love you intensively. And I will pay for your sins”. And that was Christ has  done. The third thing he tells us is that they have received double from the hand of the Lord. They did not receive double judgment because God does not deal with us according to our sins. He’s gracious, extravagantly gracious, excessively generous. He gives us double comfort. He gives us double mercy. He gives us double portions of love. God repays what you’ve done to Him with double comfort and double love. He does not deal with us according to our sins because He is a God of grace, and God of mercy and God of love. Surely, you must be attracted to this God of comfort because there is no one on earth like Him.









So our principle is from the Bible and it says,

Principle: “Without the shedding of blood, there’s no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22)”.

Why? Because it’s a crime against God. Sin is a crime against God. Blood is to remind us of the magnitude of our depravity. Surely murdering the Son of God must be the worst crime in all of history. And yet it was on that cross that Jesus prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” So wasn’t it dark hour of history that the greatest of pouring of grace and forgiveness came? By the blood of Jesus, and by His prayer, and you are evidence that God has heard and answered Jesus’ prayer because you have come to know Him as your personal savior. When I think about life, we are very quick to escape from pain. But it is so sad that we are not equally quick to escape from what pains God. My brothers and sisters, we need forgiveness, and God is extending His arm and says “I have what you need, the forgiveness that you need so that you can be with me forever”.




Application Questions:



*       Will you ask for forgiveness?

*       Will you forgive your enemies?




Our question then for you is: Are you willing to forgive your enemies? Are you willing to forgive someone who has wronged you? Are you willing to forgive someone who hates you? Are you willing to forgive someone who continues to abuse you? Forgiveness is very difficult, isn’t it? It’s very difficult because it requires humility to say “I am wrong and you are right” to someone that we might think it’s not worthy. Don’t you see that it is actually a problem of pride? We don’t forgive, or don’t want to forgive, or don’t want to ask for forgiveness, because we are too proud. “He should come first and ask me for forgiveness” or “I didn’t do anything wrong. I am entitled to be treated better”. We know that we have no rights. We have been called to be just like Jesus. How did they treat Jesus? They despised Him and rejected Him. They pushed Him away and said “I don’t have time for you, I don’t value you”. And so as we deny ourselves each day and pick up our cross, we are not offended when people slight us, get angry with us, when people do us wrong, we can learn something from it. If you have wronged someone, be quick, the Bible tells us “do not let sun goes down on your anger.” Be quick to see the reconciliation. Let there be no unforgiveness in your heart.






Let us pray together our application prayer:




I adore you Precious Lamb and seeker of the lost.

I confess and I’m sorry for rebelling against You.

Thank you for saving me from sin, Satan and death.

I pray You shape my heart to Your Desires.


Our second division is preparation. And we are going to read the next verse, verse 3, and it says: A voice of one calling: “in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.” This is a prophecy that the gospel writers in the New Testament attribute to John the Baptist who came to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus Christ. And his message was one’s repentance because the kingdom of God is at hand. The kingdom of God where Jesus reigns is coming. What we are here to ask to do, at Christmas especially, we are reminded that Jesus is coming. Jesus came as a baby and He is going to come back again to reign. But that requires preparation; that requires a revolutionary period of preparation for each of us.




How revolutionary is it? The next verse, verse 4,  tells us how we should prepare, it says: “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low, the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” This is the picture when the King is coming, the servants will go ahead and remove all the rocks; remove all the obstacles so that the king could come in gloriously and with dignity and majesty. Our King -- the greatest King of all the universe, He is coming. And He’s saying: prepare, get rid of everything that will obstruct me for coming into your heart. When you pray this verse, you can say to God there are no mountains or obstacles, there are no obstacles so deep, there are no problems so wide that are going to prevent me from loving you. You know that there are no mountains that God can’t help deliver you from. You know that as you go up to the mountain, you’re getting close to God. Moses went up on the mountain; Jesus went up on the mountain of transfiguration. Look, look, how He will




reveal His glory through the mountains that you face in your life today.





Our principle for this section from another Bible verse says:







Principle : “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us  an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”(II Corinthians 4:17)


God is saying to us that our troubles in this earth are light, not heavy, and they don’t last very long compared to what He is reserving for you in heaven. So persevere, these troubles will refine you, these troubles will perfect you, these troubles will call you to depend on God more and more, and these troubles will allow you to see God’s glory. How can I see God’s glory in trouble? When you have trouble, then you can experience comfort. When you have difficulties, then you can expect a miracle. When you face impossibility, then you can expect God’s glory to be revealed. God desires to give you a vision of Himself this year, a vision of glory.






Application Questions:






*       Jesus desires to come into your life.

*       Will you clear the stony soil from your heart for Him to reign?






So let’s ask ourselves then: Jesus desires to come in, will you clear the stony soil in your heart so that Jesus can come in and reign? Jesus wants to be your King; He is the only King that should reign in your heart.






Are you going to prepare and remove every obstacle so that He can be absolute King in your life? The answer should be yes. Trust me, it’s the right answer.

So please read this prayer together:

I Adore You my Sovereign Lord and King

I Confess I have loved other gods above You

Thank You for the Joy & Honor of serving You

I Pray for Power to obey Your Will faithfully






So can we trust God? Yes. Because our third division tells us: God’s voice is a promise. In the verse 6 here: A voice says, “Cry out.” All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall”, because the breath of the Lord blows on them, shortly the people of grass, the grass withers and the flowers fall, “but the Word of our God stands forever”. You may have power right now, you may have prosperity right now, and you may have popularity right now. Everything may be going OK for you right now. But we know that it’s temporary, what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal. And what is God saying is that all these earthly glory that you may be attracted to or distracted by, they are only temporary and will not satisfy you. They will not satisfy, they are a shadow pointing towards eternal realities: “Myself I’m your God, I alone can satisfy you because my Word will last forever. Even heaven, even earth will shake, but my Word will remain standing forever. And that’s God’s promise for us. When you are distressed, discouraged, then go to God’s Word for there is no other treasure, there is no other anchor that you can find that will guarantee to secure your soul when the most difficult wind of opposition attacks you.









So a principle which is also from the Bible and not surprising is:



Principle : Without faith, it’s impossible to please God (Hebrew 11:6).

You can only please God if you have faith.





Faith knows God is Present

Faith trusts God’s loving purpose in every test

Faith seeks how to glorify God through tests

Faith submits to God without question

Faith lives for God’s Approval, not His deliverance



I want to tell you a few things about faith very quickly. We believe in something that is invisible, can’t be seen. We also believe in something that is inevitable, because it is guaranteed by God. We also believe in something that is in the future. We don’t have it yet, but it will come and it’s invisible and eternal. A few more thoughts about faith, when you are going through a difficult time: Faith knows God is present. Faith is absolutely certain God is here. The second thing faith knows and trusts is that God has a loving purpose in this test. God will not allow anything evil to happen to you, He has a loving, absolute perfect purpose prepared for you. The other thing that faith does is that it looks for ways to glorify God through the tests. Not pity: oh I’m so hurt; oh I am so beaten; oh I don’t know how to get through. Faith says how can God be glorified through it all. How can it exalt the name of Jesus through it all. Faith also submits to God without question. Faith says: I don’t understand everything, I don’t have all the answers, I have many questions, how, when, where, or why, I don’t have the answers, but I know Him and I know that He can be trusted. So faith just says: I will be, I will be. I can ask questions, but I can’t question His authority. Finally faith doesn’t seek just deliverance or answers to prayer; faith seeks to live for God’s approval. I want to live to please God and I know you want to live to please God too.






Application Questions:



*       Does this describe your faith?

*       Will you exercise faith in your current circumstances?



So do you have this type of faith? And will you exercise faith in your current circumstances? It’s hard, isn’t? But that’s why we have one another, that’s why we have the Word of God, that’s why we have the Holy Spirit living within each of us. We aren’t left alone, God the Almighty is with us. You are not alone; there is nothing too great or too difficult for our God to handle. If God is for us, who can be against us, so be on God’s side.






So let’s pray our application prayer together:



I Adore You as my Promise Keeping God

I Confess I have trusted man instead of You

Thank You for preparing a future full of hope

I Pray for Help to live with an eternal perspective



Finally, I am just going to read the last verse. There are two pictures of God. One, a Almighty powerful God who has got the authority to rule, the authority to reward and the authority to judge. He says “I am powerful, yes but I am also very personal. I’m your personal shepherd”. And this is what it says in Verse 11: “He tends his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart. He gently leads those that have young”. He is a tender shepherd.



Principle: If God be for us, No one and nothing can prevail against us.


Application Questions

*       What need in your life would you like your Shepherd to meet today?



So what needs do you have in your life that you would like our great tender almighty powerful shepherd meet today?



If you are:

*       Hungry – Let Jesus feed you!

*       Lonely – Let Jesus hold you close in His arms!

*       Tired – Let Jesus carry you near to His heart!

*       Lost, looking for directionLet Jesus our great shepherd of the sheep lead you!



Isaiah 40:1-11 Summary



*       1-2 A Voice of Pardon      –Sacrificial Lamb

*       3-5 A Voice of Preparation –Coming King

*       6-8 A Voice of Promise     –Trustworthy Friend

*       9-11 A Voice of Presence –Gentle Shepherd


I want to end with Isaiah 40:26: “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing”. This is a verse that is very close to our hearts. And it is a verse that ties us through moments that are very dark. It’s a verse that comes from one of my dear friends, she was far away from home, she had no job, she had no money, she had no friend, she was in a foreign country, she didn’t speak the language, and she knew no one. She was helpless, hopeless, on the street, no food and nothing. And it so happened that she had some money in her pocket; it was 40 dollar and 26 cents. So she looked up this verse in Isaiah, and this is the Word that she got from God. She looked up and she saw the starry host and she said: “Yes, I’m poor, I’m hopeless, I’m helpless, I’m friendless, I have no finances, I have nothing but I have a Father. He is the One who is holding up each star, He is the One who knows the stars by name. He is the One who loves them because He sustains them with His almighty power. He is the one who knows me and will sustain me.”



Isaiah 41:10 God’s New Year Promise Presence, Possession, Power, Permanence


So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand







I pray that as we go into this year 2012 that you will know Jesus Christ as your comfort, that you will fix your eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. He will be your everlasting joy and everlasting comfort. May God bless us in all circumstances. To God be all the glory for He is worthy.  






May God bless you richly in 2012 as you install Jesus as your Eternal Comfort!
















Media Resources:

Sermon: God Our Comfort video audio ppt
Worship song: This Is The Day video audio lyric
Worship song: Majesty video audio lyric
Worship song: Sun Above The Clouds - The Gift Of Knowing Jesus video audio lyric
Worship song: By Faith video audio lyric







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