Come Again? 2nd Sunday of Advent - Faith

Isaiah 26:20-21

Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.

Habakkuk 2:3-4

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.

Hebrews 11:1-6

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Advent Reading: Advent Reality in Faith by Dr. Stephen Isaac

At the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews [65-69 A.D.], the Jewish Christians had continued to celebrate Judaism's traditional practices as well as to observe temple worship and sacrificial ritual. Their presence in the temple and the synagogue had been tolerated by their unbelieving countrymen and the temple hierarchy; but by now they were in danger of being excommunicated. Even though they had believed in Jesus as the Messiah this was like being sentenced to death - to be cut off like that felt like being killed. Their reverence and respect for the laws of Moses and all that comes with it had not been diminished by their acknowledgment of the Messiah; for them, as well as for the rest of their race, a deep intensity rested on those ceremonies from which they were threatened with exclusion. They were being told they must recant their belief in Jesus as Messiah or be cut-off from their religious heritage. As a result they were becoming weak in their faith and doubting their confession. So, it is under these circumstances that the writer of Hebrews roll-calls the most famous names of Jewish history to re-affirm the people their belief and faith in the coming Messiah. It was not by offering sacrifices, nor by attending festivals, nor by the rituals and exactness with which they had celebrated any external worship and ceremonies, that their great forefathers had won their faith, but by their bold determination and steadfast trust in God.

In order to back up his point, the writer of Hebrews links our two passages of Scripture, Isaiah 26:20 and Habakkuk 2:3–4. Both passages are meant to illustrate how the Jews of the past also had to WAIT for God to intervene on their behalf, and to reassure all who were struggling in faith - weakening under the threat - beginning to believe that God's lack of action or intervention was a failure on His part to keep His promise to return [Advent]. Reminding them that waiting on God is an essential element of having faith in God. Remember... "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

This passage reference in Hebrews 11, is the only place in the Bible where there is a precise definition of faith. It is SO ironic that faith is the one thing that becomes the jump-starter for all other Christian virtues and gifts—for example: faith is used to describe our place as Christians (people of faith)—faith as the one inward Spiritual Gift that validates all our good works—faith as the only path to Christ who alone leads to God the Father, is profoundly revealed to us all as... faith as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Not only ironic but SO consistent with who God is.

The writer is saying to his readers, faith is grabbing on to the future in the midst of no matter what is going on in the present moment, believing in the unseen in the midst of only what can be seen. This is what marks us as people of faith - this is what tattoos our heart, and must be downloaded into our spirit. We walk by faith and not by sight.

If the present world was good and not evil, there would be not be much to test or obstruct this faith. Even though we cannot be separated from God's love as people of faith and we find all that is good in Christ, we understand that the world, as humanity has made it, is by no means like the workmanship and creation of God - this world and it's ways are not what He made us for. We see all around us shameless and defiant contradictions to what we are told - that justice, truth, and goodness are common, known, and available to all mankind. Yet where is the justice, truth, and goodness for all mankind? Besides the endless evidence that the common good is not providing the world its moral compass, we are continually betrayed by similar contradictions within ourselves. Let me explain this.

In our moments of temptation where the terrible consequences of giving in seem far away. However much we may be convinced that in the end obedience is better than sin, we find it hard to remember our conviction and covenant in the moment that it is most needed. But in the midst of all this, in spite of what our eyes perpetually tell us, and in spite of the contradictions all around us and the weakness within us, there is a voice from the depths of our own souls that never ceases to repeat to us this message... "good is better than evil, right is really stronger than wrong, and truth is better than falsehood, justice more sure than injustice, and believing is better than doubting." To believe this voice, and to allow it to guide our life with the conviction that it will guide us to our best outcome - this is faith. Trusting the Spirit's voice that speaks within us, even when it contradicts the voices that speak outside of us. To trust what is unseen above what is seen. To believe in what we hear from Him and not what we hear from them. This is the faith He leads us to.

Real faith is a supernatural force, a power in both the great and small things of our life. Faith is the force supporting the follower and the seeker by giving both of them complete access to all the strength and virtue of our Savior. The promise to those early believing Jews and to us here today is to give us faith "to win over sin." Not just the sin out there - but the sin in here (within ourselves) the inward sin that keeps us from being faithful, healthy and whole. And this faith is a final show of force and power to prove to us that God redeems us to Himself through our faith believing relationship with Jesus. Enough faith to be vulnerable (not soft and weak - but honest and open), to trust and wait on His promises, this is our substance of things hoped for, this is our evidence of things not seen, this is Christian faith. The victory that overcomes both worlds - within and without. world. Faith to decisively clarify that the hardest enemy for us to encounter is not the sight and sounds of this world’s cultural hatred, social injustice, and political corruption. It is when conscience, at the very moment of demanding our obedience, proclaims also our sinfulness. It is Faith to win over sin - Faith to make us whole.

Advent Candle – Light the 2nd candle to your right and ask all to read together…

We light the candle of faith as we proclaim the Advent of our Savior and deliverer Jesus Christ! Until He returns we will shine His light and live by faith. We live by faith in what is unseen and by faith in the eternal Kingdom that is yet to come. By faith, today we proclaim that Christ Jesus is the light of the world – He is coming again!

About Reunion Community Church

We are a Bible teaching Christian church in Peoria, AZ. We love God and teach His Truth. We invite you, your family and friends to join us on the faith journey, growing closer to one another, the Christian community of believers at Reunion, and most importantly with God. Read more about the timeless Truth we build our lives and faith in Christ on HERE.

We are conveniently located just off the 101 on 83rd Ave and Cactus Rd. Join us on Sunday mornings, Weds. evenings, and throughout the week at our small groups, meeting in homes around the Valley, including Surprise, Glendale, Peoria, Phoenix, Goodyear, Litchfield, and more. Connect with us on Facebook and watch our live streaming service on YouTube.

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