Tonight I want to focus on Hope and Love which give birth to faith. Faithful is the attribute ascribed to people who put their trust in God. How does one find hope; How does one understand love; How does one act on faith if they have not experienced any of these? I have come to realize love must be experienced to be understood before one can have hope. I believe Love and hope are necessary for one to act on faith.
Now hope is something we all know how to do. It is not uncommon to hear: “I hope I get ________for Christmas!”; I hope I get that job… ;I hope my child will get well….; I hope my car will last me another year; I hope I can pay my bills; I hope I will find the right person and settle down; You get my point. We hope for what we do not already have. (Romans 8:24) In hope we imagine what it would be like to experience our hopes realized.
Faith is a little different. Faith is the evidence of things not seen the substance of things hoped for. (Hebrews 11:1) It is by faith we believe that there is evidence for what we hope will come to pass.
Hope can be a prospect, a vision, something to put out there as a possibility. But faith sees more than a prospect or a possibility or a vision. Faith takes those things and goes one step further. Faith believes that what is hoped for will be fulfilled. When we have faith in an idea, we must also have the assurance that it will indeed become reality. For instance: a child hopes for a bicycle for their birthday. They will imagine themselves getting the bike and riding the bike and dream about going on long trips They might imagine all their friend going on a bike ride and having a picnic. In all their daydreaming they wonder how they can get that bike. Ultimately they will let it be known that they want a bike. Now the one who “hears” the desire for a bike tells the child you will get that bike for your birthday. The moment the child hears these words, if they trust the person, hope becomes much more. The dream for a bike now has achieved substance because there is the assurance that a bike will be in their future. So you can see that hope gives birth to faith when Love and assurance are involved.
For centuries before Jesus entered time from eternity. The People of Israel had been waiting for a Messiah. The one who would deliver them from oppression, the one who would set the world aright? Where did they get this idea?
God spoke to the Beloved Children through the prophets. What is a prophet? A prophet is a person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God. The following are the prophets of the old Testament: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and twelve others. When we think of the prophets we have to realize that many were not contemporaries. Combined they delivered Prophecies over a 500 years period. (931-400 B.C). Then there was 400 years of silence until the birth of Jesus.
Over time many had forgotten but there were many who believed and their faith caused them to remain awake and aware for the coming of Messiah. When Jesus was born prophecies came to pass in the following: Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 9:6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Those who were expecting the Messiah those who were awake and aware of his coming, indeed recognized him. Simeon and Anna are the two who did. (Luke 2:22-40)
Jesus was born and was recognized as the Son of God, Immanuel. This is just the beginning of His story among humanity. People who hoped in the coming Messiah recognize him because of their faith. Today we also hope as we look back and believe the words of the prophecies fulfilled. Our faith is exercised when we recognize Jesus truly is the son of God.
We are encouraged by Jesus who said, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing.” John 20:29. Many in our world today are not awake or aware of God’s presence among us. They go through the motions at Christmas time. Caught up in the preparations unaware that we are the reason Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again. My prayer is that you will pause tonight and put your hope in God’s love Gift and allow yourself to witness the evidence that Jesus is indeed Immanuel so that your faith can arise to the wonderful possibilities of your belovedness. Only then will you truly have a Very Merry Christmas.