Good morning First Baptist. We welcome you to worship this morning. Be sure to remember your brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the week as you pray for them, and as the Holy Spirit brings their faces to your mind. Be sure to also connect with them in the ways that are possible. And if you have any questions or would like to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to contact the church through the church telephone and leave a message. (519-733-4144)
Call to Worship
In the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, it is easy to get swept up with the business of preparing our homes for guests, visiting friends and families, and finding the perfect gift for our loved ones. Let us invite you this morning to take a moment to slow down and remember what Advent is meant to be: a time of waiting for the coming of Christ.
The Prophet Jeremiah invites to do the same:
“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
That’s JESUS – the one we celebrate this advent season – Welcome to advent.
Holy Lord, in this time of Advent, we confess we often are distracted by the season’s busyness, by the stress of commitment, and even by putting our own traditions ahead of the true meaning of Christmas.
We confess we also often prefer being sentimental to being sacrificial. Forgive us for all the times we have missed seeing You in our midst, for all the times we have doubted Your presence, and for all the times we have failed to hold the holidays as holy days.
Pour hope into our lives and let us be bearers of Your hope to others. Remind us that this is a season of waiting and preparation for the greatest Gift of all.
In the holy Name of our Savior, Jesus, we pray. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Here are the only words of assurance you need to hear this morning….
In the midst of the mess of sin that had become the definition of humanity, God, our kind and loving Savior God, has stepped in and saved us.
Our Hope Has Come
The 'Groans' of Hope
Today's Message: Our Hope Has Come
The ‘Groans’ of Hope – Pastors Marlee and Dave Page
The land of Narnia was under a perpetual winter for over one hundred years. The question we must ask ourselves is what C.S. Lewis was trying to portray with this image. The winter is a picture of what the Bible calls The Fall. It is result of Adam and Eve’s original sin in the garden of Eden. Because of their choice the whole world has been affected. – that’s what Paul is referring to by his continued use of the word groaning. This curse is real. The groaning, our groaning is real. The darkness of our world today is great, and it is devastating. Death has become the certain end of each person, human bodies subject to deterioration, evil people trying to dominate good people all the time, oppression abounds, the natural world of God’s creation has become chaotic and there is a great cosmic battle between good and evil – all because of this curse. The curse caused by the choice made by man and woman together in the Garden.
In a crowd of 70 or so people here, the reality is that there are at least 70 or so evidences of the curse found in this room right now.
Some of you are aware that your body is breaking down and your warranty has expired.
Some of you are healthy but you carry the burden of another person who’s warranty has expired.
Some, this will be the 1st Christmas without a loved one.
Some of your marriages are struggling. Great distance between you and your spouse.
Some of you have children rebelling against you and God.
Some have larger family issues that seem unresolvable.
Some just dread Christmas because all those old wounds will be opened.
Some of you feel overwhelmed with life…enough with the masks already
Some of you have an emptiness on the inside that won’t go away.
All of these and even more are evidence of the curse. They are how the groaning of our world shows up for us in everyday life. For many, they are living in a perpetual winter too. This curse has stolen your joy and it’s stolen your hope You find yourself in winter without any hope of Christmas.
The question before us this morning then is How does one find HOPE in a world that is groaning so loudly?
Well, one of the reasons we think the advent season is so important for us as Jesus followers, and for His church, is because this is the season of HOPE and EXPECTATION. Do you know Advent isn’t found anywhere in Scripture? Advent comes from the Latin word “Adventus” which is translated from the Greek word “parousia” – which means “coming.” And this word Parousia was used to describe both Jesus’ arrival as a baby and His second coming – we must always remember that. We don’t just celebrate the coming of our Lord in this season, we also celebrate His return. We celebrate the hope that we have in Jesus, the hope that overpowers the groanings of this world…and yes our own groans too.
Scripture Reading: Romans 8:18-27
Present Suffering and Future Glory
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
Paul tells us at the very beginning of this passage that Though we as believers may endure suffering now, we will enjoy glory when Christ returns. In fact, verses 19-21, the whole of creation Paul says is groaning under the bondage of sin, thanks to Adam and Eve’s disobedience. When Jesus finally returns, He will deliver the entire creation from this bondage, and all nature will “brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (v. 21).
This morning, we want to look at these three ‘groans’ in vv. 22–26:
All creation groans V. 22
Paul wants us to think of the entirety of creation here – the rocks and the trees, the birds and the bees, you and me. All of it as an audience eagerly waiting for the Children of God to come into their true glory. Back in v. 19 the phrase, “waits in eager expectation” comes from a group of words that carry the idea of stretching the neck forward intensely. It’s like all of creation is on the edge of its seat waiting to see the wonderful sight of the Children of God coming into their own. Even creation longs for the day of liberation as we do.
Remember that in the Garden God described creation to Adam and Eve like this:
I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. Genesis 1:29
The earth was immensely productive. It was kind to itself and kind to its masters. It was a paradise. But after the Fall came the curse:
To Adam He said:
“Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
— Genesis 3:17–19
Creation too became a sufferer and was cursed with futility, decay, and death. That’s why even now at times the forces of nature seem to work against themselves, as well as against us.
The believer groans awaiting Christ’s coming, v. 23
The thing we groan for is our adoption as God’s family, which will be completed by the redemption of the body. Notice how Paul frames this in vs. 23. We are already God’s sons and daughters, but we will not be complete for eternity until we get our new bodies. Second Corinthians 5:2 is a parallel passage:
“Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling.”
A certain cause of our groaning is the misery of living in our fallen bodies in this fallen world. Certainly, tow years of living in the midst of a pandemic has revealed that to us. A very real truth about life is that our lives consist of groans. We groan because of the ravages that sin makes in our lives, and in the lives of those we love. We groan because we see opportunities that are not being captured and used to make things better. And then we groan because we see gifted people who are wasting their lives, sometimes in our own neighborhood or family and that causes us to groan because would love to see something better happening. God’s word records that, as he drew near the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus groaned in his spirit because he was so burdened by the ravages that sin had made in a believing family. He groaned, even though he knew he would soon raise Lazarus from the dead. So, we groan in our spirits. We groan in disappointment, and in bereavement. We groan in sorrow. We groan physically in our pain and our limitation. Life consists of a great deal of groaning doesn’t it?
Are you ready for some hope now?? We are ready for some hope and here it comes!! Paul says We also groan for a positive reason—we have “the firstfruits of the Spirit” v. 23. We have the first instalment (or down payment) of the inconceivably fabulous heritage God has prepared for us, in what God has done for us by his Holy Spirit. Friends, there is a power of God that calms our heart despite circumstances, there is a joy that floods our souls and these are just the appetizers in the great and eternal banquet that is yet to come!
We are described as waiting “eagerly” v. 23. This same strong word is used of creation’s waiting v. 19. We too are on the edge of our seat waiting for our deliverance. Paul emphasizes this hope:
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
— Romans 8:24-25
Here we again find the same strong word — “wait for it patiently.” We wait with perseverance. Maybe life right now is very good for you. But in the future God has planned for you there will be joy beyond Joy. We look forward to that time of deliverance and we encourage you to do the same!! Do you want some hope this morning? How about freedom from this body of sin and decay, how about glory that is indescribable, how about seeing the face of Christ, experiencing without restriction the never-ending adventure of getting to know him. That’s HOPE!!!! Of course, we groan – we have an inconsolable longing for the great reunion that is coming. A time in which our greatest joys today can’t compare to! Our Hope, revealed in Christ, is the promise that someday we will know the absolute fullness of our salvation.
Creation groans, we groan, and even the Holy Spirit groans.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
— Romans 8:26-27
If we are honest with ourselves, we must all admit there are certain times when we cannot pray. The words just won’t come. There have been times when our children or other loved ones seemed so desperately ill and the urgency so great that we could barely have a conversation with God. At best we may say a few words, but look at this, Paul says “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
There have been times when something has been said to us that is so devastating and we are so hurt we cannot pray, “but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” There have been times when we see unspeakable injustice on our TV screens or social media feeds and we are to overwhelmed for words, “but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” One day some of us will lie in hospitals with catheters and IVs, and we will not have the will to pray or even put two thoughts together, “but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
The Holy Spirit expresses those things we feel but cannot find the words for. The Holy Spirit says those things we want to say but cannot. How beautiful! The Holy Spirit doesn’t just give armchair advice. In our need, the Spirit rolls up his sleeves and helps us bear our weakness. That is real help. Friends, that is HOPE!!
Think about the reality of that in your life. We have two intercessors: one in Heaven—our Lord Jesus who intercedes for our sins v. 34, and one in our hearts—the Holy Spirit himself. How tremendously we are loved. We hope in a glory that awaits, that far exceeds the wildest imaginations of our most gifted movie writers. You and I are going to be creatures so glorious that if we saw such ones today, we would be tempted to fall down and worship them. Because of the greatness of the coming glory and because of our weakness, we groan. But we are not alone, for we are surrounded by the sympathetic groanings of creation and even of the Holy Spirit. And one day our groanings will be replaced by glory!
In another one of his letters, Paul reminds us of this:
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child;…”
— Galatians 4:4-5.
That is one part of why we celebrate the Advent season. Because God chose to come down to us through His Son Jesus Christ. So that those who don’t know hope can know hope in Jesus.
The other part of the story, the other reason this advent season is so important is because when you know and walk with Jesus you have great hope. Not only that our afflictions, whatever they may be will eventually end but that those afflictions will add to our hope. As followers of Jesus, our suffering comes from humankind, but our hope comes from God. Our suffering is earthly, but our hope is heavenly. Our suffering is short, but our hope is forever. Our suffering is trivial, but our hope is limitless.
Welcome to the Advent season FBK, WELCOME TO HOPE – we’re just getting started!!
Lord of time and hope, we are rushing headlong into the holidays to come. We look at our calendars and wonder how we will get everything done in the time allotted to us before the “big Day” arrives. We begin to panic at the thought of projects still to be finished, contacts that need to be made, preparations for festivities that have only just begun. And the darkness of obsessive holiday planning overtakes us and clouds our minds and spirits.
But you are a Hope and Light. You bring hope to us, as you always have through the voices of the great prophets, and now through the One who is to come, Jesus Christ. Remind us again what this season is truly about……hope, peace, joy and love. Calm us down. Slow us down. Help us remember that it is in loving relationship that you gave your Son to us – No tinsel, ribbons, tape, or cards can convey that eternal message adequately. You have given us the Light, to shine in our path and Hope cut through our darkness.
Shine in the hearts of your people today. Bless those dear ones whom we pray for today with your healing, reconciling, comforting presence and love. Give strength to all who face difficult situations and let your compassionate light shine on them guiding their decisions and their steps. Bring us at last to your presence, where the light of hope and love continually pour out on us.
These prayers and hopes we offer in faithfulness and gratitude for your love and presence. Amen.
O Come All Ye Faithful is around Christmas time. It’s chock full of scripture as well, but the most common biblical reference would be Luke 2:15.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another,
“Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”
Be people of hope.
Let hope live in your heart and share the hope of Christ with all you meet.
Share hope by noticing someone else’s humanity.
Share hope by listening to someone’s story.
Share hope by praying for our world.
In this Advent season, we need to see, feel, and share hope.
As you go out into the wonder of God’s creations, share hope with those you meet. Amen.