Summary: Part 4 in a 4 part Christmas series

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The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews opened the eleventh chapter of his letter with some words that are very familiar to most of us here:

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for,

the conviction of things not seen”.

Throughout that same chapter he gives us historical examples of people who lived by that same faith; and each account only confirms the depth and the truth of that opening line.

He tells us that Abraham was willing to live in tents in the land that God had promised to him, because by faith he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God (meaning Heaven, his eventual eternal home). Then he says that Abraham believed that God was able to raise the dead.

Later, talking about Moses, he says, “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen”.

There are other examples in that chapter, and in verse 38 the writer asserts of them all that they were “men of whom the world was not worthy”.

All of them, in fact, all who have placed their faith in God throughout history, have lived by this same defining creed:

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for,

the conviction of things not seen”.

They have heard God’s promises and placed such deep and abiding faith in those promises, that the things they looked forward to were more real than the things they could detect with the senses.

“He endured, as seeing Him who is unseen”. What gave him strength to endure and persevere through all trials, was that by faith he saw the unseen God with spiritual eyes; and bowed down to THAT king, and no other.

In these few verses from Luke we are given yet another example of this same kind of faith. Faith does not change, folks. It is what it is; and no matter where you turn either in the scriptures, or in the examples of men and women of faith around you, if it is true faith, it will fit the definition of faith given for us in Hebrews 11:1

It is assurance in our heart that the thing hoped for is real and imminent, and it is life-changing, life-guiding conviction that what is yet unseen is very real indeed.

Simeon, described by Luke as “righteous and devout”, is a mystery to us, except for this one brief moment in time; but my, what a moment it was.

We know nothing of his life except that he was old and had constantly looked and prayed for the ‘consolation of Israel’; meaning, the coming of the Promised One...Messiah.

We don’t know about his family life; we don’t know what his occupation was; we don’t know what things he suffered in his long life; we know nothing of his joys or his sorrows, his failures or his triumphs;

It is almost as though to honor his faith, the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to write the man’s epitaph for all who came after to read: “He was righteous and devout”.

What a wonderful testimony!

I wonder what kind of things God would write on our tombstones...? Or on the hearts of those we leave behind...?

Unless the Lord comes first, believers, each of us will lie down and breathe our last; and we will leave friends and family behind. What will be engraved about us on their hearts, is being written now. Food for thought.

But God blessed this man in another very special way. In honor of his faith and his devotion, he allowed him to stay until his eyes could behold the thing he had prayed for.

More than that though, we can get the sense that God required him to stay. The wording in these verses almost indicates to us that Simeon would have wanted to go home to be with the Lord, but was assigned as a watchman; told to wait and keep vigilance; until he saw Israel’s hope arrive on the scene.

I want to talk about WHAT FAITH IS (and in light of our present world’s usage of the word; what it is NOT), WHAT BENEFIT FAITH GIVES OVER THOSE OF NO FAITH and then, THE GLORY OF ISRAEL.

What is Faith?

I’ve already talked about that, haven’t I? The definition is in Hebrews 11:1 But let’s make a more personal application here.

I suppose it would be best for me to begin by clarifying what faith is NOT. We’ll scrape away the murk from the surface, so we can see deeper into the pool

Faith is not expecting something to happen because we convince ourselves that it will.

People say, “It’s been a rough year, but I have faith that if I hang in there things will get better”.

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