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Find Your Peace

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Good Morning!
Thank you for the testimony this morning.
Last week we studied Hebrews 10:26-31 in which the author gives a harsh warning to the churches.
He lays out for them the consequences of abandoning the forgiveness that is given through Christ.
If after having heard the truth of the gospel, a person turns away, there is nothing left for them.
God’s plan to redeem his people is Jesus.
If we try and gain God’s forgiveness or approval by any other means, we are in a hopeless situation because it will not work.
Without the grace that is afforded to us by Jesus, all we can experience is God’s judgment and wrath.
It is because God loves us that he gave us a way to escape our own rebellion.
His desire, the reason we were created is to know his love.
God created us to be in a relationship with him and he has done all that is necessary to redeem us from our sin.
His work is the reason for our hope and his goal is that our faith would blossom from the hope that we have.
Hope is where faith begins and we will see that even more as we dig into chapter eleven next week.
Before we get into that, the author wants to encourage the churches.
He has just given them a harsh warning, but in the same moment of warning, he also reminds them of what they have already accomplished through their faith in Jesus.
Read with me this morning the encouragement that he gives the church and let us also be encouraged.
Hebrews 10:32–39 CSB
32 Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions, and at other times you were companions of those who were treated that way. 34 For you sympathized with the prisoners and accepted with joy the confiscation of your possessions, because you know that you yourselves have a better and enduring possession. 35 So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised. 37 For yet in a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38 But my righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and are saved.
I think there are times in all of our lives when we need to be reminded of who we are.
It is interesting that the author chooses to encourage the church by reminding them of who they are and what they have done.
All too often, we get burdened down with the difficulties in life and we allow those things to become our identity.
Rather than finding our identity in who God says we are, we find it in the struggles that we are facing.
We allow those struggles to become the things that define us.
This certainly appears to be the case for the people that he is writing to.
According to his testimony, when they first heard of Jesus and placed their faith in him, there was not only excitement but a desire to serve him and one another at all cost.
But now, it seems, that cost has become too great.
I’m sure you have been there too.
When you thought that the challenge you were facing was too great and the price too high.
Dr. George Guthrie says that “we are a people in tension, needing to move on in a world that wants us to hold back.”
Dr. Guthrie is referring to the warning we heard last week, the reality of where we find ourselves today, and the hope that we hold for the future.
He is identifying the struggle that we all face, the desire to move forward, but feeling stuck in our current situation.

We want forward motion but struggle with feeling stuck.

This is why the author of Hebrews holds the mirror of their lives up for them.
He wants them to not just recall, but to remember in their innermost being, the love, joy, and hope that they found in Christ.
We’ve all been there before when we are struggling and the struggle takes front and center.
I often find myself in this situation.
With the demands of work, pastoring, being a husband and father, and all the other random stuff that I have going on, it feels like I can’t get caught up.
Rather than having a healthy view of what I can accomplish, I try to do it all and the focus of my life becomes the list instead of the people.
I let the stress and struggle overtake my focus.
I find myself constantly overwhelmed because my focus has shifted to what I haven’t done rather than what I have.
The things that are stressing me out are all things that God has told me to do.
So why then do I feel overwhelmed?
I’m overwhelmed because my focus isn’t on why God told me to do them.
I’m focusing on the task rather than the overall mission.
I believe something similar is happening in the lives of these church members.
They have let the struggles of life take over their focus and they have lost touch with the source of their hope.
When I made my preaching debut at the ripe age of eighteen, I really struggled with writing it, but more with the idea of delivering it.
I had been given pointers by the pastors at the church, but I was so nervous.
To give you some greater insight, I dropped public speaking both my freshman and sophomore year of college because I couldn’t deal with the stress.
I was so scared to speak in front of a big crowd.
I know, ironic.
Just before delivered my first sermon, like ten minutes before, I was reading through it one last time and it dawned on me that I had tried to do the whole thing on my own.
Let me share the text with you that it was based in.
Psalm 121:1–2 CSB
1 I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
I was so focused on my stress, and lack of confidence that I didn’t even see what should have been abundantly obvious.
I realized just before going out that I was so focused on the task and my feelings of inferiority that I had forgotten that God wanted to use me.
God had called me to ministry, but instead of keeping my eyes on the mission that I was given, I was focusing on this single task and attempting to do it in my own power.
God was working in the lives of the churches that this letter was written to and along the way, they had lost sight of what God was doing in their lives.
They lost sight of the fact that Jesus was the very one that their people had been waiting for.
Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah and he had been revealed to them by the Holy Spirit.
They knew this at their conversion, but the stresses of separation and persecution blurred this from their memory.
So the author reminds them of what they have already endured and accomplished in order to help them remember what is possible when they are obeying in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 10:33–34 CSB
33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions, and at other times you were companions of those who were treated that way. 34 For you sympathized with the prisoners and accepted with joy the confiscation of your possessions, because you know that you yourselves have a better and enduring possession.
This weariness that they were experiencing was not new.
It was there from the beginning, but over time it became a heavy burden.

We need to be reminded that God’s goodness is greater than our afflictions.

In reading this passage, I was reminded of a book that read recently.
Many of you have heard David and Leah talk about The Hiding Place.
I thought it was just a play that a friend of theirs had written.
Leah and I were talking about it one day and she told me it was the story of Corrie ten Boom and her family.
In response to the persecution that the Jewish people were facing, she and her family literally created a hiding place in their home during World War Two that they used to harbor and hide Jewish people.
If you have not read it, it is amazing, but this family literally gave everything for the sake of others.
Corrie, her sister, and father all ended up in concentration camps as a result of their ministry.
Her sister and father both died in the camps, but Corrie survived and spent the rest of her life ministering to those that endured what she had and worse.
Her life’s work was to tell others of the beauty of Christ even in the midst of the most gruesome of circumstances.
In the book, you see her very real struggle with what we are discussing today.
She was regularly overwhelmed by the horror of what she and others were facing.
How could she not?
They were living in a concentration camp and people were being beaten, starved, and killed on a daily basis.
Yet in the midst of all that she endured.
Her sister Betsy was a constant light and reminder of all that God could do through them, even in that place.
Though they were suffering, they were reminded that God was still with them and he was still good despite their circumstances.
The struggle that these believers in the early church were facing was no different than when they first believed.
All that seemed to change was their spirit and resolve.
They are not to be faulted for this, we have not faced nearly as much as they have.
The author is writing to remind them that they have already successfully endured such suffering.
God was able to continue to do in them what had previously done if they would allow Him to do so.
As we know and they knew, suffering is not new for the people of God.
He wants them to regain their confidence in God’s ability to sustain His people.
They and we are called to endure the hardships for the sake of making God’s goodness known.
The Message of Hebrews Hebrews 10:32–35

Christians need to remember that adversity is rarely a vicious enemy; it is often a valuable ally. It reminds us of the imperishable things which matter most of all.

The adversity that we face, reminds us that the things of this world are temporary, but God is forever.

We are promised peace and God always keeps his promises.

Hebrews 10:36–38
36 For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised. 37 For yet in a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38 But my righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him.
In this section, the author quotes Habakkuk to remind the church that the peace that they long for is promised and it will come.
Habakkuk begins with his prayer about the suffering that they are enduring.
Habakkuk 1:2–3 CSB
2 How long, Lord, must I call for help and you do not listen or cry out to you about violence and you do not save? 3 Why do you force me to look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Oppression and violence are right in front of me. Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates.
God’s people were suffering and Habakkuk was calling out on their behalf.
What you will notice is that the things that Habakkuk is crying out about have not changed.
The specific people group that is doing the oppressing may be different, but those things still remain.
They were the same things that the Hebrews were facing when this letter was written and they are the same things we face today.
Wrongdoing, oppression, violence, strife, and conflict plague our community, city, state, country, and world.
The desire for peace still exists today as much as it did when Habakkuk wrote these words.
We see this common theme over and over throughout scripture and it is the result of a fallen world.
Our hearts long for peace because that is what they were created for.
In coming to the world, Jesus has begun the process that is promised to Isreal.
God is bringing peace and even though it is not coming as fast as we may like, peace is coming.
In celebrating Christmas, what an incredible opportunity we have to share with others that the Prince of Peace is coming!
We celebrate his birth, life, death, and resurrection throughout the year and today we get to celebrate the promise of peace.
God told his people long ago that there would come a day when Jesus would return!
Revelation 21:3–4 CSB
3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.
The peace that our hearts long for, what we have hoped for, will one day come.

We are a people of faith.

Hebrews 10:39 CSB
39 But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and are saved.
The author ends this exhortation with a bold statement about who they are.
They are a people of faith that has been shown as they endured.
He knows them and knows this to be true.
In his encouragement, he reminds the church of who they really are.
They are children of God who believe that Jesus was God’s son and the savior of the world.
We share that in common with the Hebrews.
Our hope, because of what we have experienced as we are abiding has blossomed into faith.
If you are struggling today with your faith because of what you are currently experiencing, I want you to know that you are not alone.
Just like the early church, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us and he is reminding us of who we are.
We are children of God and heirs to the kingdom.
When we face persecution, oppression, wrongdoing, injustice, and conflict, we can rest assured that God is good and will sustain us through it.
God has given you and I this body of believers to walk with us, to encourage us, to help remind us of all that God has already done in our lives.
When we are struggling, we can remember not only what God has done in our own lives, but also what he has done in the lives of our church.
When God sustains one of us, he is sustaining all of us.
His work is a testimony to all people of his goodness and faithfulness.
Today we can all rejoice together with hope and faith that the peace that was promised, is on his way.
God sent his son Jesus, just as he said he would.
Jesus fulfilled the law through his obedience to God.
Jesus has gone before us and opened the vale that separated us from God.
We have been invited into God’s presence to enjoy not just an idea of peace, but to find peace right where we are.
In the midst of our struggles, Jesus brings peace.
In the midst of our sin, Jesus brings peace.
And one day, he will return and our struggles will be no more.
He will wipe all sin and separation from the earth because he is the Prince of Peace.
It is in his presence and his promise that we can find everlasting peace.
It is in this Christmas season that our lives can be a testimony to others of where true peace is found.
Budget review
Christmas Party
Baptism next week
Christmas Eve service at the farm
Is our faith a cold distant idea or the life blood of our lives? The first causes us to boast in a reality we don’t know while the later requires us to humbly live in obedience.
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