Advent – Isaiah 64:1-9a; 1 Cor 1:1-9; Mark 13:24-37

Complacency is a dangerous thing.

The dictionary defines Complacency as a feeling of uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements 0r self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies

Being complacent means we stop being self aware – or generally aware. We stop looking. We stop learning. We stop being prepared.

One writer has said: Complacency is a blight that saps energy, dulls attitudes, and causes a drain on the brain. The first symptom is satisfaction with things as they are. The second is rejection of things as they might be. “Good enough” becomes today’s watchword and tomorrow’s standard.

Complacency happens when we lose sight of why we are waiting and what we are waiting fir.

How are we at waiting? Having to wait for ’things’ is not popular today. If a web page is 3 seconds to slow to turn we get itchy!!

Most people today consider waiting a waste of time or just an inconvenience. It can be frustrating to wait. Our culture today says “get going” “do something” “move onto the next thing.”

Yet Scripture is full of waiting – waiting for God to act, to speak, to move.

Today we begin a season in the church, Advent, which is all about waiting. Firstly we prepare to celebrate the end of the waiting of Israel for the Messiah. They had waited centuries and centuries for Him – and now he is coming. Secondly we focus on and mediate on the waiting we are going through for Jesus’ second coming and end of our age.

As Christians we are not to be complacent. We simply can’t. And this means we must know why and for what we are waiting.

And the area where Christian’s have become complacent the most is the end times. How many Christians could truthfully say they awoke this morning excited because today many be the day of the second coming.

Are we really ready to receive the arrival of the Lord of Glory who comes to judge the world, knowing our hearts and who will expose and lay bare publicly all that is in us! Are we ready for that? Are we ready in our hearts and minds for Jesus to come this afternoon?

In our reading from Isaiah, this prophet called and anointed by God, is ready for God to come and act. But he knows the score. He knows the reality of the situation. Isaiah acknowledges that all have sinned – that none of us are clean. That none of us is worthy. And yet despite this he longs for God to come and act powerfully because he knows that despite sin God is merciful. Notice v4 From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear no eye has seen a God besides thee who works for those who wait for HIM!!

God will protect, bless and do great things for those who WAIT for him. God will come in power for those who WAIT for him.

So, what doe sit mean for us to WAIT.

HOW are we to wait for God.

We too often see waiting as something which is passive—not doing anything; sitting still. But that is not what waiting is like in the Bible. Waiting is seen as an active thing.

One writer has said that “Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.”

Notice that. Biblical waiting requires PATIENCE & EXPECTATION. Are we patiently waiting with expectation for Jesus to come back!
Waiting for God is not laziness. Waiting for God is not going to sleep. Waiting for God is not the abandonment of effort. Waiting for God means, first, activity under command; second, readiness for any new command that may come; third, the ability to do nothing until the command is given. – G. Campbell Morgan
As Christians we should be experts at waiting actively—having patience as we await what would be the most incredible event in the history of the world—the day Jesus steps back into this world!

And while we can never predict when Jesus will return – Jesus has said that there will be signs – signs that confirm that it is coming and should enable us to continue to actively wait. In Mark 13, Jesus interweaves prophecy about the end of Jerusalem with prophecy about the end of time. Prophecy often has two fulfiments – a historical one and an end time one. Jesus warns the people about the terrible fall of Jerusalem – those listening would experience it. And what they experience – the suddenness, the destructiveness, the fear that the world is ending is a taste of what will happen in the day of Jesus’ return. But Jesus says that just as you can tell summer is coming because of the tender leaves on the fig tree, So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near… What are these things? Well, that is told in v4-23: false messiahs come; nation will rise again nation; earthquakes; famines; persecution of Christians; brother will deliver brother; children will rise against parents; the desolating sacrilege set up in the temple.
The point is not ‘when’ does this relate to. Every age has such things. The point is that we as Believers, in every generation, are not discouraged or become complacent in our waiting because what we see is what Jesus said would happen.

We are IN the last days now. The resurrection of Christ and his Ascension has happened. We are in the midst of the great commission to call the world to believe in Jesus. And we are 2000 years closer to that day when the Lord Jesus returns.

We are on the approach to those final days. It may be 10 years, twenty years, 200 years in the future, or it could be this afternoon.

Regardless of how much more we are to wait, whether or not it will be in our lifetime, we are told to be prepared, to be awake and alert, and to hold our nerve in the approach to the end times.

As Christians we are to be a people who UNDERSTAND what to expect, as the last days grow nearer.

So how exactly should we wait?

2 Peter 3 says this: But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, 27 the heavens will disappear 28 with a horrific noise, 29 and the celestial bodies 30 will melt away 31 in a blaze, 32 and the earth and every deed done on it 33 will be laid bare. 34 3:11 Since all these things are to melt away 35 in this manner, 36 what sort of people must we 37 be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, 38 3:12 while waiting for and hastening 39 the coming of the day of God?

We must be alert, active and praying. We must be growing in our faith and in our walk with God. Conducting our lives in holiness and godliness. All in the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is Paul’s point in our epistle reading. If v1-9 were all we had of 1 Cor we would think the church in Corinth was thriving. How could paul possibly be talking about this Church, especially in light of what he is about to say in the letter. But what Paul does here is to state the spiritual reality of the Corinthians, not where they were at that specific point. Although they were not walking IN IT at the time, and had many issues, the fact of the matter was they had given their lives to Christ – confessed him as Lord and Saviour and that was spiritual reality. And so, even though they had problems, paul encourages them in this truth to show them what real and true in the Spiritual realm. And the reality for the Church in Corinth was:

1. They had received God’s grace that is in Christ
2. They have been enriched in Christ, in speech and knowledge
3. They do not lack any spiritual gift as they wait Christ’s return
4. Christ will strengthen them until the end
5. They will appear blameless before Jesus
6. God is faithful

All of which is true for us individually, and as a Church as we await the coming of Christ.

So in order for us to wait actively – to be praying, alert, growing in faith and holiness we need to know that we HAVE God’s grace; that we are enriched in Christ; we have all the spiritual gifts we need to help us in our waiting; and that Christ has promised to keep strengthening us until the end.

So, actively waiting is to be a people who are continuing to grow in our relationship with Jesus; a people who are maturing in our faith & prayer life; trusting in God for our needs, and expectant each day that maybe this is the day!!

But just as important as being prepared ourselves, there is another aspect to our waiting.

We must be announcing this rescue to all people.

Surely we must be expending energy warning people of what is to come. We know the rescuer. Surely we MUST be telling people to trust in Jesus.

If we are truly aware of what is to come then that should spur within us a passion to bring as many people into the Kingdom of God as we can. We should be walking the decks of the sinking ship screaming for people to get into the life boats!

We know that not all people will accept the gospel – the road to destruction is wide and many follow it, Jesus says, but the road to eternal life is narrow and few find it. This tells us clearly that not all will accept the gospel. We must understand this.

We know what is coming.

And as we look around, our hearts should break at those who are oblivious of what is coming.

So, as we enter into this season of Advent – meditating on preparing ourselves for the Messiah’s coming, Let us not be complacent about the coming of the end of the age. Let us be active – let us be signs, mouthpieces, living examples of the gospel – that Jesus is calling all people to turn to him – to flee from the judgment to come, and run into Christ, where we will spend eternity.

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