Hebrews 11:1-3, 6 ESV
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible…
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
When we believe in Jesus Christ, to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are trusting in someone we can’t physically see or touch. We can’t audibly hear his voice speaking to us. We can’t see his eyes, or his body language, or his smile, at least not physically with our eyes.
So, faith is not something tangible. It is something spiritual, through which we see with spiritual eyes, not physical ones. Through faith, which is God-given and divinely persuaded, we can trust in what we cannot physically see, touch, hear, smell or taste. It is divinely (spiritually) perceived, which is a gift from God to all who will embrace all that his gift of grace has for us.
As we read further on in this “faith” chapter in the Bible, we will learn more of what all faith means. What we will learn primarily is that faith is followed up with action, if it is true faith. For, if I say I believe that Jesus died to set me free from my sins, but then I continue to live no differently than I did before, then my faith is empty. For example, if I say I believe a chair can hold me up, but I refuse to sit in it, then where is my faith? It is lacking.
So, if we want to please God with our lives, which should be the goal of everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ, then we need to have the kind of faith that truly believes Jesus for who he said he is, for what he did for us, and we must believe in his teachings, his warnings and his promises. And, the way that faith is realized is in who we become and how we think and act.
Hebrews 11:7-10 ESV
By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
So, what if Noah didn’t build the ark? Did he still have faith? What if Abraham didn’t go where God was leading him when he called him? What if he just stayed where he was because it was more comfortable for him there? What if he felt going where God was leading him was optional? What if he thought that “faith” was just some acknowledgment of God, but it didn’t require that he obey the Lord? Where would his faith be?
Why is it that so many people today, who profess faith in Jesus Christ, will acknowledge Hebrews 11 as the “faith chapter” of the Bible, but then feel as though obedience to God is optional? Or, even that it is not required at all?
Faith results in action, if it is true faith. It is often stepping out into the unknown, doing what our Lord commands, even when we can’t see what lies ahead or where that may land us, or how that might be received by others. For, I imagine that Noah faced a lot of mocking and criticism and false accusations against him while he spent, perhaps, 100 years building that ark. People must have thought he was crazy.
The main thing we see here about these men’s faith is that they put action to what they said they believed. They trusted God, even when they couldn’t see where it was going to lead them. And, they did what the Lord said, even against all human logic and reasoning. For, it wasn’t logical or practical for Abraham to just pick up his family and possessions and just go with God, not having a road map all laid out and no GPS to lead the way. And, it made no human sense at all for Noah to spend all that time building a big boat, either. But, they believed God, and so they did what God told them to do.
Hebrews 11:24-26, 29-30 ESV
By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward…
By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.
Faith also involves doing what the Lord says to do even against great obstacles and even when what is before us seems absolutely impossible. For, nothing is impossible with God, that is nothing that is in accord with his divine will, purpose and character. No mountains are too high to climb nor oceans too vast to cross over. For, he is the God of the impossible!
Faith means stepping out with our Lord in doing what he says even if emotionally we are trembling in our boots. It means we go against our fears and we even do what we fear the most, because we believe God. And, we believe he is with us and for us, and that he will not leave us or forsake us, and that if he has called us, that he will give us all that we need to accomplish what all he has planned for our lives.
But, that means that we live holy lives, pleasing to God, which are lives which are separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin and set apart unto God and to his service. So, we don’t do what the world of sin does. We don’t watch TV shows, movies, and videos filled with the filth of the world. We don’t listen to music with raunchy lyrics. We don’t get on Facebook and fight with people over politics and religion, with biting tongues. And, we don’t take pleasure in gossiping about others or mocking them, either.
But, when we do this, we have to accept the fact that some people are going to reject us. Some people are going to mistreat us, mock us, falsely accuse us, ridicule us, snub us, gossip about us, and the like. And, they may even call us names and misjudge our motives, too, because they are judging us by themselves and by human standards, rather than by God’s standards. And, Satan is going to hotly pursue us, too, for he wants to take us out. But, in all this, we must remain strong in our faith and keep on loving others.
Hebrews 11:35b-38 ESV
Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
Many Christians throughout the world are being severely persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ, and for their testimonies for him and for his gospel. In America, we have faced little of this kind of severe persecution, but it is coming, for the Bible says it is (Matt. 24; Rev. 2-3, 6, 12-14). And, we are already beginning to see the beginning stages of this here in America, too.
What we are seeing now, at least here in America, is not yet severe physical persecution, but it is more along the lines of censorship, i.e. of a silencing of the message of the gospel of our salvation. Political and religious leaders in our nation and across the globe are talking much about how we all need to throw off all that divides us as the people of the world so that we can all come together in unity as one voice, with one heart and with one mind.
Political and religious leaders in our nation and across the world, too, are making a hard case to prove that “religious extremism,” which includes following the scriptures and doing what all God says for Christians to do, is evil, and that it is a hate crime. For, they consider it hateful to say that Jesus is the only way to God the Father and to heaven, or that the Christian faith is the only true faith, or that God requires us to leave our sinful lifestyles behind us in order to follow him in obedience to his commands.
So, we need to be in much prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ all throughout the world who are suffering persecution for the name of Jesus. But, just remember that emotional persecution is still persecution, too. And, censorship of the gospel as taught by Jesus is also persecution. For, abuse comes in many different forms. We don’t have to be physically hurt at all to suffer abuse, for much abuse can’t be seen with eye. So, pray for all your brothers and sisters in Christ to be strong in their faith, and to not give up.
Pray, Pray, Pray
An Original Work / September 6, 2012
Based off Various Scriptures
Pray that eyes may enlightened be,
So they may know Christ.
Pray that they may Him better know,
Strengthened by His pow’r.
Pray that they may grasp
How wide and long
And high and deep
Is Christ’s love.
Pray that they may be filled
To the fullness of God’s love.
Pray with thanksgiving.
Pray for an open door for me,
So I may share Christ.
Pray when the gospel is proclaimed –
Shared with clarity.
Pray words are given me so
I declare the gospel fearlessly.
I pray for you to be active
Sharing your faith, too.
We oft not know for what to pray,
So we ask for help.
The Spirit intercedes for us –
Words cannot express.
Just keep on praying for the saints
With all kinds of requests to God.
Pray they may have faith to
Please their God in ev’ry way.
Pray with joyfulness.
Wednesday, May 1, 2019