The reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. Man, what powerful words. It almost sounds like something that could never happen: the reality of what is hoped for? The proof of what is not seen? How can these things be? Let's take a walk through Hebrews 11, 12 and 13 together.
3) By faith, we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible.
Awesome Scripture! I have been in a lot of discussions lately that deal with the creation of the universe, the big bang, the fine tuning argument, the Kalaam cosmological argument, etc, etc, that all try to properly explain "creatio ex nihilo", or creation out of nothing. None of these arguments deal with faith. They deal with realities that we can see. Mathematical equations that can be worked out on paper. Scientific hypothesis and equations that all work off of facts. Where is faith in this? I have a mind that wants to know how things work. I have a desire to give an answer to any and every question I come across. Faith, for me, is hard. It goes against my nature as a human. I want to rely on "knowing" "facts".
5) By faith, Enoch was taken away so that he did not experience death, and he was not to be found because God took him away. For prior to his transformation he was approved, having pleased God. 6) Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one that draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.
I had been seeking answers. I love apologetics, but apologetics slowly replaced my faith with fact. I began to rely more on the reasoning of man than I did the Word of God. Is something good enough because God says it is? Or because a certain amount of men with PhD's decided to give God a hand in proving Himself? I began to replace my time spent in the Word with time spent in the writings of these men. Now, don't get me wrong, apologetics has its place... I just used it wrong. I learned a lot in my pursuit of understanding, but it was mainly how fickle the human mind is, and the intellectual objections to Christ that many atheists have. Now lets look at what happened when men and women of God decided to trust the Word of God to them in spite of all counsel and popular opinion... even what many would consider "fact."
7) By faith Noah, after being warned about what was not yet seen, in reverence built an ark to deliver his family. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
"After being warned about what was not yet seen...." If someone came to you and said, "Build a massive boat, for a flood will cover the whole earth," could you do it, or does what others think matter more? To be honest, I would instantly call my parents. I would talk to some close friends. I would want time to pray, a sign, confirmation, maybe another sign, at least two or three more conferences with my parents, then a group of people to help me build the ark so at least if something went wrong we could all be "fools" together. In taking an honest look at my faith, it lacks compared to that of Noah, yet by his faith he condemned the world. The people ridiculed him and mocked him... yet I wonder how many cried out for deliverance when their arms grew tired of swimming and only Noah's boat was floating. I wonder how many times my lack of faith has mocked the faith of others who were willing to believe in the things that were not yet seen....
8) By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was going.
"He went out, not knowing where he was going...." I can't even get in my car with my cell phone and drive somewhere if I don't know where I am going. How many of us have heard the call of God only to sit back and either wait for a map or not go at all due to a lack of directions to our "destination"? What if the true "destination" (spiritually) if found on the path to the "destination" (physically)? Oh Lord! That I would have faith to move when You say move!
11) By faith Sarah herself, when she was barren, received power to conceive offspring, even though she was past the age, since she considered that the One who had promised was faithful. 12) And therefore from one man - in fact, one as good as dead - came offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as innumberable as the sands by the seashore.
"Received power to conceive offspring..." If God has given you a promise, He will also give you the power to have that promise conceive and come forth. Sarah was too old to have a child. She was dried up. God's promise flew in the face of physical nature. It went against every conceivable "fact" known to man. When we respond in faith to God's promise, IT IS FULFILLED, no matter who says what or what circumstances think they can offer definition to the demise of your dream. Father, that we may respond in faith to the promises You have given each of us!!!
To pick out a few more verses from chapter 11 before we move to chapter 12:
17) By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; he who had received the promises was offering up his unique son, 18) about whom it had been said, In Isaac your seed will be called. 19) He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead, from which he also got him back as an illustration.
Abraham offered up his promise. Can you imagine receiving a promise from God in a miraculous way, then being required to give that promise back to God? The faith of Abraham was tested in the midst of enjoying his promise. But the faith of Abraham went beyond the reception of the promise into the full fulfillment of the promise. Abraham held fast to the words of God that said, "In Isaac your seed will be called," and stood fast in his faith to hold God accountable to the promise He had made. It appears that with faith comes an intimate understanding of the relationship between the Promiser and the promisee.
24) By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter 25) and chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the short-lived pleasure of sin. 26) For he considered reproach for the sake of the Messiah to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, since his attention was on the reward.
"...and chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the short-lived pleasure of sin." It looks like suffering might accompany faith at some point in time. How many of us have given in for the short-lived pleasure of sin rather than suffer for the reward of the promise? Father, that You would grant us an eternal view rather than a temporary view... help us hold out, suffer, and receive the reward of the promise. How many of us have traded the God-given promise we have for the immediate wealth of the world? Do not let the world tell you who you are in Christ. If God has given you a promise, "Hold On. Hold Fast. Hold Out." That is what this blog is about: holding onto the promise, through faith, to receive not only the promise but the reward of faith.
Hebrews 121) Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2) keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God's throne.
We are to lay aside every weight and sin that so easily ensnares us. It does not say to sit back and beg God to do it for us. This was a hard lesson for me to learn. It takes effort on our part to shed the burdens and weight of sin. If you close a door, keep it closed. Open it an inch, and your will be overwhelmed. Sin is not something to laugh at, mock, ridicule, or "passively accept." Sin is a serious problem for many Christians today, and the church as a whole. I pray that we wake up to our part of the plan, that we assist Christ in what He is doing for us, and that we allow full cooperation with the Holy Spirit to help us run the race set before us. Sin is not something we can beat ourselves, we need the power of the Holy Spirit. But it is not something where we sit back and expect the Holy Spirit to be our housekeeper while we keep throwing garbage on the floors of our house. It is a combined effort. He does the cleansing, but we do what we can to keep the garbage out. Faith in the power of God is necessary.
3) For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won't grow weary and lose heart. 4) In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5) And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: My son, do not take the Lord's discipline lightly, or faint when you are reproved by Him; 6) for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son whom He receives. 7) Endure it as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there whom a father does not discipline? 8) But if you are without discipline—which all receive —then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9) Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn't we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? 10) For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. 11) No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12) Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, 13) and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but healed instead.
This is a hard portion of Scripture for me to accept. I do not like to be disciplined. I didn't as a child, and it is even harder as an adult, especially when it comes from above. However, every time the Lord has dealt with me I have been the better for it. It hurts, and a certain amount of humility is always received out of the deal, but it is also a way that I know the Lord is continuing to use me and shape and mold me for His glory. "Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but healed instead." Such powerful words! These words have been saturating my heart and my mind for days now. If your hands are tired and your knees are weak, get into the Word. There is strength and sustenance there. We go through great lengths to feed ourselves physically, yet many do nothing to feed themselves spiritually. If you are tired of fighting the same old battle, read the Word. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing from the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). If you are lacking faith, strengthen yourself in the Word. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105). Make straight paths for yourself, but illuminate those paths by the Word of God. Many of us have left our lamps at home and are wandering around in the pitch black. Exercise your faith through the Word of God and watch your path be illuminated!
Hebrews 135) Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. 6) Therefore, we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
To many, this verse is killer. There are so many today that chase the American dream. They chase success, and the money that comes with it. Everything they have points to who they are, not who God is. Does God bless His children? Yes. But should we spend our lives in pursuit of material gain and call it God's blessing? No.
19) “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20) But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21)For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22) “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23) But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness! 24)“No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money. 25) “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26) Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27) Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? 28) And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. 29) Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! 30)If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? 31)So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32) For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34) Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
This whole passage of Scripture could be summed up in a few words: HAVE FAITH IN GOD. PERIOD.
8) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
This is a promise made to all that we can accept in faith. All it takes is that little bit.
14) When they reached the crowd, a man approached and knelt down before Him. 15) "Lord," he said, "have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and suffers severely. He often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16) I brought him to Your disciples, but they couldn't heal him." 17) Jesus replied, "You unbelieving and rebellious generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to Me." 18) Then Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and from that moment the boy was healed. 19) Then the disciples approached Jesus privately and said, "Why couldn't we drive it out?" 20) "Because of your little faith," He told them. "For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. 21) However, this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting."
I am not going to turn the rest of this blog into a "demon under every leaf" type blog, but I do want to illustrate a point here: if the power of the enemy is attacking your church, your home, your family, or even you, it can prevail or remain because of a lack of faith. There are certain battles that cannot be won by someone else, or through a program, or through sleep, or through denial. Certain battles can only be won by FAITH. If you are being trampled by the enemy, dig into the Word. Renew your strength in prayer to the Lord. "I called to the Lord in my distress, and I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears" (Psalm 18:6). Praying to God for help shows two things: dependence upon Him and faith that He will move on your behalf.
20) Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep —with the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21) equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
I was just telling a close friend the other day that the enemy is closing in on me from every possible angle he can. I am waiting to hear from the Lord and all there is is silence. Yet, in His silence, I know I am not alone. It is a test of my faith. Do I give up because I don't feel the "goosebumps" or "hear Him speak to my mind and heart?" No. Do I give up because it is hard? No. Do I give up because I cannot see what tomorrow holds? No. Do I give up because what I thought was going to be isn't, and I can't see how things are going to work out? No. Two things about all of this: 1) He will never leave me or forsake me. 2) It is in the areas that I don't have the answers that faith can move the most. I do not know what tomorrow holds, but I don't need to. Do I want to? Absolutely. Will I be okay if I don't? Absolutely. I told my friend that the only faith I had at the moment was about the thickness of a hair. It isn't much. Blink and you might miss it. But it was enough for me to pray last night, to pray this morning, and to pick up my Bible and read. Is my faith restored? Yes. Is my situation different? No. But the strength is found in the strain. (Chambers). Actually, to show exactly what happened, I turn to Oswald Chambers:
"God does not give us overcoming life: He gives us life as we overcome. The strain is the strength. If there is no strain, there is no strength. Are you asking God to give you life and liberty and joy? He cannot, unless you will accept the strain. Immediately you face the strain, you will get the strength. Overcome your own timidity and take the step, and God will give you to eat of the tree of life and you will get nourishment. If you spend yourself out physically, you become exhausted; but spend yourself spiritually, and you get more strength. God never gives strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the minute."
I see a lot of tired Christians running around, but I have met a few that pour themselves out spiritually. May God gives us all the strength for the minute, and may we all have the faith to react to the promises He has given us, in spite of everything that stands in the way. I pray that we see God for who He is... and that it be enough just to see Him as the Promise, and that we have the FAITH to receive it.
Make sure you don't settle for an "angel of light" when you can have the One who created the dawn.