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Living by Faith Through the Lessons of the Faithful (Hebrews 11:1-16)

Hebrews 11:1–16 - 1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old gained approval. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. 8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. 13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. What does today’s passage say? In today’s passage, the writer of Hebrews gives us insight into the essence of faith, which is depicted as the very foundation of a believer's hope and assurance in the unseen. It's a faith that earned the ancients commendation (vv. 1-2) and recognizes that the universe was crafted at God’s command, unseen from what is visible (v. 3). We learn of Abel’s superior offering, made through faith, which still speaks, despite his death, and of Enoch’s divine approval and miraculous departure from death due to his faith (vv. 4-5). We are told that, without faith, pleasing God is impossible, as one must believe both in His existence and that He rewards those who seek Him. Noah’s faith is highlighted as a responsive fear to God's warning about unseen events, leading to the salvation of his family and righteousness. Abraham’s journey of faith begins with obedience to go to an unknown place, later to receive it as an inheritance, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise, looking forward to the city designed by God Himself (vv. 6-10). Finally, Sarah’s faith, despite her age, resulted in the birth of Isaac, underscoring the theme that faith transcends human limitations and empowers believers to grasp the promises of God, even when they seem impossible (vv. 11-16). How can I apply Hebrews 11:1-16 to my life? In our walk with God, faith stands as the cornerstone, guiding us through both the seen and the unseen aspects of our journey. It's through faith that we form a connection with God, understanding Him not just as the Creator of the vast universe but also as the architect of our individual paths. This journey of faith is not always marked by clear signs or straightforward routes. Often, it's the opposite, filled with moments that test our resolve, push us to step into the unknown, and call for a patience that transcends human understanding. Yet, it's in these very challenges that our faith grows, becomes more profound, and more rooted in God's eternal promises. The essence of faith is not found in the assurance of what we see but in the confidence of what we do not see. As we delve into the lives of the faithful - Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah - we discover the diverse facets of faith: from creation's marvels that draw us closer to the Creator, to the obedience that stems from trusting in God's guidance, even when the destination remains unseen. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. Let Your Faith Help You to Know God, the Creator of All That Is (vv. 1-3): These verses bring to light the essence of faith, painting it as the backbone of our hopes and the certainty of the unseen, anchoring our belief in God's magnificent creation. Imagine, for a moment, your day-to-day life. Each sunrise, the patterns of the stars at night, the complexity of the ecosystems—all these marvels were spoken into existence by God's command. Now, let's ponder: how does this faith influence our perception of the world? It goes beyond merely acknowledging the unseen. Faith acts like a lens, coloring every aspect of our lives, turning routine encounters with the natural world into profound experiences of worship and thanksgiving. This realization urges us to consider our daily choices and actions: do they reflect a deep respect for God's craftsmanship? It prompts us to question whether our lifestyle harmonizes with the stewardship entrusted to us over creation. Through this lens of faith, even the simplest act of conservation becomes an act of worship. Consider the role you play within this divine symphony of creation. How might you, through faith, act as a caretaker of the world around you, thereby honoring the Creator? This reflection opens up avenues for us to express our gratitude towards God, not just in thoughts, but in our actions and interactions with the world He has so intricately designed. (Genesis 1:1, Psalm 19:1, John 1:3, Colossians 1:16).

Food for thought: How does recognizing God as the Creator affect your daily life? In what ways can you show gratitude for God's creation?

  1. Live by Faith, Following the Examples of the Faithful (vv. 4-7): The writer now paints a picture of the unwavering faith of Abel, Enoch, and Noah, each of whom navigated their unique journeys of faith under God's watchful eye, crafting lives that resonated with divine approval despite the hurdles. This passage calls on us to embrace in our own lives the kind of faith that not only believes in the unseen but actively steps into it, influencing every decision and action with a commitment to honor God. Picture the steadfastness of Abel, the walk of Enoch, and Noah's resolve against the backdrop of their challenges. Their stories serve as a blueprint for us, illustrating how trust in God and adherence to His directives can shape a life, even in the storms of uncertainty and waves of opposition. Now, consider this: how does your faith navigate the seas of daily life? Are your choices and actions reflections of a faith that moves mountains? Imagine the impact of embodying such faith in every interaction, decision, or challenge faced. Faith, in its essence, is not a static state but a dynamic journey of active obedience, an invitation to embrace a life set apart. Let your faith be the kind of faith that shapes your interactions with the world and its trials. The faith journey of Abel, Enoch, and Noah challenges us to not just hold faith as an abstract belief but to wear it as armor in the arena of life (James 2:17, Galatians 3:7, 1 Peter 1:7, Hebrews 12:1).

Food for thought: What steps can you take to strengthen your faith? How can you follow the examples of the faithful in your own life?

  1. Obey God's Call by Faith, Though the Path Is Unclear (vv. 8-10): The writer now steps it up from living by faith to stepping out in faith even when you don’t even know what the next step is or will bring. He reminds us of how Abraham leapt into the unknown, fueled by his obedience to God's summons and embarked on a journey without a clear endpoint in sight. This passage should cause us to consider the depth of our own faith, especially when the road ahead is shrouded in fog and uncertainty. Faith, in its true essence, takes us beyond the edge of our comfort zones, inviting us to take bold steps into uncharted territories, armed with trust that God Himself will lay the course. This leap, while daunting, is a testament to our surrender to divine guidance, an acknowledgment that our paths are not ours to dictate.  Where is your unknown? It could be an unforeseen opportunity, a daunting conversation looming on the horizon, or perhaps a change in life's direction that you hadn't planned for. Within these moments of decision, faith becomes the one true compass that guides our steps helping us obey God. This journey of obedience is not just a path walked in solitude; it is a beacon for others, illuminating the trustworthiness of God's guidance, even in the absence of a visible destination (Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 55:8-9, 2 Corinthians 5:7, Hebrews 11:8).

Food for thought: What does obedience to God's call look like in your life? How can you trust God more fully, even when the path ahead is unclear?

  1. Patiently Endure, Confident in God's Unseen Promises (vv. 11-16): The writer concludes today’s passage with the remarkable saga of Abraham and Sarah, a couple enshrined in faith despite the barrenness that shadowed their lives, making God's promise of sons seem like a distant mirage. Yet, their unwavering trust in God's word stands as a light for all believers, teaching us how to wait in the assurance of our faith. Their story is one of patience and hope, illustrating that faith often means standing firm when every sign points towards doubt. This passage invites us to view our periods of waiting not as passive interludes but as seasons where our faith is refined and our trust in God's promises is fortified. Just as Abraham and Sarah navigated their journey, we too are called to walk a path paved with trust in God's unseen plans. Their story compels us to ask ourselves how we respond to God's timing, especially when it stretches beyond our understanding or desires. Imagine the strength of character and depth of faith required to look beyond present circumstances and trust in promises yet to materialize. This kind of faith challenges us to remain steadfast in our convictions, nurturing a patience that is not idle but expectant, knowing that what God has pledged, He will indeed fulfill. It is with this kind of faith that we become living testimonies of faith's power, encouraging others to also place their trust in God's perfect timing and unfailing promises (Romans 8:25, James 1:4, Galatians 6:9, Hebrews 6:15).

Food for thought: What does patient endurance look like in your daily life? How has waiting on God strengthened your faith? What encouragement can you offer to someone who is struggling to see God's promises fulfilled in their life? This passage brings us to a profound realization: faith transcends mere belief; our faith in Christ is at the heart of our relationship with God. The narratives of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah paint a picture that shows us that God wants our faith to be an active, vibrant faith that compels us to live out our convictions, navigating the sometimes murky waters of uncertainty and clinging to His promises even when they seem just beyond our grasp. This passage calls us to examine the depths of our own faith. It challenges us to place our trust more firmly in God, to step forward with a boldness that defies our visual limitations, and to embrace the virtue of patience as we wait and prepare for the fulfillment of His divine assurances. Imagine viewing the world through the transforming lens of that kind of faith - a world filled with potential and full of hope and possibility. As we step into that world, we should apply the enduring lessons left to us by these heroes of the faith. May their stories teach us to lead lives marked by bold conviction, unwavering trust in God’s faithfulness, and an unyielding resolve to navigate life's challenges with faith as our compass. By choosing to live by this kind of faith, inspired by the legacy of the faithful, responsive to God’s call, and filled with patience in the face of the unseen, we continue the legacy of laying down a path for the generations of faithful believers that will follow in our footsteps. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I come humbly come before You today in the name of Jesus Christ. I pray that You would build in me a faith that goes beyond what I can see and that trusts fully in Your eternal promises. Help me to have the kind of faith that marked the lives of these heroes of the faith, even when the path You called them to was filled with uncertainty. I pray that You would help me to have the courage to obey Your call, stepping out into the unknown with confidence in Your guidance. Teach me to patiently endure through trials and waiting periods, holding firmly to the hope You've given us. May my life reflect the kind of faith that not only believes in You but also acts on that belief and draws others closer to You. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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