Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hebrews 11-13

Hebrews 11 – Faith Examples

Some call chapter 11 the “Hall of Faith”.  What is faith?  Faith is to have a confidence in something without having tangible proof.  Some people today think if you have enough faith in something, it will happen.  It’s almost like they will it to happen.  Heb. 11:1 says “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” 

Faith is belief in God and acting on that belief.  Even demons have belief in God and tremble, but they are not saved. 
Saving faith is threefold:
1.      Content – Believing in something
2.     Warming of the heart – loving response to God
3.     Commitment – following after Christ.
True faith believes what God has said and is not limited to our understanding.  Are you grateful that there is a greater reality beyond here and now?

Many Old Testament pillars had faith. 
·    By faith Able offered God a better sacrifice.  God is holy and establishes a way man is to approaches Him.
·    By Faith Enoch was taken by God and did not experience death.  Enoch teaches us there is life after death.  He walked with God and was personally rewarded.
·    By faith Noah in holy fear built an ark to save his family.  He teaches us about the judgment of God.
·    By faith Abraham was called by God to leave his home and go to a foreign land.  By faith Abraham became a father in his old age. 
·    By faith Abraham obeyed God when he was told to sacrifice his son.  He trusted God’s word.  He believed God when circumstances seemed impossible.  God called him to go into a foreign land.   
·    By faith Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph lived and trusted God in His promises.
·    By faith Moses identified with his suffering people and chose to be with them instead of having the riches of the Egyptians.  He looked ahead to his reward.
·    By faith the prostitute Rahab acted boldly.  She was an unlikely person to be in the Hall of Faith.  She didn’t know much, but she believed and acted.  She was saved by her faith.  She became the mother of Boaz who was an ancestor of Jesus.

All these examples given of Old Testament believers were not admired because of their faith, but were persecuted.  None received what God promised in their lifetime.

Principle:
            God is pleased when we believe what He says.

How is God calling you to believe what is hoped for and certain of what you do not see?
Does it give you hope that your faith could change the world like them?
How would you describe your faith?

Instead of writing a Christmas letter to your friends telling them what’s happened this past year, write a letter to Jesus.  Say, “By faith I believe the best is yet to come.”  Express your gratitude to Him.

Hebrews 12 – Faith Tested

Chapter 12 tells us how to live our faith while it’s being developed. 
What is hindering your faith? 
What does it take for you to further trust God?
Are you wrapped up in anger or unforgiveness?

God has personally marked our race in the line of faith.  Every race requires perseverance.  There are four steps listed that urge us to take to persevere in difficulties –
1.   Fix your eyes on Jesus – That’s our actions and our attitudes.  Get rid of everything that makes you doubt.
2.   Welcome discipline – This is not punishment, but acts of a loving parent training his child the way he should go.  If we are believers, God considers us His sons.  As a father disciplines a son, God disciplines us because He loves us.  He tells us to endure hardships as discipline.  It may be painful at the time, but it produces a beautiful harvest of righteousness and peace.  He is King Righteousness and King of Peace.  His discipline develops character like Christ.  Have you seen God’s discipline?  What refining process is He developing in you?
3.   Handle our relationship with others right – Reacting with people is a BIG ole life test!  Sanctification is not optional.
4.   Trust in the promises of God – Consider the Old and New Covenant.  “See that you do not refuse him who speaks….” (Heb. 12:25).  There will come a time when the earth will be shaken.  This refers to the great earthquake that will occur to end the present world and where God’s Great White Throne Judgment will occur.  Is your life shaky?  What do you count on for security?  “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” (Heb. 25:28)

Principle:
            God is pleased when we trust what He says.

Hebrews 13 – Faith Expressed

Chapter 13 gives several Christian duties.
  • Be loving – Keep on loving each others.  It’s easy to give up and say “just forget it”.       Be sympatric to those who are suffering, those in prison, and those who are mistreated.
  • Be pure – Be faithful to your spouse.
  • Be loyal – Don’t be persuaded by false teachings, but stand firm in your faith.  Pray for others.
  • Be bold – Don’t be afraid to speak the truth and worry about what others may think of you.
  • Be worshipful – Praise God in all things.

Principle:
            God is pleased when we do what He says.

A summary of this Hebrews lesson is “A life of faith pleases God.”  Which words of Hebrews do you need to obey?  Faith is reflected in our choices.  Trust that He is developing your faith.  May we become a cloud of witnesses for God. 

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) There is no other gift better for His birthday than to trust, believe, and obey Him.

Merry Christmas!

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