Graceful Perseverance: Faith in Action - 08/07/21
Welcome to this week’s blog. Today I am writing about “Faith in Action,” evidence and testimonies found in the New Testament, Hebrews 11:1-40 (NIV).
The real-life faith stories or testimonies in Hebrews come from Cain and Able (Adam and Eve’s first two sons), Enoch, Noah and Abraham (who God promised as a nomad leader - “father of many” if Abraham did as God commanded him). Then there are Sarah, Jacob, Isaac, Esau, Joseph, Moses, the Israelites crossing the Red Sea by faith, the falling of the Jericho walls, and the prostitute Rahab. Then there’s the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets. There’s a testimony of faith of thirty-three people. Through their faith they conquered kingdoms, shut the mouths of lions, and gained what was promised. There was also thirty-four people who quenched the fury of flames, who escaped the edge of the sword, whose weakness turned to strength and who became powerful in battle due to their faith in God’s promises.
For me, two words describe faith: certainty and conviction. These two qualities need a secure beginning (creation in the beginning - Genesis) and ending point (the 2nd Coming of Christ - Revelation). The beginning point of faith is believing in God, our creator – He is who He says He is. The end point is believing in God’s promises – He will do what He says He will do. When we believe that God has and will continue to fulfill His promises, even though we don’t see His promises materialize according to what we see, we demonstrate true faith. For we walk by faith, not by sight. – 2 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV).
We do know from Genesis (a secure beginning) God called the universe into existence out of nothing; He declared what was to be, and so it was. Our faith then is in God who created the entire universe by His word. By faith, we believe the universe was formed by the command of God.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so, from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. And what more shall I say?
I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.
Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. – Hebrews 11:1-40 (NIV).
As we can see from the book of Hebrews 11, these people were faithful right up to their last breath. They remained faithful to God’s promises, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on this earth. They never grew weary. Because of their faith, they were persecuted, tortured, imprisoned and even stoned to death for their faith in God’s promises.
Instead of being of this world, they were only in this world. They were longing for the promise of a better place beyond this life—a heavenly one. Therefore, God was not ashamed to be called their God, for He had prepared a place for them. I will never forfeit my eternal rewards in heaven for temporary benefits of this life. Like Moses, I am willing to make sacrifices now for greater rewards later (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV).
Just as our ancestors did in biblical times, I too will remain steadfast in my faith in God’s promises. Regardless of the persecution, the mocking, the scoffing and jeering, the rolling of the eyes, and the judgement from family, friends and many others, I will continue to confess my faith and not grow weary. I will persevere and endure to the end knowing God’s promises are true.
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. – 1 Timothy 6:12 (ESV).
Blessings until next week,
Debra Pauli Unstoppable Believer
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