promised land

A Better Country

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each election cycle with the hope of making our country better. But what is better? It depends on your point of view.

Too often, people settle for what seems better but it's not good enough. Better is a term of comparison. Better than what? It depends on what the comparison is.

Many people will accept the status quo and mediocrity because it's familiar and they're not willing to risk losing it for a possibility of gaining something better.

We won't risk losing what we have unless our hope for something better is stronger than our fear of loss. True faith—trust in God—enables us to see beyond the status quo and seek what God promises is better—much, much better, in fact, the best.

Scripture

Faith enabled Abraham to become a father, even though he was old and Sarah had never been able to have children. Abraham trusted that God would keep his promise. Abraham was as good as dead. Yet, from this man came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the grains of sand on the seashore.

All these people died having faith. They didn’t receive the things that God had promised them, but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced. They acknowledged that they were living as strangers with no permanent home on earth. [vss 11-13]

Those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for their own country. If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they could have found a way to go back. Instead, these men were longing for a better country—a heavenly country. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has prepared a city for them. [vss 14-16]

(Hebrews 11:11-16 GW) [Context– Hebrews 11]

Key phrase—

These men were longing for a better country—a heavenly country

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What are we told about Abraham and his faith? How did reality in his life seem to contradict God's promise to Him?

  • What promise did God make to Abraham and did it come to pass?

  • What is a seemingly contradictory statement made about Abraham and others before him?

  • What is the testimony of Abraham and Noah's faith according to these verses?

Reflection...

We Americans are free to complain about our country and have the freedom to bring change in it. But as believers, we have a better country to look forward to than any nation on this earth.

Are you longing for a better life on earth or a better country in this world? As Jesus said, "Wherever your heart is—what it longs for—is where your treasure is."

Faith isn't wishful thinking, like hoping to win the lottery. Faith is a confidence in God and all His promises. It is a hope based in our relationship with God that remains even when circumstances seem to contradict His promises.

True faith enables us to move forward when others turn back.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • If these men didn't receive all that God promised, how and why did they continue to trust God?

  • In what way is this "better country" a fulfillment of what God promised to Abraham?

  • How are Abraham's and Noah's life testimonies of faith relevant for us today?

  • Are you longing for a "better country" and do you have assurance in your heart about that?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

The Permanency of Faith

The physicality of our world tends to limit our grasp of the spiritual realm. If we can't see, touch, taste, hear or smell something, we have a hard time accepting it.

And yet, our thoughts or imaginations aren't perceived through our physical senses but we realize their existence. But how do you explain their existence? By their action or effect.

This is our dilemma with faith. How can faith be proven in a physical or empirical way? It can't. But you can witness the effect and impact of a person's faith by how they live and interact with people and the world around them.

When a person lives by faith they make faith visible, even touchable. Faith may seem paradoxical in nature but it's real.

Scripture

Faith led Noah to listen when God warned him about the things in the future that he could not see. He obeyed God and built a ship to save his family. Through faith Noah condemned the world and received God’s approval that comes through faith.

Faith led Abraham to obey when God called him to go to a place that he would receive as an inheritance. Abraham left his own country without knowing where he was going. [vss 7-8]

Faith led Abraham to live as a foreigner in the country that God had promised him. He lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who received the same promise from God. Abraham was waiting for the city that God had designed and built, the city with permanent foundations. [vss 9-10]

(Hebrews 11:7-10 GW) [Context– Hebrews 11]

Key phrase—

Faith led Abraham to live as a foreigner in the country that God had promised him

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What are 3 things Noah did as a result of his faith?

  • Did Noah receive God's approval for building the ship (ark) or for listening and obeying God?

  • In what way is Abraham's faith demonstrated? How is his faith similar to Noah's?

  • What was Abraham waiting for? What do you think this refers to?

Reflection...

It may be hard to imagine having faith like Noah or Abraham but it shouldn't be unless your idea of faith is misguided.

Faith is about trust. It is a personal trust relationship with God. Its foundation is not the physicality of this earth nor anything we do except putting our trust fully in God (Heb 11:6).

Genuine faith becomes a foundation for our life that enables us to build a life of trust beyond life in a natural sense. We trust God for what we cannot see at first. This is illustrated by the lives of Noah and Abraham.

Faith becomes visible through the lives of believers every day. This is easier to see over a period of time or in a time of crisis. Those who trust God in a personal way see beyond day to day struggles and even crisis situations.

Their faith has a sense of permanency in their lives that becomes evident to others.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • How do you think Noah knew what God wanted him to do?

  • Why do you think a person receives God's approval only because of their faith and trust in God?

  • What did both Noah and Abraham endure because of their faith?

  • Does your faith have a sense of permanency for your life? If so, in what specific ways?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

Our Problem with Rest

I met a young couple from New Zealand in the Hong Kong airport years ago. We were waiting for our next flight and got to talking. I asked them about their experience in my home country, the USA.

They had worked in the US for a few years and shared a simple observation about Americans and rest. Generally, they realized we don't seem to know how to take time to rest, even when we're sick.

Think about it. Immense amounts of sick leave and vacation time go unused each year by Americans. When we do take vacations, they're often expensive and so activity-filled, we need a rest after our vacation! This carries over to our faith.