promises

Far Sighted

When faith is reduced to an abstract concept, a spiritual dynamic, or positive thinking, it becomes blind. Approaching faith in these ways strips it down to an impersonal and human-based belief-ism.

True faith in God must be personal. It is based in relationship with God not beliefs about Him. Are theological beliefs important? Of course! But they are what we believe about God.

Faith is a personal trust in God Himself. Who He is and what He's promised in response to our trust in Him (Heb 11:6).

This is the faith Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph had that enabled them to see beyond their own lives. It was a faith focused on God whom they trusted with confidence. Their trust in God opened their eyes to see what other did not see.

Scripture

When God tested Abraham, faith led him to offer his son Isaac. Abraham, the one who received the promises from God, was willing to offer his only son as a sacrifice. God had said to him, “Through Isaac your descendants will carry on your name.”

Abraham believed that God could bring Isaac back from the dead. Abraham did receive Isaac back from the dead in a figurative sense. [vss 17-19]

Faith led Isaac to bless Jacob and Esau. While Jacob was dying, faith led him to bless each of Joseph’s sons. He leaned on the top of his staff and worshiped God.

While Joseph was dying, faith led him to speak about the Israelites leaving Egypt and give them instructions about burying his bones. [vss 20-22]

(Hebrews 11:17-23 GW) [Context– Hebrews 11]

Key phrase—

While Joseph was dying, faith led him to speak about the Israelites leaving Egypt

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What are we told faith led Abraham to do? How could faith lead him to do this?

  • Why was Abraham willing to sacrifice his son after waiting 25 years for Isaac to be born?

  • Who blesses whom and what do each of these blessings have in common?

  • What did Joseph tell the Israelites to do and why? Why was this important to Joseph?

Reflection...

Many people can't get beyond wondering why God would ask Abraham to sacrifice his son. They imagine God as barbaric. Why? Because they can't think beyond their own feelings and reason. I spoke about this in another post— A Father's Sacrifice.

Faith is a matter of trust not reason. When we can't see beyond our own feelings and logic we can't trust. This makes us spiritually blind.

The nature of faith enables us to see beyond what is obvious and observable by others. It is not blind but sees God and trusts in Him. So, is it risky to trust in God? It depends on how you view God and His nature.

God's legacy is seen in those who trust in Him with their lives. Those who trust in Him without reserve like Abraham are the true offspring of God.  Each person has a legacy not of themselves but of those who are their offspring—both natural born and spiritually born.

Make it personal...

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

  • How is the testing of Abraham's faith relatable to the original hearers (readers) of the book of Hebrews and us now?

  • How are the blessings Isaac and Jacob spoke related to the promise of God to Abraham?

  • What is your legacy of faith? How has and does your faith influence and impact others?

  • In what ways do you trust God beyond your fears, doubts, and human reasoning?

©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

Don't Turn Back!

History is full of examples and stories of people exhibiting great endurance and perseverance. American history is no different. Colonial settlers faced great odds, uncertainty, and opposition, as they carved out a life in a new land and birthed a new nation.

As the nation expanded westward, it faced new challenges in unsettled territories. The same is true when modern aviation was born which paved the way for manned space flights.

Countless and untold heroic stories of perseverance took place in battles for freedom from the Revolutionary War to present conflicts in the Middle East.

Perseverance is way under-valued. It's usually not exciting or glamorous but is a vital element in the pursuit of freedom. And so it with the Christian faith. Spiritual endurance and perseverance are key to a genuine life of faith.

Scripture

Remember the past, when you first learned the truth. You endured a lot of hardship and pain. At times you were publicly insulted and mistreated. At times you associated with people who were treated this way.

You suffered with prisoners. You were cheerful even though your possessions were stolen, since you know that you have a better and more permanent possession. [vss 32-34]

So don’t lose your confidence. It will bring you a great reward. You need endurance so that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised.

“Yet, the one who is coming will come soon. He will not delay. The person who has God’s approval will live by faith. But if he turns back, I will not be pleased with him.”

We don’t belong with those who turn back and are destroyed. Instead, we belong with those who have faith and are saved. [vss 35-39]

(Hebrews 10:32-39 GW) [Context– Hebrews 10]

Key phrase—

So don’t lose your confidence—it will bring you a great reward

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What are these believers encouraged to remember? What specific things are pointed out?

  • What are they exhorted not to lose and what do they need to have to receive what God promised?

  • Why are these exhortations necessary? How are they connected to the consistent and primary theme of the book of Hebrews?

  • What is the last encouraging statement? How was this encouraging to those believers then and for us now?

Reflection...

This strong exhortation encouraged believers to not go back to an empty and dead form of religion. It is as true today for us as it was for them.

Are you discouraged in your faith? Are things in life not going the way you expected and hoped? Don't turn back! Keep pressing on in faith. Endure. Persevere.

God is faithful and we need to be faithful to Him. He will not abandon us even though it may seem like that from our limited view of life. He won't abandon us even when we fail Him or stumble in our faith. If you want God's acceptance and approval, then continue in your faith. 

The Lord is faithful and He promised to return for those who trust in Him. Even though it may seem like an overdue promise, it's not. God is far more patient and longsuffering than we are. We just need to trust Him and persevere.

Make it personal...

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

  • Have you wondered at times why you should keep doing what is right and just and good?

  • Can you see how very personal God's promises are? Do you understand how personal faith is?

  • What is discouraging you right now? Are you willing to entrust this to the Lord?

  • In what ways has God shown His faithfulness to you? Allow those things to encourage you to endure in your faith!

©2017—Word-Strong


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

Our Strong Anchor

How can we know if a promise is trustworthy? People make promises that are often more like intentions than true promises. We might "promise" to call someone or pray for them later, but we say promise as more of an assurance of our intention than a true commitment.

Politicians, sales people, and even entrepreneurs make lots of promises, but if we're wise, we only accept these promises with a grain of salt. There always seems to be a loophole, excuse, or contingency that gives them a way out of making good on their promises.

A promise is only as good as the person who makes it. Even then, it's only reliable if the person has the capacity or power to keep their promise.

Listen and Learn

Not everything in the Bible is to be taken literally. And yet, what's written in the Bible is not just figurative or symbolic. Discernment, spiritual discernment, is needed for a true understanding.

Events in the Bible are real, but they can also be figurative. The stories recorded in the Bible aren't random events, they're selected by God for a purpose.

They are intended to teach us something by example or by way of illustration. Just as in life, where we can learn from the success or mistakes we make, we can learn from the successes, wisdom, and failures of others.