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April 18th, 2021
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gary damronMY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron

 

The Old Testament reveals an age of promise, with prophecies and examples of real people living through dangers, distractions and disappointments. Last week we finished a study of the Book of Revelation which culminates with evil defeated and the holy city coming down from heaven. Between the two, Jesus was born and inaugurated a new age of fulfillment – but humans continue to deal with discouragements. Like the man who came to Jesus about his disabled son, we cry out, “‘I do believe; help my unbelief!’” (Mark 9:24). 

Today begins a new series designed to help find faith for our journey, examining past triumphs of faith and examples found in the Old and New Testament, as well as contemporary witnesses. I also want to introduce the supreme example of faith. 

Originally determined to start with Jesus’ calling of his disciples, instead the focus settled on a passage in the Book of Hebrews. The author began with a description. “Now faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith provides a reality not accessible by senses or by reason. Though we can approach or augment faith, it is more of a response to God’s revelation: a subjective certainty or spiritual intuition that something better lies ahead. Andrew Murray wrote, “Faith must in the spiritual life be as natural, as unceasing, as our breathing. . . an unceasing intercourse with the unseen world around us."  Faith concerns both the unseen present reality and the promised future. 

Faith underlies all relations with God: “Without faith it is impossible to please him…” (Hebrews 11:6). Our faith is not in prayers, nor in success or rewards, but in God as our reward. He’s all that matters. The reward of our faith is that we find him the one true living God, not just a deity who satisfies perceived needs according to our desires and timeline. 

The people listed in chapter 11 found God without the resources we have available: the Bible, God’s written Word; Jesus the Word made flesh; and the Holy Spirit who lives within. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, all “…died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance…” (Hebrews 11:13). Each of them labored on earth while seeking a heavenly country. 

Jesus talked about treasures, reminding of the eternal city, the storehouse that is to be the reward of faith. “‘But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, … for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’” (Matthew 6:20, 21). Everything here that we’re attached to, have feelings or passion for, is temporal. Not only that, there’s a tension between the ‘two masters’ of heavenly or earthly treasures. Do we mean it when we pray, “‘thy kingdom come on earth as in heaven?’” – or would we prefer that Christ’s kingdom wait until heaven? 

Faith is the answer to the tension, and a cure for anxiety. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount continued, “‘…do not be worried about your life…. Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” … for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things’” (Matthew 6:25-32). Simply laying the needs and the desires of our heart before a loving Father – who already knows - is a statement of faith. 

The apostle Paul added another statement of faith. “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Philippians 4:11). Anyone who’s putting God first, storing treasures in heaven, will find God supplying all needs. 

Those listed in Hebrews chapter 11 possessed an improbable faith, forward-looking, without the benefit of evidence we have. It’s all about getting to the other side. Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses’ parents, Moses, Israel, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, prophets – so many, the writer states, that time would fail - all were moving to a better provision for the people of God in Christ. And yet, their faith will not be realized until we reach the other side – “apart from us they would not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40). 

The supreme example of faith was Jesus, “the author and perfecter of faith” who “who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Through his faith, the shame of the cross turned to the glory of the crown. As we continue this study, we’ll highlight other examples of faith. I would encourage you to read Hebrews chapter 11 and be encouraged on your journey of faith. Fix your eyes on Jesus, since we find faith because he is faithful. 

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