Jesus Invites Me To Follow (Hebrews 11)

MOTIVATE

God has blessed our family with 5 beautiful children. We have 4 in school, and our family has chosen to homeschool each child thru 4th grade and then as able to enter child in public schooling. That is our choice that fits our family, not a mandate or judgment on anyone else. So, currently we have 2 in public and 2 homeschool. Honestly, my wife does 98.5% of the homeschooling. But, since the shutdown, I have been doing the homeschool with our youngest schooled child.

  • Elementary math is easy until you try to teach it.
  • Some days are just not your days. Take a break 🙂
  • God bless teachers!
  • Visuals can help.

Tonight (4/19/20) starts a 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. A common phrase from that era was “Be Like Mike,” to challenge others toward excellence of effort and skill. Likewise, in the book of Hebrews, the author has been teaching his audience about the OT and how it points to faith in Jesus Christ. At this point in the letter it has come time when the author sought to provide some visual aids and examples to emulate. Hebrews 11 is a list of faith heroes (AKA: “Hall of Faith”) of people who believed in God with head, heart, and hands. In today’s passage we want to explore the reality and relevance of biblical faith.

Together_Hebrews

EXAMINE           Hebrews 11

Heb 11:1-3, 6
1  Now faith is the assurance/substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
2  For by it the people of old received their commendation.
3  By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
6  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

 

Faith is a conviction based on God’s revelation.

Admittedly, faith is not sight but the substance of things hoped. While we want explanation, God gives us revelation. Revelation is the awareness of the supernatural and awakening to the Divine voice. That is why we pray for open eyes and hearts to receive clarity from God. Anselm said we start with faith to get understanding, not the reverse. That does not mean that faith is without evidence, reason, logic, and understanding. Our human mind is finite and a God that our human mind can fully grasp is not truly greater than us.

Illus: As a pastor I visit others in the hospital frequently. Larger city hospitals have paid parking. You enter the garage by obtaining a ticket. Almost every wall has a sign stating to remember to bring your ticket with you to pay for your parking. Entering the elevator you hear intercom voices reminding you to bring your ticket with you to pay for your parking. Entering the hospital there are signs reminding you, as well as concierge workers telling you to pay parking before returning to car. Though you have never seen a parking garage attendant, you have a ample evidence one exists and they expect to be paid!

Faith is not a fairy tale, and it’s more than a feeling; faith is revealed in several ways.

God is revealed in the skies.

  • Heb 11:3 “By faith, we understand that the universe was created.”
  • Psalm 19:1-3 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.”

God is revealed in Scripture.

  • God spoke through prophets (Amos 3:7) and people, faithfully recorded for us in Scripture (Heb 1:1).
  • Scriptures are “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), announcing things of God and the good news of Jesus to future generations (1Pet 1:12). These are not “cleverly devised myths… but eyewitnesses” of God’s glory (2Pet 1:16-21).

God is revealed in saints aligned with Scripture.

  • Those who have the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures can reveal God’s words to one another (Heb 3:13; 13:7; James 3:17; 1Pet 4:11; 1Cor 14:26).

God is revealed in our suspicions.

  • Romans 1:20 we suppress the truth
    • Reality of guilt and regret is one evidence our hearts know God exists.
      “If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
  • If God appeared to you this evening, would you be willing to defer your questions and reschedule your priorities to get to know more? Well… pray for awareness and awakening!

 

Faith is commitment with action.
As you look at all the people listed in this chapter, we see they have faith that is marked with action. Their head knowledge of God was applied with heart and hands.

  • Abel offered a sacrifice over Cain (Heb 11:4)
  • Noah’s built an ark for saving his house from an unseen yet promised judgment (Heb 11:7)
  • Abraham believed and obeyed travel leaving known to an unknown place “For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God… These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on earth… they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (Heb 11:10, 13, 16).
  • Abraham offered up Isaac, believing God could raise him to life (Heb 11:17-19)
  • Jacob blessed his sons (Heb 11:21)
  • Joseph spoke – to relieve famine and point Israel to an eventual exodus (Heb 11:22)
  • Moses chose to be mistreated with the people of God, considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. He left Egypt… kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood… crossed the Red Sea” (Heb 11:23-29)
  • Joshua fought by faith and the walls of Jericho fell down (Heb 11:30)
  • Rahab the prostitute welcomed spies (Heb 11:31)

In all, the Bible presents faith as a lifestyle.

  • “the just shall live by faith” (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38)
  • “we live by faith, not by sight” (2Corinthians 5)
  • “faith without works is dead… works complete faith” (James 2)

The faith lifestyle is one of lordship. Undoubtedly, the lives of these listed did not always understand or even necessarily agree God’s way was the best in their eyes – but they obeyed anyway.

  • If faith is a lifestyle, name one positive aspect of faith that needs applied in your life and name one aspect that you need to consider subtracting.
    • Add: Bible & Prayer are the go-to, but
      • What about reading Bible with children? Or with a co-worker?
      • What about witness to neighbor across the street – inviting to church and sharing Jesus??
      • What about committing to church and serving in ministry?
      • What about tithing?
    • Subtract:
      • Maybe God is saying stop making excuses for not believing and start listening to why you should.
      • Maybe a good thing that isn’t the main thing that you need to re-invest time.
      • Maybe a sinful habit that you’ve neglected confessing and repenting.

Hebrews 11 continues after v.31.

Hebrews 11:32-38
GROUP 1

32  And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—
33  who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34  quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
35  Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.

GROUP 2
36
 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.
37  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—
38  of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

 

Group 1 received miracles and rescue, but Group 2 suffered and died. The faith life will not always be easy. There’s good news and bad news.

  • Good news: This world may be as close to hell that you experience. Wow, not encouraging!?!
  • Bad news: This world may be as close to heaven that you experience.

 

The good/bad news is a matter of eternal perspective.

  • Will you treasure God enough when the challenges of life are greater than the comforts; when the pains are greater than the profits?
    • When a family member is not faithful?
    • When a person promises loyalty ends up backstabbing and betraying you?
    • When hopes go and stay unfulfilled?
    • When cancer is diagnosed or not in remission?
    • When God’s answer is “not yet” and to keep waiting.

 

APPLY/THINK

Two closing thoughts.

  • Jesus is not on the hall of faith list. The reason is because if Jesus is only our example then we will grow greatly discouraged and fail to live up to His standard. Jesus is not just our example, He’s our everything. We have in completion what they had in a shadow.

hope

  • H.O.P.E. is here.
    • Hope is not wishing thinking but calculated conviction.
    • How do we get H.O.P.E.?
      • HOPE starts with a HOLY GOD. God created each person with a purpose to experience His love and enjoy love with others. There is no comparison or competition for the true and holy God. But there’s a problem.
      • HOPE is separated because OUR SIN. We doubt God’s design and dismiss His purpose for the world. All of us have sinned against God and each other, which separates us from experiencing fullness of life and love. But there is good news.
      • HOPE is restored by God’s PROMISE. God’s promise is bigger than our problem. Since the beginning of humanity’s sin, God promised to forgive us and focus us back on the right track. The path back to God is paved not with good works but grace. God’s promise of grace is revealed through Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a sinless life that is expected of us all, and He paid the punishment for our disobedience. Jesus died to overcome our sin problem and to conquer our dilemma of death. The resurrection of Jesus provides us a matchless gift.
      • HOPE renews us to ETERNAL LIFE. If we place our faith in God then we have the hope of heaven. True faith is turning away from saving our self with anything other than what Jesus has done for us in His death and resurrection; and it’s turning toward God by following His words and being a witness for His truth and grace.
      • H.O.P.E. is here and has a name: Jesus.

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