Morning Musing: Hebrews 11:35b-38

“Others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Sometimes when we step out and exercise faith in God, everything goes great. In fact, it goes better than great. We get not just what we wanted, but far more than we could ever ask or imagine. Those kinds of outcomes to our faith are the stories we like to tell. Many of the stories in the Scriptures have these kinds of happy endings. Every story of faith Hollywood tells ends this way. At some point it may look like things are going to go poorly because of faith, but then God saves the day, and they all live happily ever after. But what if things don’t turn out that way? Because in real life, sometimes they don’t. The second set of stories of the results of faith the author of Hebrews shares with us aren’t happy endings. At least they don’t seem to be. Maybe you have a story of faith that didn’t appear to end well. Let’s talk about when we have faith and nothing goes according to plan.

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 11:32-35a

“And what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead, raised to life again.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

After nearly a month working our way through Hebrews 12, today we finally land on the author’s big finish. The next natural section here is big enough, though, I’m going to break it up into two parts. Knowing that his time on this matter is short (why it is short we don’t know), the author of Hebrews launches into a sort of lightning round in which he covers a whole bunch of final examples of faith. But then, instead of naming names any longer, he starts mentioning stories by what happened to them. These stories fall into two different categories into which we can really divide all the responses to our faith. Today, let’s talk about all the good things that might happen to us because of our faith in God.

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Us and Them

In the last two weeks, we have talked about judgmentalism and hypocrisy. Those are two things of which the church is often accused, but which Jesus didn’t like either. This overlap has some really important implications. This morning, we’re talking about one more thing Jesus and the culture agree isn’t good: discrimination. With another look at something else Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, let’s talk about why the Christian worldview contains the only effect antidote to discrimination the world has ever seen.

Us and Them

Words are interesting things. They are powerful, to be sure, but they are often funny. For instance, one word can mean two different things. Without an accompanying context, you can’t know which definition is intended. For instance, take the word, “bat.” It’s either a small, winged mammal that eats bugs and makes for a creepy Halloween decoration, or it’s a long piece of wood or metal used for hitting a ball. Or how about the word, “lie.” Used in one context, and you could be talking about taking a nap, but in another context, you’re probably trying to get out of trouble. Sometimes a word can be pronounced two different ways by emphasizing different syllables, and each pronunciation has its own, unique meaning. There’s lead and lead, object and object, minute and minute, refuse and refuse, and so on and so forth. There are still other words with two different meanings that are actually opposites of one another. For instance, you could clip something in half, meaning you are separating it into two pieces, but you can also clip two pieces of paper together. If you seed your yard, you are putting seeds into the ground, but if you seed a watermelon, you are doing just the opposite. The word strike could mean hitting something or missing something. It’s all very complicated. 

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Digging in Deeper: Matthew 22:37-40

“He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Confession time: I’m not much for trying new things. New things bring the possibility of failure, and I’m not much for failure. I’m more of a habit and routine guy. Once I find something that works – which, admittedly requires trying new things at least occasionally – you’re going to find me generally pretty difficult to break from it to try something else. Of course, new things also bring the possibility of experiencing success you wouldn’t otherwise experience. On the whole, it can pay big to step out and try something new. Let’s talk this morning about the latest new thing from Marvel Studios: She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 11:30-31

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after being marched around by the Israelites for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute welcomed the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been given a request or an instruction that simply didn’t make sense? Did you do it? If you did, why did you do it? There is probably one of a couple of reasons behind your acquiescence. One is simply that the person asking possessed a sufficient authority over you that you felt compelled to do it. The other reason is that even though you don’t understand it, you have enough trust in the person asking to do it anyway. Another way to put this second reason is that you have faith in the person. In the last bit of Hebrews 11 before the big finale (which we’ll talk about next week, Lord willing, and then on to chapter 12), the author mentions two of the stranger stories in the Old Testament. Let’s talk this morning about trusting God even when it doesn’t make sense.

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