Morning Musing: Hebrews 11:39-40

“All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

At the end of the day, faith and sight are not the same thing. If we have sight, we don’t have to exercise any faith. Once I am sitting in a chair, I don’t have to have faith it will hold me like I do before I sit down. I know it will because I am experiencing it. I can “see” it with my own eyes. Here at the tail end of Hebrews 11, the author gives us one last reminder of this truth before setting things up for where we are going next. Let’s talk one last time about living by faith and two reasons we should do it.

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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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Digging in Deeper: Hebrews 11:23-26

By faith Moses, after he was born, was hidden by his parents for three months, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they didn’t fear the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasure of sin. For he considered reproach for the sake of Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, since he was looking ahead to the reward.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We have been talking about living by faith for a few weeks now. The author of Hebrews, after defining faith for us (living out a belief in something we can’t see on the word of someone we trust), shifted gears to offering one example after another of what it looks like to live by faith. Essentially, it looks like doing what God says instead of what we or the world around us wants. In most circumstances, even in hostile-to-Christianity locations, this doesn’t involve anything terribly controversial. It is just denying ourselves in favor of the righteousness of Christ and loving our neighbors like Jesus loved us. But sometimes, living by faith can take us into more challenging territory. Instead of positively doing something, it involves actively not doing something or else rejecting opportunities we are expected to take. With some examples from the story of Moses, let’s talk today about a couple of the challenges of living by faith.

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And the Oscar Goes to…

This past Sunday morning we continued in our series, What Jesus Hated. This week we talked about the charge of hypocrisy. The church is often…and often fairly…accused of hypocrisy. The world hates hypocrisy…or at least professes to hating it. So did Jesus. In this next part of our series, we are looking at some hard words Jesus had for the religious hypocrites of His day and what those might mean for us. Thanks for reading and sharing.

And the Oscar Goes to…

I want you to think for just a minute about what is your favorite movie of all time. Actually, that may be a bit too difficult of a question to answer. If you’re like me, there are several films that could top your list, and it really depends on the day and your mood as to which one is currently at the top of the pile. Let’s narrow down our query just a bit. Think about what your favorite scene from a movie is. That’s different from an entire movie. It may be that you don’t really care for the movie itself, but that one scene absolutely captured your attention, your imagination, your very heart. Personally, my favorite movie is still probably Robinhood: Prince of Thieves. In terms of a scene that makes me want to jump up and shout with excitement, I don’t think there will ever be a better film moment than the scene just before the climactic battle against Thanos and his assembled forces in Avengers: Endgame when Captain America hears his friend, Falcon’s voice (for the first time in five years, no less) on the radio, telling him to “Watch his six,” just before portals start opening and everyone shows up for the battle. I honestly don’t believe Marvel will ever top that. But my favorite single scene of all time is the climax of Apollo 13 when they are watching for the space capsule’s parachutes to open, and then they suddenly do and Tom Hanks’ voice comes over the radio saying they are safe and sound. That makes me tear up every single time I watch it. 

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