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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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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Digging in Deeper: Hebrews 11:27-29

“By faith he left Egypt behind, not being afraid of the king’s anger, for Moses persevered as one who sees him who is invisible. By faith he instituted the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn might not touch the Israelites. By faith they crossed the Red Sea as though they were on dry land. When the Egyptians attempted to do this, they were drowned.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We’ve been in deep lately as we have been talking about living by faith and what that looks like practically in our lives. This morning, let’s lighten things up a bit. Instead of focusing on a single example, we are going to let the author lead us through a potpourri of examples from Moses’ life. These three examples don’t have a whole lot to do with one another except that they are all from Moses’ life. But I think there’s a lesson in each for us if we’ll listen for it. So, lean in with me this morning as we talk some more about faith.

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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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