Friday, April 28, 2006

Hebrews 11:16

Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
(NIV)


My favorite part of this verse is when it says, "Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God..."

I know that there are times that I have felt ashamed to be hanging around with certain people. When I was out in public with them, I felt a little embarrassed. Maybe it was how they acted, or the way they looked. Whatever it was, my pride hindered me from wanting to be seen with them, because I did not want to be associated with them.

Sometimes that is a good thing. There are certain people who you would most definitely not want to be associated with, but it is not like that with God.

He is not ashamed to "be seen" with us, even though He is so much higher than we are. When we go out in public, He has no problem branding His own name on us. We have sought His city, a heavenly city, therefore He has prepared one for us.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hebrews 11:15

If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.
(NIV)


This verse reminds me of Lot's wife. You remember that story from Sunday School, don't you? Lot's family is fleeing Sodom at the warning of the two angels. One of the last commands that they are given before they leave is, "Do not look back!" As they are running across the hills the towns are being destroyed by fire and brimstone. Lot's wife takes a glance back and is suddenly turned into a pillar of salt.

Lot's wife wanted to partake in Sodom, she wanted to live there and partake in that kind of life. Even though leaving meant salvation, she still longed for what she was leaving. So she became a partaker in their fate.

People of faith do not look back. They look for and long for the country to which they are heading. If they would have looked back, they would have gone back, but faith does not look back.

When we choose to leave this world and follow after Christ, there should be no looking back. Once a man came to Christ and said, "Lord, I want to follow you... but... um...first I want to bury my father."

Jesus responded with, "Let the dead bury their dead."

What a statement, but you can't be looking back when you chase after Christ. There can be no looking over the shoulder and no hesitation. We are leaving that country, and have already become citizens of heaven.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hebrews 11:14

People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.
(NIV)


This is referring to the previous verse where Abraham considered himself a stranger and an alien in this world. This is an important understanding of this world, that it is not our permanent home. Many don't believe that. They believe that this is it, that this is "...as good as it gets."

Abraham and the others that live by faith, demonstrate that they have a better understanding of reality when they are seeking something permanent, something real.

Do not put your hopes and dreams into things that will not last. Choose to, by faith, seek a country that will last, that you can call your home.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Hebrews 11:13

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
(NIV)


When Abraham died, he only had one child. The promise was for descendants like the sands of the sea, yet he had only one. To many, this could have been a difficult thing at the end of life. To trust and trust and trust, and never see the promise fulfilled.

Abraham did not despair. Even though he tried to handle things himself from time to time, he ultimately lived a life of faith. In fact, he had such faith that he treated the promise as if it had already been fulfilled. He welcomed those things.

He fully recognized that this world is just a place that we are passing through. We are pilgrims, on our way to a better country, a better city. We are aliens and strangers here.



Oh Lord, open my eyes today. Peel back those scales and allow me to see this world for what it is. Help me to walk this pilgrimage by faith, seeing what is not yet seen. I want to welcome the heavenly kingdom, of which I am already a citizen, as if I was already there.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Hebrews 11:11-12

By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
(NIV)


In Galatians 6:7, Paul tells us, "Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham." When God promised that through Abraham there would be children without number, we were included in that as well. We follow in our father's footsteps if we walk in faith.

Jesus even tells us that there will be many who sit at the feast with Abraham. What an amazing moment that will be. When we can see a man who truly lived by faith, who we have read about and studied. We will one day sit at a feast with him.

Choose today to walk by faith. Don't simply make your decisions by sight alone. Of course we need to be good stewards and make wise choices, but don't allow the things you see display more influence than the things you do not see.

Choose today to walk by faith, then you will be a partaker in the fellowship with Christ, as a descendant of Abraham.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Hebrews 11:9-10

By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
(NIV)


I love that quote, "...he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God."

We are living in tents. The possessions we have, the homes we live in, and yes, even our own bodies are perishable. They are tents. They are mobile, and they do not last. They are most assuredly not a permanent dwelling.

Like Abraham, we need to look forward to that city with foundations. Something permanent. Something built by the master builder Himself.

What are you looking forward to?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hebrews 11:8

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
(NIV)


It seems so easy when we read it in the Bible. "Oh sure, Abraham..." we say. "He was a man of faith. Went to the promised land, he did, when God asked him to. No questions asked."

We sit back and relax, then God asks us to do something. Maybe it is to be obedient to your boss, even though your boss shows no love for you. Maybe it is to love your spouse without any surety that your spouse will love you in return. It could be that God is asking you to tell the truth, when the truth will bring trouble and pain to the hearers.

According to this verse, Abraham did not know where he was going. He had no surety that it would work out the way he would want it to.

Trust in Him today.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hebrews 11:7

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
(NIV)


Some speculate that before the flood, the earth had never seen rain. There are alot of theories that go along with this, and many of them make sense, but imagine Noah being told that the earth is going to be destroyed by water. Very hard to believe, yet he believed it, and staked his entire reputation on it.

He preached for years, condemning the world, without a single convert. He followed God's instructions. He lived in a way that convinced his family, and his family, in full submission to him, followed him and his faith.

He became the recipient, not only of a salvation from the waters, but of a salvation from the evil world that surrounded him. He was an heir to righteousness because of this faith.

Thousands of years before Paul wrote about salvation, men were being saved by grace through faith.

Are we willing to follow God's commands today? Are we willing to stake our reputations on this Jesus? Are we willing to stand out, like a boat in a desert, for Christ?

Choose to follow after God today in holy fear.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
(NIV)


This verse almost stands out as an "...oh and by the way..." We have already read of two examples of faith and the author wanted to remind us that without this faith that he has been speaking of, it is impossible to please God. Faith isn't just some extra bonus of being a follower; it is essential, it is the foundation of a God follower.

In our choices in life we have two: please God or please self. There are no other alternatives. So, we must choose between these two. We must choose ultimately and we must choose daily. This choice must also be done through the power of God. It can't be done in our own power, it must be done in faith.

Faith isn't only believing in the existence of God, it is believing in His activity in this World. It is believing that our dailiy choices are noticed by Him. True faith changes us. It is living and not dead.

Where is your faith? What is it in? Are you seeking to please God today?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hebrews 11:5

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.
(NIV)


Here is Enoch. We don't know much about Enoch in this verse except that he was commended by God as one who was pleasing to Him. We also know that he was taken from this world, that he did not taste of death because God took him.

That is pretty amazing. To be taken out of this world by God. There is at least one other case of this happening in the Bible, it is with Elijah. Elijah was taken in a "fiery chariot." Elisha was there to witness this event, and then from that took Elijah's place as the prominent prophet of that time.

We don't know if Enoch was taken in a fiery chariot or not, but we do know that he was taken "by faith." This makes it all that more interesting to me. It adds an element to faith. It is faith that acts as the emulsifying agent between God and man. Therefore Enoch's faith is what made it possible for him to be taken by God.

If you look back to Genesis for a moment to learn more about Enoch, you might be disappointed. There isn't much to learn there, as far as length of narrative. All we see is this short little narrative about Enoch right in the middle of this long genealogy between Adam and Noah. Genesis 5:21-24 states,

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.
(NIV)

It really is a cool passage though. Right in the middle of he was born... he had children... he died... he was born... he had children... he died... etc., we see some glimmer of life!

When Enoch was 65, he had Methuselah, then it states that, Enoch walked with God for 300 years! Enoch, unlike the death that was surrounding him, which just keeps echoing the curse, chooses to walk with God.

This walk with God brings him faith and life. This walk was so close to God that God chose to take him. Maybe even a glimmer of what was to come. That all who have faith in God will not ultimately see death, but will see life.

If your life were summarized, would it speak of your walking with God? Would it speak of your faith?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hebrews 11:4

By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.
(NIV)


Here we have the first person listed in this "Hall of Faith." Here we have Abel, who we know so little about, but we do know that it was faith that was at work in his life.

This is hugely important for several reasons. One is that Abel was a real man and not some myth. Next, notice that even though there was no written word at this time, it is his faith, not his deeds that declared him to be a righteous man.

It is also interesting that his faith allows him to speak, even though he is dead.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Hebrews 11:3

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
(NIV)


At God's command, the universe was formed. I don't know whether or not there was a bang when this happened, but by faith I know that the matter that composes this universe wasn't originally all in one place. There was a time when this did not exist. What we see came from that which is not seen.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Hebrews 11:2

This is what the ancients were commended for.
(NIV)


I almost added this verse in with the previous one. Mostly because it was so short, and it didn't seem that important of a verse to merit its own post.

Then I read it by itself and the importance of this verse sank in. You see, faith is what the ancients were commended for. Each of these people have been participants with God in some pretty amazing deeds, but these deeds are simply a result of true faith.

As James puts it, in James 2:22-24,

You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.


Truly, faith without works is a dead, unsaving faith.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(NIV)


Surety and certainty are invaluable in this unsure and uncertain world in which we live. Faith is a solid rock in a world made of sand. The things we cannot see are evidenced by faith, and by faith we can know God and see Him.

Do you have that faith?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Proverbs 27:25-27

When the hay is removed and new growth appears
    and the grass from the hills is gathered in,
the lambs will provide you with clothing,
    and the goats with the price of a field.
You will have plenty of goats' milk
    to feed you and your family
    and to nourish your servant girls.

(NIV)


These verses go so well with the previous two verses.

If you keep close watch on your flocks and fields, then you will not be in lack of provision. The farm will go the way it is supposed to go.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Proverbs 27:23-24

Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
    give careful attention to your herds;
for riches do not endure forever,
    and a crown is not secure for all generations.

(NIV)


There are many applications for this verse. One of them that popped into my mind right away was for a Christian School. So many times a Christian School starts off so good. Excellent spiritual emphasis, adherence to the Bible, high moral standards with the student body, etc. But after some years have passed, the good thing that they had is gone.

A big example of this is Harvard. Originally a school that was to train men for the ministry, now the name of God is far from being glorified there.

As a leader, know the condition of your flocks. Pay attention to your herds. The good thing that you have now will not last on its own.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Proverbs 27:22

Though you grind a fool in a mortar,
   grinding him like grain with a pestle,
you will not remove his folly from him.

(NIV)


It is a sad situation to be in if you are a fool.

Those who are in Christ, when they are "ground" by the situations of life, will be sanctified by the process. They will go to God and His word, and the truth will sanctify them.

But not the fool.

Pray today that you are not this fool. Ask God to peel the scales from your eyes and let you see.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Proverbs 27:21

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
  but man is tested by the praise he receives.

(NIV)


This is an interesting verse. I wasn't for sure what it meant at first. I read it in a few other versions, and when I came to The Message version, the idea which is being presented coalesced in my mind. The Message version states it like this:

The purity of silver and gold is tested
  by putting them in the fire;
The purity of human hearts is tested
  by giving them a little fame.


To test what kind of man a person is, give him a little praise, a little honor. How he reacts to this will reveal his heart.

Turn this verse toward yourself. How do you react to a little praise? Do you respond in humility or pride? Do you crave more or do you turn that praise toward Christ? These are important questions to ask, especially if you are trying to determine the nature of your own heart.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Proverbs 27:20

Death and Destruction are never satisfied,
and neither are the eyes of man.

(NIV)


So true.

We are beings of wants and desires. We are beings of lusts and coveteousness. We always want more, and what we see fuels the fire of this insatiable lust.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Proverbs 27:19

As water reflects a face,
so a man's heart reflects the man.

(NIV)


So many times it is easy to do and think things that are wrong, and then say to yourself, "...that isn't the real me." or "...I don't know where that came from!" But it is important to realize that your heart (your conscious self) is reflecting the real you. Where do those thoughts come from? YOU. Why did you make those choices? Because that is who you are.

The only hope that we have is that Christ will come in and wash us.