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Reflections

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 Join us as we journey through the book of Hebrews. 

Simple reflections based on reading.

As we seek God together through Scripture.

(See our Facebook page Journeying through Hebrews 2024 for past reflections)

 

Hebrews 11: 29-31

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days. 31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

Only a few verses today, yet a lot to think about. Consider what can be done with faith and then contrast that with what can happen withoutit. Faith gives us personal spiritual strength and resolve. It must have taken some courage for the Israelites to believe that they would be able to cross the whole of the Red Sea without drowning. It’s a bit like starting something uncertain and trusting that you will get through to the other side, without any of the possible obstacles getting in the way. Perhaps that is something you can relate to today? Without God’s help, there is no certainty. It would also have taken some faith to believe that it was necessary to march round a town’s walls every day for seven days making a lot of noise! It commands quite a picture, doesn’t it? However, obedience and resilience was rewarded in both cases. God sometimes asks us the most unlikely things and uses the most unexpected people – but the three references we see today (and do look them up and read about them) were all key parts of God’s overall plan. We need to trust, to believe and to act. God will bless us as we respond.

Hebrews 11: 23-28

23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

It must have taken some strength of character for Moses’ mother to put him in a basket and to hide him against the orders of the authorities. Any mother knows the bond that exists between mother and child, and the desire for them to be safe and not to come to any harm. She really demonstrated an example of wisdom and bravery. God often says in Scripture ‘Fear not’, and when we trust, fear tends to be overcome. We have a good example of that being demonstrated here. Growing up, Moses seemed to have inherited his parents’ ability to be fearless and faithful. He could have had an easy life, yet he made sacrificial choices. Moses could see beyond his immediate situation and wanted to live a life worthy of God. Moses allowed himself to be used by God for the benefit of his people. He saw the future hope that was to come. He had faith and fixed his eyes on the things of God. He was part of saving his people by enabling the protection of the firstborn. We too are urged to fix our eyes on the things of God, and to rely on Jesus, who has given us our salvation and a secure future for ever.

 

Hebrews 11: 17-22

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. 20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

I’ve always wondered how Abraham was able to get as far as raising a knife to his son to kill him. No-one would have blamed him for turning back or not setting out in the first place. Such was his faith. I believe that if God asks anyone to do something like that, there can’t be any doubt at all that this is what God is asking. Thankfully, that has not been my experience. Abraham trusted God implicitly. In turn, Isaac blessed his children and Jacob blessed his grandchildren. Their practice of faith was part of their everyday lifestyle. It was embedded in everything they did. This is the aim for each of us. Growing in faith and trust, so that we are able to rely on God in all circumstances and in every situation. Even on the point of death. Have faith at all times and in all places. Trust God in all circumstances – times of difficulty, oppression, sickness, bereavement, physical and mental suffering. Yes, it’s easy to say. Even more so – it is possible and vital for each and every believer. As we practice faith and trust, blessing will result.

Hebrews 11: 13-16

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, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 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.

The Christian life is one of living by faith. From the first moment of being aware of being an active believer in Jesus and choosing to follow his example, until the last moment of life, when we join him for eternity. This life is not the end, it leads to the beginning of life with God forever. The people the writer to Hebrews has highlighted are all examples to us of faithful believers and it is great to have the accounts of their lives still available to us today through the pages of Scripture. We may well be the same as them. Unless Jesus comes back first, we will die before receiving the things promised, but we will still receive them in due time. We too are foreigners and strangers on this earth – so don’t be surprised if you feel set apart or different. The good news is that there is something better ahead. Our purpose in the meantime is to seek God, follow the example of Christ and his followers and share our hope with those who need to know about it. Take every opportunity. God will give you the words.

Hebrews 11: 8-12

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. 9 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. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 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.

Our second day of examples of heroes of the faith today focuses on Abraham. Abraham is a key figure in the history of the people of Israel. How many of us would go away from our familiar homeland to an unknown destination? Certainly, many have had to do this in times of persecution and trial. However, Abraham took his family with him and lived very much out of his comfort zone. He was the beginning of God’s promise to him and his descendants, including Isaac his son and Jacob the son of Isaac and father to the twelve patriarchs including Joseph. His story is hard to believe, but his descendants are evidence of the fulfilment of God’s promise. There are times in our lives where we are at a crossroads and are not sure which way to turn. God is with us at such time. He will lead and guide if we trust and seek him. He can do the impossible when needed. Abraham is a testimony to God’s faithfulness. As we may sometimes sing: ‘Great is thy faithfulness, O God our Father. Morning by morning new mercies I see….’ He provides all that we need. He is a good Father.

Hebrews 11: 4-7

4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. 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. 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. 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 is in keeping with faith.

Today we begin several days of references to great examples of people of faith throughout Scripture. As we read through the list, are they all people who are familiar to you? If not, or you need to be reminded, do look up the accounts of these people and see what you can learn from their actions in their different contexts. Cain and Abel, Enoch, Noah. Faith in offering, faith in pleasing God, faith in a place of the unknown. A key verse today is: ‘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.’ In order to please God, it is essential to believe that God exists. We hear all sorts of reasons for not believing in God. Are you able to give evidence for the hope that you have? Think about your faith and do a personal spiritual review. Think about your giving. Your day to day connection with God. Any doubts you may have. Where you are pleasing him or falling short. Earnestly seek him. He will respond.

HEBREWS 11: 1-3 FAITH IN ACTION

11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 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

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A short reading today, but so well known and so full of meaning. We may often talk about faith. However, I wonder if we were asked what it meant, would we know how to respond? There are a lot of examples of this in Christian theology and terminology. Can you explain salvation, forgiveness, resurrection, justification, tribulation – the list goes on! We have a wonderful definition of faith here, which we can go back to whenever we need to be reminded, or if we are asked about the meaning of faith. Confidence in what we hope for. Do you know what you hope for? It’s important! Assurance about what we do not see. So many lack assurance, especially at difficult times or when God does not feel near. Many people ask for proof. This is where faith comes in. We believe God created the earth by faith. We were not there when it happened, but we know it is there now and it is too marvellous to have simply evolved without some divine working. Be confident in what you believe. Stay open to learning more about what the Bible teaches. We will never have full revelation, but we learn more and more each and every day, to share and live out.

 Hebrews 10:36-39

36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Perseverance in this day and age is vital. Too many of us make excuses for lack of commitment or inability to focus on the things of God. We know that perseverance produces good qualities. We are all on a spiritual journey. Some speak of it being like a race. If we are to succeed in anything, it involves active participation and often some preparation and certainly a willingness to learn and to apply what is learned. We have been told that we do not know the day or the hour when Jesus will return. We are all called to live by faith. We are expected to move forward and to mature over time. Where do you fit? Are you one who shrinks back, or one who has faith and is saved? Everything that we do should be done with God’s help and with his purpose in mind. Are we letting other things take a place in our lives that is greater than they should? Are we seeking God and aiming to persevere? We are each accountable for our own decisions and actions. God will always forgive and will always be patient with us. Hold on and keep going.

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