In our men’s Sunday morning ManDurance Training (formerly called Sunday school) this last week I decided to explore a portion of scripture I have glanced over before but never took the time to really try and understand.
We took Hebrews eleven and studied the way three men of the Old Testament exercised their faith. You can get a copy of my leader’s guide HERE (PDF).
1 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.
We need God
I know it seems simplistic but the phrase, “We need God,” is a truth easily covered over by our society’s search for information. Because I am a heavy reader I find myself pulled into this trap. I want to lean into christian books as my source of spiritual help.
Of course it isn’t bad to be reading spiritually based books, but when we choose these books over our spiritual connection to God through the Holy Spirit, we are not operating in God’s will.
The answer to our questions are not found in information alone. We all know that even when we have all the best information many times we still don’t take it.
We are still spiritual beings engaged in a spiritual relationship.
We need God, not just more information.
It takes faith
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.
Faith alone is what made Able’s offering better than Cain’s. As far as we know God had not given any instructions on what kind of offering He expected from Cain or Abel. Livestock was just as acceptable to God as fruits and vegetables.
The writer of Hebrews states clearly in verse six: “without faith it is impossible to please God.”
It is our faith, not what we have, that pleases God.
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.
Noah’s faith was displayed in his obedience. Noah risked looking foolish to remain obedient to God’s commands.
Genesis describes Noah as, “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.”
Noah was willing to look foolish in the eyes of the world because his relationship was so close to God. Noah built a boat in the middle of the desert, with no way to even get it to water. Noah’s faith was displayed through his obedience.
19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
Of all we studied this last Sunday this was the verse that changed me the most. The author of Hebrews tells us that Abraham was prepared to witness God raise Isaac from the dead. In Abraham’s mind Isaac was a resurrected person.
Abraham believed God’s promise that he would be the father of a great nation. Abraham also believed God’s promise that Isaac would be that seed. The author of Hebrews teaches us that Abraham was ready and willing to slay his own son because he knew God would keep His promise not matter what Abraham was asked to do.
Abraham had faith in resurrection.
Our three advantages
We have three distinct advantages over these three men profiled in Hebrews eleven.
1. Holy Spirit
All three of these men faced their faith moments without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Certainly they all heard the audible voice of God. Still, when God was not directly speaking to them they had only the promises to hold on to. We on the other hand have the third person of the Trinity who desires to help direct our every move, if we will only allow Him to do so.
2. The Bible
None of these men had any record of those who had gone before them. They had to rely completely on God’s promises. The scariest time in anyone’s life is when they have to go first. That is something God is not asking any of us to do. These men all had to step out in faith when they had no knowledge of the trials and troubles of other believers before them.
These men were all completely alone in their faith journey. Each of us are surrounded by a community of believers. Such an awesome opportunity we have to grow in this type of environment. We not only have the freedom to worship and follow God. We also have the freedom to join hands with our brothers in the Lord and walk this journey together.
Starting this month (September 2012) New Life has four men only small groups gathering all over eastern Jackson County in the Kansas City area. Visit our SMALL GROUPS PAGE to join one.