Pastor Joe Miller IV
Hebrew 11:1-2, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report."
The word in verse one ‘substance’ to describe faith means a confident foundation, an assurance for things hoped for, to hope with expectation and trust, and also evidence of things not seen. ‘Evidence’ meaning a proof or witness testimony. In verse two, for by it (faith) the elders, our predecessors, the ones who went before us, obtained a good report because of the faith that they had, ultimately becoming examples and testimonies for us. The list of our faith heroes in chapter 11, verse 4: Abel; verse 5: Enoch; verse 7: Noah; verse 8: Abraham; verse 11: Sarah; verse 17: Abraham; verse 20: Isaac; verse 21: Jacob; verse 22: Joseph; verse 23: Moses; verse 31: Rahab; verse 32: Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets - humans not perfect with a perfect life, but imperfect like us, as Christians. Who found themselves in situations that are dark and unnerving, even frightening, and by the world’s standards - hopeless. But these heroes stayed faithful through it all knowing that there was a future purpose for the trials that they were enduring and some staying faithful, never seeing the promises or purposes unfolding in their lives.
Hebrew 11:13, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."
Knowing that there was a purpose for their situation far off down the road, not even occurring in their lifetime, they were persuaded to stay faithful and embrace the situation that God placed them in. Aren’t you glad thousands of years later that we get to benefit because of their faith? I also think of people in my lifetime who have endured life’s trials and stayed faithful. Some have tremendously impacted and affected my life, and if it wasn’t for their faithfulness I don’t know where I would be today. Most have passed away, not even present to witness the fruits of their faithfulness in their lifetime. I think of my mom, dad, and their faithfulness to God through their marriage and the impact it has on my grandchildren whom my parents have never met. I think of Mrs. Rippey, Mrs. Gorensic, Mr. Mahaffy, Rev. Dittmar, teachers, and pastors that stayed faithful in this life even in times that didn’t make sense, but God, because of their faith, has used these people to influence me. Even though they are not walking this earth today, their faith in God lives through the lives of those they’ve impacted and their testimonies live on glorifying God. There are so many more people I could mention that because of their faith, the world will not be the same, but I don’t have enough pen and paper. Knowing the impact of ‘faith’, what do I do now, what is the application?
Hebrew 12:1, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."
Hearing about great people of faith and actually seeing people live out faith through times of storms, trials, unbelievable situations - God has surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses. People who have experiential knowledge of God’s grace, love, purpose - and that same faith is required of us. So let us put away the division, weight, sin, anger, bitterness, jealousy, pride, etc. And let us, the ones that are in the here and now, run this race like today is our last day. ‘With patience’ means ‘here to abide, not quit’ the race that is set before us - in our families and at Harvest Baptist Church. We must always be looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. So let us live like Jesus, staying faithful, impacting today’s world, and influencing the future of tomorrow.