:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hebrews Chapter 11 (part 2)

Hebrews Chapter 11:8-16

vs. 8-10: ABRAHAM

- Abraham's faith was the kind of missionaries... It was a call to go to a foreign, unknown place... to live. Not to visit... but to live. An earthly dwelling that is far from home... and not necessarily the safest of places...

- It was also the kind of faith that we as Christians have to have when we answer the call to be a people separate. Because sometimes that means leaving our families, our home... and walking away from all the things that we know well... in order to follow the call...

- Again... this is not always the safest journey. I mean it's safe with God... but... it's not always a road paved with gold... most of the time... it's a rocky road with many snares and trials along the way...

- As a separation... it means not mingling with the people of the land. We can talk, have friendships... share a meal... but we're not to marry them... and we're not to allow their ways or their gods to become a part of our lives.

- “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.”

- Do we look at our lives as a temporary living arrangement?

- Abraham didn't build a house... or a city... he stayed in his tent... ever ready to move to the next place if God so chose to move him.

- Instant in season and out... ready to do whatever Gods asks of us, whenever He asks it...

- Remember when God asked Abraham to go to the mountain and sacrifice Isaac? Did he hesitate? Did he sit and cry and ask God why? Did he grumble and complain the whole time? Did he completely ignore God's request?

- No! He went and was willing to give up the thing he held most dear... because God asked it of him.

- Wow. Selfless faith. If only we had that same passion and determination to follow after God... To obey God without question... no matter what...

- Abraham never saw the promise come to fruition. He never saw his descendents outnumber the stars... He and Sarah only had one son... (granted he had other children with the second wife... and of course there was Ishmael... but they by no means numbered the promise...) He never even saw the land become his own. He had to buy a plot of land in order to bury Sarah... He was living in the land that was promised to him... but it wasn't his...

- Abraham was looking at the big picture. He wasn't focusing on the present. He wasn't looking at the way the situations looked right then... He was faithfully looking forward to what God had in store WAY down the road... even if he never got to see it during his lifetime...

- Galatians 3
- James 2:14-26
- Romans 4:1-5:11
- II John 1:5-6

vs. 11-12: SARAH

- “It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and too old. She believed that God would keep His promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.”

- Sarah had faith in the impossible. There were a few times that Abraham was told that they would have a son. The first time, it says that Abraham believed. No doubt. Just believed. But it wasn't instantaneous... from the first time that God told Abraham that they would have a son... it was another 15 or 20 years before Isaac was born... Abraham was 75 when they left Ur. When Abraham was 85... Sarah decided to take matters into her own hands... She said that God had prevented her from having children... so here... go have a child with my servant. So Ishmael was born when Abraham was 86. And then they had to wait another 15 years from then before God finally gave them Isaac.

- And Sarah laughed. When God showed up and said that the next year they would have a child... Sarah laughed. She was 89, and Abraham 99. Can you imagine? But although she laughed at the thought at one point... and even offered her servant girl as a substitute mother... (to... “help” God with His promise... lol) She is still listed as having had faith that God would keep His promise... even after all that... lol

- Our faith doesn't have to be perfect... it just has to be consistent... Will there be times we doubt God? Or look at something He asks of us and say “oh man... I don't know if I can handle that or not...” I mean sure... but even if things sound crazy... if we look at them and say “okay God... if You say so... then I'll follow along... but you're going to have to help my unbelief on this one...” God will honor that.

- Jesus said this in Matthew 17:20-21: “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there.' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

- How much faith we have doesn't matter... what matters is that we have it. We don't accomplish anything on our own strength or power or wisdom... It's all God anyway... If we have just enough faith to believe that God will do what He promises... if we believe that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life... if we are willing to follow and obey... Then it won't matter that our faith feels small... It won't matter that we're not sure what we're getting ourselves into... God will be in control... and THAT'S all that matters...

- Psalm 13; 100; 117; 18

vs. 13-16: HOME

- “All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

- Paul talked about this same thing in Romans and Corinthians. In Romans 8, he said: “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God's curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we as believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as His adopted children, including the new bodies He has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don't need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don't yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)”

- This world is not our home. If we are longing for home... then we're not living in it...

- There's a Caedmon's Call song... “This World”. The chorus says:
“This world has nothing for me and this world has everything
All that I could want and nothing that I need”

- All I want... and nothing I need... There's NOTHING on this earth that we need more than we need Christ. Nothing compares to that...

- Paul talked about creation groaning to be released from the curse of Adam... and we, too... waiting eagerly for that day... we are longing for that better day. A better life...

- In II Corinthians, Paul wrote: “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God Himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee He has given us His Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.”

- When I was a little kid, we used to travel and sing all the time. We visited so many churches... I used to just LONG for a weekend to stay home and rest.

- I remember going on vacation somewhere maybe about 10 years ago... I think Myrtle Beach... I HATE the beach... I just can't stand SAND! It gets everywhere! It drives me nuts! Lol It feels like it's constantly in your shoes and clothes and then when you get home... it's in your suitcases and shoes and then you track it all through your house and it's just EVERYWHERE! Ugh... Suffice it to say... I hate sand... 0:)

- But anyway... we spent 3 days or a week or something at the beach... and then started driving home... and I didn't realize how homesick I had gotten in even just those few days... until we started to see the mountains again... I live in West Virginia... and we have gorgeous mountains. They're old mountains... but they are so pretty... And we were driving up through and started to see taller and taller mountains... and I cannot begin to tell you how happy just the sight of a few mountaintops made me... Just to know that we were closer to getting home.

- In my mind... in thinking of heaven... and this earth... earth... is the beach... It's ucky and sticky and messy... (sorry to those of you who like the beach... bear with me... :) The world has this way of getting under your skin. It throws it's filth on you... and it's hard to get it to wash off... it just gets in every part of your life... It grinds its way into any crevice it can find... It burns, it itches, and just plain annoys... Sin just keeps coming...

- Heaven... is the mountains... :) Clear air. Clean grass. Open skies. (did I mention we live in the middle of nowhere? Lol)

- The glimpse or thought of heaven... should make us long to be there. Should make us groan at the thought of staying on this earth longer than necessary.

- When we were at the beach... sure... we had some fun... we made some sandcastles and picked up some seashells and played in the ocean... but most of the time... I just wanted to come home... The novelty of the beach was over in a few hours... a day at most... and it was time to come home...

- Heaven... should not be looked at as a necessity that comes when we die... It's HOME!

- I heard an older person once say “Well, I just wish I didn't have to die to get to heaven... because I just love it here!”

- Well okay... sure... this place can be great... sometimes... but in the long run? I'd MUCH rather be in heaven than plugging away down here...

- However, as we go plugging along... it's important not to get TOO focused on the other side of things... The point is to not get attached to this place... it's just... a bad vacation... it's not permanent...

- But as we live out this life... it is important to stay focused on the task at hand... while keeping heaven in view.

- The people of faith that are listed out in the previous verses of this chapter, died, never seeing the promise come to fruition. They were so far in the beginning of things... they really didn't see much of it at all! I mean... Abel? He was killed before he got to see much of anything really...

- Noah... had to start the world over again! How weird would that have felt? Knowing that your family was the only one's left on the earth? Geesh...

- But through it all... they had faith that God was in control and that there was indeed a plan for the future.

- Do you think Abel complained about dying young? Or did Noah complain about being alone in the world? Or not having someone to talk to other than his sons? Did Enoch, as he was walking with God say, “well God... I'd really like to go with You today... but can I say goodbye to my family? Can I finish the harvest? Can I finish this boat I'm working on?” Did Abraham keep making trips back to Ur because he missed his mommy? Or send messengers back every couple of days to check in and make sure he REALLY wasn't needed? Did he throw in the towel when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac? “No God... I just can't give that up... it's too precious... it's too close to home...”

- A guy in our church used to say that “we have to have a high view of heaven.” Meaning... that heaven... is not just some place to pass off as “oh one day when I die... I'll make it there and have a nice relaxing time...” Heaven is something to be excited about... something to yearn for. Something to desire with all our hearts...

- This world? Needs to be a passing vacation. We're just biding time til we can go home.

- Paul (again...) said in Colossians 1: “He (the Father) has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to His people, who live in the light. For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.”

- Our passports have a new citizenship listed... We do not belong to this earth... we belong to God's Kingdom... not this one...

- Psalm 116; 62
- Isaiah 12
- Proverbs 3:5-8
- Ephesians 2:19-22
- Philippians 3:20-21