Read: Hebrews 11:1-3
If you are familiar with the term hall of fame, you would understand why Hebrews 11 is called the faith hall of fame. Just read on to find the awe-inspiring feats of these individuals. But unlike a list of sporting heroes, these people are commended for their faith, and not for what they achieved in their earthly lives. Though the ancients are just like us, flawed and weak in their own ways, the Bible testifies to their true faith.
The essence of true faith described by Hebrews 11:1 debunks the many notions of faith in our modern world. Faith is not positive thinking or feelings that we conjure up. It is not a wishful hope that everything is going to be alright. Faith is not a belief that our greatest wishes and dreams will be fulfilled as long as we work towards them.
Rather, biblical faith is a posture of firm confidence in the Word of God, even when we have not yet received the fulfilment of His promises. Though we do not see, faith trusts in the certainty of who God is by His word. Faith looks at the beauty of creation and celebrates the invisible God and His mighty acts. Faith enables us to perceive the fingerprints of God through creation and recognise how He is divine and eternally powerful (Romans 1:20).
Many of us started this year hoping to “grow in faith.” The faith of the ancients gives this aspiration form and substance. To learn to centre our lives not on what we can immediately see, feel, or grasp. To live on the basis of what God has promised in His Word and look forward to their fulfilment in confidence. Will we allow biblical faith to guide our lives, working its way from the inside to the out-workings of our everyday? Our spiritual journeys are truly not done yet!
Pray for yourself: Pray that you will place your faith and trust not in what is seen but what is unseen. Pray and place your faith in who He is and what He has spoken in His Word. His work in you is not done yet and it is in the trusting Him and not in yourself that you will see His continual work.
Pray for the church: Pray that as a church, we will spur one another on in faith and good deeds. That we will spur one another on with God’s Word, to place our faith not on what is temporal, but on what is eternal. His work in and through our church is not done yet. It is when we place our confidence in Him that we become fruitful as a church.
Read: Hebrews 11:4-6
What describes a person of great faith? Belief in God’s miraculous power. Big dreams for God. Courage to attempt great feats for Him. Hebrews 11 highlights many people who displayed such inspiring characteristics. What we may not expect is that the Bible also presents us with a simple and grounded perspective at the start of Hebrews 11.
One of the first few faith heroes mentioned in Hebrews 11 is Enoch, widely considered to be a mysterious figure as not much is known about him. We are not told if he attempted great feats for God, had big dreams, or if he did any miraculous feats for God’s namesake. But what we know for certain from Genesis 5 is that Enoch “walked faithfully with God.” In fact, it was recorded that Enoch chose to relate intimately with God for a good 300 years! It was Enoch’s earnest pursuit of God throughout his entire life on Earth which earned him the commendation as a man of great faith, as a man who pleased God.
Behind the remarkable acts that outwardly demonstrate faith, faith stems from earnestly seeking after God. To seek Him in the quiet and in the chaos. In the mundane and in the hustle-bustle of life. Faith calls upon God, knowing that God is true and that He rewards those who pursue after His presence. Faith chooses God, day after day, in the long race of life. God sees this internal attitude of faith and God delights in our faith.
How would we describe our pursuit of God today? He is much more than a familiar stranger that we conveniently meet. Nor is he only a go-to for pragmatic help, answers, or direction. To earnestly seek Him is something we can all do. Enoch’s life invites us to see God as our great treasure, one we want to continually behold in wonder and to pursue. Shall we take time to pause and check out hearts? May God enable us to be people of faith who earnestly yearn after Him with all that we are and in all that we do.
Pray for yourself: Pray that you will faithfully and earnestly seek God in the good times and through trials, regardless of the people around you, confident that He will honour and reward you accordingly.
Pray for the church: Pray that as a church we will never stop seeking after Him and for His presence to be upon us, that we will not go anywhere unless He leads and goes with us.
Read: Hebrews 11:7-12
Most of us grow up learning to make rational and practical life decisions. We ought to look ahead at what is likely to happen, weigh the pros and cons of the options, and choose the path of least resistance. Then, our lives will be secure. Any decision that is deemed “risky”, or “doesn’t make sense” in the eyes of others are often frowned upon.
Such advice is generally helpful in a world filled with complex decisions. Yet, believers are called to “live by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). How could that work? Hebrews 11 depicts two examples of godly men who exercised faith and went beyond their visible circumstances because they had a revelation from God.
Noah was one of the first few people recorded in the Bible who acted upon a message he received from God. Genesis 6 describes how he took God at His word to build an ark, even though there was no visible sign of an impending flood. He chose to listen to God’s word, withstanding the ridicule from those around him. For his unwavering obedience to God, he was included in this “hall of fame” as a hero of faith.
Abraham responded in obedience to God’s call to venture into the unknown. Though God promised him an inheritance in Genesis 12, God did not reveal where he would be going. But God’s bidding was sufficient for Abraham. His faith to take God at His word would be rewarded as the promises of God would be fulfilled.
There will often be a tension between what we see and what the Word of God reveals to us. What are your tensions? Do we see and automatically take the visible, logical, safe choices? Or will we dare to listen to the Word of God as God speaks to us? Oswald Chambers said, “Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.” As we live by faith and not by sight, know the One who is leading us and be assured of His faithfulness and goodness to you.
Pray for yourself: Pray that you will obey His Word and the voice of Holy Spirit even when it does not seem the wisest or the most logical. Pray that you will grow in obedience even if there is no evident short term expected outcome. Pray that you will grow in conviction that His ways are higher than your ways and His thoughts are higher than your thoughts.
Pray for the church: Pray that we will grow in obedience to His leading even when it does not seem the most logical or when our resources are not sufficient. Pray that we will place our faith in Him to lead and provide even when there is no evident short term expected outcome
Read: Hebrews 11:13-16
If we have ever had hopes and aspirations, we would also know what the land “in between” feels like. The “in between” is the waiting for what we have been hoping for – an unrealised dream, the fruit of our labour, a restoration to normalcy. It could be a relationship we have always longed for, a baby years in the making, a clean bill of health, or growth in the ministry we have faithfully invested in.
Waiting tests us tremendously. We may compare with others or doubt ourselves. In our restlessness, we may lose heart, feel anxious, and even draw away from God. If given a choice, most of us would rather skip this “in between” and go straight to the point where we get our heart’s desires.
Today’s passage describes the enduring patience of the Patriarchs. They not only had a hope, they were eagerly awaiting to receive the things God had promised. Yet, they could only welcome them from a distance. They dealt with this “in between” by having faith, recognising that they were foreigners on earth. Instead of losing hope and turning back, they looked forward to the heavenly country they belonged to. They understood that whatever they could get in their lives on earth was transient.
It can be easy for us to lose sight of God and His eternal promises when we experience the longing for what we still desire. These “in between” moments are not only meant to be tolerated but are truly opportunities for God to prune and shape us in our faith. As the Patriarchs did, it is our opportunity to “set our minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).
Author Jeff Manion wrote, “Our response to God while in the land between is what will determine whether our journey through this desert will result in deep, positive growth or spiritual decline.” In our “in between,” ask God to open our spiritual eyes to perceive all that He is doing in and through us. Pray that He will enable us to hold loosely to the things of this world and to yearn for our heavenly country, our greatest hope.
Pray for yourself: Pray that you will stand firm in who God is and His promises when you are in the land of the “in-between,” in the time of waiting and refining in Christlikeness. Pray that you will set your mind on things above and not on earthly things. Pray that you will be convicted of your identity as a citizen of heaven – that heaven and not earth, is your home.
Pray for the church: Pray that we will spur one another on to build His church strong and fulfil His Great Commission while we are living this short transient life on earth, which is here today and gone tomorrow.
Read: Hebrews 11:17-22
Is there someone in your life whom you treasure for helping you during the early days of your faith? How did that person add to you? What kind of impact did he or she make in your life?
As we reflect upon these questions, we would be reminded of how grateful we are to this person pouring out his or her life and teaching us. Perhaps we may even realise that we have come to where we are today in Christ because we received the godly love and guidance of this individual.
In today’s passage, we see how Abraham became a model of faith to his son Isaac by obeying God’s instructions to sacrifice him. Without a doubt, this is difficult reading in our modern perspectives. At its heart, the passage describes how Abraham trusted in God’s promise of the next generations coming through Isaac. He had faith that God would make a way for Isaac to live. Indeed, Isaac was not sacrificed as God would provide a ram (Genesis 22:13-14).
The Bible records that Abraham’s descendants (Isaac, Jacob, Joseph) would come to display the same pattern of faith in God. While each generation was tested in different ways, they responded in faith, which likely inspired the next generation.
While faith technically cannot be “inherited,” we can see how a life that models faith influences the next generation. For the Patriarchs, the faith of Abraham eventually led to the formation of the nation of Israel, who became the blessed people of God.
For the parents among us, the best thing we can do for the young lives entrusted to us goes beyond meeting their physical and emotional needs. Rather, the most precious gift we can pass on is to model a life of faith, with the hope that one day our children will also choose to worship the Lord.
For all of us, take heart that God has placed us exactly where He wants us to be, to influence those around us as we live out our faith. Just as we have grown from the people who guided us in our Christian formative years, we can do the same for someone else by mentoring or discipling him or her. Living a life of faith consists not only in responding to God personally, but in passing it on.
Pray for yourself: Pray that you will live a life that desires to influence others to know Jesus and the full life He has created for us. Pray that you will love God and thus love those He has placed around you, for them to be drawn to His love.
Pray for the church: Pray that our church will continue to be far-sighted for His glory. That our church will continue to obey His Great Commission to keep building disciples of Jesus. Pray that His Word and Kingdom will continue to grow and bless the nations for generations. Pray for God’s hand upon our church leaders.
Read: Hebrews 11:23-28
Imagine you were born into a life of power, riches, and pleasure. Since you were little, you had enjoyed all forms of luxury, had servants to wait on you and had access to any material comfort you desired. As part of this family, you would grow up in a position of privilege, to the envy of the friends around you. One day, you are presented with a choice – to follow God who has called you to a different life, giving up the extravagant luxuries, or to stay where you are. What would you choose?
If given a choice, who wouldn’t choose a life of riches, comfort, and pleasure if it was served to us on a silver platter? The character in today’s passage went against all common sensibilities by abandoning his royal status, rejecting earthly comforts and pleasures of sin, and choosing to identify with God’s people who were slaves in Egypt. In doing so, he subjected himself to mistreatment and a loss of certainty in his future.
While Moses’ actions may seem like folly in the eyes of the world, it was a radical act of faith commended by the author of Hebrews. His faith would lead him to leave his royal family, to represent God’s people before Pharaoh, to face hostility with firm boldness. He acted on God’s instructions for the Passover by faith. He was able to do all these as he “was looking ahead to his reward” and persevered because “he saw Him (God) who is invisible.”
We live in world drawn towards visible and physical possessions, comfort, and security – things we would naturally gravitate towards in life. In contrast, Moses’ faith serves as an outstanding example for us – to embrace the invisible God and what He has in store for us. What are the temptations, or even good things, that could distract you from the very best thing that is following Jesus? As Moses did, our journey of faith will someday bring us to a crossroad – a time where we can recognise and put aside the temptations and allures that the world offers to follow Him.
Pray for yourself: Pray that you will not love the blessings from God more than Him who blesses you. Pray that you will keep His blessings in your hands and not your heart. Pray that you will be able to give generously for more to know Jesus – because God first gave to you all that you will ever need in Jesus.
Pray for the church: Pray that as a church we will always seek to be a blessing to the nation, the nations, and body-of-Christ when there are any needs that we can meet. Pray that when we become a vessel through which God’s blessings flow through, we will never be in lack.
Read: Hebrews 11:29-31
“There’s no way my parents would come to know the Lord.”
“It’s impossible for me to experience breakthrough in this area.”
“I don’t think I can be a full-time working parent and still serve God.”
As finite humans, we experience situations in our lives that seem impossible. These limitations can be very real and appear very daunting. We feel resigned whenever we contemplate these impossible situations and even come to accept that nothing more can be done.
The Israelites themselves faced impossible situations. The militarily superior Egyptian army were hot on their heels, and they had no means of escape with the Red Sea before them. In a later scene, they were instructed to conquer the city of Jerico by marching around the secure fortress with formidable walls. Despite how impossible those situations seemed at that time, the Israelites took God at His word. They had faith in God’s power and eventually had the experience of their lives. They walked on dry land to cross the Red Sea. They saw the walls of Jerico fall and gained victory without even fighting.
The God who brought about these miracles for the Israelites is the same God we worship. He is the God of power and He will accomplish His purposes in our lives. He is neither daunted nor limited by the seeming impossibilities we face. He is more than able to lead us to spiritual breakthroughs and to empower us for His work. As we witness His power, we recognise how it all points to God and His glory.
Choosing to have faith in God’s power does not mean that we flippantly dismiss the real limitations we face. It is also not about sweeping things under the carpet and claiming for a positive outcome. To have faith in God’s power to precisely to squarely face these realities, and in spite of them, believe that God can still accomplish His purposes.
What spiritual breakthrough are you counting on God for? As we believe in God’s limitless power and avail ourselves to be His vessels, He may very well give us the experience of our lifetime. We can bow in worship.
Pray for yourself: Pray that you will grow in faith in God who is omnipotent, in whom nothing is impossible. Pray that as you place your faith in God who loves and knows best, you will continue to have faith in God for the impossible, the miraculous, even through times of disappointment.
Pray for the church: Pray that as a church we will spur one another on in having faith for the impossible. To seek the Lord in any situation and obey Him in faith even when His call or vision seem impossible to man.
Read: Hebrews 11:32-38
God is good. He is powerful. God is in control. These are fundamental truths of the Christian faith that believers would celebrate and attest to. But when tragedy strikes, or when life throws us a curveball, we ask, “Why, God, why? If You are good, powerful and in control, why did this happen? Have I not put my faith in You?”
These doubts may resonate with many of us. We have personally wondered about them. Others have asked us similar questions. If this is so, today’s passage identifies and speaks to our hearts. It encourages us as it showcases that faith in God leads His people to experience great victories, but also does not exempt us from troubles in this life. Through it all, they are commended as faithful.
The text begins by celebrating six biblical figures across the era of the Judges and united monarchy of Israel, who by faith, performed mighty deeds. Their lives clearly display that in their faith, God can work miracles to deliver His people and send practical help in times of need. Interestingly, the author of Hebrews does not stop there. He shifts gears from positive results of faith to faith expressed during times of great trials.
The triumphant heroes displayed faith in God. On the other hand, the suffering heroes who did not receive deliverance were also examples of faith. Despite undergoing opposition and facing death, they did not waver in their commitment to God. In fact, they endured suffering in faith. They understood that faith in God does not guarantee comfort and security in this world. Instead, faith in God is rewarded ultimately in the “other world” – eternity with Christ.
On mountaintops, faith is expressed by trusting that victory alone comes from God. In valley lows, faith is expressed by believing that even if God appears silent, He is worth holding onto. Against all odds, faith sees that there is something better that God has prepared for us at the end. Ultimately, people of God who display true faith do so not only on mountaintops. They also endure in faith, through valley lows.
Pray for yourself: Pray that you will grow to place your faith in God and give Him thanks in all circumstances, whether on the mountains or in the valleys. Pray that your faith is rooted in eternity rather than the immediate.
Pray for the church: Pray that we will be a church that lives out a culture of thanksgiving in all circumstances, regardless of whether we are recognised or whether we are persecuted for our faith.
Read: Hebrews 11:39-40
“Worthy is your name, Jesus. You deserve the praise, worthy is your name.”
Worthy by Elevation Worship
For many, songs aptly allow us to express our heartfelt worship towards Jesus. Yet, such reverence can also coexist with struggles of faith. Even as we ascribe glory and worth to Jesus, we tackle real challenges of life. Is it worth it to hold onto biblical values like integrity even when it costs me? Is it worth it to continue faithfully reaching out to others though I face rejection? Is it worth it to serve God, even when I don’t see fruits? Real tensions exist in our lives.
As a fitting epilogue to Hebrews 11, the author highlights the legacy of these faith heroes. In their lifetime, they did not receive the ultimate fulfilment of God’s promise through Christ. Perhaps at one point in their lives, they may have also wondered whether it was worth it, especially during the tough times we read about. But the Bible tells us that because they kept the faith, they were commended by God. God saw their faith. God was pleased with their faith. God praised them for their faith.
While these faith heroes did not live to see the fruition of God’s promise in the Messiah, we as modern believers know and see God’s faithfulness through the coming, death and resurrection of Christ. God fulfils His promises! The faith of the ancients becomes an assurance for us – as they held on to God knowing that He will redeem and reward them in the future, we now walk in their steps, trusting that Christ is coming back again for us.
For those of us who wonder – Does God see? Is it worth it to keep my faith? Will it be in vain? When Christ comes back again, we will stand before His throne. On that glorious day when we meet Him face to face, our joy will be complete. Our faith will be rewarded. It is worth it. It will be worth it when we hear the commendation “well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Pray for yourself: Pray that you will grow in understanding of eternity and the day of judgement when we will stand before Jesus. Pray that your heart and mind will be fixed on Christ and the eternity with Him, to desire to live a life worthy of the lamb who was slain – Jesus.
Pray for the church: Pray that through us, God’s will of salvation and great commission will be done. Pray for God’s hand upon our local church as well as global churches – that we will make disciples of all nations.
Read: Hebrews 12:1-3
Running 42.195 kilometres is a staggering challenge for most of us. At the last leg of a marathon when runners are the weariest, how do they find the strength to finish the race? Some say the cheers of the side-line supporters energises them. Others highlight the importance of having your eyes fixed on the endpoint and prize. While we may not run sporting marathons, are these parallels for us in lasting and finishing the marathon of our Christian journey?
After detailing the great human examples of faith, the author of Hebrews describes the Christian faith as a race and exhorts his readers to press on. He presents the faith heroes as witnesses of God’s faithfulness – people we can look to as examples to stay the course. But as motivating as these models of faith may be, the author of Hebrews declares that Jesus is truly the ultimate example of faith that we fix our eyes on.
Jesus is the crowning example of trust in God. He endured the Cross, not with a passive resignation to death, but with an active hope towards the joy that will come after. His entire life was characterised by unquestioning faith in the Father, especially in the Garden of Gethsemane where He completely submitted Himself to the Father. In Jesus, we see a picture of perfect faith, one that inspires us to follow to last and finish our own race.
In times when we grow weary and find our faith waning, look to Jesus. In moments where we start to lose heart in our struggle against sin, look to Jesus. In seasons of trial which seems too long to bear, look to Jesus. Remember how He persevered in His journey to the Cross, how He trusted in the Father and how He firmly resolved to exchange His very life for ours. Our faith is rooted in Jesus and made complete in Jesus.
In the years to come, we may wonder once again – how do I finish strong and last till the end? Hebrews answers that question, again and again. The faith heroes cheer us on. Jesus has given His life. We are in the company of the faithful and God is not done with us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the perfect example of faith.
Pray for yourself: Pray that when you are weary and tired, you will run to God for strength and to be envisioned again by the life of Christ. Pray that you will grow in understanding of the love and suffering of Christ to fulfil the will of God – to exchange His life for yours and to reconcile your relationship with God. Pray that as you fix your eyes on Jesus, the perfecter of your faith, you will not grow weary and not lose heart in the fight against sin.
Pray for the church: Pray for your LG brothers and sisters-in-Christ, and fellow believers that God places on your heart. Pray for God’s favor, strength and grace upon them. Pray for their eyes to be fixed on Jesus, so that they will not grow weary or lose heart as they persevere on in following Christ.
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