Faith is paramount to the Christian life. The Bible offers a clear definition. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) Pressing in to this verse, we see what faith is not. It is not wishful thinking. It is not hoping things will simply work out. It is not a risk or a wager. Instead, it is confidence. It is conviction. It is believing and standing on the promises of God. It is assurance about things we cannot see. Now more than ever, faith will help us navigate these troubling times. As believers, we have the awesome opportunity to be the “light of the world, like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” People are afraid. Some are losing hope. It is time to stand firm and have faith in what The Bible says.
The 11th Chapter of the Book of Hebrews lists some of the great heroes of faith from the Old Testament. One by one these ordinary people teach us how to obey and overcome, to persevere and trust. Reading through their experiences we find great trials and suffering, persecution and discouragement. We also find victories and triumphs, blessings and favor.
What these heroes discovered and what encourages and motivates us today is what we learn from Hebrews 11:6 (NLT), “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”
Over the next three days, we will look closely at this verse and uncover what it means to please God through faith. We will ask ourselves what we really want when we come to Him. We will clarify what we believe and determine what we need to increase our belief. We will discuss what it means for God to reward us. Are there immediate awards? Long term awards? What does that look like?
Let’s drill down on the words in Hebrews 11:6. First, “Anyone who wants to come to Him…” may seem obvious as in who wouldn’t want to come to Him. But dialing in a bit, what do we want when we come to Him? Are we interested in gifts or our Giver? We learn from Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians that God will “supply all our needs from His glorious riches which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (NLT) Do we want comfort and rest? We are facing one of the most difficult times. The Novel Coronavirus has wreaked havoc on our unprepared world. We are told to stay in our homes. We are frightened as we watch the news. The number of new potentially deadly respiratory disease COVID-19 cases rapidly rise every hour. How do we respond? Jesus encouraged us to come to Him when we need rest, refreshment or recover our strength. “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NLT)
Do we want a closer relationship? Do we want assurance we are not alone? Moses reminds us that God will never leave us. “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT).
What do I want when I come to Him? I know I want to know Him better. I want to hear from Him. I want to know my friends, family and community will be ok. I want to talk to Him and seek His wisdom. I want to trust Him with my life, my family, my work and my community! I want to know He loves me and is for me.
To have this kind of relationship takes time, energy, sacrifice and faith. I have learned it means spending time in His word. It means taking time to sit in His presence and talk to Him, and equally important, listen to Him. It means silencing the voice of the enemy in my head that causes fear and anxiety. It means reading His word and believing His promises.
Have you thought about what you actually want when you come to your Heavenly Father? Is it reassurance? Is it a closer relationship? Is it something physical like a job or a home? Is it wisdom to handle our current situation?
Describe your experience with “the faith that pleases God.” How has your faith helped you to overcome or persevere during this world-wide health crisis?
Next, the verse says we“…must believe that God exists….” The writer of Hebrews is clear. He says it is impossible to please God without faith. He says anyone who wants to come to God must believe He exists. The dictionary actually has two meanings for the word “believe.” One is “accept something as true,” and the other is “hold something as an opinion; think or suppose.”
We can be sure the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews was referring to the first definition in this verse. Accept as true that God exists. The writer begins his letter to the wavering Jewish believers with “the Son (Jesus Christ) radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command.” Hebrews 1:3 (NLT)
And if we accept as true that God exists, we can accept as true, His promises. He will never leave us or forsake us. He has a plan and a purpose for our lives. He is not surprised or alarmed at the Coronavirus epidemic. He is the King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords, and His word will be a lamp to guide our feet and a light for our path! Deuteronomy 31:6, Jeremiah 29:11, Revelation 19:16, Psalm 119:105 (NLT)
Life is filled with uncertainty. Our current climate is one of discord, disillusionment and division. As a follower of Christ, I want my life to look different because I believe! I want to be filled with the inexpressible joy Peter talks about! “You love Him even though You have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, You trust Him; and You rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.” 1 Peter 1:8 (NLT)
Our time now is not unlike the chaos faced by the early Jewish believers who the Epistle to the Hebrews was directed. We can be encouraged! Read Hebrews 12:12-13 (NLT), “So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak, and lame will not fall but become strong.”
How can you reflect this posture?
Hebrews 12: 15 (NLT) says, Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”
Describe a time you rejected the root of bitterness and showed someone grace. How does this verse encourage you?
The final part of the verse says, “He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” I love to be rewarded. Don’t we all? I know from Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages that my love language is “words of affirmation.” So, my husband has it easy. A reward for me is, “Good job!” Whether I prepare a nice dinner or clean out the attic, all I really need is an “atta girl!”
In Hebrews 11:6, the “reward” is not revealed. We don’t know if it is a reward we will receive immediately, down the road or in Heaven. We don’t know if it will be kind words or a gift. We only know His promise: if we “sincerely seek” Him, He will reward us.
A reward can come in many shapes and sizes. Most rewards are the return on an investment of time, hard work and perseverance. An athlete trains for a race. A doctoral candidate researches a dissertation. And a Bible student searches and studies the Scriptures.
For the Bible student, God’s promise is clear. “He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”
Our ultimate reward is our faith in knowing our Heavenly Father. It comes from wanting to come to Him and believing He exists. Our reward produces a faith which is “the confidence that what we hope for all actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) And we know we cannot please God without faith!
The more time we spend seeking God, studying His word, praying and virtually assembling and worshipping with other believers, the more our relationship grows. From Him we receive grace and love, comfort and wisdom.
Psalm 58:11 (NLT), “Then at last everyone will say, ‘There truly is a reward for those who live for God….’”
Read Hebrews 11:6 (NLT), “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”
How has your faith comforted you during the current health crisis facing our world? How have you encouraged those around you? How have you encouraged yourself?
What does “rewards” in this verse mean to you?
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
FOX News Spirited Debate | Conservatives unhappy with religious liberty exec. order?
May 18, 2017
Joy In Our Town: Interview with Sue Fitzgerald
October 19, 2016
FOX News Spirited Debate | Could Texas bill deny adoption with religious objections?