Faith in, and towards God, is what makes real, the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see. It is the assurance…in God that He heard us ask, and that He already answered and that they will become visible!
God was pleased with the people who lived a long time ago because they had faith like this.
Faith helps us understand that God created the whole world by his command. This means that the things we see were made by something that cannot be seen.
Cain and Abel both offered sacrifices to God. But Abel offered a better sacrifice to God because he had faith. God said he was pleased with what Abel offered, so God called him a good man because he had faith. Abel died, but through his faith he is still speaking.
Enoch was carried away from this earth, so he never died. The Scriptures tell us that before he was carried off, he was a man who pleased God. Later, no one knew where he was, because God had taken Enoch to be with him. This all happened because he had faith. Without faith no one can please God. Whoever comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who sincerely try to find him.
Noah was warned by God about things that he could not yet see. But he had faith and respect for God, so he built a large boat to save his family. With his faith, Noah showed that the world was wrong; and he became one of those who are made right with God through faith.
God called Abraham to travel to another place that he promised to give him. Abraham did not know where that other place was, but he obeyed God and started traveling because he had faith. Abraham lived in the country that God promised to give him. He lived there like a visitor who did not belong. He did this because he had faith. He lived in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who also received the same promise from God.
Sarah was not able to have children, and Abraham was too old. But he had faith in God, trusting him to do what he promised; and so God made them able to have children. Abraham was so old he was almost dead. But from that one man came as many descendants as there are stars in the sky. So many people came from him that they are like grains of sand on the seashore.
All these great people continued living with faith until they died.
God tested Abraham’s faith. God told him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham obeyed because he had faith. He already had the promises from God. God had already said to him, “It is through Isaac that your descendants will come.” But Abraham was ready to offer his only son. He did this because he had faith. He believed that God could raise people from death!
The mother and father of Moses hid him for three months after he was born. They did this because they had faith. They saw that Moses was a beautiful baby, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s order. Moses grew up and became a man. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose not to enjoy the pleasures of sin that lasts… such a short time. Instead, he chose to suffer with God’s people. He did this because he had faith.
God’s people all walked through the Red Sea as if it were dry land. They were able to do this because they had faith. But when the Egyptians tried to follow them, they were drowned.
The walls of Jericho fell because of the faith of God’s people. They marched around the walls for seven days, and then the walls fell.
Rahab, a prostitute, welcomed the Israelite spies like friends. And because of her faith, she was not killed with the ones who refused to obey.
Do I need to give you more examples? There’s Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets!
All of them had great faith; and with that faith they defeated kingdoms! They did what was right, and God helped them in the ways he promised. With their faith, some people even closed the mouths of lions; and some were able to stop blazing fires! Others escaped from being killed with swords. Some who were weak were made strong! They became powerful in battle and defeated other armies. There were women who lost loved ones but got them back when they were raised from death!
Some were laughed at and beaten. Others were tied up and put in prison. They were killed with stones. They were cut in half. They were killed with swords. They were poor, persecuted, and treated badly by others. God however, was pleased with all of them because of their faith.
Faith Has to Directs Our Lives
Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us! We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up! We must focus on Jesus, the anointed one, the source and goal of our faith.
Think about Jesus, who endured opposition from sinners, so that you don’t become tired and give up. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God!
Discipline in a Long-Distance Race
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it! He never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever, and now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God!
When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that account of Jesus’ walk on this earth; item by item, that long and repetitious list of hostilities, he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!