Text: Hebrews 11:1-6 September 23, 2012
1) You need magic eyes: Julie¡¯s cousin brought a book of Magic Eye to a party. Images look like ordinary two-dimensional patterns, but viewed in a certain way, the flat image appears three-dimensional. Everyone in the party took turn trying to train their eyes to make the three-dimensional images pop out. But one in the group had trouble seeing the extra dimension. He had the book open, looking at it from all different angles, different direction and distances. Even though he couldn¡¯t see anything three-dimensional but kept trying because he believed that it was in there since many others had seen it.
2) No need of magic eyes: While I am impressed on his persistence in something unimportant, his tenacity in pursuit inspired me to relate to something far more important: our faith in the almighty God. There are people who stop search for God after few failed attempts and concluded that God is beyond their reach or he just doesn¡¯t care. During the years when the Israelis wandered in the wilderness and was at the brink of losing their faith in God, Moses assured them of God¡¯s promise: Those who seek God with all their heart and soul will find him. (Deut. 4:29) Hebrews 11:6 confirms that God rewards those who diligently seek Him.
THE ESSENTIALS OF FAITH: According to online dictionary, here are a few ways to define faith: a) A strong belief in a supernatural power that controls human destiny. b) Complete confidence or trust in a person or a plan. c) An institution to express belief in a divine being, and d) loyalty or allegiance to a course or a person.
1) Essential to survival: Through our life journey, there are people whom we need to have faith for us to survive: our parents and their good will; our environment of supplies and safety, people we depend on for our needs to live. If we don¡¯t have faith or confidence on the above, our basic needs of survival is in great jeopardy.
2) Essential to knowledge: When we go to school, we need to have faith in our teachers, books and all the information presented to us as we learn to know and to do things. That is why we need to make sure that the knowledge and information our teachers present to us are right, correct and truthful. Anytime we have doubt on them, our learning process or results are in jeopardy.
3) Essential to our soul: The soul here represents the total of heart, mind and emotion and the spirit. For anyone to live a complete life in body and soul, he need to have faith or confidence of God our heaven Father, to connect our souls with him through Jesus Christ. Man is more than a physical being; he is also a spiritual being. He needs to connect with God by faith to be complete.
4) Essential to normal life: If you can¡¯t trust the food at McDonald or the medicine from your pharmacist, or you can¡¯t trust the airline can fly you to your destination. If you can¡¯t trust the car you drive; the man or woman you married to or the company you work will be there at the end of the month to give you your paycheck, your normal life is impossible. To have faith or trust in some people, business or something is not an option but a must to have a normal life.
DIFFICULTIES TO TRUST:
1) We trust self more: From very early in our life, we trust our self more than trust anyone one else. When we want to cross a street, we want to go by ourselves instead of trusting our parents to lead us. When we eat as a child, we love to use our own hands and fingers and make a mess more than being fed by others with spoons. This may be good to build self-confidence and training, but it is the spirit of ¡°I want do it myself.¡±
2) Pride blocks trust: Some people don¡¯t want to trust anything of their life to others because to them that means they can¡¯t do it better by themselves and that is a no, no. Pride can be a problem to put our trust on others because it admits our inadequacy.
3) Culture of society: If you live in a society in which dishonesty is rampant and seen as a norm, trusting others would be seen as naive at best or plain stupid at worst. There are countries, societies and cultures that have no respect of honesty or trustworthy, you just can put your well being in the hands of anyone. When you can never be sure of the quality of things your buy, the price you pay, the word or promises others make, or the words of the law in the land, you just won¡¯t trust anyone of anything.
4) Personal bad experience: Trust or faith is not something you can demand but need to earn through experience. It is difficult if not impossible to trust anyone if you have been cheated once and again. This is the most common reason some people will never trust others. Most of us can relate to this personally. This is true in marriage, friendship, business deals and other interpersonal relationship. Once you have lost trust in people, it is very hard to forget the painful experience.
PROPER WAYS TO BUILD FAITH: (Hebrews 11:1-6)
1) The meaning of faith: ¡°Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.¡± (11:1) ¡°Being sure¡± or ¡°substance¡± is from Greek hupostasis it means assurance, a title deed or guarantee to some estate or property. This biblical definition is very different from human experience. Human definition of faith has very little base on ¡°hope¡±, but the Bible defines faith of God¡¯s children as something not empty hope or wish, but with solid guarantee like a title deed to a property. This is why non-Christians can never understand why we can have so much confidence in our faith in God. When we talk about faith, we are not talking wishy-washy empty hope or a wish but something is there, guaranteed and deeded.
2) The witnesses of faith: ¡°This is what the ancient people were commanded for.¡± (11:2) ¡°Ancient people or men¡± who had faith in God were listed in this chapter as witnesses of the confidence or guarantee of ¡°that they hope for but did not see.¡± Throughout the Bible and the 2,000 plus years of Christian history, the faith God¡¯s people had built a solid proof on the validity of faith in God. The guarantee of faith in God didn¡¯t just happen to a few special people, the elites, it has been and still is going strong to all who can and will put their trust in the almighty God.
3) The evidence of faith: ¡°By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible.¡± (11:3) God wants us to see a few proofs that building faith in Him is not just wise but also logical. First, God wants us to see his creation and all the beauty and magic in it. ¡°Worlds¡± here means all the things God has created. Paul explained the importance of faith in God through creation in Romans 1:19-20, ¡°Since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them (the unbelievers). From the creation of the world his in-visible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.¡± Throughout the history of man, there were many investigations, speculations, theories by scientists, philosophers and anthropologists on the origins of the universe, but nothing has brought a consensus of any kind, including the most recent one, the evolution theory. If one truly wants to build his faith in God, the best starting point is from God¡¯s creation of the universe, the human body, etc.
4) The examples of faith: ¡°By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did¡By faith, Enoch was taken away so that he did not experience death.¡± (11:4-5)The main reason Abel and his sacrifice were accepted by God is not the kind of sacrifice, but the kind of his faith and life, better than that of Cain. (Gen. 4:7) The fact that Enoch was taken by God without experienced death was because he ¡°walked with God 300 years.¡± (Gen 5:24) Walking with God means trusting God, being obedient to God and faithful in following God. Both Abel and Enoch are worthy examples of people of faith in God and the rewards God bestowed on them and they deserve to be our examples of faith.
5) The rewards of faith: ¡°Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to God must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.¡± (11:6) Here God promised two kinds of reward He will award to those who have faith in Him: First, God is happy with him, he is pleased. While believers of other religions never have any assurance of making their gods happy by offering their sacrifices of devotion and material possessions, our God only asks us to believe in Him to make him happy with us. Then when we approach Him in good faith, God promise to reward us. No one may imagine how and what will God reward those who have strong faith in Him. To receive God¡¯s reward is not by working hard in human things, but by trusting God; believe in His existence and grace.
1) No need of magic eyes: You may need magic eyes to see some funny pictures in 3-D effect. But you don¡¯t need any magic eyes to see God and His blessings through faith. To believe in God is not anything of wishy-washy, but an act on solid ground----because he is God, he created the universe; he rewards those who believe in him in this life and the life to come.
2) Where do you put your faith? Although we all have to believe someone or something in our life time, who or what is the best object of your trust or faith? Do not put your faith in human being, worldly objects, or anything of this world, they won¡¯t get you anywhere. You may end up in dead end without guarantee of rewards. Turn your faith to Jesus, make him the Savior and Lord of your life, and see how He is going to make your life amazingly different.