Things Hoped For

If you were asked to name 2 of the most influential people you believe have impacted our world, it wouldn’t be hard to choose more than 2.  But what about all those stories that aren’t so well known of people who had a greater impact not just for those around them, but of generations who followed?

Many people, if not most of us, want to impact those around us and lot of us who are Christians do things because we want to please God.

I can’t say how God views many of the ‘greats’, those who’ve impacted so many lives, some, such as Billy Graham or even Ravi Zacharius who’ve literally impacted hundreds of thousands.  But I can imagine that since they have glorified the Lord in their service, God is pleased.

But is it our service, or giving, doing that really pleases God?  Well, yes, those things are good and God can use these things that we do to do mighty things, but even the things that we do, we have to have a little something called Faith to do them.

Most of us know the Biblical definition of faith from Hebrews 11:1~ “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen

To have a complete trust and confidence is faith.  The book of Hebrews is one of my favorites because it talks about all the faithful throughout history.

I wonder when I look at some of the people in the Bible, if God considers ‘modern day’ folks as He did some of them.  For instance, Noah walked with God. One doesn’t just walk with the Lord unless they hear God first.  Remember though Jesus’s Words  My sheep hear my voice… And now remember Mary at the tomb that early morning?  She didn’t recognize Jesus until He spoke her name, and then she recognized His voice.

Abraham (Abram) too heard God’s voice. How many times did he answer, Here am I Lord…?  Abraham was also called friend of God.  Enoch walked with God, then God took him to heaven. Moses saw God and was also a friend. God Himself buried Moses when he died.
David was a man after God’s own heart, and a friend.

What did all of these and more have in common?  Faith

But faith in God is one thing, to follow Him without seeing, and without knowing is another thing all together. Faith in action is built on God’s Word and comes down to obedience.  “Here am I Lord

Faith is trusting completely that God’s promises are waiting for us in His timing, whether we see them or not in this life.

Hebrews 11 reminds us in verses 13-16 that,

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Not all of those great men (and women) of God saw His promises in their life times. Moses never got to the promised land, although God did allow him to look upon it from the mountain top.  Consider Abraham, a gentile called by God out of Chaldea (ancient enemies to Israel) was the Father of the Jewish people. There were no Jews before Abraham, and yet Abraham never found a permanent home place either.

God doesn’t promise those who follow Him a perfect life on earth, although He provides abundantly, life isn’t always going to be easy and full of prosperity and happiness.  Something Daisy and I were talking about not too long ago, which I’ve also talked about with some others lately, was brought to mind by something lawngren posted in a comment last week.

It seems lately that more people we know are going through so much at a time, we all know many people who are suffering or diagnosed with illness and disease, losing loved ones and being hit financially among other issues.  It’s not that no one has dealt with things like these, but is it just a few of us, or do others see a dramatic uptick in trials?  Our prayers and petitions are getting longer, even when prayers are answered for some, a few more are immediately added.

Lawngren’s comment was interesting as he was talking about the ‘cloud of witnesses’ cheering us on when we do what’s right, even when it’s inconvenient or hard:

The holy angels and the Trinity are watching us too. And I believe they do cheer when we do right. Especially when it’s hard for us to do right. When we are living our own version of “the Impossible Dream”. “To try when your arms are too weary to reach the unreachable star…”  The harder it is, the louder they cheer when we refuse to quit.

I think this almost falls more into exercising faith rather than doing right.  I think that faith pleases God more than anything, because it means we trust Him through the unknown, the pain, grief, hard and trying times and persecution.  It means we believe His Word when He promises those who overcome will spend eternity with Him.

One major example of times of suffering comes from Job in the Old Testament, when through everything, losses, sickness, pain and suffering he still proclaimed, I know my redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand on the earth.

Another major example is the Apostle Paul, who in his last message to Timothy reminded his young protege,

 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Things are getting hard and will get harder as this world heads towards the end of this age.  Things will come on faster and more fierce, as Jesus reminded the disciples, comparing events to birth pangs.  Contractions start off mild and with a longer time between, but as the time draws close, they come one on top of the other with an increase of pain.  It’s important that we hold fast to our faith, even especially when it’s hard to ‘see’ God or even hear Him.   When we want to just say enough, and drop to the ground in defeat, remember those faithful who kept going, who were counted righteous before God and called friends.

Blessed are they who have not seen yet have believed.

Refuse to quit.

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