1. How are you struggling today with the comforts and pleasures offered by the world? How does this passage help you be more willing to give them up?
2. What challenges do you face today where God is asking you to believe when it doesn’t make sense? How does this passage motivate you to press on in faith?
3. Do you think you are ready if serious suffering comes your way? What can you do today to help you be prepared to suffer?
Scripture: Hebrews 11:23-40
I. You have faith if you value Jesus more than you value the world.
A. In Hebrews 11:23-28 we read about the faith of Moses and his parents. Egypt was the wealthiest nation on earth in Moses’ day. As Pharaoh’s adopted grandson, Moses had access to prestige, status and incredible wealth. Moses had everything that the world said you should want. But even though Moses had it all, what did Moses do? Moses said no to the world by faith. Moses believed that the pleasures of this world are fleeting (vs. 25). Moses suffered the same rejection that Jesus the Christ suffered (vs. 26). Moses believed that if we choose to suffer with Christ, we have more pleasure than can be found anywhere in the world. Luke 17:33: “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”
II. You have faith if you believe when things don’t make sense.
A. In verses 29 to 31 we see three examples of God asking His people to do things which make no sense to us whatsoever. First, when Moses eventually led the Israelites out of Egypt, where did God lead the people? Verse 29 says that he led Israel to a dead-end at the Red Sea. Joshua and the people of Israel had faith, they obeyed God’s command, and they defeated the city of Jericho by marching around it for 7 days (vs. 30). Rahab was from Jericho but she bet her life on the fact that Israel would defeat Jericho (vs. 31). When we trust God in doing what makes no sense to us, God gets the glory. He gets the glory as the wise king who will do good for His children even when we don’t understand what He is doing.
III. You have faith if you see God do mighty things through you.
A. In vs. 32 through 34 we read about people who accomplished miracles by God’s power. Most of the people listed in verse 32 won great victories in battle. These weak and sinful people trusted God, and they saw God do great things as a result. Don’t think that you have to be perfect to be a person of faith. None of the people in Hebrews 11 were perfect. And yet, because they trusted God, God did incredible things through them. I have faith if I do good works – sometimes even mighty works – that flow naturally flow from a heart that trusts God. After we trust that Christ died for our sins, what do we understand? We understand James 2:26: “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”
IV. You have faith if you suffer well for God’s sake.
A. Most Christians love the stories of faith in vs. 32-34. But then we get to verse 35, and we read about a different kind of faith. We read about a faith in vs. 35-38 that suffers well for Jesus. If you are suffering today, don’t think that means that you don’t have faith. Don’t believe the lie that Christians are people who should be living your best life now. It is wrong to believe that Christians don’t suffer because it directly contradicts what Jesus said in John 15:20: “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” If you are following Jesus in faith, then you are going to endure the same suffering that Jesus endured.
Which of these four marks of faith do I need to see more in my life? Pray about seeing that mark.
The letter to the Hebrews
Commentaries on Hebrews by Thomas Schreiner and Raymond Brown
Bible study by Michael Kruger