Sermons

Summary: A New Year’s message, encouraging us to live in faith in the new year!

Hebrews 11:1-6 – “Faith for 2007”

By James Galbraith

First Baptist Church, Port Alberni

December 31, 2006

Text

11 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Introduction

I simply have to start the year off by sharing with you my favourite New Year’s cartoons…

(share Calvin and Hobbes strips)

Sometimes Calvin is closer to my thoughts than I like to admit.

Now onto more serious pursuits…

Faith

No matter what resolution you may have made,

or if you do not bother with resolutions at all,

there is one thing that I know you need this year.

Not only you, but me too,

and everyone else in this room, neighbour, city, province, nation and world.

Faith

- not just faith for faith’s sake – just because you believe something does not make true!

- you can believe that red means go all you want, but if you live that out,

you won’t live for long, and you’ll probably take others out with you

- faith in God as the Creator, Sustainer, and Judge of this world

- faith in Christ as the crucified Saviour and risen Lord of all who believe

- faith in the Holy Spirit as our connection with God,

our guide and protector, the giver of our strength

Faith in our passage is described so well as:

“being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”

Sure of what we hope for

- we hope for God’s promise to come to fruit, knowing that God keeps his word

- we hope for God’s love, knowing that he gives it unconditionally

- we hope for daily bread, knowing that God can give it

Certain of what we do not see

- we have not seen Jesus, but we are certain that he is real, and that he loves us

- we have not seen Heaven, but we are certain that God is preparing it for us

- we have not seen our lives end, but we are certain that in God’s hands we’ll be okay

That said, faith shows itself in many ways,

This chapter passage gives us many examples of faith in God at work,

Two of which I’ve already read:

Abel’s faith

- trusted God from the beginning

- as one of only three people in world for a while,

he had a pretty unique perspective on God!

- thought of as righteous because he makes an acceptable offering to God

- when it was time to make an offering, as a shepherd,

he offers up one of his prize animals

- while his brother Cain, as a farmer, offers up some of his produce

- nothing wrong with Cain’s offering, but God prefers Abel’s, and instead of trading some of his produce to make an offering God wanted, Cain slays Abel in a jealous rage.

Now what a minute – How did God reward Abel for faith? His own brother killed him!

Faith does not make life easy and care free;

rather it keeps us going in good times and bad.

Abel suffered because of something he did in faith,

God did not prevent his death, but he kept Abel’s soul and punished Cain for his sin.

When you here people telling you that to be healed/rich/specially blessed,

you just need to have faith, they are wrong.

They are misrepresenting God’s promises to fit their own desires.

Faith means sticking with God even when it doesn’t seem to “pay off”,

because you know that he has your best interests at heart,

because you know that he is more real than anything else,

and that he will see you through hard times.

Jesus didn’t ask for healing or a special miracle on the cross,

he endured it in faith, knowing that he needed to suffer through it.

Faith in God doesn’t take grief or hardship out of our life, but it helps us through it.

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