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Summary: Looking beyond our failures, and stepping into the blessings.

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GOOD BEGINNINGS, MIDWAY FAILURES, FINAL TRIUMPHS

Hebrews 11:8-16

Sometimes when we look at our Christian walk and life all we can see are our failures. Healthy self-examination all too easily declines into unhealthy introspection. It is good to be reassured that God views us not as we see ourselves, but as we are in Christ Jesus.

None of the heroes of the faith was perfect. Between the promise of a son to Abraham and the birth of Isaac there was the episode with Hagar (Genesis 16:1-6). Yet God’s final word on Abraham and Sarah was “through faith” (Hebrews 11:11).

Abraham stepped out in faith by obeying the call of God (Hebrews 11:8). The “father of all those who believe” (Romans 4:11) left his home and his kindred to go to a land which he did not know and had not seen. There he received no inheritance, but dwelt in tents with his offspring (Hebrews 11:9), trusting in the promise of something better beyond (Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:13-16).

Abraham’s physical descendants (Hebrews 11:12) were not without their faults. They were delivered from a 400 year affliction (Genesis 15:13-16) by “a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm” (Psalm 136:12), but soon turned aside to serve other gods (Exodus 32:7-8). Fear soon replaces faith when we take our eyes off the One who has begun a good work within us, and who is well able to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion (Philippians 1:6).

The twelve spies sent out by Moses (Numbers 13:17-25) retraced the footsteps of Abraham (Genesis 13:14-18). It is a pity that ten of the twelve did not share in the faith of Abraham, and discouraged the people (Numbers 13:31-14:4). It is easier to take stock of the giants we need to confront than to count our blessings, being intimidated by walled cities instead of putting our trust in the God who has helped us hitherto (1 Samuel 7:12).

In his excellent application of Psalm 95, the writer to the Hebrews (Hebrews 3:12-19) exhorts his Christian readers to remain steadfast in the faith. Moses’ generation failed to enter into God’s rest, and according to the Apostle Paul, they stand as an example of how NOT to proceed in our Christian walk and life (1 Corinthians 10:9-12). It remained for Joshua’s generation to step into the fullness of the promise (Joshua 1:3), as it remains for us to step into the fullness of blessings in Christ Jesus for which our predecessors prayed on our behalf.


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