Summary: Faith is marked by a paradox. Sometimes we appear to lose in order to win!

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Two Faces of Faith - the Crown and the Cross

Text: Hebrews 11: 13, 32-40; 12: 1-3

What an inspiration to faith we’ve found in this 11th chapter of Hebrews! It’s one of the great passages of the Bible, worthy of a commitment to study and meditation. I hope you that the Word has fired up your faith. In these messages we’ve met --

∙ Abel whose faith caused him to offer a pleasing sacrifice to God.,

∙ Noah whose faith led him to believe God’s command and to build an ark which saved his family,

∙ Abraham, the father of the faithful, who clung to the promises of God when impossibilities were all that he could see on life’s horizon,

∙ Moses, whose faith led him to seek the eternal treasures of heaven without a single glance backwards at the treasures of Egypt where he had been a prince!

In the great stories of the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction Jericho, we learned that God led His people into places where all they could do was look up... and see His deliverance. And when they responded in faith, they saw God working mighty miracles on their behalf. My prayer that is you have looked up often this week.

The greatest evidence of a living faith is an ongoing dialogue with God. IF we love and trust Him, we will inevitably share our lives and needs with Him. IF faith is just a concept, a novel idea to us, we will have to be reminded and prompted to prayer and praise. Have you turned to Him often this week, praying as naturally as you breathe? By that measure, are you a person of faith?

In our final message on faith, we come to the paradox of faith – that which seems to find no response from heaven. In the text that we will read in a moment, we learn that there were people of great faith whose prayers for deliverance were not met with a spectacular miracle. It’s easy to trust God when the sea is parting, when the walls are falling, when His voice is clearly coming through to our spirit. But what about those days when He falls silent?

We can all identify with the Psalmist who wrote of God’s wonderful acts for others but who wonders where God is at the present. He, in a time of spiritual agony, cries... Psalm 44

We have heard with our ears, O God; our fathers have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago.

2 With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our fathers; you crushed the peoples and made our fathers flourish.

. . . 9 But now you have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies. 10 You made us retreat before the enemy,

and our adversaries have plundered us. 11 You gave us up to be devoured like sheep and have scattered us among the nations.

. . .17 All this happened to us, though we had not forgotten you or been false to your covenant. 18 Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path. 19 But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals and covered us over with deep darkness. 20 If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, 21 would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart? 22 Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

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