God has said that without faith it is impossible to please Him. If I do not have a full understanding of what faith is, how can I hope to please Him? Faith is something He wants me to have; He would not desire that I have something that He will not provide if I yield myself totally to receive what He has to give.
That is the difficult part; setting aside the sin that so easily encompass me; mostly the sin of unbelief. Not unbelief in Him, but unbelief that He will do for me what He has done for others. The enemy says I am different; I sinned away my day of grace - I will not get answers to my petitions for I am inferior or not accepted in the Beloved - or the sins I inherited hold me back from a full understanding of Him. And on and on...
But the Spirit of God softly speaks that He is no respecter of persons. What He does for one He will do for another. He has a sea called Forgetfulness into which He casts our sins, both present and long past. The sea is named Forgetfulness! Why do I get my fishing gear at times and go-a-fishing for something in the past? What foolishness!
I know that over the past several weeks God has led me to an author named Matthew Henry. I have read and studied his thoughts on Hebrews 11 and 12:1,2. The reason I love this man's opinion so much is that he wrote in the 1600's when Britain was in great turmoil both politically and religiously; as are we today in the United States. The Church in Britain in his day was demanding that minister's swear allegiance to the Church of England; the state church. There were those who did so, and there were some who rebelled and refused. It had gotten so bad that ministers were being forced to choose sides or suffer the consequences. Matthew Henry refused; concentrating only on his studies. He tried to minister to both sides.
No electricity, radio, television, or Internet. Neighbors were miles away. True fellowship and friends were real and to be cherished. No drive through restaurants or diners, no cars or public transportation, no airlines, air conditioning and heat. No distractions! Only the Word of God and interpretation as the Spirit led. I think in this atmosphere a human being is much more receptive to hearing the Spirit; a place of solitude and quietness. The Prophets and Christ Himself are witness to this. They could hear the "still small Voice".
Here are the thoughts that ministered to me. Some of them I pondered for days at a time. Just one thought would minister to me and I could go no further for awhile before I could entertain taking on another thought before working it out in my spirit. I will put the thoughts in bullet form: Enjoy!!
* And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith Abraham believed God and it was imputed to him for righteousness; he was called the friend of God. Believed means - persuasion - conviction - reliance - to put trust with.
* The just shall live by his faith. This means - a firmness - security - that God is the great I AM. If this is settled in our soul, God calls this the righteousness of faith. (Romans 4:13)
* Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) For by it (faith) the elders received a good report. ( this passage has always confused me. The Spirit has spoken to my spirit thus to open this fact up to me- MATTHEW HENRY said - Faith demonstrates to the eye of the mind the reality of those things that cannot be discerned by the eye of the body. It is a spiritual exercise.
* We have a natural eye where we see with our body, but we also possess a spiritual eye that sees into the spiritual aspects of our existence. The eye of our spirit. This is where faith lives, grows, thrives and minister's to God.
* Faith is a firm persuasion and expectation that God will perform all that He has promised us in Christ. Am I in Christ? Yes, by faith I am. So the promises of God are here for me as I trust that God will do what He says He will do. Learning the ways and desires of God through study of Scripture in of utmost importance.
* This persuasion (conviction) should be so strong that it gives the soul a kind of possession and present fruition of those things. It gives us a subsistence in the soul, by the first fruits and foretastes of them.
* Christ dwells in our soul be faith.
* Faith sets to its soul the seal that God is true.
* Faith is designed to serve the Believer instead of our sight, and to be to the soul all that the senses are to the body.
* One of the first articles of faith is that God by His Word created the worlds not out of matter that already was in existence, but out of matter that He spoke into being and created from nothing!
* God, who creates and calls things that are not, as though they were, and He calls them into being.
* Those that come to God must believe (faith) that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
* Acceptance with God is a peculiar and distinguishing favor. For example; Adam's son Cain was the elder brother, but with God, Abel had preference over Cain. It is not seniority of birth, but grace that makes men and women truly honorable. ( I also think of Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau...)
* It is owing to the sovereign free grace of God that in the same family one is taken and another left, one loved and the other hated.
* Those who walk by faith walk with God in a sinful world and are pleasing to Him, and He will give them marks of His favor, and put honor upon them.
* Good examples will either convert sinners or condemn them. There is something very convincing in a life of strict holiness and regard to God.
* The trials of faith often occur when we are in the imperfection of our present state. (This is how growth in our faith occurs. )
* Faith has a strong eye - it can see promises from afar off.
* Faith sets its seal that God is true; and thereby settles and satisfies the soul.
* Those mentioned in Hebrews 11 - ( i.e. Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Joseph, Jacob, etc) embraced the promises - made the promises present and loved them - faith has a long arm.
* The supports of Abraham's faith must be very great, suitable to the greatness of the trial. For example, Abraham accounted that God was able to raise Isaac up from the dead after he was offered as a sacrifice. He had to settle this into his mind.
* His faith was supported by the sense he had of the mighty power of God. He reasoned thus with himself and so he resolved all of his doubts. It is our duty to be reasoning down our doubts and fears, by the consideration of the Almighty power of God.
* Moses forsook Egypt (the world) by faith; not fearing the wrath of the king. Moses endured as seeing Him that was invisible. He bore up with invincible courage under all danger; and endured all the fatigue of his employment, which was very great.
* Moses did this by seeing the invisible God! The God with which we have to do is an invisible God - He is invisible to the senses; to the eye of the body. The things of God are spiritually observed. By faith we may see the invisible God!
* We may be fully assured of His existence, His providence and of His gracious and powerful Presence with us. Such sight will enable Believers to endure to the end.
* The grace of faith ( a gift from Christ, He gives as He sees fit) will help us through all the dangers we meet with in our way to heaven.
* God loves to do things, great things, by small and contemptible means, that His own arm may be made bare.
* When God has some great thing to do for His people - He will raise up great and strong faith in them.
* Our race must be run with patience and perseverance. There will be need of patience to encounter the difficulties that lie in our way, of perseverance to resist all temptations to desist or turn aside.
* Faith and Patience are the conquering graces; and therefore must be always cultivated and used in lively exercise.
* How? Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith ( Hebrews 12:2)
* People were continually contradicting Jesus and crossing upon His great designs; and though He could have easily both confuted and confounded them, and He sometimes gave them a specimen of His great power, yet He endured their evil manners with great patience.
I would like to wrap my study up with this beautiful poem also in Matthew Henry's commentary on Hebrews 11. It give a very apt picture of what our mindset should be. May it remain in my spirit and soul unto the great and glorious day of His return!
" They are strangers, as saints, whose home is Heaven;
they are pilgrims as they are traveling towards their home, though often meanly and slowly.
Their acknowledgement of this their condition: they are not ashamed to admit it.
Their lips and their lives confess their present condition.
They expected little from the world, they cared not to engage it much.
They endeavored to lay aside every weight, to gird up the loins of their minds to mind their way, to keep company and pace with their fellow travelers, looking for difficulties and bearing them and longing to get home.
Hereby they declare plainly that they sought another country, Heaven, their own country.
There spiritual birth is from there, there are their best relations. And their inheritance.
This country they seek;
their designs are for it,
their desires are after it,
their discourse is about it.
They diligently endeavour to clear up their title to it,
to have their conversation in it and to come to the enjoyment of it."
- Have a restful, reflective Sabbath; thinking upon God. -