Quick Dad joke! How do you know God loves coffee? “Because He Brews!!” (Wha wha whaaaa!) Sorry, not sorry! I just finished reading through the book of Hebrews chapter by chapter. Such a good book full of rich history and great reminders of how all of Scripture points to Christ. The writer of Hebrews went to great pains to make sure his audience understood that their hebrew ancestry was pointing to the Messiah who turned out to be none other than Jesus Christ. The whole book serves as that reminder and highlights some famous Old Testament characters who lived by faith; therefore, one day they would actually meet the whom they served. When you read through Hebrews 11, you see how many men and women lived by what they understood about God and not by what they could see. Some of them were real rascals with notoriously shady backgrounds, yet they were included. That is good news for you and me as followers of Jesus. He wants to include us, warts and all, in his epic story of redeeming mankind. So if your lifestyle matches Rahab the prostitute, Samson the womanizing He-man, Moses the murderer, David the adulterer, live in a cave, or so on, the book of Hebrews is for you.
During my study I noticed a few phrases that caught my attention in regards to being a faithful follower of Jesus. Afterwards, I will give a tool that I use for studying the Bible. It is not original to me, but I find it helpful to process what I just read and makes me aware of how I should live it out.
- Two phrases show up several times in chapter 2 and 3 and I believe they go together. They are “Not drift away” and “Hold fast.” They are found in the following chapters and verses: 2:1, 3:6, 3:12&14. When you read the verses, you sense the importance of following Jesus as well as making it a daily goal. The writer knew many would be attracted to Jesus and may make a decision to follow Him, but if they were not diligent in their pursuit, they would fall way. A believer must hold fast to what they know and strive to go deeper with Him. I am afraid the term hold fast is lost on our 21st century thinking. It makes it sound like a stationary position, like a locked door. If you are not careful, you will allow this thought to make you passive in your walk of faith. As if to say that you have arrived or that you have no more need of growing. Another way to think about this phrase is like rowing a boat. It you stop rowing toward your goal, the current or waves will naturally take you where ever it pleases, sadly, away from your goal. I believe the writer is imploring us to be constantly rowing and pursing Jesus, because if we stop, we will find that we are adrift and moving away from Him. Hold fast or keep paddling. God rewards those who seek and follow Him (Hebrews 11:6).
- By Faith. This phrase is peppered all through chapter 11. The first verse sets up a great definition of how men and women gained the approval of God. They were not perfect, but they still honored Him with their life. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1 NASB) Two words stand out in that verse: assurance and conviction. A good definition for assurance is a positive declaration intended to give confidence. You live your life in confidence based on what Jesus has done and that He is your concrete hope. You are convinced that there is no greater pursuit in life than to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. You do not know the outcome, the twists, bends, and bumps in the road, but you are confident in who He is. Next is conviction. When you are sure of something, then you move with conviction. Conviction is like guard rails on a curvy road. They keep you on the road and from falling off a cliff. Conviction keeps you moving forward and removes things that detracts you from your purpose. By faith, you follow Jesus with all that you are and all that you have, because you are assured of Him.
- Last phrase that caught my attention is “Imitate their faith.” (13:7) As I read that phrase this morning, two thoughts immediately popped into my head. “Who do I know that has a faith worth imitating?” and “Do I have a faith worth imitating?” Finding men and women of faith seems to be harder and harder these days. It’s not because people aren’t living by faith. It is hard to find because we don’t have a venue to share our faith experiences with others. Well from time to time, some one will post something to social media. But really, we aren’t taking time to get to know each other on an intimate level. Therefore, we have no idea what kind of faith life people around us have. We are so far removed from the early church setting of “sharing all things in common.” So, identifying people of faith becomes difficult, although the church would be a perfect place for this to happen. Then there is my life. I have a wife and two small children. Does my life show them and others that I live by faith? I believe those who know me well and beyond a shallow level, would say that I live by faith. But is it worth imitating? The apostle Paul said, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) Honest talk, that is my goal, but I am not completely there yet. We should do as Paul said, pursue Christ and then our faith is worth following.
No matter where you are in your faith journey, all of these are doable. You may have to rearrange your lifestyle, priorities, and your heart, but they are doable. Our journey with Christ will not only impact the lives of those around us, but it will follow us into eternity. For me, that makes it worth any sacrifice along the way. Following Jesus won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it. What areas are you struggling in? What areas are you excelling in? I would love to hear about your faith experience or encourage you to keep going strong.
Grace and Peace to you as hold fast, walk by faith, and have a faith worth imitating. Someone is watching your life today, they need to see Jesus!
Bonus Material! I journal my bible studies so that I actually take time to think about what I just read. Otherwise, I forget pretty quickly. I use S.O.A.P..
- S is for Scripture.
- O is for Observation. What did I see or that stood out to me? Was there anything that I needed to look up? Do I need a better understanding of context? I usually write 3-5 sentences here. This is not my sermon prep, just my time with God.
- A is for application. How can I apply this to my life? This is where I put feet to what I read. This can be a challenge with some passages, but I far more likely to strive to live it out if I think about it as well as write it down.
- P is for prayer. This is my prayer for help to live it out. I realize I cannot do this alone, therefore I pray. I also pray that the way I am living out the Word shows others the importance of having a relationship with Christ.
If you can use this, great. Maybe you have a different method, also great. Bottom line: Dig into God’s word and strive to live it out. May God richly bless your pursuit of Him!