By Julia Phillips
“Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” - Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Year B, Proper 25
Have you ever felt that you are waiting to receive something from God? Hebrews 11 shows us that faith is not about receiving what we hope for. Faith is about being sure of what we hope for—even when we hope for unseen things. The chapter gives a lengthy account of people who were waiting for something from God, but who never fully obtained it during their lives on earth. God provided something better: heaven.
God gives us the promise of himself for today and heaven for tomorrow. This promise keeps us pressing on each day, even during trials. We may hope for a feeling of God’s promised presence that we have experienced before. If you haven’t “felt” God’s nearness in a while, take heart. You are his child, and he is close to you even if you don’t feel him near.
Being close to God is more about obedience than feelings. Noah obeyed and built the ark when there was no rain. Abraham obeyed and went to a foreign country he had never seen. The faithful men and women in Hebrews 11 were looking beyond what they could see in front of them. They did not view life on earth as their final destination but considered themselves aliens and strangers here. They were “longing for a better country, a heavenly one” (11:16). True faith perseveres, even if we don’t get what we hope for now.
The joy of our heavenly homeland is worth it! “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
How does the promise of God’s presence encourage you today? How does the hope of a heavenly home influence your present life? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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