Passed on, February 28, 2022

For your consideration. From a sermon I preached:

Faith and Hope

I use different translations when studying God's word. One version can often provide additional insight. Hebrews 11:1 is one such passage. Usually translated:

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the promise of things unseen.

The New King James translates it:

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.

Although the New King James can be taken to mean the same as other translations, I find the use of the word substance interesting.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The substance.

While I was thinking about substance, another thought came to mind about creation. After the sixth day of creation, Genesis 2:1 says:

Thus the heavens and the earth and all the host of them were finished.

God completed His creation, all He was going to create had been made. All the substance was created. It could be changed from one form to another, but nothing else could actually be created.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for. If God is going to do something in a believer's life, He needs something to work with. And that something is Faith.

Let me give some examples from God's word (The Message):

Matthew 9:20-2
Just then a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, "If I can just put a finger on his robe, I'll get well." Jesus turned--caught her at it. Then he reassured her: "Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you're well."

Matthew 9:27-9
As Jesus left the house, he was followed by two blind men crying out, "Mercy, Son of David! Mercy on us!" When Jesus got home, the blind men went in with him. Jesus said to them, "Do you really believe I can do this?" They said, "Why, yes, Master!" He touched their eyes and said, "Become what you believe."

Matthew 15:22-8
They had hardly arrived when a Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded, "Mercy, Master, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly afflicted by an evil spirit." Jesus ignored her. The disciples came and complained, "Now she's bothering us. Would you please take care of her? She's driving us crazy." Jesus refused, telling them, "I've got my hands full dealing with the lost sheep of Israel." Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees, and begged. "Master, help me." He said, "It's not right to take bread out of children's mouths and throw it to dogs." She was quick: "You're right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master's table." Jesus gave in. "Oh, woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!" Right then her daughter became well.

Matthew 8:5-10,13
As Jesus entered the village of Capernaum, a Roman centurion came up in a panic and said, "Master, my servant is sick. He can't walk. He's in terrible pain." Jesus said, "I'll come and heal him." "Oh, no," said the captain. "I don't want to put you to all that trouble. Just give the order and my servant will be fine. I'm a man who takes orders and gives orders. I tell one soldier, "Go,' and he goes; to another, "Come,' and he comes; to my slave, "Do this,' and he does it." Taken aback, Jesus said, "I've yet to come across this kind of simple trust (or faith) in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know all about God and how he works. Then Jesus turned to the centurion and said, "Go. What you believed could happen has happened." At that moment his servant became well.

And an example of the opposite.

Matthew 13:54-8
When Jesus finished telling these stories, he left there, returned to his hometown, and gave a lecture in the meetinghouse. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. "We had no idea he was this good!" they said. "How did he get so wise, get such ability?" But in the next breath they were cutting him down: "We've known him since he was a kid; he's the carpenter's son. We know his mother, Mary. We know his brothers James and Joseph, Simon and Judas. All his sisters live here. Who does he think he is?" They got their noses all out of joint. But Jesus said, "A prophet is taken for granted in his hometown and his family." He didn't do many miracles there because of their hostile indifference.

It is through faith that God can work in the life of a believer. We are saved by grace through faith. Faith is a gift from God to the believer. It is a fruit of the Spirit. The same Spirit which inhabits all believers.

When someone accepts God's free gift of salvation, He fills them with His Spirit.

We walk by faith and not by sight. This is the same faith which allows us to see what God sees – the evidence of things unseen. If we open our hearts and believe.

Michael Card expressed it well in the chorus of his song 'That's What Faith Must Be'

To hear with my heart, to see with my soul
To be guided by a hand I can not hold
To trust in a way that I can not see
Thatâ's what faith must be.

In Romans, Paul writes that faith comes from hearing the word of God. We hear the Good News, we accept it, we believe God and we are saved by faith.

Another example, from Mark 11:12-4; 20-4
As they left Bethany the next day, he was hungry. Off in the distance he saw a fig tree in full leaf. He came up to it expecting to find something for breakfast, but found nothing but fig leaves. (It wasn't yet the season for figs.) He addressed the tree: "No one is going to eat fruit from you again--ever!" And his disciples overheard him.
In the morning, walking along the road, they saw the fig tree, shriveled to a dry stick. Peter, remembering what had happened the previous day, said to him, "Rabbi, look--the fig tree you cursed is shriveled up!" Jesus was matter-of-fact: "Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, "Go jump in the lake'--no shuffling or shilly-shallying--and it's as good as done. That's why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you'll get God's everything.

Have faith in God. Have faith and not doubt. Faith and doubt are opposites.

By faith, Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on water. He was fine as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. Once he looked at the waves and allowed doubt to enter, he sank like a rock.

Faith looks to God "believes what God says " sees what God sees. Doubt leads to fear " looks away from God " does not believe. God's perfect love drives out fear. We need to keep our eyes on God.

Because the object of our faith, what we believe in, who we believe, is much more important than how much we believe, how much faith we have. God doesn't need a lot to work with.

Matthew 17:19-20
When the disciples had Jesus off to themselves, they asked, "Why couldn't we throw it out?" "Because you're not yet taking God seriously," said Jesus. "The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, "Move!' and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn't be able to tackle."

Just a mustard seed's worth, just a tiny bit of faith can move a mountain, can move those obstacles in our lives. It's not how much faith we have, it's the who we have faith in. The mountain will move even if it's a pebble at a time.

Mark 9:23-4
Jesus said, "If? There are no "ifs' among believers. Anything can happen." No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, "Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!"

Our faith is in a strong bridge. Even someone whose faith is weak will cross the strong bridge and reach the other side. It may take a little longer as each step is slow and tentative. Believing in God, having faith in God helps build our Faith.

Lord I believe, help my unbelief.

Because God is faithful and true to His word, doubts vanish, fears subside "replaced by God's perfect love. As each step is taken, confidence grows, we have more faith. Each time we believe God, have faith in Him, our faith grows stronger.

We gain more substance. This faith, this substance, God has to work with can come from another.

Remember the Centurion. He believed and in faith came to Jesus to heal his servant. And the woman from Canaan who interceded for her daughter and was heard. We can and should intercede for others. Use our faith to help God work in their lives.

That's why we join together in Worship through Prayer.

When we join together as the body of Christ, our united faith can help others who need a little more faith, a little more substance. This is why prayer plays such a vital role in the life of a believer.

Prayer is how we talk to God, Prayer is how we let God know what we need. Prayer is how we can ask God to move in our lives, in other's lives. Prayers can combine to move mountains. Prayers can increase the substance God has to work with.

We all have hopes, we all have needs, we all have concerns. We need to join together.

If we ask God in faith. He will hear and answer our prayer. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Have faith in God.
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Awesome brother, thanks- enjoyable and uplifting!