Faith Lessons

This week in Hebrews, we are looking at the faith of the Israelites. Specifically, we’ll be looking at the faith involved in crossing the Red Sea, bringing down the walls of Jericho, and the way faith changed the life of Rahab.

As I read about the faith involved in the lives of these people, two things stood out to me above everything else

1. God is Faithful

2 Timothy 2:13 says:

“If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.”

Sometimes, being faithful to what God is calling us to do is scary, or it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I can’t help but wonder how many of the Israelites knew how to swim. If you have ever met someone with a fear of water, walking through the Red Sea, even on dry ground, would have terrified them. Okay, I know how to swim, and it probably would have terrified me! That gigantic wall of water on both sides. You would have had to have a lot of faith to believe that God would (and could) hold it that way until you were safely to the other side. And this was a sea – not a creek. There wouldn’t be the option to run real fast so you make it across quickly. It took some time, and a whole lot of faith (or fear).

Walking around a city for seven days probably seemed a little foolish so some. But the Israelites faithfully did it. They trusted that God knew what He was doing, and they followed through. And God did just what He promised to do, even if there were a few skeptics in the bunch.

Our God is an Awesome God

2. Faith is Powerful

Rahab is the one that I was most impressed with this week, though.  She wasn’t originally an Israelite. She was a prostitute who lived in Jericho and had heard about the LORD, and believed that He had given the Israelites the land. So she acted out of that faith and it not only saved her life, but changed her life. She became an Israelite, married Salmon, and became the father of Boaz, a forefather of Jesus.

Pretty awesome stuff, huh?

So while faith might not always be easy or make a lot of sense, it changes things and changes us.

How has faith changed your life?

==> You can download this week’s study sheet here

 

A Life of Faith

This week in Hebrews, we are look at the life of Moses. Specifically, we’ll be looking at the faith of Jochebed, Moses, and the Israelites during the Passover.

As I read about the faith involved in the lives of these people, several different things stood out to me.

4 Lessons for the Faithful

#1. God doesn’t always make life easy for those who have faith in Him.

Jochebed could have cursed God for allowing the Egyptians to kill all of the Israelite babies, but she didn’t. She had faith in Him to protect her son. She placed her hope in Him, even when the world said that was foolish.

#2. There is a right way and a wrong way to stand up for what we believe in.

I firmly believe that Moses had the best intentions when he killed the Egyptian, but that probably wasn’t the best way to handle the situation. Granted, this was before the 10 commandments were given, so I guess we can’t hold it against him.

#3. Faith doesn’t have to be blind.

Yes, Moses took God at His Word, but he also asked a lot of questions. He didn’t just say yes right off the bat, he took the time to understand his mission and his role. I wonder if we don’t get frustrated so often with our callings… okay, if I don’t get frustrated so often with what I know God is calling me to do, because I don’t stick around to get the details. I just get the first sentence and run with it.

#4. Faith doesn’t mean fearless, and it’s certainly not something you can do half-way.

When I think of the first passover, while they were sitting there in their homes with their children, I would have been terrified. I would have double and triple checked that we had followed all of God’s commandments regarding the preparation of the passover to protect my oldest son at all costs. And having the angel of death come past my door, I probably would have fainted. It would have been terrifying.

Can you imagine if one of the Israelites would have said, “Oh, God’s a good guy, surely He’ll protect us even if we don’t have our sandals on and our belts tucked in. I mean, really, who eats while they are holding their staff?!”

No. They wouldn’t have done that. Not at the risk of their children. Yet so often today, we essentially say the same thing. We say, “Oh, God’s a good guy, surely He’ll let us into heaven, even if we don’t love our neighbors as our selves. I mean, really, who prays for those who mistreat them?!”…Just something to think about.

I want to leave you with my current SSMT memory verse:

“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

James 4:17 (NIV)

==> You can download this week’s study sheet here

In the comments…

Which of the four things that stood out to me in this weeks study makes the biggest impact on you? Why?

Share it in the comments below.

 

Multi-generational Faith

This week in Hebrews, we are look at the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.

All four of these men believed in the same thing.

They all had faith in the same promise.

God promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations through his son, Isaac.

Abraham had to believe that promise when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac.

He had faith that God was God and would keep His promises, even when it didn’t make sense.

Isaac blessed his children out of faith that God would keep the promise He made to Abraham and make his children prosper.

Jacob blessed Joseph’s children out of that promise, too. Looking back, He saw all that God had done in his life, and had faith that He would work in their lives, too.

And Joseph looked forward and trusted that God would fulfill His promise to Abraham to settle his children in the promised land, even as they made their home in Egypt. He had so much faith that he gave them instructions on what to do when that day finally came.

They believed in a multi-generational promise.

God seems to like those.

In Jeremiah 29:11, God said, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (ESV).

My pastor calls that a coffee cup verse.

We put it up everywhere and love to cling to that promise.

But that was a multi-generational promise, too.

In verse 10, God said, “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.”

God would prosper them in seventy years!

Are you that patient?

I’m not.

Many of the people who were going into exile, wouldn’t live to see the return to the promised land.

Here’s a multi-generational promise that God made to us:

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”

Revelation 1:3

For the time is near.

Jesus is coming back.

He is coming to claim His people and rescue us from this life.

And He is coming soon.

That soon could be tomorrow, or it could be in another 1,000 years, but He is coming.

He promised.

And we know that God keeps His promises.

Our duty is to trust He will fulfill His promises, and pass those promises on to our children, instilling multi-generational faith.

==> You can download this weeks study sheet here

In the comments…

Are you patiently waiting for God to fulfil His promises, or are you impatient (like me)?

Share it in the comments below.

 

Faithfully UnFaithful

This week in Hebrews, we are looking at the faith of Abraham. One thing that sticks out to me the most about his faith, was how unfaithful he was.

Yes, he was really faithful at moments in his life, but at other moments, his faith was completely lacking.

By faith he obeyed God when he was told to go, but he didn’t have faith that God would protect him and his wife in Egypt.

By faith he believed God would give him a son, but he needed proof that he would take possession of the land.

By faith he obeyed God and circumcised his family, but he didn’t have faith that God would protect Sarah in the Negev region.

By faith he started to obey God when he was told to sacrifice his son, but God was faithful and provided a ram for the offering.

Yet the only thing recorded in Hebrews 11 is his faith.

To me, that’s encouraging.

God forgives our failures. 

We aren’t required to have unwavering faith – that’s why Jesus came. God knows we will stumble.

“…if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

2 Timothy 2:13 (NIV)

In my life, I can remember some moments when my faith was powerful.

When my son was diagnosed with cancer, I had that peace that surpasses all understanding.

When my first husband left me for another woman, my faith in God got me through it.

Yet, I still stumble.

I am far from perfect.

While I am secure that I have an awesome God, I am insecure in my ability to serve Him – and that’s a lack of faith on my part.

I’m working on it, but it’s oh so good to remember that when we are faithless, our God is faithful.

==> You can download this weeks study sheet here

In the comments…

What part of Abraham’s life speaks to you? Share it in the comments below.

 

Living by Faith

There are some times in life when you step beyond the everyday hustle and bustle into the great unknown.

It’s uncomfortable.

While it can be exciting, it’s usually laced with a trace of fear.

And it’s often a one-time thing. We either step out into the great unknown and then either go back to the way things were, or wait for that to become the new normal. We don’t generally upset our world on a regular basis. We don’t like putting ourselves out there… at least I don’t.

Yet, sometimes, stepping out just once is enough.

In Hebrews 11, out of the first three people commended for their faith, two of them just took one step. Abel took a small step. He simply did what he knew was right. Out of faith, he brought God the best of what he had as an offering.

That’s it.

It sounds simple, but it’s much easier for us to be like Cain and just bring God some. To acknowledge Him by keeping the best for ourselves. Or giving to Him out of the excess.

Noah, on the other hand, took a leap. Because of his faith, he became the laughing stock of society to honor God. He built a boat, a monstrous arc, just because God told him to and he had faith that God would do what He said He would do.

Both of these men displayed faith in God. They both honored Him with their faith. But the third one is the one that resonates deep in my soul.

Enoch believed that God existed and earnestly sought Him, and God was pleased.

It doesn’t say that Enoch never messed up. The Bible doesn’t say that he never sinned (Romans 3:23), it just says that he believed in God and sought Him. And that his reward was to never experience death.

And that’s a reward we can share because of Christ.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

John 5:24 (NIV)

==> You can download this weeks study sheet here

In the comments…

Did something in the faith of these three saints speak to you? Share it in the comments below.

The Definition of Faith

 

When I was little, I thought faith meant believing that God was real. If you said you had faith, it meant that you were a Christian. Yet, as I grew older, I realized that you could have faith in many different things.

You can have faith in people.

In different religions.

In your own abilities.

In circumstances.

And in the Creator of the Universe.

In this study, we are going to be working our way through Hebrews 11. And the first three verses define faith as what Paul meant when he penned this book nearly 2000 years ago.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. 

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

Confidence and assurance. 

Faith isn’t merely closing our eyes and guessing everything will be okay. It’s a deep rooted belief in something. Faith comes from an intimate knowledge of holder of that faith.

In his Bible study Faith Hope and Luck, Andy Stanley defines faith as, “Confidence that God is who He says He is and that He will do everything He promises He’ll do.”

Faith comes from intimacy.By-Faith-Ladies'-Bible-Stud

You can’t have confidence that God is who He says He is, if you don’t know who He has said He is. You can’t be sure that He will do what He promises if you don’t know what He has promised.

The perfect example of this was given as the first credit of faith in Hebrews 11 (vs 3) when Paul wrote, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

That’s Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Do you have faith that God is the Creator, and He made everything from nothing (Gen 1:2)?

Scripture teaches us so much about who God is and what He has promised for us. We could (and should) spend the rest of our lives digging deeper into who He is. As Paul wrote in Romans 11:33:

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!”

We have an amazing God, who has done and will continue to do amazing things. And the more we learn about Him, the more faith we will have.

And that faith has the power to change our lives. 

When we have faith in God, we stress less. We trust Him to work all things out for the good of those who love Him.

We don’t worry about our failures, because we know God’s will will prevail.

We understand that others will let us down, but we are still able to love them with no strings attached.

Faith is powerful.

Because of the power of faith, it’s important that we know, really know, where we put it. Misplaced faith can do great damage. It will fail us time and again, and can even lead to harm.

So today, I encourage you to dig deeper into God’s Word and grow your faith by intimately loving our God and Savior.

==> You can download this weeks study sheet here

In the comments…

Share something God has been teaching you about, or your favorite Bible verse in the comment section.

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{Study Announcement} By Faith

Last week we wrapped up our study through the prayers of the New Testament, and next week we will be kicking off our new study, “By Faith.”

Walking through the verses in Hebrews 11, we will be looking at what it really means to have faith, and what it looks like both in our lives, and in the lives of those who came before us.

I hope you will join us.

You can follow along here on my blog, subscribe below to get lessons e-mailed to you each week, or if you live in Seymour, TX you can join us in person Mondays at noon at the First Baptist Church in Seymour where lunch is provided.

Sign up to get the lessons via e-mail:

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By-Faith-Ladies'-Bible-Stud

You can find a list of past studies we’ve done here.

For this reason…

My favorite prayer in all of Scripture is found in Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus and I’m excited to share it with you today. But before I do, I want to thank you for joining me through this study of prayers in the New Testament. I have enjoyed digging into God’s Word with you.

February was a rough month for Paul and I, between illnesses that reeked havoc on our family and the passing of Paul’s father, I was honestly surprised when someone told me it was March already. I want to send a special thank you to everyone who has prayed for us, and supported us during this time. We are so blessed.

And now, in the words of the apostle Paul:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

~ Ephesians 3:14-21

When I read that prayer, I am overcome with the tremendous importance of love. When Jesus truly dwells in our hearts, we love Him, and that love we have from Him strengthens our faith, which in turn strengthens us.

I love the word picture Paul gives us about being rooted and grounded in love. When we studied the fruit of the Spirit last year, the first fruit we looked at was the fruit of love. It’s like the taproot and everything else stems off of it.

Without love we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13).

Can you grasp how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ is? It’s a love that surpasses knowledge, and He loves us that much.

When we fail, God loves us.

When we don’t love others, God loves us.

For while we were still sinners, God sent His son to die for us, because He loves us that much.

How great is our God.

I know this is a short lesson, but it’s so powerful. I encourage you to dwell on the love of Christ today. Let it overflow out of you onto those in your life.

And now I want to leave you with another prayer Paul wrote, this one was to the church in Philippi…

“And this is my prayer:
that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

~ Philippians 1:9-11

 

Reflection Questions

  • Are you rooted and grounded in love?
  • What are some of the ways you can show love to others this week?
  • Do you try to love others out of your own strength, or by letting God’s love overflow out of you and onto those around you?

Take it Deeper

  • Read the following Scriptures: Romans 1:16; John 3:16; Romans 5:5-81; Corinthians 4:20-21; Romans 8:37-39; Matthew 22:34-40; Matthew 5:43-48; John 13:34-35; John 15:13; John 14:23-24; Romans 12:9-10
  • Download the PDF Study Guide
  • Join the conversation! Share one or more of your answers to the reflection questions in the comments below.

 

 

Previous posts in this series

Study announcement

What is prayer?

The Lord’s Prayer

The Humble Prayer

A Prayer for Strength

Forgiveness from the Cross

Forgiveness from the Cross

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

~ Luke 23:34

This is probably the shortest prayer we will look at during this study, but it is also one of the most powerful. The power of this one sentence prayer is in the context.

Jesus prayed for those persecuting Him. He was betrayed, abandoned, beaten, and nailed to a cross for sins He never committed, and in the heat of the moment He prayed for the very people who were to blame.

If you were in a similar situation, how do you think you would react?

Would you remember to pray for your enemies?

I doubt I would.

I would be tempted to lash out in anger. To scream my innocence at the top of my lungs. At the very least I would most likely be absorbed in the unfairness of it all.

But not our Savior.

Jesus didn’t wallow in self-pity or spew hatred, His heart was full of love for the unlovable.

In what must have been the lowest moment of His life–His rock bottom–He asked God to forgive those who were against him.

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What an amazing Savior we have.

It isn’t always easy to be imitators of our King.

However, there are certain things we can do, to make following Him easier.

We can be in His Word daily.

We can pray continuously.

We can memorize Scriptures.

The more we immerse ourselves in our relationship with Christ, the easier it will be to honor Him with our thoughts, our words, and our actions.

The more we immerse ourselves in our relationship with Christ, the easier it will be to imitate Him.

Reflection Questions

  • Do you pray for your enemies? Is there someone you specifically need to pray for today?
  • What are some of your default reactions when people sin against you?
  • Do you have a verse that helps you remember to honor God, and choose to imitate Him over the sinful desires of your heart?

Take it Deeper

  • Read the following Scriptures: Romans 12:14; Matthew 5:43-48; Matthew 5:10-12; 1 Corinthians 4:10-13; Luke 6:27-31; Matthew 18:21-22; Matthew 5:38-42; Colossians 3:13
  • Download the PDF Study Guide
  • Join the conversation! Share one or more of your answers to the reflection questions in the comments below.

 

 

You can find the next post in this series here.

 

Previous posts in this series

Study announcement

What is prayer?

The Lord’s Prayer

The Humble Prayer

A Prayer for Strength

Where does your strength come from?

On Monday, our Bible study was about the prayer for strength in Acts 4 (read it here). So today, I wanted to share a devotion about finding your true strength in Christ. This is the first devotional in the Teen Devotionals… for Guys! series my husband co-authors.

You can find more resources about finding your true strength in Christ on his website here.

“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…”

– 2 Timothy 4:17

How would you define strength?

Words often associated with it are power, courage, and muscles. If you put all three together – you’ve got one strong individual.

But where do those things come from?

We can get our power from how others see us. It can come from our popularity, our knowledge of a certain subject, or our position on the football team. But God would rather us get our power from Him.

Acts 1:8 says: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…”

Likewise, our courage usually comes from our own self-image. We’re more likely to talk to girls when we feel good about our appearance. We’re more likely to stand up for ourselves when we believe in ourselves. And we’re more likely to do something dangerous when we think it will make us look better to others. Yet again, as Christians, our courage should come from Christ.

1 Corinthians 16:13 says: “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” When our faith is in the Lord, He gives us the courage we need for all things.

And our muscles? Well, most of us would agree that they come from working out – lifting weights, exercising, etc. But what about our spiritual muscles?

Through the apostle Paul, God said: “… be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Eph. 6:10). Physical strength isn’t wrong, but there is more to strength than that.

Real strength – true strength – comes from Christ living in us and through us.

We can’t be strong on our own, no matter how tough we think we are.

Reflection

Do you get your strength from others, your own self-image, or lifting weights – or from Christ in you?

Application Step

Work on strengthening your walk with God by reading your Bible daily – even if it’s just a little bit.

Prayer

Lord, I live in a world where the source of strength can come from all different kinds of things – from others, from our actions and even from within ourselves – and I have believed the same. Yet I know that You are the only source of true strength. Help me to be strong in You and draw my strength from You alone.

 

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The above post is an excerpt from the Teen Devotionals… for Guys! series.

If you are looking for teen devotionals, you can get them free via e-mail at the links below:

Teen Guy Devotionals

Teen Girl Devotionals

Also available on Amazon

21GuyDevos

 

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