Devotional Reading: Psalm 27:1-6
Lesson Scripture: Hebrews 11:1-3,6; Psalm 46:1-3, 8-11
Lesson Aims: To explain the two components of faith, to list our ancients whose faith grew as they walked with God, and to recognize that God is always present to strengthen us.
Background: The writer continued to encourage the Hebrew converts to persevere in their faith in Jesus. He didn’t want them to go back to an incomplete system. Using what they already knew, he explained the superiority of faith over ritual by referring to their past. Very often, this chapter is called the “Faith Hall of Fame.”
The composition of the book of Psalms took more than 1,000 years. From the time of Moses ( 1440 BC) leading the Israelites in the wilderness to the Babylonian Captivity (586 BC), praises (tehillim) and prayers (tephillot) were offered as a testimony to God’s power. All dates come from UMI Direction. The sections in this book are referred to as divisions, not chapters. Psalms 46-48 form a cluster “expressing confidence in the security of God’s people in the midst of a threatening world” (Zondervan’s Study Bible).
Lesson: Our lesson today makes three very important points about faith. First, “faith has two components, belief and action.”
Belief is embracing an ideal and then acting on it. It takes both, not one. Stop for a moment to examine your life. We hoped for a lot of things. At the time, most of us were just living, but God heard the songs and prayers of the elders on our behalf. Isn’t it amazing how God worked it out for us? We made preparations, but God guided us if we listened. Because of His actions, we encourage our children and others to have faith. Faith isn’t passed down; everyone has to make their own decisions.
Faith is following God and making preparations for the doors opening. We don’t know when, where, or how God does it; but He does and we are grateful! Preparation (acting) then is a must! “Faith is necessary to please God” is the second point. While the writer lists key people in Jewish history, we can come up with our examples of having faith in God and accomplishing His aims for our lives. Having faith in God is our testimony to His existence. God created everything and it was good. All of the dots don’t connect, but believe it. He is real! Pleasing Him doesn’t mean to leave your brain in the parking lot or at home. Notice that the ancients’ faith grew as they journeyed with God. Faith wasn’t automatic for them or us!
The final point – “faith is trusting God to be there at all times.” In this life, our tests will come. At times, we pass them and at other times we don’t come out so well. Needless to say, we can choose to grow from it or walk away from our beliefs. During troubling times, the psalmist suggests that we go to God for refuge (safety) and strength. This isn’t an act of cowardice but an act of assurance. This world will torment, abuse and kill the believer. Where else can they go but to the omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent One who brings justice? His past actions are evidence enough of His faithfulness to humanity. You can depend on Him! Amen, amen.